Nearly every day for the last three months I've taken pictures of chocolate. My kitchen looks like a chocoholic went on a manic spending spree: There are bags of Godiva dark chocolate hearts and milk chocolate lions' heads; cliff-edged slabs of Callebaut cooking chocolate; boxes of colorful Moonstruck liquor-infused candies; and quirky, individually-wrapped handmade truffles from Euphoria Chocolates.
Now, chocolate's normal surface blemishes aren't obvious when you're gazing lovingly at the piece you're about to pop into your mouth, but the camera doesn't take the same romantic view. At the very least chocolate requires a little prep and some careful handling, but most of the pieces I shot needed extra post-production editing to bring them closer to the perfection we all have in our mind's eye.
And it was while exploring ways to retouch the chocolate that I discovered chocolate is--visually speaking--almost identical to skin.
In the first place, chocolate's light-reflecting "efficiency" is nearly the same--that is, the surface texture of ordinary chocolate, like you'd see in a candy bar or an undecorated piece from a box of chocolates, is at about the same place on the matte-to-shiny spectrum as human skin.
Also like skin, chocolate has many completely normal surface variations that look fine in real life, but which are magnified under the lens so they become distracting, if not disfiguring. Blisters, bubbles, and bloom are the chocolate equivalents of moles, pimples, and rough patches.
Finally, just as with retouching human skin, the artist needs to make some choices about how much "perfection" to strive for. Some kinds of flawlessness look artificial and almost robot-like. We've all seen those shots in fashion magazines that have been hyper-shopped right into the Uncanny Valley.
In each image I'm striving to achieve that Goldilocks ideal: If a lot of tweaking is needed--a Papa-Bear-sized chunk of Photoshop--then that's what I'll do. If it's just a light pass-through, then I'll just do a Baby-Bear-sized squiblet. The image of the frosting was right in the middle; not too much, not too little. At least, I think so; hope you do too.