Food Photo Fridays

Food Photo Friday: Carl Warner's Edible Landscapes

Welcome to Broccoli Forest, where the clouds are cauliflower, the mountains are loaves of bread and dusty pathways are made of fragrant spices. Its creator, English photographer Carl Warner, likens it to an Ansel Adams landscape:

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Broccoli Forest from Food Landscapes, Abrams. 2010 Carl Warner hide caption

itoggle caption Carl Warner
Broccoli forest

Broccoli Forest from Food Landscapes, Abrams. 2010

Carl Warner

"As I built and composed my forest on a tabletop in the studio," he writes in his new book, "my goal was to combine the graphic simplicity that Adams achieves with his great eye for composition. ... The acid test for me was to remove the color ... to see how much it resembes the work of Adams. I hope you will agree that it's not a bad attempt, considering it's only broccoli and bread!"

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Broccoli Forest desaturated Carl Warner/Abrams, 2010 hide caption

itoggle caption Carl Warner/Abrams, 2010
Broccoli Forest desaturated

Broccoli Forest desaturated

Carl Warner/Abrams, 2010

This concept of food art is not entirely new. Painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo was creating food portraits as early as the 16th century! And it's actually that kind of art — although maybe a bit more modern — that incited Warner's imagination: As a child, he would hang surreal and trippy art posters by Dali, Patrick Woodroffe and Roger Dean on his walls. But his vision is still his own. How many of us can say we've been inspired by the way a plate of smoked salmon glimmers in the afternoon light?

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    Coconut Haystacks: Sky: red cabbage leaves. Trees: parsley with horseradish trunks. Distant haystacks: toasted almonds. Hills: loaves of bread.
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010
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    Chinese Junk: Junk/ship: dried herb woodwork, noodle floors, dried licorice-root rudder, dried lotus-leave sails. Sea waves/sky: cabbage.
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010
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    Cart & Balloons: Balloons: red onion, apple, strawberry, garlic bulb, other fruits. Balloon baskets: nuts. Hills and fields: bread, cucumbers, string beans, green beans, corn, asparagus, cabbage leaves.
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010
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    Celery Rain Forest: Canoe: okra with dried chili oarsman with small mushroom hat and a cardamom pod oar. Pathway: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010
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    Cabbage Sea: Boat: marrow, mange-tout, green beans, snap peas, asparagus, olives. Lighthouse: zucchini. Rocks, sea and sky: red cabbage.
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010
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    Autumn Flakes: Cereal leaves and nut stone wall.
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010
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    Breadford & Cheesedale: Dry stone wall: mixed sliced bread. Roadway: crumbly white Cheshire cheese. Farmhouse: Stilton cheese and crackers.
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010
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    Coralscape: Sand: bulgur wheat, rice, couscous. Spiky rocks: durians. Fish: dragon fruit, prickly pears, kumquats, Chinese cucumber, etc.
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010
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    London Skyline: Riverbank walls: panini. Lamppost: mackerel, asparagus, onion, vanilla pods. London Eye: green beans, courgette, leek, lemon, rhubarb supports. The Dome: melon, green beans.
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010
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    Tuscan Kitchen: Outside: mozzarella clouds, fresh pasta fields, Parmesan buildings. Interior wall: Parmesan. Curtains: dried lasagna. Tablecloth: fresh lasagna pasta.
    Carl Warner, from the book 'Food Landscapes,' Abrams, 2010

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Warner has been constructing food landscapes for a while, about 60% of which are commissioned. The rest, he said in an email, are personal projects, his favorite being the Fishcape.

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Fishscape Carl Warner/Abrams, 2010 hide caption

itoggle caption Carl Warner/Abrams, 2010
Fishscape

Fishscape

Carl Warner/Abrams, 2010

Of course there is some Photoshopping involved; but for the most part, the landscapes are assembled entirely by hand. Like the boat in Chinese Junk. The long list of ingredients includes the obscure wild green yamakurage for the rope, dried lotus leaves for the sails, noodles for the wood floor and physalis for the lanterns.

If you could have a fantasy food landscape, what would it be? I envision a deconstructed sushi snowscape: fluffy rice snow, an icy ginger lake and midnight seaweed skies.

Food Landscapes was released by Abrams last month. See more on Warner's website.

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