Category Archives: Photography

Carmelized Onions, Gruyere Cheese and Mushroom White Pizza

This beautiful pizza had the odds stacked against it from the beginning: I was tired, I was very sore (I am now training to become a kick ass super fly fighting machine) and (drum roll please) I had just bought a new Canon Digital Rebel XTi. Yes, I have finally stepped into the world of SLR (thank you economic stimulus package). To say I was excited is an understatement…and as Greyhound Celebrity pointed out, it was kind of sad a piece of gear would get me that worked up. Either way, all of these things spelled impending doom for my little pizza. But it would not accept defeat easily and the brave little soldier came through in the clutch!

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Adventures in…Lighting

I think I’ve become hooked on photography (which is better than say, being hooked on crystal meth) and I’m completely fine with it. Unfortunately, when it comes to food photography, I have one major problem: I live in a basement apartment. The lack of windows means I do not get good natural light, so I’m forced to rely on the lighting in my house. And as those who shoot food know, household lighting does not provide quality shots (see the picture of the salad to the left and the cheesecake below).

I knew I needed some sort of photographic lighting, but wasn’t willing to spend hundreds of dollars on an effective set. So when I learned about the more affordable Lowel Ego Fluorescent Lights, I was intrigued. The Steamy Kitchen blog waxed poetically about the effectiveness of these simple lights, but I was skeptical. How good could a lighting system that was basically a lamp shade and two fluorescent bulbs truly be? Tack on how cheap they were ($88 each) and my inner cynic reared its ugly head. But since my birthday is coming up (oh yeah, I have no shame…I tell the homeless guy on the corner my birthday’s coming up as I buy a copy of Street Sense), and the lights were so inexpensive, I decided to roll the dice and buy one.

You can purchase either one light or a kit that includes two light sets, a bounce card, a plastic sweep system and an assortment of colored paper to use as backgrounds. Because I was still unsure of the quality of the lights, I opted to purchase just the one light set (which also comes with a bounce card). When it arrived, I pulled out the various parts and immediately thought I’d made a mistake. The light box seemed to be made of a material that really was tantamount to a lamp shade and didn’t seem sturdy. But on the plus side, the assembly instructions were easy to follow and it only took about ten minutes to put the light set together. Once it was assembled, I set up the light, a salad and the bounce card and turned out all the other lights in my apartment.
From the beginning, I got a bad feeling; the images on the LCD screen had a slightly bluish-green tint to them. I had no f%#!ckin’ clue why the lights were giving off such an odd hue and I was getting frustrated. Okay, I was getting pissed. Yeah I didn’t spend a lot of money on the lights, but I was still looking so forward to getting some quality lighting and it seemed my satisfaction was to be delayed. Out of desperation, I started playing around with the settings on my camera and ran across a fluorescent manual setting. I switched to it, put the camera on my tripod and looked at the salad through my LCD display again. And I was BLOWN away! The difference was phenomenal! Not only was the bluish-green tint gone from the pictures, they were crisper and clearer than the other pictures I had taken. I still need to play around with the level of exposure in my shots, but I am definitely on the right track! Over the next few weeks, I will be learning more about exposure and camera settings in order to get even more out of my shoots (this includes pumping all of my photographer friends for tips…). I highly recommend these little wonders for anyone who wants to add another dimension to their food photography…and did I mention they were cheap? I see another visit from the UPS man coming up soon…

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Hope Springs Eternal

I have been unbelievably busy the last few weeks, leaving me with little time to cook, let alone write. So I must first apologize for the lack of adventure chronicling. During my time away from the computer, I have taken my beloved Canon with me to capture the awakening of DC from its winter slumber. With the Cherry Blossom Festival right around the corner, I spent a day last weekend out with friends enjoying the unexpectedly beautiful weather. This is hands down my favorite time of year (outside of Christmas of course), when nature shakes off the doldrums of winter and brings forth a bounty of flowers, fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t hurt that my birthday falls in April! But most of all, I love the feeling of hope that comes with spring…and right now I need some hope.

To me, DC is one of the best places for a single woman to live because there isn’t any pressure associated with being single. In fact, the most interesting and fulfilled women I know are single by choice. I had embraced this philosophy to its fullest this year. Because of this, I discovered great new friends and found a few new passions. By chance, while running from classes to work to dinner with friends, I fell into dating a man who shared my love of food. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and I was left feeling a little lost. Not because I was so invested in the guy, but because it was the first time in a while that I allowed myself to even contemplate a relationship. I was already a bit guarded (okay jaded) about dating to begin with, so this recent fling may have put the death nail in my inner romantic’s coffin.

But like with the flowers blooming in spring, my faith was restored in love when I went over to a friend’s house for dinner. Seeing him and his wife’s relationship was refreshing. It isn’t one of those sickly sweet, bad romantic comedy sort of relationships. They make fun of each other, but never in a demeaning way…they laugh with each other. But they are also very genuine people who are comfortable enough in their relationship not to make those around them feel like a third wheel. I may not be in the midst of a sweeping love affair now, but seeing this relationship gave me hope that there are nice guys out there (who aren’t gay, mind you) and stable, loving relationships aren’t just the stuff of poorly written Studio Canal productions.

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Filed under Photography, Relationships

Adventures in….Food Photography

I am relatively new to this blogging thing, but even more so to food photography. Before yesterday, I didn’t even have a digital camera. I went to Penn Camera and explained I wanted to be able to get quality shots of food to be published on my blog. I also pointed out I was a beginner, so too many bells and whistles would just leave me on the floor in the fetal position crying for my mother. The salesman suggested the Olympus FE-310 because it had a mode for cuisine. I purchased the camera and happily headed home to start my previous blog entry.

I now wish I had waited for the advice of a more experienced food photographer before heading out to Penn Camera. The camera is easy to operate and does take great shots of everything else. However, in the cuisine mode, there is this weird yellow hue, faintly reminiscent of the documents you’d find in the National Archives. After playing around with the settings for the majority of the day, I have come to the realization that I need another camera. So the Olympus will be returned to Penn Camera on Monday (or sold on Craigslist…for some reason I am completely lazy about store returns but will put something on Craigslist at a moment’s notice). In the coming weeks, with a little guidance, I hope you will see an improvement with the quality of my pictures. Until then, please be patient as this is still a work in progress. If anyone has any suggestions on cameras or my blogging style in general, don’t be shy! I welcome any and all thoughts, musings and critiques!


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