New Year’s Champagne & a Mini Photography Lesson

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in Photography, Uncategorized | 2 comments

If you read my post yesterday, I only posted some of the bad things that happened last year. I promised the list of the good things, but I don’t think I need to do that. I’ll just share those goods things and how I am applying them as I move forward.

This actually wasn’t supposed to be a post, but as I was taking (not making, just yet) the photograph, I started seeing things in the photo I may not have been aware of a year ago. I started seeing the things I DON’T WANT in a photo. If you are a professional photographer, you don’t need to read any further. You know this already. This is just me, working out what you guys already know. Maybe it will help someone else, maybe not.

It started like this. Today, we finally popped the cork on the champagne we were going to have New Year’s Eve. I LOVED the stainless steel label. Gotta photograph it, right? Well, here was the first shot. Please forgive me, I am using a new lens (Canon 100mm 2.8 IS; Christmas present to myself) for the first time and I haven’t found it’s sweet spot yet for product photography.

I was shooting this in natural light, so I thought. On the left, you can see incandescent light from my kitchen lighting. So off it goes. Next…

Hmmm, that red is still there. Oh, it’s my RED Giants sweatshirt on the kitchen chair. So off it goes…

Okay, still some unwanted color elements, but I need to share one of the best things I learned this year. White Cards (and reflectors). It could be white paper, white foam core, aluminum foil, a mirror or even a chef’s hat (used recently to photograph a chef). On this shot, just needed to light up the left side of the label. I positioned the white foam core to the left and under the label, which also blocked out the color cast from something in my kitchen. It was positioned pretty close to the bottle, but since I was focusing only on the label, the foam core was out of the frame.

So, the final shot is still not perfect. I was shooting on a tripod but was too lazy to go get my cable release. Also, at f8, I thought it would be in focus, but since I am dealing with a macro lens, I guess I goofed, so please don’t berate me too hard.

The moral of this story is… I am not a professional. I am working through things I have learned this year. I am committed to shooting more thisĀ  year. You can watch online workshops, like creativeLIVE, which I HIGHLY recommend, but if you don’t shoot, you won’t improve. After the tough year I’ve had, I am committed to shooting more and take the (painstaking) time it takes to improve my work. Yes, painstaking. But it will be worth it.

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The Year in Review… Or, Be Careful What You Wish For, Part I

Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Family, Food, Photography, Travel | 1 comment

Substituted champagne with tangerine margaritas this year.


I have preparing this entry in my mind for a couple of weeks now. I haven’t been diligent with this blog, so I wanted to play catch up. It might not have been so daunting if I had kept up with blogging as events were happening in my life. It’s called procrastination. Yes, many of us are guilty of it, and I admire all of the bloggers that I follow for their tenaciousness for blogging at full speed. My sister and I started this blog to talk about food and life, and I think the first life lesson that I want to pass on is – this is hard! It’s work!! I get that now, so I am not going to consider this a New Year’s Resolution, I’m just going to commit myself to doing a good job, which means I am going to have to gain confidence in my writing skills and implement practical time management strategies to edit my photographs as I make them. Hmmm… a bit daunting already.

I guess the best place to start for this entry is to explain the latter part of the post title. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. In February, I turned fifty years old and so I wished for myself a year full of adventure and experiences. Of course, when you wish for something like that, you are only think of good things. Well, I got the good, the bad and the ugly on a scale like I’d never experienced before. I’ll spare you most of the details on the bad, because then it would sound like I was complaining. The best thing to do with bad things that happen are to turn them around into good things. So to put the good in context, here are the bad things that happened this year.

BAD THING #1 – The Fire

The Fire

The Day After

You never expect something like this to happen to you. Thankfully, no one was hurt. At first, we thought all was lost, but thanks to the volunteer fire departments (all 27 of them) that helped control this fire, we are grateful. If you live in an area where you are serviced by volunteer fire fighters, DO ANYTHING YOU CAN TO SUPPORT THEM! They do this for free. They risk their lives. Their families support them by bringing food and coolers of water while they are doing their job. Even the county sent our food trucks and port-a-potties for this all nighter. The next day, about 100 people were out of work and many of the employees were there to witness the fire. That night, they knew they were out of a job. It was hard to watch what was happening. As a photographer, I wanted to record the event. I could take pictures of the burning building, but as an owner of the company, I couldn’t take pictures of the people watching, especially the employees. It was just too personal and too painful. By the next morning, there was hope. Everyone got together to work to rebuild. We have many people to thank for the recovery, not just the employees, friends and family, but also competitors who helped manufacture our products so we could still fulfill our customer orders. Within a couple of weeks, we started bringing people back to work and even hired more people to get production moving. This is the part where I wish I was a better writer, because I know that I am not adequately able to express the emotional complexity of such an event. So many people did so much to help us out, above and beyond anything that we could have expected, that is, except for the insurance company, but that’s another story.

BAD THING #2 – Illness

Both my husband and I were hospitalized this year will serious illnesses (not at the same time). I’ll post a picture of him, but not of me. I’m too vain. I don’t want you to see me when I haven’t showered in seven days. I took his picture to keep as a reminder as to how fragile our lives are.


As for my illness, it relates to what I wished for. I set out to have an adventure or two this year. The first one I had to cancel because of the fire. I was headed to Italy with other photographers. Later in the year, I jumped at the chance for another photography trip to Africa. I got cellulitis from a flu shot when I started getting immunizations for the trip. A one in a million occurrence. I was in the hospital for a week. Now, if I chose to sit at home and be comfortable, that wouldn’t have happened. If I chose to live my life like that, I would wither and die. That was already starting to happen. I forgot what it was like to take chances and throw myself out there. I accept the consequences for that and I hope that I will continue to learn and pursue new creative outlets. I’m not even quite comfortable writing this blog. Not sure I really have something to offer, but if I don’t do it, I’ll never know, and I’ll never be able to learn from it.

BAD THING #3 – Losing My Eyesight

This is a tough one. At the age of forty six, I was diagnosed with Glaucoma. I had already lost some vision in my right eye, but almost five years later, with surgery and numerous eye drops, it’s still a battle. I can’t drive at night anymore. It’s difficult to focus my vision. At first I thought that it would deter my ability to make photographs, but I am finding that the camera is more like a prosthesis. It can see what I can’t. I will probably write more about this in the future as I work it out.

Stay tuned for BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR PART 2 – The good stuff that happened in 2011 (and more foodie stuff)

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