Happy Crocktoberfest 2013! Wendy from Around My Family Table and I recently asked a bunch of great bloggers to join us in celebration of the trusty crockpot and are bringing you one week of nothing but crockpot recipes! Although I like to use my slow cooker all year long, it just seems even more right using it in the fall. Today, we are all about breakfast recipes!
And we’re back to Food Photography 101! I apologize for not getting this post up on Thursday. Work was kind of crazy this week and I just didn’t have it in me to get a post up. Today we are going to start to get into lighting, but since it is Saturday, we are going to keep it short today.
At first, my crazy self thought I could squeeze everything about lighting into one post and then I quickly realized that I was very wrong so I am going to split our discussion about lighting into three parts. Today we will discuss some general points in regards to natural lighting, next week we will talk about controlling lighting using your DSLR, and then in the third post, we will talk about artificial lighting and other tools you can use to help with lighting. Sound good?
Natural light vs. artificial lighting
A big topic of discussion amongst food bloggers is natural light vs. artificial light. Me personally? I’m in the natural light camp. For me, natural light is key for my photos. Despite all of the photo lights I do have, I am never happy with my photos when I only use artificial lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people that use only artificial lighting and in fact I know there are some bloggers out there who can take some pretty great photos using artificial lighting, but it just doesn’t work for me.
Truthfully, I used artificial lighting more often when I was just using my point and shoot camera. Since I’ve started using a DSLR, I rarely have to break out my artificial lights because I can manipulate lighting with my camera. However, I do use them occasionally when the natural light that I do have is not so great. In other words, I use artificial lighting as a supplement to natural light. We will be talking more about artificial lighting later, but I’d like to take a step back and talk about the first steps you can take to start off with for learning to use natural light.
1. Find a place in your house that will give you the best natural light.
Let me show you where I take my photos:
Yup, my dining room table. I’m keeping it real here, people. There is nothing glamorous about this set up. On one end of the table, you’ll see my pile of crap: cell phone, keys, glass of water, mail, remote control, etc.. Our townhouse is not very big so I don’t have the luxury of having a special room dedicated for blogging and taking photos. And I bet if you went and asked some of your favorite bloggers whose photos you admire to show you their set up, you are probably going to see something similar to mine. We take what we can get!
Aside from not having a lot of other options, my dining table is really the best spot in my house to take photos because of the two windows. I get both back lighting and side lighting (which, btw, is the best type of lighting, front lighting can often result in harsh shadows). I also like using this table because it is right next to my kitchen so it makes it easy for me to go back and forth when I need things. My set up is very portable. Every day after I am done taking photos, I can easily put everything away. My kitchen is really small, but it has a really large walk-in pantry and closet so I keep all of my equipment and props near by.
2. Find a time period where the natural light is best for taking photos.
One of the biggest challenges for me with blogging is finding the time to take my photos. The best times for me to take photos is between 11am and 3pm. In the summer, I could sometimes get away with taking photos as late as 5pm. Depending on where you live, the direction your house faces, and where in your house you have your set up, you’ll have to experiment to find the time frame that is best for you. You’ll want to find a time when the lighting is just right. For example, in my old apartment, I had a hard time taking photos before noon because I got a lot of direct sunlight so it was way too bright. In my current townhouse, the buildings are closer together so I actually never really get direct sunlight which can sometimes be good, but it also can mean that it is too dark.
I work full-time so during the week I do not have the time to sneak in a photo shoot during this time period. I leave early and by the time I get home, the natural light is not optimal. This means that my weekends are taken up with blogging. Sundays are my blog days. My husband and I run our errands and do our shopping on Saturday so that I can have Sunday to stay home (I can’t imagine how this will work out when we finally have kids!). So because of this, I often feel like my weekends are really crazy. I am usually trying to prepare and photograph 2-3 recipes in one day and that’s a lot of work! On the other hand, it can be relaxing because for those few hours, I’m not thinking about work and I’m getting to do what I love which is cooking! If I fall behind on a weekend, I will sometimes wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal so I can take some photos before heading off to work.
The first steps in learning to use natural light are to:
1. Find the best location in your home that is both practical and will give you the best natural light .
2. Find a time where natural light is optimal and try to take your photos during that time frame.
I realize that the first three posts of this series have been very wordy, but I promise that you that next week, we are going to start getting technical and will get into controlling lighting with basic settings on your DSLR! Stay tuned!
So, tell me, do you use natural light or artificial lighting? Both? And what are your biggest challenges with lighting?
Did any of you watch Once Upon a Time in Wonderland last night? What did you think? I thought it was okay, but I thought it was really weird to have Jafar in it. I mean, if you watch the regular Once Upon a Time, it would make sense since they have had a lot of different characters (though I think they might be starting to push it too far…), but this show is just Wonderland, so why the heck is Jafar there? It’s weird, okay? I’m just waiting for Robin Williams to pop up next and then I am done.
I hope you guys have been enjoying the Flashback Friday posts. I know I am! When it comes to blogging, we are always trying to think of brand spanking new recipes to try and then end up with hundreds of recipes, half of which I have forgotten about. I am loving these posts as it allows for me to make some of my older recipes. I keep looking back in my archives and am like, “Whoa, I totally forgot about that one and it’s so good!”.
This Lemony Chicken Pasta is a perfect example. I have said about ten thousand times now that I am kind of obsessed with anything that involves copious amounts of lemon juice and this pasta dish contains plenty of it! The sauce is slightly creamy, but contains no heavy cream so it’s also lower in fat. I throw spinach in mine, but you could really toss in any veggies you want.
Last week I received a box from The Pasta Shoppe and it was packed full of the most adorable pastas I have ever seen! The Pasta Shoppe is all about creating basically any type of pasta you can think of! In fact, they have over 250 different shapes!
Whether you are looking for a specific holiday or occasion, they have it all! They also have collegiate pastas which are so perfect to mix up for game day! All of the collegiate pastas come with a vinaigrette which makes them really easy to prepare.
They also sent me some packages of their chicken noodle soup and chili mix. The pasta in the chicken noodle are adorable little chickens!
Besides all of the adorable pastas, The Pasta Shoppe also helps schools and other organizations with fundraising. I have bought pastas previously through their fundraising program and it’s such a great way to raise money because who can resist all of their awesome products?! Their pastas make great gifts for the holidays so stock up!
The Pasta Shoppe is going to send one of YOU a great package filled with some of their best-selling pastas so after you read the rest of this post, enter the giveaway with the Rafflecopter below!
When I was looking through my package, you guys know I immediately went for the Halloween pasta! Duh! On the back of each package, The Pasta Shoppe provides a recipe that they think would work well with each pasta. For their Halloween pasta, they recommended Pepperoni Pizza Pasta or what I like to call it is Spooky Spider Pasta!
I realize that many of you don’t live in colder climates, but I grew up in Ohio where we had some pretty cold (and sometimes snowy!) Halloween nights. Getting ready for trick-or-treating was a little more complicated. The Indian costume I wanted to wear required wearing a turtle neck and layers underneath and I remember saying a lot of “Moooommmmmm, hurry up! I wanna go!”‘s every year and all of those layers of clothing totally ruined my look!
I think this pasta is the perfect pre-trick-or-treating meal. First, you’re going to be busy getting the kiddos off, you need something quick. This dish is done in like 15 minutes. Second, it will fill those tummies up which means less sugar from all that candy! This is certainly a dish that you can make any time of the year, but with the Halloween pasta, you get so many cute little pumpkins, ghost and spiders! So why do I call this Spooky Spider Pasta? Because of all of the gooey cheese! Tell the kids they are eating spooky spiderwebs and this dish becomes even more fun!
What is it about applesauce that makes it so enjoyable as an adult? I usually only crave it when I am not feeling well, but I always have a jar in the fridge because I like to use it in my baking quite often. But lately, I just want to eat tons of plain unsweetened applesauce. Perhaps it’s the change of season? I think fall has officially arrived in Phoenix so the average temperature is now like 95 as opposed to 105…sigh….I will say though that just as a side note, I replanted my basil plant since the last one was killed in the summer heat, and it is really thriving now so yayyyay!
Though I always have a jar in my fridge, there is really nothing better than homemade applesauce. First, it makes your entire house smell amazing while it’s cooking and second, you don’t have to worry about any other weird ingredients. This pumpkin applesauce is the perfect version to eat for the season! It’s perfectly tart from the apple, bursting with pumpkin flavor with a hint of vanilla! I don’t add sugar to mine, I think it’s sweet enough on it’s own, but you could always add sugar if desired. Like my homemade pumpkin pie spice, this applesauce would also make a wonderful gift for friends and family this season!
Oh, and I just realized that I haven’t yet posted any fun Halloween recipes. I’m sorry, you guys know I love it! I have a few recipes up my sleeve and will post them soon!
October means it’s time to start showing scary movies on TV. I’m not typically a horror movie person. Like, I don’t really rush out and see them at the theaters. I’m not into gore-fests like the Saw movies and some of the others ones really do creep me out.
But, I’m talking about classic horror movies like Halloween. And then there is the most recent Halloween movie with Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks and it is both terrible and awesome all at the same time. Also, horror movies from the late 90′s rock my world like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Urban Legend. Yes, I also consider these classics. And let’s not forget the best Halloween movie of all time, Hocus Pocus. It’s the best and don’t try to tell me anything different. My obsession with ghost hunting shows also intensifies.
Oh, and can we also talk about how freaking excited I am for American Horror Story and Walking Dead next week? Dying. My DVR is getting a major workout this month. My life is sad, huh? Please tell me I’m not alone here!!
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a big fan of chili. It’s so warm and comforting, especially during this time of year. Somebody in this house is not really a big fan though. I think it’s all of the tomatoes or too many beans, but this white bean and chicken chili is an exception! This chili is flavorful and easy to make. Make some of my Easy Cornbread and you’ve got the ultimate cold weather meal!
My name is Stephanie. I started this blog because I like to cook and I wanted a place where I could share my recipes with family and friends and improve my cooking skills. Why the name Eat. Drink. Love.? Well, I think this is what life is all about!