Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Photo Tips Series - Low Light Shooting

Be sure to check out the giveaway that Adrianne and I are sharing over at Happy Hour Projects.  This week I made a pearl and lace necklace to give away at her place and next week, Adrianne will share her talents over here.  Stay tuned.

I think that many bloggers find themselves finishing up their creative projects well after the sun goes down.  Natural light has been in bed for several hours and our photos turn out crappy.  Too yellow, too dark, too fuzzy. (or is that just me?)

And then, there's the dreaded flash photo.  Red eye or just plain over exposed, ugly.

f/4.9, 1/8, 800ISO (this one could have used white balance adjustment!)

With Christmas right around the corner (sorry, it's true), it is even more important for us all to learn how to take better shots.  So, how to take better photos then?

A couple of things you can do easily:

- Increase your ISO.  I go as high as 1600ISO if it's dark out and I'm in my office which has the worst light ever.

- Open up your aperture.  The lowest number gives you the widest lens opening and the most light.

- Slow down your shutter speed.  This will allow the light to have more time to filter in.

- Use a tripod.  If your shutter speed has to get really low, your hand will likely shake the camera so you need a tripod to be steady.  Sometimes you can get away with setting the camera on a hard, steady surface (like a table) and shooting that way.

- Bring in other light sources.  Flashlights, desk lamps, standing lamps, whatever you've got, bring it close to what you're trying to photograph and check for bad shadows before you snap that photo.

- Use a light box.  These things are awesome for reflecting and adding some light.  I have an easy tutorial, but photography sites have more complicated versions as - well that you can make.

- Set your white balance. (more on this in two weeks).  You need to know what type of light you're shooting in, and then set your white balance accordingly.

- Increase your exposure compensation.  This can make your photos appear brighter. (more on this next week).
    Here is a much nicer shot - crisp and bright, with good colour:

    f/5, 1/50, 1600ISO

    These tips are a good start to taking better indoor photos.  I hope you have some success with them.  If you have any specific questions about indoor shooting (or anything else), please don't hesitate to ask me.  I'll see if I can find an answer.


    Some Girls Website
    Wedding Photography
    It Works for Bobbi

    This is where I'm partying:

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Zucchini-Caramelized Onion Tart

    Be sure to check out the giveaway I am sponsoring over at Happy Hour Projects (ends Sunday).

    This is still sitting in my belly, making me all food happy as I type this.  I hope I don't get too mushy about it - because it was PHENOMENAL.  I wasn't sure what to make for supper and then remembered that I had taken out puff pastry a few days ago and figured I had better get to using it.

    I stared in the crisper looking at zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, squash.  What to do, what to do?  I finally decided on this:

    f/4.8, 1/60, 1600ISO

    Cut up two onions and caramelize on the stove top (about 15 or 20 minutes).  Near the end, splash with some rice wine vinegar and dried thyme.

    f/7.1, 1/200, 1600ISO

    Roll out the puff pastry and top with the onions.

    F/4.5, 1/1000, 1600ISO

    Next comes some Parmesan cheese and mozzarella.

    F/4.5, 1/640, 1600ISO

    On top of that you can show off your skills by lining up some thinly sliced zucchini.  A little salt and pepper on top.

    F/4.5, 1/500, 1600ISO

    Pop into the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes.

    Add some grated Parmesan on top and broil until it turns that awesome brown.

    F/4.5, 1/200, 1600ISO

    Slice with a pizza cutter and Bob's your uncle.  This would be great as an appetizer as well.

    F/3.8, 1/100, 1600ISO
    Next time I would cut back on the mozzarella a bit.  It was over the top cheesy and sooooo good.

    This is where I'm partying:

    Monday, November 28, 2011


    Did I mention, it's a giveaway? ha ha ha.

    So, today is a little different for a Monday morning.  Instead of a craft, today we are having a giveaway. And by we, I mean Adrianne from Happy Hour Projects and I are having a giveaway.  AND, we will be having another one next Monday as well.

    I know, exciting is this!!

    This week, I will make something for you and next week the talented Adrianne will make something for you.  You can get more details and sign up for the giveaway by heading over to Happy Hour Projects before Sunday, December 4th at midnight.

    I couldn't leave you without a sneak peek.

    So head on over, sign up for the giveaway, and while you're there check out Adrianne's amazing site.  She specializes in great crafts that you can do in an hour or less and has written a novel this month. Yep, you read that right.  So hop on over.  Now.  :)  (did I mention it's a giveaway?)

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    SUNDAY SOUP - Panzanella

    Have you ever had Panzanella salad?  In the middle of summer, it is seriously THE best thing you can eat.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, basil - all fresh from the garden (the key), vinaigrette and stale bread.  I know, I know, but seriously it ends up melding together into a yummy fabulousness.

    But it's nearly winter so why am I teasing you (is that what you're thinking? I would never tease you about food - your hair maybe, not food, lol).

    Well, here is panzanella in soup form.

    I started with sauteeing some garlic and onion in about a tablespoon of olive oil, just until soft.

    Then added a can of diced tomatoes, a pinch of oregano (alas, there is no fresh basil in the house, so oregano was going to have to try to fill basil's shoes) and about 4 cups of veggie stock.

    This simmered for about 30 minutes.  Then I added torn up pieces of a multi-grain bun.  You could use any type of bread.

    Give it a stir so the bread becomes saturated, top it off with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and then just try not to burn your mouth on that cheese as you absolutely cannot wait another second before tasting it.  Completely warmed me up.

    This is where I'm partying:

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Friday's Motivation - Thankful

    Wishing all my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving weekend (because you all celebrate it for 6 days, don't you? lol)




    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Photography Challenge - Week #18

    Let me start by saying Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends who are on the verge of eating way too much.  I'm more than a little bit jealous.  :)

    And now back to our regularly scheduled post -- I think I got my weeks mixed up last week, but I'm back on track again.  This week's theme is "Childhood Memory".  I considered taking a photo of the scar beside my eye from when my brother threw a rock at me, but really my crow's feet have all but eliminated it from view.

    Instead you get a photo of a 42-year-old teddy bear, who is in dire need of some brushing or washing (not sure which) and is missing an eye.  Actually, if my brother would have hit my eye itself, teddy bear and I would be in the same shape.  I guess I'm thankful for that.

    As always, if you want to check out the other entries or submit something yourself, head on over to Laura Beth's site:

    As a special treat this week, I am going to add another photo here for another Photo Challenge that is going on over at Lesley's place (Fabulously Flawed).

    She has a choice of any or all of the following themes:  favourite food, smile, happiness, leaves and/or morning sky.

    My first is happiness.  This is what my husband brought me back from his last trip to Boston - making me extraordinarily happy (it's a tote):

    And now for the leaves, a blast from summer:

    Lastly, how about a smile, from my darling neighbour:

    Check out the other entries or participate yourself over at Fabulously Flawed:

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Photo Tips Series - Take a Step Back

    Last week we talked about creating better photos by getting right in there and filling the frame with our subject.

    This week, we're going to talk about doing the exact opposite.  Don't be afraid, it's going to be painless.  I promise.

    As bloggers, most of the time we should be zeroing in on our craft or recipe (or whatever awesomeness we have just created) because it is THE thing we are showcasing.  However, sometimes you want to tell a story with your photo.  Sometimes you want to take a step back and show the context of your subject. Sometimes, what is surrounding your subject really adds to the photo.

    For example, I have a friend who is now living in New Zealand.  She saw this particular photo below and mentioned that it told a story to her:  the white sheet of ice, all of the children and adults milling about, the advertisement boards at the back.  Obviously, she isn't spending a lot of time in arenas down there so this picture, with all of its details, brought her home.

    Now I know that my nephew, Lucas, is super adorable, but in this case she found it more interesting to see the big picture and the story it is telling.

    Here is a different example.  The first picture shows a cropped version, focusing in on this man's face and it's a great photo of him.

    But if we back out and include his immediate surroundings,, check out the photo below.  What a story it tells! (what the heck IS that thing?)

    I still think that for most of our blogging applications, zooming in is the way to go, but if you're particular post is more about landscape shots or photos that tell stories - you just might want to experiment with backing out.


    Improve Photography

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Bananas Foster

    Though I often have a glass of wine with dinner, we don't really drink liquor at our house.  We do go through a lot of rum though, specifically because I am addicted to this recipe.

    In my mind, the bananas count as a serving of fruit and I serve it over plain yogurt instead of ice cream, so I enjoy it pretty much guilt-free.

    This is for a single hefty serving.

    Start with 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts (I usually use walnuts), and cook until the butter melts.

    Pour 3 to 6 tablespoons of rum into a small bowl.  Remove the butter mixture from the heat and add the rum.  When you put the pan back onto the heat, step back.  It's gorgeous, but hot and dangerous.  (hey that sounds like me,...okay, okay, sorry, back to the dessert).  The reason you pour the rum from the big bottle into a separate bowl is so that you don't inadvertently create a molotov cocktail, sending the entire bottle of rum up in flames.  (I agree that's probably not necessary, but I can't help myself).

    When the flames die down, add the banana chunks.

    Stir and just warm the bananas. Then serve over ice cream or yogurt.  Super yummy.

    This is where I'm partying:

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Sandra's Scarf

    Well, Sandra doesn't know it's her scarf yet - it's a Christmas present.  I wanted to make something for the neighbour kids.  They are true outdoor kids so I thought a winter scarf would be cute.

    I love this yarn.  It is such a pretty combination of purples and greens.

    The pattern was really simple from Naida's Crochet site, but the variegated yarn made it look so much nicer without any effort (or skill) on my part.  That's the kind of trade-off I really like.

    I changed up the fringe.  Instead of crocheting little nubs, I just tied the fringe to the end of the scarf.

    I hope she likes it.  I'm off to start her brother's scarf now.

    This is where I'm partying:

    Make it Great Monday (Etcetorize)Get Your Craft On (Today's Creative Blog)Tuesday Time Out (Reasons to Skip the Housework)Inspiration Board Link Party (Carolyn's Homework)Wow Me Wednesday (Gingersnap Crafts)Wow Us Wednesday (Savvy Southern Style)Fall Into Fall Its A Party (DIY By Design)Creative Spark (Clean and Scentsible)Link It Up Wednesday (Junk in Their Trunk)What We Wore and Made Wednesday (Rae Gun Ramblings)It's a Party (A Creative Princess)SYS Blog Link Party (Somewhat Simple)Freestyle Friday (Happy Hour Projects)Super Sweet Thursday Par-tay (Fabulously Flawed)Flaunt It Friday (Chic on a Shoestring Decorating)Frugal Friday (Shabby Nest)Frugalicious Friday (Finding Fabulous)Weekend Bloggy Reading (Serenity Now Blog)Shine on Fridays (One Artsy Mama)Weekend Wander (While He Was Napping)Sundae Scoop Link Party (I Heart Naptime)Making Monday Marvelous (C.R.A.F.T.)Cure for Common Monday (Lines Across my Face)Make Yourself Monday (For Love of Cupcakes)Take a Look Tuesday (Sugar Bee Crafts)

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    SUNDAY SOUP - Red Lentil Soup

    This is one of my absolute favourite soups that was given to me by one of my absolute favourite people. Becky of Becky and the Beanstock has the full recipe on her site, so go check it out.

    Guess how the recipe starts?  Yes, that's oil and onion sauteeing there, lol.

    I didn't have all of the ingredients, so I made a few changes.  I used a can of diced tomatoes which made my broth, well, redder of course.

    I also did not have any beluga lentils (the black ones) so I just omitted them.

    Have you ever cooked with bulgur?  I got mine at the bulk food store (Bulk Barn).  Here's what it looks like:

    In the final soup, I can't really discern the bulgur but it definitely adds some whole-grain goodness and body to the soup.

    I didn't have mint so I garnished with fresh parsley, along with olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice.

    This soup makes you feel like you're doing something good for your body.  We often make this when one of us is sick.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Friday's Motivation - Body Image

    If one of our friends was upset about how her body looked, we would be able to look at her honestly and see her beauty, probably marvel at her insecurity.  Why in the world don't we cut ourselves the same slack?

    Isn't this one amazing!


    This one is my favourite.  I definitely have to keep it in mind.


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