Through My Lens: Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Through My Lens: Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Through My Lens: Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

This post is part of “Through My Lens: An Experiment in Interpretation,” hosted by Culinary Snapshot.

Back in the day, I was really into photography, specifically during high school and college. I took many classes, most of which were on black and white photography and was so enamored with the idea of telling a story through a single captured image that I even hoped to become a photojournalist.

However, the second semester of my senior year of college I enrolled in an advanced color photography class. It was interesting at first to learn about different types of light but I quickly grew bored and wound up dropping the class. Part of the reason was a strong case of senioritis, and the other part was that I missed working with my hands the same way I had in the darkroom when I’d processed my own film and developed the prints. Not to mention that the photo world was rapidly turning digital and I wasn’t sure I was on board with that.

As the years went by (wow, I’m sounding old) I continued to take pictures with a point-and-shoot digital camera but had lost the passion and exuberance I’d once had for photography. But at the same time I was getting more and more into cooking, eventually even quitting my job and attending culinary school.

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Eat with Your Eyes First

Me and my shadow

Me and my shadow

I love my new camera! I’ve been playing with it all weekend like a little kid with a new toy, experimenting with the manual settings I haven’t used since the pre-digital era. The ins-and-outs of aperture, shutter speed, lighting and composition that I studied in college are very slowly coming back to me.
Donut peaches

Donut peaches

The good part is that these skills are forcing me to slow down a bit and focus on food styling. Although I freelance as a food stylist, when it comes to this blog I’m often in such a hurry to eat the food (after all, it’s usually my dinner) that I rush through the styling, forgetting one of the very first lessons I learned in culinary school: you eat with your eyes first.

Donut Peach

Donut Peach

Luckily, Helen from the scrumptiously gorgeous blog Tartelette came to my rescue and directed me to two posts she’s written about food photography: Tips of Food Photography and Snapshot Spotlight with Helen. She also told me about Culinary Snapshot, a fantastic interactive blog from Kristen (Dine & Dish) where food bloggers can share food photography knowledge. Helen, thank you so much for sharing these links with me, they were incredibly helpful and I encourage everyone to take a look themselves.

Donut Peach, same peach different angle

Donut Peach, same peach different angle

As for me, I think it’s time to focus and practice. Ha, get it? Focus. Puns aside, I’m excited to enhance this aspect of the blog, learn new skills and put existing food styling tricks to action. Please feel free to share any tips or tricks you think I should try.

Inside a donut peach

Inside a donut peach

View from my window

View from my window, just 'cause it's fun.

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Camera Drama Ends Well with Roasted Red Pepper Beef Salad

Roasted Red Pepper Beef Salad

Roasted Red Pepper Beef Salad

It’s strange how people develop routines and when one thing goes wrong, the whole routine is out of whack. That’s pretty much what happened to me this week after my camera broke. Well, it only half broke, the truth is that it’s still functional but the focus is hit-or-miss and the macro setting is kaput.

No macro + no focus = unappetizing food photos. And that’s something I desperately want to avoid.

But as someone who’s become accustomed to using a camera while cooking (think wooden spoon in one hand, camera in the other), this was quite a setback. So much so that I spent most of the week bringing my poor little point-and-shoot to camera doctors all over the Chicago area. And I was afraid to cook anything important without my camera by my side lest I miss something good.

In the end I was forced to make a very adult decision: yesterday afternoon I purchased a brand spanking new DSLR, a Canon EOS Rebel XSi.

I’m still trying to learn how to use my new toy, so please be patient while I get the hang of it. You wouldn’t believe all the buttons and options this thing has! My first attempt at using it was for this roasted red pepper beef salad, and I took the photo before I’d even looked at the manual. What can I say, I was too hungry to study.

Despite the distraction of a new toy, I did take a few minutes to enjoy this fabulous roasted red pepper beef salad. There’s no exact recipe for it as I used ingredients I had on hand including leftover top sirloin, my new favorite cut of meat, so consider this “recipe” to be a “guide” instead. The flavors in this salad work extremely well together, although I felt it could have used a bit extra punch, so next time I’ll add some very thinly sliced red onions.

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