Saturday, January 30, 2010

Soft, Soft Light

While sitting at my desk, hands poised to type, I noticed that I spend a lot of time staring into space... or so I thought at first.  Turns out, I just solved the mystery as to why I keep the sheers in my apartment (/office) closed most of the day.  I LOVE DIFFUSE LIGHT!  Yep, I'll scream it from the roof tops and run through the streets proclaiming my undying devotion to beautiful, wonderful, soft, soft light.  There was a time when I thought I loved hard light, sharp edges, uber-saturated colours and fashion photography (I know.. I know... but you photographers out there know you went through that "photography is such a glamorous career to get into" phase too).  Now, don't get me wrong, I love light in all it's forms, and there is a place and an image for all kinds (even poorly colour-balanced light), but when I really got down to thinking about it today - I remembered that the soft, gentle blending of light into shadow is what really captured me about photography.  I guess what I'm trying to work out here is: how did I move so easily from shooting people, in very staged and controlled environments, to shooting food?  Well, it hit me as I sat watching the light coming through my sheers changing oh so subtly.  I absolutely adore light and what you can do with it.  How you can shape it and control it or how it can surprise you by hitting just the right place and creating a magic moment.
I guess that for me it comes down to the fact that light can really make an image magical.  Whether I shoot light spilling in through a window that just barely brushes a subject's face or I shoot a basket of muffins where the light just skims their surfaces, I still attack my subjects and image-making in the same way.  At the end of the day it's all about how light enters a space and interacts with the things there.. people or food.. it's all the same..
Here's the main course from our New Years Eve dinner (thanks Scott!) - stay tuned for dessert.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Promise is a Promise

I've been a bit under the weather this week so my blog seems to be taking a bit of a hit.  I did, however, make a promise to post at least twice a week.  And I do believe that a promise is a promise so in lieu of an incoherent blog post I give you cornbread.

Prop Styling by Cheryl Thompson

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Ephiphany in Puff Pastry

I've fallen a bit behind in updating you about my baking arts class, so let's rewind a week and talk apple pie.  I was quite pleased with my first attempt at making a pie.  Actually, I was more than pleased.  It only took four days for my husband Zac and to I polish off the entire thing with only a single slice going to a friend.  Further proof of this pie's yumminess is that I made a fresh one to take to a little dinner party last weekend and Zac and I managed to help out with that one too. (P.S. the second one was even better!)  Usually I'm more of a pie filling kind of gal.  My crust often gets left behind sad, lonely, dry and uneaten.  Not this time and never again!  I've seen the light, heard the angels sing, had a flaky pastry epiphany!  Never again shall I pine for a firm yet tender, melt in your mouth pastry shell or choke down a dry flavorless one....well, at least not if I'm the one handling the dough.
I planned to save my first pie so I could shoot it whole but it just didn't happen.  By the time my lovely pie and I got home, there was no daylight to speak of and the temptation to cut into it was just too high.  Luckily, I snapped a quick shot with my iphone as I was packing up the pie for our short trip home.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dirty Dishes

I'm beginning to develop a bit of an attraction to empty, actually, almost-empty plates.  As my husband said to me a few weeks ago, when I was musing about what it was that was attracting me to dirty dishes, 'good food leaves good looking residue.'  I think he hit it somewhat on the nose but I feel like it goes a bit deeper than that.  What remains, or doesn't, helps to tell a story.  Be it a story about a great meal, or perhaps a not so good one.  It might be a small insight into who the dish belonged to.  Maybe they like their french toast stacked neatly and doused in honey or maybe they don't like peas or maybe nothing on their plate is allowed to touch.  Regardless of what it is, these are all little clues that can hint at someone's personality.  Maybe it's not all that important but I find it very intriguing.  I guess that's part of why I love being a photographer.  It's all in the details for me.

Here's a pair of images from our New Years Eve dinner.  A little before and after if you will.  (Not to worry, I cleared my plate of every delicious morsel.  I just couldn't help but stop to take a shot of this great looking plate.)  If you're at all as into the details as I am, I was debating what my last mouthful should be when I shot this frame.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Something Pink

Well, I talked your ear off a bit yesterday so today will be short, sweet and pink.

Prop Styling by Cheryl Thompson

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shoot Lots and Shoot Often

For the longest time I was afraid of my camera.  Six years ago, (man how time flies!) I achieved a fair bit of attention for my OCAD thesis project.  I was published in the Applied Arts Photography and Illustration Annual and was asked to join the roster of a prominent commercial gallery in the city (with the assumption that I would be producing more work).  After that I developed a block.  A fear of never being able to top my best and most successful work to date.  Maybe this was a little too early in my career to mentally crap out but I'm glad it happened then and not now.  I spent those six years working closely with and learning from other photographers as an assistant and a producer.  In the six years I only picked up my camera a handful of times despite all the support and encouragement I was given by family, friends, photographers I was working/meeting with and even the odd photo editor/art director.  I was constantly getting in my own way, finding reasons why I wasn't able to shoot and never bringing my camera with me.  I even managed to "forget" my point and shoot when I went to any event that may require me to fire off a few happy snaps.  It sounds crazy but I was a photographer who was terrified of shooting.  The biggest thing for me was that I was afraid of taking a bad photo and especially afraid that someone might see it and I would 'never work in this town again'.

Fast forward to about three months ago:
As wacky as it sounds my iphone is what has resurrected the prospect of and my drive to have a career as a photographer.  The little crappy camera in my iphone has jump started the inspiration center in my brain.  By having an iphone I was instantly forced to carry a camera with me at all times.  When I started following Chase Jarvis and using his Best Camera app (which I mentioned briefly in a previous post and I'm sure will mention again) I began shooting A LOT.  Taking crappy photos (or decent ones that looked like crap) on my phone lessened the stress of having to produce the perfect image every time.  After all, how good could a camera phone pic be anyway?  The piles of camera phone photos were fun but sometimes I would shoot something that really had potential to be great and the resolution/quality was obviously not enough.  This led me to begin carrying my real camera around with me (not every day but a lot).  All thanks to my iphone, my passion has been reignited and I am proud to report that I am snap happy again.  I've got a notebook filling with ideas faster than I can shoot them.

Even now the fear still lingers but I'm learning to say 'fuck it' and pick up my camera.  I'm still not completely comfortable with the prospect of taking shitty photos but I know the more I shoot the better I will become.  Not everything I put onto film (well, mostly pixels) is going to be portfolio worthy and I'm learning to be ok with that.

This has become something that is constantly on my mind and it seems as though it's on the mind of others as well.  Heather Morton's recent post has generated a great little discussion on her blog.  I absolutely agree with her when she says that photographers need to:

Shoot everyday.
Shoot everything.
Shoot all the time.'

With that I'll leave you with a couple iphone shots of a delicious middle eastern meal my mom and I shared last week.

Happy Shooting!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I am obsessed with hamburgers!  Nothing gets me going like a great burger.  I think about food 95% of the time and I'd say that about 80% of that is time spent thinking about when I'll be having my next burger and what I'll be having on it.  At the moment, I've got two faves:
  1. Pineapple and bacon with smokey BBQ sauce and fresh mozzarella
  2. Just a big 'ol hunk of melty gooey brie.
I am on a never-ending quest for the perfect burger.  So I'm pretty sure, that in a backwards kind of way, that's what has spawned a new project for me.  Without giving away the details, I'll be putting fast food burgers under my lens.  For some reason I'm fascinated by them but can't bring myself to eat them.  Maybe I'm a snob, maybe I just like to know what animal I'm eating before I put it in my mouth...  In any event, keep your eyes peeled for my burgers.
All this hamburger talk has kicked me into craving mode.... ah well, not tonight.  Good thing I have a batch of succulent ribs waiting for me.  A friend of mine passed this recipe on to me and I was asked to "pass on the ribby gospel."  Not only are these fantastic they are dead easy!  You'll find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

My photos today are completely unrelated to burgers but are yummy none the less.  These are of the cheese platter at a dinner party I went to on New Years Eve this year.  There will be more photos of the meal coming soon.

BBQ Spareribs from Madame Benoit's Cooks at Home

3lbs of spare ribs (back ribs are best -- the ones with a large pocket of meat attached)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. bacon fat... See More
3 onions
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp curry
1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup consomme
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard

Brown the garlic in the bacon fat and cut the spareribs into individual serving-size portions. Remove the garlic from the fat and brown the spareribs quickly. Place both the garlic and the meat in a baking dish. Slice the onions over the meat.

Mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the meat and onions. Cover and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 1/2 hours. Serves 6.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pining for Polaroid

I'd like to promise that I'll be posting a blog entry every day, but I'm sure that I'd be lying off the bat and I'm thinking that that's not the best way to start off a new relationship.  Now, since we're starting off honestly, I will do my best to post something minimum twice a week... even if it's just an iphone shot (I do love my Best Camera app!).
Two things on my mind today: 1. How to ditch my partner in cooking class and 2. Polaroids
I'll get back to #1 in a second...
I've been thinking about pulling out all that expired film from my freezer and putting my beautiful Pentax 645 lenses back onto their rightful body to give them a break from my 5DMKII.  Unfortunately, my Pentax doesn't have a polaroid back and can't be fitted for one.  Since I've been thinking more about old yellowing polaroids than I have been about film I'm going to begin my search for a polaroid camera that you can still buy film for.
 Back to #2.  Ditching my partner.  Day one of cooking class was great.  We got our uniforms, goofy hat and neckerchief included, and we made the pastry for the apple pies we'll be making next week.  But I digress...  I'm a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to baking.  As my friends and family can attest to I can get a bit testy when it comes to people not measuring properly, scaling their ingredients or doing things in the wrong order.  Long story short, when baking with me, the 'chat with the chef but don't touch the ingredients' approach usually works best.  Seeing as I'm already planning to show up early for class to weigh out our ingredients by myself, we'll see how it goes.  Perhaps along with making some killer baked goods this class will teach me to play nice in the kitchen...

Here's a Baked Cannelloni that I have been fighting with for the last week.  Subtle tweak after subtle tweak and I think I'm finally satisfied.  I'm open to any comments/critique if you're up for giving it.  Leave them here or email me at reena [at]

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 1 x 2

OK, So today is a day of firsts for me.  First attempt at my own blog and first day back to school in a looong time.  I'm off to George Brown to bump up my baking skills in what I'm sure will be a quick and intense three months.  As much as I am consumed by what one could call a food obsession, my one true love is (and always will be) photography.  During the last couple of months I have discovered that I am able to marry my love of food and a good prime lens quite easily.  I have decided to put my portrait photography on hold for the moment to really allow myself to explore and become immersed in the world of food photography.
I suspect that this blog will be a bit of a mish mash.  Lost of food photos, maybe some recipes and I'm sure a few links to photography sites that make me oooh and aaaah.  To be honest I'm not quite sure exactly what direction this blog is going to take but I'll chalk that up to sense of adventure and leave it to chance.

I guess the only thing left to say is welcome aboard.  Hope you enjoy the ride!
And just to get you salivating, I'll leave you with a chocolate tart.

Prop Styling by Cheryl Thompson