|Plum and Cinnamon Oat Slice. April 2011. Photographed at a friend's place. I like the composition and the natural light. Nostalgia is also very powerful in photos. I love these sunflower plates that we ate off when I shared a student house with Nicki.|
Choosing my Top Ten Photos wasn't easy, but at least the questionable quality of many of my photos made it easier to shortlist. My favourite recipes aren't always the ones with the best photos. And here is the frustration. When I love a recipe, I want the photo to reflect just how good it is. Yet it still feels like great luck when I am really happy with my photos. I have a lot to learn. Below and in the captions on my photos are some reflections.
|Gingerbread biscuits. August 2009. I love these Aussie cookie cutters. This photo has nice natural light and I like how the koala on the plate echos the koala biscuit.|
|Haggis Nachos. January 2012. The tartan table runner and gingerbread men serviette signify Hogmanay or New Year. I like how the darker background makes the nachos seem lighter.|
What I like in styling my photos:
- Natural light. I can see in these photos what a difference natural light makes. It is not always easy to get my timing right. Some days I take photos in the morning but it is often done in a rush without time to think through a photo.
- Colours. I know that the accepted wisdom is that white is great to show up the food but I love colours and patterns. I need to learn to tame them sometimes.
- Plates and bowls. I collected quite a few of these that I love which enhance photos.
- Surfaces. My kitchen table is plain white. Too plain for me. I've started collecting fabrics, tea towels, serviettes etc with the sort of patterns I love. They need to be subtle enough to let the food be the star but pretty enough to make the heart sing.
- Aerial views. I noticed that some of my favourite photos are taken from above. Not only do they block out the clutter but they often tell more of a story than my usual close ups.
- Hands. I don't like to show faces on my blog but I find hands very expressive. They bring action and emotions to the photos.
|Smoky lime peanut baked sweet potatoes. June 2012. A quick lunchtime snap. New camera made the focus right, new teatowel looked pretty under the plate and I had lots of midday light. Plus I think I got the colours right.|
- Clutter. My house is full of clutter that clamours for attention in the back of photos. I have got better at removing it but still need to work on this. A cheap foam board is a start.
- Getting the focus right! It is so frustrating to have everything right in a photo except the focus.
- No dedicated space to photograph. I take photographs in the midst of the chaos in our kitchen. I love seeing the spaces that bloggers set up for their photos but it just doesn't happen here.
- Taking pictures with a small girl underfoot. Often I am racing to take a photo before Sylvia grabs something out of the arrangement.
- Drinks. I find it really hard to photography drinks either as the star or in the background.
- Using the manual settings on my camera. I really need to practise using these to understand them better. Reading about this lately has made me think a good start might be to use the aperture only setting.
- Maybe I need to get some decent photo editing software. I use the most basic editing tools that comes with the computer and could really do with a tad more sophistication.
|Condensed milk fudge sauce. January 2008. This photo is not perfect but I still love it. The fruit is nicely arranged and catches the light like an old Masters still life. If I had my time over I would have reheated the sauce.|
I was attracted to Pinterest by its clean elegant style. It it so appealing to look at. I was frustrated that I had to have a Facebook or Twitter account to sign up but I dutifully signed up to Facebook. (Incidentally I am only using Facebook in a very limited fashion and am still very wary about it.) It then took me a while to work out about Followers and Following.
|Pumpkin fairy cakes. July 2011. This is Sylvia's hand. We decorated these cake for Dolly's tea party and the bright colours of the spotted plate and the kiddie table are cheerful enough for a children's party.|
- I have found that some people I have not chosen to follow have got into these feeds and I can't work out how to get them out.
- I sometimes wish that people who follow me didn't have to see everything that I pin. For example when I did all the pinning from my blog during the Olympics closing, it seemed like navel gazing and I wasn't sure everyone needed to see that. It would be nice (but probably impractical) to decide what to share and what not to.
- I dislike how when I repin an image, the person's comments also are repinned. Again, I understand this is a matter of practicality. But I hate how it looks like I said that the brownies were the best ever or that my kid loved the snacks. I try and edit the comments on pins I repin but there are days when attention to detail is lacking.
- I try to include the name of the blog or website in the label/comment because it helps to promote it and also helps me remember where it is from.
- It is helpful when I repin to see other pins from that person's board and form the blog/website where the pin has come from.
|Pear and Walnut Chutney. July 2009. Good food photography is about suggestions for how to eat a dish. Bread and cheese and chutney is such a satisfying simple supper. The chopping board gives it a touch of rustic charm.|
- Pinterest is great for sharing ideas with other people. I find it much easier to send a url to a board of pictures if we are talking about lots of ideas than to send a list of urls.
- One of the attractions of Pinterest is the clean design. When an image has a really long label or too many comments this messes up the look.
- I am still a bit unsure as to whether to create lots of specific boards or keep to just a few boards.
- I have written before about Pinterest copyright issues. I prefer to repin from someone else than to pin from a website. I generally try to pin from sites that are clear that they endorse pinning.
- I really liked Nupur's post on Pinterest etiquette at One Hot Stove.
|Cheese and onion beer bread. June 2012. I took this photo for the Queen's Jubliee earlier this year. I love the blue, red and white stripes that are so very royal but even more Mod!|
Long before Pinterest there was Delicious. Whereas Pinterest is great for choosing and sharing images, Delicious's strength is in organising and tagging urls. (There are thumbnail images but they are not nearly as pretty as Pinterest). While Pinterest is easy on the eye, I am still using Delicious because it is far more practical.
I don't know any fellow blogger who doesn't get overwhelmed by bookmarks. Blogs offer far more recipes than we can ever make or remember. Searching the tags in Delicious turns up recipes from years ago that I had forgotten about. For example, if I want to search for a cake that is vegan and chocolate, I find it far easier to search recipes in Delicious than in any other system that I have used. It is amazing what old recipes have been found thanks to this system!
|Cheesy Carrot Nut Roast. April 2012. This is my favourite nut roast photo. Simple with lots of natural light and a small depth of field (ie blurry background). I particularly love just how meaty the nut roast appears.|
Enter the new kid in town. I have been aware of Eat Your Books for some time now but have only signed up in the last few weeks. You can browse my bookshelf via the link on my right hand menu. Eat Your Books is a system of indexing the recipes on cookbooks to make them searchable online. It is a great idea but I am still unsure of how it will work in practice.
Some numbers re Eat Your Books:
- To date, 104,218 books are included on the Eat Your Books library list. Even so, I couldn't find all my books on Eat Your Books. Some of my cookbooks are quite local and couldn't be found. (There may be a way to add them but I am not sure.)
- So far I have added 109 books to my virtual bookshelf.
- On my virtual bookshelf, 30 books have been indexed and another 2 are listed as to be indexed soon. I gather that over time more and more books will be indexed.
- I like that we can also add blogs but so far there only 39 blogs are indexed. (I guess the amount of blogs will increase.)
- It seems that on my virtual bookshelf, I can only search a fraction of my cookbooks. Unfortunately the ones that I can search are not necessarily the ones I prefer to use. You could argue this is good or bad!
- Who knew there were so many cookbooks in the world! When selecting my cookbooks from the library, I found it confusing was that there are many versions of many books that I own. Often I own an Australian edition but the USA edition is indexed. Some indexed books are linked to other editions. Multiple entries of books makes it hard to find the right edition. Thumbnails of covers helps.
- I like the system but it seems a lot of work. It took quite some time to add my cookbooks to my bookshelf. I can also add recipes but it seems a lot more work than tagging online recipes on Delicious and there are no images of recipes as far I can tell.
- Most frustrating is when searches bring up the meat recipes from my omnivore cookbooks. Fortunately a lot of my cookbooks are vegetarian. Delicious is better in bringing up only the recipes I choose to bookmark but it is not nearly as comprehensive. Incidentally, I have noticed that I can bookmark recipes so if I had the time this might help fix this issue.
- The biggest attraction of Eat Your Books is that is allows me to search my cookbooks so quickly when I don't have the time to flick through all my cookbooks. It has great potential to rescue cookbooks from being neglected in favour of online recipes.
Update August 2014: I have been enjoying using Eat Your Books when I want to cook with a particular ingredient. It helps me identify recipes in my cookbooks and actually does as it intends and takes me away from my online recipes and back to my bookshelves.
|Apricot Delight. September 2011. I bought these bowls at Tea Too and still had lots of orange wrapping paper which I used as a background. It nicely complemented the colour of the Apricot Delight.|
- Pinterest: pinterest.com/johannaggg
- Delicious: www.delicious.com/gggiraffe07
- Eat Your Books: www.eatyourbooks.com/member/johannaggg
Do you have accounts with these sites? What do you think of them? I'd love to hear your thoughts and if you have an account that you would like to share, I'd be interested to have a look.