lunchbox session 2

30 Nov 2011

Do you remember a week or so I ago, I answered one of Michelle's questions in the first lunchbox session? Well Michelle posted 2 questions and here's the second of her questions.

When I look at your travel shots, I really like the way the lighting appears - rich and vibrant but not too contrasting like lots of difference in shadow and highlights. Nothing burnt or washout, both indoor and outdoor, really nice and even lighting. Is it possible to ask you for any tips that you would share for achieving the rich and even tone?

A simple question but one that isn't all that easy to answer because there are so many different elements involved, so here goes.

When I bought my new camera I did a bit of online research looking for the best way to set up the camera. I followed their recommendations and now have a few pre-programmed settings for portraits and landscapes. One is a bit more colour saturated than the other.

I prefer nice even lighting so I look for the best light.

If I can't find it in one direction, I turn around and shoot from the other direction, or I look for shade. If I can, I'll come back later when the light is better. I wait for people to move so I can get the cleanest shot I can.

I shot this image at Carriageworks, an old railway maintenance building flooded with beautiful light. All I had to do was point and shoot.

Window light is also nice light, which is how I light all my food photography.

For my food photography I control the light. I move around my apartment as the lighting changes during the day. Sometimes I'll shoot by the window in the kitchen, later on I shoot in the living room or in my sunroom. I usually shoot food either back-lit or side lit. I use white foam board to either block or reflect light. If it doesn't look right to me, then I change the set-up.

Colour Management
You need to make sure your monitor is colour calibrated so what you see on the screen is what you see if you get your work printed.

For print I use the colour space recommended by the lab or printing company and soft proof in Photoshop if they have a specific colour profile.

For the web I prepare my images using the sRGB colour space. If you don’t, your images will look very washed out once uploaded.

I use an old version of Photoshop, CS2, which suits me fine but I am thinking of investing in Lightroom 3. I shoot in RAW and make adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) if needed, then export as jpegs.

I've made a few presets in ACR which adjust brightness and add a vignette.

If I don't like the outcome from the presets, I make some adjustments manually.

You can always save those as presets, which you then apply across a number of images shot under the same lighting conditions. That helps to speed up the image processing saga.

Once the jpegs are exported I do little else except resize for web and sharpen, though sometimes I might adjust the levels.

Apart from a Nikon black and white conversion action, I don't use any other Photoshop actions other than resizing actions I've made myself to speed up the blogging process. I want my images to look as much like film as possible and still shoot black and white film when I can.

Before uploading the images, I use Boutwell Magic Glasses from Totally Rad Actions at ~25%. It's a sharpening action which I got it as a free download from their website.

I've always loved photography but didn't take it seriously until my Dad bought me a Nikon film SLR many years ago. I took some camera courses but pretty much shot everything on AUTO. Then 9 years ago I bit the bullet and enrolled in a Certificate in Photography course.

It took me 2 years to complete the course and everything I learned was film based. Each week we shot on film, which we then developed and printed in the darkroom. Whatever processing I do is similar to what I did in the darkroom.

I had to learn how to use Photoshop and a digital camera after I graduated.
I took some courses; looked for answers online and practised, practised, practised. I shoot every week and have done so for the past 3 years. That way I have stuff to show on my blog but it's enabled me to know my camera's strengths and weakness/how it meters/what it's focus is like.

I still shoot as though I'm using film. I try to get the image as right as I can in camera to avoid too much post processing. I consider what I'm shooting/why I'm shooting that scene and how best to shoot it. I then try to put my own spin on it. I don't want my images to look like every-one else's and that's why I've attached this image of Sacre Coeur, shot from behind. It's a different point of view which I think is just as beautiful.

My style developed through shooting weddings as weddings involve fashion photography/documentary photography with a bit of food and interior photography thrown in for good measure and there are no second chances!

I've got a busy weekend ahead with another wedding, though this time I'm going as a guest. I'm sure one of my cameras will be coming along with me though.

So until the next time then,


sweet and spicy souvenirs - blueberry crumble cake on a jeanine eek keizer plate

28 Nov 2011

I bought a beautiful plate when I was in Berlin. It's a redipped Rosenthal Maria plate, part of the colour tableware line by Jeanine Eek Kezier. I carried it back home to Sydney carefully wrapped in bubble wrap. But what to make? Well naturally it had to contain something blue, so I made a blueberry crumble cake inspired by a Belinda Jeffrey recipe I found in Delicious magazine.

I used my 'go to' butter cake recipe flavoured with cinnamon and lemon, folded through the floured blueberries and topped the cake with the crumble mix a la the recipe. It smelt delicious.

My gas oven has been causing me problems since June. I had it 'fixed' but now it goes out at will and usually at the worst possible moments. It went out about halfway through the baking of this cake, which caused the cake to sink ever so slightly in the middle.

I took the cake into work and it disappeared in a flash, which is always a good sign. I've been so busy, my own slice sat in the freezer until last Friday. So what did I think? The cake was very moist and not particularly sweet. The crumble topping was delicious so I'd certainly use it again though maybe with some other fruit. 

Meanwhile, what happened to the weekend? It just disappeared in a flash and here I am back at work again. How does that happen??

See you all again on Wednesday,


Sweet and spicy souvenirs - salted chocolate caramel tartlets

23 Nov 2011

Today's sweet and spicy souvenir comes from E. Dehillerin in Paris. I was looking for some straight sided tart shells and came home with 4 of them. I don't think anyone has ever bought such a small quantity from there because the sales staff kept asking 'is that all?'

But what to make? Well actually I knew exactly what to bake - these little chocolate caramel tartlets based on this recipe by Valli Little.

Instead of chocolate pastry, I decided to make some chocolate flecked pastry by grating about 40 grams of chocolate into my shortcrust pastry recipe. You have to be careful not to overwork the dough or you'll lose the flecks.

My favourite part of the whole process - the caramel. I sprinkled a little bit of pink sea salt over the caramel before topping it with the chocolate custard mixture.

I was going to gussy up this picture but I decided that simple was best, which pretty much sums up my approach to styling.

Here's my almond shortcrust pastry recipe.

¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1¼ cups plain flour
110 gm (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
cold water
40 grams of dark chocolate, grated

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and a little cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade.

Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; gently knead in the dark chocolate until just combined. Flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin. Grease eight 10 cm tartlet tins. Cut out circles of pastry large enough to fit the tart shells. Line the tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Lightly prick the pastry surface with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Line the tart shells with muffin liners and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tart shells are golden then remove paper and weights. Place the tart shells on a wire rack to cool.

How did they taste? YUM!

See you all again next week,


adam and vanessa

21 Nov 2011

I've been busy working on Adam and Vanessa's wedding photos and I thought you might like to see a few of them.

As I wasn't meeting the bride and groom 'til later in the day I started the day with a walk to Noosa National Park. Next stop was the Sheraton Hotel, where the boys were getting ready.

We went down to the lobby to take a few portraits of the boys before I made my way over to the girls place.

The girls getting ready.

Here is the lovely Amelia, Vanessa's bridesmaid.

The gorgeous bride, Vanessa.

The girls.

Off to the ceremony site to take some detail shots before the arrival of the guests.

Adam waiting for his bride. Doesn't he look so happy?

The bride on her way. I think the back of her dress is even prettier than the front.

The wedding ceremony was conducted by the lovely Lisa Blackmore from I-Do Weddings

We didn't have a great deal of time, so after the family photos we made our way down to the beach for a few portraits.

I love this one. Adam and Vanessa have this one framed at home.

My favourite photo from the day.

The bridal party.

We were joined by some brush turkeys for this photo. I did tell Adam and Vanessa that I wanted their wedding photos to be different!

Another black and white image.

We walked back along Hastings Street on our way to the Sheraton. Vanessa looked so gorgeous that she literally stopped traffic.

We made our way through the Sheraton to the jetty and stopped for a quick photo or two. We had about 2 minutes spare before the bridal party had to catch their speedboat to Ricky's so I quickly took these photos of Vanessa.

What a great way to travel to your wedding reception.

I had a few moments before Adam and Vanessa were due to arrive, so I took some photos of Ricky's.

The sun sets really quickly in Noosa but we managed to catch this image just in time.

Just a few photos from the reception.

An image I shot on film.

The cake cutting.

Technically a disaster of a photo when my flash failed to fire, but I love it.

The bride and groom partied on with their guests til the wee small hours but this photo chick (not how I would describe myself but that's what one of the guest's called me) needed her beauty sleep.

To Adam and Vanessa, I hope you're having a great time in Bali. Love to you both,



Noosa wedding

16 Nov 2011

I went to Noosa last weekend, one of my favourite destinations.

My good friends, Adam and Vanessa, flew me up from Sydney to shoot their wedding.

They chose Casuarina Gardens overlooking Noosa's Main Beach for their ceremony location and Trudy from Lovebird Weddings made sure the day ran smoothly.

The bride chose a gorgeous dress from Mariana Hardwick and flowers from Mondo Floral Designs.

We took some photos on Noosa's Main Beach before an amazing dinner at Ricky's on Noosa River.

I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek of my Noosa trip,


blueberry chocolate chunk cookies

13 Nov 2011

I should be editing a whole stack of images, but I've snuck a way for a few moments to write this blog post. I've been away for the weekend and came home last night to the washing, the ironing and the grocery shopping. Oh for a domestic elf!

When I was in London I dropped by the Notting Hill branch of Ottolenghi one evening. I was so taken with the food there I vowed to buy one of their cookbooks when I returned home.

The cookbook arrived last week but this Ottolenghi recipe is not from the cookbook. I found it online here. I'd not used dried blueberries before, so I was interested to see what they tasted like. I found them way too sweet eaten straight from the pack but they tasted fine in the cookie.

I made a batch and used white chocolate chunks in one half of the dough and made the other half using dark chocolate chunks. I really don't know which flavour I prefer.

I baked a dozen cookies and since then I've been so busy, the remaining cookie dough has been in the freeze waiting to be baked. Maybe I'll have time this coming weekend.

I hope you all had great weekends. Got to fly,

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