Saturday, September 12, 2009

Poor little Martha Stewart

After a hectic week, I awoke this morning very pleased at the thought of no plans. Once done with coffee and the paper, I shuffled into the kitchen to see what I could make for breakfast, something in the muffin or scone department. I'm a little burnt out on blueberries and cherries, but am not at all burnt out on zucchini. I found this recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart, and got these little guys mixed up, plopped into their paper sleeves, and into the oven before you could say, "Was Martha Stewart really convicted of insider trading or was that a ludicrous dream now that we know about this guy?"

I've never made anything by Martha Stewart. But I've gotta hand it to the lady, not only can she pull off an orange jumpsuit and prison shackles, she can write a recipe. The muffins came out looking like this, with flecks of green running through them and crusty little tops, tasting of brown sugar and almond extract.

Once again I had to fend off the other hungry dog, who in this picture looks like a giant beast about to crush this poor helpless muffin.

Sorry about the poor quality of that shot. I've been feeling frustrated with my camera, or maybe it's my skills. I have trouble getting enough light in my shots which means half the time the flash goes off, washing everything out. I need to remedy this, because I'm finding it very frustrating to make things I want to share here, and then not ending up with usable photos. I think I need one of those photo/lighting sets, the ones that look like weird little dioramas. Or, a new camera. Or, someone to show me how to use my own camera. I have tried to decipher the ridiculous user's manual but it was only a step up from the quality of directions on how to assemble an IKEA desk. In other words, it did not get me very far.

So, hopefully I'll have some improved photos in the future. If anyone has any advice in the meantime with how to cope with challenging lighting, I'd love to hear it.


  1. I feel your pain. I've been shooting everything on my deck. The cowards way out! "The pioneer Women" web site has some good photo tips. If I ever get 5 minutes, I'll read them. But I did see them and they looked understandable.
    Anyway, I love your post. You dog is too sweet! It's true about Martha, how did she come back after a jail term? Good PR people I guess.
    Keep shooting!

  2. That is one hungry looking doggie - I can almost hear her saying "Just on one taste pleaseee?"

    I was really frustrated with my old camera(blurry pics of everything including the kids) so we ended up getting a Canon G10 which is an amzaing point and shoot. Good luck with it, I completely feel your pain. I'm still working on taking pics at night without extra lighting.Argh.

  3. You probably know all this, but have you tried:
    - boosting the ISO on your camera
    - opening up your aperture all the way (ie, going to the smallest number)This will give you a shallow depth of field. (Never mind. I see that you did this in the photo of the muffin, which is a great photo, BTW)
    - turning OFF the flash and using a piece of white gatorboard or even a mirror to move the light around
    - bringing in indirect light from lamps, etc. to boost the light where you´re shooting.

    Those muffins look wonderful. When I get home from vacation I´m going to try them. Thanks for posting this!

  4. I'm still new to the food photography game, too, but I find that the macro setting sometimes helps, especially for close-up shots. Also, turn off the flash (there is probably a way) and like Kate said, use lamps, cardboard, etc. to get the light where you want it. (Or do your best to take pictures outside in the daytime! You'd be surprised how many of my pictures are taken on the window ledge outside my kitchen.) :)

  5. Just back from vacation and catching up on the myriad blog posts I missed. What a great way to avoid the inevitable Sunday dread associated with heading back to work tomorrow. Thanks!

  6. Gypsy Chef--thank you for pointing me to The Pioneer Woman! I've seen her link on a lot of blogs but never checked it out--I love her site and she has great photo advice. Thank you!

    shaz: I guess all of us who aren't professional photographers are in the same boat, learning as we go...

    Kate: thank you for the tips--I did not know about the ISO.

    croquecamille: I do need to get some better lights and gatorboard...

    Ash: Welcome back! :)

  7. I love the expression on the hungry dog's face! Have you seen Steamy Kitchen's informative post on how she gets her lighting to work? I bought one of the lowell lights and it does help things out a lot, although it adds an additional dimension to the whole process of photographing your food. I prefer natural light and have a bench by a window that I like to use. I keeping wanting to upgrade to a dslr, but love the portability of my point and click digicam.

  8. I second what FoodHoe says about the Lowell lights. They work quite well, especially if you get two of them. Take a basic class in PhotoShop, too. You'll learn a couple of pointers there that will really help you make your photos look like you want them to. And just practice, practice, practice. The more you shoot, the more you learn about what works best for you.

  9. Foodhoe & Food Gal: thanks for the tip about lowell lights and a link to Steamy Kitchen--that's a helpful post. I'm going to order at least one light this week to check it out.