Food Friday – Classic Risotto

Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato Risotto in a Copper Saucepan

During the cold winter months, we all turn to comfort foods to warm our soul. Instead of the standard gluten, fat and carbohydrate laden mac and cheese I like to kick up the sophistication a level with risotto. Risotto is made with Arborio rice and cooked in a way that makes it thick and sticky, not unlike mac and cheese, but with more complexity. It can be augmented with so many healthy vegetable add-ins like this Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato Risotto. Risotto still provides that warm, cheesy goodness that we crave in the cold months, but with a little more style and nutrition. Below is my basic risotto recipe which you can add all sorts of yummy things to.

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Basic Risotto Recipe:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 onion chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup of dry white wine
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and add chopped onion. Cook until onion is softened then add Arborio rice and stir until translucent. Add wine and stir until evaporated. Add one cup of stock and stir until absorbed. Continue to add stock one cup at a time. When nearly all the stock is absorbed, add vegetables and stir until stock is absorbed and vegetables are heated. Remove pot from heat and stir in grated Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of butter; mix throughly, season with salt and pepper and serve. Garnish with greens or parsley and additional grated cheese.

Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato Risotto in a Copper Saucepan

If you would like to add any of these images to your blog, magazine or other publication, you may license them at iStock.com by clicking on any of the images above.

Have a happy Friday! Keep warm and cozy!

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Make Today Different

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This weekend was a good weekend for the simple reason that I did something different. On Saturday morning I had agreed to help out a friend by giving her husband a ride to the airport AT 3:45AM! Rather than looking at getting up a 3AM as pain, I looked at it as an adventure… something different. I actually get a kick out of driving around in the wee hours of the morning; it makes me feel like I’m engaged in some clandestine activity! LOL! And since I was getting up early, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take some sunrise photos. So, after the airport drop, I headed out to Sandy Point State Park to photograph the bay bridge at sunrise.

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I got there in plenty of time, even after a leisurely breakfast on the way. But, as true landscape photographers know, the good color often comes quite a bit before the official sunrise time. Above is an iPhone photo taken at 5:59AM; official sunrise was 6:40AM on Saturday at this location. The lead photo was taken only six minutes after.

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So often one day blurs into the next. We get so caught up in our daily lives of work, kids and chores. It pays big dividends in the form of fond memories to get out of the rut and do something different. I’m glad I opted for the cool, quiet solitude of the Chesapeake Bay Saturday morning instead of crawling back into bed!

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All photos shot with a Nikon D800 and the Nikkor 24-120mm f/4.0 lens and are available on iStock.com for licensing.

Posted in Behind the Scene, Inspiration, Introspection, iStockPhoto Images, Locations, Musings | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Adobe MAX in Pictures

20141007_0295 web logoLast week I had the awesome opportunity to attend Adobe MAX. I had never been before, and I have to say, I was impressed! I had been to other types of conferences before including Photoshop World, but Adobe MAX had all the others beat in many ways.

2014-10-07 07.41.21 web logoMAX was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, in downtown LA from October 4th. through the 8th. The first two days were really pre con events; the actual conference started on the 6th. I can’t say that downtown LA or the LACC is my favorite venue, but the area immediately around the convention center was nice with LA Live and lots of eateries.

2014-10-06 09.36.43 web logoThe main conference started out at 9:30AM Monday morning with a general session in the Nokia Theatre with lots of seat vibrating music and excitement about new technology. Many new iOS apps were presented – one I want to try for sure was Adobe Shape. Three quarters of the way though the session both Adobe’s and Microsoft’s CEO took the stage to talk an exciting new joint effort using the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and announced that everyone would be receiving a free Surface Pro 3!  What a way to start the conference!

After than exciting news, everyone headed off to the fabulous lunch that Adobe provided. Of eight or so conferences I’ve been to, the food service at MAX was absolutely the best!!! High quality hot and cold foods with options for vegetarians and gluten free diners. And, yummy desserts too!

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After that, everyone headed out to their breakout sessions or to the expo floor.

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The second day started out with a grab and go breakfast provided by Adobe and then more breakout sessions and time for exploring on the floor. At 1PM was the second General Session entitled “Community Inspires Creativity” where we heard from many diverse artists, including  Weird Al Yakovic, Ami Vitale, Lee Hirsch and others.

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Weird Al Yankovic

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Ami Vitale

One of my favorite stories told during this session was how Ami Vitale’s backpack was stolen during a pilgrimage in the Himalayas. She said it turned out to be a good thing because the pilgrims shared their food and blankets with her and it brought her closer to the people she was with. I love when a person can see a misfortune as a blessing!

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Lee Hirsch

Lee Hirsh, an independent film maker spoke about his “Bully Project” film and brought tears to my eyes. You can read more about his project and see the film trailer at the Bully Project website:http://www.thebullyproject.com/

20141007_0398 web logoAfter that General Session, we had more breakout sessions and then at 6PM we were back in the Nokia Theater for Adobe Sneak Peaks! Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Adobe’s Ben Forta MC’d the presentations by the developers. There were so many interesting initiatives presented by many developers I can’t remember them all.  These are some amazingly young and intelligent people! I think my favorite as a photographer was the “Defog” shown below:

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As if Sneak Peeks weren’t exciting enough, Adobe finished Tuesday off with the Adobe MAX Bash! It was like nothing I had ever seen before! A whole city block was fenced off and canopies and stages set up. Food and drink of all sorts, lots of music and lights, and then a live performance by the Kings of Leon!

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I’m glad I met a new friend at MAX to share it with! Meet Annette:

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And finally, the Kings of Leon! What a night!!!

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Wednesday was calm by comparison, with more breakout sessions. I think my favorite speaker will always be Julieanne Kost, with her humorous and sometimes self-deprecating but also interesting presentations. It was also really interesting to see and hear Thomas Knoll, the cofounder of Photoshop, speak about how he uses the products he created! He has some awesome photography and has traveled to some really exotic places. You can see his portfolio here: http://tknoll.com

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Julieanne Kost

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Thomas Knoll

I am so fortunate to have been able to attend Adobe MAX! I have Megan Kirkwood of Adobe to thank for the opportunity. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to go again, but if you have the opportunity to go, don’t pass it up!!!

 

 

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In Memory…

Holding Hands

Today’s image is a celebration of true love, a love that left this world September 11th. I am posting the image today because at 10AM we are saying our final farewell to Nana at the cemetery. I know Pap will be lost without her but I hope he takes comfort in all the good times they had. Together.

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I’m Going to Adobe MAX!!!

Afflt_Max2014Bnr_300x250_r1It has been a busy summer for me with family and friends.  Most of it has been good, but anyone who knows me knows that there have been some sad and trying times as well.  In either case, I feel like I’ve been distracted and have been neglecting my photography.  I am so happy for fall and really hoping to get back at it.  Adding to that excitement now is a trip to California next month to do some sightseeing and attend Adobe MAX!  This was a very spur of the moment trip, but I’m grabbing an offer that was extended to me that I can’t pass up!   I look forward to meeting people in real life that I’ve known on-line, seeing parts of California I’ve never been to and getting inspired by the best of the best at Adobe MAX.

Life is short!  Grab every opportunity that comes your way!  As Robin Williams stressed in Dead Poet’s Society “Carpe Diem!” I’m sure I won’t regret seizing this one!

To learn more about Adobe MAX, click here.

 

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Food Friday – Cherries in a Blue Bowl

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Most fruit photographs exceptionally well.  The color and unique form of fresh produce is interesting and often luscious if nicely lit.  Cherries are particularly beautiful through the lens.  I’ve seen so many gorgeous photos of them, but had never photographed them myself, so I decided to change that this week.

I often get inspired to do a photo shoot after a trip to one of the local thrift stores.  Wednesday’s trip netted me the blue bowl in the above image; it just kept calling out to me!  : )  I love the rustic dark food images that are popular right now, so I set out to create some with my new blue bowl filled with some rich red glossy cherries.  I added an old hand carved clock that has been in my family for years in the background to give the image more warmth, depth and texture.

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You can see the antique clock in the setup shot below:

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I thought it might be interesting to document more of what I use to shoot a series of images, plus I have been asked to do presentations on both stock and food photography, so I need to start documenting setups and equipment for those.  The cherry images were all shot in my dining room since I wanted to use the dark blue wall in the background.  I chose my Nikkor 105 mm macro on my D800 for these. I love both the 60 mm and the 105 mm for food photography; there is nothing that frustrates me more than moving in for a close-up frame only to find I am too close to focus with a non-macro lens.

2014-06-19 12.49.08 web logo-2As you can see from the back of my camera, I shoot food in manual exposure and almost always on a tripod.  I use manual focus using live view and of course always shoot in RAW.   I like shooting this way with everything constant since I shoot alone without the benefit of an assistant or stylist.  It allows me to tweak the placement of each element without anything else changing.  Also, using a tripod allows me to shoot in low light at low ISO to get the maximum quality image.  To aid this further, I use an inexpensive wireless remote for my camera that I purchased on Amazon.  This allows me to hold a reflector or scrim in a different location while firing the shutter, avoiding necessitating more stands in my sometimes tight setup locations.  Oh how I love anything wireless!

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If you need photos of cherries for your blog or other publication, you can license these and more at iStockphoto.com by clicking on the images above.

Note: If you choose to purchase any of the gear  recommended here, using the links provided helps support this blog.  Thank you!

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A Week from Today…

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A week from today I will be in the audience watching this beautiful person graduate from high school. My daughter, Ellen, has grown into an independent young woman who is more than ready to take on the challenges of the world.  As a young teen she had her own ideas about fashion- never afraid to dress as she saw fit. That independent thinking has blossomed as a young adult. She has done many things that I would never do and have never encouraged her to do, thankfully most of them are good! She was a cast member in nearly every play of her high school theater program- I  dread the thoughts of  speaking to a large group and have NEVER been on stage. She decided to become a Mormon; I am not a religious person.  She is pursuing a career as an elementary school teacher in spite of her father’s constant urgings to study math, science or medicine.  She was the producer of her high school’s televised announcements, where I shy away from leadership roles.  And, she chose to wear jeans and pearls to school over sweatpants and messy updo’s.  She is definitely not afraid to choose what is right for her and I am thankful for that!

Ellen is a card carrying introvert but definitely not a loner and definitely not bashful or backward. She has lots of friends although usually one best one. She’s a loyal and generous friend and easily hurt when that loyalty is not returned.  If you are lucky enough to be Ellen’s friend, she’ll have you doing something fun in front of a camera… no sitting around just playing “Flappy Bird” with her! Despite often preferring the solitude of her bedroom and her laptop she has put herself out there as an actress, a leader, a creative and an entrepreneur.  She is a complex lady!

As for her entrepreneurship, she started her own YouTube Channel in elementary school right around the time she tired of singing along with Ariel (The Little Mermaid) on the computer.  From humble beginnings of a puppy dog slide show, she taught herself video editing, green screening, and the art of producing make-up tutorial videos.  She started her second YouTube channel MsEllenMelon in 2011 and currently has nearly 20,000 subscribers and well over 1 million views!  But, that wasn’t enough, oh no!  Now, Ellen is sharing my passion for photography and running her own portrait business: Miss Ellen Photography.  I hate to admit that although Ellen doesn’t geek out about the gear as much as I do, she is a much more talented and creative portrait photographer than I am.  Her recent prom images of Cheyenne and her boyfriend prove that!

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Although I am sad to see Ellen grow up, I know she is more mature than many she will be walking across that graduation stage with and is SO ready to move on.  I will miss having my friend, best model and biggest supporter close by, but thanks to our mutual love of technology and travel, I’m confident that we will always be close. I don’t worry too much about my girl, I know she is strong and resourceful. I couldn’t be more proud and happy to be able to call Ellen my daughter!

Go get ’em honey!  And, you are EVERY BIT as cool as you are on-line!

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