One of My Favorite Places

White Orchid in the Nursery CenterOne of my favorite places is any one of our local garden centers. Nothing can cheer you on a gray winter day like walking through a greenhouse filled with colorful, vibrant, healthy plants. I usually come home with a few photos for my stock portfolio and at least one new clean air maker! This is one of the images from yesterday’s trip to Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville.

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New Series – Vintage Travel

Old Fashioned Suitcase on a Bed with Passports

As a stock photographer, some days just a few simple things can start the creativity to flow and cause you to become immersed.  Those are the days you love, the days you can get lost in your craft.  The days when simple brings you happiness are the best!

A week ago last Saturday was one of those days for me.  I had purchased an old suitcase at a local antique store a few months ago to use as a photo prop, but hadn’t used it yet.  My original idea was to use it for a senior portrait of my daughter- the suitcase, going off to college concept.  But, the light was so soft coming in our windows this particular winter Saturday afternoon, that I hated to waste the great light and peaceful time alone at home.  I grabbed the suitcase and a few of our passports and went to work.  Turning the suitcase and the passports this way and that while my camera sat clicking away on its’ tripod entertained me for at least an hour!  It made me happy! I hope you like the results!

Old Fashioned Suitcase on a Bed with Passports

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Free Image of the Week from iStock


iStock’s Free Image of the Week is a beautiful snowy portrait of a woman by Chris Gramly and is so appropriate for the weather we have been having in the northeast lately, I thought I’d share it!

Enjoy!

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Happy Valentines’ Day!

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Happy Valentines’ Day everyone!

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A Look Back at My First Nikon


Close-up of a Vintage Film Camera Held by a Woman

My first Nikon wasn’t really mine… it was my Dad’s.  He got it my senior year in high school and allowed me to play with it from time to time.  Happily, he never got rid of it and now I have it displayed proudly on a shelf (although it still works fine).  Although my dad obviously had an interest in photography, no one would ever consider him “a photographer” – he was a land surveyor and always will be, first and foremost.  But, he did have an interest in the technical gadgets of the day, having one of the first HP programmable calculators, early EDM (Electronic Distance Measuring) equipment, two Apple //c computers and this Nikon FE.  All of which he used in his surveying business that he ran for 53 years.  I guess I have Dad to thank for my love of technology!

At the end of January my daughter offered her modeling services… a rare occurrence these days.  She got in for a bit more than she bargained for with this shoot that ended up being a retro-look photography shoot, but she was a good sport.  I’m really happy with the photos we made, especially since they immortalize my Dad’s old Nikon and also a leather jacket he gave me twenty years ago, right after my Mom died.  All were shot with my Nikon D800 and 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor lens – the modern versions of what appear in the photos.  I hope you like them!

And, here’s a photo of Dad at his favorite hangout post-retirement:

2013-04-27 10.14.46 webTaken April 27th. 2013.

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Arugula Quinoa Salad – Food Friday

Last weekend I tried California Pizza Kitchen’s Quinoa + Arugula Salad and loved it.  I decided to make my own version and it was so colorful I had to photograph it:

Arugula Quinoa Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes
The California Pizza Kitchen version had pine nuts and 
asparagus, but I forgot to buy those when I was at the store, so mine is a simplified version.  Just toss this together for a healthy and delicious salad:

  • Baby Arugula (three handfuls – about 4 cups?)
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes (I used dried, not marinated in oil)
  • 1/4 cup of feta cheese
  • red onion sliced
  • lemon vinaigrette (3 parts olive oil, 1 part white balsamic vinegar & juice from 1/2 lemon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

If you need any images of this tasty salad, these can be purchased by clicking any of the images in this post.

Have a great weekend!

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Discovering Lightroom 5 & Book Review

I first played with Lightroom during the free public beta of Lightroom 4; I didn’t see why I needed it at the time. When I was handed Lightroom 5 (along with the rest of Adobe CC) for free last September at Photoshop World I decided to give it more serious try.

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I am now a Lightroom believer…Part of what has made me a Lightroom believer is a book I received to review from the publisher, Wiley.  When I had my initial play with Lightroom several years ago, I thought “Okay, a prettier version of Adobe Camera Raw and a database that indexes your photos.”  Since I’m a pretty organized and technical person, I’ve set up a logical file system for my photos and I didn’t see a need for Lightroom.  I could usually find a photo I was thinking of in under a minute.  One of the big advantages of Lightroom I failed to appreciate was all the custom presets and batch processing capabilities.  The book Photoshop Lightroom 5 – Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process by Rob Sylvan & Nat Coalson has enlightened me to those capabilities.

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When I first received the book from Wiley, I took it out of the packaging my first thought was “Wow, this book is substantial!”  It is 489 pages including the index and is organized by Lightroom module (i.e. Import, Library, Develop).  The book was originally written by Nat Coalson for Lightroom 2, who updated it through Lightroom 4.  Rob Sylvan, a photographer I’ve known through his work with NAPP and iStockphoto.com, has updated the book for Lightroom 5.  For me any book remotely related to photography has to have good photographs and graphics. After all the photographers are visual people. Photoshop Lightroom 5 – Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process does not disappoint in that regard.  The cover and many of the chapter title page images come from Rob’s Stocksy portfolio. But the book isn’t all pretty pictures, there are lots of screen shots to help guide you and every screen shot is also available for download on the Lightroomers.com website if you need a better look.

Everyone learns a software program differently.  I tend to be a “just jump in and play with it type.”  The problem with learning by discovery is that you often don’t discover everything the program can do for you.  As I go through this book, I have discovered many options that I didn’t realize existed.  There is a tremendous amount of detail about each window and checkbox. And sometimes it is just nice to have a book next to your computer to refer back to. Rob shares some of his best practices thoughts which is always helpful with a program such as Photoshop or Lightroom where there are so many ways to get the job done. Now that I am settling in to using Lightroom, I can see that by batch processing a set of images and using my own LR presets, my processing has become quicker and more consistent.  If you are like me, just learning the intricatcies of Lightroom 5, I think you would find Photoshop Lightroom 5 – Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process a helpful companion.

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Food Friday – Pasta Salad

Rotini Pasta Salad with SpinachAs cold as it is in the northeast today, I can’t say that pasta salad is the perfect food to share right now… But, I did a shoot of this salad for a magazine recently, so I thought I’d share the images anyway. Pasta salad is one of those things I don’t think you need to stick to a recipe for. Usually the more yummy stuff you throw in the better it tastes. This recipe called for rotini, cucumber, tomato, spring onions (definitely isn’t spring here!) and spinach with an Italian vinegarette. I jazzed it up a bit after the shoot with some Feta cheese – Feta makes anything better – right?

If you need any images of pasta salad, these can be purchased by clicking any of the images in this post.

Have a great weekend and keep warm!

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Rice Krispie Cookies Revisited

Homemade Oatmeal, Coconut and Rice Cereal Cookies from AboveI will be engaged in a cookie baking marathon from now until Christmas Eve and these Rice Krispie Cookies will be in the mix.  This is a repeat of a recipe posted back in February of 2011 with new images.  They are yummy cookies with a special meaning for me since they were one of my Mom’s favorites.  Definitely give these a try if you haven’t already!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 2 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars.  Mix in eggs, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Then add remaining dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place heaping teaspoons full on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until golden brown around edges.

Homemade cookies make great gifts:

If you would like a photo of these cookies for your publication, you can license them on iStockphoto.com by clicking on any of the images in this post.

I hope you have a sweet holiday!

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Food Friday – Butter Press Cookies

20101210_0167 isp webWhether you call them “Butter Cookies”, “Press Cookies” or “Spritzes” these cookies are my absolute favorite for Christmas.  They look so festive yet are easy to make (usually). They are small but very rich and buttery. Since they aren’t terribly fragile, they pack well and are great for gift giving.

This recipe was passed down to me from my husband’s side of the family.  It is very similar to one my mother used to make, although she didn’t use a press and so just called them “Butter Cookies.”  If you are going to make them, be sure to use REAL butter!  Occasionally I have “pressing” problems – where they don’t stick to the baking sheet.  If you do, make sure your sheets are clean and dry and try altering the temperature of the dough by either leaving it out at room temperature a bit, or refrigerating it if you think it could be too warm.  Once you get the conditions right, it is easy to press out quite a few cookies quickly.

Butter Press Cookies

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  • 1/2 pound real butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Finally, add in the salt and flour.  I usually mix the dough with my hands at this point.  Form into a roll and load into a cookie press.  Press out cookies of desired shapes and decorate with colored sugars or sprinkles.

Bake in a 400 degree oven until the edges start to turn golden brown (about 8 minutes?).

Sprinkling Sugar on Butter Spritz Christmas CookiesIf you need photos of these cookies for your blog or other publication, you can license these and more at iStockphoto.com by clicking on the images above.

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