Yesterday something arrived in the mail that I’ve really been looking forward to.
I’ve been feeling like I’m in a major photography rut lately. I still have fun taking pictures of course, but since getting my new camera I’ve been using the auto mode as a crutch and I feel like I take the same picture from the same angles over and over again. I’ve also been letting the tripod Jason got me for Christmas gather dust in the corner even though I knew it would help me take better pictures. I bought this book by Hélène Dujardin to help me take control of my pictures and learn how to translate the way I feel about my food onto the screen. The book is so wonderful and I think it will change the way I take pictures forever. Today I took the first big step. I took my camera out of auto.
PHEW. That was scary. You don’t have to tell me, I know this is not the best picture you’ve seen on the blog. Alas, it’s not supposed to be. Taking these pictures was really hard for me because as I changed the settings I kind of felt like I was just taking stabs in the dark. I’ve done months of research about digital photography and how to take a properly exposed photo, but you never really know how it all works until you start practicing. And this was my first time practicing. It’s hard for me to take pictures this way when I know that I can just turn the little dial to auto and have a better looking photo without having to do any work! But I need to learn, it’s the only way for me to grow as a “photographer” (I feel weird using that word because I clearly have no professional training…this is just a hobby! 🙂 ).
I feel like I do have a bit of an excuse though. I’m not working with a DSLR, and my point and shoot (as wonderful and nice as it is) doesn’t have the same exposure settings that a DSLR would. The f-stop range is smaller than a DSLR, and it doesn’t record as much data in each photograph. What it DOES have is an auto mode called “background defocus” that is WONDERFUL because it gives the photo that lovely fuzzed out look in the background while keeping the center in focus, a characteristic of DSLR photos that we all know and love. I take ALL of my food photos in background defocus mode for that reason, and it’s one of the features that makes me love my camera SO much. It has helped me to get shots like this:
My camera creates that lovely effect by cheating! When I press the shutter to take a picture in that mode, the camera actually takes two pictures. Then it blurs one shot and keeps one in focus, and layers the defocused shot in the background so that it looks like the background is out of the focus in the same photo! It’s genius! BUT it takes most of the creativity out of my hands because it’s still an “auto” mode and I can’t change anything in the camera. Let me show you an example with this kale salad I made today. Here’s the salad in apperture priority mode (translation: I’m changing the settings on my own and controlling how much light the lens lets in):
And here’s the same shot in background defocus mode (which is automatic):
See the difference?! The background defocus mode picture looks way better because it has that nice shallow depth of field and focuses in on the front of the salad more. Once I learn how to use the manual settings properly, I shouldn’t feel that way…but I’m still skeptical that I can get the depth of field I want with my point and shoot. We’ll just have to wait and see. So bear with me as I learn, because it’s pretty much like learning how to take a picture from square one.
All photography talk aside, this salad was really good. I used as many seasonal ingredients I could think of and it made for a lovely bowl full of flavor that I immediately inhaled. The spiced nuts inside are addictive!
Fall Kale Salad
- 3 large kale leaves (enough for about 3 c. of chopped leaves)
- 1 small/medium apple
- 1/3 c. walnut halves
- 1/2/ c. fresh bell pepper strips
- 1/4 c. dried cranberries
- juice of 1 lemon (about 2 T.)
- 1 t. salt
- 1 T. apple cider vinegar
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1/2 t. pepper
- 1 clove of crushed or finely minced garlic
- 2 t. light agave nectar
- 1 t. cinnamon
- dash of allspice
- 1 t. sugar
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Rinse and dry the kale leaves, remove the stem from the leaves, and chop the leaves. Set aside in a large bowl.
-Rinse, peel, core, and slice the apple. Place the slices in a small bowl and pour the lemon juice over them. Set aside in the refrigerator.
-To the large bowl with the kale leaves, add the bell pepper, cranberries, salt, apple cider vinegar, oil, and garlic. With your hands, toss the ingredients and massage the dressing into the kale. Place the entire bowl in the refrigerator to rest for 15 minutes.
-While the salad is resting, toss the walnuts in a drizzle of oil and sprinkle them with cinnamon, allspice, and sugar. Place in the preheated oven and toast for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally to prevent burning. Remove the nuts from the oven to cool.
-When you’re ready to assemble the salad, pour the apples (lemon juice and all) and walnuts into the kale mixture and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.
If you’re not really into the photography talk thing, don’t worry, I don’t plan on talking about it in depth very often. I’d rather just show you nice pictures and then talk about other things, like the food. 🙂
Thanks for reading!