Thursday, 26 June 2014

SURPRISE


Look at what I've have secretly been up to! I am so excited to announce that Pause is moving to a new site called simply pause ! Same writer/photographer, similar content, just a fresh new look, some fresh energy and a much simpler, more professional, beautiful site. 

Pop over! It'd be good to see you!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Basic Indulgence

Every photo tells a story. 

There was almost no post this week. But I'd secretly promised myself to post something every week. Hmmm. So. Well. Basically, I'd been reading my food photography book, and she keeps reminding me to find the story behind every image I create. "There's always a story", she says. When you know the story that lies behind your image, then choosing lighting and colour and props and angles and composition, becomes so much simpler.

So there I was, feeling sorry for myself when... I saw a story I had to tell.

Enjoy!




Friday, 13 June 2014

Back to Basics - Tomato Love


 I had these tomatoes sitting in my windowsill and every time I wanted to use one, I found myself reaching for some other tomatoes from a different bowl. These just looked too beautiful! Subconsciously, I was saving them for a photo. So eventually, I gave in and stole a little time to photograph them. They were just too photogenic to ignore.

Tomatoes are a real basic in our home. They're always on our shopping list. Normally they go straight into a blue bowl in my kitchen windowsill, where they're meant to slowly ripen, deepening in colour and flavour - but they tend to get eaten first!


I use a variety of types and really believe the more the merrier - cherry, plum and of course tinned tomatoes! In salads, I'm the one who fishes out all the tomatoes and adds one or two salad leaves to my plate for decoration. And for the cherry on top of a fry up - the best thing is little helping of fried cherry tomatoes - cooked with balsamic vinegar until they pop.
Pasta? with cherry tomatoes roasted in the oven with olive oil, served with fresh basil and maybe some feta cheese or pesto? Perfect. What would boerewors* be without fried onion and tomato mush, served in a fresh white roll? And curry without tomatoes sambals?
And in winter, my friend makes the most divine Lamb stew, slowly cooked in tinned tomatoes. (Now I'm drooling!)

The more I think about it, tomatoes really are a basic necessity in our home! So this is a little ode to tomatoes, cooked, fried or a just a sweet, fresh little plum tomato popped into your mouth...

What's your basic? I have a friend who always has cream in her fridge and then some people cannot do without cheese... Love to hear from you, in the comments below!


(* boerewors is a South African beef sausage, made with a mix of spices, usually includes coriander)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Back to Basics - improve your photography in 2 simple steps

Can you believe it's already June? We've had a lot of visitors recently and we've been busy busy busy. Time's flying and it's not always easy keeping up. When it gets like this, I find the best way to cope is to simplify everything. Find the essentials and just let go of the rest.

So I'm on this mission to go back to basics. 
(In my blog, back to basics has gone to some extremes, which I'll be sharing with you soon...)

In photography, the best back to basics tips that I can give are to:
1) simplify what's in your image 
2) simplify your light source

To simplify what's in your image, find an angle that cuts out the background. Go in really close or turn your subject around to include as little clutter as possible, in the background. A wonderful trick, if you're photographing children, is to go in slightly from below and use the blue sky as a backdrop. The opposite is to get them to lie on the ground, you stand on a chair and use the lawn as your background. In that way you simplify everything in your shots and the main subject really stands out.

The other way is to simplify your light source. If you're outside, that's quite simple - the sun or overcast sky is your single main light source. Inside can be a little trickier, so simplify.  Switch off your house lights and try using natural light. Choose one window as your single light source. Try taking your shots with the main light source to the side of your subject. That way your image will have a balance of light and shadow. 

Here's a quick and basic photo challenge:

Get your child to sit in chair that you've moved near the window or glass door. Now you squeeze up right up to the window, so that the light source is coming from the side, but you're seeing the slightly more of the lighter side of them. Switch off your flash. Get them to show you the latest Lego toy they built and tell you about it. They don't have to smile, just sit and chat to them and click away. 

Simplify and I can guarantee you'll get some good shots.

The Country Quiche 


I simplified here. I went back to basics. No props or background. One light source from the top left corner. And a simple, wholesome, country quiche.

I got good highlights on the pastry and the cheesy surface, but enough colour to make you drool.  The whole image is light and airy like the Quiche. Yum! The Recipe is in the post below...









Basic Country Quiche - The Recipe


I know you're going to ask so here it is. And yes, it does taste as good as it looks!
If you have the basics in the fridge, you can add almost anything to it to, and turn it into something awesome. Serve with a simple salad, or for you wintery lot - add some steamed veggies.

Basics:
One large sheet of shop-bought, pre-made pastry
6 eggs
2 large dollops of creme fraiche (No creme fraiche? try full cream Greek Yoghurt?)
300-400g grated cheese
bacon bits

Veggies of choice:
In the photo above, I used dollops of creamed spinach and grated carrot, another time there was broccoli in the fridge, but my favourite was chopped leek and mushroom.

Got the stuff, now what do I do?
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a shallow dish. (This one is about 30cm in diameter)
Place the dish on the pastry and cut the pastry a little larger to cover the base and go up the sides.
Line the dish with pastry.
Cut the remaining pastry into thin long strips. 

Place the bacon bits and a half the cheese on the pastry.
Lightly fry or steam your veggies of choice and add as the next layer, leaving gaps for the egg to fill later.
Beat the eggs and creme fraiche and pour over veggies.
Cover with the remaining cheese.
Place the strips of pastry over the top in a criss-cross manner and paint over them lightly with a little egg.

Bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on the ingredients and your oven)
You can prepare the salad and set the table in the meantime

Serves 4 

Enjoy!


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Are you a Clickin Mom?


If you're a mom and a photographer, striving to capture the fleeting moments of your children's childhood I must urge you to just have a look at this site if you're ready to grow and learn.

Clickin' Moms


Most Photography sites and magazines are aimed straight at men. The layout, the jargon the whole atmosphere is quite emotionless, technical and in-your-face bold. Now, us visual people realise when something as visual as a magazine or website design isn't aimed at us and doesn't make our spirit hum! Don't we? Photography is not just a science after all. Yet there are millions of photographers out there like you and I, who for many years have been left out of the loop.

Recently that has started to change and this is one of those sites that'll make you ooh and aah about the possiblities of photography, for hobbiests and professionals with their own beautiful feminine touch.

Clickin' Moms actually just has too much information. You will continually learn on the site, no matter what your level. Here's a little guide to let you know what's on there.

Where do we start?

The Blog: Interviews with a range of photographers, from hobbiests to professionals, with detailed tips and personal information written in female language. And with stunning examples of their work. You could start by subscribing to the newsletter and have highlights from the blog sent to your inbox.

Free Tutorials:  From the very basics to more complicated concepts are covered here. They're topics that really apply to us.
Topics like:
"8 Tips for Photographing unco-operative children"
"Ask the pros what gear do you want for Mothers day?"
"5 Tips to taking photos from the passenger seat"...

Browse through them and pick anything you want to know more about.

cmuniversity  These are paid on-line courses on a variety of subjects from technical stuff, to personal work, to fine art photography. I haven't done any of these courses, so I can't comment on them, but the range that they cover is sure to inspire you. Many courses offer different prices for full participation or not. I think there's really something there for everybody.

Forums: For this section one needs to subscribe to the website. If you go there now, you'll see the topics but not the information. This put me off at first, but I decided to give it a try and it's great! What I am able to do, is go to the food photography section, upload my food photo and get positive constructive feedback. And in return I can have a look at what others have been doing and give my advice and support. There are also forums that challenge you to extend yourself, by taking a photo a week or a daily challenge, with themes to get your photographic mind ticking. Some forums ask for criticism, while others are crit-free forums. You can post questions about techniques or equipment and you'll get good logical understandable feedback. Because you need to subscribe to the forums, only members get to comment and interact with you here and you get very supportive advice, from lovely fellow female photographers. At the moment they're running a free 30 day trial period, which I would really like to recommend to you, if you have some time and would like to grow photographically.

Magazine: For Christmas, I convinced my husband to buy me the magazine subscription, which is pricey if you live outside the USA, but when it pops through my door I get so excited! It's filled with beautiful images and photographic inspiration and advice for the PHOTOGRAP(HER) as they say, and I'm able to hold and keep all that info in print! It's MINE!

So next time you have some time to browse on the web, push Pinterest aside and have a peak into Clickin' Moms, you might just find yourself inspired!

Clickin' Moms

(PS I'm not being paid advertising fees here, if you decide to join Clickin Moms and use the link above to get there, I might get paid a few ridiculous cents, but you can just go directly to the site too. That's not why I posted this. I know of a couple of photographers out there who are dying to grow, but don't know what they're looking for or need. I hope you'll find what you need there. I honestly think Clickin Moms has helped me to see photography in a new way and I just love promoting feminine photography! It's time the world sees things through different eyes!)

Friday, 23 May 2014

Light


It's drizzling outside. The beautiful bright happy light of the last couple of days has disappeared again and it's replaced, with soft gentle quiet light. Shhhhhh....
My book arrived!!! And I'm devouring it! Some bits I've been able to skim, but even the stuff I know is written about in such a clear yet sensitive way, that it's like learning it all anew. At the moment I'm reading about light, and how every type of light has something different to offer. There is no such thing as "bad" light. Coming from Johannesburg, where the light is generally so strong, this is a gentle reminder to me to keep looking for that literal silver lining, which she says you only really find on dark rainy days.
Photography is really all about capturing light. The light you choose sends the most subtle messages across to your viewer. Generally they don't even notice it. It's like an added secret language you use. You can have the most amazing image, but if the lighting is wrong it's all just wrong (and it can't be fixed in photoshop). 
This week I was photographing handbags for a small, newly fledged company that sells custom-designed handbags. We only did the straightforward shots on plain white background, but I knew that the way I chose to light the bags would be the essence that would tell you about the quality - subtle and not simple at all.
Other times light is not subtle. This image is ALL about light, you can feel it all around her, flooding the picture with warmth.
Image

So today I thought I'd just remind you to look out for light. Even on the gloomy days, see how it lingers delicately on the edge of your coffee cup? See how it gently traces over your child's face as they sit at the window? 
When you're choosing an image to photograph, draw, paint, don't forget to ask yourself what is the light saying? If I looked at it from a different angle, how would the light change? Look at the shape of the silhouette, or the highlighted edges... switch off the flash of your camera and see what happens.
See! Enjoy! Play!




Wednesday, 14 May 2014

stuck in a rut? bake a cake!


I've ordered my book on Food Photography! I am impatiently waiting for it to arrive in the post. Yes the post - living in Germany means that I cannot just run out to my local book store and buy a book in English, I have to order it. Luckily this one is coming from the UK and not the USA, so I should have it by the end of the week. Hold thumbs!

In the meantime, there's not much learning happening here. In fact I'm a bit stuck. Stuck in a rut. So what do I do? I rope in the girls to help me bake a cake, because us girls love cake! Normally this only happens for special occasions like birthdays, but today I need a boost and my birthday is just much too far away.

First I get the ingredients ready. The girls help and I torture them with simple baking sums like: we need one and a quarter cups - how many quarter cups do we put in? They learn something and they get to help me choose the pretty bowls and carry everything through to the dining room where...

...I've set up my expensive lights. Then I beg, "Please girls!!! Watch the cables, no bouncing, no dancing!" This is really hard for them, because we LOVE cake! We really really love cake! Isn't it exciting? (bouncy bounce) Especially when it's a sweet, soft, fluffy cake, with rich butter icing that you just don't get here!

The tall one gets to read the instructions, littley gets to pour and they take turns to beat and stir. (This time I didn't even have to play referee. This cake is made with a heap of love) I try to get the camera settings right and get some shots in, in record timing... and before we know it, it's done.

The girls get to lick the bowl and our house is filled with the divine happy smell of a vanilla sponge cake baking in the oven. Cake baked. Memories made. And I have some lovely shots too! Happy Ne'!

This time I will type out the recipe for you... see below.

 The Recipe



This was a Victorian Berry Sponge Cake, but the berry sugar is just too obscure around here, so I converted it to a Simple Vanilla Sponge Cake.  It doesn't rise very high, so if you want to be fancy you can bake 2 layers and put icing between them. Or just keep it low key - bake in one shallow tin, smear icing all over and dig in. 

(PS I am not a foodie, no baking expert or perfectionist. This recipe worked for me, I hope it works for you. It's simple and yummy!)

SIMPLE VANILLA SPONGE CAKE

4 eggs
3/4 cups castor sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 Tablespoon cornflour (maizena)
1 and a 1/2 teaspoons melted butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 cup warm water

Heat oven to 180 degrees
Grease  2 x 20cm round tins (or one bigger one in any shape you want - we use a heart-shaped tin) and line with baking paper.

Beat the eggs until creamy and gradually add the castor sugar. Keep beating until the mixture becomes really thick. (they say this can take up to 10 minutes - oops, I was too impatient for that...)

Sift the flour and cornflour and fold it into the eggy mixture.

Next stir in the warm water, butter and vanilla.

Pour into your tins and bake for 20- 25 minutes.
Allow to cool before icing.


MY ICING

125g butter 
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
(and a little splash of coffee)

Beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat some more, until it's  smooth and yummy.


Ice the cake and eat it!
(remember: it is good to share...)

Inspiration


Friday, 9 May 2014

a handful of memories





I've had an intense couple of weeks of traveling from Germany through Austria to Italy to Germany to the Hague (Netherlands) to Germany to Bruges (Belgium) and now I'm back. Kids are back at school. The house is quiet. Empty. I scratch through my camera bag and find a handful of memories: torn maps, used tickets, a pretty packet from Assisi and stripey shells that we picked up in Belgium. And there lies the heap of washing, staring at me again.

I must say I'm finding it very hard to reconcile everything I just experienced with the reality of what is here and now. I set the May challenge before I left (I apologise that the posts didn't appear on time as they were meant to - I obviously still have some techno learning to do). Anyway, so the idea was that I'd get back and jump into learning new stuff to keep myself on the go and inspired, but at the moment I just feel saturated with everything I learned while traveling. I need to pause and process it all somehow.

Don't you find that learning while traveling is so simple? At home you have to actively look for new things to learn, but while traveling it happens automatically as you absorb everything around you. You collect impressions of what you see and your mind stretches, admiring the beauty, attempting to understand different people and grasp concepts of history and time. I've come to terms with the fact that I will not remember every fact about everything I see and I don't even try and look them all up, but I do stay aware of what I am instinctively curious about and I just concentrate on those things, while allowing the rest just to wash over me.





Now I am going to have to order myself a book, or do an on-line course. Something to stop this mind from going into a stagnant rut - something, but first the washing...




Thursday, 1 May 2014

The May Challenge




The other day my husband phoned me from work , with a mathematical problem he had to solve. After the appropriate flattery, he was able to get me to help.  I put down the phone, feeling quite chuffed that I was able to help him and turned to remind myself what I was busy doing... then I saw the pile of washing waiting patiently for me. (sigh.)

I have to remind myself, I am in the very fortunate position, that for the couple of years that we are living in Germany, I have been able to put my photography business aside and take some time to learn, learn & learn some more. Things I'd normally not have time to explore on the internet, I now do. I have to, otherwise the thought of that pile of washing would drive me absolutely dilly!

Learning new skills is keeping my brain humming. It's exciting! Last year I did a course in Surface Pattern Design, which was a totally new field for me. And I loved it and loved that feeling of learning constructively again. Then I learned how to design and write my own blog. I'm using a new system to set up a new website. There's the iPad and on top of all this I've had daily lessons from how to drive on the wrong side of the road, to how schooling works here and how to convince people that I am actually intelligent despite the days when my German just comes out all wrong and I sound like a tongue-tied baboon.

As children, our brains are constantly learning, and they're soft and squishy like sponges, but I wonder just how stiff they get as we get into the rut of the same old, same old. They say that staying young is related to staying curious. There's a lovely lady in our family, who is now well in her nineties and I have this vivid memory of her in her eighties, climbing into my car to see exactly how these child seats are attached to the car and how they work. At 80 she was not going to ever use this knowledge herself, but she's ever curious and never afraid to ask, "but how?" I do believe that's what's kept her young for so long.

To learn new things we need to be open to new things. And open to asking questions, no matter how stupid they may seem. (I need to work on that!- What have you always wondered about, but have felt too silly to ask?) What's great, is that your best buddy knows stuff that you don't! We don't have to go back to University to learn stuff. There's so much knowledge on our doorsteps, we just need to chat, and talk to each other to learn and grow, daily.

It's all exercise for our brains and it keeps us young and creative. (Now I feel better for the lack of other exercise I've been doing).  What new things have you been up to, lately? What did you learn today? How many new things did you learn this week? And yes, the littlest of little things do count!

The May challenge is to see and acknowledge how much new stuff you actually are learning all the time (give yourself some credit!) and then see whether you can add to that? Challenge yourself to try some new things! It can be as small trying a new restaurant, or going somewhere local that you've always said - we should go there sometime - or maybe it's a course you've been dying to do. Stretch yourself, stretch your experience. What things have you often thought of doing, but haven't had the time or the guts? Maybe it's time to make time? Time to dive into it? Time to set yourself a challenge?

Tell me about it in the comments below.


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

iPad Photography


When I was 11, I learned the basics of isiXhosa at school.
(IsiXhosa is the main African language spoken in the Eastern Cape, South Africa)
There I learned that objects all start with the prefix-i: 
isonka=bread, ifestile=window, iruler=ruler, irubber=rubber, ipensile=pencil. (My teacher would be proud)

Now here I am, a lot like that little 11 year old all over again, as I learn about new objects: iPad, iPhone...

Yes, I am now the slightly bashful owner of the iPad mini. Which I have learned gives me access to a whole new world of photography. Photographers everywhere are using this as a tool to place their snaps on Instagram, to show another more spontaneous side to their photography.

So I've been fiddling and playing and stumbling along. And at the big risk of sounding like a granny with her first cellphone, I am writing this post to share my discoveries about iPad Photography, for those of you, who like me are total beginners. (The rest of you aren't allowed to laugh)

1. WHY IS THE ANGLE ALL WRONG?

Isn't it weird that lens is NOT in the centre of the iPad, as my logic expects, but in the corner. When I photograph from above, the perspective is often skewed, bowls look like they're tilting in the wrong direction. Why? Because I am holding the entire iPad above the subject, rather than just centralising the tiny little corner that holds the camera. My first tip? Remember where the camera is.

2. WHY IS THE WHOLE WORLD IN THE SHOT?

Should I zoom in? No, bad idea - I've read. The quality of the image deteriorates when you use the zoom. Rather physically move closer to what you're photographing or crop your photo afterwards.  

The iPad camera is a wide angled camera, which means that a wider viewpoint is included in the shot. I am used to using my 50mm lens or my zoom, where I am able to crop out all the stuff I don't want in the photo, so the wide angle is a real challenge for me. It makes it difficult to isolate things, but it takes wonderful shots of vast scenery and exaggerates a feeling of distance in your photos.


3. EVERYTHING IS IN FOCUS

Did I mention my love for the 50mm lens and it's ability to throw everything out of focus, except for a small area? Now I am challenged even further with a device that makes everything pin sharp. So when I photograph the bowl of eggs in my kitchen windowsill, the wide angle includes the entire brick pathway outside the window and every detail is sharp. I have to start thinking in a totally new way! It does mean that the most beautiful details in the photo are sharp. Have a look at the texture of the fabric in the egg shot above.  You just have to change your angle and your expectation of the shot.

4. GO MACRO!

This is SO exciting! Fiddling with my new toy, during my recent walk in a field of dandelions, taught me something else! As soon as I could get the yapper, to stop sitting on the dandelions I was trying to photograph, I realised that this toy is an amazing macro camera! AND when you go that close, the background DOES go out of focus. It is really wonderful!


5. CHANGE THE LIGHTNESS OR DARKNESS

You know when you're aiming to take your shot and that little square appears? Well, wherever you tap on the screen, is where the square moves to, and the focal point moves to. You know that already? Well did you know, it is also where the exposure is measured from. So seeing that almost everything is going to be in focus anyway, if you tap on a very dark spot, near where you want the focal point, your photo will go lighter. If you tap on a bright spot your camera will compensate and make the photo darker. See you have a little more control!


6. SIZE MATTERS

When I take my iPad shots directly onto my Mac, photoshop tells me that the images are about 1,1MB and 18cm wide at 300dpi. That tells me that I should be able to print these shots to around A4 size and get good quality prints.


7. THE WONDERFUL APPS

INSTAGRAM -  Instagram is lovely to browse through images of likeminded photographers that you can choose to follow. It's also a great way for photographers to showcase their skills in a more relaxed and impromptu way. It reminds me of the LIFE Magazine articles, where the images tell stories about the lives of people all around the world.

The best tips I've read for Instagram, is firstly to always take your photos with the iPad camera and not the Instagram camera. This is for better quality and it means that you can be selective with what you post on Instagram. I don't want the whole world to see my kids photos of the Lego constructions they made! (The Privacy settings can also help in this regard.)

I enjoy the CMGlimpse posts. Clickin Moms puts up a weekly challenge, with key words for every day, that anyone can photograph. It pushes you to find an inventive way to represent the word visually. Sometimes I take part, by  adding #cmglimpse, to my comments below, and other times I just browse through the images to see how different people see their world.

These were the key words for the week of 14 - 20 April 2014.



SNAPSEED -  Snapseed is a wonderful FREE photo-editing App! It's available for iPhone, iPad and Android! If you're looking for a little extra control over your images, this is great!You can regulate the strength of the filters, adjust Brightness, Contrast, Focus. Convert images to Black and White. It's really wonderful! With filters and frames. Get it! More info here.

Those are my favourites at this stage. What Apps do you use? Can you recommend some more?


So the iPad is a wonderful toy. I'm still learning, and loving the journey. It'll never replace my Canon, but this is more about having fun.

So did you learn anything new? I'm sure you know more than I do about the subject! Do you have any tips for me? 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Easter Eggs to dye for!




This week's post comes a couple of days early so that you have time to try this! It's Easter and what better opportunity to create something beautiful, and keep those little hands busy, than with Easter Eggs!

I love the fact that dying easter eggs is such an old tradition. I feel like I'm taking part in history whenever I do this. My mom showed me when I was little girl and it's always fascinated me. You don't need to be crazy enough to hold a workshop with 10 squealing girls, like I did, but do try it with your kids! They love seeing the magic happen and so will you!

The one option in this part of Germany, seems to be to boil the eggs, and then dye them and crack them open to eat them. Here, I'm sticking to my version of decorating hollow eggs to keep.

PREPARATION OF THE EGGS:

Try and find white eggs, the colours turn out to be so much more vibrant. Brown eggs do work in a similar way, the tones just tend to be more earthy.



  1. Gently wash the eggs in soapy water.
  2. Prick a hole in the top and the bottom of the egg. Carefully prick around the bottom hole to enlarge it slightly.
  3. Insert a thin skewer or long needle into the bigger hole at the bottom of the egg to break the yolk inside the egg.
  4. Blow into the smaller hole. The egg will start to ooze out of the other end of the shell. Keep blowing. Once you can blow easily and you're sufficiently red in the face, all the egg is out.
  5. Dunk the egg in a bowl of soapy water. When bubbles come out of the egg it means that soapy water is going in. Cover the holes with your fingers and shake well, to loosen all the remaining yolk and albumen. Blow out the remaining dirty water.
  6. Dry your eggs in a bowl of kitchen towel.
(Guess what's for supper?)


THE DYE


(Have a roll of kitchen towel handy, you'll be needing it!)
  1. Prepare each colour in a large mug:     
              •  10 ml (2 teaspoons) of food colouring 
              • 1 cup water 
              • 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar.
  2. Create sticker masks to apply to your eggs. You can buy paper sticker dots and stars or cut lines and other shapes out of simple lables. Rub these onto your eggs until they stick firmly. This is a nice exercise that even little fingers can manage.
    1. Dunk your eggs into one colour, with a spoon. Turn them for an even colour. The longer they remain in, the deeper the colour. Then remove the sticker masks (here the little fingers might need some help) and place the the egg into a different colour. Or only dunk one half in another colour. Experiment and have fun.





    Try it!

    Your kids learn the magic of mixing colours and you get to be a kid for a little while too and...aren't they just beautiful?



    See my Pinterest Page for more Easter Egg ideas...





    Thursday, 10 April 2014

    6 Ideas for better Family Holiday Photos

    Holidays soon! Yay! And yes, we are going away, exploring, again!

    I love recording our family memories when we're on holiday, but place a camera in my hands and I start weighing up light, composition, angle... 

    "Mom, can we go now?"
    "Just one more..."

    Know that feeling? Finding the balance between photographer and holiday maker can be challenging. Here are some ways that help me to keep the peace and some ideas on how to take better family holiday photos.


    1. SNAPS vs SHOTS

    I have learned to make peace with the fact that not ALL my photographs need to be artworks. When you're out and about choose which photos are snaps and which are shots.

    Snaps are quick and often quirky records of the moment. When I take a photo of my daughter with chocolate ice-cream dripping down her face, it's not meant to be a perfect picture, we just want to remember how we laughed at her funny face. It's not worth agonising over for hours. Just take a quick snap and grab the serviettes!

    Or - everyone quickly pose, let's get the snap of the kids in front of the leaning tower of Pisa and then find ice-cream! YAY! Smiles all round! It doesn't have to be perfect.

    It depends on time. 
    When we're on the beach, I can sit and take loads of shots, experimenting while my kids play. 
    When you have time, try a different angle, another viewpoint. Lie on the ground or stand on a chair. Zoom in and out to fill your frame, or give your picture breathing space. Don't let all your pictures look the same. Shoot into the light or underexpose or overexpose. Experiment and play.

    When we're walking through a quaint little town, on the other hand and I see a shot worth taking, I sometimes tell the others to go ahead, while I take a little time to get the shot right. But I've also learnt to limit myself. 3 or 4 shots max, then we have to move on and if I didn't get it, I wasn't meant to. I tell myself: It's a family holiday, not a photo-shoot!





    2. FILL IN THE DETAILS

    A friend of mine is an expert at this. She always includes small details of where they are, in her holiday photos. It's not just about portraits, landscapes and architectural features. Sometimes the details capture the atmosphere of where you are. Cracks in the dry earth, or a pretty tile, a milkshake or a handful of lucky beans - can tell you more about where you were than a picture of the entire scene. 

    It requires some careful observation. Look out for pretty patterns and find the colour themes that keep repeating themselves - every place has them.

    Next time your family is sick of posing, give them a break and focus on a cactus, or some shells or a sign.






    3. TELL A STORY

    My girls and I recently went for a walk and came across a field with dandelions. I thought I'd get one or two shots of them blowing the seeds and making their wishes. I stood back a little and zoomed in. (Tip: Then they don't mind the camera as much.) They found one stubborn dandelion that just wouldn't be blown. They kept blowing and I kept photographing their puffed up faces, as they blew and blew together and eventually packed out in laughter! 
    I ended up with a lovely series of images that tell a story of what happened on our walk. 

    Sometimes one image can capture the entire story. 
    I read some great advice which photographer, John Dolan follows: "Don't shoot pictures of what it looks like to be there. Shoot pictures of what it feels like to be there". That would tell the story.
    My daughter drinking from the water fountain, was not just a nice shot because it was a novelty for her, but the overexposed quality reminds us of how bright the glare was that day and the intense heat that reflected up from the stone city, and the relief of the icy cool water of the fountain. 






    4. TIME OF DAY

    One morning in Italy, I woke up just around sunrise, for some strange reason. I'd slept in most mornings, but this time I snuck out on my own. Everyone was still asleep. I was alone, I had time, I had light and I was rewarded with beautiful images of that morning glow, which honestly made my day. 
    Sometimes it's worth getting up earlier or disappearing on a walk just before you have sundowners, to capture that golden hour.  But don't let the midday sun scare you either. Photograph people in the shade, for better portraits, but don't ignore the beauty of the glare, harsh shadows and blue skies, if you're lucky. 



    5. BE THERE
    This one can be hard. And I'm lecturing myself here too!
    Thing is, if you're not in the photos were you actually there? 

    Your family doesn't care, whether you're having a bad hair day. They don't see whether you're overweight or not. All they see is the happiness on your face. They want you to be part of the memory. Get into that photo! Your don't have to make a poster of the shot, just give them a memory of you. One day you won't be there and they'll only have these images to hold onto.

    (And hey, in 20 years time you'll look worse than you do now! Might as well get a good shot of the younger you!)

    6. HAND OVER THE CAMERA

    You can do it! Hand it over.
    I don't only want to be remembered as the voice behind the little black box. Do you? Be part of the memories, not just the one recording them. Put away the camera, and live a little! Or hand it to one of your kids. It's wonderful to see what they choose to record - See your holiday from their point of view!



    7. ONE MORE THING

    PRINT PRINT PRINT them! I have sworn an oath to make little printed books of each of our recent travels, but still haven't done it! Please be better than me! Catching up is an impossible task, so just start with the next holiday - get back, randomly choose some images and print them! So that you and your family can touch them and look at them and enjoy them! PRINT!


    How do you pacify the family and get good photos, while on a family holiday? Do you have any tips to share?

    Monday, 7 April 2014

    Lemon & Red Onion Chicken - the recipe


    I'm not a foodie, I just love experimenting with and photographing flavour, but seeing that you asked and this one's made it into my recipe book, here goes:

    Some notes: 
    • the original recipe uses oranges - I had lemons, you get to choose what you want to use (Oranges or Lemons - sounds like a song.)
    • The original was for an oven bake - we went for the Weber Braai, no Weber braai? Buy one!!! Or pop it in the oven at 180 degrees for 45 min - 1 hour, uncovered and surrounded by chopped potatoes and carrots and onion and rosemary, covered in olive oil and... I think you have the idea.


    The Weber version: 

    INGREDIENTS:

    1 x wonderful husband, who prepares and lights 2 piles of coal on either side of a drip tray, puts grid back 
          over the top, and waits for the chicken. (Indirect cooking method)

    1 x large happy chicken (we've made the mistake of explaining Free Range chicken to our daughters -
                                                                                                                 Mom, was this a happy chicken?)

    75g butter

    5ml paprika and some extra

    couple of cloves of garlic, chopped as fine as your patience will allow

    salt & pepper

    Red Onion, peeled

    1 lemon

    some sprigs of fresh rosemary

    olive oil


    WHAT TO DO:

    • Lightly grate the rind of the lemon. Once you have a couple of teaspoons of zest, collect it in a pretty little blue bowl (or similar).
    • Add in the soft butter, paprika, salt, pepper and garlic. Mix into a paste.
    • Ok, this is the gross part but it IS worth it! Slice some slits into the chicken skin, (randomly all over) and with a teaspoon lift the skin off the meat. Squeeze in lots of paste through these slits, (I use the teaspoon) so that your butter paste sits between the skin and the meat. That's what makes it so yummy!
    • Add some tiny sprigs of rosemary into these slits. 
    • Put whatever garlic, rosemary and paste that you have left into the cavity of your chicken. 
    • Add your red onion and your lemon into the same cavity. I cut the lemon into 2 halves.
    • Pour some olive oil over your chicken and coat it with lots of extra salt, pepper and paprika to make that skin go crispy!
    • The chick's ready! Put her onto the grid, put the lid on and do not even steal a peak for 1 hour!!!
    • Now sit back and pour yourself a glass of wine. Once those mouthwatering smells come out, quickly set the table with your salads or roast veggies and wallah!


    ENJOY!










    Thursday, 3 April 2014

    TECHNICAL NOTE:

    Just to let everyone know, I have tried a new format for my Comments and you should now be able to post comments without any more hassles.

    I love hearing from you and so do other readers - Hearing what you like, hearing how you see things, learning about what you've done/read/seen and I like knowing a little more about who I am speaking to in my blog!  So do write to me!

    Keep Well and Keep Creating!

    Karene 


    PS Please do pop out an email to me, if for some bizzarre reason you are still experiencing problems

    PAUSE


    On Sunday, I was preparing a chicken to roast on the braai (braai = barbeque =wir wollten grillen), when I saw such wonderful colours and flavours on my chopping board. I was slicing through a beautiful purple and white striped red onion and next to it lay the bright yellow lemon, with garlic cloves, salt and pepper. I found myself at the door about to race off to fetch my camera, when I had to say NO! Stop! It's Sunday. AND if you fetch your camera, nobody will get fed.

    I'm back on the PAUSE - thing. There's just a time to switch off. We can't be creative unless we occasionally stop to breathe.

    We suddenly have a whole lot more technology at home and it's my main means of communication these days, so I'm finding it more and more difficult to do. But there comes a time when you have to switch off the iPads, the iPhones, laptops, TV and even the camera. Not everything needs to be recorded. Not everyone needs to know what you're doing. Even if it is a miracle that you CAN share what life is like here today, with someone on the opposite side of the globe. Sometimes some of it needs to be your little secret.

    Some of it just needs to be savoured and enjoyed. There's also a time when you have to stop cleaning and tidying, even put the book down! Come back to the present moment and just sit together and be. Why is that so hard to do?

    So I finished preparing the food. I went outside. I sat on the bench. I drank a glass of wine with my husband. I admired the tulips I've planted and we watched our girls giggling on the trampoline.

    And it was good.

    And the chicken was good too! (Pop me an email if you'd like me to send you the make-shift recipe.)
    I took these images a couple of days later, when it was work time.
    I'll find the balance again, somehow. And you?






    If you're feeling a need to PAUSE,

    Do what you love is offering a free course called, Zen for Ten. It's a 10 day programme - "to help you slow down, tune in and light up", where you just get inspiring emails sent your inbox.

    They promise: "beautiful imagery, short exercises and inspiring prompts." It starts on Monday, 7 April.

    Sounds like a brilliant way to charge the batteries, clear the mind, take a breath and re-focus on the important stuff. I think I might JFDI, as my husband likes to say. (which roughly translates to Just Do It)



    Friday, 28 March 2014

    The Colour of Flowers


    Today's colour boost comes straight from nature. 

    This week I went on a mission back to the little paper shop, because near there is a lovely little florist and I was on a mission to capture some natural colour. (... yes I did buy some paper too! Again!)

    The florist at Flora Ambiente, was very helpful and patient with me as I hand-picked the individual blooms for my photos. She pointed out the graceful shapes and forms with such love, it reminded me what creative people florists are. Flowers are natural creations that instantly rebel when you put them in my hands. They always turn in the opposite direction I want them to and end up just doing their own thing. I've learnt to accept that, and to appreciate the magic that florists do. They are masters at combining colour, shape and form into tightly wrapped works of art. Works of art that always bring pleasure to somebody, that capture joy in fresh fragrances and beautiful colours! Works of art that are temporary - so they always have to keep creating more! What a creative life to create with colour every day!

    The ballet studio where my daughters do ballet, always have fresh flowers. When you walk in there, you immediately feel happy and good. Everyone comments and enjoys the flowers. It creates a lovely atmosphere.

    So I've bought a new vase, so that I can regularly treat my family to a splash of colour. The vase is made up of a circle of little bottles glued together! So clever! The flowers can stand and turn and lean in any direction they want to now and because of the way the bottles are arranged, it always looks good. So now I choose whatever colour I'm in the mood for that week and it always brings me joy!

    PAUSE: Live creatively! Go take some time, and wander around to your local florist. Just look around, ask about the names of the flowers, smell them, touch them, admire the shapes and the delicate patterns - and then treat yourself, to your own splash of colour. 

    Enjoy it!

    (NOTE: The photos below are available to buy as Fine Art Prints from Society6)