Monday, January 31, 2011

My first crust….sort of

I've always helped my dad make pies for Thanksgiving and so when a friend asked if I would teach her how, I said, "of course - I'm great at making pies!"  And then I remembered my first pie…While I had make plenty of free form tarts by myself and helped my dad make turkey day pies, the first time I attempted an actual pie it was nothing short of a DISASTER!  I was cooking a locavore JANUARY.  I had just read Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and was madly inspired.  Needless to say there was not a lot to choose from at the organic seasonal market, but there were apples and there was butter and there was some beautiful whole wheat.  Mixed with wheat berries.  Which I had not previously encountered.  You can imagine the scenario in my apartment when I realized I was completed unprepared for this whole wheat crust the day of the dinner party.  It was pretty ridiculous - I sifted out the berries, searched insanely online for tips in the limited time I had left myself and ended up with a crumbly, dense mess of a pie that my friends kindly ate.

So, when I told my friend that I could actually make an edible pie, I figured I would go back to my roots, buy some King Arthur all purpose flour and use the time and tested all butter recipe that my dad and I have made together for years.  Only now I would be in charge of the rolling, etc.  I never realized that I mostly talk and drink wine while I watch my dad make his perfect, flaky pies.  However, besides a small snafu involving too much berry juice (I got excited and couldn't imagine leaving it out…not thinking what that would do to the oven floor), the pie was a huge success!

And want the best tip of all?  Try Peanut Butter ice cream on top of your next fresh berry pie.  You will cry with excitement and thank me.  It's like diving into the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich of your life.  The best part?  It was a complete accident - I shared some leftover pie with a another friend and it was the only ice cream she had on hand.  Hallelujah!

Here is my step by step recap of the best pie I have ever made (haha - by myself…sort of):

My friend Beth was lacking faith in my pie skills so she busted out some Martha Stewart…luckily I came prepared with the family secrets (which I learned later are from Joy of much for that)
 A food processor is a serious must.  Although, admittedly, I have done without - but I won't again!  Best family actual "secret" - roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap - that way you don't have to flour a surface or the pin.  It keeps the dough moist and delicious - plus it's so much easier!
 Beth made me dry off the berries more thoroughly than I would have (thank god!) and then I watched in love and awe as they turned to berry deliciousness with sugar and a little time.  In the last shot you can see my beautiful berry juice that I may have overzealously added...
Ahhhh - the final yummy product.  And to the right is the fabulous leftover slice with peanut butter ice cream.. I'm not kidding when I say you MUST try this!

Want the recipe?  Let me know and I'll email it to you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Date with Nature

I have an obvious obsession with texture and light.  These photos were taken around dusk on a walk in LA.  The bark and rough textures were so pretty in the sunset and crying out to be photographed.  The variations in bark types was bewildering up close.  And the beautiful thing about LA is how easy it is to find a trail to hike on.

the long road

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cutie and a kitty

I was on an interior shoot in Santa Barbara recently and one of the homeowners had her granddaughter in tote. She turned out to be an adorable little model.  There is something so mature about her, yet completely childlike and full of curiosity.  She was not afraid to stare right into the camera lens & let me in, so I just ate her up!  

I sent some photos over to her grandma today and just had to share a few of her sweet little face...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunset Sage

I took a walk in Claremont this past week and as always, fell in love with the early evening light.  I found a wild sage bush (that I want pick leaves from and use to make brown sage butter with!) and was captivated by soft fuzzy leaves as the last of the day's light fell upon them.  For the first time in a long time,  I noticed a trickle of water in the LA "river"…the sunset light hitting the little puddle was a little depressing, but a reminder of the abundance or rain we had this year.  And the final shot was a great way to capture the very last note of light.

Here are a few of my favorites:
Want to go on a hike near your neighborhood?  Here are two great sites that have local trails and maps:
Wordish Wednesday

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's all about the Details...

Ever heard the saying, "the devil's in the details"?  Well, in the world of design and photography, everything is in the details.  It's the difference between ordinary and interesting.  I was on a photo shoot the other day and every table and wall had the perfectly chosen chachkis mixed with high end art pieces.  The mix of high end and affordable is essential in all interiors.  Obviously, depending on budget, those price points are different for everyone, but in the end, it's the mix that matters.  It's so exciting to see how displaying and placing your favorite knick knacks or sculptures changes a room.

Here are a few snap shots (Unfortunately, I can't post the final photos of this shoot  - they will be published some time this year) from my favorite details that day:
The pad of paper on the table on left is made of of artisan paper that the designer had glued to a backing to create an elegant, yet unique pad filled with hand made paper.  On the table to the right, I loved the make up brushes stashed in a lovely tray.  The homeowners also had personal note pads made with their family logo and home address - so cute!
These entry tables had the most beautiful array of paintings and sculpture pieces in shades of celadon, blues and natural stone that worked so perfectly together.

Want to make your own unique pad of paper? Click here to check out a great DIY site with instructions

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Picture Perfect Marriage

While weddings are not my usual subjects, I do love photographing them!  With happy brides and grooms, the love surrounding the affair can be infectious and so great to capture on "film".  While it's impossible to retouch every single photo in four processes, it's fun to see how dramatically different a photo looks in black and white vs. sepia vs. it's natural beauty with a few enhancements.  

Below is the same shot done four ways:
This top shot had some slight retouching to create the look I was going for.  I wanted warmth, so I added some vibrance.  I needed to take down the intense brightness in the top right hand corner of the shot, so I added a layer and put a gradient filter over the sun spot.  Finally, I wanted to reduce the dark shadows on the bride and groom's faces, so I used the dodging tool around their faces and torsos.
The top shot of these three I used a filter to shift the light to a sepia tone.  The middle shot I put a sepia overlay on top of a black and white shot.  And the bottom shot is the bitchin b&w action by  Totally Rad Actions.  They are a great company to use to make quick adjustments to photos.  Check out their site: Totally Rad

Sweet Shot DayShutterLoveTuesdays

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Beach day in January

Just one more reason to fall for LA.  It's January and I spent the afternoon on the rooftop of High relaxing and watching a sunset.  This isn't about bragging rights so much as it is pure amazement.  After living in Chicago, I forgot that parts of the world have such beautiful climates year round and it clears up the irritation I have over housing prices in this city.  Because, let's face it, it's so great not to be shoveling snow right now.  However, if you are shoveling snow, just know that a small part of every southern Californian is jealous that you got a white Christmas…like everything, it's a give and take.  
Today was a pure gift...

 So beautiful watching the sunset with a group of strangers in awe
By far the coolest outdoor heater I have ever seen
Want to check this place out?  High is at the Erwin Hotel in Venice Beach.  It's got a great view and fabulous sliders, but make sure to call ahead to reserve one of their few tables.  It's definitely worth the $15 price tag on the martinis.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Disney does Modern

I've been handing out a lot of my business cards lately and people keep exclaiming that they love them!  It features a shot I took at the Disney Music Hall designed by Frank Gehry in downtown LA and I think it's successful because it's simple yet intriguing.  I took a lot of shots that day and it was really difficult to choose which photo would be the best fit, but I finally did, and so far it's been getting a great response.  I thought I would post some very loved "rejects".  The gray sky and shadowless day left me with low contrast, beautiful lines and a great business card!
Here are a few of the others that I loved…..

Want to check out the Disney Music Hall yourself?  It's a great place to check out great architecture and see a great concert.  Click here to check it out.  
You can also head to Chinatown for brunch and eat at my favorite place - like I talked about in this post: Family Traditions.  The concert hall is very close to Chinatown and other great downtown gems!

(want to see my actual card?  Let me know!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mid Century Masterpiece

Hartman Baldwin hired me to take some shots of a mid-century home that they had completely restored and I fell in love with the project.  I was amazed at the attention to detail that both the home owner and HB went to in order to keep the home authentic.  It truly felt like a time warp walking into the house and I loved prop styling each room since the home owner had carefully shopped for years to complete the look.

Below are a few of my favorite shots from the day.  Check out the bowls in the kitchen.  Her mother collected them using Betty Crocker points in the 1950s.  And the bird wall sculpture in the living room is very similar to one that was used in a scene in Mad Men!

Love the Mid-Century look?  Here's a link to some shops in Palm Springs that have great items: Click Here
Want to check out a Mid-Century Magazine?  The one I love is called Atomic Ranch: Click Here
Curious about Hartman Baldwin?  Check out their site:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Say Cheese

With all the portrait focus this weekend (see post below), I started looking at some of the "maybes" in my portrait folder for my new website….My friend Jaymi did a great job (click here to see) photographing my friend and I at the beach.  Some of her concerns about placement and directing as she photographed reminded me of my first client shoot.  Getting behind the camera and directing was much different when I was moving couches and objects in houses around, and at first I was intimidated to tell clients how to move or pose.  Over the years I have definitely gotten comfortable directing and I actually enjoy photographing people as well as inanimate objects!

Here are my maybes as I finish up my new website:

So, who are these people?  Click on their photos to see what they do and who they are.  They all have one thing in common though - they are all great clients!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sandy Sunset & a Nikon

My friend Jaymi started a photography blog last year and has been upping her game ever since.  She recently bought the new Nikon D90 and made the impressive New Year's resolution of photographing more people.  She asked my friend Kristin and I to hit the beach in search of portrait possibilities, and of course, I had to bring my camera along to document the experience…

Want to check out Jaymi's Blog?

Friday, January 7, 2011

California the Beautiful

I just feel so lucky to be a resident of this state.  And today it was made official!  I am now a card carrying (well, driver's license paper, but soon to be actual card) Californian.  While I appreciate the uniqueness of each place I have traveled or lived, it is always nice to be "home".  So, to celebrate, I wanted to share some snapshots I took just today while I was driving around for work.  While the iPhone is not ideal for many things (as a phone especially), it's at least handy when I leave my cameras at home.

My iPhone loves LA:

 the best of both worlds…palms and pines
a little fire in the sky