Food photography – waste not, want not 

Photo of the Week

In another life, I worked as a set stylist at QVC Studios for several garden vendors. Working my way up from water girl to head designer took three years, and I learned a lot.

For example, always provide the host/talent with an unadulterated product to sample on air. Hide it behind the basket of gleaming strawberries (sprayed with vegetable oil). Make sure there is a real tomato sitting on the cutting board next to the knife, so he or she doesn’t try and cut a fake one. Be sure to warn of the blueberry pie (with shaving cream whipped topping).

When all else fails, hide in the green room. Because the cringe-worthy moment will eventually occur. It’s live TV. You will sink in your seat, and cover your eyes, perhaps let out a whimper, or a scream, when the host moves to sniff a silk rose that just got touched up with a spritz of spray paint…

What does all this have to do with food photography?

Many tricks of the trade make food that has been photographed inedible. I hate waste, and I always try to come up with edible ways to stage my food shots. Just in case I get a snack-attack on set.

  • Rinse fresh veggies in a colander just before the shot, they will glisten for the photo, and will also be ready-to-eat.
  • Cook the ingredients separate, when possible, and not all the way. Stage for the shot, (less-cooked veggies have better color) then throw back into the pot and finish cooking for dinner.
  • Use daylight whenever possible, it makes everything look more appetizing and you won’t need to trick the lens.
  • Cut the pie, quiche, lasagna, etc. once it has cooled. Less chance of a soupy shot. Then re-heat and eat!
  • Always have fresh herbs on hand…that splash of green injects any food photo with life. And any dish with flavor.

Ok, that’s enough, I’m not giving away anymore trade secrets.

Below are photos taken at one of my favorite eateries here in the Catskills, Zephyr Restaurant, along with shots for restaurant articles in Watershed Post (Two Old Tarts & Bite Me Bakery) Sometimes I take my family on a trip without even leaving the kitchen, I include those shots as well.

Apologies, should you become hungry…

Lemon tart @ Two Old Tarts in Andes, NY | Cupcakes @ Bite Me Bakery in Shokan, NY

Above: Yogurt and berry parfait @ Zephyr Restaurant in Pine Hill, NY Below: Lemon curd hostess gifts and spiced cranberry compote

An evening visit to Japan, perfectly artificially lit, totally consumed

Revisiting Quebec City one morning: Alton Brown’s blender crepes, both savory and sweet


WATER. FALLS.

Photo of the Week

A GUARANTEE

Some days, problems pile up like heavy drifts of snow against a fence line.  Through the help of friends, family, creative thinking and down right hard work and determination, we shovel our way out of the drift. Eventually, the snow melts…

Cross Mountain, Delaware County, NY

Cross Mountain, Delaware County, NY ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

…revealing the ground once again, as we witness the transformation of snow into water. It evaporates and falls back to earth as precip of one sort or another.  This incredible cycle, is highlighted here in this NOAA and NASA Science on a Sphere movie….  a project tirelessly worked on by my amazing twin sister of Verglas Media.

Water Falls Movie Trailer

Water Falls Movie Trailer ©2013 Verglas Media

Here in the CATSKILLS, NY, we are blessed with water in its most beauteous state (snow) on a regular basis.  We ski, we photograph, we relish inside by the fire when it snows.  When the inevitable melting happens, most of the time, we are sad to see it go.  Unless it is  February or March, when we are so over all the winter activities and we just want to get our hands in the earth and some sun on our skin.

A GIFT

What melting snow leaves behind is not just a muddy slush, but a torrent rush of water, quenching our thirsty streams, our rivers, our reservoirs.  Raging over rocks, this Water Falls, skimming the banks of engorged rivers, and eventually plummeting over the cliffs, filling our senses, forcing us to acknowledge the simple gifts in life.

Lower Mine Kill Falls  ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

Lower Mine Kill Falls ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

Joy Rushes Upon a Slick Ledge BW ©2014 Becca for MGP&D

Joy Rushes Upon a Slick Ledge BW ©2014 Becca for MGP&D

A GIG

Over the last year, I have been blessed with intriguing creative assignments from several clients. I call these “gigs”.  The latest gig is periodically documenting, through photos, the weather for an online magazine.  This week, beginning on the Twelfth day of Christmas, I took the assignment very seriously, and decided to showcase the amazing water in the region through “The Seven Days of Waterfalls”  We are at Day 5, and I am particularly in love with the image below that I captured today. Notice the slowed down, veil-like movement of the water.  Now take a moment to drink in the beauty of the mountains.

Un-named Falls around the Bend, ©2014 MGP&D for Upstate Dispatch.

Un-named Falls around the Bend, ©2014 MGP&D for UD.

To all my family, friends, and fellow bloggers, may you have a peace-filled, joyous year to come.

Snow Melts |  Water Falls | Writing Soothes | Photography Inspires

How Houses Haunt Me

Catskills Places, Photo of the Week

Ever since I was a little girl, I used to pretend houses that didn’t belong to me were, indeed, my home.  The first house I coveted was the grand farm house belonging to the landlord of the farm we lived and rented on.  Gabled, with a wrap-around covered porch,  drawing rooms and fireplaces, a bright sunny kitchen and a cozy dark paneled study.  I was in this house only once, and it grabbed at my imagination, made me yearn for something that was, and never could be, mine.

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

As an adult, this fascination with abodes that weren’t mine found an acceptable outlet:  Frequenting real estate open houses.  The ultimate opportunity to observe another’s home, decor, way of life…and an opportunity to daydream about inhabiting these rooms, the changes I would make, and what would stay exactly the same.  It was a fun exercise, a good way to pass the time on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Today, while shooting the Catskill landscape for an online magazine Upstate Dispatch that I am a contributor for; after over a year of being satisfyingly settled in a cabin on the side of a mountain, I once again, found myself fantasizing…about a house that was not my own.

*the above house is not the house discovered today…that is a secret not to be revealed at this time.

This was not just a house.  It was a moderately sized, stone front cottage, at the top of a dead end road, with a view that was anything but dead.  With a view that forced me to inhale, made me feel alive with the beauty that even if I shut my eyes, would be imprinted on my brain.

I had discovered the perfect property.  Uninhabited, with grass that had gone to seed, and tall proud spikes of the mullein plant, and dried teasel blooms, sharp and eager on the border.  Mature apple trees, and maple trees, all in groupings of three.  Despite their lack of recent care, whoever had planted them so long ago had done so with intention.  And above the cottage, a little further up the drive, an amazingly in-tact barn.

And a pond.  The perfect circle of water.  A crooked bench beckoned to me, but this was my first visit, I was worried about being overly intrusive, so I resisted the urge to plant myself on the edge of the water and disappear in the tall grasses that swayed so carelessly with the last breezes of summer.

Peering in the windows (How could I not?) was not a disappointment.  Empty, but clean, with an “updated” kitchen and a wood stove and french doors separating two downstairs rooms.  There was a curved stair case that  led to a cozy attic bedroom where romance and babies and sleep promised to dwell.

The inexplicable feeling of longing, of belonging, that accompanied this property was disconcerting, as if I had been there before.  I often feel this way about abandoned homes, that are left alone at the best, but more often then not, discarded and disregarded in a state of irreparable damage.  I wonder of the living and dying that happened in that house, and in this way, the old homes haunt me, no matter what time of year.

Visiting these properties is a pastime I relish, especially in these mountains, where one can climb a mountain road, and breathe in a view of the world on some lost and forgotten property.  All the while, staying completely out of view from the world.

  ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

Remains ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

Yellow Barn…similar to the one on our childhood farm. ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

What is Poetography?

Mtn Girl Poetry, Photo of the Week

What is Poetography?

These days, there is a proliferation of catchy text over images used to grab our attention on social media. Then there is…grrrr…Instagram, that takes a lot of creativity away from the photography and editing process.
ENTER: POET-OGRAPHER, def: one that marries creative images along side meaningful poetry/prose as an expression of art.
I would like to believe I coined this word, as it came to me at 3 a.m. one night, but alas, its already out there..google it. But thats ok. Spellcheck still doesn’t recognize it, which indicates it is a relatively new concept. It doesn’t change how I feel about the process, which is this: Poetography is my new Prozac. Capturing photos of places and people I love, then adding even more expression to the piece with words, is a form of art that I intend to promote and engage in for the rest of my life. Recently I’ve even been able to combine my love of music into my art, photographing local musicians, promoting them how ever I can, and this concoction of music, photos and poetry is a salve to the soul. Check out our Facebook page for some of the amazing talent I’ve been able to capture.

Poem from above:

In the loop

there is peace

cast after cast

waiting for the trout

to reluctantly rise

in anticipation

of the dancing flies

as we surrender

to serenity.