Sweetland Orchard

Last weekend we went apple-picking at Sweetland Orchard.  We’ve been to several orchards in the area and Sweetland is our favorite because it’s just apples, nothing else.  There are no hay rides, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, playgrounds, etc.  While those things can be fun, they sort of take away from the experience in a way.  We like Sweetland because the people are friendly, the apples are plentiful and they have a great dog named Fletcher who always wants to play.  This year they also had some tame chickens & turkeys that were hanging around looking for food.  It was a perfect fall day to pick apples.



Hot Dog Days of Summer 5

We had beautiful, perfect weather last weekend for our annual Hot Dog Days of Summer party.  I was so busy at the party that I didn’t have much time to take any photos.  But we did manage to have some fun with the hot dog photo cutout I got this year.  Also, the hot dogs were bigger and messier than ever – people are getting adventurous!


Hot Dog Days of Summer 4

Every summer we have a big outdoor party that we’ve named Hot Dog Days of Summer.  The idea behind it is simple – we grill a lot of hot dogs, invite a bunch of people over, and just eat hot dogs.  Of course there are always some vegetarians in the bunch so we also tend to have quite a few side dishes as well.  But on the grill are nothing but a large variety of hot dogs.  We also go a little overboard on the toppings, especially the mustards, and there’s a little bit of everything for everyone.

This year was our 4th annual party and we had a good turnout, although not as many people as we were expecting.  Our house is very small so we can only have large parties outside in the backyard and I was glad that the weather held out for this year’s party (it was hot & humid but thankfully no rain).

Last year I didn’t get very good photos of the food so this year I tried to take more photos since it was a good opportunity for some fun food photography.  I think I focused a little too much on the food since I hardly have any photos of the guests.  But generally I find that most adults get really annoyed at having a camera stuck in their face at parties, plus people are not my favorite subject, so I usually leave them alone.  All the kids run around too much to get good photos of them but I tried.  I did get some good hot dog shots – enjoy!

This is the secret to a good party with lots of kids – give them stuff to do.

Another type of dog – friend’s puppy Desi taking a break from running around


Holiday Cupcakes: A Retrospective

For almost every holiday where we’re at home, my daughter and I make cupcakes.  It’s a fun tradition and easy to do with friends.  My daughter’s now old enough to basically make the cupcakes herself or with her friends, and all I do is handle the oven part.  I usually have to take a lot of photos of the cupcakes after they’re decorated so I’m starting to build a rather large library of cupcake photos.  Here are a few of my favorites from the past 1-2 years.

July 4 2012 – bought 4th of July sprinkles back in November and finally got to use them

Easter 2011 – used the lightbox for these with a green paper background

Valentine’s Day 2011 – the kids went a little crazy with the toppings

September 2011 – Star Wars Saga Blu-Ray release cupcakes. That’s a holiday, right? These are the dark side cupcakes – we also had light side ones.

Christmas 2011 – coordinating wrappers & picks help tie together the wild sprinkles

Easter 2012 – I splurged on these pre-built “nests” and fancy large flower wrappers

Pretty Pictures of Food

I can’t really explain why, but I’m really into food photography.  I read a few different foodie/baking blogs but I think I like them more for the photos than the food.  For example, Bakerella, who invented cake pops, gets asked about her photos so often she has a special section of her blog explaining how she photographs her baked creations (see “Cupcakes & Cameras” on Bakerella.com).  I think one reason why I’m so drawn to the food photos is because many of them are close-up or macro, which I’m also really into.  Also, food is so ingrained into human beings of all cultures as being associated with home, family, celebration, etc, so it makes sense that food photography is so appealing.

I haven’t had much of a chance to shoot my own food photos, although do usually get out the camera whenever my daughter and I make cupcakes.  She sometimes gets impatient with me because I don’t let her enjoy the cupcakes until after the “photo shoot”.  Usually it’s just a quick few pictures of the cupcakes on the table but occasionally I’ll set up a background in my table-top light cube and try to take some more professional-looking photos.  This is more difficult than you’d think and I still haven’t completely gotten the hang of using my light cube yet.  Here are a couple of food photos I’ve taken using it:

Tip: hot lights make frosting melt quickly

I didn’t make this but it counts, right? A Valentine’s Day fruit bouquet from Edible Arrangements.

Inspired by Bakerella, I even photographed the entire procedure of the first time my friend and I made cake pops and ended up with these photos.

So I’ve experimented a bit but definitely need to do more.  The problem is, we don’t tend to cook photograph-worthy meals so finding inspiration is tough!  One goal I have is to dig into this book I got recently:  Digital Food Photography by Lou Manna.  It seems to be pretty comprehensive regarding everything you’d ever need to know about food photography.