Photography Made Simple {Part 2}: Camera Angles

Besides using natural light to your advantage, using camera angles is another way to make your photos come alive and seem more appealing. Camera angles can highlight something you want to show, or hide a flaw. When I am shooting food, I try to get every angle possible and then see what picture(s) looks best. I’ll start directly overhead and work my way down. Usually if I am shooting in low light, the angle looks better than being directly overhead because the light skims the top and creates nice shadows. But again, it’s all about what you like and what looks the most visually appealing.

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The pictures above were taken directly overhead. The light doesn’t really skim the top but just sits on top. Any of these, however, can be shot at an angle to get a different perspective and sense of depth.

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The above shots are probably my favorite. In these, the light skims the top creating deep shadows. This creates depth where they might otherwise be flat. This is another free and easy way to improve the look of your photos.

Using both light and angles to your advantage are simple tricks that will take your photos to the next level. It doesn’t require fancy equipment, just old fashioned know-how and a good eye.

Adele

Photography Made Simple: Using Natural Light To Your Advantage

light and shadows

I’m going to do a series of posts on photography because well, I think it needs to be explained. Simply. For those of you who did not major in the arts or photography and want to know how you can achieve good quality pictures, this series of posts is for you. Too many of us (myself included) have been or are stuck in the world of filters (Instagram, vscocam, and other apps of lesser quality). Filters can be used but they should be used sparingly and should not detract from the overall quality of the picture. Trust me, when I look at my filtered pictures from years past I cringe. But eventually I saw the light and I hope you will too!

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All of these pictures you’re looking at were taken with my iPhone 5s. If you’re using an older iPhone model your pictures probably won’t turn out as well (trust me, my iPhone 4 pictures were horrid). The newer iPhones have an advanced camera that uses a more advanced lens, like the kind you would find in a professional camera. This allows you to make things go in and out of focus, achieving that “professional” look. But you don’t need advanced technology to achieve good lighting. With the iPhone, you just need to know what kind of light you’re looking for and when to shoot. It’s as simple as that. Flash is a big no-no and so is any type of artificial light that would give your pictures an orange hue. I want to specify, this applies to your everyday pictures, food photography etc. I wouldn’t advocate that you shoot someone’s wedding with an iPhone 5s!

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I tend to really like low light, as you can see in most of the pictures I have on here. The shadows really give the picture depth and texture. Find what kind of light you like and pursue it! I usually try to shoot before 9 in the morning or between 3-5 in the evening. But again, it depends on the type of lighting you’re trying to achieve. When I made pumpkin pie, I shot those pictures before 9 because I wanted very soft morning light with deeper shadows. The two pictures of Homemade Applesauce and Apple Cider Baked Chicken were taken later in the day between 3-5 giving the picture a more rustic look. The last picture on here of the Apple Galette was actually taken not by natural light, but at 9pm under a fluorescent light. I like this result because it looks bright and clean.

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The main point I want you to take away from this is that you don’t need a fancy camera to get great pictures. Using natural light is the best (and not to mention cost free!) way to improve the look of your photos. So stop hiding behind filters and get some natural light! Your photos will thank you for it. Obviously, I am not a photography expert so if you want a more in depth explanation I suggest you check out Pia Jane Bijkerk’s post on her photography methods.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this! If you have any photography tips you would like to pass my way I would love to hear them! Stay tuned for the next post in the series where I talk about camera angles. Until then, have fun experimenting with natural light!

Adele

The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World: A Brief Synopsis

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I’m sitting here with my warm coffee, thankful to have some peace and quiet on this fall morning. It’s my day off at the flower shop, but my day on for blogging. Although my body is quiet my mind is very much churning with ideas. I’ve been doing a lot of recipes lately which is great! But I thought I would take a break from that for a post or two.

I wanted to direct your attention to a book I’ve been reading called Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider. She has influenced me for a lot of reasons but I think the most influential is that she is a blogger just like me trying to do what she loves for a living. And best yet, she succeeds and provides for her entire family doing what she loves. There are a few major points Tsh touches on that I hope will compel you to live a more mindful life.

Travel

Travel plays a huge role in their family. They have always loved to travel and they didn’t let it stop them when kids came along. With the flexibility their work life brings, they are able to take more frequent trips. Perhaps more compelling is their view of American culture after living in a foreign country. Tsh talks about living in Turkey where milk was delivered to your door and the farmers market was easily accessible by bike. People lived close and were in community, making life much richer. Upon arriving back in the states, they were much more aware of their place in this world. And they were determined to make simplicity commonplace in the states.

Food

I’m never surprised to hear that other countries are doing better than us in the food realm. They have stuck with the age-old idea that local is better and they are thriving for it. It makes life much richer when you can talk to the grower. That is a rare thing these days. In Turkey they had to buy in season. We can buy berries from the supermarket in the winter and the poor kids growing up do not know this isn’t normal. It would do us very well to know where our food comes from, buy in season, and create meaningful meals where people can gather around the table.

Education

I found this one to be the most interesting. I think mainly because a lot of people now (myself included) do not hold to the belief that public education is the only way to go. I remember what it was like in school and I do not believe it was a place that encouraged real creativity. You were rewarded for your grades, seldom because you were creative. Tsh talks about homeschooling and how her kids were finally able to explore themselves, their interests, and the world. In some cases, public school is not going to teach your kids how you want them to be taught, so parents must roll up their sleeves and do it themselves. Homeschooling is obviously not for everyone and she gives examples of what other parents do and how it works for them.

There is so much more I could have talked about but for the sake of brevity I wanted to keep it fairly short (and it’s already too long of a post for my taste). I hope this brief overview gave you something to think about! Or if anything else to read her book! You can find it here on Amazon. I hope we can all find some way to live intentionally in this chaotic world, big or small.

Adele

A Timeless Classic: Birthday Pumpkin Pie

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I often ask my brother if he wants to switch birthdays. I would much rather have a birthday in the fall. I could reward myself with long walks amid the changing leaves and pumpkin pie instead of cake (though I don’t remember the last time I had cake for my birthday). But alas, I must endure a birthday in March – not quite winter, not quite spring and always sopping wet with rain. It turns out my brother isn’t much of a cake fan either. So with the extra pumpkin purée I had, I baked him a pumpkin pie for his birthday.

As I was gearing up to shoot the process, I knew I had to get started early. It’s true, natural light is best when it comes to food photography. But the type of light is very important. 9 am light looks very different from 12 pm light and each one creates different textures and moods. I shot this sequence of pictures from 8 am to 8:30 am which was perfect! I knew I needed enough morning light but not too much to where it was harsh. The result was a very soft light with deep shadows. The lighting just made me want to stay in that spot forever and keep baking like there wasn’t a care in the world.

It’s funny, when you smell pumpkin purée it smells nothing like the pumpkin taste we know and love. Someone somewhere put a bunch of spices together and said, “this is what pumpkin should taste like.” And I agree with that person, so I don’t intend on creating anything new here. Here is a very timeless pumpkin pie recipe you can enjoy for thanksgiving (or anytime someone doesn’t want cake for their birthday).

{Recipe}

You will need:

2 cups pumpkin purée (I used real pumpkin from a pie pumpkin but canned will work too)

1 12 ounce can of evaporated milk or 1 1/2 cup heavy cream

2 eggs plus the yolk of 1 egg

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional, this stuff is expensive!!)

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Crust:

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

5 1/3 tablespoons shortening

1/4 cup water (or as needed to form the dough)

Start with making your crust. Mix together flour, salt, shortening, and water and form into a dough. Knead and roll out large enough to fit a 9″ pie pan. You want at least an inch of overhang for the crimping. Roll the edges under so they sit on the edge of the pan. Next, with your index finger and thumb form small notches all around the edge of the crust. Poke holes in the crust once it is formed in the pan (this will prevent the crust from expanding during baking). Refrigerate for 1 hour.

– Preheat oven to 425 –

Combine eggs, spices and sugars, pumpkin purée, and evaporated milk and mix well. Pour filling into the crust and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The filling will be puffed up but this is normal due to the leavening of the eggs. Let cool for two hours. If you’re making it for the holidays or anything special, I would suggest baking the pie the night before and let cool at room temperature until the next day when you’re ready to eat it. This will let the pie firm up really well.

Any holiday or birthday favorites of yours? Comment below!

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Camera Lens

statue  As summer gives way to fall, and fall gives way to winter, we are moving the outside plants into the greenhouse before the first freeze. As I’m walking through the aisles, there’s a certain sadness to it all. The air is crisp and there’s no way to escape the cool wind blowing on my face. The plants have lost their vibrancy with spiders starting to take up residence between the leaves. The statues tell of a time long forgotten, as they too give way to the natural elements.

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Yet as sad as the transition from summer to fall and then to winter can be, there is incredible beauty in the midst of it – if you are willing to embrace it. It’s the same concept when we admire the beauty of snow but hate when we have to go somewhere. Although I hate driving in the snow just as much as the next person, it would do us some good to admire the beauty that’s in front of us no matter what season.

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That’s what I did with my camera lens. I guess that old saying rings true, doesn’t it? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We take a plant and throw in a cobweb here and there and statues that have clearly seen better days. But there’s beauty and a story to be told in that.

When we take precious time to admire the beauty around us, we can breathe a sigh of relief and we’re able to carry on. It nourishes the soul.

What speaks beauty to you? Feel free to comment below!

A Steller Story – Apple Cider Baked Chicken

baked apple cider chicken

A couple days ago I made this wonderful dish by Gimme Some Oven. A fall dish of baked chicken with lemon and mushrooms marinated in apple cider. You can find the full recipe here. If you read my last Steller Story post, here’s another one for you to check out! Steller republished this in their Bon Appetit collection. If you still don’t have Steller, shame on you (just kidding)! But it is so fun you really should give it a try! It’s an app that lets you tell a story with your photos. View the full Steller Story here.

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cutting lemon

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If you want to see more from me on Steller, search for adele_hall! I’d love to see some of your stuff too!

– Adele

A Fall Favorite: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I believe fall is the most contemplative season. Whether we’re out on a walk or in the kitchen, it seems the world stops for a while so we can admire its beauty. The cold weather beckons for good food and warm company; whether that’s around a fire or a table. I always think about Little Ingalls Widler, back in the pioneer days. The always had a fire going in the kitchen and the family would gather around the table for a warm meal. In the fall and winter, it was crucial that they had enough food stored up. Though we don’t have to worry about that now-a-days, I still think it does one good to step back, take great care in preparing, and savor the company the meal is shared with.

It is an understatement to say Butternut Squash is a fall favorite! I’ve seen it everywhere from Pinterest to Instagram. And would it come as a shock to you to say that I’ve never even tasted it before?! Yep, you heard that right. I’m not a big soup fan, I will admit. But I couldn’t resist when I saw A Daily Something’s recipe. It looked so delectable, from preparation to the bowl. Once more, it wasn’t too complicated that I could give it a first try. Now, this is a very basic recipe but the flavor in this should not be understated. The squash is roasted with garlic and thyme making it a very savory soup. You can always create your own recipe and add things like pine nuts and apples, or add buttermilk or half and half for a thicker soup. But if you’re looking for a basic butternut squash recipe with loads of flavor, this is a great place to start!

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{Recipe}

Butternut squash

1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped

6 cloves garlic

Olive oil

Fresh thyme

Chicken broth

 

– Preheat oven to 375 –

Start by cutting the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds in the cavity (these can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds!). Place 3 cloves garlic and 2-3 sprigs of thyme in each cavity. Then, drizzle the halves with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Carefully turn the halves over and place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. You should be able to stick a fork in it easily if it is done!

Sauté the onions in olive oil over medium heat. Next, add the butternut squash. Turn up the heat a little so the squash can caramelize. Add your chicken stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Lastly, use an immersion blender to break up the squash even more. Otherwise you will end up with a very thick consistency. Serve with fresh bread and enjoy!

A day In The Life of a Florist – Flowers of the Good Earth

This little bird is one of many in the shop!

This stage of life I am in right now is so exciting! For once, I am doing something for myself. I wanted to share this journey with you! After 4 years of college and 1 year of banking, I figured out what I want to do (gasp!). I never thought I would get to that point. Actually, I think I knew all along what I wanted to do but I was too busy pleasing every one else.

I quit my job at the bank to enjoy a much slower pace of life. Of course this doesn’t mean I don’t want to work. I just want to work doing something I enjoy. I took a part time job at a flower shop here in town and I am also starting a business with my good friend Sarah. Check us out at Slow Living Blog. So, life is pretty good right now. For the first time I feel like I am on track!

The flower shop is called Flowers of the Good Earth and it is so charming! The inside is so beautiful with arrangements on display everywhere. They keep birds which keep you company with their chirping all day. There are two cats in back (that used to roam the store but because of cleanliness issues, they spend the majority of their time in a back room) and chickens outside that lay eggs which the owners then sell. Outside is all the outdoor plants as well as baskets, chimes, and garden decor. Don’t get me wrong, it can get very busy and hectic. But overall, it is a relaxing place to work. Much better than a bank!

I wanted to show you some pictures of this super charming shop and encourage you all to follow your dreams as well!!

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This is the “backyard.” It’s nice to be able to go outside and work on a nice day!

 

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The outdoor nursery. These plants desperately need moved back to the greenhouse because it’s getting cold!!

 

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The above picture is probably my favorite part about working here. Not only are there cats and birds to keep us company throughout the day, but chickens right on the property that provide us with eggs as well! Of course they’re not free – $2.50 a dozen. But now, I know where my eggs are coming from. The chickens aren’t cramped together where they step in another chicken’s feces and are so fat they can’t walk. It makes me feel good knowing they are healthy chickens when I go to eat an egg! And the convenience of having eggs right at work can’t be beat!

 

 

eggs
If you can see in this picture, each egg is a little different shade of brown and they are varying sizes. Definitely not store bought!

 

destaminating lilies
When the lilies come in, we have to destaminate them. They are those brown “caps” on the ends there. Once they open up if the caps are left on they create this powdery orange substance on the lily that makes it unattractive.

 

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Orders can pile up here at Flowers of the Good Earth!

 

I bet many people think working at a flower shop would be relaxing and laid back. I know I certainly did. But it can get crazy! At least at Flowers of the Good Earth the to-do list can quickly pile up with orders. Funerals, weddings, prom, etc. We do it all! But when I look at the two owners, I can definitely tell they take pride in their work every day. Sure, it can get busy. But when you are doing something you love and are called to do, it makes it all worth it. Thinking about starting my own business is daunting! But I would rather work at something I love than live out my existence in an office chair!

I hope I gave you some inspiration to do whatever you love. And it’s never too late to make that leap! Please feel free to comment with any of your experiences or inspirations! And, if you ever find yourself in little Lancaster, OH, come on by the shop and say hi!

– Adele

 

Slow Living Blog Launch!!

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Hi guys,

So I told you about the project my friend Sarah and I are starting and I am happy to announce we have launched our blog page, Facebook page, and twitter account. We are the slow living sisters and we are documenting the art of seeing and creating beauty in our everyday lives. I encourage you to visit and follow slowlivingblog.com and check out our latest post on homemade chai tea latte. Tell all your friends too!

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement as we start this project!

Adele

A Steller Story – A day at the Pumpkin Patch

stellerstory-pumpkinpatchFor those of you don’t know, Steller is this amazing new app (well, I don’t know how new it is, but I just recently discovered it) that allows you to create stories from your pictures. The possibilities of what you can create are endless! You can post recipes, trips, really anything that has a central theme. For the first time pictures aren’t interpreted by other people, they’re interpreted by you based on the story you tell. It’s so fun! If you don’t have it already, you should definitely get it! You can download it for free on the Apple app store!

My friend Sarah and I recently went to a pumpkin patch to get some pumpkins (not that we don’t have enough already) and to experience more of the fall season! There’s a reason I wanted to go to this particular patch. The pumpkin patch is nestled in the Hocking Hills of Southeastern Ohio, the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. I always love an excuse to drive down route 33 in the fall when the leaves are changing!

Steller liked the story so much, they republished the story into one of their collections! So, I wanted to share it with you all as well. You can download the app and look for adele_hall if you don’t have it already, or you can view it here!

I’m so excited that Steller took such an interest in my story!

As I mentioned in my previous post, my friend Sarah and I are joining forces to start our blogging business! Though the project is in its infancy right now, I will be posting less on here and more on our blog. Once we get that up, I will redirect you there!

I will try to post something on here within a few days, but it might be on the new site so stay tuned!

Adele