Delicious Food Show 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014 by
Delicious Food Show 2014 |

come on in

Hey have any of my GTA friends been to the Delicious Food Show down at the CNE grounds before?  I went for the first time today, courtesy of Strauss Water Bar (who I’ll tell you all about soon).  But first come on in to the Direct Energy Centre and check out some of the exhibits.

How to Take This Photograph: Mason Jars

Thursday, October 2, 2014 by
Mason Jar | How to take this photograph series |

Let’s talk about you…

Let’s talk about your photography.  What kind of camera do you use…  Phone camera?  DSLR?  What kind of stuff do you take pictures of…  Your dog and your cat?  Your family?  Your garden?  Your trips?  Hey, guess what…  me too!  Do you wanna learn a few tips and tricks to take better pictures?  Then let’s hang out together.  There’s always always always something new to learn about photography, and that’s part of the reason I love it.  So I’ll share some of the stuff I know with you and hopefully as we go along we’ll all get a bit better at it.  We’ll make a series called…

…how to take this photograph

Soooo… let’s get our cameras out and practice.  Are you with me?  We’ll start with using a DSLR….here we go.

Mason jars, distressed wood, Nikon DSLR |

i took this one with my phone


For this first one I picked something basic that a lot of crafters, pinterest-ers, and bloggers will relate to:  the humble mason jar.  If you haven’t yet made some kind of lighting that includes a mason jar, you’re behind the times…just sayin’.  Quick.  Run and throw a tealight into an old jam jar if you need to…I’ll wait…  Personally I have boxes or mason jars in multiple sizes and use them all the time.  For jam, for leftover soup, keeping homemade granola, for gifts, for organizing craft supplies… 


But even if you’re not a fan of mason jars, there are also tricks here to isolating a single item in a frame, and to showing off glassware, setting up and editing photos…so stick with me and read on…


For this shot I used a distressed old fence board as a base so that the texture would contrast with the glass and highlight it.  I’m shooting indoors.  The set-up is about four feet away from a sunny window, and I’m positioned about three feet on the opposite side, so that the glass is backlit.  I set up a few more jars randomly behind it to show that this is one of a larger set of jars.  I framed the shot to show one full jar with just a partial view of the jars behind it.  The jar in front is a bit off-centre because off-centre is more interesting than centred.  There’s a good universal photography tip.  I’m sitting down so the jars are at eye-level to the camera, and I have my elbows propped on my knees to help keep the camera steady.  My focus point is on the raised lettering on the face of the jar.

Using the kitchen as a photo studio |

blogger at work :)


My camera is a Nikon, so if your camera is another brand the screen will look different but will have the same information.  I’m using an 85mm fixed lens, which is my current favourite. 

side note on lenses…

Whenever you’re feeling like your camera is not doing what you want, always look to buying a new lens before buying a completely new camera.  The lens’s capability will probably do a lot more for you than a new camera body, unless it’s actually broken.  And if you’re not sure what lens to buy next, you can rent lenses from the camera stores for a day, a weekend or a week.  So try before you buy!

Back to settings… My dial is set to M (manual).  I almost always set the aperture or f-stop first, for this one it’s at 2.2.  The ISO is at 640 because it was actually a little dark in the room at the time, making it dark on the shadow side of the glass where I was focussing.  The shutter speed is 1/800.  Definitely fast enough that I can shoot hand-held.

Nikon camera settings explained on back screen |


Always take at least three shots, then take a few more.  Adjust your shutter speed…a little faster…a little slower…then try a different aperture (or f-stop).  Take both landscape and portrait orientation.  Then you’ll have a good variety of choice when you need to choose your final image.


I chose a portrait style photo as the image to work with, and I always shoot crooked with portrait.  So in Lightroom I used the crop tool with the grid to straighten the photo slightly, using the jar lid as my “straight line”.  I increased the exposure just slightly +.12 to lighten the picture, and increased the clarity +33 so the detail on the glass would be super-sharp.  These are just personal subjective choices…no real rhyme or reason.  I’m just trying to come up with a final image that looks like the idea I had in my head at the beginning.

Lightoom develop process |

editing in lightroom

So that’s it…

Now over to you.  Did you learn something new?  What are your challenges with photographing glass?  And most importantly… what kind of lighting have you made with a mason jar???  Let me know in the comments below.  And go ahead….find an empty jar, glass or vase and use your camera to take a photo.  See if you can end up with the result you wanted, and hopefully some of these tips will help you!

What kind of subject should we tackle next time?  (Make sure you’re signed up to receive new posts in your email inbox and never miss any of the awesomeness!)

xo andrea

Being Half Crafty: Ombré Edged Business Cards

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 by
Double-sided business cards from MOO |

I’m in business

Oh business cards.  There are probably way too many of them in the world, right? Even in my own small career there were first the Real business cards, then some for the card-making business, the gift business, and the photography business of course.  And how many of all of those have I given out?  Well, some, but there’s still a whole lot of them left over!

Story of a Fireplace Wall & A Fall Mantel

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 by
Fall mantel with mirror, chalkboard, pumpkins, books, candlesticks and burlap banner |

what to write on the chalkboard…?

Have you ever started out with any kind of project not knowing where it would end?  This is one of those.  Both the mantel decor and this blog post, so wish me luck…here goes…

Photo Finish 36: Lessons Learned from a Kid Photographer

Friday, September 12, 2014 by
Photo Finish 36:  Lessons Learned from a Kid Photographer |

my kid took this one:  Killbear Provincial Park

So hey, check out the new photographer on the block!  It’s Personally Junior.  He went on a camping trip with his Oma and Opa (my parents, God bless them) and Opa took the opportunity to teach him a bit of photography with a li’l ol’ Canon G11 point and shoot.  Opa has infinite patience for teaching, and Oma has infinite patience for board games (did I mention…God bless them!) so PJ was well spoiled for the week. 

When I try to teach him something there’s a lot of eye-rolling and growling involved

But wow! when I finally sat down with him to download his memory card, my heart did a few little skips and I might have even gotten a little lump in my throat.  The pictures were good.  Really really good! I could have picked quite a few of them, but if you’ve been in northern Ontario you’ll know that this really captures the Canadian Shield scenery.  The sometimes moody weather, the windswept rocky islands in the middle of the lakes, tall grasses growing along the shore.  Love.

So in order to keep up with the kid, let’s all learn from some of the lessons he learned about photography too.

1.  Take it outside

Nature provides great subject matter for learning photography.  If you’re looking to practice your photography or learn something new with it…take it outside.  Landscapes, macro photography, composition, depth of field, texture, light and shadows, perspective…all of these lessons can be practiced with beautiful subject matter that mostly stays still. 

Keep your love of nature, for that is the way to understand art more and more. 

-Vincent van Gogh

2.  There’s two ways to preview

On the screen and through the eyepiece.  On the screen has the distractions of everything else in your field of view, it’s a flat two-dimensional surface, but it’s easier.

Through the eyepiece you can see exactly what the lens sees. Well, pretty much but that’s a lengthy technical discussion…if it fascinates you here’s a thorough discussion.   And for a more whimsical discussion, which I recommend, definitely read Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll if you haven’t yet.  Or read it again.

“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the unicorn,

“If you believe in me, I’ll believe in you.”

But I digress.  I was saying, through the eyepiece you can see the way the lens sees without anything distracting in your field of view.  But it’s harder.  As PJ says, especially harder to hold the camera still while you press the shutter, and harder to shoot from a tricky angle like down low or way up high.  True.

How do you take your photos..through the eyepiece or from the display?  And for those of you looking through the glass, which eye do you use?  I’m right-eye.  Apparently casual surveys show a breakdown of right eye/left eye/both eyes is 60/35/5.  Both eyes…weird.

3.  Opa showed me how

It’s true we live in an age of self-help.  You can buy books to teach yourself how to do anything.  Check the bookstore aisles for (Insert Topic Here) for Dummies and you’ll find help for anything under the sun.  Or if not of course you can google it. 

What year did google become a verb?  2006

Or even better, find a youtube video.   Well, and even better still, have a mentor.  Is there anything better than having someone wise and experienced to take you under their wing and set you in the right direction, teaching you the ropes as you go along?  I can’t even believe what my kid was able to accomplish with his Opa as a mentor.

He had some beautiful shots with shallow depth of field, super low angles, clever composition, and when I asked him how he did it his answer was always…Opa showed me how.

Lessons learned:  take it outside, there are two ways to preview, listen to your mentor.

Have a great weekend everyone, and learn something new!

xo andrea

Photo Finish 35: Ode to School Supplies

Thursday, September 4, 2014 by
Photo Finish 35 Ode to School Supplies |

pencil crayon, ruler, chalkboard love

I love school supplies.  Love love love.  Love.  Blank paper, sharpened pencils, unused erasers.  I’m a pen and paper girl at heart.  If I could hand-write my blog posts, paste the actual photos onto them and mail them to you via snail-mail I would do it in a heartbeat.  So in honour of back-to-school season, this post is dedicated to some of my favourite school-related items, and my school-related history with them.

Roasted Tomato Soup {Cooking Without a Recipe}

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 by
Roasted Tomato Soup | cooking without a recipe |
Well guys…love it or hate it here’s the truth:  Fall is in the air.  Or maybe just on the calendar.  Oh wait, was that Fall back in July?  Either way, it started WAY too early this year and I’m not emotionally prepared.  Bring on a little more summer please.  And while we’re talking about summer let’s talk about life being just a little bit easier…