Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Martha Stewart Madness Takes Over!

Last week I bought the December issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine because I love the food photography in it. (Honest! I don't even read the articles! Much. . .) Well, I got completely excited by the idea of making the Fleur de Sel toffee that purports itself to be so easy, and it was. I documented the process from cooking to packaging it up as gifts. Read on. . .
First I sprayed a cookie sheet with vegetable oil. Then I mixed one pound (yes, that's FOUR whole sticks, folks!) of butter, 2 2/3 cups of sugar, 1/3 cup of water and 1/4 cup of light corn syrup in the largish pan you see below and let it all melt over medium high heat. I whisked it until it looked like this:Jon was excited to try some. Toffee is his favorite candy:
Once it came to a boil, the recipe said I had to wait at least 12 minutes, (although it ended up being something more like 22 minutes) until the candy thermometer read 300 degrees and it was nice and toffee-colored, like this:
Next, I had to pour it into the cookie sheet, where I let it sit for 30 seconds and then sprinkled it with kosher salt for that sweet-n-salty goodness. Then it had to sit for 30 minutes before I could break it up.After it cooled, I was able to break it up with a little hammer into thousands of tiny pieces (boy, does it taste delicious! I ate enough to make my teeth ache. . . No, seriously!)
And then I boxed it up in little petal boxes I'd made and hand-stamped while it was cooling (you see what I mean about the Martha Stewart Madness thing now? I'll might just go out and stencil the driveway next--watch out world!) That's all for today, folks! Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight! Cheers, Martha--uh, I mean, Cindy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

From my tree to you: Merry Christmas!

Well, there are still many Southern Mainers without power as I write this, but Central Maine Power Company is hoping to have all of them back up on the grid as of late tonight. New Hampshire and Massachussetts were even harder hit than we were, so I understand it will be some time before they all have their power back on.

I took some pictures of my Christmas ornaments this morning. My aunt Theresa gave us this sweet little angel (top) a couple of years ago and she's now a staple favorite each year, placed front and center.

Grammy Seger's World War II Christmas ball. This was purchased during the time when everyone was being encouraged to donate anything metal to the war effort, so it was apparently just a simple glass ball with a cardboard insert to hang it from the tree with a little kitchen twine. It has been a family favorite since I was a child, despite it's less than gorgeous appearance. It symbolizes my grandparents' Depression-Era frugality, I suppose, too. It's a real piece of history, in any case. I'm not sure who gave us the one below, but Maya loves it anyhow.
And this interesting one below --I got him a couple of years before Maya was born. He was part of a series called Santas around the world or something. I think he might be Father Christmas, but around my house, we just call him "Snooty Santa."

Thanks for taking the time to read and look as always! Happy Holidays, Cindy

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Holidays from the Glass World!

We bought a Christmas tree yesterday afternoon. We had been going to get it on Saturday, but like so many others, we lost our power in Friday's big ice storm and didn't get it back on for 36 hours. We stayed with my cousin and her family because they got their power back early on. So many people are still waiting to get their electricity back on that I felt a little badly being so comfortable and cozy as we decorated our cute little tree last night.
We let Maya do most of the work, really. After I put up the lights, she got out all the ornaments and showed us her favorites (like the one above, in particular, which dates back to World War II, and is seriously just a glass ball with a mouldering yellow stripe painted around it. It has a cardboard insert in the neck and is hung with a piece of white cooking twine, because it was bought during the time when people were donating everything metal that they owned to the war cause. It's our family favorite and has been since I was a child. It was Grammy Seger's.) Here's Jon, below, enjoying watching Maya hard at work:

The pictures aren't too great because I didn't want to use the flash and ruin the moody Christmas-lit ambiance, so I used ISO 1000 and a wide-open aperture to capture these cute shots of Maya having a blast, decorating. Happy Holidays to you all!

The day before that, Saturday, we went to Augusta, to meet my father, who is kindly loaning me his Pentax K20D, to do a couple of upcoming photo shoots. One is Merry Madness, which is a fun shopping night in the Old Port that starts with an opening ceremony at the Eastland Hotel on High Street this Thursday the 18th of December at 5 pm. You buy either a mug or a wine glass and then go all around the Old Port, shopping from 5-10 pm, where you can get a nice glass of wine or a mug of cocoa or coffee, depending on your preferences. The other will be even more fun: On Saturday the 20th of December, I am going to be riding on the lead tugboat in the Parade of Lights in Portland Harbor, to take photos of all the boats, lighted for the holiday and parading around the harbor several times. And finally, this week, I'll be going to somewhere between 5 and 8 restaurants to take photos of their signature seafood dishes for Portland Magazine's upcoming February/March issue. I am really excited about that assignment, because food photography is near and dear to my heart.

Anyhow, on the way home from meeting Dad for lunch at the Olive Garden in Augusta, we stopped by the Capital Building in Augusta Central (right.) The light was low and warm and I'd never taken pictures of it, so I thought I'd try my hand. In the picture above, you can sort of see the thick coating of ice on all the trees. And on the left below the capitol building dome, is the front of the building, a perspective I liked because it looks like government, frowning down upon the peons!
Finally, I'll leave you with a shot I took on the highway on the way home--the sun setting through some ice-covered trees. It really looked like a glass world for about 48 hours here in Southern Maine. Thanks for reading as always! Cindy

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Jewel-toned early evening in the Old Port

Two weeks ago, while Maya and her cousin had their dance class on Portland's West End, I drove down to the Old Port and set up my tripod and camera on the corner of Fore and Exchange Streets. I took these two long exposures of car head and taillights, streaking through the scene, enlivening an otherwise quiet early evening. Some sunsets are so gorgeous, but they generally have beautiful clouds that allow for all of those gorgeous, rich colors. But on days that have few clouds, the sunsets aren't as exciting, but I always love how the sky looks AFTER the sun sets. It's a luminous jewel-toned blue. And I find that that is how cities look best, photographed after dark: just after sunset. Thanks for reading as always, Cindy

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My photos in Maine Food & Lifestyle's December 08 Issue

When I arrived home from Thanksgiving weekend at my mother's and father's houses, this magazine was waiting for me in the pile of mail. I've been waiting and waiting for them to publish this issue, because I have four photos in it. First, in the Contents, or "On the Menu" section, in the top middle is my photo of the Ready Brothers, who I wrote about in an earlier post. They are two lobstermen who started a really amazing lobstering business called Catch a Piece of Maine:
The next photo is a scan of the page that has another photograph from the morning I went out on the Ready Brother's lobsterboat. This shows Portland Headlight in the background as they prepare a trap for resetting:
Finally, near the end of the magazine, are two photos of the Boyd Street Garden in Portland's East End neighborhood that I took for David Buchanan's regular quarterly column. I'm really happy about getting these photos into this wonderful magazine and can't wait for a chance to sit down and "consume" the entire issue at my leisure. I hope I will get the opportunity to provide more images for them in the future as it was really fun! Thanks for reading everyone! Cindy

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

CFW Photography News. . .

As of November 17th, 2008, I am now showing selected larger matted photos at Kennedy Studios on 42 Exchange Street in Portland! Marilyn and Jerry Andress, the owners, have been really generous and helpful in setting this up and I'm slowly learning this business of publicizing myself.

You can stop by the gallery seven days a week to see what I've got there. Their phone number is (207) 772-8766 and their website is . I'll have smaller matted photos after this weekend, which leads me to my next bit of news:

This Saturday the 22nd of November, I'm going to be selling my photographs, printed in 5x7 and matted out to 8x10 at the St. Bartholomew's Church craft fair. The fair runs from 9 to 3 pm and there are at least 20 other tables of great gifts for the holidays ranging from jewelry to crafts, and at least two of the tables will be manned (or womanned) by my mother (and a wonderful artist) Maureen Farr and three of her friends from Deer Isle's new Red Dot Gallery! There will also be food to buy--so you can have a nice bowl of chowder or a cup of hot cocoa before or after you look around.

I hope you'll all stop by the fair to at least say hi on Saturday and I'd love it if you could forward this post to anyone else you think might be interested in going as we want lots of people to come to the fair and shop! St. Bart's church is off of Route 77 in Cape Elizabeth at 8 Two Lights Road (in other words, it's off to the left just before you turn to go out to Two Lights.) If you need to call for directions, the number is 799-5528 and their website is: . Hope to see you there!

In other news: tomorrow, I'll be photographing the Victoria Mansion's holiday decorations and newly renovated Turkish Smoking Room for Portland Magazine. I can't wait, because I've wanted to photograph the mansion for ages, but they don't normally allow any photography. I'll also be photographing the gala opening ceremony for the holidays there on December 4th, from 6-8 pm, which means I'll have to dress up. . .

You can see the Victoria Mansion at their website: . It's a beautiful old brownstone building with very ornately decorated and appointed rooms. The Turkish Smoking Room has always been my favorite. I'm very excited to see its renovated state. You can actually take a virtual tour on the website, which will give you an idea of how gorgeous the rooms are, or you can visit it for yourself and magically go back in time to the Victorian Era.

Of course a post from me wouldn't be complete without what I've been working on photographically. So, here is what I did yesterday:

It is actually comprised of three bracketed shots that were taken to expose for more full highlights, midtones and shadows. It's called HDR or High Dynamic Range photography. I really like the effect, which to me looks a bit like an old re-colored postcard. My father put it together for me using an HDR program called Photomatix, which I don't have yet.

And on Monday, I drove down to the Old Port and took this shot of fishing boats behind Harbor Fish Market:

I really like the rich, golden light and saturation of colors in it. It's a new favorite of mine and I hope you like it as well.

Thanks for reading and looking as always! Cindy

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A few new photos from yesterday. . .

I visited my cousin, Dianne, yesterday out in Scarborough, and on the way home, stopped by an abandoned house that had intrigued me on the way there.

I was intrigued by how run-down the house was. I wish I knew how old it was, but I'm guessing late 1800s because it seems to have Italianate design in addition to the nifty lookout cupola on the top. And I love the counterpoint of the intense blue sky behind it, as today is grim and gray outside.

Last night, after I was done hypnotizing my class in Cumberland for Weight Loss, I stopped by Woodfords Church, on Woodfords Street in Portland to photograph the lighted steeple with the almost full moon next to it:

Just an interesting take on a church steeple really--nothing too exciting this time around. . . But as always, thanks for looking! ;-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

When Toys Attack--a frightening morning. . .

This morning, I decided it was high time that I cleaned my daughter's bedroom as it was quite a mess. Well, as soon as I walked in there, I was confronted by her old baby doll, Elise, who smiled eerily at me and said, "Mama! Mama!" I ran back out of the room, but she chased me into the hallway, where I managed to snap these pictures:and:

I finally managed to grab her and stuff her back into the toybox, but I had no sooner finished that when I turned around and discovered where all of our damned money's been going!I managed to grab the five, but he wolfed the dollar down like a greedy pig. . . I stuffed him in the toy box along with the baby doll, who kept knocking on the lid and crying. And then, I turned around and discovered that I was surrounded by a horde of vicious Littlest Pet Shop figures:

"Play with us! Play with us!" they whispered, all together, like something out of a horror movie. I backed away with them following slowly along until I got to the bedroom door, ran out into the hall and slammed the door shut on the whole awful experience.

I've heard a few high-pitched giggles, some skittering noises and a few thuds over the past hour, which is what prompted me to post this now. Just in case anything happens to me, you'll know who to blame!

Uh oh. . . What's that noise?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween fun!

On Halloween this year (2008) Maya chose to be a dark fairy at the last minute (mostly because I lamed out and didn't make her costume in time!) I took her outside as the sun was setting to get some hopefully cool shots of her in costume.

This one is pretty vampy!

Here she is being melancholy. . .

I call this one The Message, because it looks to me like she has a glowing message or letter held under the hand that is on the bricks. A sad message, by the looks of it. . .
And finally, here she is watching out the front door in anticipation of trick or treating!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Rembrandt Lighting Technique

So I figured out a new technique to use in photographing fruits and vegetables last week. I call it the Rembrandt Lighting Technique, because it gives a nice "Old Masters" kind of brooding look to the pictures.
It's pretty simple actually. I set up a black cloth on my dining room table, which is next to the deck door, which provides good sidelight. Then I set up my fruit(s) or vegetable(s) and putting my camera on the tripod, set it on f/22 to really slow the shutter down, and I used cloudy natural sidelight with no other lights to take these photos at somewhat long exposures of 2-5 seconds.
The long exposures and cloudy, diffuse natural light seem to allow for rich, saturated colors in the pictures, despite the fact that when I set them up, you'd think they'd be the worst, underexposed, drab looking pictures ever.
In fact, I was just desperate to photograph something when I started this project last week. I didn't have time to leave the house and find a landscape and the light was wrong anyhow--it was cloudy! So when I set up, I thought, "Girl, you must be crazy. These are going to be ugly!" But after a little tweaking of the exposure times and aperture, this was what resulted. I'm quite happy with it. What do you think?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Check out my new Smugmug site!

This is one of my latest posters--I took it at the Camden Windjammer Weekend with Maya and my father last Saturday--it's a longboat that belonged to one of the Windjammers.

I finally took the plunge and have gotten a new photo viewing site! You can visit it here: . I'm very happy with it and think it is a wonderful tool.

Also--you can now view my Pentax photo gallery by clicking on this link below:
See my photos featured in the PENTAX Photogallery
Hope this posting finds you all well and enjoying the latter part of summer. Cheers, Cindy


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