Tag Archives: Photoshop

The importance of a garnish

The importance of a garnish.

Is not to be underestimated.

Sometimes, I forget to have fresh herbs lying around. Then I cook something very brown, and attempt to photograph it.

And the results are sad.

Like this delicious mushroom that I blogged about yesterday:

It doesn’t look horrid–but can you imagine how much better it would look with a sprinkling of fresh thyme on top?

Let’s use the Photoshop clone stamp tool to move some peas on top. Just pretend they’re herbs.

If you kind of squint your eyes you can get the idea. C’mon–squint up–see the difference?

And this slow cooker teriyaki chicken (side note–not a blog-worthy recipe when all was said and done). It’s a yellow-brown pile of whatsit.

 But if I had remembered the green onions . . .

Food photographers, take note: garnish, garnish, garnish.

Let’s take a positive example in which I remembered the benefit of a tiny leafy green spot: Chicken Parmesan.

Can you imagine how this would have looked without the basil?

Like a pool of white drowning inside a pool of red. The garnish adds dimension, color, contrast, interest. A focal point for the eye to engage what would otherwise be a blob of food. Here–I’ll Photoshop away the garnish so that you can see the difference:


And while we’re using the clone stamp tool, do you mind if I give myself a third eye on my forehead, implant a string of pearls down my nose, and put my eyebrows on my upper lip?

Wow. Très debonair, n’est-ce pas?

Benefit gala!

So! Remember how I talked about that adoption conference I attended, sang at, and photographed this past Saturday? Well, I’ll be sharing more about that soon, but that wasn’t the end of my adoption-related shenanigans. Based on a prompting from my friend Sarah and the various emailings that resulted, I ended up volunteering my lens to a magnificent organization here in Chicago called Lydia Home, and it just so happened that their yearly benefit gala was a few days later, where they could put me to use!

Fortuitous? I think it was a God-thing.

Monday evening I trekked my way from work to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, camera in tow, ready for the action. Though it was barely 5:45 when I arrived, it was already pitch dark outside.

I was expecting a little intimate dinner–but no!

Whoa. It was a huge event, attended by about 1,200 people.

The event started with a silent auction.

The items up for bid were so varied–a bright blue kayak. A soft designer sweater. Tickets to various sporting events. An American Girl Doll. This necklace:

Joy #1: being involved in a cause I believe in! This organization has so many fantastic programs (especially the Safe Families initiative), and it’s all gospel-based.

Joy #2: serving with my talents, which doesn’t even feel like work. It was just fun.

Trouble #1: the lighting. At an event like this, you don’t really have any control. So the best you can do is set your camera so that it’s as sensitive to the light as possible, without compromising shutter speed and creating blur.

Ay, me. A combination of my camera quality (not entirely professional), the aperture capacity of my lenses (not wide enough), the dim lighting, the color of the walls, and the tall ceilings (too high for my flash to be able to bounce off ’em) produced so many dark and noise-filled photos.

And believe me, the ones I’m sharing here are not even the worst.

(Incidentally, I had a dream last night that I was buying a better camera with a wicked awesome lens. Does this mean something?)

Anyway, when I sent the photos off by FedEx, I resisted the urge to apologize to the lovely ladies who I’d been in touch with. “I’m sorry my photos aren’t the best . . . ”

“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to navigate the dim lighting . . .”

“I’m sorry my high ISO caused so much noise . . .”

“I’m sorry I’m not the quality of photographer you were probably hoping for . . .”

. . . but I think I need to do what with photography what Julia Child did in the kitchen: don’t apologize. I did what I did, and let’s keep on keeping on. So I shut my trap (except with you guys, of course–you get to hear it all!), and I think I’m glad I did.

I can’t help but see all the flaws in my efforts, and I wish both for my sake and theirs that I had done a perfect job. But I didn’t. But what I did was acceptable. So moving on.

It’s hard to quell the perfectionist within who’s piping up and saying things like “Why did you even offer if you couldn’t be perfect?” But I know that’s not the voice I’m supposed to be listening to. Instead I should listen to the voice that’s telling me to keep putting myself out there. Offering my photography, flawed as it may be. Through this event, I connected with a woman who said I might have the chance to do some senior portraits for kids who otherwise couldn’t afford them. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

And enough about the little lady in my head called Pollywiggle Perfectioniste! Let me share Trouble #2: plants.

Two twiggy creations flanked the podium, which wasn’t a problem when there was only one person, and when he or she was directly behind the podium–or when this lovely singer walked all over the stage, giving me plenty of plant-free shots:

However, these twiggy arrangements created difficulties when people shared the stage. For example, this sorry shot:

Twiggy blockage, twiggy shadows. Alas!

I considered stomping up there and kicking them over with the yell of a warrior, but I thought that might guarantee that I don’t get invited back.


I did my darnedest to Photoshop the twig shadows off this girls’ face to save the shot–here’s the original:

The Photoshopped:

Side by side:




Which brings me to Joy #3: hearing from the kids who have been helped by the program. This young man was shot by someone at his high school.

After getting out of the hospital, he went back to school. And guess who was calmly walking the halls? Yep. The guy who’d shot him.

He needed to get out of that situation. And Lydia Home was able to help.

Joy #4: a fabulous sermon from the pastor at Harvest about not worrying. We’re just not made to do it, friends!

Joy #5: the food.

This cake, in particular.

Or wait . . .maybe that’s Trouble #3? Hard to discern. I’ll chew on it.

Heh heh.

(did I just make a dad joke?)

Anyway folks, that’s it for today! What do you photographers recommend I do next time I’m in a low lighting situation with high ceilings? And what kind of organizations in your towns really move your hearts? And have you heard of Safe Families before?