Monday, October 20, 2014
9 tips for taking better photos
1. Light, Lens, Love: This tip comes from a very talented Australian photographer Jacqui Mitelman. I had the pleasure of doing a portraiture workshop with Jacqui about 12 years ago and her words have stayed with me.
I always choose natural light over using a flash ( on most cameras and phones you can turn the flash off). If you look at the photos of the fruit above you can see the difference in the photos based on where the light source (daylight through the kitchen window) is hitting the fruit.
The first and last light of the day is a beautiful time to take portraits of your children or anyone for that matter, or to capture the layers of colours for landscape photography. I learnt this tip about natural light from my husband Peter McConchie who is a real life professional photographer :)
If you have a fixed lens camera like I do then you are stuck with it (sorry!), but if you can change your lens perhaps consider doing some research, see which lenses other photographers are using and try out a different one to what you have now.
And of course everything done with Love produces a more beautiful result.
2. Look to the edges of the frame: this is a tip I read in a book years ago and it made a big difference to my photos. Often we are so focused on our subject in the centre that we forget to pay attention to what is around it, by looking to the edges you will notice if you need to move your subject to a better position. Beware of poles or trees sticking out the top of people's heads, or clutter on your benchtop if you are photographing food.
3. Pay attention to the background: this is similar but slightly different to the previous tip. Many years ago I happened to go on a shoot with Sydney photographer Ingvaar Kenne, he was photographing a Christian rockband! It was on this shoot I picked up the tip about the importance of background, especially for portraits. The streets of Melbourne were the backdrop for the shoot, Ingvaar showed me how to use everything from a staircase to a roller door as a background and the difference it made to the feeling of the photo. Try it out, different colours, different textures all create a different effect. Sounds obvious and simple but paying close attention to the details is what makes the difference between a great shot and a mediocre one.
4. Know your camera: I have to admit I am still working on this myself. I bought a new camera about six months ago because my other camera ended up with sand in it and that was the end of that. (mini tip - protect your camera from sand!) My current camera is a Fujifinepix S with a 30x superwide fixed lens. Next camera, I will definitely get one with a changeable lens. Photographers such as Jodi would also tell you to switch your camera off auto and on to manual, I too am yet to do this! I have started playing around with doing this but am not that confident about it yet. Watch this space...
5. Study photography you love: and see if you can work out exactly what it is that you love about it, what sets it apart from other photography? is it the light? the composition? movement in the shot?
the angles? Visit Jay, Jodi, Kellie, Erin, my husband Pete for some inspiration.
6. Challenge yourself: set yourself a task such as joining in with Jodi's 52 project, this will hone your skill if you have a topic to focus on.
7. School up: either borrow books from the library, do an online course, or find one at your local community centre or tafe. The main thing though is to remain passionate about what you are doing. The most technically correct photographers do not always have the most feeling in their work, but by doing some study you will gain confidence in what you are doing and the effects you want to achieve.
8. Edit edit edit: Until I met Pete I kept every photo I took! Pete has taught me the art of editing and that it requires you to be ruthless.
9. Practice, practice, practice
Now it's over to you, what are your favorite photography tips? or favorite photography sites or bloggers?
Friday, October 17, 2014
If you're wondering how to get our kids to eat salad, or they hover around you looking for food before dinner prepare a plate like the one pictured above and I think you'll find they will actually eat some raw veggies!
Have you joined Georgia's lunchbox challenge?
Zucchini and dill fritters? yes please.
Check out Meg's new ebook: Wholefood Children's Parties.
If you are feeling torn between your family responsibilities and your work or blog, read this.
Come on over and join The Wholefood Mama tribe on facebook.
Off topic of food for a moment, if you'd like to support an important social justice campaign my husband Pete is involved in please take a look here.
Continuing on the social justice topic, next month I will be supporting the Step Up for Sisterhood week that works to stamp out abuse and neglect of Australian girls. The funds raised from this campaign go towards the Sister 2 Sister program a year long mentoring and risk management program designed to empower vulnerable teenagers. One person believing in a vulnerable teenager can make be the make or break. Let's get behind this.
Ok, that's the end of the list from me for today. I'm off to cook some bolognaise for dinner with wild deer meat from our friend's country property. Then we have a very low key weekend ahead which is exactly what the doctor ordered because this week Sol has had croup and River a chest infection which meant time off school and kinder.
We spent 5 months on the road and no one had even a sniffle, two weeks home back on the cold, damp (but beautiful) Peninsula and the colds hit. Oh well the sun is out and the boys have been jumping on my bed like a trampoline this afternoon to I think they are back on track!
See you back here next week for wholefood deliciousness and more! x
Thursday, October 16, 2014
The township of Cooktown is pretty basic, one pub, one bank, bakery, butcher, post office, a souvenir shop, an Italian restaurant, Indigenous art gallery, a couple of petrol stations, an independent supermarket with 4 aisles of groceries and a few accommodation options ranging from a caravan park and a back packers to guest houses.
Oh and there are a couple of cafes but don't bother with the coffee there. Pete decided he would brave a take away chai from one of the cafes, I went in and ordered it for him. The waiter asked, "Would you like coffee in it?" say no more.
One Sunday morning I visited the bakery thinking I'd buy River and Sol croissants. I scanned the few racks of bread and couldn't see anything that resembled pastry. "Do you have any croissants?"
"I could defrost some for you," came the reply. Thanks anyway.
So you can imagine our delight when we left Cooktown with our friend Dave who had flown up from Byron Bay, and headed out to Eddie's camp at the remote Elim beach and were treated to French and Vietnamese inspired campfire cuisine by our newfound friends French born Lauren and her boyfriend Josh.
It was out there at Elim beach where the heat was relentless, the showers cold, no swimming allowed of course because of the crocs, that we enjoyed good coffee brewed in Lauren and Josh's coffee press and Lauren's handmade chocolate brioche made using her Dad's recipe.
One afternoon while Pete, River and Josh went out fishing and crabbing, Sol, Dave and I watched Lauren create her French delicacy. The previous night in a stockpot over the campfire Josh had carefully prepared a wonderful Vietnamese fish curry. The spice kit they travelled with was better than the selection in my pantry at home!
The day after making the brioche, we took some of the catch back into Hope Vale to share with our friends in the community. The brioche however, well, leftover chocolate brioche? Whoever heard of that.
Lauren's chocolate brioche
3 eggs, whisked
140g butter (melted + cooled)
430g white flour
14g of yeast
a few drops orange essence (optional)
200g dark chocolate
In a large mixing bowl, place the flour, yeast and sugar and mix with a fork.
Make a well in the centre and using a fork, whisk in the eggs, followed by the milk and melted butter (and orange essence if using).
Mix until you have a dough.
Leave in a warm place for 2 hours or until it doubles in size.
Break dough into approximately 10-12 balls and press 2-4 squares of chocolate into the centre of each ball and cover the chocolate over with the dough.
Lauren baked the brioche in a camp oven over a campfire until it was golden. At home you can preheat the oven to 200C and bake on a tray until golden, approx. 12- 15 minutes.
Friday, October 10, 2014
We have been home 10 days and there's been a lot of catching up to do, not to mention returning to school and kinder for River and Sol. How happy we are to be home!
Here's what I've been catching up with online that I thought might interest you too:
If you're feeling overwhelmed about where to start with detoxing your whole life, not just the food you eat click on over and take a look at this new ecourse: 30 days to a low tox life with Alexx Stuart
And if it is specifically help with getting onto your wholefood path (beyond reading my blog :) take a look at Lisa Corduff's new four week e-course Small Steps to Wholefoods
I know it is spring not winter in Australia but this is worth filing for winter: 8 ways to keep kids healthy this winter (plus the blog is worth a read too)
I love this from Hands Free Mama: to love a child by their book. If you have been challenged by your child's personality you must read this.
If you like an old-fashioned calendar to hang on your wall take a look at Nicola Galloway's delicious creation for 2015 complete with recipes. Of course.
Hooray it's Friday! Have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you back here next with a recipe and more tales and photos from our travels. x
Thursday, October 02, 2014
We're home. Our road trip is complete. But of course the unpacking isn't!
Packing is always exciting, the anticipation of what lays ahead. Unpacking on the other hand is well, tedious. I've been pushing through it though and in the process sorting clothes and toys and sending bags of belongings to the op shop.
Pete and I have both returned home with a renewed sense of what matters and what doesn't, how we want to spend our time and what is important when it comes to raising our boys. We were both fairly clear on these things before we left, our time away has crystallised certain elements.
If anyone reading this has been considering taking a road trip I say go. So much of life can easily become predictable and mundane if we allow it to be, travel changes that. Travel is revealing, not only in what you see but in who you see in yourself and in those you travel with. Not all of it is beautiful, but it is rich and adds to the depths of who you are and who you want to be.
Having said that, for me traveling when our youngest was four and a half and our oldest seven and a half was perfect. I marvelled at families I saw travelling with toddlers and babes in arms. Maybe one baby but both a baby and a toddler! Not for me. The thought of breastfeeding, sleepless nights and then keeping an eye on toddlers so they don't get bitten by a snake or worse a crocodile is not my idea of fun. I'd love to hear differently though if you've done it and want to leave a comment.
In the 24 hours that we've been home when friends have asked, "How was your trip?" I haven't really known how to answer. You see, travel is different to a holiday. We weren't on a holiday.
Pete was working, making connections, joining dots, doing all that he could to ensure that his work with Indigenous Elders and at risk Indigenous youth brings positivity and longevity to young people in communities and values the wisdom and expertise of Elders.
River and Sol dropped easily into community life, playing handball with their new friends, catching fish and trying out a few swear words too!
I like to think that I too dropped easily into community life, making cups of tea, listening to stories, getting to know Elders and young people and of course cooking and sharing my love of wholefood as best I could with the limited good food available. In many ways I felt quite at home and in other ways I was confronted and overwhelmed.
It was the matter of factness that struck me when I was told stories of domestic violence, child safety concerns, drug and alcohol issues, chronic health problems, told in a way of acceptance that somehow normalised these situations. When of course there is nothing acceptable about any of them.
Pete has been working with Indigenous Elders for 20 years. This trip was my first time visiting a community. Not only did I gain tremendous insight and understanding into the reality of daily life in Hope Vale, the community we stayed in, I gained a greater insight into my husband. Despite the magnitude of the work he undertakes, working to convince policy makers that Elders led healing is the way forward, he rarely shows even a glimpse of it being too hard.
Now we are home and the work continues. It is big work, work that can sometimes overshadow much of our lives and I have to remind him to lighten up.
Blogging on the road has not been easy. So thank you for your patience and for returning here. In many ways Pete is anti-technology and while he supports the change I want to see in the way people eat, he doesn't even begin to understand why anyone would want to spend hours in front of a computer - promoting wholefood or otherwise! I felt for the most part of the trip it was best to surrender to real life and step away momentarily from my online life.
Finding time to blog on the road was one hurdle as was access to electricity and wifi in some areas.
But now I am home with only four sleeps until school goes back so there will be some clear time in my day (though I will miss River and Sol after 5 months spending everyday together), easy access to power and internet, and a heart full of stories to tell.
I look forward to sharing them with you as well as getting back to some usual posts such as recipes, weekend reading and wholefood step-by-step.
Oh, and the other thing I am really happy about is that my family can stop asking me "Where's my toothbrush?!"
If you have any questions about travelling with children please feel free to ask, or share your experiences in the comments.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Juice Art is a new smoothie & juice bar/cafe in Murwillumbah. I will post more about it soon.
2. River being his spontaneous, theatrical self who I love.
3. Beautiful poppies gracing Ruth's kitchen.
4. Wholefood picnic deliciousness.
5. We will be hitting the road again soon. The final leg home.
Monday, September 08, 2014
Life got in the way last week of getting this posted on Friday for weekend reading so here it is to start your week...
In keeping with our spring cleanse/self care theme this week here are a few links to help you cleanse body, mind, and spirit and to inspire you to be as kind to yourself as you are to your best friend.
I LOVE this from The Yogic Housewife - Don't worry no one has it all together
The importance of connecting to nature for our well-being and our children's well-being is spelt out clearly on Nic's page. Her passion and clarity about this brought tears to my eyes.
If you are looking for tips on starting meditation head to Leonie's post: Meditation for lazy people
Or exercise inspiration go here
For green smoothie inspiration head to Simple Green Smoothies
What to eat?
Try my simple parsley, apple and capsicum salad
My friend Robin's warm kale and pumpkin salad (minus the feta if you are on the cleanse)
Teresa Cutter's warm broccoli salad with kale, lime and roasted tamari almonds
Janella Purcell's miso soup with veggies
Green Kitchen Stories carrot, tomato and coconut soup or warm cauliflower salad (again minus the feta if you are on the cleanse). There are many other delicious suitable recipes on this site.
This delicious sounding vegetable curry
I have been making separate/additional meals for my children during the spring cleanse, it is the only time I do this! I have been keeping it simple for them though too, avocado, poached egg on toast, tasting plate with veggie sticks, olives, hoummus that sort of thing.
I'd love to hear how those of you on the spring cleanse are going. Only 5 days to go! Which also means 5 days until my birthday. Can't quite believe I am turning 40! Half way to 80. More thoughts on that later. Happy Monday!
Photo credit: Peter McConchie
Sunday, September 07, 2014
Elim beach at low tide to see the coloured sands
2. So many mangroves. Elim beach
3. Fisherman in the making
4. Sand dune fun
5. River gave his AFL footy card collection to his friends in Hope Vale
6. Sunset Hope Vale
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Part of the focus of the spring cleanse that I and many of you are undertaking is to be kind and gentle with ourselves and making self-care a priority.
Taking away coffee and chocolate and wine and grains and so on, strips things back and there is more space to hear our inner voice and feel our feelings. Sorry if this is sounding like I'm off with the pixies, stay with me!
The reality is there are always going to be demands on our time and energy, so it is important than we learn how to protect these valuable resources and how to nurture ourselves.
As many of you know, my family and I are on a 5 month road trip. We have had amazing experiences being together on the road. I have also though been pushed to find ways to energise myself and to feel like I am taking care of my needs as well as everyone else's.
One way I have done this is to re-commit myself to daily yoga and meditation. These practices had fallen away over the course of our travels and I began to really feel it in my mood and energy levels. *read - cranky mummy appeared at very short notice!*
The interesting thing I've found with my new practice is that it was as easy as making my mind up. The day I decided, we were out in a remote camp and though I was committed to the idea of daily practice I felt a bit overwhelmed about where to start again. That afternoon we drove into Cooktown and I went into the newsagent to buy some paints for River and Sol and saw The Australian Yoga Journal. This was my place to start.
If you are looking for some inspiration and motivation with your yoga practice I highly recommend this magazine. Each issue includes a great home practice sequence.
And if meditation is something that you'd like to start but don't know how, my mother-in-law Peg who has been meditating for decades (literally!) teaches beginners to light a candle and to focus on the flame "begin with just five or ten minutes and then increase the length of time as you feel comfortable" says Peg.
When meditating you may find yourself wondering "am I doing this right?" "how do I know if it is working?" it is very normal to think these thoughts but just let them float away and return your awareness to your breathing.
Meditation and yoga may not be your thing. It may be walking, or swimming, or singing. The point is, we all have something other than the love of our family and friends that fills us up, we must find it and make time for it.
If you need some self-care inspiration head over to Olga's site.
And while self-care doesn't require spending money, I do have a great offer to share with you in honor of our spring cleanse from Simone Denny who runs Nourishing Hub, a site dedicated to putting women's health first. Simone is offering a generous 15% discount to Wholefood Mama readers, just enter the code SPRING to receive your discount. Thanks Simone.
Now it's over to you, where are you at with self-care? what are some things you'd like to do just for you?
Monday, September 01, 2014
I feel very lucky to have escaped the bleak Victorian winter this year.
I'm celebrating the arrival of Spring with a cleanse - body, mind and spirit - and I invite you to join me.
I did a quiet cleanse last year from the 1st of September to the 13th (my birthday, turning 40 this year! But that's another story), the main change I made was switching my daily cup of coffee to a vegetable juice. Radical I know.
This year I am stepping things up a little and decided on Friday to ask The Wholefood Mama facebook page readers to join me and am very happy with the keen response.
If you'd like to take part read on, (sorry for the short notice! but it isn't too late to start and you don't have to be on facebook, I will be posting updates and tips here on the blog)
The Wholefood Mama Spring cleanse guidelines:
Spring is a traditional time of cleansing and renewal in nature and in many cultural practices as we say farewell to the darkness and inner nature of winter and welcome the lightness of the new season.
For me a cleanse is not about an extreme detoxification, rather it is about bringing my awareness to what I am eating and drinking, how I am spending my time, the things I have in my space and making changes in a direction that is nourishing and makes me feel lighter.
I don't have qualifications as a health practitioner so please bear this in mind if you are joining me, my suggestions will be gentle and doable wherever you are at on your health and wellness path, but do check things out if you are in doubt.
The cleanse will look like this:
- caffeine free
- refined sugar free
- grain free
- dairy free
- alcohol free
- 2 litres of water per day
- daily yoga and meditation or walking
- reading and writing affirmations
- setting new intentions
- practicing gratitude
If I were at home I would cleanse my surroundings too, sending anything I no longer use off to the op shop.Here is a little shopping list to get you started:
- in season fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably organic): best bought every few days, enough for breakfast smoothies, salads and soups
- lemons, so you can start your day with the juice of 1/2 a lemon in warm water
- miso so you can have miso soup for breakfast or as a 'snack' between meals
- dandelion and/or herbal teas to replace caffeinated drinks
- macadamias, brazil nuts and almonds
- pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and linseeds
- coconut water
- fresh ginger, garlic, herbs and spices
Breakfast ideas: fresh vegetable juice, fresh fruit, green smoothie, miso and vegetable soup
Lunch ideas: soup, salad, stir-fry, veggie curry, green smoothie
Dinner: see lunch
Snacks: 6-8 nuts (chewed very well!), a piece of fruit, veggie sticks
As I have already mentioned I am not a medical practitioner, I am sharing the cleanse that I am doing and invite you to join me making adjustments that are right for your energy and activity levels. If this outline feels too drastic to you, ease it back a little and include chicken soup, or some dahl or similar.
One of the main reasons for doing a cleanse is to rest our often overworked digestion, so simple light meals are best.I will be doing the cleanse for 12 days, completing it on the 13th in time for wholefood cake and champagne with my family and friends for my birthday!
I'd love you to join me for the 12 days but as little as two days will renew your energy and focus.
If there are other things you would add to the shopping list or other meal ideas please share them in the comments. Are you in?
(the beautiful photo was taken by my husband Peter McConchie)