Archive for the ‘article’ Category

Ada Lovelace Day


“Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised.”

This is a sad state of affairs.
Almost all of the bloggers I know are female. All of them know how to use a computer, navigate the web, fiddle with HTML and CSS markups, use a camera (most of them better than me!) set up photography professionally and more – and we do it on a regular basis! Most of us work, in one way or another, in the tech sector. (Don’t believe it? Read their bios.)
We are not rare. We are not alone! None of us is, these days, the exception to the rule any more.
Therefore, this post is dedicated to all of you! Celebrate your techyness! You do not have to prove yourself to be good at tech any more. You already are.

So why are we still underrepresented and underacknowledged?
One of the reasons might be that we are still taught, by media and common opinion, that we do not have to be good at technology. It’s OK, because we are women. If we are good, it is either exceptional (ooh, look at that brainy girl!) or it is not noticed because we ourselves think it’s nothing special.

Well, the bad news first: It isn’t. Most people in our generation should (in my opinion) have a base level of understanding of modern technology. We grew up with it, and we’re using it daily. Being good at using a computer is not special, nor is it something only men can do. We have all grown up with it and it’s time we realized that.

But now the good news: It isn’t! That means that even if you think now “Oh, this doesn’t apply to me, I never was interested in maths during my school time” it does not mean that you’re automatically doomed to tech-unsavvyness.
Nor is it a good excuse. Why are girls not interested in maths? Simply because they see no reason to be. When asked about career options, boys will name about every profession on the planet. Most girls, however, will stick to the “soft” options, the traditionally female-dominated jobs. We don’t see the other jobs as an option – something I realized almost too late myself. Now I’m a programmer and scientist and loving it.
Why don’t we consider it? Well, because most girls we see around us aren’t. Neither are most girls in the media. But that’s not true, and you are already proof of it! Come out and make your voice heard. We are the techie girls of today – let’s be good examples to the next generation that’s growing up now!

All currently registered Ada Lovelace Day posts
The pledge
More about the pledge

And now returning to the regular food blogging…

Read Full Post »


Zorra at 1x Umrühren, bitte! is holding this food blogging event:

Photography belongs to a foodblog like good food. Thus, it’s time to pass-on not only our cooking but also our photography experiences.

The task until November 8 is, to write an entry about your camera(s). What model do you use? Did you buy it especially for food photography? Pros and cons of the model? Does it correspond to your requirements? Would you buy this model again? What is the camera of your dreams? etc.

Having recently bought a new camera for this exact reason, I of course couldn’t resist answering to the challenge.

This picture was taken with my Sony DSC W-300, a midprice compact camera. It was one of the first pictures I took with it when it was new, and I like the way it shows off the camera’s ability.
When pondering to buy a new digital camera, I selected for several criteria, but my main selling point was the good optics you got for the price and my experience with previous cameras by the same brand. I have to say that from the model that I used before, this camera is a huge step-up – the colour representation and sensor technology certainly have developed a lot in the past years!
This is not to say that my previous camera(s) didn’t do a perfectly acceptable job, but I’m all for making my life easier. A good photographer certainly can produce perfectly acceptable photos using nothing but a cellphone cam – but I wouldn’t recommend it. No matter what you do, the photos won’t come out as good as if you had used a proper tool to begin with.
Of course, the next step up is a real DSLR, and I am from time to time practising with one. But it has several problems: a) it’s heavy, b) it needs lots of adjusting and training, and c) I’m lazy. And let me tell you, c is by far the biggest problem!

Nowadays, one should expect that most big-brand digital cameras, even the compact ones, can produce at least an acceptable job when it comes to all ranges of photography. So what would I specifically look for in a camera that will be designated for food photography?

  • Good colour representation.
    Again, and again, and again. I can’t drive this point home enough. Of course you can fix colours in photoshop after the picture is taken, and being the obsessive graphicsbunny that I am, I will do that even with the best pictures, but there is a limit to it. If the lighting is bad and the camera doesn’t have a detailed enough range, the colours will run together you won’t get a good picture anyway.
    In my experience with compact cameras, the best brands I have worked with so far in terms of colour representation are Olympus (by far) and Sony. I haven’t tried Nikon yet (I have other qualms with their designs), but I hear they are quite good as well. The only camera brand I straight away wouldn’t recommend is Kyocera.
  • Adjustable white balance.
    Most cameras come with that these days but every once and again I see the trend of making the camera menus “super-easy” to use and the setting gets lost. You should definitely tune your own white balance when capturing food – light can be very different and fickle, and I for one take photos of my bento during nighttime and don’t want to fiddle around with expensive lightboxes.
    I’m also not a fan of those special “scene” modes like “cuisine” – they are way too restricted in my opinions and a good clear picture in your own white balance will come out a lot better than anything those modes can produce.
  • Good macro behaviour.
    How wide is the focus when working in automatic mode under non-ideal conditions? Is it easy to focus in macro mode? How far will you have to stand away and is there any visible pillowing?
    This is as much a taste question as it is a technical question – some like to adjust everything themselves, but I don’t have the patience for that if I’m tired and just want to pack my box. My current camera has a very narrow focus in macro mode – I’m still not done fiddling with that to my satisfaction.
    You can only fix a very small amount of blurriness in photoshop. Bad focus is bad focus, no matter how much unsharp mask you slap on it. Better use another photo that may not be the exact angle you were thinking of but was sharp to begin with.
  • Extras, extras, extras.
    If you’re looking for something a bit more professional, look at the additional features. Can you get an external flash that you can bounce off the walls or rig into a makeshift lightbox? What grades of manual adjustment modes does the camera offer? How sturdy is it – are there moving parts that might be damaged in a kitchen environment? Ask followup questions, let your common sense and taste play a part. What will YOU want from a camera in the future?

    I hope that this writeup will be helpful in the future! Some say it’s not the camera that takes the picture, it’s the photographer – but there is quite a lot to say for having good tools along the way to help with that!

    Read Full Post »

  • Happy new year 2008!
    For myself, 2007 was entirely too stressy for my own taste. I hope that 2008 brings, if not relaxation, then stress of the positive, challenging kind!

    While Christmas is pretty much the same everywhere (the only difference being that the presents are opened on the 24th evening in Austria and Sweden, and not the morning after as is the case in most English speaking countries), new year has a lot of different traditions everywhere.

    The Austrian one (“Silvester”) includes (amongst other traditions):
    The operette “Die Fledermaus” will be played on TV sometime during the evening
    Typical new years eve dinner includes: fondue, meat table-cooked in soup, water or oil, with various sauces and pickles.
    The new year starts with the giant bell in St. Stephan’s church in Vienna ringing, followed by The Blue Danube waltz on the radio. It is mandatory to waltz!
    Little cheap talismans are exchanged with friends and family.
    In the morning, the new years concert will be played on TV (see the embedded video – my first time embedding, I hope it works!). Also mandatory, but not to waltz this time because most people will be too hung over.

    The Swedish one includes:
    A black and white version of the theatre skit “Dinner for one” will be played on TV sometime during the evening.
    Just before midnight, there will be a recitation of a poem (always the same poem) on TV. It always ends at exactly 00:00, at the first ring of the bell. This is mandatory to watch, but not to cite.

    And of course both include fireworks, cheering and clinking of glasses, partying and staying up late!

    I hope you had a lovely new year’s eve, whatever it included. And if your country has any different new year traditions, please tell me! I’m incredibly curious to learn about different traditions that I never heard of!

    Read Full Post »

    I got a packet in the mail. It was from grandma!

    Wouldn’t it be nice to picture the joker household… me in a cute dress, lovingly arranging cookies on a plate, to snap a few pictures with ease and then serving them to my love…

    Instead, the whole affair is sweateningly frustrating. I still can’t handle that bloody DSLR! And then I end up swearing and grunting until the bf comes to the kitchen, grabs it out of my hand and says “And then you pick this setting,… and this…” and I can’t keep up, and then it works. And then I take a few more pictures, and go to photoshop.
    It’s a wonderful tool, and I really need to learn to handle it. That my wrist feels like breaking every time I lug it around, doesn’t help.
    Oh well… maybe in the christmas vacation…

    And now excuse me while I go enact my revenge on those cookies.

    Read Full Post »

    And here they are, the saffron cakes! They are actually yellow, much more so than normal cakes. The smell of saffron is now an integral part of my christmas… mmm!

    Read Full Post »

    I could write a long post listing the ways I love Vanillekipferln, one of my favourite and most traditional christmas bakeries.

    But then, Meeta from What’s For Lunch, Honey? has already written an article about them to which I can’t add much more. And the photos are making me want to lick my monitor, too…
    Check it out here!

    I’ll post something about different sorts of gingerbread instead, soon.

    Read Full Post »

    Now that I’ve written so much about Austria, I should write something about Swedish christmas traditions too.
    Today in the morning, I tiptoed into my work’s garage, where in the dark, surrounded by test cars, prototype engines and various tools my colleagues sat at tables by candlelight, drinking mulled wine on work time.

    December 13: St. Lucia day in Sweden

    St. Lucia is a wonderful Swedish christmas tradition – that is, if you unlike me have no problems with getting up early and can actually enjoy music then.
    On Dec 13, before it gets light, St. Lucia walks the rooms of Sweden waering a white dress and a wreath of lit candles in her hair.
    Traditionally, it is the youngest daughter of the house who is Lucia, accompanied by the rest of the children in similar robes. They carry candles, sing christmas songs and bring breakfast – coffee, mulled wine and the traditional yellow, spiraled-S shaped saffron buns – to their parents.
    At offices and schools the tradition is also kept. It is very beautiful, and many places put much pride in their choir singing. The picture above is an unfinished sketch I made from my impression of seeing it at university the first year I spent in Sweden – girls singing by candle light in absolute serenity. Mmm… winter and darkness are so much more bearable with such traditions!

    I may post a picture of the traditional saffron cakes later, if I can pick one up on the way home. I don’t like posting stock photos…

    Read Full Post »

    December 5: Devil’s Day

    It’s the dark time of the year, and the devil is stalking the street, stealing children! Is everything lost?

    Oh no, not this time.
    The devil, or Krampus, as he is known in Austria, is only the helper of good old St. Nikolaus, or as the English know him, Santa Claus.
    Now Mr. Nick doesn’t come on the 25th in Austria, but on his saint’s day, the 6th of December. And he does not bring the christmas presents, either! That honor is reserved to the “Christkind”, or child Christ.
    But he is bringing presents. Only to the good children, of course. To those who were naughty, the devil comes and puts them into his big wicker basket which he carries on his back so they are gone when Mr. Nick comes around!

    The picture shows how you can imagine one such devil. Him, as well as Mr. Nikolaus, who is wearing a bishop’s outfit, are pictured often in this style on the typical red bags in which nice children can find nuts, oranges and apples, and candy!

    More about Mr. Nick tomorrow. Today, the devils will be roaming the streets in their furry suits and heavy wood-and-horn masks, striking fear (and delight!) in the heart of men.

    Read Full Post »

    Back from work-related travel once more. I’m going to post an advent calendar of sorts – probably won’t make every day, but it should be enough with all the special days in December to at least get an interesting short article every other day or so!

    December 4: St. Barbara

    This is an old custom from my catholic home country, but probably has its roots in much older religions. It brings spring in the middle of winter in 2 easy steps!

    Step 1: On the 4th of December, the day of St. Barbara, go and cut some twigs from a fruit tree. They should have buds on them. In my family, we used cherry twigs, but apple, plum or flowering bushes like forsythia also work.

    Step 2: Bring them into your warm home, put them in a vase with water and wait. By Christmas, they should be blooming!

    A lovely custom to brighten your winter days with something fresh and flowering. Don’t you think?

    Read Full Post »

    I’m feeling the winter blues, but luckily christmas time is approaching with huge steps! Going to be away next week again, and on a seminar the week after. In the meanwhile, I’ll probably post my food photo backlog, just so the blog isn’t completely deserted.

    While you’re here, check out the great article Nupur posted on The Daily Tiffin: Brightening the Winter Blues.
    As someone living in Scandinavia, I tell you this advice is worth solid gold!

    Read Full Post »

    Older Posts »