Tag Archives: food

Lessons from The Art of Food Photography class

My latest Salad Recipe: looks as delicious as it tastes!

Since I was 6, I’ve been taking photos. I had an eye for composition, and my Mom let me use her instant, film camera from time to time at family events. I learned at that young age to make every shot count, because each one cost money.

When I finally took an official photography class, it was Photojournalism. That was back in 2000, when we were still using 35mm Cameras and a Dark Room. I remember having so much fun, physically dodging or burning an image, making my own 4×6 or 11×14 prints. It was like watching magic happen. I used an old Contax Camera with a Carl Zeiss 85mm lens, it was sort of an inheritance from my Grandfather (since he’d passed away, my Grandma was happy to see me use it). Today, it sits in an old camera bag in the closet. I haven’t picked it up in 5 years.

Last Saturday, I took Ashely Rodriguez‘s The Art of Food Photography class. It was a very casual class with about 12 others set on a long dining table at The Pantry. We all introduced ourselves, explaining our level of photography knowledge and what we wanted to learn. Thankfully, the class covered pretty much what I recall everyone wanting]. For me, it was a refresher.

One of my first Salad photographs.

White Balance is key!

When I used a film camera, I used to check the White Balance all the time. I got so familiar with the settings for certain lighting situations, that I didn’t’ always need to check the White Balance first. Somehow going from using film with such ease and confidence to a DSLR, I simply forgot or merely assumed the camera was smart enough. During the class, I had a lot fun figuring out how to set the white balance with my Canon Rebel Xti, working with a couple classmates with camera’s a model up from mine. It was pretty amazing to see the difference.

Composition is everything.

Something Ashely said at the beginning is that it doesn’t matter what equipment you have, everyone can take delightful photographs. I agree, wholeheartedly. My food photography has been on the fly. I’m always snapping a few shots just before the food is devoured. Lately, I’ve taken 2 extra minutes to think about composition, and again, I shouldn’t be amazed at the difference.

Setting the WB helped - my new favorite photo.

Creative Camaraderie helps.

What I loved about the class was the physical ability to talk with class mates. And ask questions. I could have easily been reminded of these key lessons by reading around online, but there’s something powerful when you’re in a room with other people. I appreciated talking and learning from others in the class. It’s especially fun to look at their blogs, or see what they’re doing in a Flickr group.

I look forward to capturing more savory photographs of the recipes I create and food in general. If you’d like to see the, hop on over to Scratchtreehouse.com – this is where all the new content is going to find a home.

p.s. Huge Thanks to my friend, Karen, for recommending the class:)

p.s.s. Classmate’s blogs:

First Look, then Eat

Seattle Seedling (great to finally meet her in person!)

Bray Hayden

Introducing Scratch Treehouse

Okay kids, here it is, the day I’m launching ScratchTreehouse.com – check it out. I’m finally embracing the fact that I love food, making things from scratch and photography.

Confession: I started holliwithani.com as a way to pursue my passion for photography. But, I didn’t have any photos to share beyond the ones I was taking of food. So, I started sharing recipes, what life was teaching me and basically finding my voice, a clearer picture of my passions. Now, I can say that I honestly love sharing recipes, reviews and most anything Home Making related. But, I’m also reviving my Photography passion.  Since figuring this out, I’ve decided to launch Scratchtreehouse.com as the venue for Home Making goodness. I can hardly wait to share new recipes there!

This blog will focus more on photography. It needs a little revamping, and it will look a little different. So, if you want more of what you’ve seen around here beside pretty pictures, please head over to Scratch Treehouse.

Thanks for reading along!

Recipe: Quick and Easy Zuchinni Soup

Zucchini Soup

These Spring days in Seattle inspire me to eat soup. We have small doses of sunshine, then evenings of rain and a chilly wind. The problem is that I don’t like buying canned soup or pre-made soup.

Why? Well, I have my Grandmother to thank. I spent a lot of time with her after she had Triple By-pass Heart surgery. No, soup was not to blame, but it became very clear that she needed to change her eating habits and avoid Sodium (her cupboards were full of canned soup). Most mass produced soup is loaded with Sodium, whether Organic or not.  I know there are low-Sodium options out there now. But, another reason why I want to make my own soup is because I want to know what all the ingredients are. Often soup labels simply say “spices” without listing what they are, not to mention some preservatives that I cannot pronounce. Okay, getting off my podium and moving onto the recipe…

Quick and Easy Zucchini Soup

This soup takes 20-30 minutes to make from start to finish – literally serving it up to eat. Most soups made from scratch take at least an hour or longer for the flavors to blend together.  That is why this recipe was created. I love soup, but don’t always have 2 hours to wait for it to be yummy. The best thing about it is that you can create a vegan version and simply add Olive Oil when you serve it up, or use Ghee as a vegetarian option or good old Chicken or Turkey Stock.


– 4 Small or 2 Medium Zucchini (Enough to yield 4 cups Finely Grated)

– 6 Cups Water

– 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme

– 1 Teaspoon Salt

– One clove Garlic

– 2 Table Spoons Ghee /Butter/Poultry Stock/Poultry Drippings (the yummy goop you get at the bottom of a baking dish from Chicken or Turkey)

Fill soup pot with water, add Salt and Thyme and turn the burner onto a High temperature. Finely grate Zucchini and add to the pot, cut Garlic clove in half (if you want to fish it out and avoid eating it) or dice it up fine. Once the water warms up, add your choice of fat (Ghee/Butter/etc). Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a Medium temperature for about 10 minutes. Soup is ready as soon as the Zucchini looks less bright green in color. Add additional salt to taste – this will vary depending on what else you serve with it. Serve with some cheese bread, or home made crackers sprinkled on top.

Zucchini Soup with rice and home made mini crackers!

This soup is very flexible – you can add more things to it depending on what you have on hand. We’ve enjoyed adding about a cup of left over rice, some True Cod or Turkey and diced Carrots.

Let me know how you like it or what modifications you create!

p.s. Our 2-year-old loves this soup, but our 4-year-old refuses to eat any kind of soup.