Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Photo Improvement and Butternut Squash Soup

One of the most frustrating things to me was trying to get quality looking photos for my Etsy shop. I have a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W300. It's a very powerful little camera, but not an SLR. But I KNOW I can take good photos with it - just how?

I built a "light box" from what I found on-line and took photos of things inside the box. Here's my teal puffs bag shot inside that light box:

I thought it looked pretty good, even though it was rather "floaty" in the white space. Then two weeks ago I took a FREE day-long photography class at our local library. How cool is that?! Anyway, I learned a ton about exposure. My camera allows fully manual adjustments for shutter speed, aperture, white balance, etc. (Seriously, you MUST read your camera's manual. It's drudgery but just buckle down and do it!)

The class gave me more insight into proper exposure but I still really didn't know what to do to make my photos really look better - until I stumbled (okay, I don't really stumble, I study and study and study until I find what I need) upon this blog entry on Handmadeology: Studio Quality Product Photography with a $12 Set Up

Here's my photo after reading the blog:
I couldn't even believe it!! I spent most of the day Sunday rephotographing most of my bags and wristlets. Lots of work, but I just can't stand to have my beautiful work look shoddy on line.

Here's a photo of my Jerry Garcia necktie purse taken by the same method:

Uh oh! Something doesn't look right. Oh yeah, try setting the white balance first:

Much, much better. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Viau for sharing your professional tips. The rest of you really should subscribe to Handemadeology's blog. You'll get lots of good help for your store.

-------  Now for the Butternut Squash Soup  -------------

I made a butternut squash soup for dinner last night. My husband had the first of a root canal appointment at the dentist so I made a nice, silky soup. (Those of you who really know me know that when I tell you how to make food, you should listen because it's fantastic!)

Put some butter in the bottom of a pasta pot and have it melt - a pasta pot looks like this. The top has a bunch of holes to allow water and/or steam to cook the stuff in the top part.

Cut up an onion and saute it with the butter. Cut your squash in  half and scoop out the seeds. Now hear this! Put those seed scoopings into the pan with the butter and onion and saute them together. Add a tsp of salt.

Cut the squash into 2 or 3 inch pieces - don't peel yet. Put the squash pieces in the top of the pasta pot flesh side facing down. After the onions are translucent, pour some water into the pot to come up near the bottom of the pasta part of the pan. Put the pasta part of the pan in the bottom part, cover it and turn up the heat. Cook (steam) until the squash is tender (poke a piece with a fork).

When the squash in tender, remove the top pot from the bottom pot and let it cool down a bit. Strain the liquid from the bottom pot and SAVE it! Throw away seeds and onion parts. You have a beautiful liquid now that is infused with onion, the essence of squash from the seeds and from the steam drippings of the squash cooking above.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the outer skin and put it in a blender. Add some of the squash liquid to allow it to blend. Transfer back to a pot for the stove and repeat until all squash is blendered. Pour the rest of the squash liquid into your soup pot, too. Add a little salt if needed and maybe 1/2 cup cream. Wow - fantastic!!

I can't believe typing this makes it sound harder than it is. This is super easy and gives you the best ever tasting butternut squash soup! If you try it, let me know what you think.


  1. Sharee, your photos are a huge improvement! I'm so glad you were able to figure it all out! And I'm so trying your butternut squash soup recipe. Your butternut squash soup was the first one I ever tried and I was hooked (although we couldn't eat it because the power went out on NYE); so I'm so steeling your recipe!

  2. Nice job on the photos! I know I should read the camera manual; you're right Great that the local library had a class. Your necktie bags are so cool!!

  3. I'm inspired by your photos (wow! what a difference!) and your recipe. Will try it soon and let you know. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Fantabulous! Thanks so much for posting this. I can't wait to try the technique from Via U. Very helpful info.

  5. Your photos are awesome. I also read the $12 article, but have not implemented it. I need to do that. The class was a wonderful opportunity for you. You are inspiring me to search out a free or low cost class in my area. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Good morning from sunny ( makes a nice change, we had a BAD summer here in UK )Formby,
    You are SUCH a happy find !
    I should be getting ready for my morning dog walk and start on a custom bag order but have been sitting here, reading your blog posts....soooo good, such fun, lovely photos, super bags, great tips, yummy recepies....THANK YOU !