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Archive for the ‘Photos’ Category

Channeling Chocolate, a one day photo story

Monday, February 28th, 2011

My goal: Avoid photographing a process story like the plague.

Rita’s goal (for me): Get a good “mouth feel.”

What do you think?

Hand dipped sea salt caramels. Apricot grappa induced chocolate truffles. Dried strawberry covered dark chocolate bark. Marshmellow pies. Brian Pelletier and his staff of passionate confectioners have spent the last two years channeling chocolate into imaginative, delectible delights in their small St. Louis City store. As their second location opens in Maplewood, Pelletier, a twenty-year vetern of business marketing, reflects: “I have the best job in the world, I get to make people happy.”


Kakao Confectioner Extraordinaire, Jenny Bazetta, helps Beverly Anderson select a unique mixture of chocolate truffles to send to her girlfriend in Atlanta who “has it all.” Her hand-dipped chocolate selections included chai, lavendar, mint, and earl gray truffles.


Kakao confectioners aren’t just employees, they are innovative chocolatiers. Between holidays, owner Brian Pelletier tells his staff to take each week to try something they’ve never tried before. So far, every experiment has lead to delicious success.


Each caramel is hand dipped in chocolate by one of Kakao’s dedicated confectioners. The chocolate is churned in the tempering machine and heated to 88.7°F. The caramels are then sprinkled with either sea salt or ginger before being laid to dry.


Emily Kothe (left), Rebecca Gunn (center), and Kara Bellavia (right) huddle around a hand picked sample box of six Kakao truffles during the grand opening of the Maplewood store at 7272 Manchester in St. Louis, Mo. February 26, 2010. Their best laid afternoon plans? “Scarf down the cheapest box,” said Kothe.



Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

SNOWPOCLYPSE 2011: St. Louis really got jipped on the snow (thanks, Columbia, for stealing 17.7″ of it), but we got hit pretty hard with thundersnow and an ice storm. Of course, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Meet Mister Claus

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Penny de los Santos once told me to search for rare moments and intimacy. A wise Missourian photo editor later echoed the sentiment. While I spent most of the night reverting to my old, flash-tarded self, when I stepped back to look at my take, I saw a sea of moments and felt accomplished. Finally.

One of those rare, intimate moments was proud father and Missourian Director of Photography, Brian Kratzer, photographing his two girls on Santa’s lap. I couldn’t resist.

And finally, our team coverage:

Secret Santa from Kristen DiFate on Vimeo.

Flash photography from inside a giant softbox.

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

If there were a time I felt the need to beg for mercy and ask for a second try, this would be it. Madeline and I tried, on three separate occasions, to complete this assignment, but struggled to bring it together. When we finally did, I positioned Madeline across the room and tried for some cross lighting. In retrospect, I’m not even sure what we were doing would have made any dramatic impact. Direction is a nebulous term when you’re inside a gigantic softbox and we were in a long white room, with mirrors.

Jeanne Quinn practices a jazz routine with Dance Arts of Columbia classmates Kendyl Boone and Tricia Hill while Sarah Kinney and Caitlin Price watch. “When dancing, you want to enjoy doing it, not having done it,” encouraged dance instructor Marie Robertson.

I <3 painting with light.

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Ted Kaczynski also known as the UNA Bomber/University and Airline Bomber terrorised the country for nearly two decades. He sent mailbombs and angry letters to people from the airline industry and people working in the university world. From his little cabin in the woods in Montana, he killed three people and wounded 22.  In the end, his brother recognized one of his letters and turned him in to the authorities.

Fill and balance not very filled or balanced

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

To begin this entry, know that the situations I put myself in—specifically the pumpkin patch—weren’t completely conducive to the assignment. Shame on me. I did, however, manage to get one or two decently balanced, almost interesting frames.

Take one: Essentially, I walked around Eckert’s Millstadt Farm facing the sun, looking for interesting compositions riddled with shadows screaming for fill flash illumination. I stumbled across a pile of pumpkins in a kid friendly zone huddled around a clearly anti-fun sign. So, I sat, composed my frame and waited.

Take two: Wandering around downtown Columbia, I encountered a mannequin, dressed in a grass skirt and Hawaiian flowers, exiled to an alleyway behind Maude Vintage clothing. No, there’s no sense of interaction, honest emotion or immediacy there, but there’s something humorous about how she stood guard. To boot, her body was cut in half by deep, dark shadows, which made her perfect for practicing fill.

The challenge here was filling the mannequin, but not blowing out the door. Tricky, tricky. A dozen or so frames later, I seem to have captured what I wanted.

And, no, the mannequin does not have a name.

Onward and upward.

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Red and Moe cook Seth Kulik carefully cuts vegetables destined to top the homemade pizzas served at Red and Moe. The “adult pizzas” come covered with sophisticated ingredients like pear, pumpkin, squash and greyer cheese. Red & Moe, located at 21 N. Ninth Street, is opened Wednesday through Saturday from 11:30–8:30.

New criteria for a good day in Photog Land: Defeating the urge to toss my flash in a lake. Mission (eventually) accomplished.

It turns out I screwed the pooch on the entire first half of the assignment. The gel was poorly selected, the flash poorly wielded, and my settings poorly calculated.  While shooting, I knew I was doing something wrong, but couldn’t figure out what. I knew that using my current settings, would, for the most part, overpower the existing light and therefore render “matching color” obsolete, defeating the purpose of the assignment.

In talking with Rita after Tuesday’s class, I realized everything I did wrong. During Clay’s lab tutorial, I intellectually understood what we needed to do — balance and supplement the existing light. That makes sense. However, I missed the part about metering for ambient light as if making a flash-less frame and reducing the shutter speed if need be in order to add the flash as supplemental light. That would be the key, would it not?

One more try:

Better luck next time, I hope. Onward and upward to fill and balance!

Overcoming flashtarded-ness

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Direct flash:

No, this is not a particularly “journalistic” image. While photographing one of my subjects at a restaurant, I ordered fruit. It looked beautiful. I wanted to take a picture. It reminded me of the martini photo Rita showed in class and I remembered the comment she made about using our studio work out in the field. So, I tried a little metal and glass.

There’s nothing particularly fancy here. I placed my flash behind the glass on TTL, started shooting and employed the same tactics we use in the studio. At first, I got a nice silhouette. Great, but where’s the fruit? I wanted it to glow, so I increased power to the flash. Light spilled out on one side, so I added a makeshift gobo (my weekly planner). It spilled out on the other, so I added another gobo (a notebook). Tweak. Shoot. Tweak. Shoot. I love the outcome. Sure, ideally I’d have a tiny bit more light in the front illuminating the fruit in the glass, but for a single, direct flash image in a low lit Denny’s in Warrenton, Mo., I think it looks pretty good.

Bounce flash: This came from take one, which was—to be kind—a terrible, terrible shoot. Here’s the image and lighting diagram. Let’s leave it at that and say it took this flashtard a while to get the hang of her equipment.

Alternate direct flash:

On the day of our lab, Clay suggested shooting close up and powering down the flash, so I did this with Angela, a terribly good sport. Holding the flash one-foot from her face meant an aperture of f95, 4 stops over the capabilities of my 7D. So I powered down to ¼ and fired away. I’d like to try this technique again under different circumstances, but I’ll need to find a victim willing to stand still and repeatedly get flashed in the face — a difficult task with strangers.

Alternate bounce flash:

I believe this to be a more successful frame than my selected bounce flash, but there’s no interaction here. Hence, alternate image.


Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Cycle Chic is the place where biking meets beauty. It’s a movement dedicated to improving the aesthetics of the urban landscape through a focus on style over speed. The movement was born of a focus on the stylish women cycling the streets of Copenhagen.

The challenge: Meld objects, placement and light to visually represent the movement in a single frame.

Jonathan and I took two approaches with two different lighting setups, both seem to have worked fairly successfully. First, the tent, which pretty much worked, from the start, without hassle:

Second, bouncing two lights off a white background, which was more difficult. There was a considerable amount of light seeping into the scene from the background lights, so I used a human gobo (thank you, Jon!) to shield the subject:

Color me kinda happy with both frames. I think I probably could have pushed the idea more in the composition, but the lighting worked, so I’m stoked.

The best laid plans … oft go awry

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

I was going for creepy marching band member a la My Chemical Romance’s video for Welcome to the Black Parade. I definitely wanted Katy to fade into the background as if she were emerging from the shadows, which I think I accomplished. However, I would have liked to have more light filling the shadows on her body. My rim light seems to have failed in this shot, as well. I tried.

Katy Mooney schleps a 15-pound baritone in the Marching Mizzou, an unsurprising sacrifice for an avid music lover. Katy started playing the baritone in fourth grade. Of her myriad musical affections, classic rock and macabre melodies strike a creepy chord deep in her heart.