Carrot Cake & Food Photography

I enjoy all kinds of photography. It’s a hobby that I’m passionate about and continues to challenge me in more ways than I ever imagined. I think my passion for photography stems from my father. He was an avid photographer during his younger years and was even a professional photographer for a short time after WWII.

chipmunk eating
Time to eat!

Although my dad doesn’t understand the technical side of digital photography, he certainly understands the concepts and workings of a camera. Even at 91 years of age, he and I are able to talk about things like aperture, shutter speed and depth of field. Yes, I’m very fortunate that dad still has a brain as sharp as a tack. And sharp enough to criticize my photographs ūüėŹ

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares
Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

From time to time, I’ll print out some of my blog posts as well as individual photos, and send hard copies to my dad. He loves these snail mail packages. After he’s had a couple of days to review the photos, he and I will talk about them via a lengthy phone conversation. Although his vision isn’t as sharp as his brain, he’s made his opinions very clear …. he does not like my food photographs.

Best carrot cake ever
Best carrot cake ever!

Well dad, neither do I ūüėÜ Never in a million years did I think food photography would be so difficult and frustrate the heck out of me. Challenging is an understatement! Some people have a knack for cooking, food staging and making their images look appetizing and some folks don’t. We’ve all seen those less than stellar food photographs posted on social media ūü§Ę

And then there are those who can compose in minutes and share a lovely shot … like my daughter, who manages to take awesome images with her phone and share on social media – Tea Party anyone!

Tea Party at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree Arizona
My daughter shares great pics of food on social media. Here she is at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, AZ. We had a fun ‘Tea Party‘.

Yeah, food photography is much more difficult for me than I ever imagined. And to think, I thought bird photography would be more challenging … not! With birding and landscape photography it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Nature does the staging and lighting for you.

With food photography, I first have to make the food which in itself can be a challenging task in a RV. Then I have to find the location with the right lighting and stage the scene. Then it’s time to find the right angle. Geez, by this time, I’m ready to snarf down the food and screw the photographs. And when we go to a restaurant, I rarely think about taking a pic of my food. When I do? ūü§ģ Let’s just say, not worth sharing. Once again, I’m usually too eager to eat the food than I am on making a photograph of what was just served. I’ll leave restaurant photography to the millennial’s.

Eggs Benedict Bloody Mary
Eggs Benedict and a Bloody Mary

Oh well … I’ve never shied away from a challenge. So I’ll keep plugging away at the genre of still life – food photography … and Al will continue to suffer through the eating and drinking!

Wandering Wednesday Photo Theme – Food

For this weeks photo prompt … theme … inspiration, let’s share images of Food. Perhaps you have a favorite restaurant or recipe you’d like to share. I know I can always use a little food inspiration. So share and connect – leave a comment down below with a link to your blog or link back on your post. And if you have any secrets when it comes to taking great photographs of food … I am all ears!

Carrot Cake Recipe

If I’m going to call something “the best ever”, I think it only fair to share the recipe of this indulgent carrot cake that I make only once a year. Carrots may be healthy and low in calories, but cake isn’t ūü§£¬†You’ve been warned … enjoy!

Indulgent Carrot Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Easy carrot cakeFor the cake
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
3 1/3 ounces unsweetened coconut (1 1/6 cup)
1 small can crushed pineapple (don’t drain)
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula mix in carrots, coconut, pineapple with juice, and walnuts. Add remaining ingredients, mixing with spatula until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

With a hand mixer, beat together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Add half the sugar and continue creaming. Add a quarter of the remaining sugar and continue mixing. Once thoroughly combined, add remaining sugar a little at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Spread frosting on COOLED cake.

Recipe by Ingrid @LiveLaughRV.com

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration for you to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy ūü§ó¬†share and connect! Post your photo anytime between now and next Wednesday when a new theme will be shared.

Upcoming prompts – Landscapes, Garden, Birds …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

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Items in my kitchen used to make the carrot cake (affiliate links)
 Rectangular Pan
6-Speed Hand Mixer
Silicone Spatulas

Eerie yet Beautiful

Upon entering the park for the first time, I was met with a diverse flood of thoughts ranging from eerie to beautiful.  The land appears stark and foreboding, but if you look close, a vast array of life can be seen.Craters of the Moon

I was¬†lucky to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve at the very beginning of wildflower season, and since arriving in Arco, Idaho,¬†in early May, I’ve been¬†dropping by the park¬†regularly to keep¬†an eye on¬†the status of the craters of the moonwildflowers.¬†¬†¬†With each visit, more and more delicate beauties were¬†popping up.

In early June, I was able to share this strange and scenic place with friends, Faye and Dave.

I believe the peak of wildflower season is suppose to be in mid June, but we thought our timing was darn good and were overjoyed with the abundance of blooms everywhere we looked during our early June visit.

Dave and I were going crazy with our cameras trying to capture the gorgeous periwinkle color of the Scorpionweed.

those wildflowers captivated our attention
Scorpionweed flowers captivated our attention

Since I’d had a few weeks to explore Craters of the Moon before Faye and Dave’s visit, I knew exactly where¬†to find an abundance of wildflowers to photograph up close, but that would require a bit of a climb… a climb up the inferno cone.

it was hard to photograph 'inferno cone' and capture its size. Note the hikers on the trail - offers scale.
it was hard to photograph ‘inferno cone’ and capture its size. Note the hikers on the trail – offers scale.
me climbing the Inferno Cone at Craters of the Moon
me climbing the Inferno Cone at Craters of the Moon

With less than a half mile up and back, this large, black, barren hill is worth the 160 foot elevation gain.  Once at the top, there are views in all directions and a surprise bonus of wildflowers.  We were also able to observe the spatter cones from above.

At the top of inferno cone - views of spatter cones
At the top of inferno cone – views of spatter cones

What exactly are these cones?  A cinder cone, like the inferno cone, are formed when gas-rich volcanic froth erupts high into the air then falls back to earth forming a huge mounded pile of cinders.  Spatter cones are miniature volcanoes that form when thick, pasty globs of lava plop up to the surface, piling up in the shape of a cone.

Craters of the MoonThe volcanic nature of the park, creates a lunar like terrain.  So much so, that NASA routinely uses Craters of the Moon NM for research and development.  In 1969, Apollo Astronauts prepared for their moon mission here at Craters of the Moon.

Next week, the Mountain View RV Park (our work camping home this summer) will be hosting a large group of NASA scientists/engineers, which will keep all of us super busy for a two week period.  All hands on deck!

After¬†Faye, Dave, and myself hiked the¬†inferno cone, it was time to explore another interesting geological feature – a lava tube.¬† Lava or magma?¬† Hot, molten rock from deep within the earth is called magma. When magma erupts onto the earth’s surface, it’s called lava.¬† A lava flow that hardened on the outside while the lava still flowed within, creates a lava tube.

me inside Indian tunnel lava tube
me inside Indian tunnel lava tube

There are several lava tubes in Craters of the Moon that are¬†accessible for exploring, but most are geared toward those familiar with caving.¬† Since we didn’t fall into that category, we opted to hike the Indian tunnel cave/tube which is clearly marked and offers enough daylight to explore without a flashlight.¬† There is one short section though where I thought¬†the aid of a little artificial light was helpful.

There is a fair amount of rock scrambling involved in this hike, especially at the end of the tunnel where we exited out of a small hole.

The exit
The exit
Me exiting Indian tunnel lava tube
Me exiting Indian tunnel lava tube

Before embarking on any lava tube exploring, a permit is required.  The permit is free and is simply a matter of answering a few questions at the visitor center regarding any previous caving.  This is for the health of the bat population and to stop the spread of white nose syndrome.

Yes, we were hiking down in there!
Yes, we were hiking down in there!

I have to admit, the first time I hiked the lava tube, I was extremely uncomfortable.¬† This time around, I knew exactly what to expect and was familiar with the general area of the trail.¬† Thus, the second time around was much more enjoyable.¬† Oh, and entertaining company always helps ūüėČ

me, Dave, Faye inside Indian tunnel lava cave tube
Me, Dave, Faye inside Indian tunnel.¬† Dave enjoyed introducing us as “his wives” to fellow hikers.

Although the caving was a fun experience, those wildflowers were calling.  And several more stops were in order.  Over 600 different types of plants have been identified growing in Craters of the Moon.

Dave stalking wildflowers!
Dave stalking wildflowers!

We stayed on the road to photograph the stunning display of wildflowers.  These delicate plants have to overcome a lack of moisture, meager soil conditions, and surface temperatures that can exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  The thought of accidently stepping on one of these beauties, was not an option.  Respect and admiration for these tough little things were at the forefront of our minds as we took in the amazing sight.

Cryptantha
Cryptantha
Scorpionweed and Dwarf Buckwheat
Scorpionweed and Dwarf Buckwheat

Equally as striking were the carpets of pink produced by the Dwarf Monkeyflower.  If there was any open space, the Monkeyflower was eager to fill it.

a pink carpet of Dwarf Monkeyflower
a pink carpet of Dwarf Monkeyflower

Monkeyflower

Dwarf Monkeyflower up close
Dwarf Monkeyflower up close

Thank goodness for digital photography or I fear Dave and I would’ve easily run out of film.¬† Eventually, we returned back to camp where Al was eagerly awaiting our return.¬† While we were having fun, he was busy building picnic tables and seems we all had worked up an appetite.

Al, Dave, Faye, and me at our place at in Arco, Idaho
Al, Dave, Faye, and me at our place in Arco, Idaho

We enjoyed a healthy meal of grilled chicken, baked potatos, steamed broccoli, followed by my somewhat healthy carrot cake cupcakes.  For my carrot cake cupcake recipe, click here.

I’m sure as the summer progresses, I’ll continue to visit Craters of the Moon, but up next, Al and I take a vacation!

Craters of the Moon
Syringa growing in a crevice

Live life to the fullest.¬† Don’t let the weeds smother out your flowers – unknownWildflowers

Here’s my latest addition to my arsenal of photography toys…. after having a camera topple from a fence post, I felt it was time to invest in a light, easy to carry, tripod.JOBY GorillaPod Hybrid Tripod for Mirrorless and 360 Cameras – A Flexible, Portable and Lightweight Tripod With a Ball Head and Bubble LevelJoby gorilla pod