Sunday, December 20, 2015

EASY CHRISTMAS DECORATION DIY - SIMPLE WHITE ORNAMENTS

HO HO HO BAKING SODA DOUGH!

diy baking soda dough photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

I saw this DIY in Facebook by Kodin Kuvalehti. It is really simple and easy. I don't know if you are a bit like me...I have always a bit hurry before Christmas when I start to get these crazy ideas what I like to do before and for the Christmas...this time I got plenty of time to make these because they are so easy. That is a very very good thing, I think. Photographing them today was the hardest part. We have sooo low light at the moment but luckily I have a tripod.

diy baking soda dough photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

First you make the baking soda dough. This recipe is from Kodin Kuvalehti.


INGREDIENTS

1dl corn starch
2dl baking soda
1,25dl pure water

Combine ingredients in the pot. Boil over medium heat until the mixture starts to thicken into the smooth texture. Remove from the heat. Put the damp cloth over it. Let it cool for awhile. The important thing is to have enough moisture in dough. It's hard to make pretty ones when the dough is too dry. So keep your dough moistured. I kept mine in damp cloth and in a plastic bag waiting for baking. But this dough is the easiest ever to bake. Thickness of the dough should be about 5 mm and use spatula in lifting your pretty ornaments on to the baking sheet.


MAKE YOUR ORNAMENTS WITH

rolling pin
cookie cutters
plastic or wooden board (you can use plastic wrap around the wooden board like I did)
stick to make holes
spatula
baking paper
texture from different kind of things (this part is my favorite!) like I used dried poppy seed pod and pearl necklace. Never ever use the most obvious - that is my motto, I admit.

ginger pears photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

There have to be also a reason why to make a DIY. I need these ornaments for the Christmas present tags. We have made some homemade preserved ginger pears. Some of you are going to get them - some not. This is our first year with these so either other way you might be lucky.

diy baking soda dough photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

After you have baked your ornaments, they go to oven or you can also let them dry over night in a room temperature. But as I said I'm always a bit hurry (and impatient) to wait for the result so I baked them in oven in temperature 75 C degrees about one hour. Depends on how thick they are. I guess that's about it. Of course you can play with colors from spices or water colors or proper food coloring but I liked pure white. Simple.

diy baking soda dough photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

So off you go and have fun with your family and friends! Make many beautiful ornaments. 



It's time to Wish You A Merry Christmas!

xoxo
Kreetta

ps. You will find me in Instagram @kreettakreetta
 

Friday, December 11, 2015

NEW CERAMICS + iPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY

TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS MARKET AT RYTI-HOUSE

ceramics and photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
Weekend is here. So great. Tomorrow I will be at Ryti-house in Huittinen. It is my sister's family's place. I have all packed and hope we are going to have a great Saturday full of Christmas feeling. There will be traditional Christmas Market. I will be selling ceramics like flower frogs, vases, pendant, small cake stands and bowls and small paintings and small prints of my photos taken by iPhone. They are super cool :)

I wish you a beautiful weekend and maybe we see at Ryti-house tomorrow!


xoxo
Kreetta

ps. Christmas Market is on Saturday 11.12. from 11 am to 17 pm address Raskalantie 218, Huittinen. See the FB event here.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY WITH A SMART PHONE - COMPOSITION

LEADING THE EYE

I decided to continue writing about smart phone photography. In my last blog post I went through 6 tips about how you can make your smart phone photography even better. If you haven't read the previous blog post you will find it here. I decided to go through all the tips one by one. Explain it a bit more depth. Today I write about composition.

Last time I wrote shortly about it like this:
 
"This is very important. Rule of thirds, negative space, diagonals, leading the eye...there are plenty of things to consider but most important especially in Instagram is to simplify. You are looking either at someone's single pic or at someone's grid in small size on your phone. You will decide in matter of seconds, will you or will you not follow this feed. Not only one pic has to be good but all those pics have to be good as a grid. It is a good idea to keep things simple. Begin your composition with your main subject. Add or arrange things as long as you find the balance."

ODD NUMBERS 
I guess with this you are very familiar. When building an interesting composition this works very well. Amount of fruits, plates, ingredients etc. 1, 3, 5 looks better than 2, 4, 6 like you see above. 

GROUPING
Make groups from things you are photographing like above. I have group of two (herbs) and group of three (herbs, seeds, mushrooms). All together they are also odd numbers like seed pods are too.

RULE OF THIRDS
I think this one is the hardest for me to explain. Because I don't think about it at all. It is somewhere deep in my brain. But it means "the pic is divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections." (Wikipedia) In pic above my bowl of dried sage is in one intersection like mushrooms too. The linen napkin's edge is also in right upper intersection.

NEGATIVE SPACE
Nothing to look at? Very important area. It shapes forms around the subject. It's as important as the subject. Without it there isn't a rythm or direction in the pic. Above pic there are negative spaces between the two group, inside the frame, between subjects.

LINES AND CIRCLES
You can build your pic with help of thinking of shapes like triangle, circle, square, cylinder, rectangles, polygon etc. For us it is easier to follow familiar shapes. When we are talking about leading the eye the work is done by lines and shapes. In Instagram photography it is better to trust more simple way of buliding pics so they are often very flat and have quite simple composition. You can also lead the eye with technical camera things like depth of field. But when you are photographing with smart phone that is hard to do, that's why it is important to have a good composition to keep the pic interesting.

BREAKING THE RULES
After you know all these - you can forget them. See the pic below. Which rules I broke?


I hope you find this useful and interesting. I'm sure there are plenty of things still untold but I'm sure you will take a nice step ahead with your smart phone photography. These pics are all taken with iPhone and during this time of the year - we don't have so much light so that too makes this kind of photography more challenging.

I hope you have a great week ahead of you!

xoxo
Kreetta 

ps. These tips are useful in general when talking about photography.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

HOW TO MAKE A BEAUTIFUL PHOTOGRAPHY FOR INSTAGRAM FEED?

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY WITH A SMART PHONE

iPhone pic by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
Instagram is more popular than ever before. Are you there already? If not - should you? If you are - what kind of feed you have? If you feel you should do better you might like to read following tips I'm blogging here today. How to get a better looking Instagram feed photographed on your smart phone. I think it is possible, you don't have to have a real camera. 

The bottom line in every media is storytelling. What kind of story you want to tell? This time I'm not telling you how you should tell your story, I'm telling you how should you use your smart phone to take beautiful pics to tell your story.

I have iPhone and I use VSCO app and lately I've tried a bit of Afterlight too. All these pics in this post I've photographed with iPhone.
 
iPhone pic by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
There are few ground rules to remember when working with smart phone.

1. Lighting

Avoid difficult lighting conditions. In other words too dark and too harsh light. I recommend shooting in natural light. Make sure you don't photograph in straight sun light. Smart phone isn't the best in difficult conditions so make them easy - you have a chance to succeed. So find a shadow, photograph on gray day or diffuse the light with white fabric, white paper or block the light with neutral color cardboard (white, grey, black)

Find the direction of light. Easy test is just to look at where the shadow falls from your hand on a surface. Usually I prefer that the shadow in the picture is somewhere else than above the subject but I have seen that done too. I think the rules are meant to be broken. (but before that it is good to know what you are breaking) Avoid the light that makes sharp shadow - we want soft light. We want soft shadow. The hand test tells you if it is a good place to photograph with your phone.

2. Location

Location is very important. If you don't have a good location where the light is good and surroundings are fine then you have to create it. You follow the light. I'm photographing mainly still life and food with my iPhone so the space I need isn't so big. I can build the place where I photograph on the table, on the floor, on the terrace, on the ground where ever I have a good light. Try to find a good place at your home, office, workspace, garden - wherever the light is good. Use that spot. You can make your pic there. I use same places at home and at workspace.

3. Time

Yup. You need time to make photos. You get faster the more you do it. But it also happens to professionals that nothing just happens...if you know what I mean. Well, it is important also to let go and try again later or next day. It might also help if you can work together with someone who is also interested about same subject as you are. Make something together and see what happens.
4. Style
Learning by doing is such a cliché but it is a very good way to get better. Also I recommend you to watch what other people are doing. You can learn a lot only by looking at other people's work. How do they do it? I trust odd numbers. Remember you have to be careful with colors. With styling you can build a certain feeling to your pics. Do you want to go with certain colors, composition, subject, cropping or angle of view.


5. Composition
This is very important. Rule of thirds, negative space, diagonals, leading the eye...there are plenty of things to consider but most important especially in Instagram is to simplify. You are looking either at someone's single pic or at someone's grid in small size on your phone. You will decide in matter of seconds, will you or will you not follow this feed. Not only one pic has to be good but all those pics have to be good as a grid. It is a good idea to keep things simple. Begin your composition with your main subject. Add or arrange things as long as you find the balance.

6. Edit
What do you do to your picture is very important. Cropping happens here. I recommend to try manual photo processing first and if you want to use filters, that should be the last thing to do, and I never use filter 100%. Just enough to make a difference. But as I said rules are meant to be broken - always.


iPhone pic by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
I hope you haven't got too overwhelmed by all these things I've been telling you. One thing at a time. Forcing is never the right answer. Give time to your creative process.   

Here are a few beautiful instafeeds you might like to check.

Our Food Stories
Local Milk 
Fröken Skicklig 
Cannelle et Vanille  
Mimi Brune (only iPhone)


Most of all - have fun!

xoxo
Kreetta 

ps....I notice that all these tips could be worth writing a blog post. Have to think about it.


Friday, October 16, 2015

GLUTEN FREE AND DAIRY FREE PEAR CAKE

PEAR + ALMOND + WALNUT

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com
How I adore these small pears! I've been telling everybody that now you can get Finnish pears - go and get them before they ran out or the season is over. 
  
pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com

I decided to bake a pear cake with same recipe I made a plum cake. I got the recipe from Nigel Slater's beautiful cooking book The Kitchen Diaries. It is my absolutely fave book as I told you in previous blog post where I told you about pork ribs we made with my husband from this very same book.

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com

Gluten free and dairy free baking has been very challenging for me. It is always hard to get very good and moist result...until I found oat flour from grocery shop. It's only what it is called - oat. Nothing else added.

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com


PEAR CAKE RECIPE BY KREETTA (changing/using recipe from Nigel Slater's plum cake/The Kitchen Diaries book)

6-7 small pears
butter 150g
indian sugar 150g
eggs 3
oat flour 75g (gluten free)
baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons
ground almond 100g
shelled walnuts 50g

You need a 20cm cake tin, about 6cm deep. Bake in 180 'C degrees about 35-45min.

Chop the walnuts and almonds. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Cut the pears at least in three but if you make them smaller they get more soft and that I recommend. Mine were too big so they could have been more softer...but in photograph they look very nice ;) Mix flour+baking powder and add them gently into the mixture. Fold almonds and walnuts into the mixture. 

Scrape the mixture into the cake tin. Place the pear pieces on the cake mixture. They will sink so it might not be so precise how you do it. Bake the cake. It's quite big so it's for 10-12 people.

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com

When you are photographing food, it is good to know when it should be done. This time it was the right moment to photograph the cake before it went to oven. After that it changed color to brown - even though it's it ok and pretty - I think I like the green pears more.

pear cake  photo by Kreetta Järvenpää blog: www.gretchengretchen.com


This cake is tasty and moist. You can serve it with vanilla ice cream or without. I think you can also serve it people without saying it's gluten and dairy free. One cake for all. Of course if there are people with peanut allergy or they are vegan - then you have to change the plan. My piece of cake is on my favorite plate by Arabia. Of course it's vintage and the design is called Maisema (Landscape).

Have a great and creative weekend!

xoxo
Kreetta

Sunday, October 11, 2015

PORK + STAR ANISE + HONEY


RIBS BY NIGEL SLATER

Ribs photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
My husband and I love to cook food but we seldom follow certain recipe literally. This time he did. I took photos and ate with big appetite of course (lucky me,haha)

Few years ago we found Nigel Slater's very nice coffee table cookin book called The Kitchen Diaries from one cosy coffee bar and restaurant in Copenhagen. The book is a year in Nigel's kitchen. He makes seasonal food and have to say he did it long before it came a hit. I remember when I saw the book I was amazed. Somehow it went straigt to my brains and I had to buy it. It's not the fancy one but there is beautiful and strong feeling through the book - thanks for the photographer Jonathan Lovekin. We found the book when we were coming back from our Interrail trip. We travelled by train from Finland to Croatia, Dubrovnik to final destination Kolocep Island. We stopped in Berlin, Zagreb, Split, Prag and Copenhagen if I remember right. It took three weeks. It was a wonderful journey - slow travelling with seasonal food.

Back to the ribs though...

Ribs photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

This is simple recipe and I prefere that. 

PORK RIBS WITH HONEY AND ANISE BY NIGEL SLATER/ THE KITCHEN DIARIES

thickish honey 6 tablespoons
oyster sauce 3 heaped tablespoons
garlic 4 cloves
dried chilli flakes 1 teaspoon
whole star anise 4
salt flakes 1/4 teaspoon
black peppercorns 1/4 teaspoon
meaty pork ribs 1.5 kg

Make the marinade. Toss the ribs in the marinade. Let them rest for an hour or so. It won't hurt if they stay there overnight. 

Roast the ribs at 180 C for an hour and fifteen minutes. Turn them in the sauce from time to time. Ok, here comes important one: keep an eye on them that they don't burn. We burnt them a bit but the taste was still very good. They are ready when the meat is tender. 

Serve with rice. Enough for 2-3 people.

Ribs photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
 
Today I'm going to make a version of Nigel's plum cake I tried from this book about two weeks ago. Plums have already gone but yesterday I found Finnish pears in grocery shop so I will use them. I like to save some of them for winter. Have to find a good recipe for that.

Have a relaxing Sunday my friend!

xo
Kreetta

Sunday, October 4, 2015

STYLING YOUR HOME WITH A FROZEN TREE


ART ON THE WALL


Autumn has arrived. When the weather turns a bit colder we stay more inside at our homes. We light up candels and spend cosy evenings in our living rooms. Then we look at our home with a bit different eye too. Maybe we want to change things, buy new things or change the order of furnitures. 

I use to have a very minimalistic decoration at my home but after I spent few months in Copenhagen my style changed. I fell in love with Danish style. Cosy and eclectic. You could see a person's history at his or her home and I think that was very interesting and I was very drawn to it. I'm sure if you are very minimalistic and you visit my home - you'd be overwhelmed, haha.

But this photo isn't from our home. It's from our friend's home. They moved to a new house and they have been decorating it very stylishly. As you can see they also like vintage style but modern too. I was very happy when I was asked to make a photo for them. This photo on the wall is taken few years ago during the very cold winter in Helsinki. It was a weird weather on that day. Actually the weather lasted few days. It was cold, crispy and thick frost on everywhere. Like a macig winterworld. How lucky I was because during that time I had a photoshoooting with meteorologist. Funny coincidence. We were photographing near the sea in one park. There I saw these beautiful trees. They were so perfect and simple. They bring to my mind a bit of Japanese wood drawing. I think after that winter we have had the same kind of weather only once or twice so this pic is quite special. Like my friends too.


xoxo
Kreetta

Saturday, September 19, 2015

HOW TO STYLE A PHOTOGRAPH?


TOP 5 IN FINDING YOUR ARTISTIC VOICE

styling photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

This time I go with a very important matter in photography. Style. How can we create our own? How can we find our own voice?

I've been thinking this a lot after having a food photography workshop last weekend. It was a great fun but same time it was very obvious that we all see things very differently. Achieving the goal you need the creative process and that might not be easy to teach. Nowadays I think creative process is a very personal and you need to work it from your own perspective and experience. You also have to be ready to work - pure work - with the different kind of things like colors, textures, angles, techniques, compositions, shapes, materials, light - the list is quite long and for me it was quite hard because I did not like tabletop photographing at all. No, I did not.

styling photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

I liked to photograph people. But years went by and I started this gretchen gretchen blog 2012. This was a free space to make whatever I wanted. I could build my pics of things I liked. My vintage treasures. I think that was the key holder for me. Freedom to work when I wanted and style with things I liked. I started to enjoy playing with things in photos. But I have worked a lot and I still need a constant work to develop my skills. 

styling photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

When we are talking about style - we also talk about a matter of taste. How can you teach a good taste? What is the good taste? We also have to remember that our mind doesn't stop. Everything developes and by the time we recognize that something has happened we have taken many steps to different directions and finally we have chosen the one that really makes us happy and content. You could call that your style. 100% proud of your work even though it's not perfect. So I could say that you can't teach a style to anyone without help of the person's perspective and experience. You can teach how you do it but really finding a style and the voice of your own you need to process on your own - learning by doing, researching and finding your creativity and artistic voice.

styling photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

Style and your voice is very fundamental but there are plenty more to learn same time like composition, lightning, colors, shapes...but don't worry, if you just start working - you will get closer everytime. And yes, you are creative. You just have to wake up the process.


Here are my Top 5 how to begin.


LOOK OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK

Pinterest, books, magazines etc. Look totally different kind of things. If you are interested about photographing food, please go and see fine art from beginning of 1800's or else. Everything is connected.


WORK 

There is not easy way. Trying, working, trying, working. Learning by doing. I know it sounds flat but can't help it.


CREATIVE ENVIRONMENT

Make your workspace very comfortable and bring there things you like and you get inspired by.


RELAX

Let things happen. Don't force it. You won't get great work done everytime. It doesn't matter. More important thing is that you work.


MUSIC

For me music is very important when I'm creating things. Make different kind of creative music lists. Let it flow. 

Most of all - have fun!



xoxo
Kreetta

ps. If you want to see what we did last weekend in food photography workshop, you will find them in Instagram #10ruoka #työhuoneovi10

Saturday, September 5, 2015

LOCAL MILK'S FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP IN VENICE PART III


STYLING 
 
Local Milk Food Photography workshop / Styling photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com


Sometimes it's easy - usually not. Styling a pic, I mean. You really need to work with it and  that's not even enough. You really have to find a good light and think how to crop the frame. Will you go closer or stay a bit further. Can you take a pic straight from the above or can you have nice perspective by photographing it from side with chosen angle. What kind of props and colors you choose. The question list is a long one. 

Local Milk Food Photography workshop / Styling photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
But it looks so easy when they do it. Beth Kirby from Local Milk and Ginny Branch. I guess there isn't easy way out - I mean if you want to be good at styling you have to work with it. Hours. 

Local Milk Food Photography workshop / Styling photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com
This is my last post of Local Milk's food photography workshop in Venice. Venice is magical place and I love it. The place where we had the workshop was also unbelievable palazzo. Huge windows, antique furniture, walls with reliefs - felt almost I was dreaming. Winter in Venice is also quite adorable. But of course if acqua alta - high water - comes then it's not nice at all.

Friday, August 28, 2015

INSTAGRAM FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP BY PHONE

THAT'S DELICIOUS!

iPhone pic collage by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

First time ever I will be teaching with talented cook Meri-Tuuli Lindström a food photography workshop by phone. Yes, you heard right - we are photographing food by phone. 

This workshop is part of Helsinki Design Week 2015. It will happen on Saturday 12.9. On the same day we have open studios and exhibition in our workspace Työhuone ovi 10. You can find us from HDW programme here.

This year's Helsinki Design Week theme is Time Machine. In our food photography workshop we are going back in history for quite a few decades to 1950's and 1920's. We annouced the workshop some days ago and it's already full. We decided to have 10 people in maximum.

But if you think it would be nice experience, please write me an e-mail to kreetta.jarvenpaa@gmail.com and let's see if we have a chance to arrange another one in near future. You can find my Instagram feed here.


Have a lovely weekend!

xoxo
Kreetta

Sunday, August 16, 2015

SWEET PERFECT BLUEBERRY

GLUTEN AND DAIRY FREE BLUEBERRY CAKE

gluten and dairy free blueberry cake photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

In my dreams we live in such climate that there are fresh berries and fruits all year round. Well we don't. But at least we have few weeks berry season and for example we can go to forest and pick some blueberries. This year there are a lot of them. They are very healthy and the taste is perfect. We want to save a lot of blueberries in freezer to enjoy their taste during  dark winter mornings.

gluten and dairy free blueberry cake photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

This cake is totally gluten and dairy free. The izing on the cake is made of coconut cream and icing sugar. I wrote recipes for you but if you have read any of my recipes, you know I make things a bit more about than exact. Of course baking is much more precise combared to cooking.


SPONGE CAKE BASE

3 eggs
1 dl sugar (plentiful) 
1 dl potato starch
almost 1 tsp baking powder


Whip the eggs and sugar until the dough is fluffy and light. Add carefully dry ingredients. Bake in oven in 225 C degreees about 12-18 min. You can use baking sheet paper that it is very easy to remove the ready cake base from the baking dish.

MERINGUE

2 egg white
1 dl sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp plain vinegar
1 tsp potato starch

Whip egg whites and sugar until they are stiff and glossy. Mix other ingredients carefully. Spread meringue dough on the baking sheet paper in shape you want. Bake in 120-100 C degrees about 1 hour. Baking time depends on how thick the meringue is. I had very thin so the time was about 1 hour. If you want to leave your meringue soft inside it means less baking time. Why I use potato starch and vinegar is because the meringue will not be too hard and it will split nicely with spoon.

SUGAR IZING

Ingredients are coconut cream and izing sugar. It depends on how much you need it but I begun with 1/2 dl coconut cream and started adding the izing sugar until the mix was nicely firm.

SOYA CREAM

I used almost ready soya cream from the shop. It takes only few minutes to whip the cream. I added some sugar and vanilla extract to achieve nicer taste.


gluten and dairy free blueberry cake photo by Kreetta Järvenpää www.gretchengretchen.com

BUILDING A CAKE

I moist the cake base with water. Cake will be too sweet if you use juice etc. But maybe a drop or two of rosewater won't do any harm. 

I used soya cream and fresh blueberries inside the cake. I decorated the cake with coconut izing sugar mix. If you want to have really sweet cake you can use the mix more inside the cake. I put the meringue top on the cake. Finally I decorated the cake with fresh blueberries and lemon balm leaves. I put the cake to fridge expecially because of the sugar izing. Give a bit time to the cake that it will have more balanced taste. 

I already miss the summer and all the fresh fruits, vegetables, berries you can have then. That's why I've been planning to make some preservation in old-fashioned way. I'll get back to it later this autumn.

xoxo
Kreetta
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