I do so love lemonade. And while the reality that my photography wasn't cutting it in this image heavy brave new world produced a fair amount of uncomfortable stomach acid, I know that good lemonade is a mixture of acidic lemon and lot's of sugar.
There was plenty of sugar at the Char-broil All-Star gathering this year. We meet with the Char-broil team to learn from each other, discuss the new product line, and to grow as bloggers. The sugar is we do all of the above with lots of amazing food, a good deal of colorful liquids to wash it down, and belly laughs through every meeting. I come away with inspiration and both new items in my toolbox, and sharper tools.
"Sharper" is a key word, because this year's gathering focused primarily on photography and being on camera. We all have different talents - angles from which we come to this place of food blogging. Mine is writing and being in the barbecue food business. Others are amazing photographers who are also talented home cooks, or award-winning barbecue competitors. But let's face it, the web is a noisy place - a buzzing hive, an ocean of fish - and one of the best ways for a writer to be heard is to wave a big pretty image flag to catch the hive's attention, a visual hook to reel in the fish.
So my first takeaway this year was going to a "Photo 101" class with some of the best photographers in our group. I can't wait to put all that I've learned into some photo practice. Just the simple instruction of lowering my camera from where I was previously holding is huge, but I also got tips on setting up a mini food "studio." Nothing fancy. A few lights with a white board to diffuse reflections when taking night shots. Doh!
What about the squid sausage? We have a little cooking competition each year too. A mini "Chopped" with mystery ingredients and a time limit. This year it was naturally seafood-heavy with squid, shrimp, Grouper, sun dried tomatoes, a blood orange, collard greens and chocolate. Lemon, oil, seasonings and assorted herbs were stocked at all stations. I was lucky to be teamed with Christo of Chez What? He's the only real chef among us and won by a landslide last year.
The squid sausage, 100% Christo, should have won. It was amazing. I intend to recreate it in a blog post. Stuffed with grilled shrimp, shaved chocolate, finely chopped sun dried tomato, thyme and Italian parsley with a white wine and blood orange vinaigrette, we finished it off on the grill (a Tru-Infrared grill, of course). But the competition this year was also weighted with the name of our dish, the final photo, the team name...in other words, all the parts that go into a good blog post. And the victors, who name themselves Diva Q and The Dame, knew how to sell the whole package.
So I leave you with a two photos of the squid sausage. They were taken in almost dark, with a Droid. They are blurry. But you can see the original photo, and how through cropping and post editing, I've at least improved them.