Happy Thanksgiving everyone. This year I am thankful that my friend Irina Adam from Phoenix Botanicals came to visit. There is almost nothing as fun as having another creative soul come to keep me company for an extended visit and to inspire me. She came to do a photo shoot of our new baby and to teach me more about taking photographs in general. She also helped me turn a few photo ideas I had into a reality. All the photos in this post are by Irina.
I set the table for Thanksgiving this year even though I am not actually hosting it. It's Much easier than actually hosting it - and I get to do my favorite part, the table! There are probably endless variations I could have tried but I decided to do what came naturally and work with my largest, most elegant table cloth as a starting point. Then came the Italian soup tureen that my mother in law recently gifted to me because she found it too tacky. Her god daughter had also gifted it to my mother in law for the same reason -- Too Too Tacky. My suspicion is that Italians who grew up with this baroque sense of styling in their elder's homes don't always see these intensely decorated, majolica style pottery prices as a good thing. But I embrace tacky as a challenge. I wanted to use it because it's special and crazy - and fun! I figured by keeping everything else in the setting plain white, glass and otherwise conventionally tasteful, that the soup tureen would become a welcome addition.
Some vines from our yard became a linear element that I could weave through the table to tie things together. It's also always nice to bring a bit of nature inside. These little white pottery cups with a rose on top are interesting - they are also from Italy and I have no idea what you are supposed to serve in them. They have a handle and a lid and came in a set of four..
Here is the fancy table with the messy kitchen in the background. It is so interesting how these old houses are laid out with the now almost defunct art of formal entertaining in mind...there is a swinging door between the kitchen and dining room so that the host can easily keep serving people, without anyone "seeing behind the curtain" and knowing what mayhem may really be happening in the kitchen. I'll be honest - in this day and age it is a little strange to live as a family in a house with a formal layout. There is no room in the kitchen for a table, and eating every meal at the dining room table is bizarre. Plus you miss out on the vibe of congeniality and coziness of kids playing and watching TV while parents are cooking, all within sight of each other. But since it is what it is, we make it work - it can be fun to eat in the dining room everyday. Also, I did just move here relatively recently from a 480 sq ft in NYC, so complaining about having a dining table anywhere at all in the house is still laughable!!
I picked a piece of Japanese maple from our yard when it was at its peek brightness. It doesn't last long indoors while it's changing for fall - but while it does it's a beautiful thing to bring inside.
I love how these photos that Irina took show the scale of the room.
When I walk home from work it's so nice to see the house lit up like a doll house. I traveled to Amsterdam once and I remember that very few people used curtains.. I guess they enjoyed their view too much to cover it. While walking along the canals at night, you could look up and see the whole human drama playing out before you in silhouette form... I saw couples dancing, children playing and people cooking - all as tiny as dolls in their beautiful canal houses. I asked Irina if she could help me figure out to achieve a photo getting that feeling across with our own home.
A little postscript about the photos - Irina uses a Canon and I can see that the light is a little different in her photos than mine (I use a Nikon D90). She said that, even when all things are equal with the lighting scenario, settings, lens, and focus- the Canon has a softer light. I have definitely noticed that. Most of the photographers I really love use Canon, so I am thinking about switching. I have gotten really used to my camera and I like it, so I am on the fence but I think there is a pretty distinct difference in the feeling of the light. Nikon seems to have a more cool and clear quality (I am not talking about the focus) and Canon a slightly more diffused feeling. I've asked a lot of people about this and most say, no, that is not true, there is not a difference in the camera's abilities - only the photographer's. When I read about the debates between Nikon and Canon in photography forums they seem to conclude that it comes down to very very minor technical specifications that would only matter in the most rare situations. The deciding factor then becomes how you feel about the camera's usability and aesthetic - ie. how it feels in your hand, the sound and feel of the shutter action, the way you navigate through the menu, and the look of the LCD screen etc. I guess the jury is out on that, but if you have an opinion I want to hear it. If I do switch to Canon I will probably go ahead in and invest in an full frame model. When I travel to NYC this month I'll hang out at Adorama or B&H and test a few.