November 01, 2007

Focus, what?

My inability to follow directions is affecting, (among other things) my picture taking. I was comfortable with my old camera, knew how to do enough with it to produce a decent food shot and that was about it. It died a while ago and it has taken me some time to replace it. I looked at a variety of digital cameras and as much as I ooed and awed over a DSL camera, there was no way I could justify the cost. There’s also that matter of me not having any clue how to make a fancy camera like that function properly. I eventually decided on a Canon Powershot SD800 as I got an amazing deal on it through ebay, (oh how I love ebay!) but now I have to learn how to use a new camera and that’s not going so well. A smarter person would read the manual. I don’t like to read manuals because I’m convinced I should just intuitively know how to use things. Funny thing is, I don’t. So the focus is off in all my pictures recently. I know this camera should be letting me do macro shots, but it never chooses the focal point I want it to. My camera and I both lack focus, what are the odds? This chicken cacciatore is good, the picture is not, my apologies.

Chicken Cacciatore (Adapted from Gourmet, January 2006)

1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb) chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
2 chorizo sausages, cut into chunks
1 3/4 teaspoons table salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 ½ cups chopped mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
1 can tomato paste
Herb and sun dried tomato pasta

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle on all sides with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and pepper. Heat oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken and chorizo in 2 batches, turning over once, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Reduce heat to moderate and add onion, mushrooms, thyme and garlic to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any brown bits, until onion and garlic are golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine and simmer, scraping up brown bits, until liquid is reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice and paste and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon, 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and nestle chicken pieces in sauce.

Simmer, loosely covered with foil, until chicken is cooked through, 35 to 45 minutes. Season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. For a thicker sauce, transfer cooked chicken to a platter and keep warm, covered, then boil sauce until it reaches desired consistency.

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Nora B. said...

Hi Brilynn,
E-bay is great1 When I first discovered it, I was addicted to it for two weeks - i checked it so often that it scared me, so I decided to stop looking at it unless I had something specific to buy.

I love chicken cacciatore. Yours looks delicious - I like how you used a herbed pasta. The recipe that I use had anchovies (i love anchovies!).

Have a good weekend ahead!

Vanessa said...

I don't like to read manuals either...I usually just google the problem and see what all the answers are.

Lisa Kendrick said...

This dish looks wonderful!

Rachel said...

I am having the same problem with my new camera too! And I read the manual and it didn't help. So frustrating!

K & S said...

that is so cool! your pasta looks delicious too.

Sherry said...

Oh I know the feeling well. I became happily used to my old digital camera...took pics for eBay etc...well, it got confiscated when my 15 yr old dd took it to school and it never worked correctly again. The new one is beautiful, but since I too think I was conceived knowing how to work anything I wish to use...well, you know the rest I'm sure. The chicken cacciatore looks great worries :-)

Courtney said...

wow this looks great, hope you love your new camera, got to love ebay deals

Manggy said...

I think the focus of the second shot is just right :) enjoy your new camera!

Kelly-Jane said...

I'm not sure if I love or hate ebay, but I'm certainly there a lot!!

The chorizo sausage sounds like a great addition to the cacciatore, mmm.

Kate / Kajal said...

i'm still to get myself to purchase something on ebay.
I do read mannuals, just enough to get started , so i dont do something stupid and mess up my now equipment. once i get the hang of it then the rest is up to you.

BTW the chicken looks fabulous

Deborah said...

Both the chicken and the photo look great to me!

Quellia said...

Its not because you didn't read the manual - it's Canon's fault. And even with the blur, your chicken looks great!

Jerry said...

I use a Canon as well and If your PowerShot uses a rangefinder to figure focus, try these two things.

1. Shoot the food after it's done steaming (read, cool) The steam will reflect the IR on the rangefinder and skew your focus. The white plate can cause haloing issues, especially with steam.

2. Pull the shot back a bit (You can crop later). It stops the camera from adjusting the focus to just one part of the plate.

Also. Never... Ever...Ever use the flash. Use good lighting. (In my case I hung a lamp over the table, even with good outdoor light, and when necessary i cart in a desk lamp as well. Canon's low light shots are notorious for going grainy.

I hope these tips help a bit. There are times when Zooming in works better than a super tight shot as well. It's all about experimentation.

nicisme said...

I've always loved your photos and these are great too.
I also had a new camera a few months ago and it does take some getting used to.

Lydia said...

Chicken cacciatore is such a fun dish. I make it two ways, one with a red wine sauce, the other with white. They're both delicious!

Splurge Sisters said...

Thank you SO much for your welcome on my blog - I squealed with I say it - it was like Martha Stewart leaving a comment - wheeeeee!

Cynthia said...

I bought a new camera recently too and like you, I hate reading manuals but am forcing myself through it.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Condolences on learning a new camera. I hate the learning curve in a new toy; it sucks all the fun out of getting a new toy.

Peabody said...

Hang in there. I got my new camera in July and still don't know how to use it.