Of Hope and Expectation, and Finding Color Again

Bangkok flower market. From 'Of Hope and Expectation, and Finding Color Again' by ivoryhut.

Finding color again. It was a phrase I heard Penny De Los Santos utter back in 2010, when she spoke about the darkness that filled her world after a personal loss, and how eventually, a trip to India brought color back into her world. It was a phrase that resonated loudly within me.

For the past 3 years, I’ve been struggling to to re-awaken my motivation for many things that used to bring me great joy: writing, creating recipes, music, and making pictures. I tried many times, failed many times, then eventually stopped trying. Life got too busy, providing me with a convenient (albeit valid) excuse to put everything else on hold while we worked on rebuilding our home. Even when I resolved to try again, everything I did felt forced. There was no flow. Nothing seemed right. I wasn’t looking for anything to come easy; I merely wanted what felt familiar and natural.

Finding my groove

Ivoryhut Adobe San Francisco Photography Getaway

Some weeks ago, I received an email from a lovely lady named Anne. (Yes, I already knew then that she’d be lovely.) She wrote to invite me to spend a day in San Francisco taking photographs of the sights, followed by a 3-hour Lightroom workshop with the amazing Julieanne Kost the following day. Oh, and Adobe was sponsoring the whole thing. She then so kindly remarked that she thought I might need the break.

Shooting square

Disclaimer: The above title is in no way announcing a post on how to shoot self-portraits. Thank you for your attention.


This morning, I was browsing the Food Photography and Styling group at Food Blog Forum (if you’re a food blogger or contemplating venturing into it, I highly recommend joining the community). One of the discussions started was about submitting photos to Taste Spotting and Food Gawker (if you’re a food eater or contemplating venturing into the vicious cycle of ogle-rumbling tummy-cook-eat-ogle again, I highly recommend browsing those sites).

When you submit a photo to either of those sites, one of the technical requirements is that you crop it to 1:1 aspect ratio. In other words, they use square images. And when I went through my existing photos to pick a few to submit for the first time, the biggest problem I had was that what I felt were my best photos did not lend well to square cropping. And often, I had to settle for my second or third choices because I couldn’t find a way to make my first choice fit nicely in a square. (And I didn’t want to just pad the sides to fake a square.)

HDR the lazy girl way

One of more controversial debates going on right now in the world of photography is HDR photography, short for High Dynamic Range photography. Please don’t ask me for an accurate explanation of the terms or even how it works. The first time I even heard of the term was during the MPIX New York photo tour last year. During the opening question-and-answer session, Rick Sammon explained that while the human eye sees about an 11-f-stop range, a single photo can only capture maybe 4 f-stops. Combining multiple exposures of the same photo can hopefully replicate the same amount of detail that ours eyes can see, from the details that are hiding in the shadows to what appears blown out in the highlights. You therefore expand the range visible in a photo, hence the HDR acronym.

I happen to like HDR, but I prefer it applied with a light touch—enough to remain realistic without going overboard and looking almost cartoon-like. (Although there are definitely artistic applications for that, too.) For example, I’ve always loved the photography of Ansel Adams, and found it interesting that he is often referred to as the first HDR photographer. It makes sense, because when you examine his photographs closely, you can see how much detail there is in the deep shadows and in the bright skies and reflections. His darkroom technique involved meticulously manipulating the contrast in the negative in order to display a wider range of visual information. In other words, HDR.

Finding beauty

Since I’ve been sick and stuck indoors for what seems like forever, I’ve been spending some time doing some housekeeping over at my Flickr account. It’s slow going, but eventually, I’ll get everything there organized properly. Really, I will. You can take my word for it because, well, it’s my Flickr account and not my pantry. If it were the latter, you might have to wait longer. Or at least until I run out of food to photograph.

See? It always comes back to photography.

about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

If you want to learn more about me, here are 43 things I'd like to do. Here's a little something about my name, in case you were wondering. Here are some other places you'll find me:

facebook pageflickrtwittertasty ktichenrss feedcontact me
The Ivory Hut: My Quick and Easy Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo is the Filipino dish most people are familiar with. Here's my quick and easy version that requires minimal prep work and only one pan. Perfect for busy weeknights.

The Ivory Hut: Homemade Nutella Baking Chips

Yes, I made my own chocolate chips. Nutella chocolate chips, to be exact. Then I made cookies. Lots of cookies.

Subscribe by email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.