April 25, 2009

No Place for Plagiarist in the Creative World

I was really shocked and angry when I was sent a news from Indonesia that somebody stole my photo and recipe. The worst thing is that they use it on a cookbook without any given written permission from me, whatsoever.

This is the original photo that I took for Lapis Tikar (Thousand Layers Cake made from egg whites).

lapis tikar

And I posted it here.

They downloaded my photo, cropped it, and copy-pasted my recipe by eliminating little comments in the brackets.

These are the photos that Mae took from the book.

Mine is not the only one. There are other foodie bloggers suffered the same problems created by the darn crazy people which named themselves CAM Boga (Cerdas (Smart), Aktual (Actual), Moderen (Modern)--which does not at all match with their plagiarism practice!

Budi Sutomo is an author, a famous man in the culinary world in Indonesia has also been treated the same. Have a look at his page here. He's displaying his works which were copied to become a book which is called Aneka Jajan Pasar Favorit (Assorted Traditional Market Favourite Snacks).

Vivi is the other victim. She bought a book which she found her food photos were displayed. Ironic really when she does not give any permission to anyone published it that way, let alone received any royalty. She posted her complain here.

I have contacted the publisher and have left a message on their guestbook. They replied and have promised me to take care of the issue within 5 working days. So, let's see.

If you have received the same treatment from your readers or other irresponsible people, do not hesitate to get back to them and tell them what you think. We have to stop this plagiarism by our act. Do not let them get away with this. If we do, we'll let them win and they'll do it again and again. We don't want that, do we?

Jangan Beli Buku Hasil Copy Paste

This logo is created by Ophoeng, one of culinary enthusiasts in Indonesia who also gets on the "Do Not Buy Books from Copy-Pasted" going. You may contact him if you'd like to support us.

Have a great weekend!!

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April 15, 2009

A Health Starter Kit with the Smiling Dragon

It's been more or less two months I have joined Tai Chi class, and I cannot feel more gratitude than how much improving my health has been since.

To be honest, I was very sick last year, very moody with severe headaches, perhaps almost on the state of depression with delicate emotional being. I felt so alone. I could not even concentrate and lost interests in anything else but myself. I felt like there's darkness in my mind, and I was blind. I was not me, to be short, really.

I was lucky enough to have a very wonderful husband who really looks after me and understands what I need. With his help of muscle testing, I start a new approach of lifestyle. What I eat is what my body needs. I am aware of what she needs and what does not. Yes, there are temptation, but again, I am doing it for me, because I am not alone. My presence is needed by my family, and to them, I am precious. Does not it make you happy, to be needed by your loved ones? And why should I miss every moment of it, just because I am not looking after myself?

Introduced by Tamara, the Smiling Dragon, our lovely Tai Chi instructor, Tai Chi has become another path way of life for me to get on. It helps improving my health. I benefited from every movement and breathing exercise.

To me, Tai Chi is just like the movements of Yoga and meditation at the same time, and I don't consider it as martial arts (although the movements of Tai Chi themselves originated from martial arts), but more as the meditative exercise of my body, mind, and spirit. In Chinese Philosophy, everyone has 'chi' energy floating in their body, but it is depending on himself/herself to generate this chi within, so that chi can circulate to the nervous and vascular system, therefore a healthy well-being is enhanced.

"Stiff and bending is the principle of death. Gentle and yielding is the principle of life. Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle. A tree that is unbending is easily broken. The hard and strong will fall. The soft and weak will overcome." [Tao Te Ching]

That philosophy can describe the principle of Tai Chi, I suppose. With its slow movements, you are AWARE of your arms moving, your weight is shifting to another foot, your foot is touching the ground, you feel your abdomen moving while you're breathing, and yourself makes connection within. The slower you do it, the stronger you can feel your chi energy is generated. I always feel my palms and body grow warmer during the movements and this is a pleasant feeling. It is true that Tai Chi can foster tranquil mind and it calms me down.

I am so happy, like I've never been before. Thank you, Tamara!!

Now, this is my entry for Cooking to Combat Cancer 3, hosted by Chris of Melecotte. The third year, ladies and gentlemen! My first entry was Ong Choy Salad, and second was Gado-Gado and Blueberry Yogurt. This is my third, and I am going gluten-free. Do you know what the muscle testing results on this? YES!

Gluten-Free Almond and Pineapple Biscuits by ab '09

Gluten-Free Almond and Pineapple Biscuits

1 1/2 cup ground almond
1 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
3-4 Tbs rice bran oil
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line the baking trays with baking paper. Combine rice bran oil, egg, and sugar, whisk well. Combine ground almond and gluten-free flour. Pour in the wet mixture, mix well. Roll into balls and put them on the baking trays. Make an indent in the centre and spoon the pineapple jam on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the biscuits are crisp. Makes 20-25.

Homemade Pineapple Jam

1 pineapple, peeled, removed the eyes if there are to be seen. Remove the core, and chopped. Put the chopped pineapple in the food processor, and puree. Pour it into a saucepan or frying pan. Throw in 2 whole cloves and 1 small cinnamon stick. Cook until thickened, then add 1/2 cup to 1 cup white sugar, depending on how sweet the pineapple is. Cook until thick and becomes paste which should not be dry. Use this to fill the biscuits. Makes a middle size jar.

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April 08, 2009

Food Photography According To Me

I am often asked how I can produce good photos. It is quite a task to answer, really, given that I just take photos. They say I take photos with all my heart, and that is quite true, too, although I don't know if my heart has got to do with it. They are wondering what gadgets I am using, and I just can ask myself the same question. Truly speaking, I don't have tripod, Strobist, ECO light, or whatever professional equipments you may have had. All I have and use is a camera with my favorite lens. A reflector, you asked? YUP, a handmade one, made from a cake board lined with tin foil. That's it.

coriander seeds by ab '09 coriander seeds-2 by ab '09

I just take photos, I said, but it does not mean I do abracadabra the food and then it will set itself on the style I want to. I use my eyes, to be honest, and perhaps passion. Or sense of art. Whatever you call it, it is on my mind mixed with my true definition of the setting should be like.

There are methodology and techniques (perhaps, you'd like to read an article I've written for Desserts Magazine: Make Better-Looking Food Photos From Home On A Budget for another overview?) out there, explained by various professional photographers, and you can fave them. Methods and techniques are made for us as guidelines to understand further what is which, which is how, how is which, and which is what. You don't have to strict yourself in a certain and particular term in producing good-looking photos, though you do have to look at and consider several elements to support the idea you have on your mind. There is mix and match, for all I know, which professional and critical photographers can look in their scrutiny eyes. There's also perspectives, like you learn when you do sketching at primary school, which are often the 'thought' of a photo. And the styles to show off your footprint, that is really you, yes you!

Pinky Pudding Bavarois magic in the middles Almond and Orange Blossom Cupcakes

If you subscribe culinary magazines, there are mags that have particular food styles which even when you put them on random with other photos from different mags, you will always know that that particular photo must be from that particular mag. I don't suppose it's boring, although you can always do many experiments on different styles, someone does need to make a mark on his/her work in this world that entitled 'MINE'. Nothing wrong with it. People have different way to make way of showcasing their works, don't they?

I can say, there are many people who take a lot of efforts in taking food photos, although they still complain that the results are not the best they have expected to be; and there aren't many, either, who seem care less of what they've done. You go have a look around, and you'll see whether people just like to press the shutter button, let go and that's it. Yeah, you can do that for shooting birds, because they'll fly away, but... food? Food can't go anywhere, it's still life.

Between these two categories, I go with you who care more and put more efforts in taking food photos. You love food, that's why your photos show us how you love it, how you would serve it, how you should eat it, and how passionate you are in the making of it. Photos tell us all. Photos don't tell lies, well, except those which are mucked up with many tools one can find on touch-up products and it is unnecessary to be applied on food photos.

And, you've never won, you said? Win what? What should you win for?

on the chopsticks #2 rosemary oil plum chocolate clafoutis

Yes, there are many photo events in the blogging world. They are prestigious, so I am told, and they are, to showcase your works. You have to be dared to compete with talented people in the whole world and when you won a title, you must be on top of the world, you'll build more scope of friendship (or readers), and extend your networking. But, let me tell you something, this is not all, not the end of the world if you don't make it to the top.

Judges are humans. Each of them has different opinions, perspectives, vision, and styles. Your photo which is sent to a certain theme of photo events may be good, but they are considered ordinary to various critical eyes. Judges have to be fair, though. They must decide the best photos, not because they want to give titles to bloggers who have not won since ages, but because of the quality of the photos. There are different criteria of skills and photographic elements in each category, to keep you informed, so they should not look at somewhere else. And that's what I do when I am asked to be on the judge panel. To be quite frank, I work with my brain and soul in scoring the photos, not looking at the person who took the photos. I don't care even if it's my mother's.

My photos are not always winners of many photo events, now I can tell you. Below, I'll show you the photos that won the titles and which did not.

Third Place, DMBLGIT March 2008

spoonfuls #2

First Place, DMBLGIT November 2008

my pink brests for Pink October

And some photos which did not make it to the top on DMBLGIT:

plum fruit butter ice cream-2 by ab '09 schulten plums

SnackShot #1: Salad

greens and apple3

And the photo did not win on SnackShot


Third Winner Click: Coffee and Tea


Fifth Place Super Click 2008

pumpkin soup

First Place Click: Red January 2009

dare to be different by ab 09

Some of the photos did not win on Click


wholemeal bread rolls

So, there you go. My good-looking photos do not always win, do they? You can see it now that photos according to me are always good, but to other people, they aren't. Like I said, people have different vision and perspectives, tastes and styles. I sometimes am wondering myself which part of the details they don't like, but perhaps there are always more things to learn from each winning photo.

Given that I use minimal gadgets, there is definitely confidence to accompany the lead to success in producing good food photos. The most important thing to me is that I master the functions on my camera and I have a good lens to cover food photos. Other stuffs I can manage by hand-making or purchase them on sale. Well, this is an expensive hobby and we don't really put a budget on buying lenses or studio equipments at the very moment, although I would love to have all of those gadgets. In the meantime, I do the best with what I have and hopefully, you'll keep enjoying my photos, the food photos according to me. And I thank you for it.

Last thing, KBB-Flickr Photo Challenge is open with a new theme: Ice & Icy Desserts. So, if you dare to dare yourself in making your best photo of ice cream, sorbet, gelato, parfait, or any other icy desserts, you are welcome to post it here, on a small size to the group discussion. You can open a new discussion on the matter of shooting ice cream on a new thread, if you like. We'll definitely talk about it!

This is my Homemade Soy Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, my first contribution to MenuMania and the photo is submitted for Ice & Icy Desserts.

Soy Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, a HomeMadeS by ab '09

Come, get your camera and start exploring!! Have fun!

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