Gluten Free Photo Contest – December Winners

by Carol Kicinski on January 6, 2011

Update – due to the looming deadline for my next book I have decided to suspend the photo contest for a couple months. It will be back and I will tell you all when it is.       xo, carol

This posting was delayed due to a dilemma of our judge Derek. For the first time since beginning the contest he could not pick a clear first place winner so we have two!

December’s theme was Gluten Free Holidays. To view all the entries click here.

January’s theme is Healthy Starts – so go ahead and hit me with YOUR best shot! Take a photo of a healthy gluten-free recipe and submit to me by January 26th, 2011. Winners will be posted on Sunday, January 30th. For all the info and how to submit – go here.

Overall here is what Derek, our judge, had to say about the entries:

The quality of all the entries were well above what we been seen before in distinguishing between them increasingly difficult. All of the winning images were strikingly good. There were another eight entries that were crowding them as really excellent shots.
Third place winner is:

Cranberry Apple Bars from Hallie of Daily Bites

Here’s what Derek had to say about this shot:

This is a very well composed shot with the diagonal dynamic lines creating interest and energy.The depth of focus was just right for the shot, the colors were just right, and the diffused lighting works very well to bring out the subtleties of the squares.

Second Place winner is

Magic Peanut Butter Middle Cookies from Lexie at Lexie’s Kitchen

And Derek says this:

This was an excellent shot. The delicacy of the cup, the strong colors of the cookies and tea, the light blue mat setting, were all well coordinated. The single point of improvement might have been to shoot just a half-inch higher so so the top of the cup isn’t lost and the cookies are framed lower in the shot. An added subtle part which is not part of this contest would be to put the shot in Photoshop and increase the contrast in the midranges. The image would pop a bit.
And now for the first time we have a tie for first place – they are

Gluten-Free Oreos from Laurie of Cakes ‘N’ Bakes


Spiced Maple Pecans from Hallie of Daily Bites

Derek says this:

Try as I might I could not pick one of these in favor of the others. Each of these had excellent composition, lighting, color, integration.

The Oreos on a white background with scattered pattern was a good example of simplicity in design. The design was basically monochromatic in the sense that it was Brown on white which is interesting. The pattern, lighting, composition, cropping were all excellent.

The pecans in the jar gave excellent context the lighting was interesting but not distracting,the use of red and green was complementary with the color of the pecans. The framing and cropping were perfect. Again the pattern, lighting, composition, cropping were all excellent.
So congrats to our winner – I will be send you both this to place on your blog should you wish:

Finally, as always Derek has a tip for us to improve our photographic skills. Here it is:

A good camera with a good lens will give you a very shallow depth of focus which is very interesting, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want the background so blurry that one can’t tell what it is.

There were a several shots that the depth of focus kept them out of the top runners but were well thought out,and well composed.

Study the winners for the interest, composition, angle, cropping, lighting and realize that this competition has become increasingly challenging to judge. It requires technical perfection and more shooters are getting there.

So go ahead and hit me with YOUR best shot – enter January’s contest and you too may get a professional critique from Derek!


Gluten Free Photo Contest – November Winners

by Carol Kicinski on November 28, 2010

The theme for November’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot Gluten Free Photo Contest was Thankfully Gluten Free. We had many entires which really show that we do in deed have something (lots of things!) to be grateful for, especially when it comes to gluten-free food.

To view all the entries, go here!

If you have yet to enter a photo in our Gluten Free Photo Contests, you should! It is a really fun way to learn and get even better at making great pictures!

December’s contest is Gluten Free Holidays! Send in your photos of gluten-free food that mean holiday time to you, what ever holiday you celebrate in December! The deadline for photo submissions is December 29th and the round up will be January 2nd – because of the holidays we are adjusting our normal time line.So go ahead and hit me with YOUR best shot! For all the info, rules and how to submit – go here.

Our contests are judged by my good friend and photographer Derek and here is his general comment about the entires this month:

I am seeing in this batch consistently good cropping! Good work!

Third place goes to:

Lexie at Lexie’s Kitchen

Here is what Derek has to say:

This is actually an action shot. I think it is the first attempt in this series of competitions.
It is challenging because if you get it wrong you have to start over completely. Courageous!
Hint: The background is slightly blown out. Just enough to distract a little. Digital is infamous for not holding onto the highlights in a photo, so extra care is needed.

Second Place goes to:

Rickie at Diet, Desserts and Dogs

And Derek said this:

This is an excellent composition and showed great control of the depth of focus.
It creates depth, but not annoyingly shallow. Just enough to let you focus on the
details of the chips and texture, and lets you fill in what the out of focus details are.
Hint: Might try camera tilt to the right—just to see if you like the composition even better.

And finally – first place goes to…

Melissa at Gluten Free For Good

Derek says of our winner’s shot:

A really excellent use of color, geometry, and lighting. The diffusion of light was just right to
bring out the colors. That is an important point. Diffused, rather than strong light (sunlight)
brings out the subtlety of color. Also cropped the image to let your own imagination roam the rest of the table. Hint: the seam in the table could be level or tilted up to the right—might help.

Congrats Melissa on a great photo! You will be getting this in an email to put on your blog if you wish:

Finally here is our tip of the month from Derek on how to improve our photo taking:

We are getting to a new level of photography. An important part of perfection is controlling
the background. Exposure, focus, content and composition. You don’t want ANY clutter in the background. You don’t want anything that the viewer has to say to himself “What the heck is that?” because it is out of focus, or too obscure, or too blown out. The background should add to what you have to communicate with your image without distracting by being too hard to make out or just not part of the whole communication.

First Place used a wooden table. Perfectly rustic for the fruit and bowls. Second place lit and
focused the background to add to, not distract from. Good work! Others not in the winner’s circle had created some GREAT images, but the backgrounds let them down.

So, a rule in candid photography can apply here: “Clear your background!” (be aware of what you are shooting against.).

Good work shooters!

So go ahead and hit me with YOUR best shot!

Once again – December’s contest is Gluten Free Holidays! Send in your photos of gluten-free food that mean holiday time to you, what ever holiday you celebrate in December! The deadline for photo submissions is December 29th and the round up will be January 2nd – because of the holidays we are adjusting our normal time line.So go ahead and hit me with YOUR best shot! For all the info, rules and how to submit – go here.


Gluten Free Photo Contest – October Winners

by Carol Kicinski on October 16, 2010

The theme for October’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot Gluten Free Photo Contest was Edible Autumn and we got some really beautiful entries.

View all the entries here.
Here is what our judge Derek had to say about the entries:

Excellent work all around! Congratulations to everyone entering for doing great photos! The quality is improving already, so yikes! my job gets harder. A few more rounds and we should be able to just take the entries and produce calendars or magazines!

November’s theme is Thankfully Gluten-free. You can send in pictures of your favorite Thanksgiving dish, the food you are most thankful to be able to eat or just what ever food reminds you of being thankful. Be imaginative! Deadline for November’s submissions is Wednesday, November 24th and the round-up will be post Sunday, November 28th.

For rules and how to submit, go here.
And now our winners along with why they won and Derek’s photo tip for this month.

Third place goes to :

Alexa from Lexie’s Kitchen

What Derek had to say – I have four images I would like to ‘tie’ for third–so I really had a hard time picking one out. What was done well, and seems to be the theme of the entries this month, was using a ‘high’ angle, shooting down on the dish. This particular image has slightly more ‘pop’ than the others it was competing with. This is a slight advantage in shooting food. You want it to bring people to the dish, and this does it!
Second Place goes to:

Emma from My Darling Lemon Thyme

What Derek had to say – This is a more interested composition. Instead of pulling back and just showing both bowls, the photographer framed just enough of both bowls to communicate the food. Lighting has no mistakes–the use of highlights is really excellent. The focus is exactly right both in sharpness and depth. The table horizon competes just a tad with the bowls in my opinion but still a very nice photo.
And, drum roll please…
First place goes to

Jessica from ATX Gluten Free

What Derek had to say – Simplicity wins this round. The lighting, color ‘palette’,exposure made this such an inviting image. Just the right textures: seeds, bubbles, cinnamon stick. Just nailed it.
Congrats Jessica! I will be sending you the winner badge so you can post it on your blog if you wish. Great job!
And now for Derek’s tip of the month:
Keep paying attention to the focus and how much depth of focus you are using. If the depth of focus is too shallow it can be off-putting. There were two general approaches I was seeing in the entries: 1. Simple straight down or straight on shot (perpendiculars); OR 2. A composition with supporting elements and depth and angles in the photo (dishes, flowers, pumpkins, napkins, etc.) Both are very well represented in this set and there was some good work in both categories.
Now, the biggest point of improvement that could be made is in making the image pop. The opposite of ‘pop’ is ‘dull’. Imagine a photo of a bowl of oatmeal with no highlights, and no accents. Dull. Breads and cake slices can easily look dull. How to make things pop? Add highlights!
[Photo-geek stuff: To be technical about it, “specular highlights”. These are the white spots reflected in shiny objects when a light is shined on them. Just”highlights” would be more correctly defined as areas of lighter colors. “Specular highlights” have no color.]
A little olive oil or melted butter can do this on some foods. Creating contrast with lights and darks, colors, patterns, etc, can add pop–such as adding ‘sprinkles’. Using your light sources effectively is also key. If you are going to use Photoshop, add contrast or add saturation. You can check for dullness by standing back and squinting at your photo. If it becomes a blob, then it is probably too dull. If it still has striking details, then you probably have some ‘pop’.
So – make your photos POP and Hit me with YOUR Best Shot! Enter November’s Gluten-free photo contest and see if your shot is the winning one!


Gluten Free Photo Contest – September Winners

by Carol Kicinski on October 2, 2010

Our first Gluten Free Photo Contest was a big success! In fact as it went around the internet it got nicknamed as the Hit Me With Your Best Shot Photo Contest and I loved that, so it stays! A big thanks to Scanpan for sponsoring kick off and giveaway. To see who won the Scanpan Giveaway – click here. And a huge thanks to my dear friend the gorgeous and talented Jan Regan who designed our Contest Badge!

The theme for October’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot Gluten Free Photo Conetst is: Edible Autum. Anything that is gluten-free, edible and reminds you of Autum is elligble. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, October 27th and the winners will be posted on Sunday, October 31st. For all the rules and how to enter, click here.

Thankfully I did not have the responsiblility of picking our top three winners. That honor went to my good friend and photographer extrordinare Derek Geer. Here is what he has to say:

“I stayed away from critiquing the food design itself – I concentrated on the technical photography. There were so many really excellent, excellent shots that the winners were selected by them not making a single teensy mistake in composition, lighting, focus, depth of focus, color, etc. Heartbreaking to have to eliminate some otherwise really great shots for such things.”
Derek’s Tip for the Month – Most common technical error in photography: FOCUS. It has to be crack sharp. Use a tripod or brace the camera well when doing your shots. Blow up the shot in your camera or on your computer so you can reshoot if it isn’t pixel perfect. Secondary error: Depth of focus being too shallow or focused on the wrong thing.
See all the entries for this month HERE.
Now, drum roll please…
Third Place Winner

5 Minute BBQ Sauce
Hallie Klecker
Daily Bites

What Derek had to say about this photo: Extremely elegant geometry. Nailed the lighting. Just the right amount of diffusion. The color composition is technically perfect: complementary colors. This is haiku. The lines are from upper left to lower right. Usually not as upbeat as the other way around. However, the light is from the upper right which keeps it from becoming downbeat. Avoided the temptation to put sprinkles in the dish which would have distracted in this composition.

TIP: Simple geometry and color should be considered as an option in composition when the food itself is simple and not inherently showy.

Second Place Winner

What Derek had to say: This is an elegant bit of composition with the repeated crossed stems in the soup and in front of the bowl. The shot showed the food texture at a perfect selective focus. The mat set off the bowl keeping it framed. Communicated the sumptuousness of the food in a minimalist way. Why use a paragraph when a word will do? Your eye stops right where you want it to be: framed between the crossed stems. Perfect symmetry.

TIP: Subtle repeating elements can be used to frame or add rhythm to your shots.

And now…
First Place Winner

Kim Maes

What Derek has to say: Especially great composition. Nicely complex foreground and background. The composition was well integrated. Everything in the picture added to its message, and it was done in layers with foreground tied to background. The eye is led from the front to back and each stop is a delight.

TIP: Integrate your composition with things that add to your communication. Eliminate things that don’t add to what you are trying to say or things that can’t be readily identified by your likely audience.

Congratulations Kim! I will be sending you a badge to put on your blog so you can brag to the world about how great a photographer you are!

Pop over HERE to see all the entries.
There are some truly great photos that really show the beauty of gluten free food!

So come on, hit me with YOUR best shot and enter the October Edible Autum Gluten Free Photo Contest!


Gluten Free Photo Contest!

by Carol Kicinski on August 19, 2010

I am just bubbling over with excitement over here!

I am so happy to announce the kick off of Simply…Gluten-free’s first Gluten Free Photo Contest sponsored by Scanpan! This is going to be a regular feature.

Why a photo contest? Simple. Pictures are worth a thousand words and what better way to show off the abundance of a gluten-free diet than with beautiful photos? This is also a great way for all you wonderful food bloggers and photographers to connect up with each other.

What’s different about this contest? Besides the obvious fact that all the photos will be of gluten-free foods, my dear friend and photographer extraordinaire, Derek Geer, has agreed to be the judge of this contest but more than that, he has agreed to critique the top three photos. This is a fabulous learning experience for those of us wanting to improve the quality of the snaps we shoot. He will also be including a helpful tip for better photos with each round up.

How is it going to work? You are going to send me your photos, they will be looked over by Derek and he will pick his 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. I will post a round up of ALL the photo submissions (with links to your site) as well as the winners. This is also a great way to introduce yourself to others who may not know you are out there.

And now for the icing on the gluten-free cake! The wonderful folks at Scanpan are sponsoring the kick off of this photo contest. They will send a lucky winner (from a random drawing) a 10¼ inch sauté pan with lid from their new CTX line valued at $239.99 and YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ENTER THE PHOTO CONTEST TO ENTER THE DRAWING FOR THE PAN!!!

Scanpan makes the highest quality, state of the art, ceramic, titanium, non-stick cookware unlike other non-stick pans in that they can be used for searing, braising and deglazing, they can not be damaged with metal utensils, they can be used at high temperatures (up to 500 degrees!) and are without those funky chemicals that are bad for our bodies and the environment. The are also very eco-friendly in that they use 100% recycled aluminum and as if all that were not enough – THE PANS COME WITH A LIFETIME WARRANTY! (And these are some pretty sexy looking pans if you ask me.)

Just click below (at the end of this post) to enter the Scanpan giveaway before midnight EST September 30, 2010.

So now about the contest.

The theme for the September Kick Off is – NO THEME!

Just send in pictures of GLUTEN FREE FOOD. It can be a completed recipe, ingredients or just a picture of an apple, as long as it is GLUTEN FREE.

Rules for the Gluten Free Photo Contest:

  1. The food or recipe in the picture must be gluten-free. You do not have to be a gluten free food blogger to enter, in fact you don’t even have to have a blog! But the food in the picture does have to be gluten-free.
  2. Post your photo on your blog and link back to this post (if you have a blog) before midnight EST September 15, 2010. The round up of all photos and the winners will be posted here on October 3, 2010. If you don’t have a blog just send me the photo with the rest of the data.
  3. Photos will appear on my blog with a width of 400 dpi (height does not matter) and be formatted for the web so keep that in mind.
  4. Send me an email to with the photo attached and a link to your post before the deadline of September 15, 2010. Please include your NAME and THE NAME OF YOUR BLOG.
  5. Entering the photo contest does NOT automatically enter you in the give away. You need to click below to enter the Scanpan giveaway. Only one entry per person please!
  6. If your name is Carol Kicinski, you are the author of the gluten-free blog Simply…Gluten-free and you live in Florida, you are not eligible to enter the giveaway or photo contest!

Ok, so that’s it. Have fun and hit me with your best shot! I can’t wait to see your pictures of all that beautiful gluten-free food out there.

(As a note, if you are not sure what constitutes gluten-free food click here to see allowable foods on a gluten-free diet.)

to enter the Scanpan Giveaway
enter before midnight EST September 30, 2010
drawing will take place October 1, 2010
good luck!