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Maria Felton’s Nikon D700 birthday cake.

While browsing various photography-related websites I came upon this interesting photo. Being all into cakes and photography, it grabbed my attention and made me find everything about it. I have tracked the image down to an owner—Maria Felton, and she was kind enough, to provide us with a story behind the photo. Here it goes.

“Ok, so i probably have the coolest husband. EVER! Not only did I get the real thing for my birthday, but he came home and surprised me with this cake! This is by far the coolest birthday cake I’ve ever had. :) I want to clarify that my husband did NOT bake the cake ;) The outside was made of fondant and the inside is red velvet cake. It was super yummy (past tense—it’s all gone now :()”

Maria couldn’t bare to cut it up, so her husband was doing the honors, while she was photographing the process with her new equipment. Nikon D700 camera, filming Nikon D700 cake. Does it get any more delicious?

As she continues: “it was a rather small cake, but it was perfect for our small family of four (including 2 little ones—3 1/2 and 13 months).”

The following photos were taken with a help of a Nikon D700 accompanied by a 50/1.8 lens. The light was provided by a Nikon Speedlight SB800 (at 1/4 power) into Photek Softlighter, triggered by a camera’s built-in flash.


The cake was made by Granny Schmidt’s bakery, situated in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, USA. As they state on their website, “Granny Schmidt’s bakery opened in September 2006 to bring best-in-class bakery products to customers who enjoy the marriage of high style and century-old goodness. We don’t produce cakes by adding flavorings to factory supplied base mixes. We make every cake from scratch, often one at a time, using nothing you wouldn’t have found at the corner grocery a hundred years ago.”

I have contacted Mrs. Michelle Quier at Granny Schmidt’s, and she, luckily for us, agreed to share more information about the famous cake. They already “have had several requests for duplicates and other models from around the country”. And the cake’s full name is “Red velvet cake with Swiss buttercream and black fondant”, it “feeds four”, and it “took about 2 hours total to carve & decorate”.

Colleen Laky is the Pastry Chef behind the creation, which was modeled “simply from several pictures”. Last Tuesday (14. 04. 2009), Colleen won the Philadelphia Wedding Cake Competition for “Best in Theme” of the show which was Ethnic Wedding Cakes.

Colleen Laky’s page on the bakery’s site informs that “Pastry chef Colleen Laky is the creative talent behind Granny Schmidt’s. She bakes and decorates every cake we sell. Colleen earned her degree in Baking & Pastry Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education (I.C.E.) in New York City. There she interned with cake designer Gail Watson and completed a mentorship with Sylvia Weinstock. For thirteen years Colleen operated her own business designing and decorating specialty cakes and wedding cakes. While her baking and decorating skills are outstanding, Colleen’s artistry is her true talent. Whether making a familiar character come to life in butter, flour, and sugar or dreaming up a whimsical showpiece, Colleen’s work is simply stunning.” So agree we all!

Also, I have been sent two more pictures of the cake, made right after it was finished. So we can all admire the craftsmanship and attention to details.


If the story got you interested, you might also want to check another, camera-cake-centered, More of camera cakes extravaganza article.

Maria Felton
Never satisfied with photos from the big box studios, I learned about photography so I could capture my children as they are: without long lines, without stress, and without the same pose everyone seemed to have hanging on their walls.

With a long-time love of art and a BA in interior design, photography was a natural fit for me. I quickly realized my passion would one day include photographing others. I am thrilled to finally be sharing my talent with you!

I strive to capture natural and honest expressions. While my work is un-posed, I may give direction during the shoot so that we can achieve the best possible look. I always prefer natural light, and am currently only offering natural light sessions.

I take on a very limited number of sessions each month so I can give each client (and my own family) the time and attention they deserve.

21. 04. 2009
5 e-mail correspondence with Maria Felton.
6 e-mail correspondence with Michelle Quier at Granny Schmidt’s.

Cubicle workspace is not for creativity.

Monolithic insanity—these are the words of an inventor of cubicle system, Robert Propst (Schlosser, 2006). By this remark, at the end of his life, he commented on the outcome of a revolition he started in 1968 with his “Action Office” system. Little did he know, how economic thinking of big corporations would twist his visionary idea. From the idea that should have embraced productivity and communication—essential to us, graphics and photographers—the cubicle system turned into an environment that creates a mere illusion of productivity.

1968, “Action Office” system.

Cubicles try to accomodate as many people as possible in a small space, create high stress environment, increase communication tensions between the coworkers and bring a cold front to a communication climate at the office.

The aim of “bright satanic offices” (Thompson P., Warhurst C., 1998) was to “create a more dynamic and flexible workspace” (Propst R., 1986), which would promote productivity and cooperation. The workers in such an office should have had a clear view of work-to-do, of work-done, the organisation of the workspace was to ease the search for the materials. Also, absence of floor-to-ceiling walls, should have improved relationship with other workers and productivity, which in turn should have improved communicaion climate and working conditions of the employees.

At first, “the concept, a set of freestanding units intended to act as room dividers in large, open office spaces, didn’t catch on” (Schlosser, 2006). But later, corporations saw the cubicle system as an efficient way of putting maximum number of employees into an open-space environment. Also, it is easy to supervise people in an office of such a design. The idea was that employees themselves would appreciate the ease of communicating with each other and it would instill a good and healthy communication climate.

But as some say, “collaboration is great, but sometimes I’d kill for a door” (Tischler, 2005). The level of distraction can sometimes be unbearable and creates tensions in communication. There is no wonder there are a lot of books on the topic of managing interpersonal relationsips and maintaining a healthy working environment. The number of publications on this topic shows that the problem is really there and that it is not a small one. As Jared Sandberg pointed out in his article “Office managers have long justified their use by pointing to the collaborative benefits of barrier-free offices. But bosses “confuse open communication with open physical environments,” says Sue Weidemann, director of research for Bosti Associates, a workplace analysis firm. In fact, she says, “enclosed offices are much better than any version of open offices in terms of how well communication is supported.”" (Sandberg, 2004). Furthermore, as Sandberg analyses BOSTI study of a year 2001, he states that “only 58% of people without any kind of partition said communication was well supported. Even fewer, 56%, believed that their half walls encouraged communication. But 98%, or nearly all, of those with private offices said communication was well supported.” and he concludes that study confirmed the idea that “open offices inhibit communication.” (Sandberg, 2004).

Cubicle workspace creates many occasions to sparkle tensions between co-workers and to freeze the communication climate. Not respecting others’ spaces: “Amanda Jacobson, who works for a financial-information company, argues that “the partitions don’t do very much but hold in everyone’s stuff”—and “they don’t do that very well.” She had a cube mate whose stuff was always threatening to ooze into her territory. “I did my best to push it back every night after he left,” she says.” (Sandberg, 2004). Less calm and patient people would have escalated the conflict after several instances, and would have threatened the relationship with their neighbor and co-worker. This could in turn degrade work efficiency, and if the work is dependant on cooperation of the two, the degradation of the efficiency would be catastrophic.


Another often-occuring situation is an arrogant co-worker that somehow is annoying his neighbors. Either by frequent private phonecalls, or by his choice of music that he plays through the speakers, or by some annoying habit that is not appealing to the people nearby. Mr. Sandberg introduces even more examples: “At the cube-packed call center where manager Nick Pujic works, the short partition walls have probably helped keep some inappropriate activities in check. But they didn’t stop people from building four- foot replicas of the Eiffel Tower during their down time or bringing in plants that produced allergic reactions in neighbors.” or that the “Employees were constantly begging to be moved from the loud/smelly person just over the border.” One way to fight it is also highlighted in the article: “”Finally, last year, the company decided to change employee seating on a daily basis. Now, with less expectation of privacy, there are far fewer problems, Mr. Pujic says.” (Sandberg, 2004).

There are some recommendations on how to minimise the risks of alienating colleagues around and how to keep healthier communication climate. James Monahan in his article about cubicle etiquette shares some of them. “…speak softly when you’re on the phone. Remember that there are other people who need utmost focus and concentration on their responsibilities. Don’t do anything that will distract your colleagues or soundproof your cubicle as necessary. Also, do not put your phone on speaker mode. It’s unnecessary and rude. (…) Don’t interrupt people who are taking calls. (…) Pretend the cubicle has a door. You wouldn’t want people barging in on you now do you. Don’t interrupt people who are looking busy, but if they are pretending to look busy, that’s a whole other matter to discuss. (…) Lay off the excessively odorous perfumes and fragrances. Some people can be allergic. (…) Sometimes, no matter how great you think your aftershave or perfume is, it just plain stinks to others. So be considerate on this matter.” (Monahan) As one can see, even simple things could be a source of annoyance to others and this can lead to unnecessary problems inside the working environment.

Now comes the time, where the effectiveness of the working relationships and employees is more important and is worth more than the cost of running the office. (Tischler, 2005). What is needed to keep employees happy and productive—is a healthy and warm communication climate, an atmosphere of relaxation and privacy. Cubicles are simply not the best way of achieving the above stated warm climate.

23. 04. 2009
Schlosser Julie. (2006, March 22). Cubicles: The great mistake. Retrieved April 27, 2007, from…

Monahan James. Cubicle etiquette 101. Retrieved May 10, 2007 from

Tischler Linda. (2005, June). Death to the cubicle! Fastcompany, issue 95, p. 29. Retrieved April 30, 2007, from

Sandberg Jared. (2004, September) ‘Did I Hear You Say…’ And Other Sad Tales From Half-Wall Cubes. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York. p. B.1 Retrieved May 10, 2007 from ProQuest database.

Thompson Paul (Editor), Warhurst Christopher (Editor), (1998). Workplaces of the Future (Critical Perspectives on Work & Organization). Palgrave Macmillan.

Propst Robert, (1986). The Office, a Facility Based on Change. Birch; Reprint edition.

Klavs Bo Christensen’s “too much Photoshop” disqualification.

Haiti Aftermath 01
This year’s Danish photo contest “Picture of The Year” is now getting quite an attention in photo communities worldwide. All because of the controversial RAW conversion with following colour, contrast and tonal enhancements made by one of the participants—photojournalist Klavs Bo Christensen.

Several years ago, the rules for the Danish “Picture of The Year” were updated: “Photos submitted to Picture of The Year must be a truthful representation of whatever happened in front of the camera during exposure. You may post-process the images electronically in accordance with good practice. That is cropping, burning, dodging, converting to black and white as well as normal exposure and color correction, which preserves the image’s original expression. The Judges and exhibition committee reserve the right to see the original raw image files, raw tape, negatives and/or slides. In cases of doubt, the photographer can be pulled out of competition”. (source)

Original RAW file converted to JPEG using the Default setting in Adobe Camera Raw. Photo: Klavs Bo Christensen.

Jens Tønnesen, the Webmaster for the Danish Union of Press Photographers, attended the National Press Photographers Association’s “NewsVideo Workshop” in Norman, where he told News Photographer magazine about the heated Photoshop debate that’s going on back in Copenhagen.

During the course of judging and selection, the judges saw some pictures that were enchanced in such a way, that they could not “be a truthful representation”. Some of the photos were therefore rejected on the spot, but for some of them they requested original RAW files—to see the difference.

“Photojournalist Klavs Bo Christensen just landed at Kastrup Airport after a long travel abroad, when his cell phone rang. It was a representative from the Danish photo contest Picture of The Year, who asked him to submit his RAW files from his Haiti story to the judges. (…) Klavs Bo Christensen has received his luggage at the airport and has rushed out to his office to find his RAW files, burn them on to a CD and deliver it to Gl. Strand in the center of Copenhagen, where the judging takes place.” (source)

But the requested files did not remove the judges’ suspicion of immoderate adjustments. Especially the three images (photographed using Nikon D700), that are shown throughout this article, invoked the judges’ anger.

Haiti Aftermath 02
“I think that people should be judged on what they send in, but this is just too much,” said Miriam Dalsgaard, as she pointed at some concrete, on the above picture, that is steel blue. As judges said, “the colors almost looks like they have been sprayed onto the picture. Some clothes that are brown in the RAW file are now bright red”. Below you can see the original.

Original RAW file converted to JPEG using the Default setting in Adobe Camera Raw. Photo: Klavs Bo Christensen.

As for the photo below, “he deliberately selected a chair and made it yellow, and so he selects the wall and makes it blue”—said Peter Dejong, the second judge—”For me it is unacceptable.”

Haiti Aftermath 05
Submitted version. Photo: Klavs Bo Christensen.

Original RAW file converted to JPEG using the Default setting in Adobe Camera Raw. Photo: Klavs Bo Christensen.

The third judge, Carsten Ingemann suggested that they perhaps could give a prize to one of the images to open a discussion about how to use Photoshop, but that idea is rejected by the other two judges. But we see that the discussion is pretty heated now, anyway. :-)

After a short discussion the judges decided to vote out the whole Haiti series by Klavs Bo Christensen. “It should not mean that we do not accept or recognize editing in Photoshop, but this example is really extreme”, said Miriam Dalsgaard.

Klavs Bo Christensen believes there are significant differences in RAW files from the different cameras. He experienced it when he switched from Canon to Nikon and it is even clearer when he pulls out his Leica M8. “In my opinion, a RAW file … has nothing to do with reality and I do not think you can judge the finished images and the use of Photoshop by looking at the RAW file” (source), he said. Also, as he stated, “second, there are also huge differences between RAW conversion tools, and on how the files from different cameras are converted. And there are significant differences in the profile you choose to use in the conversion tool for each camera” (source).

The photojournalist also remarks that “”one can for example choose to overexpose his images, making them more saturated in color when you close them down in the RAW converter. It seems to me in line with choosing a specific film to each assignment in the old days. (…) You can also choose to expose after highlights and raise the bottom afterwards or you may choose to shoot in JPEG with the camera ready set to ‘High contrast’ or other fiddlings”

Klavs Bo Christensen is also questioning whether the judges are to judge the images on the basis of RAW files. “What is the task of the judges? Is it to look on our Photoshop or is it to value the photo journalistic content and angle of the story? Pellegrin for example, would not have had a chance in POY with his way of post processing”.” (source)

“Subsequently, he has also acknowledge that the images may have been given “full throttle” in Photoshop, but not more than it still is inside his limits for image processing. (…) However we will probably not see Klavs Bo Christensen’s color pictures submitted to next year’s Danish version of Picture of The Year, because he made a promise to himself only to participate with black and white pictures in the future.” (source)

A question: What do you think? Were the judge correct, which side, do you think, has more compelling arguments?

24. 04. 2009
1 (click on VOTERINGEN)

More of camera cakes extravaganza.

After I have discovered the now-famous Maria Felton’s Nikon D700 birthday cake, I have been paying more attention to the sweet cameras everywhere. Let me introduce you to some of the other creations.

Let us start with Anne Heap of the “Pink Cake Box”. The story behind this birthday cake is “that the birthday boy Paul is a photographer who specializes in photographing bands (sounds like a fun job!). So to honor his birthday we included a cake replica of his Nikon SLR Camera along with a portrait of one of his photos.”

Camera Birthday Cake
Nikon Camera Birthday Cake

And a week later, the “Pink Cake Box” received a request from another customer who wanted to create a surprise camera replica cake for her father. “Inside the Nikon Digital SLR camera was carrot cake with vanilla buttercream. The event took place at Maggiano’s restaurant in Bridgewater, NJ. Happy Birthday—we hope the father was surprised!”

As shisharka says about the next cake: “A picture-taking freak myself (read 1,200 pics from a week in Rome) I’ve been dying to make a camera cake! Made for a friend’s b-day, who’s just as camera-crazy. 11″x15″ sheet, cut in 4 stripes, 3 stacked for the body, last cut into rounds for lenses and a standing battery compartment. Marble cake, filled w/ vanilla pastry creme, frosted w/ mocha SMBC and covered in SatinIce. I could have been more elaborate in the look-alikeness to the actual model, but I only had a couple of hours to play with it…”


This cake was created by Frederick Van Johnson‘s friend Lisa… who also happens to be a pastry chef.


On the next photos, Stephen Balson shows us the birthday cake he got on the first weekend of May 2009. “Here is my cake from last weekend I got for my birthday. A local shop (Wollongong) made it from pictures my wife gave them from the web.”

othercakes7 created this Canon cake.


The next Marzipan Camera Birthday Cake was baked by CookiePursonality.


This Minolta cake was baked by SJayneI.


Below is Chef Duff’s take on the subject matter. By the way—check the outstanding cakes on his webpage


I will be adding more cakes to the list, as I find them.

06. 05. 2009

Photoshop mistakes.

Sometimes we, retouchers, forget to switch off layers and clean up our work before submitting it to print. Here are some of the interesting examples of such mishaps—Photoshop mistakes.

An interesting choice of cloning tools on the neck area. The original article is situated here, and you can see that the editors quickly learned about the mistake and cropped the picture.

Is not the left eye’s pupil much more dilated than the other one’s?

How many hands should an ordinary Guinevere have?

An ultra rare package of cereal, that changes one’s skin pigmentation.

An invisible friend with a visible hand? Not so neat.

Poor Gina-Lisa Lohfink, look at this incredibly thin thigh—Liquify function at its mightiest :) That is what her legs really look like.

13. 06. 2009

Obama and Ratzinger in Oishi tea advertisement.


Barack Obama (President of the USA) and Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) drink only Oishi tea. Really? :) A google search did not bring any confirmation to the claims stipulated on the advertisement that follows…


The Ratzinger’s bubble says: “Me—only OISHI” and Obama’s bubble “Me too—only OISHI”. Inbetween the bubbles in white bold letters: “A new beginning!”, and below in red letters: “First real tea without preservants and artificial colouring—

The advertisement is placed on the benches in a bench-advertisement chain in Prague. What do you think, is it a local small agency’s advertising stunt (and rather daring at that), or the people portrayed really know about the Oishi’s arrangement and are really supporting the brand? :) What do you think?

p. s.: an interesting addition, the web page is not working (as of 25. 06. 2009), only adding “www.” in front of the address helps to open the pages. Another sign of an amateurish job?

25. 06. 2009

About alleged Michio Hoshino’s last photograph of a bear.


The alleged wildlife photographer’s last photograph of a bear is spreading through internet like wildfire. A lot of people believe the story and repast it in the discussion forums and send it by email. But fewer people know that the photo (above) is a fake and has no relevance to the tragic accident that happened on August 8, 1996. Let us find out what really happened…

That day, a photographer Michio Hoshino was killed by a brown bear while on assignment in Kurilskoye lake. Mr. Michio “was on the peninsula as part of a team making a documentary film about brown bears. (…) The documentary was for a Japanese television network. (…) Hoshino was attacked by the bear in his tent on the bank of a lake at about 4 a.m. (…)The other team members heard Hoshino’s screams and came running, but the bear dashed into the woods dragging Hoshino. (…) Searchers later found his body in the woods. source

As the eyewitnesses recall, Michio Hoshino’s “cabin was crowded with a visiting Japanese television crew, so Hoshino—who abhorred snoring—chose to sleep in a tent.” Guide Igor Revenko later gave this self-translated account: “The tragedy happened at 4 a.m. I woke up by call of cameramen: “Tent! Bear! Tent!” In two seconds, I and my brother and the rest of the crew got out and heard Michio’s cry and bear’s growl. It was dark and we flashlighted the tent being destroyed and bear back in the grass ten meters away. Immediately we started to yell enormously but bear didn’t even rise a head. I found shovel and metal bucket and started to bang, three to five meters from bear. Bear rised head once very shortly, then took Hoshino’s body by teeth and disappeared in the darkness.” source

As for the photo itself, we can observe that it was created as a composition of two photos—a tent and a bear ones.


If you look at the light, it is clear it could not be done in 4 a.m. The light on the photo is more like noon. Also, we see that the bear’s head is inside the tent, but the light on his nose does not support that notion. In addition, notice the shadow from the plants outside the tent, notice the light inside the tent—all points out to the sun being on the right side of a photographer. The bear, on the contrary, is lit from the left—I doubt there was an external flash outside the tent.

And what is more revealing—is that the bear’s foot is also inside a tent, but in a strange way—too sharp line of a tent material, not the whole width of a foot is inside. Putting all the evidence together, we can say that this is clearly a fake photo.

Update: the photo was photoshopped by a user BonnySaintAndrew as a an entry for a Final Photo 9 contest.


Michio Hoshino (September 27, 1952—August 8, 1996) was a famous Japanese-born nature photographer. He originally hailed from Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture. In 1978 he left his native Japan and went to live in Fairbanks, Alaska. He was called one of the most accomplished nature photographers of our time and was compared to Ansel Adams. Hoshino specialized in photographing Alaskan wildlife. A memorial totem pole was raised in Sitka Alaska, on August 8, 2008—the month and day Michio Hoshino was killed, in honor of his work. Relatives and witnesses from Japan, including his widow, attended the ceremony. Hoshino’s wife and son, only two years old at the time of his death, survive him. source, source

Some of his photos can be viewed on University of Alaska museum website.

29. 05. 2009