Food, Photoshop & Frustration: Chocolate Pear Macaroon

Making the chocolate pear macaroon dessert wasn’t really that difficult. A few pears, a bit of cocoa powder (Steve would have preferred a bit more cocoa, actually), almonds, an oven, etc. The difficulty comes from Photoshop, a program Michelle has always seen as a time-sucking vortex from which she will never escape. Inspiration for both the dessert and Michelle’s new obsession came from the same place: Roger Stowell of the Food, Photography and France blog.

As part of our recent and all-too-brief French relocation we chose to “vacation within a vacation” in the Atlantic coast region of the Vendée, spending some time with our online friend who gave us the benefit of his years of high-end photography experience. Slight apprehension at our first online-to-in-real-life meeting was for naught: Roger turned out to be a charming, energetic host, who (somewhat unsurprisingly as a cookbook author) laid on two lovely dinners with his lovely wife Jenny. We all hit it off smashingly, though Michelle and Jenny had a bit of trouble getting any words in due to Roger’s and Steve’s dueling verbosities. Along with some excellent food and conversation we learned much about shooting and Photoshopping. Michelle, after taking copious notes at Roger’s side, resolved to take the plunge and learn more about Photoshop.

Returning home to familiar ovens and a faster Internet connection (this trip we learned the limitations of French 3G networks) Michelle wanted to pay tribute to Roger by making a recipe from his blog, and writing about it as a way of further thanks for his instruction. She photographed pears, made and shot the macaroons, and everything was fine. Then she downloaded the new Photoshop Elements 11 to replace our ancient version of the program.

The first night Michelle fell asleep in front of her screen sitting straight up, waking hours later to the same photo. The next night she toggled brushes, chose masks, and altered tints and hues for hour after hour. Recently Steve has noticed small groans and whimpers arising now and again from Michelle’s hunched-forward form, as she endlessly questions the changes she’s made, and anticipates the infinite changes to be made in the future.

Looks like Steve may be doing much more cooking—possibly until the end of time.  (Oh, and do you want to see a photo of the chocolate pear macaroon?  Please go look at Roger’s.  Michelle has got to go to her real job.)


  1. PRETTY. I fear photoshop but I covet mastery. (It feels like I always have to ditch the nicest photos I’ve taken because there is a stray cat hair or something on the plate.) Jalouse of your vacances!

    • Thanks so much, Susan. Of course, I look at it now and say, oh god, I needed to do x, y and z. I’m not sure it ever ends, which is why I avoided jumping in for so long. The cat hair thing, though, is easy. (Given our 2 hairy boys, I had to learn that long ago.) Are you a Mac user? I know you can fix little things like that in Aperture, and I think maybe in iPhoto too.

  2. I would love to go and work with Roger. he is one of my favourite Weblog people. I know how to do four things on photoshop and none of them have brushes! your pear is quite beautiful by the way.. c

  3. That’s kind of annoying. I just bought elements 10 a few weeks ago, and now there’s a new one? As stressed as you may have been about your edits, I love that first picture. Please let us in on any insights–it’s such a steep learning curve with photography (well, at least for me).

    • Oh, jeez, I was waiting to reply to this until I purchased a book—being certain that would solve everything. Now I’ve purchased one and feel even more confused. But, yeah, there’s a new version. Which probably just means it’s confusing in a slightly different way!

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