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Ellen Shapiro

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Ellen Shapiro

  1. We were told Shake Shack will be year round now that it is in a permanent building. They serve beer and wine. You can get a half-bottle of Shafer Cab and drink it in the park! There is a limited seating area for alcohol consumption.
  2. Sam Kinsey, Fat Guy and I visited the New York Burger Co. yesterday. The New York Burger Co. is a new high-concept burger joint located at 303 Park Avenue South just north of the intersection with 23rd Street. New York Burger Co. has several aspects that we felt would be interesting to eGulleters, including the use of all Coleman Natural Beef, house-made condiments, high-quality toppings and a bright modern design. We were lucky enough to be able to catch Mel Coleman, of Coleman Natural Beef, while he was in New York, so after taking photos in the kitchen area and talking at length to New York
  3. A good time was had by all at the Shake Shack this afternoon as we stopped by for a quick photo shoot and tasting. On the burger front Richard Corrain (chief of operations for the Union Square Group) demonstrated the preparation of a Shack Burger. The burger is a blend of sirloin and brisket. The patties are four ounces. The beef is ground in the Eleven Madison Park kitchen each day. The Shack Burger procedure is as follows . . . The patty is placed on the griddle and pressed down, firmly, once. It is never again pressed upon. The Shake Shack is not that burger place where they lean into the b
  4. Time is always the enemy with snapshots. The more you can do to prepare the less suffering you will do when you are in time-compressed shooting situations. An analogy from underwater photography: it used to be that underwater cameras were always of the manual "rangefinder" variety as opposed to SLRs where you could see the focus. That means you had to dial in how many feet away the subject was before you could photograph it, otherwise it would be out of focus. Very inconvenient since photographing fish is already hard of course because they don't wait for you. So one thing a lot of underwater
  5. There is no room for anything to be pathetic within the bounds of a constructive discussion like we're trying to foster here! There are problems with Canon's automatic settings and also with the D30 and D60 autofocus systems (the 10D is much better). This doesn't make them pathetic! It makes them challenges for all those of us who can't afford to spend infinite sums of money on camera gear. We make do. Plenty of professionals have been using these cameras for years for a variety of purposes, and they shoot auto and program a lot more than they admit. Because when you need to whip out your came
  6. The warranty is only 1 year and the camera is closer to 2 years old. Because this seems to be a universal problem with the D60 I think there was hope that it would be corrected with a firmware upgrade. But the last couple of times I asked Fat Guy to check the Canon support site for upgrades he said that there had been none issued. Half a stop exposure compensation seems to do the trick, though it means you can never shoot on full auto. Those images were taken as JPEG at the "fine" setting, not RAW. I love the RAW feature for critically important work but find that it does not suit my photograp
  7. Looking for some basic background information on EXIF for a post on the shutterbug thread I stumbled across a comprehensive review of Paint Shop Pro 8 on Cnet by David English. The review is particularly helpful in comparing Paint Shop to PhotoShop although I think there is one version of PhotoShop that is newer than the review. http://reviews.cnet.com/Jasc_Paint_Shop_Pr...-2.html?tag=top I also noticed as a link on the review pages that there is an offer from BuyCheapSoftware.com (which Cnet rates highly) to get Paint Shop Pro 8 for $46 after a $30 manufacturer's rebate: http://www.buycheapso
  8. Back when I was taking photography classes in college and there was no such thing as a digital camera, we used to have to walk around with a notepad and write down aperture, shutter speed, and several other attributes for every photo. It was slow going. A really nice thing about digital photography is that most digital cameras automatically store all this extended information in a format called EXIF. This is a standard format that allows camera-settings data to be stored in the JPEG. So as long as you are using a piece of software that can read EXIF camera settings data, you never need to take
  9. Behemoth, the easiest thing is a piece of single-ply toilet paper or one ply of a Kleenex. You hardly ever find yourself in a situation where you can't at least come up with that, and it works pretty darn well. With my current gear I have two Sto-fen diffusers which cost about fifteen bucks each but they don't accomplish anything that any translucent piece of white material doesn't do. They just look a bit neater. Toliver, thanks for those comments. I was hoping you'd ring in on postprocessing. Those images are I think unprocessed except for the resize. Maybe I could e-mail you the originals a
  10. Under studio conditions you can control a lot of it with lighting and also with matte sprays that you apply to the items. In the real world your best bets are natural light and careful planning of the angle of your camera versus the angle of the light. Even if you are using point and shoot flash the angle and distance will make a lot of difference. You can even fabricate a diffuser of sorts out of a piece of translucent material in order to cut flash glare, although some cameras will freak if you do that. If you have the ability to choose your background surface you will do better with less re
  11. Helenas I have to run and do have some technical comments about those photos but on the whole would just like to say they are very sharp. With minor modifications I would expect photos like that to be in a well produced cookbook. Can you tell us about more about your equipment and the intent of those images?
  12. A few contrast and composition pointers for digital snapshots on dark backgrounds, triggered by looking at Jinmyo's very appetizing dish: High contrast situations are hard enough on film but digital camera CCDs really tend to choke when bright whites and deep blacks compete for recognition. The extremes of the white and black especially impact the richness of any other colors in the photo. Also shiny dark surfaces and flash don't often mix because the reflected flash makes them look white. A gentle natural light source that doesn't reflect back at the camera will give nice deep dark negative s
  13. I'll reiterate and maybe say it more strongly that an undertaking like this works much much much better if it is structured and scheduled, with some ground rules in place at the outset. I can promise you, and I have seen this happen on every photography message board on which I have participated and in some classroom settings, that these discussions become unpleasant quickly if there are no agreed limits and requirements. Please trust me on this. Will anybody volunteer to lead the group and help set up a structure? Back to a couple of the discussion points . . . Focus, camera shake, and losses
  14. Paint Shop Pro 8 is a great piece of software and cheap. Many cost-conscious professionals use it because PhotoShop is so expensive and offers only a few esoteric features that are better than Paint Shop. Paint Shop Pro 8 is also totally usable by beginners and the "one step photo fix" is one of the best, simplest image enhancement features out there. I have been trying to learn GIMP, which is free, but find its controls labor intensive. There is also a nice piece of software called DCE Autoenhance. This is a little like using Paint Shop's photo-fix feature in bulk: you can select like 100 ima
  15. George was only one of many wonderful waiters we had at Bouley over the years. I wish I remembered all their names. One of our (me and FG that is) first fine restaurant experiences was at Bouley in maybe 1989, we were 20 or 21 years old not that they carded us or anything. Our waiter was, like George, an African-American. I only mention it because it is sadly the case that there are not a whole lot of black waiters in the top New York restaurants, and in 1989 there were far fewer. At Bouley I remember not only George and the guy from 1989 but also the most wildly gay African-American waiter fr
  16. Now that ImageGullet is working again . . . I wanted to illustrate something about cameras that I mentioned above. These are a few snapshots I took several years ago with my first digital camera, a Kodak DC-210. This was a ONE MEGAPIXEL camera with a minimum of features. Today it would be considered a child's toy. And these aren't the world's most brilliant photos or anything. But if you point at the right thing and push the button, sometimes you get something usable even when the camera is a piece of crap. These all print just fine at 4x6.
  17. I love the fried carrot cake. Along with the papaya (unbeatable) and pineapple, that is my favorite hawker center item whenever FG and I would stop in for a snack. And don't forget to try the local coffee at the hawker centers too--it's excellent.
  18. Maybe this undertaking would benefit from a little more classroom structure. A good model might be the classes I've taken at the Gotham Writers Workshop. Every member of the class has to submit work for group critique. Obviously there is nobody offering critique who will not eventually be critiqued and that helps with the level of sensitivity and helps to rein in overkill. It might be smart with this group to create a schedule whereby 8 or so people agree to put up photos on a preset schedule of 2-3 days of critique for each person's work and only the other 7 people get to critique it. Then mo
  19. There have been a lot of comments on the technical aspects of the egg-cup-placemat photo so I wouldn't add much to that discussion, but I would caution against becoming overly distracted by pure technical analysis. I'm finding it difficult to consider the egg-cup-placemat photo in the abstract, without an idea as to purpose. A stock photography agency might get a request for "a nice photo of a brown egg in an egg cup" and someone might choose to do "art photography" of an egg, but outside of those special cases most photos are taken with a context in mind. On eGullet probably 99% of the photos
  20. Just to clarify: this is true asuming that you're going to enlarge the newly cropped image. If you're just cropping and not enlarging, there is no loss of quality. Put it another way: it's the enlarging that causes the problem, not the cropping. Wellllllll . . . in digital photography size is an abstract concept. Suffice it to say that at any given print size, once you go below about 300 pixels per inch your image quality degrades. So as you start cropping smaller and smaller pieces of an image to display at that size you suffer a corresponding loss of available pixels. Or something like tha
  21. Point taken. Let me modify that to say the availability of good digital printing is rapidly approaching the availability of good printing from negatives. I would love to get in on a food photography critique group. I'm not a food photographer. I sometimes get pressed into service as one because I'm married to a food writer, and also because I do so many documentary snapshots for eGullet, but what I really do is travel photography, mostly outdoors and mostly of people and places. So I would definitely be into participating in a group effort. I know we do have a couple of professional food photo
  22. Everybody now has access to high quality photo printing via services like Ofoto and ImageStation. The resolutions required for prints that look like they came from a film camera, however, are usually much lower than people assume. For beautiful 300ppi prints 2 megapixels will get you a 5x7 and 4 megapixels will get you an 8x10. It is only when you get into posters and billboards that the 5-8 megapixel range becomes more important. But even with a 20x30 poster you can do well from a 4 megapixel image from a good consumer level camera. However that is only a part of the story. One of the first t
  23. Some people are really good at self-improvement. Others desperately need outside critiques to keep them moving forward. I can only do so much with my own work before I need someone else to look at it. That person doesn't always have to be an expert. Sometimes it's enough that the person just isn't me. I have a friend who lives in my neighborhood who is one of those hopeless photographers who can't improve himself and won't accept input from anybody else. So like most people in his situation he blames his equipment. Boy does he buy a lot of equipment! He now has a Leica R8 film camera and three
  24. There's so much good information on this thread, I don't want to detract from it. Let me offer a few general observations, though. I've taken many, many photography courses (and plan to keep taking them forever), owned half a dozen digital cameras and many more film cameras than that, and have done all sorts of photography from photojournalism to portraiture to the kinds of documentary snapshots that are prevalent on eGullet, and there are a few things I've learned. I find that many people tend to overemphasize equipment. One thing I can say for sure: if you are a careful photographer and have
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