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  1. I shoot RAW and post-process. That's because I want complete control of the conversion from initial to final image. RAW images give me the most latitude when it comes to making changes without losing resolution. But that conversion process was something that I had to work up to over the course of many years and I'm still learning new ways to make improvements to my process. I'm certainly not advocating this for anyone else (especially the casual photographer), but just like cooking, the better the quality of your ingredients and the tools you use to transform them, the better the final result can be.
  2. I am a firm believer of shooting in RAW. However, be aware that in order to process RAW images, you need software capable of reading RAW images (such as Adobe Lightroom) AND when you bring it in to Lightroom, it won't have any of the style that your camera applied to the image that appeared on the view on the back. You'll have to make those adjustments yourself. Not a bad thing, just something to be aware of.
  3. @Smokeydoke Thank you! I'll admit, while I do cook for myself, I don't tend to take pictures of my home meals. A large majority of the images are either professional images I shot for clients or meals I've had at restaurants. I'm also a big proponent of artificial light, as it removes a lot of the problems associated with natural light (and colored light inside of restaurants). And honestly, much of what I originally said about shooting in natural light still applies regardless of whether you're using natural or artificial light. You're right in that for good photographs, lighting (and shadow) is extremely important. Without good lighting, even the most beautifully plated foods just won't look good.
  4. That's the lovely thing about free advice; you can choose to use it or ignore it. I would agree that changing how you photograph your dishes can feel intimidating at first, especially if you're trying to incorporate a whole bunch of new things to worry about. I would argue, however, that like most things in life, if you start by changing one small thing, like say, adding the "V" card to bounce light into the shadows, and doing that until it feels normal, and then adding something else small to your process, over time you'll find that it isn't that much extra work. As for cold food, one of the tricks that professional food photographers use commonly is to have a "stand in" plate that is the same shape, size, and color, possibly with something on the plate that resembles the shape of the food (even crumpled up paper works). Then, while you wait for the food to finish cooking, set up your shot and get your camera settings dialed-in. Prepare your final plate, swap it out for the stand in, and get your actual shot. When I shoot professionally (and even when I go out for dinner and want an image from the restaurant I'm eating at), I never spend more than a minute or two getting the shot.
  5. So, if you're going to use natural window light to illuminate your subject, you're going to want to do a few very inexpensive things. 1) Get yourself some tracing paper to place between the window and the subject. This will act as a large diffusor, making the light and shadows softer and more pleasing. 2) Get yourself a large piece of white foam core. Cut the large sheet of foam core into two pieces using an Exacto knife (or razor blade or some such) and tape the two halves together with clear tape so that you can set it on the table in a "V" formation. You place this "V" card at the opposite end of where the natural light is coming in from the window to "bounce" light back into the food. This is most effective for tall foods, such as the cake posted at the top of the page. 3) You'll need to be sensitive to the time of day/quality of the daylight coming in through the window. This will affect the color temperature of the image. Cloudy/overcast days can throw a different color temperature than sunny days during the middle of the afternoon. 4) You'll want to minimize any other lighting falling on your subject (such as interior room lights, televisions, or monitors). If you don't, you can actually get multiple color casts on different parts of your image (blue-ish coming from the window and yellow-ish coming from incandescent interior lights). 5) Buy yourself a "gray card" from a photography store (or online from someplace like Amazon / B&H Photo / Adorama). This will make setting your camera's custom white balance easier (if your camera supports that feature), or if your camera doesn't support custom white balance, you can take two exposures of the food in question, the first with the gray card placed in front of the food and the second without the gray card. Once in your photo editor of choice, you can set the white balance point using the first image and then copy those settings to your second image.
  6. tino27

    Steven Shaw

    When I read the words in the message this morning, I had to re-read them time and time again. I just couldn't believe it was true. Ever since I met Steven for the first time, he has always shown me kindness and generosity that went way beyond what could be expected from someone who was in charge of an Internet board with thousands of members. I will always remember and treasure the words he had for me at the conclusion of the first Heartland Gathering I attended back in 2006. Thank you, Steven. My heart goes out to his family and friends (both immediate and here on eGullet).
  7. Great picture! Keep it up, you're on the right track. I've read this entire thread with great interest. I, too, was a cellphone food picture taker for many, many years. It was because of several notoriously dark restaurants that I decided to "upgrade" to a Canon G12 point and shoot camera (which was an expensive upgrade at the time because it was brand new to the market) figuring that a more expensive camera would certainly produce better pictures. When I returned to said dark restaurant for round #2, I was disappointed to find out that all cameras, from your cellphone to a very expensive DSLR take crappy to mediocre pictures in challenging light. I also learned that regardless of how many features are built into the camera, good to great pictures are a result of the photographer taking a picture, evaluating the outcome, and adjusting the camera's setting to make the next picture more in-line with the vision you have in your mind. Taking the camera out of automatic is usually a very first good step. Teonzo, your image has a lot going for it. You obviously understand the use of soft, diffused light and filling in shadow spots with reflectors. It's also nicely in focus. I'm assuming that the crostada has been dusted with powdered sugar ... which should be white. My only real criticism is that the image is underexposed. In this particular case (not knowing exactly what shooting mode your camera was in), try increasing the shutter speed from 1/60 of a second to 1/30 of a second. That would give you one stop more exposure and make the image brighter. This is the subjective part of photography. If 1/30th does get you where you want to be, try 1/15 of a second. I also checked out your website and noticed that several of your images there also suffer from the same issue. It took me a LOOOOONG time to figure out what a properly exposed picture should look like. For the first six months, everything was way underexposed (whites appeared gray). Then I spent six months making everything hi key (white plates would disappear onto white backgrounds). I finally learned how to expose just by practicing and critiquing my own work and looking at the work of others. Think of it this way ... when you are looking at the food, what should be white and what should be dark (or black)? Adjust the camera settings so that the same things are white and black in the final picture. I know you are looking to keep things on the cheap, but if you ever find yourself with an extra US $100 laying about, check out the X-Rite Color Checker Passport (http://xritephoto.com/ph_product_overview.aspx?id=1257). It contains a 24 patch color target (including white and black) that is awesome for setting proper exposure and a white balance card you can use to neutralize any color shifts in the lighting you are using. I find it invaluable in creating my images. It especially speeds up the process because you get all of the technical settings out of the way at the start and then all you need to do is just shoot the food. Good luck!
  8. I completely agree that taking someone's picture or a video of them without their permission is rude and obnoxious. Using a flash is rude and obnoxious (and not particularly effective). Insisting on taking pictures of everyone else's dish at your table is obnoxious. However, I fail to understand how sitting silently and alone at a table by myself (or with others who don't have an issue with it) with my camera and possibly my compact tabletop tripod taking ambient light pictures of only my own food can cause grief to others at surrounding tables. I think the biggest reaction I've elicited so far from other diners has been curiosity.
  9. Oddly, no one has posted any photos (or maybe I just missed them) of the pre-Greenhouse Tavern cocktail hour we enjoyed at the Velvet Tango Room on Friday night. Paulius and his staff took great care of us and opened up the back room of the VTR where I got to see everyone from out of town for the first time. I've put this final set of photographs into a fourth set on Flickr, so feel free to take a look. Here is one of those photos, Prasatrin and Torakris, engaged in some serious discussion:
  10. As others have rightly pointed out, brunch this morning at AMP 150 was pretty darn tasty. I've put up my brunch pictures in another set on Flickr if you want to check them out. All the dishes were good, but the "dessert" simply blew me away, a local goat cheese and jalapeno-infused bavarian with peaches, shortbread cookie, and peach caramel "tuille":
  11. Okay, just finished editing the pictures for today's (well, given that it's after midnight, technically YESTERDAY'S) day-long prep and heartland dinner. There was a ton of food prepared for early afternoon noshing all the way through a multi-course plated dinner and several rounds of desserts. In order to get the pictures up sooner rather than later, I've posted the photos to a set on my Flickr account without formal titles or descriptions yet. I'll get to that tomorrow (okay, okay, later today). I think things are pretty self-explanatory for the most part. I'll make sure to have course descriptions for the dinner posted soon. Not to repeat myself from last night, but to whet your appetite, here's a sample photo: Check back tomorrow for full photo descriptions. I'm still digesting and the meal ended 3 hours ago.
  12. Well, I've managed to track down some fabulous Brioche and ciabatta. I'm going to hit another bakery and see if I can't get some additional varieties, too.
  13. Thanks for the kind words, Steven ... but by the time I get out to the store for new yeast and return, it'll be close to 10 am. Unfortunately, we need bread both for the afternoon and the evening and I just don't think I'll have time to do it from scratch. I am going to stop by the same bakery that supplied the bread to the Greenhouse Tavern last night and pick up my loaves. I know it won't be the same, but that's the best solution I can think of at the moment.
  14. Uh, oh ... first partial disaster for the dinner tonight ... when I got home from dinner last night, I made three sets of starters (poolish) for my breads this morning. When I got up to start making batches of bread dough, I discovered that the yeast I bought was dead as a doornail. I tried a couple of things to try and revive it, but alas, no luck. Looks like I'll be stopping at a commercial bakery this year to pick up our breads.
  15. Just finished processing the photos from tonight's soiree at the Greenhouse Tavern ... besides a delicious dinner, it was great to finally meet up with everyone since I was unable to attend last night's restaurant crawl or today's lunch at the Dim and Den Sum truck. I've put tonight's dinner photos up on my Flickr account in a set. Feel free to peruse at your leisure. Here's one to whet your appetite: Pommes Frites (fried in duck fat, no less), rosemary, raw Thaxton Farm garlic, aioli De-frickin'-licious.
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