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Behemoth

Food Shutter Bug Club (Part 1)

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I'm the sushi chef at Fuji in Haddonfield, NJ. I do mostly car photography, some work with models, and of course food photography for the restaurant.

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Really digging those photos Fujito. I think I might need some more interesting plates after looking at these.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Thank you. Here's one more I found on my computer. This is a French Laundry dessert. I made 70 servings for a special dinner we did 2 years ago.

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Tacos de carnitas with a blender salsa (I'm feeling lazy, sue me), garnished with cilantro. Natural light from the window to the right, Auto, Macro, no flash, same camera as usual.

IMG_2143v2.jpg

Yeah, tacos again. If nothing else I'll learn to take a good taco photo by the time I'm done.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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I really liked your shrimp ceviche picture; great colours, again, even if I do spell it funny. I was hoping someone who knows about these things would comment about the blue-out. My own digital camera gives a patch of exactly the same cyan sort of colour from time to time, especially in shots of the sky. It bugs me too. At least in this case it wasn't distracting against the colours in the shot.

On the latest tacos - you've got plenty of light on the subject overall. You could say that the shot's overexposed - the coriander leaves are whited-out in places; there's no detail in the white plate rim; the leading edge of the taco is whited-out, and the face of the lime is going the same way. In compensation you've got a bit more definition in the shaded meat in the foreground, but that in turn is blacking out in the depths.

Did you think about placing a sheet of tissue paper over the window to soften the light ? putting a white surface - the same tissue; a piece of white cardboard or large sheet of paper; whatever was to hand; on the opposite side of the subject from the window, to reflect some light back into the shadows and bring the whole image within the cameras range ? You've got cut-off at the white end and cut-off at the black end. Alternatively, are there still placements in the room/house that you haven't tried, or better (cloudier, earlier or later in the day) times for that placement ?

How did you choose the exposure level, and what do you think of the result ? Even on auto, you can train the centre of the frame (assuming spot-metering) on a lighter or darker part of the subject and half-press the shutter to lock in an exposure level (and, typically, focus point too), can't you ?

It isn't a bad picture, in the end. It depends how you want it to look. For myself, I want to eat some of those tacos !


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Thanks as usual for your thoughtful advice and encouragement Blether.

I guess I've been focusing so much on getting -enough- natural light in the photo I never thought I'd get -too much-. That window has the best light in the afternoon; next time I'll close the blinds partway and set up the white plastic cutting board (which you can see in the back blocking distracting stuff like the spice rack and my filthy kitchen counter) so that it reflects light on the food from the side opposite the window.

Maybe that's part of the reason the rim is undefined, white china against white plastic?

About the ceviche pic, it gets funnier than that: on the left I get that blue tint but on the right it's distinctly pink. The food itself seems unaffected but the background (which is the same white plastic cutting board) turned two different shades. I'd put it down to my hamfisted attempts at color correction but I don't think I could screw up two different areas of the picture in two completely different ways, right?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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About the ceviche pic...

Now that you've said what it is, the pinkish area on the right, and the rest of the cutting board up to the cyan-out, looks exactly like you'd expect one of those plastic cutting boards to look. In the end there's software between the image the lens projects on to the sensor, and the image the camera records. Did your camera confuse the blue plate with a piece of sky ?

Did you read Philip Greenspun's commentary on light in photography ?


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I hadn't read it before but I just did.

So the camera can just decide something blue is sky and mess the colors up accordingly? How do I prevent that? Why would the plastic cutting board look two colors? Is it some weird property of the material or the texture or the particular shade of white the board is?

:wacko:


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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... So the camera can just decide something blue is sky and mess the colors up accordingly? How do I prevent that? Why would the plastic cutting board look two colors? Is it some weird property of the material or the texture or the particular shade of white the board is?

:wacko:

I don't think it's the board. The pinkish shade is probably how it should have looked overall. Was there incandescent light around ?

Yeah, :wacko:

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- particularly with over-exposed skies. I could choose to go back to film; or to buy an ever-more-expensive camera. As it is, I do get an instant playback, so if I'm alert I can retake a shot that's not worked. Some better shots from the same series:

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Using reflectors and diffusers can get to sound like a lot of work, though it's the textbook answer. In my own place, I found by trial and error that right next the window gives too much light from one side; on the table halfway across the room is a better compromise, where the window light is a little weaker, and the reflected light off the wall on the other side of the room begins to tell.


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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... So the camera can just decide something blue is sky and mess the colors up accordingly? How do I prevent that? Why would the plastic cutting board look two colors? Is it some weird property of the material or the texture or the particular shade of white the board is?

:wacko:

I don't think it's the board. The pinkish shade is probably how it should have looked overall. Was there incandescent light around ?

I think he may be on to something. It could have been caused by the falloff of the light. Different lights cast different hues of color. The camera may have color corrected for the brighter portion of the background and just couldn't deal properly with the falloff. It makes me wonder how an actual film camera would have seen the same scene.

Another (minor) possibility could be that that area of your camera could be on the fritz and so you're seeing a color difference (like how on old TV's and monitors you would have degauss them to get rid of color variations). That's easy to rule out, though, if this color difference doesn't appear in any other photos taken with that same camera.


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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OK, this time I took the photo using a window that gives less light and set up the plastic cutting board so it would reflect light back onto the plate.

I also arranged the cilantro so it wouldn't totally cover the salsa.

IMG_2155v2.jpg

Not sure what I think about this one. I guess the light is better but the last pic is more interesting... maybe it's just the plating? The angle? Carnitas are inherently more photogenic than slices of steak? Iunno.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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It seems I'm doing a lot of the replying here, but I'm not tired if you're not :smile:

This last one is a good picture. It's better than most of the pictures I've posted on eG.

Photo technique - it's sharp. The focal field (depth of field) is nicely demarcated to take in an appropriate part of the subject. You've got a great red colour in the salsa, and all the colours look correct. The key light (main light, from the left here) is good, if maybe a little hard (you've got bright reflections in places on the meat and salsa). The fill light (preventing deep shadows from the key) is fine. Exposure is fine. You've found an angle, distance and length of lens that cuts out distracting background.

Food arranging technique - you've filled the frame nicely, whilst keeping some context by showing parts of the plate. Nice combination of the-same-but-different arrangements in the foreground (salsa) and background (undressed meat) tortillas. Nice feeling of depth from the two, too. It's a shame about the pool of liquid coming off the front of the salsa, and the bruising on the cilantro - particularly since it's heaviest in the very piece of cilantro that features in the sharp-focus plane. (Speaking for my own photos, I have found myself pretty rubbish at arranging green garnishes recently).

Maybe you find the previous pic more dynamic because of the lower angle of shot and the greater sense of depth and perspective from that ?


Edited by Blether (log)

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Thank you for taking the time to look at and comment on these Blether, as well as for your advice and encouragement. It is really nice when someone really knowledgeable is willing to share the fruits of their experience with an utter noob. :smile:

You're right about the bruised leaf and the little puddle that separated from the salsa - I hadn't even noticed those before. One more thing to watch out for. :wacko:

Next time I'll try to keep an eye out for that, and take photos at a variety of angles from the z-axis and see if I can figure out why exactly I liked the first photo better, and what I can do to replicate that.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Here's a picture from today for this week's email. Very little editing was required. I just dodged the eggs a little to brighten them up. Besides that I like the warm white balance and everything else.

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Very nice Fujito.

How was this lighted?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Window light from the side and bounced light off the ceiling from a mounted 430EX flash head.

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IMG_2173v2.jpg

AUTO/MACRO, no flash, natural light from the left and a white cutting board on the right as a reflector.

Shrimp ceviche again, I wanted to try a different presentation to make it more interesting.

Not too happy with this, I think it overexposed in some parts and is still shadowed in others. Plus, you can see the cutting board reflected on the glass, on the right.

Any tips on shooting glass and avoiding this dark/light cutout nonsense?


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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No flash

-0.3 exposure

Adjustable overhead halogen lamp at left

I could probably have used some reflectors to soften the lighting on the right side of the bowl -- or at least, lessen the glare -- hence why the picture is cropped.

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One of the better pix I've taken in a restaurant setting ... I would kill for this kind of light at home.

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... Shrimp ceviche again, I wanted to try a different presentation to make it more interesting.

Not too happy with this, I think it overexposed in some parts and is still shadowed in others. Plus, you can see the cutting board reflected on the glass, on the right.

Any tips on shooting glass and avoiding this dark/light cutout nonsense?

Y'know, that white reflection on the right doesn't come over as unnatural. You know it's a cutting board; the general viewer won't pick up on it. It's just some light hitting the glass. And I like the light & dark patterns on the base of the glass, they really model it nicely. I think that particular glass is a great choice to go with the pale-colour-heavy ceviche.

What would have made the pic more vivid would have been a lighter background, to pick out the dark rim better (and maybe something without the clutter of louvres - I posted a photo in Dinner or Breakfast too long ago to find again easily, with a yellow background - just the plate sat on a cardboard file divider). As for exposure, cameras just don't have the dynamic range that our eyes do - you *will* typically get white-out at one end and black-out at the other.

Those beansprouts are almost hyper-real, aren't they, Soba ? Uber-moyashi.


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Dammit SobaAddict you're making me look incompetent. I particularly like the restaurant pic. I can't believe you got that without arranging lights and reflecting surfaces and so on.

Thanks for the critique Blether. I actually picked a dark background on purpose, thinking the pale shrimp might be lost against a white background. I'll try a light but contrasting background such as the yellow you suggested next time.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Dakki, thanks. I was with friends so I couldn't exactly take as much time as I normally do when I shoot food.

Blether ... heh. ;)

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Um ... I have a Nikon Coolpix. I have pretty much relegated myself to the fact that a lot of my pictures aren't going to be professional quality, but I'd still like to take good ones. It's the pouting golfer that blames the round on his equipment.

So (bracing for the storm) ... any thoughts?:

tomatoes1.jpg


 

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any thoughts?:

"Yes, I think I'll have that."

If you're willing to take criticism from a photo n00b the tomato on the right (this is what I immediately look at in this photo) looks slightly blurred to me. This might just be the way the cheese naturally looks. The tomato on the left looks like it's angled away from the camera. Also you could have cheated and brought up the red a bit.

The food looks delicious though.


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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... So (bracing for the storm) ... any thoughts?:

Nice soft-but-bright lighting all round - for such a juicy food as tomatoes, you've done a good job of avoiding 'the wet look'. Nice framing. I like the choice of plate. Did you use a tripod ? What shutter speed did you shoot it at ?


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