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Wordless Wednessday | Punk Metal

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First Snow of the Season

We had our first official snowfall (that wasn’t quickly washed out by our infamous rain) yesterday. It was great because we woke up with a pretty backdrop on a Saturday morning and then the sun shone so bright, it seemed as if the skies were saying “Excuse me!” after it burped snow the previous evening. Ha.

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Wordless Wednesday

Sunset view at Ferguson Point, Stanley Park, Vancouver

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What’s the Safest Way to Send Food?

Why, printed on a card of course!

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I would be interested in blogging about a food photographer’s cards, and in exchanged I would receive the cards. I jumped at the offer because what’s not to like? There goes my love for paper AND food. It’s perfect!

The package arrived while I was in Vancouver, so Dan just told me about it. At first he said “You got a package from the photographer.” And I thought — uh, from a…photographer? A wedding photographer? How baffling. Haha. When I got back, it turns out it *is* from Chef Susan, who’s also a food photographer.

And these are the beautiful cards:

Coming from a paper addict, let me just say that these beautiful photos (she’s also a food stylist) have just the right amount of food and impeccable style that is nicely printed on high quality 100 lb. cardstock. In a few words: They are fantastic!

They would be hard to “let go” and mail because they’re just too pretty to use. Decisions, decisions. I want to start writing, but I don’t know which ones to pick!

They are beautifully packaged, too.

Visit Chef Susan’s Etsy store and get your cards now:
Blue Egg Photography

And just a random fact: they smell like good paper. If you know the magazine “The Believer“, the cards smell like that. I’m one of the weird ones who love the scent of new books and paper.

P.S. I’m super thankful that there are no photos of cookies or cakes. Why? that will make me hungry at midnight. Like right now.

Posted in dailies, dining, photography, reviews1 Comment

Change of Scenery: Vancouver

Here’s a little diversion from food: views of my city! I’m still here, and as Dan has mentioned, until the end of the month. Here’s why — I’ve earned myself a painful award for over-working in front of the computer: radiculitis. I’ve been getting regular treatments, and have been strongly advised to avoid the computer as much as possible, thus the lack of blogging. It’s not fun waiting and watching the slow progress, which I thought wouldn’t come after three weeks. Anyway, I won’t delve on that…just wanted to let you know what’s going on, and warn you not to be like me!

Let’s talk about Vancouver and one of my favorite places to go to on the weekends — Stanley Park. It’s a thousand acre park that’s almost like an island, but not really. It’s this huge mass of land protruding into the sea, so you can see water all around it. Although you can get your nature fix pretty much anywhere here, this is my favorite go-to place.

Last Saturday I rented a bike and went around the park. It was a beautiful spring day so everyone was out enjoying the sunshine. It’s an afternoon that Vancouverites wouldn’t miss sitting in couches at home. At least, one would think with the amount of people roaming that day.

Stanley Park

I love the seawall goes around the park, which gives me a different view at every turn. Sometimes, it just takes my breath away.

Stanley Park

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Posted in dailies, photography, travel13 Comments

Scenes from Seattle (Part II)

Before we started this website, Dan and I used to send photos from our phones to friends and relatives saying, “Wish you were here” when we want to share food and restaurants we’re trying, or places we’re visiting. Now, we get to say that to all of you and share images of our experiences. I love being able to do it. The beauty from the simple things, such as a relaxing day, a beautiful afternoon, the burst of colors from nature, good food, new experiences, etc., is overwhelming to keep to oneself. I think it’s criminal not to share it. We hope you like them!

The first thing that greeted us when we entered the Pike Place Market were the flowers. Cheap flowers! We’re talking about $5 to $10.

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Posted in cheese, dailies, photography, travel10 Comments

Scenes from Seattle (Part I)

Pike Place Market is a very popular tourist spot in Seattle, that each time we mention that we’ve been to that city, we’re asked if we went there. This time we’ve finally trekked down to the famous Pike Place Market. Where do we even begin to show you the area, its quaint stores, restaurants and cafes, and the abundant market?

Here’s the street view from the corner of the fish stall where the vendors give everyone a “show” of tossing fish, and occasionally throwing a fake fish toy to viewers (which sends people screaming and gasping) for kicks.

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Posted in dailies, photography, travel15 Comments

How We Take Food Photos II: That Nifty Gray Card For White Balance

» In case you missed it: How We Take Food Photos I: Tools and Equipment

Several people have mentioned about the ‘lighting’ in our photos, and even so much to say as we have ‘great’ lighting. Well, thank you, this is undeserved. Being home cooks and mostly self-taught, we’re absolutely flattered. The thing is, we don’t use any kind of special lighting (yet). The ‘lighting’ in our photos is the product of:

  • setting the white balance before taking photos,
  • using exposure compensation if needed,
  • and post-processing (color balance and levels) with Photoshop.

Today’s all about the white balance. For the average food photography enthusiast/home cook/”food pornista”, you can always take photos using the white balance set to Auto. However, based on experience, if you get most things right when taking the photo — the colors with the white balance, exposure, focus/sharpness, composition, etc. — you’ll be spending less time with post processing. And that’s a great thing! More time to enjoy your food and other things.

Today’s tools:

  • a gray card with one side gray and the other I have no idea what they are for, and
  • packets of Active Dry Yeast [Am I too suggestive that you make dough this weekend?]

Gray card, yeast

When I got the gray card last December, believe it or not, I’ve never held or heard of it prior to that. Shameful, but we all start somewhere. The only instructions I’ve had were from the magazine where it came from. This is what we do to manually set the white balance:

  1. Hold the gray card where you would have the photo taken, as shown above.
  2. With your camera white balance setting selected for pre-set (or manual) and the camera ready to take the measurement [read the manual for this], point your lens at the card and make sure it occupies the whole frame. Take the reading/shot. Note: I’ve read that you do not have to have to gray fill the entire frame. Our digital point-and-shoot only has a small window for the manual white balance, so it’s hard not to fill it.
  3. The camera won’t take a picture of the card, only make a reading.
  4. That’s it. Take a test show and see how it looks like. ** The angle of the card matters. ** If it’s reflecting light (e.g. there’s a bright light behind you), you might get an incorrect reading.

 

I took photos using both the DSLR (Nikon D80) and digital point-and-shoot (Nikon Coolpix 5200) cameras in 3 different white balance settings. The photos below are only edited for the size and sharpness, no color balance or levels touched whatsoever, so you’ll see the differences in their ”original” form. Each camera had the same exposure for each shot as well.

White Balance on the Nikon D80
(The “daytime” was actually the “Direct Sunlight” setting):
White balance differences

White Balance on the Nikon Coolpix 5200:
White balance

See the differences?

So now you might be asking, and it’s been bugging you since I started talking about the gray card — Uh, why are we using a GRAY card for WHITE balance?

It does sound odd, doesn’t it? I’ve wondered about this myself, and so has one of you who asked about using white cards. I did a bit of research and found this very useful information that’s easily explained: Continue Reading

Posted in dailies, photography14 Comments

Teddy’s Weekly Roundup: March 2 to March 8

Things are busy here as it’s tax season, and with mommy and daddy filing their taxes for personal and their respective businesses, posting is a wee bit slower than usual. They’ve also been going out to see friends, which is always a good thing. The cocoa brownies weren’t posted as anticipated– our sincere apologies for those who are waiting.

Last week’s fares here at Gourmeted are:

Things we loved from neighboring food sites:

What’s up this week? Take a peek:

  • Review of Sauce restaurant
  • Part II of How We Take Food Photos: The Grey Card
  • Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

That’s it for now. Have a great week everyone. And happy eating!

Posted in appetizer, Asian dish, baking, beef, breakfast, chocolate, cookies, dailies, dessert, Filipino dishes, kitchen tools and gadgets, offal, original Gourmeted recipe, photography2 Comments

How We Take Food Photos Part I: Tools and Equipment

Let me be honest with you. When we decided to start this series on food photography, I was elated because we’ll be able to share the inner-workings of this site. But now…now I’m terrified of telling you the wrong things because I’m not a professional. Did I mention we’re not experts on this?! Let that be a glaring disclaimer. However, we do hope the information in the series would help you, or at least inspire you to take better food photos. ** Don’t hesitate to ask any questions or offer advice. We’re open to learning and getting better at this, too. Sharing is caring! :) **

Here’s the low-down: We don’t have a macro photo studio, no insanely expensive equipment, flash or ‘umbrella’. All the photos you see here are not under any special lighting…just ambient fluorescent light in the kitchen, and incandescent in the dining room — horrible, yes? But we’ve worked around these limitations even with our basic photography tools and equipment (and so can you!):

1. Digital SLR camera (Nikon D80) with 18-135 mm lens. When we began Gourmeted.com, most of the photos were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 5200 point-and-shoot camera. Were the photos from the DSLR better? Yes, understandably. Is it “required” to take food photos? Absolutely not. We’ve used both for different purposes and although the DSLR camera is ideal for the quality and depth of the photos you can take, sometimes it’s just too big (and embarrassing) to bring to a restaurant, for example. We have yet to muster up the gumption to take photos at the restaurant with that big camera. Bottom line is, you don’t need to get an expensive camera to take decent photos. Come to think of it we’ve never used the Nikon Coolpix on a tripod, but I will try to do that to show you what’s possible and the differences between the shots in case you’re ready to take the leap from point-and-shoot and invest on a DSLR camera.

2. A digital UV filter – It’s used to protect the lens from dirt, splatter, etc. Replacing a UV filter is more pocket-friendly than replacing your lens.

3. Sunpak 9002DX tripod. It’s hard to rely on your own ‘stillness’ when taking food photos and whether you’re using a point-and-shoot camera or the ‘big camera’, tripods will surely help. Well, that’s my personal opinion. We don’t use flash and the only way you can get more light into the camera without blurring the photos is to have longer exposures with the tripod. We get sharp pictures because of the tripod.

4. Nikon ML-L3 Infrared Remote ControllerBest way to do step-by-step photos while you’re doing the cooking yourself. This will also be very useful outside of the kitchen when you use your infra-red capable camera for taking family portraits.

5. Gray cardYou see that pre-set white balance option with your camera? This is what you use to customize the white balance setting and not rely on the factory settings for different lighting (it’s not even satisfactory). Our gray card was free from one of last year’s issues of Digital Camera (the magazine is not cheap, but the gray card is free…good logic there coming from a woman…hah). You can also purchase it on Amazon on its own: here are examples.

6. Photoshop - From resizing, to fixing and cleaning photos, this is what we use. All photos we took that you see here has gone through this program. Photoshop can make a whole world of difference, making an ordinary photo into an extraordinary shot. If you’re serious about photography and getting great end results, I suggest you start learning it. There are other beginner photo editing softwares out there and I’ve never used them so I can’t really say anything about them. How did I learn Photoshop? I learned it on my own, getting frustrated, reading more, getting back to it again. It wasn’t easy but it was all worth it.

7. Camera manual – This is the last but definitely not the least. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not read their camera manual and it’s such a shame because there they go, spending what…$300 for a point-and-shoot digital camera or $1,200 for a DSLR and all they know to set it to is AUTO when taking photos? I find that heart-breaking. You will realize that you can do so much more with your toy if you take the time to read the manual. Even if you don’t understand all of it, at least you will know what your camera is capable of doing, and maybe someone else who knows more than you do can explain the other features.

These are all that we use!

Next up: Part II: The Unassuming Little Gray Card No One Told You About and How to Use It.

P.S. And yes, yes, we do have an online store now! We get referral fees to the tune of 4% when you purchase from the store. Proceeds will go to our annual purchase of a box of Williams-Sonoma homemade marshmallows. Hurray! Go shopping!

Posted in photography16 Comments