Tips on Taking Pictures of Food

I thought share my tips on taking pictures of food. And by no means am I an expert on taking pictures of food. These are just some pointers that I came up with, and also from my friends.


Lighting and Flash
Lighting is the number one factor in producing great pictures. Without lighting or decent lighting, you can’t get the right shot. Without enough lighting, your shots won’t come out either. Too much lighting or flash will whiten the image and make it unusable as well. In fact, flash shouldn’t be used at all.

Restaurants and food
Back to flash photography. I suggest that you don’t take pictures with flash in restaurants. Flash can draw unwanted attention and can ruin the ambiance. Though I am not a restaurant owner, but I would venture to say that restaurants like people who take pictures of food. They understand that power of pictures and the online word of mouth.

Arrangement and Close-ups
It has also been suggested to me to take lots of pictures in different arrangements and close-ups. You never know which particular one will come out better than the rest. Be creative and find different angles for images. Perhaps, focus on a part of the subject. Learn to frame your pictures in nontraditional aspects. If you are at a restaurant, hopefully your party will be patient and understanding with your fanatical food picture taking.

Raw and Photoshop
Raw image format is minimally processed data from the image sensor. Learn to take pictures in Raw format and then use Photoshop to modify them. This is something more advance than I know what to do.

Steadiness
And lastly and probably the most important, is steadiness. Make sure you have a steady hand in taking pictures. Hold your breath just before you click on the shutter button. Heck, something you might find me resting my camera on glass of water just before I take the picture.

Cameras
I currently use a Nikon Coolpix L18. It’s not a great camera. It’s a point and shoot that I use for most of my picture on the site. If I am lazy and I don’t bring my camera out, I will just use my iPhone 3G camera, 2.0 megapixel.


Suggested Camera
Canon S90 has been recommend by a couple of friends as a great point and shoot. I won’t go into details. But you can look up reviews about it. It retails for about USD 400.00. I think I might try to get one myself.

Thanks for those who helped me in putting this short list together – Emiko, Tony, and Joann.

Here are some links to more food photography resources
http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001451.html
http://photojojo.com/content/tips/food-photography-tips/
http://kitchen-em.blogspot.com/
http://photograzing.seriouseats.com/
http://www.tastespotting.com/
http://www.mattarmendariz.com/

Ike’s Place [San Francisco]

Ike’s Place in San Francisco is a local sandwich place that has a bread called Dutch Crunch. Dutch Crunch is a type of sourdough that a bit crunchy, yet not too hard, that is only found in SF. I really wish we had it here in LA.

The Menage a Trois – Halal Chicken Breast, Real Honey, Honey Mustard, BBQ, PepperJack, Swiss, Smoked Gouda.

When we first got to Ike’s Place, at 11:30am, there was already a line outside the door – 10 deep. By the time we got our food, the line extended even longer. This hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop draws all types, far and near, to this part of the town. The parking situation stinks – had to park almost two blocks away. The seating is few, with vultures waiting around for people to leave. With all of this, one might ask – Would I come back? . . . Yes, I would.

With its 100+ item sandwich menu, I settled on a chicken sandwich – Menage a Trois with Halal Chicken Breast, Real Honey, Honey Mustard, BBQ, PepperJack, Swiss, Smoked Gouda. The chicken breast, the honey, and the bbq is a nice combination. But the dutch crunch bread is what made the sandwich special. They also have a sauce called the dirty sauce, which I fail to remember and was recommended. All I remember was the crunchy and softness of the bread.

I think San Francisco is lucky to have a sandwich place like Ike’s.

Look for this sign when in the Castro District of San Francisco.

Check out the crowds at Ike’s.

Another sandwich at Ike’s. Look at the bread – not too thick or thin. Perfect size for a sandwich.

Paul ReubensSliced Corned Beef, Home Made Poppy Seed Coleslaw, French Dressing, Swiss

Just before consumption.

Ike’s Place
3506 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 553-6888
http://www.ilikeikesplace.com/

Ike's Place on Urbanspoon
Ike's Place in San Francisco

Dohatsuten [Palo Alto]

Dohatsuten is a nice little find in the South Bay (of Northern Cal). Who says there isn’t good food down here. The South Bay resembles Southern California with its diversity of ethnic cuisine. And Dohatsuten exemplifies decent Japanese izakaya(居酒屋).

Look for this sign or else you’ll miss this small restaurant.

In my recent tour in Northern California, my friends took me to Dohatsuten. I know that most of our other picks were straight out of the top Yelp ratings in the area, Dohatsuten is favorite of my friend.

Like Spanish Tapas, Izakaya is a Japanese style cuisine consisting of small dishes accompanied with alcohol. Not intended to stuff the stomach, but more to please the palate, izakaya is great with a group of friends. Izakaya is also good for dates, since the little dishes won’t fill you up.

With a little helping of Iichiko, we were warmed and lubed up for a good time. Let the parade of dishes commence!

After reviewing my pictures, there was almost too many to write about. So, I am just going to write about what I liked and was notable. The Chicken Karage was my favorite. The chicken was large and juicy. I like chicken, regardless, so it’s easy to please this mouth. Also, we had some sort of kimchi with pork belly dish, not quite the same as Animal. The Potato Croquettes were also quite good – quite possibly one of the best I’ve had. It was moist and crunchy all in one bite. It wasn’t too savory, yet went well with the tonkatsu sauce. Another thing that people noted at Dohatsuten was their ramen. We shared a small bowl of ramen, with their miso broth. In this particular case, I like the miso flavor, which might come off as being too salty. Other than that, the ramen noodles were solid, but nothing to write home about. If you don’t like it too salty, don’t order it with the miso flavored broth.

Anyways. . . enough of my rant. . . bottom line, I this Dohatsuten is a nice suburban neighborhood Japanese restaurant. For a good time with sake, beer, and izakaya, Dohatsuten would be a good choice.

Menu. This use of the font reminds me of a 70’s style design.

Thank goodness for the English on the menu, though I think I could order in Japanese.

Alcohol – sake & beer goes hand and hand at a Japanese Restaurant.

Iichiko was choice of poison. They also have a service where you can store your unfinished alcohol. This is a nice perk at restaurants/bars that you frequent.

I think this was a pork on skewers dish. Not memorable.

This is a sashimi fish. I think it was halibut, but I could be wrong.

The potato croquettes.

The rice ball. I don’t know why I order it. . . IMO its a stomach filler.

Chicken karage. It was really good. We also had chicken cartilage and that was good, too.

Ramen. ho hum. I should have use my friend’s pictures, she took really good pictures. . . .I just got lazy.

The kimchi with pork (I think it was pork belly).

Tiramisu dessert. Nothing special.

Rating
2 pigs, $$

Dohatsuten
799 San Antonio Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 493-2878

Dohatsuten on Urbanspoon
Dohatsuten in San Francisco

Cav Wine Bar [San Francisco] – closed

On a chilly dark November night, an unsuspecting friend was smuggled into the unknown . . . Cav. My friends brought me for some drinks at a downtown SF wine bar called Cav. Nice little place with spray painted decor.

Look for the large Red lit box that says CAV. . . it might be blurry, too if you have been drinking prior.


To be quite honest, I don’t remember too much about what I drank or what I ate. Though, we did order 3 different glasses of red wine – which I don’t know anything about. But lately, I find myself drinking more wines, lately. Anyways. . .we also ordered some cheese, which was interesting. We also had dessert sorbet – red beet sorbet. I was kinda of apprehensive with the red beets sorbet, but at the end, you could almost say I licked the plate.

Anyways . . . the decor in the place featured subway motifs which went together with the long hallway-like room. Though the place is officially called Cav Wine Bar and Kitchen . . . I think most everyone was drinking and snacking, rather than having full blown meals, but I could be wrong.

With cheese and desserts featured on their menus, Port, Sherry, and Madeira wines were listed prominently. I know, even with my limited experience, that these wines are sweeter and go well with desserts.

Anyways. . . Cav is a nice place to go for a date. Though I saw one large group there, I don’t think large-group-friendly. Parking stinks, as do other places in downtown SF.

One of the cheese plates we had.

Another cheese plate. I wish I had better pictures . . .It’s kinda dark in there.

A better picture of the front of Cav Wine bar.

The menu.

Rating
2 pigs, $$

CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen
1666 Market Street
San Francisco
(415) 437-1770
www.cavwinebar.com

Cav Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco

Holder’s Country Inn [Cupertino]

Originally, I wanted to focus on hole-in-the-walls and breakfast joints, but I got a bit sidetracked. Holder’s Country Inn is a place I would have posted about either way.



Holder’s features an omelet that somehow more fluffy than your regular omelet. They beat and whip their eggs, to a frenzy, so much that this omelet is served like its twice the size as it should be. When I saw it, I was almost scared but happy to see the eggs in all its glory. LOL. But I didn’t order it. My friend did.

When I was generously able to steal a bite or two, I was able to taste this scrumptious egg dish. (I have to figure out the different ways of saying great tasting, savory, sweet, and delicious – and scrumptious is one of them.) It is fluffy, though flavorful. You’d expect something fluffy to lack some taste to compensate for the girth. But it maintained.

I ordered the corned beef hash and eggs. It was your run of the mill breakfast staple. Nothing fancy. These eggs look sad compared to the big omelet, that I regrettably didn’t order.

On this day, I was also talking my friend into creating her own food/travel blog with her sister. Talking about great places and feasting on adventures with photography interested her. Anyways, if you guys have questions about blogging, I could offer my 2 cents.

The typical All-American diner menu featuring great American breakfasts.

A bay area breakfast favorite.

The fluffy omelet.

Corned beef hash and eggs.

Rating
1 pigs, $

Holder’s Country Inn
998 S De Anza Boulevard
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 244-2798
www.holderscountryinn.com

Holder's Country Inn on Urbanspoon

Pho Kim Long [San Jose]

In my recent trip to the Bay area, to attend the Foodbuzz festival, I also tried a few other places. Pho Kim Long in San Jose was chosen on this chilly night. Anytime when it is a bit nippy, I like to have hot soups – and Vietnamese noodle soups, also known as Phở, is at the top of the list.

The number 1. The popular Phở – to xe lua (tai chinh nam, gan sach) (to lon).

Who doesn’t like hot soups on a cold night. I have to be honest, as I told my friend, that Phở is not at the top of my list of things to eat noodles and soups. I prefer Chinese noodles or Japanese Ramen. But Pho Kim Long was pretty good.

*DISCLAIMER – I am not an expert at Phở, nor do I claim to be one.

The clear broth which has the distinct beef flavor with ginger, cloves, onions, and other spices is the main reason why I would order Pho. I am a big fan of soups, mainly clear broths, which you might think is a consommé. I don’t necessarily like Western style soups that are thick with cream, so think you can almost stand a soup up. With our Pho – To Xe Lua (Tai Chinh Nam, Gan Sach)(To Lon), the soup arrives with the beef noticeably pink. The hot broth will finish cooking the beef. Most people will add the mint or basil leaves, add Sriracha hot sauce, lime juice, to fit their palate. I just added some basil and some lime juice. I thought the broth didn’t need any spicy heat.

Nothing against white people, but when you are in an Asian restaurant and you don’t see many white people, you know that it is authentic and it is good. And in Pho Kim Long, I think I counted about 2 people that were not of Asian descent. In fact, if you are Caucasian, I would encourage you to look for restaurants that don’t have many white customers to get the honest and authentic experience.

Anyways . . . if you are up in the south bay area. . . I encourage you to check out Pho Kim Long.

Good crowd on a Sunday night.

With the Chinese characters, you can tell that they have a lot of Chinese customers.

I ordered the chicken soup with noodles. I have never had vietnamese chicken soup with noodles. It was very good. I really like chicken soups.

Coconut juice with coconut shavings. This is pure coconut juice. Slightly sweetened. The sweetness helps cut through the savory broth of the Pho. Gives it a nice contrast.

Rating
2 pigs, $

Phở Kim Long
2082 N Capitol Ave
San Jose, CA 95132
(408) 946-2181

Pho Kim Long on Urbanspoon

Pintxo 47 at the Google Campus

A good friend of mine, who works at Google, invited me to have lunch at their main campus recently. She choose Pintxo 47, since this week the menu is inspired by Thomas Keller. Pintxo 47 is the Google Cafe that specializes in tapas.

The entrance to Pintxo 47.

I have heard about the many perks about working at Google, and lunch at their cafes is at the top of the list. Their main campus, in Mountain View, is sprawled over several buildings. The company employs a large support staff including, cafe, lifeguard, daycare, etc. Yes, they have a lifeguard for the endless lap pool. They even have bicycles for those who need to get to one building to the next.

Anyways . . . about Pintxo 47, no idea what 47 means, is a buffet style cafe, like all google cafes. I had so many different things that only a couple of things stood out. I had to try almost everything. I remembered that I liked the Creamy Lobster Bisque, Keller’s “Spanglish BLT” Sandwich, Rabbit Confit and Porcini Mushroom, and the Lamb Shoulder. The menu today was inspired/influenced by Thomas Keller. But I could be mistaken, but I think I was told that he created the menu as well. I wish I took a picture of the BLT sandwich – I thought that was my favorite.

If you ever get a chance to get invited to visit Google, make sure you try their cafes. Very excellent experience. My first and probably last company cafeteria post. But if you have a company cafeteria/cafe that you think is exceptional, please let me know.

One of the larger dining areas at Google.

One of 11 Google Cafe’s.

Our lunch at Pintxo 47. The Endive and Smoked Trout Salad with Meyer Lemon Cream.

Assorted Olives with Meyer Lemon and Herbs, Fresh Calypso Beans with Garlic, Chile and Herbs, Marinated Piquillo Peppers with Roasted Garlic and Herbs, Marinated Artichokes with Olive Oil, Capers and Herbs, and White Bean and Roasted Garlic Puree with Crostini

Sauteed Organic Golden Beets. I think this is what it was.

Braised Celery Root.

Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna with Sage, Brown Butter Bechamel and Parmigiano Reggiano Flour, Milk. This was yummy. I wasn’t sure at first with a sweet and savory lasagna.

The desserts and sweets.

I apologize for the wall of text following, but I wanted to show you what they serve at Google. Amazing.

Executive Chef JC Balek | Sous Chef Jason Johnstone

Google Cheese & Wine Mixer – For everyone!
Come sample assorted appetizers,artisan
cheeses, salami, paired with fine wines.
Nov 11, 2009: 4pm to 6pm at BigTable,
American Table, and The Alley.
Brought to you by the Culinary Team.
Enjoy!

SALAD BAR

R**Organic Mixed Lettuces
R**Organic Baby Spinach
Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken
R**Shaved Red Onion
**Red Quinoa
R**Organic Mediterranean Cucumbers
R**Organic Julienned Carrot
R**Organic Red Grapes
R**Organic Julienned Golden Beets
**Organic Sugar Snap Peas
R**Organic Persimmon
**Roasted Button Mushrooms
R**Organic French Breakfast Radish
R**Organic Toybox Cherry Tomatoes
R**Daikon Radish Sprouts
**Candied Walnuts
*Diced Eggs
** Roasted Garlic Croutons
*Pt. Reyes Unpasteurized Blue Cheese
DRESSING:

**Banyuls Vinegar
**California Olive Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil
**Pintxo Classic Sherry Vinaigrette
**Huckleberry and Vanilla Vinaigrette
*Roasted Spitzenburg Apple and Yogurt Dressing

SOUP

*Truffled Celeriac Veloute
Onion, Garlic, Fennel, Butter, Celery
Stock, Yukon Potato, Cream

Creamy Lobster Bisque
Lobster Reduction, Aromatics, Cream, Butter, Herbs

COMPOSED SALAD

Endive and Smoked Trout
Salad with Meyer Lemon Cream
Shaved Red Onion, Frisee, Fines Herbes

CRUDO

Wild Alaskan Halibut with Pernod Poached
Fennel, Blood Orange Reduction, Fennel Oil
Shallot Brunoise, Extra Virgin Olive
Oil, Maldon Sea Salt, Fennel Frond

BOCADILLO

*Chanterelle Duxelle with Goat
Cheese Mousse and Sweet Gem Lettuce
on Acme Pain Epi

Keller’s “Spanglish BLT” Sandwich
Bacon, Butterleaf Lettuce, San Marzano Tomato,
Monterey Jack, Aioli, Pain de Mie

Jamon Iberico, Housemade Membrillo
and Wild Arugula
on an Acme Sour Baguette

TAPAS

**Assorted Olives with Meyer Lemon and Herbs

**Fresh Calypso Beans with Garlic, Chile and Herbs

**Marinated Piquillo Peppers with Roasted Garlic and Herbs

**Marinated Artichokes with Olive Oil, Capers and Herbs

**White Bean and Roasted Garlic Puree with Crostini

Schawarma

Lamb Shoulder

PAELLA

Paella Casera de Pintxo
Black Cod, Chorizo, Chicken, Clams, Mussels, Prawns, Scallops,
Calasparra Rice, Onion, Garlic, Fennel, Saffron, Pimenton, Pernod,
Lobster Stock, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Herbs

PINTXO

**Braised Celery Root with Garlic Croutons
Onion, Carrot, Garlic, Celery, White Wine,
Meyer Lemon,Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Herbs

**Sauteed Organic Golden Beets and
Haricots Vert with Toasted Hazelnuts
and Mandarin Vinaigrette
Shallot, Dijon Mustard, Extra Virgin
Olive Oil, Champagne Vinegar

*Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna
with Sage, Brown Butter Bechamel
and Parmigiano Reggiano Flour, Milk

Rabbit Confit and Porcini Mushroom Stuffed Savoy
Cabbage Leaves with Beet Puree and Juniper
Onion, Garlic, Fennel, Butter, Duck Fat, Grapeseed Oil

DESSERTS

*Carrot Cupcakes
Carrots, Flour, Sugar, Oil, Salt, Baking
Powder, Baking Soda, Cinnamon, Eggs,
Cream Cheese, Butter, Vanilla

*Sweet Cheese Filled Crepes
with Huckleberry Compote
Flour, Butter, Eggs, Ricotta, Mascarpone, Cream Cheese,
Sugar, huckle berries, blueberries, Corn starch

*Brownie
Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Powder,
Flour, Eggs, Chocolate Chips

Quesos

*Chef’s Choice
*Served with Nuts and Bread

Foodbuzz

In the beginning of November, I attended a food festival in San Francisco. Foodbuzz invite me and other bloggers to their 1st annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival. It was a wonderful event meeting other bloggers, tasting San Francisco’s best street food, and sampling some great wines.


This was a great opportunity to meet like-minded people in a great city. Food bloggers come in two different flavors – recipe makers and restaurant reviewers. And we share a few things in common, we all like to take pictures, like to eat, and like to write.

This three day event was fun and kept me full at all times. But I won’t go into detail about every event and stop. I regret I did miss out on a couple of events, and I also do regret I didn’t meet everyone that I could have. I missed out on the meetup with the other LA bloggers.

Anyways. . .I just wanted to point out a couple of things that I liked from the festival. First off, the Rotisserie Porchetta sandwich from RoliRoti was the most amazing sandwich, at the Taste of SF Street Food Fare, at the Ferry Building. Pork loin rolled into pork belly on a french roll. I can’t stop thinking about it. I hear they sell out of this sandwich at each Farmer’s market. Next, I really enjoyed the ceviche at the Afternoon Taste Pavilion, at the City View Metreon. I don’t remember who it was from, but it was one of the better ceviche’s I have ever had. Then, that night at the Foodbuzz Dinner & Awards Ceremony at the Greenleaf Produce Warehouse, the risotto was my favorite – Mushroom risotto with koshihikari rice, crispy maitake mushrooms. I personally don’t necessarily like risotto, but this was probably my favorite dish, along with the fish.

It was good to meet YummySF, Cake and Commerce, Brownies for Dinner, Virgoblue, Lick My Spoon, Eggs in Purgatory, Taking Over the World One Bite at a Time, chefectomy, Spots for Dates, kitchen-em, Vinography, Passion 4 eating, Inuyaki, Six by 10 Tiny Kitchen, and others.

Anyways. . . enough of this wall of text, I hope you enjoy the pictures.

The first night at welcome reception, at the Hotel Vitale overlooking the Ferry building.

The nice selection of vinegars and sauces from our great schwag bag. This bag was heavy.

I really liked the big rubber spoon and spatula, which was also in the bag.

Meat balls from the day 2 at the Taste Pavilion. That day, I ate so much and drank so much. I shouldn’t have had lunch. I was so full. Thank good, I walked off much of it afterwards.

This was the ceviche that I liked at the Taste Pavilion.

This martini was also really good. . . also at the Taste Pavilion.

Whiskey Cheese!!! It was actually not that bad.

Check out the views from the Metreon during our Merlot tasting.

This was the 4th merlot we had and was the most expensive one. Paloma Merlot – about $65. I choose the 2nd cheapest one as my favorite. Just shows that I don’t know anything about wines. Thank you Alder Yarrow of Vinography for the presentation – nice wine blog.

St. Helena Olive Oil was some of the different things I tasted that day.

Sausage dog . . . I shouldn’t have ate it, but it was spicy and good. I was already full with other things and wine.

The rice pudding at the Foodbuzz Dinner. It was sweet and went well with the 2008 Vinferno. This was a Koshihikari rice pudding, cookie crumble, and warren pear.

The staff who created our dinner, mostly from Namu at the Greenleaf Produce Warehouse – unique venue for a banquet.

I know this was out of order, but this was the menu at the welcome reception.

The cupcakes at the street food fare. I guess that SF also has a cupcake food truck – Mission Mini’s.

Preparation for the great Rotisserie Porchetta sandwich from Roli Roti

Can you see the glistening pork fat on this sandwich?

This was good as well. The pizza from Pizza Politana. They rolled the pizza dough fresh in front of us and made pie in front.

I should have got a better picture from the Hog Island Oyster Co. A lot of people like the oysters. I am not that big of a fan of oysters.

The Steak & Gruyere meat pies from the Pie Truck.

I wish LA had a pie truck. I have always been a fan of meat pies. I think this is a great concept. If anyone knows of a great savory pies in LA, please let me know.

Thanks Foodbuzz for a great event.

Mario’s Peruvian & Seafood [Los Angeles]

Went to this amazing peruvian place on a Wednesday night cause if you go on a weekend night, it’s like an hour wait. This place has been around forever and is arguably the best in town…hence the long waits.

The flavor of the food is a delicious mix between Asian and Latin flavors which becomes something salty with a hint of soy and citrus…something you really have to try on your own. The green sauce that it comes with is rockin! It’s spicy with possibly a hint of cilantro and the heat creeps up on you but you can put it on everything including the warm rolls that they give you to start your meal. The portions are large so I had lunch the next day. We had the chicken saltado which is marinated chicken which looks like it was fried and then sauteed with fries, onions and tomatoes. Don’t remember the name of the noodle dish but it was spaghetti with seafood and both were grubbin!

5786 Melrose Ave.
L.A. 90038
323-466-4181