Monday, March 22, 2010

The grass is greener

So Sunday I got my big break, a real legitimate lead. Liked the house, wanted more info, ready to move in. This is my big break. Then today, I lost the paper. Literally, put the lead in my pocket and got to the office with no lead. Where'd it go? Who knows. What a way to kill the day. Also nothing a pizza, some beer and a martini with a twist can't fix. Also a new flash. Finally got one that handles E-TTL. After playing with it, its going to make a difference. No more binder paper taped on top of the camera. Yay.

We were watching Bones tonight, about halfway through my Martini (a double) and I heard this PHSST CHUh CHUh CHUh CHUh PHSST sound. Sprinklers. Which water the grass. My new grass. Something I've been missing since I moved out of my Parent's house a few years ago. Amazing what a difference it makes to look out the window and know you don't have the white trash house on the block anymore. So I went outside and ran my hands through it, and it made me happy. Now only if anyone wanted to buy that house.
Also my lovely wife. =D

Friday, March 12, 2010

Geeking out the Kitchen

Raspberry Lemon Pancakes, originally uploaded by jpellgen.
As everyone's probably noticed by now, I use my Flickr account to host images for both this blog and Foodies @ Home and it's been a great resource for that. In addition to simple hosting and linking Flickr is a whole community of other photogs, both professional and amateur. One thing I've noticed as I post more food related pictures is how many of mine are missing that extra something. That extra little level of detail or that halo of oozy goodness. Like this picture! Its pictures like this that make me really grumpy when I view my collection, because I just couldn't seem to pull off making food look... edible. Like this:

So I started asking around, trying to see how people made such great looking food pictures. I found entire blogs dedicated to the art of taking pictures of food. Whole discussions on Flickr are focused just on people showing off pictures of their picture set ups and the resulting image. Some really really amazing work there. Made me really think about what kind of photos we wanted in our blog. So I dove headfirst into what my old photo professor taught me about "making pictures" rather than "taking pictures". More lights, more lenses, more angles. Tripods, flashes, computer controllers. I've gone full on geek again. This time in the kitchen. and I think its working too.
This is last nights dinner, and this is whats happened to the kitchen:
Yup our kitchen decor is now "nerd".

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kitchen Helpers

Cat with Egg, originally uploaded by The Written Geek™.

When focusing on a subject, it is very important to pay attention to the rest of the frame. Especially the background.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shooting Food

Pot and Stove, originally uploaded by The Written Geek™.
My wife and I have started a new blog, Foodies @ Home and are getting prepped to start our first food post (look for it on Monday!) and I've been practicing shooting food / in the kitchen with my "new" Xti and it is HARD. Food is just one of those things that is really really difficult to get right. I've been shooting in RAW, so I'm getting a little leeway with white-balance. The Xti is so much better equipped to handle WB than the D60 was. There is also a huge difference in the image quality so far, such a higher level of detail. Food is a really difficult subject matter. A poor angle makes it look flat and unappetizing while a little over exposure leaves the food looking down right gross. Finding the right surface to shoot against is also key. I think we'll end up buying new pots just for this project. Even kitchen equipment can be hard to shoot. The picture below took over 2 hours and 75 frames to get "right". The knives were really a challenge, the blades would either reflect too much light back to the camera, or they would pick up the wood tones of the chop-block and disappear into the background. Much experimentation finally brought about this result:

Knives and Spoons

Look for a new post at Foodies@Home later today!

Monday, March 1, 2010


Last year I made my first foray into the Digital SLR world with a used Canon D60. That's right Canon made a D60 too, way back in 2002, when 6.3 MP cost $2,100. Now a days you can get 6.3 mega-pixels on the bottoms of your shoes for about 10 bucks. Okay, so maybe not that extreme, but still, the D60 was old and lacking in a number of ways for what I wanted to use it for. That is not to say it didn't take great pictures, like this one of SJ Sharkie. It just couldn't produce exactly what I was looking for. Granted my glass set could use some improvement, and a good camera does not make a good photographer, but there were just a few things that weren't working. Difficult white balance controls, no EF-S mount and a low density sensor has been a mounting frustration. It also was produced at that awkward phase in Canon's history where they were solidifying the switch from a film camera company to a digital company, so things like autofocus on film lenses doesn't work. All the little things added up, and convinced me to update. After a lot of looking and reading, I went with a Canon Xti. I've seen a lot of good work done with that body and it had very few complaints, a good match for me. I ordered one about a month ago, factory refurbished. A week later it arrives with a busted memory pin, so back it went. Unfortunately I had also put the D60 up on Ebay while it was en-rout, so I have been in effect camera-less for going on two weeks now. The replacement should be here soon, I'll put up some test shots then.

On a side note, my wife and I have started a new blog about cooking: Foodies@Home

Look for food related topics soon, and check out Foodies@Home for good reads about good eats.

Edit: My refund for the first camera is finally being processed!