shooting food . . .

is not as easy as it looks.  4th assignment was to shoot 3 images from the same meal – home cooked or restaurant meal.  This presented all sorts of challenges.  So many that I may not post the dreadful before images.  🙂  Challenges were:

  1.  First problem, I enjoy cooking when I have tons of time (like a long weekend with nothing to do)  That never happens.
  2. The food you cook has to look good.  What looks good on the dinner table does not necessarily look good on camera.
  3. Shooting food that looks good, e.g. sushi has to look good by the time you transport it to the studio, rearrange it a million times, and light it.
  4. Poorly styled, poorly lit food does not look appetizing.  The primary objective of food photography is to make you hungry.

It took three shoots and over $100 worth of sushi to get these shots.

Thanks to the sushi chefs at Kotosh Restaurant in Lomita for providing the sushi in the 2nd shot below.  I routinely got an order to shoot and an order to eat.  🙂

Below are my three shots – appetizer, entree and dessert:


Loving Video by India.Arie  and Ordinary People by John Legend right about now.

Shiny Kitchen Appliance

October 10th update:  Before and after images.

October 5th update:  Plan is to reshoot to open blinds and blur out background, get dust off counter, fill pot with coffee to hide photo props, get real sun flowers.

As promised 3rd Product Photography assignment was to shoot a shiny kitchen appliance in an upscale kitchen.  Think Sur la Table, Crate and Barrel advertisement.  Sounds easy enough, you try it without getting lights and/or your face reflected in that shiny appliance.  OMG!

I built a light box, I guess it’s called, and surrounded the entire set with white foam core. In the front of the set I hung a roll of white seamless from C-stands and cut a whole in it for my camera.  The black vertical band in the center of the pot is where my camera was. I set up one strobe with 3’x 4′ lightbox behind the set to camera left.  There was a second light behind the set at camera right with a snoot made of Cinefoil bouncing off foam core to illuminate the front name plate.

Nikon D750; 140 mm, ISO 100, f9.0 at 1/160 sec.

I’m missing hair and makeup, but we can get through this.  🙂  Next up food!

Listening to Below the Baseline by Ernest Ranglin.

2 many shoes?

A girl can never have too many shoes!  And this from an avowed Zen preaching, Feng Shui living, minimalist.  🙂  Second Product Photography assignment was two shots:  one pair of athletic shoes, one pair of high end designer heels.  Okay, I do sneakers, not a problem.  High end designer heels, not so much.  To my rescue again is my bff, Hera, to loan me pair after pair of jeweled Prada, crystal Louboutins, strappy and studded Christian Diors, Jimmy Choos, etc.  Size “way too small for me”, but perfect for the shoot.

Above is the sneaker shot.  #NikeCallMe

Below is OMG, can you believe, pair of strappy, studded Christian Diors modeled by my other go to fashionista friend, model and dancer – the girl whose legs never stop.



Streaming some Teddy Pendergrass, R&B crooner.  Teddy was the third album by Pendergrass, released on June 23, 1979.  Singles:  Come Go With Me, Turn Off The Lights, Do Me.

Product Really?

Hard to imagine I’m going to spend a semester photographing watches and toasters, but I’m gonna’ give it a try.  Plus it’s required.  🙂  Much to my surprise the first assignment was athletic equipment.  Hey, I’m athletic, this should be a perfect fit.  Two shots:  one product hero shot and the other shot with a model on location using the product.  Model!  I’m all over it.  🙂

I chose boxing with the intent of capturing the gritty intensity of the  sport.   Luckily, I was able to snag wrestler, boxer, long distance runner, MMA referee, David Magallanes, between training sessions to pose for me.  Here are the shots.



Streaming The Best of Sam Cooke:  You Send Me, Only Sixteen, Wonderful World, Cupid.  The compilation contains most of Sam Cooke’s most well-known hits from 1957 to 1962. Serious old school!  🙂


Christmas Cards in August

Getting a jump on their holiday cards I met the Scott family aka my best friend, Deb, her husband, Neil, and my god daughter, Ali, in Pasadena for a photo shoot. Where does the time go? 🙂 We had typical Christmas in Los Angeles weather: dry, mid 80s, pleasant breeze so the wardrobe was perfect. We probably had more fun catching up than did any shooting. Here are some images from that session.

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Merry Christmas!  🙂

Photoshop Levels Tool

As discussed in the prior post Show Me Your Histograms the tonal range of an image represents the amount of contrast in the image and is determined by the image’s distribution of pixels, ranging from darkest pixels on the far left (blacks) to the lightest pixels on the far right (whites).  One of the ways to adjust the contrast and make color corrections in your photo is the Photoshop Adjustment Tool Levels.

Disclaimer:  I am by no means a Photoshop guru, expert, teacher or anything of the sort.  I’m a lifelong student studying to understand the concepts that will make me a better photographer.  When in doubt Photoshop Help is the place to go.

Below is an picture of a little boy sitting on the narrow stoop next door to where I was staying in Santiago de Cuba. In this tutorial I will demonstrate how to I added a bit of contrast to the image below by using the Levels Adjustment tool.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 7.32.15 PM
Before image:  Straight out of camera image is a bit flat.

Continue reading “Photoshop Levels Tool”

Show me your Histograms

I’ve struggled with the concept of histograms and the associated Photoshop tools, Levels and Curves for quite some time.  This and the next couple of posts will demystify these topics beginning with histograms.

Disclaimer:  I am by no means a Photoshop guru, expert, teacher or anything of the sort.  I’m a lifelong student studying to understand the concepts that will make me a better photographer.  When in doubt Photoshop Help is the place to go.

What is a histogram?   

A histogram is a bar graph that illustrates how pixels in an image are distributed by graphing the number of pixels at each tone and color intensity level.  The histogram graph looks like a mountain peak, or a series of peaks. The more of a particular tone/color, the taller the peak.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 8.12.30 PM
Example of a Histogram.  X-axis represents number of pixels.  Y-axis represents range of tones.

Continue reading “Show me your Histograms”

Mae La Plaza, Santiago de Cuba

There are several local markets in Santiago which consist of outdoor vendor stalls selling grains, fruit, vegetables, meat and chicken.  Everything is fresh and is sold with little or no packaging or refrigeration, including the meat.  I understand that the meat was slaughtered at 5am that morning and will be sold by noon.  I’m pretty sure the currency exchanged is the Cuban peso not the touristy CUC as 95% of the shoppers are Cuban.

I was intrigued by the monitored parking lot in the picture above that charged for parking spots out front.  The prices are listed under the “Servicio de Parqueo” sign on the wall.

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Mercado Plaza de la Revolución

Mercado Plaza de la Revolución is a marketplace located in Santiago de Cuba.  It is one of the most popular markets in Santiago with great prices and good selection of fruits, vegetables and meat.  It is also noted as a retail business and a commercial area.

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Orisha Dance Performance

Today I’m obsessing over the thousands of photos from my trip to Cuba last August that have not been culled, edited and published.  Although some have been added to my flickr account my goal is to publish a photo travel book after each international trip.  And I’m a couple of trips behind.  In an effort to complete the book  I’ll be blogging on certain sections starting with a fabulous Orisha dance performance in Havana de Cuba.

The performance accompanied by a historic group of all female drummers was held on the charming outdoor terrace of the Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, UNEAC).  Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba is located at Casa Juan Gelats, one of Vedado’s finest early 20th-century mansions.  It is the site of cinematic events, lectures, and prose and poetry readings, as well as musical performances.  There’s nothing like viewing the Orishas performed in Havana in such a culturally and historically rich setting.  As an Afro Cuban dance student this was a super special treat for me.

Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba is located Calle 17 y Calle H, Havana, 10400, Cuba walking distance from our casa particular on Calle I.  Afro Cuban performances are on Wednesdays and costs CUC 5.

A special thanks to Kay Torres for providing the planning, guidance, and translations that make my trips to Cuba extra special.  Check out her web site, dedicated to creating a cultural crossroads between southern California and Cuba.