Someone else cooking…

OK, here’s a nice change of pace, someone else cooked us breakfast!  Sorry, no recipes today kiddos it’s just me rambling.

Last weekend Nicole and I spent some time with some family friends at their bed and breakfast.  Bill and Joe have a really nice place up in Warwick, NY called The Inn at Stonycreek, and it was great of them to host us and Nik’s mom (in separate rooms, thanks guys!).  I was hoping to have some nice photo opportunities in the countryside, so I tossed my shooter and a lens or two into a bag and hopped in the car.

Welcome to The Inn at Stony Creek! (70-200mm @ 70mm, 1/125 sec, F 2.8, ISO 3200)

Those in the Northeast know how frickin’ cold its been, and my Jewish at-some-point-Florida-bound ass couldn’t crawl out of my warm bed at the crack of dawn to shoot all the cool stuff outside.  Florida bound?  It’s a strange pull to a faraway land that I’m starting to accept.  Needless to say, I didn’t take many outdoor pictures and was lamenting why I carried 20 pounds of breakable electronics out to the country for no good reason.  Another reason lurked, my friends, I just didn’t realize it yet.

Over dinner we talked about my budding passion for food photography and Bill asked if I would mind shooting some breakfast shots for their website.  Cool opportunity, no?  The only problem was I am used to shooting in my makeshift studio, with a tripod, computer, umbrellas, reflectors, multiple lights and softboxes and a ton of patience.  How was I going to shoot handheld during breakfast service, with other guests?  You may have noticed, I never post pictures from restaurants. Ever.  I have an aversion to shooting food in public places where there are people paying a premium for service.  As a patron, I dislike it when I am trying to have a nice meal and people are snapping pics around me.  Sorry fellow bloggers, I do enjoy everyone else’s pics in restaurants, I really do, but it ain’t me.  While we, or more appropriately, I am are bitching and moaning, I also despise when people talk on their cell phones or listen to their iPods cranked up for extended periods while I am commuting.  Give it a rest. Curmudgeon is I.

Bill and Joe placed our food on the table, and it already looked like a magazine cover.  The cool thing was that it wasn’t staged in the least — our table looked like all the other guests.  These guys are good.

Before the food got cold, I readied to shoot handheld with my big ass 70-200mm f 2.8 IS lens which is not a subtle beast.  With no tripod handy and knowing I wanted to minimize the impact to other diners and rush things, I set a quick but not insane shutter speed and allowed the ISO to crank itself up.  Auto ISO is way to aggressive for my tastes, I wish my camera let me set an upper bound, it seems to go up to 3200 like a auctioneer on crack.   Considering these were going to be fairly low resolution web images, I thought a little noise was an OK tradeoff. 

In retrospect I am surprised that I left my shutter speed under 1/200.  Previously I have not been capable of handholding using anything slower, so I am sure the image stablization saved my ass.

You sir, got your compote on my stuffed french toast! (70-200mm @ 110mm, 1/100 sec, F 8, ISO 2500)

Check out this spread.  Two forms of pork?  I win! (70-200mm @ 70mm, 1/100 sec, F 8, ISO 3200)

Mmmm, eggs benedict.  Why don’t I ever make this? (70-200mm @ 155mm, 1/100 sec, F 6.3, ISO 2000)

Surprisingly, the pictures came out really nice given all the constraints.  It just goes to show how important natural light and having a properly set table are.  I’ll need to focus (ha-ha, get it focus?) more on my setup when I shoot at home.  The only problem is that I shoot my food in a dark hole of a basement with no natural light.  Also, by the time the food is cooked I’m in a rush ’cause I wants to eat!

If you are ever in Warwick NY, stop by and stay with Joe and Bill — They run a beautiful little inn and are incredibly warm and gracious hosts.

Now how’d they get that picture before us? (70-200mm @ 70mm, 1/160sec, F 2.8, ISO 320, plus a touch of Photoshop)

…and I hope you enjoyed my little handheld shooting diversion.  It certainly helped put into perspective what is possible on location.

One last thing before I forget,  you don’t need piles of expensive gear to take nice pictures.  Having a camera where you can control your depth-of-field (using aperature adjustments) is important, and everything else is lighting, staging and your creativity.  Many bloggers shoot using inexpensive cameras and have really nice pictures, often better than mine.  But I am getting dangerous!

Signing off….

(70-200mm @ 70mm, 1/125sec, F 2.8, ISO 1600)