Wine, figs, cheese

I have been jonesing to get one of my food pictures posted on Foodgawker or Tastespotting for a while now, but alas my mad skillz in photography (or staging)  have been lacking.  Their typical response:  lighting issues or poor focus (or both).  So I did what any techhead worth his own salt would do, I bought a bunch of gear, I read a bunch of books, and talked to a lot of people.  Guess what, the pics still kinda sucked!  But they were getting better.

I am still determined to land something on those sites to drum up some traffic, so I have started taking an online photography class (

One fine Saturday morning, I cracked a bottle and broke out some cheese to stage a few pictures. Yes, the wine was only to stage the pictures.  I didn’t enjoy kicking back on the deck with a few glasses of wine, some figs and parmesan chunks.  Really.  Sometimes you just need to sacrifice for your art.

Anyone lucky enough to be a guest at That Jew’s parties will know my ‘standard’ wine and cheese plates.  Usually there is a little soppresada or Jamon Iberico on the side, but given the recent pig-fest I kept away from the swine.

To me making a cheese plate is easy, and I am sure there are real cheese-o-philes that would remark at how crude or unbalanced mine are —  but for me it’s easy.  Pick a few cheeses you like, and you do like cheese don’t you?  Add some decadent accoutrements like chocolate, nuts, figs, dates, dried cherries, charcuterie, grapes, honey, jam, olives, even sardines, and blammo, it’s a party!  Me, I prefer a big blue like Cabrales and the soft ‘n stinkies.  I’ll balance things out with something less aggressive like an aged gouda, a hunk of parmesan or a sharp aged provolone for the less adventurous guests.  I usually shoot to have 4 or 5 different cheeses to keep everyone happy.  My guests know I like to try new cheeses and I do get the occasional “this tastes like feet”  or “this smells like ass” comment (and sometimes I’ll agree), but  you wont find swiss or american cubes here.

What do you think?

Photo info: Shot with Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm L 2.8IS + Canon 500D closeup lens, ISO 100, F/11, 1/4 sec. exposure.

Photo info: Shot with Canon 7D, EF 70-200mm L 2.8IS + Canon 500D closeup lens, ISO 100, F/4, 1/8 sec. exposure.

July 22 Update:

Tastespotting rejected me again, but at least they didn’t complain about bad lighting or focus.  This time I got “not a compelling subject” .  What?  Say that again? Not a compelling subject?   Wine, swine and cheese?  Not a compelling subject?  Maybe not trendy like clafoutis, ramps, or an heirloom organic farm-to-table bacon wrapped bacon served with a bacon ju (jew?).  Ok, deep breath Andy.  I think they just solidified using this picture on a cookbook entitled “Wine and cheese: Not a compelling subject”.  Who said I wasn’t spiteful?

One of the things I am finding difficult with both Tastespotting and Foodgawker is that they crop the image to a square.  This usually plays havoc with my composition.

I entered the vertical shot into a photo challenge entitled “Wine”on the dpreview website. In my unbiased opinion, my pic is no slouch when compared to many of the other postings, but who knows maybe we all suck!  Voting should be complete in a week or so, I’ll post the results as soon as I get ’em.