Tips on Food Photography

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UPDATE: I just found an app called “Booster” that’s a camera app, similar to that on the iPhone, which allows you numerous editing options! I can’t wait to start using it! Now I won’t be posting such dark pics! LOL

So far, we’ve shared Foodspotting tips from restaurant professionals. All of their advice has been awesome, but we wanted to bring in a different kind of food-pro perspective for the third round of tips. Mee-Sun Yuk is the Senior Product Manager for iOS at OpenTable. When she isn’t working on the incredibly cool iOS 7 OpenTable app, Mee-Sun is cooking, eating and discovering all kinds of amazing dishes. Her passion for both technology & food shines through in her photography and in this set of tips.

1. Choose your seat wisely

You can improve the quality of your food photos even before the food comes out. The best food photos benefit from more natural light, so I always request a table by a window if possible. Also, try to make sure you’re not sitting in between the light and your table, or you’ll end up with some shadowy shots.

2. Find a new perspective

Remember that you’re not confined to your seat and your beeline view of the dish. Move your hand position with each photo you take to see what makes the food look the most delicious. It takes some practice with aim, but try raising your camera up and over dishes to get a birds’ eye view.

3. Get handsy

Sometimes your friends may be impatient to start eating, so use it to your advantage. Get an action shot of how people interact with the dish – especially for dishes that you can really play with, like noodles or meat grilled at the table.

4. Put together the perfect bite

A great way to get creative (and hungry!) is to grab your fork and dive in. Focusing the camera on a close up bite brings a great contrast with the rest of the photo. It can also help you show more detail about the dish than you would normally.

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I’ll keep looking for tips on food photography and pass them along.

By-the-way, I just installed the food spotting app on my phone and it’s pretty cool.

Food Photography in Restaurants

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I’m at a loss for how to take photos of food with my phone while dining in a limited lighting, fine dining establishment. I was using the flash on my phone, but the photos came out overexposed. I’ve tried it without the flash and the photos are too dark. I’m trying to be somewhat discreet and don’t want every course to look like a photo shoot. What shall I do? I take photos, write blogs, post to twitter and Facebook all via my phone. Is there a way to solve this dilemma? Or, do I need to make the adjustments on my laptop? Also, how do I upload a picture to twitter from my iPhone? Anybody?

More On Take Out

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Just had lunch from Breadzilla in Wainscott. I had the shrimp salad on a homemade squishy roll, and my lunch partner had the hippy-dippy, a sandwich with cheddar, avocado, tomato, carrots, alfalfa sprouts and mustard mayo on honey wheat bread. The shrimp salad was fresh and looked like chopped medium sized shrimp, mixed with mayo and celery, topped with shredded lettuce, and seasoned with pepper on a seedless roll. Very good but could have used a pinch of salt, in my opinion. They consistently use what I consider to be the right amount of mayonnaise. Just enough to bind the ingredients without a lingering mayonnaise taste. The hippy-dippy was super fresh and delicious. The mustard mayo doesn’t overpower the delicate fresh vegetables. The carrots are shredded and raw, in case you were wondering. My non-meat eating friend enjoys this option on a regular basis. But don’t be fooled by their menu. They have much more to offer, such as freshly baked breads, bagels, and pastries. I personally enjoy their scones. They have a simple but impressive cheese collection in the cold case as you walk in. They offer an array of already prepared foods made on the premises, such as individual meatloaf (could really serve two), pizza with various toppings, and cold soups and salads among other items made fresh and changed daily. Look in the cold case for yesterday’s bread and buy it at a discount. The cinnamon swirl bread is incredible! It consistently has a good sized streak of cinnamon-sugary goodness running through it. Day old cinnamon bread is perfect for French toast. They post their menu each day with the specials for that day. They usually offer three types of soup, most often at least one will be vegan, and sandwiches and platters. If you are cutting carbs, ask for your choice of sandwich on a bed of fresh greens instead. I have always been accommodated when I’ve asked for a substitution of greens for bread.

Breadzilla is busy at lunchtime, so I recommend calling ahead. I also recommend knowing what you want before you call. I once called and asked what the soups of the day were and was told, “It’s on our website”. I don’t think the young lady meant to be rude, I think she was just really busy. I’ve always had straight forward, good service. They have never messed up my order, which is saying a lot considering how busy they can be, especially in the summer. Oh, there’s a clear cell phone policy: get off your phone if you want to be served.

There are several take out places in this little area in Wainscott. In front of Breadzilla you have Twice Upon A Bagel, and the Seafood Shop right next door. I’ll discuss the Seafood Shop in my next review. For now, know it’s always fresh!

Twice Upon A Bagel, obviously, sells bagels. But, it’s more of a bagel store/bakery/deli combo. They don’t have a website, but you can read reviews on yelp.com. Unlike most of the reviews that call the staff unfriendly and the food wildly overpriced, let me say I’ve only had pleasant and efficient service. Having said that, I have noticed the staff to be a bit frantic in the summer, so I don’t doubt service could be compromised at times. As far as price, I think there’s a bit of “it’s the Hamptons” you have to swallow when you get here to not be pissed off at the overall high prices virtually everywhere. High compared to what? Say, compared to a good Jewish deli in the city. It’s not my first choice of bagel joints in the Hamptons, but it’s not the worst either. I’d like to mention Goldberg’s Famous Bagels at this time. Located off Pantigo Road in East Hampton. This is where I go for my bagels on the south fork.

Goldberg’s, as it’s simply known, is more of a true bagel store. There’s a counter just for ordering bagels, and a separate deli counter for ordering everything else. They have terrific sandwiches, with combinations of freshly made chopped liver with brisket, pastrami, corned beef, turkey…you name it. There are many sandwich combinations already laid out for you on their menu, or feel free to choose your own ingredients. We’re not talking Carnegie Deli big, but you get a good serving of meat on each sandwich. Enjoy one of their homemade soups. (I once ordered their matzo ball soup. Excellent. Not salty, and the matzo balls were light and airy. But, I accidentally ordered a large portion which is a quart of soup, just FYI.) A small soup and half of a sandwich will fill most. For breakfast, they offer various egg sandwiches as you’d see in most deli’s. Goldberg’s takes the breakfast sandwich a step further and will add a delicious hash brown on your egg sandwich along with your choice of cheese and meat. There’s even an egg sandwich with roast beef, cheese, and a hash brown which I’ve found sinfully delicious. I believe this combination is aptly called the “Not So Healthy” breakfast sandwich.

Aside from the numerous sandwich combinations on bread, bagel, roll or flagel (basically a flattened bagel), Goldberg’s offers many other good eats behind the deli counter. There’s falafel, herring, kasha varnishkas, pickles, knishes, smoked fish, and most deli salads you can imagine. At times they sell noodle pudding. And there’s always freshly squeezed orange juice.

Reviews I’ve read online, more often than not, give Goldberg’s a positive rating in every category. I do, however, have one small complaint. I asked for a smoked fish platter, ordered it ahead of time, and for around $18 I felt their portion and selection of smoked fish was insufficient. I had more garnish than smoked fish it seemed: cole slaw, pickle, lettuce, tomato, onion. Outside of that one time, I’ve never had a complaint.

Most people order to go while some take advantage of the few, perhaps four or five, cafeteria style tables to enjoy their meal. There’s a flat screen TV if you care to catch up on the news, and the story of Goldberg’s on the wall. They also have a small outdoor seating area.

Caution: like most good places to eat, it gets busy and you will have to wait in line. You can call ahead if you’d like, but I’ve often found it takes a few tries before someone answers the phone during a rush. I, personally, don’t mind standing in line because it usually takes me ten minutes to figure out what to order. By the time I get to place my order, I’ve often only just decided. It’s virtually painless.

If you’re feeling naughty, try their deep fried French toast. Oh my goodness! The bread is thick, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside. Served with butter and syrup, a small portion will most likely fill the average person as it’s so rich. I haven’t had this in a while. But I guarantee, one of these cold mornings I’ll get a hankering for this fried French toast and I’ll be sure to take a picture.

Now that I’ve discussed two local bagel stores, I feel it would be remiss not to mention Hampton Bagels on North Main Street in East Hampton. I admit, because this is the most convenient bagel store near my home, I do frequent the place. However, the parking on the side is ridiculous, I will only stop if I can park in front. Your order may need to be repeated several times, and even though your order is written down, you may not always get what you asked for. The line quickly gets long and, because it serves little more than bagels and sandwiches, I get bored. The coffee is mediocre and service is not normally with a smile. The staff looks harried when it’s busy. Yet, if you find you’d like to be a regular here, I’d get to know someone behind the counter. Your chances of receiving the right order and a smile are greatly improved with a little banter. Hampton Bagels has an interesting “text in your order” feature that I’ve been too afraid to try. The next time you stop in, grab a card on the counter and try texting in your order. The card promises it will save you time.

The bagels, flagels, bialys, and salt sticks are pretty good and there’s a wide assortment, as well as a vast array of types of cream cheese. You can see them making the bagels right in front of you in the ovens when it’s busy, as well as the freshly made orange juice. To be clear, Hampton Bagels is a decent bagel store, but there are some staff and parking issues when it gets busy.

If you’d like more information about any of the aforementioned, please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer.

Thank you!