Sunday, October 04, 2009

Part 2: BlogHer Food 09 Recap

The second part of my day at BlogHer Food 09 started with lunch in the Gallery. While many attendees chose to spend their free time exploring this great culinary city’s many fine dining establishments, the room was still comfortably packed. Full table settings greeted us, as did wine tastings from St. Supery. The draw for the meal for many of the attendees was not the food, but the food’s presenter, Rocco DiSpirito. A celebrated chef who has his share of face time on TV, written several cookbooks, and was named 2002 People Magazine's Sexiest Chef Alive, was joining us to hawk Bertolli Products, as well as recipes from his recent book.

I truly enjoyed the first course salad, composed of butter lettuce, haricot vert, sliced egg, olives, and an anchovy vinaigrette, as well as the dessert of milk chocolate flan with espresso foam. The wine pairings were also a nice treat. And the camaraderie at the tables, exchanging of ideas, plans, and all the encouragement that was found made my stay for lunch worthwhile. I must say, we are a nice group of bloggers.

The only bad thing to come out of the lunch is the realization, while trying to shoot the delicious salad, that I did not charge my DSLR and I do not have enough battery life to take pictures. I mean really, I’m here for the Visuals track and I forget to do something so simple? ARGH!

After lunch everyone took their full stomachs off to Session 2, which for me was Principles of Photography, led by White on Rice Couple, Todd Porter and Diane Cu.

The underlying themes here, in addition to learning the basic principles, to know your camera and improve your skills through practice. I think the joy of having a DSLR—or even a point and shoot camera—is that I can take 100 pictures of a jar of jam if I want to. It doesn’t cost me anything but time. Unlike the old days, when I used to drag my long lenses to my son’s soccer games and shoot 3 rolls of film in a day, only to have…maybe…8-10 photos worth saving, after having paid a pretty penny to have the film developed. That is no longer the case. And believe me, I have paid my dues in film processing. Kodak has made a mint off of me over the years.

Here is an outline of what I garnered from Todd and Diane in the Principles of Photography:

Photograph is about LIGHT
How to harness it
How it enters your camera
How your camera measures it
How to control it to get the images you want

The main ingredients that help you manage the light that enters your camera:
Shutter speed

What is exposure?
total amount of light used to create the photo
shutter speed + aperture + ISO
these 3 elements help you manage the light you want

Shutter Speed
-how long it lets light thru
-it’s about time
-measured in the speed of a second (1, 1/2,, 115, 1/40, 1/80, 1/100)
-controls motion

The best way to learn shutter speed is to play around with it. When shooting liquids /action like pouring wine or a mixer beating, you need to control shutter speed. Try 1/800. But if you want a muted style, with some blur, slow it down to 1/25 or 1/4.

The amount of light it lets thru
F1.4, f2, f2.8, f4, etc. correlates to amount of light going thru lens

Shutter speed and aperture have an inverse relationship. The lower the shutter speed, the higher the aperture.
1/15 f16
1/30 f11
1/60 f8
1/125 f5.6
1/250 f3.5
1/500 f 2.8

Be aware of your depth of field. Choose where the focus is to be (aperture controls this)
front – foreground
mid - midground
back - background

In a scene where you have 3 objects, and you want to control focus on the foreground, use 1.4F 1/200 sec.
To get the foreground and midground, try 4f 1/60 sec
To get all, try 10f 1/8sec or 16 f 1/3 sec

ISO- Rating for how sensitive film or camera sensor is to light
Higher the ISO (800, 166)
More sensitive
Low light situation
You can pick up noise with a higher ISO – start low and work up to find the best exposure without noise

Lower ISO (200,300)
Less sensitive
Bright light situation

White Balance
How your camera reads light different temperatures of light
Goal: get accurate color – have whites look white
Look at camera manual to see how to white balance using a white sheet of paper.

Lens focal lengths – general rule of thumb
Wide-angle – less than 50mm
Normal – 50 mm
Telephoto – over 50 mm


If it’s too bright, or is throwing shadows – you can diffuse/soften the light. Use blind or thin sheet or tissue paper to soften. Another option is a white plastic garbage bag. If there isn’t enough in the background, you can balance the light by using a white foam core to the side or back – like a bank shot in pool. Manipulating natural light.

Tools to use to shoot in the kitchen – if it is dark
Speed Light – attach it camera (SLR only) better option than pop-up flash. You want light off of angles. You can bounce light off the ceiling, side walls – rather than direct flash.
To diffuse light – particularly in restaurant – put lightweight napkin in front of pop up flash.

Visual Session #2 was great. Much of the above may not make sense to you. There were visuals that went along with each to help us understand, but it may make you curious enough to do some more research and better learn how to use that pricey DSLR….

and maybe, I might get one more recap in, on Session #2. Cross your fingers.

No comments: