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May 21, 2012

The Narrative Process - My Tech Munch Presentation

Last Friday, I took part in a panel for the TechMunch Conference, a food blogger gathering, to discuss the narrative process. In it, Tricia Okin led a discussion with me, Liza de Guia of Food. Curated. And Kasey Hickey of Evernote Food about how each of us comes to the stories we publish.

Time limitations (and nerves) prevented me from hitting all my points, so I thought I'd post my whole planned talk here, after the jump.

Continue reading "The Narrative Process - My Tech Munch Presentation" »

August 12, 2011

Self-Promotion: My SLR Food Photography Guide on Foodspotting

Foodspotting Guide

I'm using my transit time to finally catch up on various posts and self-promotion that I have been too tied up to keep up to date on the blog. First up is this guide I put together last month for Foodspotting.

It's all about SLR food photography and offers a number of tips and tricks for capturing interesting images of food in restaurants.

The guide is an overview, but I do plan to follow it up here with a few more in-depth posts. First up, will be about white balance - it's one of those things that seems to throw everyone off. If you've got any particular photography questions you'd like me to cover, let me know in the comments or write me on twitter @ultraclay.

July 14, 2011

Bars: The Way Station, Prospect Heights' Doctor Who-themed bar

A Doctor Who themed bar in Prospect Heights. It's #geektastic #Brooklyn #bars

This spring, Tammi and I fell down the rabbit hole that is Doctor Who. We spent about a month consuming episode after episode of five seasons of the British Sci-fi series and have been coming back for more ever since. So, when a friend mentioned that there was a bar in Prospect Heights with a Doctor Who theme, we showed up at their doorstep within days.

It's called the Way Station and as you see here, they've got a Tardis, the big blue box at the center of the series, in the middle of the bar. It serves as the restroom - and yes, it is bigger on the inside.

I randomly posted this on my digital Tumblr a week ago and was subsequently hit with a barrage of 'where is it?!' messages and reblogs. I answered there, but since there is clearly a following, I figured I'd post it here as well.

The Way Station, 683 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

May 10, 2011

Analog: Expired Plenachrome

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Last month, with the return of the outdoor Brooklyn Flea, I checked in at Dan's Parent's House, the booth where I picked up the roll of 50+ year old Royal-X Pan film last year. Dan doesn't trade much in film, but had a few old rolls for sale, so I snapped them up.

The photos posted above and after the jump are from a 120mm roll of Plenachrome, made by a company called Ansco. The other day, Tammi and I rode down to Red Hook to enjoy the spring weather and I figured it was as good a time as any to give this old film a try.

Continue reading "Analog: Expired Plenachrome" »

April 30, 2011

Analog Food Photography

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A couple weeks ago, when I posted about my lunch at Boqueria, I started thinking about analog food photography. I don't often shoot food with film for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the difficult lighting in most restaurants means that I usually need to extended iso and nearly unlimited shots that digital provides. Being able to take 50 photos in a minute or two is often essential in food photography because usually someone is waiting to eat the subject.

Beyond that, digital is sharper, more crisp in a way that many film aficionados aren't so into, but that we tend to desire in images of food. The textures and grain that you get on film are more complex and a bit less sexy that digital - but are really interesting in their own way. I only shoot food with film from time to time, but have gotten some interesting results.

This week on Analog UltraClay, I've decided to explore the topic a bit by spending the next week or so posting an Analog Food series.

January 22, 2011

Analog: Party Polaroids at Brooklyn Bowl

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Yesterday afternoon, I got a last minute request to shoot Roots DJ Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson's 40th Birthday party at Brooklyn Bowl. Even now, I'm desperately trying to play it cool as though this is the sort of thing that happens to me all the time, but I admit that I was pretty ecstatic at the opportunity. As a long time fan of The Roots in general, Questlove in particular and Brooklyn Bowl as a venue, I have to say the whole experience was gratifying.

Photographically, the most interesting part of the night was that the request specified that they wanted Polaroids (or at least "Polaroids," most instant film cameras are Fujis). I used a Fuji Instax 270,I believe. It was the 'wide' version, which shoots the traditional size prints as opposed to the more common 'mini' models that print narrow, business card-sized photos.

I've never played with Polaroids in the past and, though generally understanding the appeal of instant analog prints, always worried that it would just lead to obsession and a million individual prints would accumulate, unscanned because I hate scanning and thus not particularly useful in the digital world. All of that is pretty accurate and I'm resisting the urge to blow my payment for the gig on one of these cameras for myself and a ton of film.

Shooting with it was interesting. The learning curve was fairly shallow, it is made to be very simple to use after all. My biggest problem is that the film packs only hold 10 exposures at a time. Shooting an event and having to stop every 10 shots can be cumbersome. The other issue is that the prints take longer to 'develop' that I ever expected. It takes nearly 5 minutes for an image to completely materialize. That can be a lot of time to lose the spontaneity of a moment. Even so, the photos I saw - I turned in the whole batch at the end of the night - were inspiring. I might have to risk obsession and add another toy to my collection one of these days.

November 10, 2010

Analog: Shooting with the Kiev 88

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In my exploration in shooting analog, medium format has fascinated me. That's most likely because it's sort of arcane and the frames are big and square. Unfortunately, I've had a pretty unfortunate track record shooting 120mm film - thus far at least. That's finally starting to change thanks to the the Kiev 88.

Read more about the Kiev after the jump and see photos I've taken with it on Analog UltraClay all week.

Continue reading "Analog: Shooting with the Kiev 88" »

September 21, 2010

More Night Photography with the Canon 5D Mark II

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The taxi ride home from a late night at the office or on the town often inspires me to take out the camera and try to capture some of the world whizzing by me. This fails more often than it succeeds, but with the 5D Mark II, my odds have definitely been better. Here are a couple more. See the first set here.

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August 7, 2010

Analog Bed-Stuy: Flora

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Forgive me if I end up sounding like a shill for Kodak, but with 300 rolls of Ektar to go through, it's pretty much the only film I expect to shoot with for some time.

That said, the fine grain of Ektar is particularly good for plants. If brings out the tones and character of leaves and flowers that are just not as interesting (to me) taken digitally.

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Here and after the jump are some of the flora and still life photos I've been taking around Bed-Stuy of late. Still life isn't my strong suit, but I like what i came up with here.

Continue reading "Analog Bed-Stuy: Flora" »

August 2, 2010

Analog Bed-Stuy

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As I try to phase analog photography back into my life, I'm hoping to strike a better balance that I did last year. My Ektar 300 windfall is great, but carrying around two, three, four cameras all the time and shooting dozens of film rolls a week isn't feasible or economical.

So, I'm trying to limit my film shooting to leisure time when I'm not planning on shooting anything for Examiner or Midtown Lunch. Lately, that's mostly just been when I've been around the neighborhood in Bed-Stuy.

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It's been interesting looking through the photos I've taken so far. I've lived in Bed-Stuy for almost 25 years and I really don't photograph the area very much. That's unfortunate since there's so much to shoot in the neighborhood. I'm hoping to take the opportunity to appreciate more of the visuals around me by shooting more in the area.

The top was shot with my EOS 1-N, the bottom with my Diana Mini. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll post more here and there from around the neighborhood, so will just include one or two, others will have several.

See a couple more after the jump.

Continue reading "Analog Bed-Stuy" »

July 31, 2010

Self-Promotion: Promoted!

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Those keeping track of these self-promotion posts will remember that I won an honorary mention for this photo earlier in the spring for this photo from last year's Winter Market.

For my trouble, I received 20 rolls of Kodak Ektar film and the warm, fuzzy feeling of having my work appreciated. It was plenty and I was happy.

Then, I got a note from Kodak saying that one of the winners was disqualified, so I've been promoted to to Third place!

Oh, and how would I like my remaining 280 rolls of film.

Two Hundred and Eighty.

More. Rolls of film.
With 300 rolls to go through, expect more analog photos in your near future.

Update: Follow my progress and exploration going through The Ektar 300...

July 23, 2010

Photo-Geekery: Night Photography with the Canon 5D Mark II

_MG_8306 - Version 2

One of the spiffy features of the Canon 5D Mark II is that it has can shoot at an astronomically high ISO with much less noise interference in the image than one would expect.

Recently I decided to test it out a little bit and see how effective it can be by doing some night shooting out the window of a taxi on the way home after a late shift at the office.

The photo above is dark and silhouetted, sure, but at 5000 ISO, it's remarkably crisp and noise-less. All of the photos have been tweaked to some degree in Aperture, but none beyond recognition.

After the jump see a couple photos where I pushed the camera up to 25600, the maximum setting.

Continue reading "Photo-Geekery: Night Photography with the Canon 5D Mark II" »

July 20, 2010

Quick Drink: Iced Coffee

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I'm not a coffee drinker. Tammi loves an iced coffee. This was a glass she had at Rouge for brunch over our recent trip to Philly.

I've been fascinated by the patterns that milk makes when it's poured into coffee since High School when a coffee-drinking friend pointed it out to me. They're like storm clouds, intense and billowing. The contrast between the brown and the white just exaggerates the effect that much more. This was my first time trying to capture it. It needs work, but I'll definitely keep trying.


February 9, 2010

Photography: Egg Tower

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I didn't actually eat any of these eggs on the bar at Wild Fig in Aspen, but they caught my eye.

Looking back at some recent posts, I realize that eggs have been a recurring meme. Both visually and as a food choice, it's been coming up more and more.

Generally, they've been fried and the bright yellow yolks have drawn me into them, whether spilling out of the b.e.l.t. at Swift Half, on top of the Croque Madame at Rouge or in the Bacon and Eggs appetizer at Lulu Wilson that I lit up with my iPhone.

But these eggs, still in their shell brought me back to my High School Photography class. One of our first assignments to photograph eggs, composed in whatever way we'd like. I don't remember what I came up with and I doubt I really 'got' the potential compositions that can be done with the shapes and curves aesthetically.

Every now and then I think about going back to some of those old assignments (that I can remember) as exercises or practice. I make no promises, but if I do, I'll be sure to post them.

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February 4, 2010

Analog: Developing film while traveling

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A challenge of my exploration into shooting analog is that outside of the New York area, I have no idea where to go to get film developed by real professionals. So, I have to go to the few one hour photo spots left in whatever town I'm in.

The upside is that invariably they are cheaper than the $13-15 I spend per roll for developing and scanning my film. The downside is that the people doing this are almost invariably incompetent.

In Seattle, the guy at the Ritz knew what he was doing for the most part, but the hi-res scans aren't nearly the quality of my typical scans, meaning that I'll have to go back and rescan if I want to use the images for anything in the future.

In Hawai'i, the staff rotated nearly every time I showed up, meaning that I had to re-explain what I wanted every time to a worker who basically had no idea what to do with film.

Most recently, in Aspen, I got little bit of everything at the Wolf Camera, a part of the Ritz Camer chain. Everyone there gave me something different. No one was familiar enough with film to know what their standard procedure was supposed to be. I got charged different rates (all pretty low), scans at different resolutions and worse, one of my negatives got so beat up that I got scans like the image above.

0007009-R1-046-21A

And on another set of rolls, the scans were all cropped to 4x5 cutting out the edges of the frame.

Oddly, based on resolution, they also split up the images from a roll into as many as 5 discs. Something about the software they use decides that a CD should only be up to 20% full and after that, the data has to go on to another disc. And another. And another. Better yet, they charge you for each disc. Sometimes.

It's a bad scene all around. But, if you've got no other choice, you do what you have to do. Just keep in mind that who handles your photos can be very important.

January 30, 2010

Photography: iPhone Lighting

_MG_5923 - Version 2

Ok, so, this is pretty cool.

I'm still learning as a photographer, but I've been doing it long enough that I've picked up a couple things here and there in the process. Recently, I had a conversation with my friend Yelena (whose blog you should totally read, because it's awesome) who was asking about this whole photography thing. As I was writing out my response, I realized it would make a good post. Procrastination being what it is, I haven't posted that yet. But there's this, which I think is pretty great.

I often shoot in dark places. Bars, restaurants, clubs all tend towards mood lighting that's not so friendly to photography. And I've never been particularly fond of using a flash. My candid-heavy 'fly on the wall' approach doesn't really work so well when a blinding flash breaks up the flow of the evening.

So, I've adapted to shooting in low light - a steady hand, leaning on various items readily available at the bar, that sort of thing.

The other night I figured out a really cool new trick: lighting the subject with my iPhone. Turns out that in a pretty dark room, like this restaurant in Aspen (more on the meal in a couple days), the light from the phone is plenty to light up a subject.

I did have the ISO set to 400, somewhat high, but not so bad that the noise took over the image. Best of all, unlike a flash, you've got a million different angles you can point the light, moving the shadows wherever you want them.

December 29, 2009

Quick Bite: Irish Bacon Burger at Spike Hill

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Lunch in the deluge Saturday afternoon at Spike Hill. I'd never noticed that Irish Bacon was an option on their burger. I feel like I'm seeing more Irish/English Bacon around on menus these days. That's a good thing.

The funky blur around the edges here is from my spiffy new Lensbaby Composer I got for Christmas from Tammi. I'm hoping not to overuse it, but it's a lot of fun.

December 5, 2009

Analog: Expired Film

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The slow living in Hawai'i gave me plenty of time to experiment with various unusual film formats, like the Redscale film I mentioned last week.

This time, I played with a roll of expired film my friend, Mike gave me. It was found in a bag of camera equipment his friend's dad gave him. Most of it had been sitting in storage for decades. This particular roll expired in about 1992.

AAA008 - Version 2

The idea of using expired film is interesting to me because I've heard of odd things it can do to the colors. In this case, it was more of a direct fading than anything else, but with some adjustments on the scanned images, I managed to get these. There's not much to them, but the low contrast and deteriorated patches give a really interesting vintage look that I like.

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November 24, 2009

Analog: Apocalyptic Visions of Paradise

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Last month at the PDN Photo Expo, I stopped in at the Lomography booth and found this really interesting film that they make. They call it 'Redscale' and all it is is a 100 speed color film roll inverted so the emulsion is on the 'wrong' side. This distorts the way the light hits the film and provides a distinct red hue to everything. The woman at the booth said, "It sort of looks like Armageddon, but in a fun way."

Who can argue with that?

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I had been waiting for a while to get a chance to play with it and finally got to in here in Waikiki last weekend. It's really something I'd want to use sparingly, but for particular uses, I think it's very interesting.

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March 4, 2009

My New Toy

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Last week, after my iPod emergency, I finally gave in and bought an iPhone. Expect more cameraphone pics, as I've been playing with it obsessively since I got it. The relevant benefit here is that I'm able to get more restaurant photos now, without the hassle of taking out the SLR every time. See the photos from Pinche Taqueria last week for a few examples.

October 16, 2007

Riding The Rails

I love the internet because no matter how obsessed you are with something, there's someone out there who has you beat. I have a thing for subways. The trains, the logos, the maps, everything. I find it all pretty interesting. I just found a site through a group on Flickr that let's you collect the logos of all the subway systems you've been on. Above are my 21, which I find to be a respectable number, certainly more than I expected...

August 5, 2007

I Lost My Cellie in El Segundo


IMG_0225
Originally uploaded by ultraclay!
With Apologies to A Tribe Called Quest, I did lose my cell phone in the hotel, which is actually in El Segundo.

Thankfully someone turned it in to the Lost and Found. There's something to be said for having a phone no one wants to steal. I had just managed to finally get all my numbers synched across all my devices, I'd have been pissed if I had to do that all over again.

I also discovered how to use my own MP3s as ring tones on the SLVR, which I wondered for ages. I found it on the Interweb posted by someone named UVADaniel. I've reposted it after the jump.

Continue reading "I Lost My Cellie in El Segundo" »

June 14, 2007

Random Observations: Cell Phones


IMG_2559, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

It's no surprise that the cell phones in Japan are more advanced than ours. Or that the Japanese are fixated on their phones, perpetually staring into them on the train, in the street and just about everywhere else.

I was surprised to see how big the phones are here. Nearly every phone I've seen, including the hot new phone pictured above, is huge compared to the phones we carry around at home. I guess when it comes to features versus size, they choose features.
::c::

March 9, 2007

DST! Y2K2!! OMG! STFU!

Sad Mac

I just want to reiterate the fact that the tech industry totally dropped the ball here.

Our mail admins had to send out an automated script to push all appointments ahead an hour because no fix was going to get this working soon enough. it also reissued every appointment invitation ever sent. People received hundreds of them this week.

It's totally ridiculous.


::c::

February 16, 2007

DST

I deal with technology all day, so don't expect to hear too much about it here. That said, I can hardly ignore one of the most challenging idiocies that I've faced in my career.

In 2005 Congress passed an energy bill, which was primarily written by the energy lobby. The one thing I know about it that doesn't make me angry is that Daylight Saving Time will be a month longer starting this year.

I love it. One of the worst things about winter is the immersion in darkness we have to endure. I wake up, it's dark, I leave work, it's dark. The only windows at my job are hidden behind office doors. It's a season without sunlight.

Daylight Saving Time let's us get that much more light when we aren't stuck at the office. I can't wait.

Unfortunately, in typical myopic fashion, the technology industry for the most part flaked on this. Some quietly fixed the latest releases in the last couple of months, neglecting the older versions that nearly everyone is still using. Others came up with wildly complicated workarounds. Most haven't said much of anything until badgered repeatedly.

In the last two weeks or so message boards and email lists have lit up frantically with messages about how to handle this. The good news is that it's been like a reunion lately. Everyone's reaching out to colleagues and former co-workers, looking for someone who's gotten a vendor to call them back and give them some straight answers.

Less that 10 years after y2k freaked everyone out, no one seemed to think of this - with a year and a half lead time.

If you are still looking for answers, I'd suggest you look here for Mac related questions and here for everything else.

::c::

Continue reading "DST" »


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