Jan 31, 2011

Lacroix at the Rittenhouse

Hokay, this should be the last of the Philly related posts for a while. Lacroix is another one of those places on the proverbial college bucket list that I never got around to. I accidentally blurted out a bit loudly in the restaurant that the feeling of it was like a mini, dumbed down Per Se (I meant no offense by that!). We had a cute view of the park and its charming holiday lights.

I was creepily hoping to meet Foodie at Fifteen, but am not sure if he works there anymore. Everything was very lovely and I left no morsel untouched. The French press pot at the end of the meal probably could have served five people. I shamelessly asked for some of it to go in a paper cup, because I cannot waste good Ethiopian coffee!

Just simple, good food.

I also wanted to give you guys an idea of how horrid the "before" pictures are. You can see them in this screenshot in all their orange/underexposed glory. Everything was edited in Adobe Camera Raw, then adjusted for levels in Photoshop and a bit punch-added.

It sucks that auto white balance sucks so much in these conditions.

Jan 30, 2011

Above the table at Freemans

I had a lovely early (by NY standards) brunch at Freemans this morning with some inspiring and always fun girl friends I haven't seen in a while. I took along my film camera loaded with some of the new Kodak Portra, which I have been itching to try. Hopefully I'll have the film version of this post up this week.

The restaurant is down an alley, obscured from street view. Luckily I followed some people down the right path, because I would have been lost for a while (damn you, Google Maps). The restaurant is also a photographer's dream... you'll just have to wait and see the interior decor.

I snapped these two with the S95. I kinda liked how much was going on in this first shot. My friend is getting a close-up with her point & shoot right at that moment (hello, red autofocus assist light). My film camera is waiting patiently in the corner to be picked up again, and the first roll of film is sitting triumphantly next to it.

I had a little torturous "fun" with the pen tool in Photoshop. Man, I don't know if I'll ever learn how to wield that thing properly. For now, bear with my scraggly arrows. :D

Jan 29, 2011

Weekend pulse check

Just popping in to say hello! Hope your weekends are caffeinated and sweet like so -

Taken at La Colombe in Philadelphia on film.

Jan 27, 2011

ISO 4000+ horrors

The lunch and dinner below were shot in horrific lighting conditions so bear with me here. Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia is really one of a kind. I was thrilled to grab lunch there while I was down there. The only real advice I have for anyone going is to be VERY VERY sure of your heat-handling abilities when ordering the Spanish Flies (spicy wings) which I think are described as "HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT" on the menu. Trust me on this one. I don't know what possessed me to order that dish twice before. I think I'm through with spicy masochism for now. But do go for the beers, mussels and pommes frites. The burgers are a great choice too.

Anyway the corner we were in pretty much had no light so these shots were taken wide open with the slowest shutter I could really get away with and at ISO 4000 (the empty mussel shells at ISO 6400).

Ok, so these were somewhat presentable after heavy editing.

The below indoor shots taken at Alma de Cuba, pretty much all at ISO 6400, are rather hopeless. I doubt they are fixable at all, or my editing skills aren't strong enough. I wasn't going to bother shooting the rest of the meal but just did for kicks. Plus, sometimes I have to remind myself that I am also at a restaurant to enjoy the food and company. :P Alma de Cuba is one of those places that was on my college bucket list forever, but it just never happened while I was there. This was way too much food for the two of us, and those addictive mounds of warm (slightly sweet) bread they serve were extra dangerous. Not to be defeated, we got dessert anyway, a lit chocolate "cigar."

Overall, I do commend my camera for handling this lack of light. It still amazes me what it can capture in almost darkness. I think I've got at least one more lingering Philly post on the queue if I ever get around to it.

Mm feeling like a Thai takeout + Netflix kind of night. :)

Jan 26, 2011

Near and far

We pretty much all love the nifty fifty, no? I just love how versatile that thing is and if I could only use one lens for the rest of my life, it'd definitely be it. Below are two miscellaneous film shots taken on Penn's campus a few weekends ago.

The fifty is just so great for close-up detail shots and far away scenery shots alike. But I think we all knew that/agree with that ;).

In other news, we can't seem to catch a break with the weather out there this month!

P.S. I will reveal the new toy eventually! Just haven't gotten around to actually using it much yet. It ain't as nifty nor as versatile as the fifty.

Jan 25, 2011


It's been a while since my last film vs. digital post. Oops! I meant to make it more of a regular ongoing series, although now with only one nifty fifty, it'll be a bit trickier to pull off.

Is it just me or is there really no noticeable difference in the tone in this set? Sure the colors are different, but I'm not getting that unmistakable filmy look that is so easily achieved indoors.

I can't say I necessarily prefer one over the other here, as they look pretty damn similar to me.

I asked this on twitter but thought I'd pose it here too - do you photographers insure your equipment? And if so, with what kind of policy and with what company? Thanks for any help!

Jan 24, 2011

Basking in afternoon light

A chilly but sunny afternoon two weekends ago was spent soaking up the rays at Capogiro on Penn's campus. It wasn't until the summer after my freshman year of college that I discovered the amazingness that is gelato. My very first gelato experience was in fact from Capogiro, though it wasn't until my senior year (I think?) that a branch opened up on campus. Oh, a blessing and a curse! I have wonderful memories of rushing out from study sessions (with my loyal partner in crime Alicia ;)) to bring home pints (yes, pints because they were the most cost-effective) of creamy deliciousness. Other nights were spent at the "bar" there drinking gelato cocktails while munching on rosemary popcorn and making friends with the sorta cute bartender at the time.

In January when I was visiting Penn, I had my wallet stolen right out of my zipped bag while I was sitting at a table there. For a while I thought I could never go back! I mean, how traumatizing! Naturally my craving for gelato whenever I was in Philly won over and I found myself happily patronizing the place again. Now it almost a must-visit whenever I am there. My two all-time favorite combinations remain blood orange + dark chocolate and hazelnut + pistachio. Mmm MM.

Ah, good old Portra 400NC.

Jan 23, 2011


A pretty little name for this equally as pretty little coffee shop (and it's really a great shop for all sorts of serious coffee gear!) in the Lower East Side. The staff is super friendly and make some damn good drinks. I think it's still relatively new, but it is definitely a neighborhood gem. Although we were able to walk there when we went two weekends ago, it is not so walkable in this negative 2342834 degree weather we've been having. :(

Here are some film captures of the place in the lovely Portra 400NC.

I know I'll be seriously craving this place tomorrow morning. Oh, Mondays.

Jan 21, 2011

Well this took longer to post than to eat...

About a good hour and half in of working on my Le Bernardin post (yes that was the glorious dinner I was rushing off to in Wednesday's post!), my Photoshop did the unthinkable and crashed, leaving me with my horridly orange/reddish unedited pictures from this meal. I cursed, took a deep breath, closed my laptop, ate some Thai food while watching CSI, and finally mustered up the patience to start at it again.

Oh, auto white balance, you failed me so so so badly here. After seriously editing the SHIT out of these pictures until they were passable, they are still inconsistent from one another and just meh. I really only wanted to show these for the food and wine, not for great photos. And how fast of a computer do I need for it to not take a full minute to merge two layers on a RAW image! Dear god!

I clearly need to get out more on Friday nights.

An abbreviated version of our tasting menu: thinly pounded yellowfin tuna with foie gras and toasted baguette, charred octopus with fermented black bean, warm lobster carpaccio with hearts of palm, seared yellowtail king fish with truffle risotto, crispy black bass with hoisin-plum jus, parsnip creme brulee, and maralumi milk chocolate parfait. (Still a mouthful!) And I know now we could have asked for "The Egg."

Finally, here is our meal in all its splendor.

Quite stellar in all respects. Perhaps the food and wine pairing encouraged so much thought though that my dining companion paid more attention to these fine details than to me. I suppose I could see it as a fair trade for my having to shoot the food before he gets to dig in? :P

A lovely chamomile with lavender ended the night on a calm note.

The next day, my palate was ruined and nothing tasted right. I walked around aimlessly during lunch, starving but unable to think of anything that could possibly transition me from the night. Needless to say, I got over that quickly. It's a good thing our palates are so resilient.

Jan 20, 2011

Six seconds

ISO 160, f5.6, 50mm, 6 sec

It's fun to try something different once in a while. :)

Jan 19, 2011

Gratuitous, indeed

Not much time for a post of real content tonight, as I am soon off to a much anticipated dinner (the kind where reservations were made a good six weeks or so ago) and I can hardly wait! Here's a gratuitous shot of me in Philly this past weekend - I've been wanting to achieve that kind of close-up portrait à la Jonathan Canlas and have been subjecting poor JJ to try to get it on me. So below's my contribution for GPOYW (is this only a tumblr thing?).

I was a bit rosy here in the unedited shot having just had a great triple Belgian beer at Monk's Cafe. Hehee. These days, I'm really into a subtle kind of yellowish-greensih processing and overexposing portraits. Just about all this processing was done in Adobe Camera Raw (totally love this plug-in) with some minor final tweaks in Photoshop. I'm also digging this Dior Rouge lipstick in Favori Red. It makes me feel a bit old-timey classic. :P

Jan 18, 2011

A "light" lunch

I get poked fun of so often at how much food I put away daily that something like this meal is probably "light" in my repertoire. Of course, the truffled egg toast you see here is anything but light. I had a version of this toast at Tria in Philly over the weekend and I think it was an imitation of the one here at 'inoteca. Who doesn't love an oozing egg yolk over cheesy goodness and crispy toast??

iPhone capture of the table (edited in the Film Lab app).

I've changed it up a little with one of my current favorite fonts, Gill Sans, which I thought maybe worked better with the simple and clean photos here. :)

Jan 17, 2011

Wintery scenes from philly

What a packed long weekend it's been! Visiting Philly was a lot of fun, though I took a lot fewer pictures than I would have liked - I blame it on the cold. My fingers can only handle so much numbness. Today was a pretty sad day, as my nifty fifty kicked the bucket in a horrible accident involving a half-eaten piece of chocolate... Luckily my 50mm 1.4 is still very much alive, and an evening trip to B&H resulted in a new lens toy, which will be revealed in a later post I'm sure. For now, any guesses? :)

Anyway, here a few shots from around City Hall, Rittenhouse Square, Penn's campus, and a more south-ish residential area.

This cold is getting ridiculous. My northeast blood cannot handle much more of this.

Jan 14, 2011

Lunch break blogging

Bikes always feel oddly appropriate to kicking off a weekend, dontcha think? I've got a busy evening and will be leaving for Philly at the crack of dawn (well not really, but for a Saturday it might as well be) tomorrow, so I wanted to quickly blog as I scarf down my Croque-Monsieur.

This was haphazardly taken a while ago on a rainy day in September at the New Amsterdam Market on the behemoth Pentax 67/Portra 160NC. I would so love to shoot with this camera more often but I think my wrists would fall off!

See you back here on Monday. :)

Jan 13, 2011

Slurp slurp

Despite the copious amounts of food we had at Momofuku Noodle Bar (I mean, it was tasty and all) a few weekends ago, what I really wanted was good old fatty brothed ramen (à la Ippudo or Minca) and their version of ramen just doesn't hit the spot. We got snacks AND the prix-fixe AND a bowl of ramen. We were practically there long enough for two sets of diners in the seats next to us to finish. Not much to say - the tamales were huge, the chips were heavily spiced but good, there wasn't much shrimp in the "rock shrimp," and the ramen, while interesting, didn't do the trick for me.

A few shots taken on film (the very last snaps of my 400VC roll) below.

Is it Friday yet?

Jan 12, 2011

You are what you eataly

These pictures from Eataly are actually the result of me trying to finish a roll as quickly as I could so I could get to the photo lab in time for them to finish them that same day. I got impatient when I still had a good dozen or so shots left on a roll that day and figured I could blow through them most efficiently at a place with lots of colors and sounds and action. Even on that random Monday late afternoon, the place was pretty crowded. While it's fun to walk through here sometimes, I don't think I'd want to eat a full meal here. It's loud and hot and hard to navigate around the crowds.

It's only Wednesday night but I'm ready to call it a week. I think I could probably sleep right now (5:30pm) until tomorrow morning. Oof.

Jan 11, 2011

Misc. thoughts on flower upkeep

I have a love hate relationship with hydrangeas. I love them and their clean fresh beauty but can't seem to keep them alive. Even following explicit care instructions, I manage to be a cold-blooded hydrangea killer. :(

Mums, on the other hand, you'd have to probably TRY pretty hard to kill. Super low effort and they come in so many colors to suit a variety of moods!

I think this moment must have been the last few breaths my poor hydrangeas took.

Jan 10, 2011

Ace hotel comforts

It's no surprise that the Ace Hotel in the Flatiron district has a great and stylish vibe. It also houses the wonderful Stumptown coffee and a cozy lobby area. On a Sunday evening, there is not an empty seat in sight. I snapped this quickly after stopping in the hotel for a bathroom break (:P).

These words are written on the steps going up from the bathroom area. A nice reminder, I'd say. :)

Both were taken on Fuji 400H. Hope everyone's Mondays weren't too painful!

Jan 9, 2011

Is it really Sunday night already?

Ah, where did the weekend go? I sadly don't have much to share so I'll revert to a post on coffee, always my safe go-to. Saturday morning (um, I mean early afternoon) involved a trip to Abraço which is fast becoming my favorite cafe in the East Village. I am pretty determined to try everything in their pastry stand and am making good progress.

Today JJ and I agreed it was much too cold to trek around Brooklyn comfortably, so we settled on trying to finish up the Manhattan cafes in The Scoop list. We headed to Dora, a horribly cute place in the Lower East Side that only opened about six weeks ago. I didn't finish the roll of film I brought so the real post on this will have to wait a bit. These baristas really know their stuff, and I am a happy camper in this below picture with my perfect cappuccino.

I will begrudgingly give credit to JJ for this picture. :P

Jan 7, 2011

Coffee, snow, and behind the scenes

OST Cafe is one I'd been wanting to revisit because of the great light that place gets. Armed with my film camera loaded with Portra 400VC, I went there again last weekend. I really wanted to sit in the couch area but alas, it was full. I liked how these table shots turned out though. There is something a bit vintagey about them, and the dainty plates definitely help contribute to that feel.

Some funny BTS (behind the scene) shots for you. I didn't realize I looked so ridiculous when shooting, hah.

Before the light completely died that day, we headed to Union Square looking for anything interesting. There wasn't too much going on, but I did find this charming little snowman.

Here is the set of BTS that goes with these shots. I trekked around in completely wet shoes after that. Not sure that was worth it!

I have no real set plans this weekend, which is a nice change, but I'm sure (and hoping) it will involve some cafe venturing in Brooklyn and more film shooting. :)

Jan 6, 2011

Lunch at kin shop

I'd been wanting to check out Kin Shop for a little while now so when I had this past Monday off, it felt like an appropriate choice for lunch. The place was relatively empty when we got there at noon. I loved the wallpaper and overall color scheme/feel to the restaurant. We sat right by the window, a nice sunny spot for West Village people watching.

The spicy duck laab salad, allegedly the spiciest thing on the menu, was spiced perfectly. It definitely warms you up and packs some heat, but I actually thought the jungle curry was spicier. I also really liked the sauce in the rice flake noodles. It felt like a take on pad see ew but with rock shrimp and a different sauce. It was a lot of food for lunch, and we passed on dessert, though I was intrigued by the thai iced tea ice cream. Overall, it was a tasty meal but hard to judge the place on a whole with just the few plates we shared.

I was upset with the photo lab for ruining a few negatives. I've used the healing brush as best as I could on some of these, but it's pretty obvious where they got scratched up.

AND as much as I hate to admit this, I think I like the digital look better for this meal. I took a few digital shots just for kicks and now I wish I had shot the whole thing on digital. I know I preach about film being better all the time, but I may be wrong, just this once. :P I think the more saturated and vibrant colors and highlights of digital would have worked better to showcase this colorful meal. OR I think the film I used (Fuji 400H) just wasn't appropriate. Ah well, there are worser fates.

A final shot from above the table on the trusty S95.

Also, since some people have asked - I use an Epson Perfection V500 to scan my negatives, and yes I do process the scanned images a tad, usually just fixing levels and occasionally adjusting color.

Jan 4, 2011

The first rule of bite club...

New Year's Eve was spent at a lovely Brooklyn residence where the brilliant minds behind Bite Club plated and served a remarkable meal to me, JJ and 29 other lucky guests. What a great way to ring in the new year! I loved meeting the eclectic group of people at our eight-person table and finding out once again what a small world it is.

I know I'm probably butchering these official dish names, but we had a sort of mushroom napoleon with mushroom sauce, pumpkin dumplings, monkfish with polenta, rack of baby lamb, a fine cheese course and dark chocolate/cayenne cake with a Scotch bonnet pepper. When it comes to tasting menus at restaurants, there is almost always a dish or so that I just don't love, but I can honestly say these all tickled my fancy (with the tiny exception of the blue cheese, but I just can't get into blue cheese!). Also note the beautiful, perfect color of the lamb. Sheesh, I now have myself salivating over here.

The Scotch bonnet is one of the "hottest peppers in the world." It's meant to be a garnish, but amazingly, three people at our table ate almost the entire thing (I still don't understand how this was possible). Even as a lover of heat and spicy food, I took one bite, decided it wasn't worth the pain or bragging rights and quickly admitted defeat. It still took a while to extinguish the fire in my mouth after that. Crazy.

Daniel and Alicia, thank you so much again. So much talent!

Jan 3, 2011

Sand and snow

I have been scanning and organizing negatives like a mad man tonight. It was nearly 11 pm before I realized how hungry I was but I couldn't tear myself away from the organizing even to heat up leftovers. It seems film is making me lovesick. :P

After some hardcore multitasking, I finally present you with a selection of the most recent scans. These were taken yesterday at the Jersey Shore. I've always wanted to visit a beach during the wintertime and I'm glad I finally got to, even though it was a bit drizzly and dreary outside. It was peaceful and beautiful, much like what you might expect of the shore at this time of year.

These were all taken with Fuji Pro 400H though I think a Provia or an Astia would have been fun, as they would yield much more dramatic results in terms of color and contrast. The 400H, however, did a nice job capturing the real greyness and monotone feel of the day.

Jan 2, 2011

Birthday shoutout

This is a bit late in the day, but I wanted to wish a quick happy birthday to my mom!

Ain't she stylish? I went to Jersey today for some dim sum with my parents (and an impromptu trip to the shore - hopefully will have some film shots to show later this week!) and my mom was wearing Seven for all Mankind jeans and Uggs. Hahaha I gotta love it.