May 31, 2011

Trials and travails with the sinar 4x5

No wonder 4x5 photographers often refer to taking pictures as "making pictures." It's a hell of a lot of work! We were only trying it out with a polaroid insert, and I don't think we'll be shooting sheet film until we can properly wield this crazy beast. Her nickname is Cindy or Sinnie, and she is an attention whore. While I was at the nail salon, Jimmy took her out onto the streets of the East Village (with a crazy focusing cloth). Apparently more people took pictures OF him taking pictures than he managed to take. Hah.

With the lens at f5.6 at the fast end and the polaroid film at ISO 100, there's not a great range of conditions we can really use the camera in. We did what we could on a tripod in the backyard for these first shots. The polaroids came out awfully blue/green, and we suspect we may need a UV filter for it. Here's how the first one came out:

And the second, which I tried (and mostly failed) to get a tilt-shift effect on.

This camera would be ideal if I had a well set-up studio with very nice streaming window light. It may very well be the opposite of portable. Even though it folds up pretty small, the monorail it sits on makes it quite large still. Oh, and it's effing heavy.

Aha, looks like I'll have to start a "large format" tag. :)

May 30, 2011

Dinner at the modern

I sought Jimmy's help to write up this post, but naturally he would spew out a novel, so this is an edited down version. I think he is much better at articulating our restaurant experiences, so you may see more of his posts in the future! Any annotations in parentheses are my add-ons. Ok, let's carry on.

The Modern is the restaurant that has sat on our “to visit” list the longest. We’ve had a number of near-misses but finally went for dinner last Wednesday.

Upon entry, we were escorted to a seat next to one of the windows looking on the MoMA’s garden. This proved a disadvantage later in the evening when they turned on the lights outdoors, leaving us with nasty mixed light and some weird shadows from the window bars. (What a nightmare to process! Very inconsistent white balance throughout... yuck.)

The food at the Modern is just about the opposite of that at Untitled, its USHG museum restaurant sibling. Chef Gabriel Kreuther serves excellent high-end Alsatian-inspired contemporary French cuisine. This is unabashedly restaurant food of close to the highest caliber available here, and it has the Michelin star to show. We started with an assortment of delectable canapés, followed by an intense nettle panna cotta that was indulgent and healthy at the same time. My actual first course was a “damier” of wagyu beef and foie gras. The richness of both components paired well with each other, while the accompanying passion fruit gastrique provided a delightful counterpoint. Alice had a tartare of yellowfin tuna and diver scallops, which did a great job of showing off the excellent ingredients.

Our second courses were a Loup de Mer “soufflé”, excellently cooked though only very barely reminiscent of a soufflé, along with a delightful hamachi, sea urchin, and fennel tart that really demonstrated the kitchen’s skill in working with pastry elements in savory courses. Our last savories were a piece of very flavorful chicken breast accompanied generously by morels for me, along with a fantastic duck course with tableside preparation that has to be seen to be believed.

It’s no surprise that desserts were excellent. I voluntarily ordered a lemon dessert for the first time that I can remember and was anything but disappointed. Alice’s strawberry-rhubarb vacherin was pretty good too. We could not have asked for a better way to finally conclude the meal than with selections from the three-level petits fours trolley (what a tease that thing is!). My only regret was not ordering some selections from the cheese cart that I’d seen being wheeled around, though I don’t know how I would have made the space in my stomach.

This is one of the best restaurants in New York. Eleven Madison Park may be the darling of Danny Meier’s stable, but the Modern is not to be missed.

(Thanks, Jimmy!)

May 29, 2011

Van leeuwen in the east village

I was thrilled to see that Van Leeuwen opened up shop a wee hop skip away from me (my waistline ain't so thrilled), because there isn't really a great ice cream place quite that close. They serve decent coffee too, so it'll be a nice alternative on Mondays when Abraço is closed.

The colorful balloons for their grand opening should be enough to entice anyone inside. I am a fan of the yellow barstools too, but you could probably paint anything yellow these days and I'd love it. There is some great natural light inside and I will have to return with some film. For now, here are iPhone snaps and a polaroid. If you follow me on twitter, you might have read about my iPhone camera incident - as you can see, it's working just fine now thanks to those silica desiccant packets! :P


And of course, leftover coffee cups.

No set plans for the last day of the weekend tomorrow, and I'm more than ok with that.

May 27, 2011

A day with the talented siebe warmoeskerken

Despite some hiccups in the weather and getting poured on a few times in the afternoon, we had a great time just walking around and shooting here and there. We mostly stuck around the East Village to the West Village and Meatpacking area. Check it out below!

You can also see the exact yellow roses Siebe shot me shooting here. And check out Siebe's version of the day on Portra 400NC (mine are Portra 400). I think it was his first time shooting film actually. I am loving some of the colors that came out in these, especially in the last beer shot and the bloody mary in mason jar shot.

It was so great to actually meet Siebe! I felt like we had known each other for years already. Oh the wonders of the online photo community. He made me lust for some Zeiss lenses for my Canon. Such nice stuff. I love spending the day with photographers, as they just "get it." Nam sayin'?

I hope I can meet up with Siebe again, in his neck of the woods (The Netherlands). :)

May 26, 2011


Hi, Jimmy here! Alice is busy scanning film so I'm writing this one up, as she's just finished compiling the pictures.

Last Friday, we were invited as guests of the house to a friends and family preview dinner at Alfama, a Portuguese restaurant (re-)opening in Midtown East. Portuguese food is in an interesting spot in New York. George Mendes at the acclaimed Aldea and Dave Santos at our neighborhood favorite Hotel Griffou both expertly cook modern Portuguese-influenced food, but restaurants serving Portuguese food full stop are a rarity.

It's hard to be critical of a restaurant that hadn't yet opened at the time, but the kitchen was already operating at a very high level. My favorite appetizer was the "Borrego Desfiado", a plate of three slices of bread topped with pulled lamb cooked in honey and fruit. The sweet flavors worked perfectly with the natural flavor of the lamb and made for a very unique and enjoyable flavor profile. Rabbit meatballs were very strong as well.

Main dishes proved strong as well. The most notable was a stuffed monkfish, but I'm a sucker for anything stuffed with something else. Most of the other mains were very good and quite interesting as well. Also, while it wasn't as obvious with the appetizers, but the portions here are also huge: more than enough for those ordering just an appetizer and a main to not miss dessert.

The restaurant is a bit out of the way from our usual haunts, but we'll definitely keep it in mind whenever we find ourselves looking for dinner in that neighborhood.

Alfama opened this Monday, the 23rd, at 214 E. 52nd St.

Back to playing with the new Sinar F.

- Jimmy

May 25, 2011

Two photo geeks

Another quickie before I run out to dinner... (let me try to not make this a theme!). I'll have a more extensive post on my day with Siebe, but here's a fun behind the scenes that Jimmy captured.

Hehe. :D

May 24, 2011

Bridal shower fun

I am literally running out the door as I write this up, so lemme keep it short. Here are pics from Claire's bridal shower over the weekend. It was terribly cute and so well-coordinated. We ended at the rain location (a bridesmaid's apartment), but it was still beautiful! So much good light! I played unofficial snapshot photographer, obviously.

There was lots of food...

And games and gift-opening...

And finally, we were paired off into groups and had to design a dress in ten minutes using toilet paper only. Claire would then choose a winner. Here are the somewhat hilarious results of our toils.

Fun fun.

Ok, now I'm definitely late to dinner.

May 23, 2011

Thai for eight

Little behind in posting this, but here is last Tuesday night's fantastic Thai dinner at Ayada on Woodside Avenue in Queens. Google Maps totally lied - it took at least 20 more minutes to get there than the directions suggested (38 minutes), so it's much farther than I would normally travel for food. The last time I ventured that far into Queens was also for Thai (if you recall this similarly large dinner from last year at SriPraPhai).

I have nothing but good things to say about these dishes. Anything fried was especially good. Pad see ew is usually my go-to neighborhood Thai takeout dish, and after the one here, let's just say I won't be ordering Pad see ew until my memories of this one wear off! The seasonings were great too, but I just really love Thai flavors and spice. Out of our party of eight, three of us were clamoring around the dishes to shoot them as quickly as we could before the rest dug in. They were good sports. :)

Crazy colors came out of this after processing - totally different from the other Thai dinner I linked!

May 22, 2011

A case for balloons

It's hard to believe it's only been a week since I was in Philly shooting graduation portraits for my sweet friend, Pim. So much has happened since; much wine has been had, much good food consumed, much merriment made, and now I'm just about a full week behind on picture editing.

We had icky boring overcast lighting that day - great for even portrait lighting, horrible for nice glowy (golden hour-y) shots. Plus I think Penn's campus is just so much prettier when the skies are blue. We did what we could and I'm glad we hoisted these very colorful balloons from an auditorium (with permission, I think!). I'm not sure why the "first look" shot after the ceremony was so blurry, because it was definitely a fast enough shutter, but I like the effect anyway for that moment.

I've been quite lucky in having ridiculously photogenic subjects. :)

May 20, 2011

Thank god it's...

I mean, seriously, I think I thought it was Friday four days ago. Anyway, here's a little different color palette from the norm. I quite love these purple/grey-tinged hydrangeas. They almost have this metallic look to them in some lights.

I'm terribly excited to meet a good online friend for real tomorrow, who is coming from all the way across the Atlantic... :) Much shooting will be done. Pew pew.

May 19, 2011

Turning one!

Hey, lingered upon, happy birthday! I can hardly believe it's been a year since my first post. The last time I maintained a "blog" for this long was probably my xanga from high school, chockfull of dramatic and cryptic posts about how my life sucked. (Come on, we've all been there at some point. :P) Apparently it was my foray into film that led me to start this blog in the first place. The food stuff just happened as an afterthought - can you believe it?? As you know by now, I'm completely hooked (on film) and there's no turning back.

So what's to come in year two of blogging? Hopefully better content, better pictures, more experimenting with lighting, more travel, more his and her posts (been sadly slacking on these), even more eating adventures, and more written content that you'll find useful. Some of your comments have inspired some gear turning in my head for what else I could put on here, besides the flowers, the food, the coffee, the wooden tables... but I hope you'll forgive me if those still find their way on here more often than not!

I did want to do the cliché bit and host a little giveaway, but I am still working out some minor kinks in the uh, logistics, so I will be doing it a little belated in the coming week or so. Hope you'll stay tuned.

Many, many thanks to the small handful of you for sticking with me from the very beginning, and of course, HUGE thanks to all of you who've joined me somewhere along the way. Although this blog is still just a little personal space for all the pictures that never make it to flickr, somehow I don't think I'd be neeearly as motivated to spend some 4-5 hours putting together those big posts if I didn't have a supportive audience. I mean, after all, I could be watching trashy reality TV like "Say Yes to the Dress" (erm, new guilty pleasure). So really, thanks for giving me less time to indulge in useless shit like that. :D

May 18, 2011

When on jury duty...

Have a good lunch! I didn't actually get called for a trial today so I'm free for the next six years. Yay. Waiting in that room without a laptop and a dying phone battery and a finished pdn magazine got pretty brutal, so I picked up Alan Richman's Fork it Over on my lunch break to entertain me for the afternoon (and am now realizing how much I grossly overpaid at Barnes & Noble... argh).

Anyway I took the opportunity to have lunch at Nixtamalito, a little kiosk at the bottom of Centre Street. I was happy to be joined by Jessica and Jimmy who work in the area. We tried a variety of tacos and I also got a shrimp quesadilla. It was much larger than what I expected for $3. The tacos are something like $2.50 each and quite substantial. Great bang for your $5-6 lunch here. See our spread below.

A shot from Kaffe 1668 snuck its way in there. I was a bit disheartened that the cappuccino was just not as good as I once remembered it (aka before Abraço days). Oh well, it was probably their ginormous cookie that was the real shining glory there anyway. :P

Is it just me, or is this week crawling by?

May 17, 2011

Wine: not pictured

The Lopez de Heredia wine dinner at The Tangled Vine was a fantastic time last night. I felt a tad (um, a lot) out of my element because I honestly still feel like I know nothing about wine, but I am learnin'. And hanging around people passionate and so knowledgeable about it is pretty great. I have seriously got to get to Europe as soon as I can. I realized I took no pictures of the actual wine last night - oops. Clearly my thoughts were still on the food, even though that was not the focus of the dinner.

The pairings were very nice, but I need to work on my wine tolerance, especially before heading to Europe. The particularly special glass of the night was a Tondonia Gran Reserva '91. It was "really beautiful" as someone at our table put it. My favorite dish was the first one - the crispy octopus with fingerling potato and mussels en escabesche. AND I finally found a blue cheese I not only didn't wrinkle my nose at, but actually ENJOYED. This is a big big revelation for me. :D

And we met Maria, the winemaker! (Pictured in the middle of the group next to Jimmy.) She was very charming and lively (she's got those like sparkly eyes going on for her). Jimmy felt she was way too much cooler than us for us to interact with her. This is probably true.

Tonight I'm off to another dining adventure in Queens for some authentic Thai (nope, not SriPraPhai). Back with that report soon!

May 16, 2011

Just popping in

As I am slowly digging myself out from a growing and daunting to-do list and full calendar for May, I have missed being able to put together a real blog post. Yesterday's day began at 5am and we got home wearily at 10pm (never take the local NJ Transit... it's like a game of "how many stops can we possibly make between Trenton and NYC!?"). Below is a snap of me resting on Penn's campus, where I was yesterday to shoot some graduation and family portraits for a lovely friend.

Although I brought the Contax, I just about only used the digital because when you have a big group and the campus is swarming with people who may get in the shot, there's only so much you can do with one 80mm lens (not to mention people people blinking!).

I'll share some shots from that soon. In the meantime, my new Kate Spade tote makes its debut on here, doubling as a overly cute camera bag with this insert. Totes aren't too practical for the actual shoot though, even when you have an assistant lugging it around for you... (thanks, J :D).

I suppose I can't complain about having no time because I'm too busy doing fun things... like tonight's Lopez de Heredia wine dinner I'm just about off to! See you back here soon. :)

May 13, 2011

Steak for lunch

I was anxious to blog this last night but it seems that Blogger is finally just back up now! Yesterday I had the great pleasure of lunching at Peter Luger in Brooklyn with two friends and a special multi-talented guest - the ulterior epicure. It was a good time and I am convinced more than ever that I need to go to Paris this fall - sorry, a bit non sequitur but let's move on to the food...

The hamburger was pretty much bleeding, the creamed spinach was at least 95% fat, the french fries were thick, and the steak tender. I'm not really one to ever order steak, because it's just too much of one hunk of thing for me. I'd gladly take a small tasting size portion but any bigger, and it gets pretty monotonous. So I can't form a real opinion on just HOW good the steak was. Now, desserts, I can do. Here, the strudel could have been more flaky and crusty, and the apple chunks were too crunchy and raw. And I guess none of us have enough sweet tooth to finish the bowl of schlag that comes with it. I did finish the ice cream, though.

Speaking of lunch, did you catch me on Oh Joy!'s lunch series yesterday? :)

May 11, 2011

Jumping on the instax bandwagon + gpoyw

Yay, this little guy is so fun and cute. It's more so a toy than a camera, but I'm happy to add it to the camera collection (even though it is quiite hipster). The first pack was pretty much used up in crappy indoor light just to test it out and for kicks. I think this will be really great to bring on vacations and such.

1) Teddeh and me; 2) Jimmy in NOT a suit and looking rather child-like, hah; 3) Macarons from Bisous Ciao; 4) Newest batch of peonies (man they really have a short lifespan!); 5) Final GPOYW - so washed out!

Tomorrow I'm having an extra exciting lunch. It will require getting off the island... hope to share soon! :D

May 10, 2011

The beast + provia 400x

It's been a long long time since I picked up the Pentax 67. Recently, seeing inspiring shots around flickr taken from that camera (a serious beast, though I refer to her as "Pennie") compelled me to pick her up again and have a go at it with some Provia 400X I've been dying to try out. There's a lot of reasons why I don't use the Pentax, especially when the Contax (remember, I call her "Connie" - see a pattern here? Oh yeah, my Minotla is "Minnie." I am shamelessly admitting this.) is just so much more user-friendly.

Given how pricey the 400X is, and the fact that E6 processing is more expensive AND the fact that Pennie only makes 10 shots per roll, bad shots can quickly become a big waste of money. Not to mention, the focusing screen isn't so great, the camera weighs a ton and a half, annnnd I have to turn on the meter prism every time I take a shot and the fastest the shutter can handle is 1/1000... er, so why did I pick her up again?!

I guess it was just for the experience of using it again. I love how gigantic the negatives (well, positives in this case) are. At full resolution, the detail is pretty insane. There's also almost no grain at all, although I do actually like the filmy grain of my 35mm. Anyway, we all know it's more the photographer than the camera, so all this chat is probably meaningless!

Here are a few shots from around the East Village and Lower East Side.

Some dogwoods that I grossly underexposed.

I was drawn to the reflection bokeh in the window, but a bit tricky to expose this scene. I missed all detail inside the restaurant.

Ooh look, could it be a properly exposed shot?

I like creeping on people from the sidewalk as they eat. #shamelessadmissionnumber2

Off to finally catch up on some of your blogs!

May 9, 2011

Opening dinner at untitled

Yup, that's the name of Danny Meyer's latest braicnhild. It is a super airy (and sleek and modern looking) restaurant in the basement of the Whitney Museum. (Check out Nicole Franzen's beautiful shots of the restaurant!) We went to the opening dinner last night and were fed enough food to satiate a family a four. As Jimmy commented, the family-style big plates made it feel like we were eating a special-occasion dinner at someone's house. Danny Meyer and his family happened to be eating there, and I felt giddily starstruck.

In a nutshell, it was a LOT of food. (Little cheddar biscuits/pickled beets/egg salad on toasted rye, then sugar snap pea/radish/french dressing salad, then fried chicken/swordfish/grilled asparagus/mac & cheese, and finally a huge ass plate of banana pudding.) Whew. We doggy-bagged a ton of it... but alas, we have no microwave.

They are only going to serve dinner on the weekends. It was fun to check out, but really out of the way for us to just "drop by." I'd like to go for brunch some day though. I keep seeing pictures of the pancakes there and they are taunting me...

May 6, 2011

Mom day

A few kinda funny images to celebrate my mom! 1) Running down the Jersey shore... apparently we didn't know people were supposed to wear shorts, flip flops, and bathing suits on the beach. I am wearing a frilly dress, red tights, and sneakers. FOBs FTW. 2) Brushing my mom's hair in our messy first apartment, hehe. This was clearly during my boy haircut years. 3) Being mischievous at some mall in Jersey while my mom tries to take a proper photo.

Also, I really love this image of my mom below. I dug it up some time ago and have always been drawn to the candidness of the moment. It feels like she didn't realize her picture was being taken. There's some great light in that minimal (out of necessity, not style) kitchen too. Plus I don't think she was much older in this picture than I am now. I just love it.

Hope it's a great weekend for all of you moms!

May 5, 2011

Cheez plz

This one's a real goodie... (get it here!) I highly recommend it with cheddar and tomatoes.

Tonight I'm going to attempt to go out and do some real-world stuff after killing myself all week. Drinking some stress away I hope!

May 4, 2011

A little new york engagement session

This shoot was much more fun than I had expected. I tend to get nervous about shooting people, very much preferring non-moving objects like wooden tables, flowers, food and coffee (in case that wasn't clear... :D). But with some very cooperative and chill friends + amazing light and weather, good things can happen.

We started in Columbus Circle...

Then walked into Central Park...

Jon brought the business newspaper as prop as they both are headed to Wharton biz school after the wedding. Talk about a superstar couple!

We ended the day near the illustrious fountain in the park.

Whew, that was an eyeful. Hope you all enjoyed a little something different from me! And who knows? Maybe I could get into this stuff...

May 3, 2011

This'll do for now

I had lofty goals to finish scanning and blog the engagement session tonight, but as I am burning the midnight oil here and still not quite done (not to mention removing dust), I thought I'd just share a wee preview. See one more over here.

Meet Jon and Claire. They are so damn cute. :D

Some backlit goodness for you. I'm amazed I metered and exposed this OK. Backlight is always so tricky! And once again, nothing beats the bokeh on the Contax.

May 2, 2011

No dessert roulette this time

I'm referring to, of course, the first night at Cafe Boulud where we received five glorious desserts that we passed around the table (whoa, check out my crappy white balance then, yeech!). Not that I'm complaining about last week's somewhat impromptu dinner here. I have nothing but good things to say about this place, except maybe the dining room set up. We ended up at a two-top in the middle of the room where we felt a bit "naked." I wonder if we'll ever get to sit at a normal against-the-wall table.

The crowd very much reeks of the Upper East Side, and gaudiness abounds. The food though, is worth the trek (read: cab ride) up to 76th street. I enjoyed a lobster salad + tempura and damn good duck, finishing with the dessert special of the day - some kind of Earl Grey cremeux (? I don't remember what was in this but was slightly disappointed the Earl Grey flavor wasn't apparent). Jimmy had the spring green risotto, striped bass, and a baba au rhum for his sweet ending.

I can't believe this was just exactly one week ago. It feels like months!

Man I am so tired. I started this post at like 7 pm but a migraine got the better of me. Will hopefully be back to coherency tomorrow. I will need to find some good tunes to scan to!

May 1, 2011

A peek of what's to come

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I did a little casual engagement shoot (my first ever) for some super stylish friends of mine. Seven rolls of film later (I can't tell if this is way too much or not a lot at all!), my wrists were sore but I was content. Now I haven't dropped off the film for developing yet, so I can only hope they turned out okay! I honestly had NO real intention of using the Contax for this shoot, but for some reason, after some last-minute inspiration hunting on the likes of Jose Villa and Ozzy Garcia's blogs, I grabbed all the film I had left and went for it. I was pleasantly surprised that I felt comfortable enough to go film. Woot. :)

A few behind the scenes c/o Jimmy who very diligently did all my film roll changing - good assistant (not that he really had a choice, hah)!

I'll have a few hours of scanning ahead of me this week (just cannot justify the lab charging $10 a roll to scan at not a very high-res and for me to give up control of the scan!), but hopefully I can share some goodies. One thing I would definitely go back and redo if I could is to have taken more shots of the environment and details, so it'd be easier to piece together a story. Gah, aren't these things always so crystal clear in retrospect?