This was the first time I attended this small-producer food show put together by Sauce LA. The location was nice - indoors, cool, and spread out comfortably. I thought vendors did a fine job of putting together their wares, though I was hoping to see a little more variety. There were a lot of cupcake/cookie vendors, and not as many ice cream, pickle, and other types of craft food producers that I wanted to check out. But there was a little of everything, with most products in the range of meh to good. Only a few really stood out in my opinion, like Bruce's Prime Pickle, made by chef Bruce Kalman. I picked up two jars and wished I got a few more. The entrance to the show is $12 presale and $15 at the door. Other highlights: pulled pork cupcake (no, you won't be the next cronut, but nice try), Gindo's Spice of Life - probably my favorite hot sauce out there, and flavored cotton candy. Cotton candy should be the new cupcake.
October 15, 2013
September 20, 2013
I have to be honest: I was super excited about Stumptown opening up in L.A. To me, it meant that this city had near unlimited growth in the coffee market. I found it interesting that a lot of the San Francisco roasters have essentially neglected planting any operations in L.A., but a Chicago and now Portland roaster have found it worth of setting up shop here. That said, it's easy to come off a little underwhelmed by their cafe in the Arts District. It's a straightforward set up with very good espresso and a great drip coffee. Some baked goods by Sugarbloom, which is amazing and creative. And a massive 60 kilo roaster for all to see. I guess what I'm realizing is that what else can coffee be but a very solid product that's something that needs to be experienced time and again to really appreciate.
If you look at Handsome Coffee nearby, they've used this very simple formula to set up a vast network of wholesale clients and a solid reputation in the city, though people still give them heartache about not having any sugar at their cafe. It's just sugar, people. Anyway, at Stumptown, they've got a swell little setup that should be a huge boon for the massive numbers of people living in the Arts District (not really). I love that they opened there, but I also wish more roasters would have some balls and open cafes in infill areas like what Caffe Vita did in Silver Lake and what G&B/Go Get Em Tiger (best name for a coffee shop, by the way) have done in Downtown and Larchmont. I mean, no one ever though Larchmont needed another coffee shop, but it sure needed a great one. And I believe Go Get Em Tiger is one of, if not, the best place to experience coffee in a completely new light in Los Angeles.
Back to Stumptown, the roaster is now up and running in Los Angeles, which means we'll see more Stumptown in coffee bars and restaurants across the city. Better, locally roasted coffee in more places means the entire market will start to move upwards. Sure there's that weird backlash of people who are convinced that their local Starbucks or old school coffee roaster is the best one ever. People are oddly very territorial when it comes to coffee. I'm not sure why. But I think having a truly great, nationally recognized roaster plant its feet in Los Angeles means that our city's in the big leagues. It's not quite Portland or San Francisco, but it's getting close. And mean heck L.A. is many times bigger than either of those cities. (PDX: 600K, SF: 900K, LA: 4 Million)
Posted by mattatouille at 11:00 AM
September 19, 2013
All photos are taken with the Galaxy S4 and pull from my Instagram account
About a month ago I was offered the chance to try out the Samsung Galaxy S4 as both a mobile phone and camera. I'm by no means a tech blogger or an expert in gadgets - merely an enthusiast for the better part of 20 years (I used to get my dad's old 386x desktops from his office, and was an early adopter of minidiscs). I grew up using PC products and decided to try Apple products when I purchased a Powerbook G4 (12 inch!) and a third generation iPod, which is now a relic. Fast forward about seven years, and my first iPhone, which was the 4. I had upgraded from a Blackberry, which was technically the first smartphone I owned. The iPhone was a revelation in every respect: design, variety of application, and especially the camera quality. I feel like the iPhone 4 was really the phone that turned the tide and made the camera phone the powerful tool that it is today because of its ubiquity and its gamechanging use of social media apps like Instagram and Twitter.
Where I'm Coming From
I'm quite familiar with food photography and have been an avid photographer for the past six years, ever since I bought a used Nikon D50 and a 35mm F2. That combination opened me to a wide range of food photography applications, especially for on-location shooting and low-light shooting. Since then, camera technology inside phones have grown exponentially, up to a point where the new iPhone's main features are its fingerprint technology and its improved camera (more on that later). After my two year term was over, I upgraded to the iPhone 5 about ten months ago, which was a significant upgrade from the iPhone 4. This camera had even better low-light capability, speed, and intuitiveness that made it a breeze to post great quality photos on my Instagram and even use it as a viable part of my business' social media outreach.
Here I am now comparing the iPhone 5 with its newest direct competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S4. The S4 is essentially, in my opinion, the "S" (in iPhone parlance) to the Galaxy S3, which was a terrific phone in its own right. The S4 has a better camera, larger screen, faster "guts" (I hate getting into the nitty gritty of processing speed - most people, including myself, don't care), and a few new features that I find pretty unnecessary (again, more on that later). I was going to find myself pretty averse to changing to a whole new mobile operating system, but I'm quite adept at using both Mac OS and Windows (I have a wicked fast and decked out Windows 7-based PC at home that I use for most of my heavy duty computing and 'very' occasional gaming). I'd pretty much only known iOS as my mobile operating system, but how was Android going to compare?
I was hoping to judge the phone based on ease-of-use and technical prowess as it applies to Food Photography. The iPhone 5 does a terrific job of this: apps are always well maintained by software companies and are quick to take advantage of iOS's capabilities (consider Instagram's instant application of "night mode" or low light sensitivity when using the iPhone's camera). New apps like Vine are always generally going to appear on iOS first, then Android. And best of all, photos looks terrific on the iPhone: colors are balanced, the lens is sharp, and posting is a snap. Most people don't realize how quick the autofocus, zoom, and well other advanced features work. Try using a fully manual film camera to appreciate those features.
My friends who also get to try Android-based phones like to rave about the software and hardware. To me, people who talk about how great having a large screen is, or boasting about megapixels don't really get what makes technology great. Most people could care less about technical features: they want to have the overall package of usefulness and enjoyment.
In the end, technical aspects pale in comparison to actual usability in the field. We're not using these cameras for studio work. These are for when we're out and about, at restaurants or maybe in our kitchens. Thus, I want a camera that's fast, straightforward, and great in a variety of lighting environments.
Initial Thoughts on Using the Galaxy S4 for Food Photography
First off, the amount of bloatware and complexity of the Samsung "skin" placed on the standard Android operating system is extremely confusing and annoying to deal with. As an iPhone person, I appreciate the walled garden simplicity of iOS, though iOS does have some minor bloatware (stocks, anyone?). Still, trying to maneuver the apps and simplifying all of my standard apps (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc) took me about an hour. And I thought I was pretty good with figuring stuff out.
Once you get through that, you can start to fiddle around with Android onboard camera app, which opens up quickly enough and gets you right where you need. My first thought it, damn that's a massive screen. A 5 inch screen versus a 4 inch screen is like a forty inch TV versus a 50 inch one. I try to take a few snaps and I realize, it's pretty quick, just like the iPhone 5, but the "response" that I get from the camera, beside the annoying shutter sound, is not quite as apparent, leading me to question whether I had taken a photo or not. When the iPhone takes a pic, you know you took one, it's less obvious with the Galaxy.
I also noticed that autofocus isn't quite as responsive as I'd like. The iPhone tends to "catch" focus points slightly quicker. And finally, the oblong screen size defaults to 9 megapixels and up to 13 if you choose. This to me is overkill. Most people do not need that size of a photograph. As most camera people are realizing, it's not about megapixels, it's about sensor size and sensitivity. No one needs 13 megapixels from a phone, let alone 41 on the Nokia Lumia 1020. But people need sharp photos that work in most kinds of light. And the Galaxy S4 does a stunning job with food photos given two things: available light, and a very steady hand. I've tried multiple times to snap a picture with one hand and they've come out blurry.
As much as everyone I know has tried to tout that vaunted "night time" setting of the G4, it's quite terrible. Pixelated, blurry, and pretty shabby compared to what the iPhone can do in low light. At least that's my experience, but my friend Caroline seems to agree with me too, as she uses her iPhone 5 for food photos in low light, and remember she just got one of the top 75 food instagramers to follow by Mashable.
Finally, I wish there was easy way to send smaller than full size photos via email. If there's a way to do this, I haven't figured it out, but trying to send massive 3-4 megabyte photos via 4G isn't practical (or even on wifi for that matter) especially when the pics I use are going to be on the web at less than 500 megapixels anyway.
But Why I'm Still Using the Galaxy S4 and Haven't Turned Back to the iPhone...Yet
The initial change from iOS wasn't easy. To me, iOS is an elegantly designed (and even more so with the new iOS 7) and intuitive layout with super speedy action on the iPhone 5 to the ever so slightly delayed, more difficult to use Android Jelly Bean OS on the Samsung Galaxy S4. But I've been using the Galaxy for some time now as my exclusive mobile device and I can pretty do everything I want. I still haven't managed to transfer all my contacts on that atrociously bad software that Samsung offers. But I'm now fully comfortable with the main apps I use for food photography, including Snap Seed (though for some reason, even though it's a Google app, it's easier to use on iPhone). And I keep coming back to that big screen. It's nice to have the real estate. My small hands (smallish, for being 6 feet tall) are getting used to the screen. I'm almost completely okay with using Swype instead of typing all the way through, though not having instant autocorrect (which is marvelous).
Posted by mattatouille at 5:13 PM
August 25, 2013
1510 N Stanley Ave, Los Angeles, California 90046
Posted by mattatouille at 10:37 PM