Saturday, January 15, 2011

18/52 Gustavo Castañeda

This week I had the pleasure of doing an opening menu shoot for La Taberna, a new Tapas restaurant in the UIC area. I love doing shoots at restaurants. The first reason being I love taking pictures of food. The second being how diverse these kinds of shoots are. You photograph plates of food, the space, portraits, whatever is needed. I spent the whole day shuffling around lights and shifting gears. Not only did I provide them with some really fantastic images of their plates, but also some nice portraits of their chefs, if I do say so myself.

Gustavo Castañeda and Enrique Cortez are the chefs at La Taberna restaurant. Both chefs are staples of the Chicago tapas scene, having worked at restaurants such as Riques Regional and Ole Lounge. Chef Enrique won a national salsa competition in 2010, which he emphasizes was related to his skill in the kitchen rather than on the dance floor. They both share a gorgeous open kitchen space, which would function as the location in which i did portraits of them both.

I did the portrait of Chef Enrique first, and I used the interior of the kitchen. I stood on top of a half wall on the other side of the service station. In the photo above, the wall is just out of the frame to the left. Because I was so far away, I shot using my Sigma 50-150 f/2.8. This is the first time i've used it for portraits. I had Chef Enrique stand in the middle of the kitchen, and lit him from high camera right with a PCB Einstein in a large softbox, with an edge from back camera left in the form of an SB-800 with barn doors. Here are a few pics from that shoot:

As for the shoot with Gus, it was the last shoot I did of the day. I decided to place him in front of the kitchen and to try and feature the mural in the kitchen as a background. Again, I lit him with an Einstein in a large softbox from high camera right, and used a gridded Einstein as a subtle edge from back camera left. I wish I had brought one more Einstein with me, but instead I had to use a lone SB-800 to light the mural. To keep up, it was on full power, and as a result some of my images were shot before it had fully recycled. Thankfully using my RadioPopper JrXs as triggers, it still fired, but I did have to brighten the mural up in photoshop on a few of the takes. Lesson learned, next time I'll have a nice big system case with all my big lights tucked away inside.

Let me take a moment to say how much I love my new Nikon d7000. Correct me if I'm wrong, but these images look like they've seen a bit of photoshop, no? Maybe a subtle pass from an unsharp mask filter? Nope. Straight off the camera. Only photoshop work in these was minor spot removal and dodging of the background. This camera (and the glass i put on it) is just scary sharp. The only reason I have to do spot removal is how accurately this camera renders every detail.

Oh yeah, and here are some pics of the food!

Strobist Info:
PCB Einstein high camera right through large softbox
PCB Einstein back camera left through 30 degree grid on 7" reflector
SB-800 camera left through barndoors

Camera Settings:
1/250 f/5.6 at ISO 200
Nikon 35 f/1.8


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. so you fancy huh?

    oo la la Jay! Thanks for doing this. The Castanedas are happy I'm sure. :)