Allrecipes.com has been redesigned and I really like how they've added an ingredients calculator. You just plug in the number of servings you would like to make and it will recalculate it for you. Check out the site here.www.allrecipes.com
Simple Whole Wheat Bread
SUBMITTED BY: Nita Crabb PHOTO BY: MommyFromSeattle"Simply a great-tasting and easy-to-make whole wheat bread."
- 1-1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons honey
- 2-1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons honey
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
- Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
- Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely
I would like to invite you to a New Year's Eve event that TBS efm is hosting. The radio station is hosting a party that is open to all- especially foreigners in the city. It is going to on Wednesday, December 31 from 7-10pm-so it would be a great place to pregame before heading out to another New Year's Day party. It is going to be held at Nam San Gukakdang (Classic Korean Music Hall) in Nam San Korean village. Directions are below.
They will have live music, free T-shirts, and lots of free beer. Yes, you heard me correctly: free beer. And they will be giving away 10 iPods! I think they'll be giving other things away too. There is going to be an after party and lots of cool bands.
Kim Yong Woo, Lee An, Kim Mok Kyung, Windy City, Mithy Mouth, The Choi Chi Woo Band, We need Surgery, Fan Death, New Town and Achtung and Dynamic Duo will be performing. It's going to be a totally rocking Christmas Eve.
The registration period is over, but I have been given a bunch of free invites so if you let me know that you would like to come, then e-mail me so I can add you to the list.
Directions: Subway lines 3 and 4 to Chungmuro Station. Take exit numbers 3 or 4 for Namsangol Han Ok Village. Bus numbers 0013, 0211, 7011 (Green) and 104, 105, 263, 371, 400 and 604 (Blue) will also take you there.
This is an amazing cooking show featuring two very saucy hosts. It has a biting sense of humor and it has sarcasm verging on the surreal. It features Simon and Minty Marchmont. I found them caustic at first, but their little anecdotes and witticisms made me warm to them.
One of my favorite scenes has a blindfolded Simon trying to find the best olive oil or as he says it, "I am looking for that exra virgin purity. He says this as he tastes the first one, "that's been around the block a couple times." As for the second he says, "The common old tart. What mummy would have called a vile little hussy." And for the final one, "Oh heaven. That's an absolute Brittney."
They throw in little quips alluding to their wealth and their dysfunctional marriage and family.
Here is episode 3 where Simon makes fun of Minty's pronounciation. I love her phrasing such as, "interrograte the mussels," "tumble the paella," and "join us next time when we will be strip searching broccoli" Simon has a masterful way of saying awkward homoerotic statements such as, "it's firm and hard like Tom Cruise after a hot bath." And when he is describing the tobacco accent in wine he says, "it's like liquified Spanish fags."
This is episode 8 where you find out what happens to Luis the tennis coach that was, "more than a coach."
This School has closed. If you are looking for Korean cooking classes, please go to www.ongofood.com
Traditional Korean Cooking Class
잡채 JABCHAE (potato starch noodles, stir-fried with vegetables)
약식 YAKSIK (sweet rice with pine nuts, chestnut, jujubes, honey)
2009, 19th January, Monday, 10:30 am-01:00 pm
Participation Fee: 10 000 won
Address : RINAI ACEDEMY, Line 2, Hongdaeibgoo Station (239).
(Meet at the Itaewon∙Hannam Global Village Center at10:00am)
5F Hannam Bldg., 737-37 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 140-893, Korea Tel: 02-796-2459~60 / Fax: 02-795-1154
Recently, a reader who shall stay anonymous asked wrote this:
E-mart usually has basil when it is in season. I'm not sure if they have it now since it is so cold. Usually they'll have fancy (curly) parsley. I've found that in Itaewon, the Foreign mart will almost always have cilantro and they often have basil, mint, and rosemary. They also have fresh kaffir leaves, Thai bird chili peppers, and lemongrass. Hannam Market is also pretty reliable for herbs and I have even seen fresh thyme there, but the prices are often ridiculously priced. In the spring I recommend you buy the potted ones. They often run 2-3 housand and if you take care of them, they'll last a while.
Thanks for reading and happy holidays!
Readers living in Korea are familiar with Bon Juk, a popular and reliable chain restaurant which serves up a tasty selection of 죽 (juk, rice porridge).
Although there are some Bon Juk locations on the West Coast, previously there were none in Atlanta, until now that is! A Bon Juk recently opened in Atlanta, conveniently located next to the H-Mart in Duluth. According to their website, two more locations will be opening soon in Doraville, and John's Creek.
Atlanta has lots of Korean restuarants, but they are mostly barbecue or tofu houses. It's nice to have a place exclusively for juk. I think it's a sign that the Korean population in Atlanta is getting big enough to support places that specialize in one particular kind of food instead of offering a wide selection. I hope it's also a sign that interest in Korean food is growing as well. So far Bon Juk in Atlanta has been getting good reviews, and was featured in the AirTran inflight magazine this month.
I missed eating patjuk (팥죽) for the winter solstice this year. Patjuk, Patjuk rice porridge (juk) made from red adzuki beans, is traditionally eaten on the winter solstice
The red color is supposed to embody positive energy and help to fight negative energy. In other words, it keeps bad spirits, bad luck and other nasty things away.
I'm heading back to Atlanta soon for a brief vacation. Maybe I'll have some patjuk at Bon Juk to bring in the New Year on a good note! I'll let you all know how it goes.
- Lily (aka lunalil of Funk Seoul Sister)
Hubble just got a haircut and he is cold because it is winter. He is curded up on my bed basking in the sun. He looks normal again and I've vowed never to groom my dog again.
Other things. If you get a chance, listen to the Steve Hatherly show on TBS eFM radio. You can listen to it online at http://tbsefm.seoul.kr His show is on from 2-4 everyday. On Thursday, you might even catch me on his show talking about food. Today I talked about baking, restaurants in Itaewon, and Hotels.
One tip I did mention was that you can substitute maple syrup for vanilla extract. You can and it works really well. Here is a website that I found with a list of different substitutions. It has some great tips such as using 2 tablespoons of flour for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch as a thickener and if you don't have cake flour, you can use all purpose just minus 2 tablespoons.
I would also like to welcome Amy to the Seouleats writing team. She has been posting some great articles on baking and eats. She has really been working her toaster oven as you can read here.
Well, I think that's all for today. Again, Merry Christmas everyone! Write in and tell us where you are going and doing. Tonight I'm going to Chef Meili's in Itaewon. I'll have pictures soon.
Though I opted for lighter fare, my friends had DELICIOUS seafood pasta stuffed with mussels, clams, oysters... ohhhh they had to stop me from eating all their food! If you find yourself at Phoenix Park this winter, I suggest the Castle Pines restaurant.
The pasta will only run you 13,000 and a drink (which they are also good at) will be about 6,000. They have really good wine and my Manhattan was lovely!
Here's some pictures:
The wonderful seafood pasta
Me with my delicious (and very alcoholic) Manhattan! It even had an olive--I was excited. haha.
This is what every new snowboarder needs: a hearty meal, and a good drink to make the pain go away.
I ended my night with an Irish Coffee which is a very funny story. I asked the waitress for an Irish Coffee and hinted at the Bailey's I saw on the counter. After watching her pick up a bottle of Irish Liqueur and the Bailey's and stare at them for a couple minutes, she picked the liqueur. At first I wanted to correct her, but I was curious... so we waited.
She came back with a cup of coffee, a glass of ice, and a double shot of this Irish stuff. I poured the liqueur into the coffee and expected the worst. To my surprise, this was one of the best drinks I'd had in ages! I think my new thing might be to try an Irish Coffee all over Korea and see what I get!!
Want to make sugar cookies tonight? Simple--all you need is some main ingredients and voila!
Toaster oven: Can't make cookies without this staple item. I got mine from Gmarket.co.kr, but you can get yours at E-mart, Lotte, or any big department store. A good one will run you about 50,000+ but you can get a pretty decent one for about 30,000.
My school bought mine and it's a Tefal "Cook 'n Toast." I DO NOT recommend this type of toaster oven. Why? It has a strange feature of a cooktop. Normally multitasking items are a good thing but the drawback is the heat is leached out through the top (plus there's a gaping hole where the cooktop sets on top of the oven itself). It's difficult to regulate and takes a little more cookie-sitting compared to the other models. You can see my toaster oven here: http://global.gmarket.co.kr/challenge/neo_goods/goods.asp?goodscode=132510847&pos_shop_cd=SH&pos_class_cd=111111111&pos_class_kind=T&keyword_order=toaster+oven
I recommend getting something that looks (and acts) more like a convection oven. The difference between the toaster and convection ovens is that the latter has a fan to distribute the heat while the former does not. Toaster ovens work just fine. Something like this: http://global.gmarket.co.kr/challenge/neo_goods/goods.asp?goodscode=116306417&pos_shop_cd=SH&pos_class_cd=111111111&pos_class_kind=T&keyword_order=toaster+oven
Now, once you get a toaster oven, everything else is simple! I used Alton Brown's recipe on the Food Network website because it's simple and yields quite a few sugary beauties! It's located here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/sugar-cookies-recipe/index.html
Here's where the trick comes in: Rather than purchasing a bunch of cutters that you will only use once, roll the finished dough into a log. Refrigerate for an hour and slice cookies to your desired thickness (thick for soft cookies, thin for crispy). You can use powdered sugar for the decoration rather than having different shapes!
You can find everything at your local department store. If you are willing to wait until Christmas break--if you're a schoolteacher, it should start this weekend, you can order powdered sugar and decorations from ehomebakery.co.kr.
Baking in Korea is all about trial, error, and having an open mind. I tried snickerdoodles last night and they did NOT work. Haha, I'm not too proud to admit my culinary mistakes! Getting together with friends is one of the best ways to fight loneliness during the holidays away from home. And, if you're the adventurous type, invite some Koreans over to learn with you.
A pot of mulled wine helps create the Christmas atmosphere to try something new. I hope all of you will give it a go! Check out my blog for pictures of my cookies and more tips on baking: http://navigatingcultures.blogspot.com
These were originally listed in the Korea Herald
Hyatt Regency Incheon: Restaurant 8 is on the vanguard of going all-out Christmas, with its "live Christmas market dining," available on Christmas Eve from 6 to 11 p.m. and on Christmas Day from noon to 10 p.m.
It is designed for the entire family to enjoy a range of Italian, French, Asian, Korean and Japanese dishes along with European dessert. By walking through the scrumptious selection of cuisines, customers can also interact with the chefs and watch them cook. There will be live music: piano, guitar and saxophone, while entertainment for kids includes, what else, a magic and balloon show.
The market dining is priced at 100,000 won for Dec. 24, 80,000 won for Dec. 25 and 50,000 won between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Christmas Day. For more information, call (032) 745-1234.
JW Marriott Seoul: In true Italian style, where love is expressed through food, chefs at Olivo are offering a shower of holiday delicacies. Both the five-course Christmas Eve dinner and four-course lunch menu on Christmas Day feature a savory oven-roasted pumpkin cream soup and succulent grilled Australian beef tenderloin, among others, to put everyone into the holiday spirit. Delicacies for families range from 60,000 won to 90,000 won. For information and reservations, call (02) 6282-6765. The hotel is also hosting a musical gala dinner show "Notre Dame De Paris" on the night before Christmas. Hosted at the center stage in the Grand Ballroom, the gala dinner show will run twice, at 3:30 p.m. matinee buffet and 8 p.m. six-course dinner.
The matinee is 170,000 won per person, the evening 200,000 won. For reservation, call 1544-1555.
Grand InterContinental Seoul: C Grill is gearing up to make Christmas a unique and tasty one with its grill specialties, featuring a choice of turkey, Wagyu beef or grilled sea bream, served in a sophisticated atmosphere highlighted by subtle red lighting and a dynamic open kitchen.
The Christmas Eve feast is priced at 100,000 won. The C Grill will also be featuring special set menus for lunch and dinner priced at 80,000 won on Christmas. For information, call (02) 559-7615.
Hilton Namhae Golf and Spa Resort: Hilton Namhae Golf & Spa Resort offers a "Christmas Package" and various events for the New Year.
Its main restaurant, Breeze, offers a "Rudolf Buffet" on Christmas Eve and a "New Year`s Eve Special Buffet" on Dec. 31. The price is 35,000 won for an adult, 18,000 won for a child. Children who order a Christmas set menu may get a visit from Santa Clause as well. For more information, call (055) 860-0100 or visit www.hiltonnamhae.com
The Sheraton Grande Walkerhill: The Sheraton Grande Walkerhill is offering a Christmas magic show for the family. On Christmas day, between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., celebrated Korean magician Kim Jong-soo will present an enchanting magic show in English. It will make a perfect Christmas gift for children - along with a special lunch course. For information, call (02) 455-5000.
Imperial Palace Hotel: A romantic Christmas dinner for two is available at the Imperial Palace Hotel. Its Italian restaurant Verona`s private room with flower decorations and candles will create a cozy and quiet atmosphere on Christmas Eve. The set includes goose liver, grilled duck breast stuffed with porcini mushrooms with truffle mushroom sauce, as well as Christmas red wine sorbet and others. Reservations can be made at (02) 3440-8000.
Westin Chosun Seoul: The hotel hosts a Christmas dinner party at the Grand Ballroom. Couples are invited at 7 p.m. on Dec. 24, offering exquisite meals, spectacular events and a romantic show starring popular musical singer Hong Ji-min. The price is 150,000 won. For information, call (02) 317-0365.
Grand Hyatt Seoul: The famous Paris Grill offers a very special seven-course dinner on Christmas Eve.
It starts off with appetizers, including a crabmeat salad and marinated lobster, followed by either an oyster champagne cappuccino or white cannelloni bean soup.
For the main dish, one can choose from oven baked Australian Angus beef tenderloin, or stuffed turkey breast with dry apricot, apple and Parma ham. This set menu is priced at 165,000 won. For reservation, call (02) 799-8161.
Novotel Ambassador Gangnam: A more stylish and healthy feast for Christmas is available at SHUNMI on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The dinner on Christmas Eve features Shisamo Roe and Shiso Marinated for appetizer followed by various choices of salad and 11 kinds of sushi. On Dec. 25, a special Christmas dinner menu at 100,000 won includes salad, appetizer, sashimi and grill. For reservations call (02) 531-6477.
Millennium Seoul Hilton: Their Christmas deluxe package - only available on Dec. 24 for 300,000 won -includes a buffet for two at the hotel`s Christmas dinner in the Grand Ballroom, and access to the executive floor lounge.
Christmas executive package also only offered on Dec. 24 at 360,000 won includes a complimentary bottle of wine and cheese platter through room service as well as a dinner buffet.
All packages include complimentary use of the swimming pool and fitness center as well as two tickets to the City Hall Ice Rink. For reservations or enquiries, call (02) 317-3000.
Sejong Hotel: Sejong hotel near Namsan offers a Christmas package through Dec. 27 at 189,000 won for two. The package includes one night accommodation, breakfast buffet at the Firenze, a ride on the Namsan cable car, and a ticket to N-Seoul Tower`s observatory. Other benefits include a bottle of wine, cake, and 10 percent off at restaurants. Reservations can be made at (02) 3705-9115~6.
Renaissance Seoul Hotel: Manhattan Grill offers a special Christmas dinner set menu on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
For subscribers, a special chocolate cup engraved with a loved one`s name will be included with this seven-course set menu. The price is 138,000 won. To reserve, call (02) 8637-8638.
Grand Hilton Seoul: The Grand Hilton Seoul is offering a selection of romantic Christmas packages for guests looking to celebrate the festive season with that special someone.
Guests can choose from three special deals: My Love, My Princess Package; Sweet Christmas Package; and Endless Love Package.
Each package offers different benefits, such as a free bottle of wine and cheese, use of sauna or an overnight stay at the spacious junior suite.
A complimentary voucher for a make-up and hair session at Kim Chung Kyung Hair & Face studio will be added for guests who make reservations in advance.
If you have received gifts of kimchi this year from friends and it is simply sitting in the refrigerator in a large Tupperware container, then I suggest you take the kimchi out and turn it over for a bit to let the spicy kimchi juices re-hydrate the top layers of kimchi. Contrary to popular belief, kimchi can go bad; but if you keep it hydrated, it can last for a long time.
If your parents or friends are trying to send you gifts from America, they will save a whole lot of money just using regular international shipping from the postal service versus a commercial service such as UPS or DHL. Now this might also be from other countries as well. Recently, I received a package and it took only 8 days to arrive from America using just regular International shipping and the sender saved almost 50 dollars using regular international posting versus special airmail from a commercial service.
For those baking cookies, you can substitute real maple syrup in place of vanilla extract in making cookies. I know how expensive and hard it is to find vanilla extract in Korea. Also, you can sometimes find real vanilla pods in Bangsan Market that is near Eujiro 4-ga. It is cheaper than the fake extract and you can use the empty pods to make your own extract.
For those with kids, big department stores and many family restaurants have free baby-sitting services. You simply take your kids to these areas. Trained personnel will then watch your children while you can enjoy a couple moments of quiet.
Many Internet and Mobile Phone providers are starting to package their services. You can often save a lot of money simply by signing up for a service that package your mobile phone and Internet plan together. There are even plans that will even package your cable television and landline for even more service. Contact your service provider for more details and get BBB to help you work out arrangements.
Writing a person’s name in red is considered rude so try to have another colored pen available when you are taking names. Writing a person’s name in red implies that you wish that person would die.
If you are trying to have people call you from overseas, then they should dial 82 for the country then the last two digits of your mobile phone number and then your mobile phone number. For example if your phone number is 010 1234 1234 then the person is calling you then they should dial 82 10 1234 1234.
If they are calling a landline then they should dial 82 + 2 + number. For example if your landline number is 123 4567 then they should dial 82 2 123 4567.
You should always get a receipt when making a purchase in Korea for a couple of different reasons. It makes sure that the sales person is taking account for the sale and not hiding the sale to evade paying taxes. It also if you have a problem with the item that you bought then you will be able to return it because you have the proof of purchase. To ask for a receipt say 영수증을 주세요. Again it is: 영수증을 주세요
On Tipping. It’s customary not to tip, but on snowy days or rainy days, I often round up the fair to the nearest dollar or give an extra 1000 won to the taxi driver. It encourages better service from the taxi driver and it’s so uncommon that the taxi drivers will often get giddy from excitement. Also think of other foreigners. If all the foreigners gave a little extra money for their service then they might start treating foreigners better and they’ll start picking us up on these cold or dreary days.
If you want to take a picture of someone, you should say 사진을 찍어도 됩니까. Again, that is 사진을 찍어도 됩니까.
That’s it for today. If there are any other tips that you have learned that have made your lives easier, please contact us so we can pass them on to others. (GIVE CONTACT INFORMATION)
1. Dos Tacos
2. On The Border
3. Taco Taco Chili Chili
4. Los Amigos
5. Choi's Tacos
99. Casa Maya
I'm going to make it over to Tomatillo's at some point. Because SeoulSteves keeps raving about it.
Here is the review:
A restaurant is more than just food. It is the environment, the personal service, and the introduction to a different culture. Often the best cultural ambassadors are the chefs. Now when you meet someone from a different culture, there are often compromises that have to be made. For example, take the flavor of cilantro. It has an herbaceous, anise, and earthy flavor that I've found many Koreans really don't like. I hated cilantro when I was young, and yet now I won't consider salsa "authentic" unless it has cilantro in it.
Los Amigos restaurant is more than a restaurant. It is a cultural ambassador and it is introducing Tex-Mex cuisine to Korea. When you enter the restaurant you are welcomed by a vast Mexican wonderland. The sandy colored walls are vividly painted in landscapes reminiscent of a Mexican prairie. There are cactuses-real and fake- dotted throughout the restaurant and on stage are two singers singing Latin songs. The restaurant is spacious and has a fiesta feel to it. Every time I look around I notice something new and kitsch-like the wagon wheel hanging above the bar, the oil lamps and old style saloon lights. I mean it's an overt display of Mexico-ness but it’s much better than looking at the same old girl on a Soju poster.
Our waiter, Phil, who is also the captain, takes us to our booth. Phil is a star in a very sweet and polite way. As I start drilling him about the menu it becomes apparent he is also quite knowledgeable. I ask him, "What's the most popular dish? What is spicy? What do you like the most? Do they make a good margarita here?" He responds to everything and I am starting to feel like I can trust this guy. You can often gauge a restaurant through the quality of their wait staff and he is quite good. He steers us away from the Chorizo Quesadillas and the Salmon and we start with a couple of his suggestions.
My friend Lily starts out with a Top Shelf Margarita on the rocks (W8,000). It had good tequila with a hint of Grand Marnier. And this was followed up with the Nacho Fiesta (W11,000). This was a crunchy crown of fresh corn chips embedded in a refried beans and topped with cheese, tomato, black olives, guacamole. This was a hearty start to the meal.
We decide that we would get a combination platter of three different choices from their Mexican menu (W18,000). I really appreciated this option because I like to taste as much as possible when I am out. So we order a chicken enchilada, a beef burrito, and a ground beef taco. The enchilada and the burrito were the best because they slowly cooked the meat then pulled it instead of just slicing it. It makes a word of difference in flavor and in texture. The taco was just all right. The shell was a little soggy from leading in some sauce, so it was difficult to get the full taco experience. The red beans and rice were a bit dry for my tastes, but I really liked their refried beans.
Phil, who I still consider a star, recommended the Gonzales B.B.Q. Strip Steak. This isn't something I would recommend. It is sorta my fault because the description: "served with vegetables, Mongolian rice and sauces" doesn't suggest anything, "Mexican." (W20,000). This dish came with marinated beef slices that were served on a cast iron hot plate and served with stir-fried bean sprouts and sliced carrots. The dish came with a large bowl of white rice, Chinese pickles and teriyaki and siracha sauce. Yeah. Not Mexican. I asked Phil about his suggestion and he said that this is a very popular dish with Koreans. I had to apologize for my looks, because they must have confused him.
I wouldn’t say that Amigos has the best Mexican food in Korea, but I my friend were full and happy after our meal. The band waved from the stage and urged us to stay and enjoy another song. The staff were all very attentive and the atmosphere was a nice escape from the land of kimchi.
** 2 Stars
Directions go out Itaewon exit 2 and walk up until you see Helios. Make a left. It will be to the right.
Here's the permalink.
December 18, 2008
Pogue’s Photography Tips and Tricks
It's a crazy time of year to be finishing a book. But in between present wrapping and tree trimming, that's exactly what I'm doing. It's a book on digital photography, which, as you probably know, is among my favorite hobbies.
As I write, I keep coming across these important tips and saying to myself, "Man, this is what people REALLY need to know. I should pull them out into a special list at the back of the book called, 'The Best Photography Tricks of All Time,' so people can't miss it."
So that's exactly what I'm doing. Thought I'd send you the list as it stands today, so you'd have it when you unwrap that shiny new digital camera that you get as a gift. (Most of these apply to consumer cameras, not S.L.R.'s.)
THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHY TRICKS OF ALL TIME
1. Half-pressing the shutter button (to prefocus) eliminates shutter lag.
Everyone hates shutter lag. That's the half-second delay between the time you press the shutter button and the time the photo is actually snapped--during which your child, pet, or action photo slips away. (Pocket cams have shutter lag; S.L.R. cameras don't.)
Shutter lag is the time it takes the camera to calculate focus and exposure. Thing is, you can make it calculate that stuff ahead of time. Aim the camera, anticipating where the subject will be, and half-press the shutter button. When you hear the beep, you've locked in the exposure and focus. Keep the button half-pressed; now you're ready. When the subject appears, push the rest of the way down. Presto: no shutter lag!
2. For the blurred-background effect, back up and zoom in.
In technical terms, what you're looking at is a limited depth of field. That's a geek-shutterbug term meaning, "which part of the scene, front-to-back, is in focus." Subject yes; background, no.
That beautiful, professional effect is easy to get if you have an S.L.R.; it practically happens automatically. (Dial up a wide aperture--a low f-stop number--to accentuate the effect.)
On a pocket cam, choose Portrait mode. Move your subjects away from the background--the farther, the better. Finally, use the back-up-and-zoom-in trick. That is, stand away from your subjects--the farther, the better--and then use the camera's zoom to "bring you" back up close. Thanks to a quirk of optics, zooming in helps create a shallow depth of field.
You may look like a weirdo, backing way up like that. But it really works.
3. Force the flash outdoors.
It might not occur to you to use the flash when you're taking pictures of people on a bright, sunny day. It certainly wouldn't occur to the camera.
Problem is, the camera "reads" the scene and concludes that there's tons of sunlight. But it's not smart enough to recognize that the face you're photographing is in shadow. You wind up with a dark, silhouetted face.
The solution is to force the ﬂash on--a very common photographer's trick. The flash can provide just the right amount of fill light to brighten your subject's face--without affecting the exposure of the background.
It eliminates the silhouette effect. Better yet, it provides very flattering front light. It softens smile lines and wrinkles, and it puts a nice twinkle in the subject's eyes. (It also means that you can ignore the old "rule" about taking photos on a sunny day--the one that tells the photographer to "Stand with the sun behind you.")
4. Exploit the magic hour.
Hate to break it to you, but serious photographers don't get a lot of sleep. Show me an award-winning, breathtaking landscape--a pond shimmering in the woods, golden clouds surrounding a mountain peak--and I'll show you someone who got up at 4:40 am to be ready with a tripod as the sun rose.
That hour after sunrise, and the hour before sunset, is known as the magic hour. The lower angle of the sun and the slightly denser atmosphere create rich, saturated tones, plus what photographers call sweet light. It's an amazing, golden glow that makes everybody look beautiful, every building look enchanted, and every landscape look breathtaking.
It's a far cry from the midday sun, which creates much harsher shadows and much more severe highlights. Landscape shooting is more difficult when the sun is high overhead on a bright, cloudless day.
5. Use a lampshade socket as a tripod.
Another chronic problem with pocket cams is getting blur when you don't want it--which is just about any time you're indoors without the flash. Yeah, yeah, we know: "Use a tripod." But come on: for the average person on vacation or at school events, buying, hauling around, and setting up a tripod is a preposterous burden.
Often, there's a wall, parked car, bureau, tree, pillar, door frame, or some other big, stationary object you can use instead, to prop up either the camera or your arms.
But here's my favorite trick: It turns out that the threads at the top of just about any lamp--the place where the lampshade screws on--are precisely the same diameter as a tripod mount! In a pinch, you can whip off the lampshade, screw on the camera, and presto: You've got a rock-steady indoor tripod.
People might think you're a genius, a nutcase, or a genius nutcase, but never mind. It works.
There you have it, folks: five tips that can save you from throwing your pocket cam out the window. Happy shooting--and happy holly days!
The Metropolitician is an amazing photographer and he wants to give the amateur or aspiring tips on buying cameras.
Photography in Korea, Part 1: Buying a Real Camera (a DSLR)
I've been trying to do this post for a long time, but kept getting bogged down by other things. I get asked so often, "What kind of camera should I get if I want to get more seriously into photography?" that I felt it time to definitively answer the question. And I'm going to be blunt and partisan about it, but it's still the best answer I think to that particular question.
If you are a Nikon fanboy, or don't agree with my recommendations, you can make a comment here or write your own post about it on your own blog; but these are the best recommendations and answer to that question I can think of, and I think people want a straight answer to questions like this, instead of hemming and hawing. Because it's a pretty stressful question. So here's are some issues and answers to several sub-questions that are actually all wrapped up in the original question of what camera to get to take more serious pictures. If you like your P&S -- which has some useful features such as video capture and voice recording -- cool for you! I think they're great for that sort of thing, too. Remember -- YOU said you wanted to get more serious about photography, though? Right? So, assuming that's true, here we go...
The place is spacious and upscale. I love the glass balcony that you can sit on and oversee the wildlife below. The place has great baguettes: crispy and full bodied. They also have inventive sandwiches and menu offerings. The desserts look awesome. It has a little bit of everything, which I call the bibimbap factor. They are going for the high end, niche market and their competive edge seems to be high end ingredients and using an inventive fusion approach.
I had the Spicy Pork Belly, which was perfectly cooked. The skin was crackling good because the chef seared the top and then slowly cooked it in the oven for hours and hours. The meat just dripped off. The fat had rendered into soft butter; the pork fat liquidified on the tongue. The tomato chutney was an ok pairing. Next time I'm going for the chili jam. It needed a bit of shock to punch through the savory wall.
The Steak Sandwich was delish. Once I started eating, I couldn't finish until it was all gone. That's the thing about a good sandwich; if it is really good, then you can't be civilized eating it (that's why cucumber sandwiches last forever, they just aren't that good.)
The Prosccioutto salad needs work. The concept is alright, but frozen mango! I should have just sent it back. I must admit though, that the prosccioutto was of pretty excellent quality.
Its on the 2F of the Hannam Building. 02 749-9181
Prociutto Rocket and Mango Salad. Meh. The Mango was frozen so it didn't pair well with anything. It would have been good if they were thawed. And it wasn't really a salad. It was basically 3 different things put on a plate that were asked to play nicely with each other. (12,000)