A Good, Basic Food Lighting Setup with 2 Lights


I was excited recently to have the opportunity to photograph our kitchen knives for our recent post on our five favorite kitchen tools. This presented an opportunity for me to do something new. I knew right away I wanted to photograph them on a black surface and have a nice, brightly lit blade. I also had in mind I wanted to use two lights. I did a quick internet search to get a better idea of how to go about it, and I came across this picture by Nick Wheeler. He even provided a demonstration of his lighting setup. I love his idea of using a whiteboard as a reflector, if I ever come across one of those kinds of whiteboards on the cheap I’m buying it.

In this post I will demonstrate a very simple 2 light lighting setup, my take on the lighting setup that Nick Wheeler used. (more…)

Our 5 Favorite Kitchen Tools

I’ve been getting a lot of feedback on my post about how I shoot the photos for Indiaphile. It isn’t the most read post on the site, but a lot of friends have mentioned it in conversation and asked me to do another. Even though see the hit counts, I can’t help but be surprised that people are actually reading the stuff I’m writing (Like you, for example 🙂

It’s been a while since I did that post, and my friend R was encouraging me to do another, so I decided I would. But those posts take lot of time and planning to write. As I was thinking about how to go about it, this idea popped in my head and I thought it would be fun. You might notice there are a lot of Amazon affiliate links here, but trust me that isn’t my motivation for doing this. That’s just a way for Puja and I to cross our fingers and hope for a little income. We haven’t seen any income from Amazon affiliates yet, so we definitely would not be motivated by it.

To do this post, Puja and I went in the kitchen and alternately picked up an item we love to cook with. It actually turned out to be pretty difficult to choose only five each. But surprisingly we had little to fight over in terms of tools. We had very separate favorites, with the possible exception of the pressure cooker and microplane, which we decided to swap in the end.

This post was exciting because I got a lot of product photography practice, something I hardly do at all. In the process, I shot the pictures I’m going to use for my next photo techniques post, so that will be coming very soon!

Steve’s List

  1. Knives

    Knives - Chef's knife, paring knife, bread knife

    I can’t think of any kitchen tool used more than the chef’s knife. I use it to cut onions, mince garlic, chop cilantro, slice, dice, you name it. From the first time Puja and I bought knives I insisted on getting a good chef’s knife. Good doesn’t mean expensive. The first one we got probably cost $40. It was great, but one day Puja dropped it and the tip broke off. At least she was able to move out of the way or else she could have lost a toe too! After that happened, we went out to buy another and made the mistake of buying a big set of mediocre knives to replace it. What a waste of money. (more…)

Mint Avocado Kulfi (Indian Ice Cream)

Mint Avocado Kulfi recipe at Indiaphile.infoKulfi is the Indian version of ice cream. It’s made in a very similar way to ice cream, except you don’t churn it as you freeze it. Instead, you whip up your milk and cream mixture ahead of time and then just freeze it. It comes out a little more dense than ice cream. The nice thing about it is you don’t even need an ice cream maker to make it.

Puja and I were brainstorming ideas for Indiaphile a couple of weeeks ago when I came up with this one. I’ve heard of avocado ice cream before, but never tasted it. Although we’ve made ice cream many times before, we had never made kulfi. (more…)

How I Do My Food Photography

My passion for photography goes back to my freshman year of high school when I took a photography class. I wasn’t even supposed to be able to get into the class. My school let us choose three electives and then they used some secret algorithm to create everyone’s schedules. Photography was very much a high demand class and freshman got last priority. I’ve always thought I got in because of a dumb algorithm. Photography was my third choice. I think because I didn’t get my first or second choice I had to get my third and it didn’t matter that I was a freshman being put in one of the most sought after classes. According to this algorithm, freshman had to get the class they wanted least.

Photography class was such a great experience. We had a darkroom. Two darkrooms, actually. One that was pitch black used for developing film, and one that had dim amber lights. In that room we used projectors and photo paper to create black and white photos. There were all sorts of rumors about things that went on in the film developing room, but I’ll leave you to guess about what high school students might do when left alone together in a pitch black room. (more…)

Making Yogurt at Home is Easy

Making Yogurt at Home is Easy. How to at Indiaphile.info

It’s kind of embarrassing looking back, but before I knew Puja, I didn’t know the difference between plain and vanilla yogurt. I had never had plain. What would a person want with unflavored, unsweetened yogurt? (more…)

A Healthy Snack and Meal: Sprouted Mung Beans and a Simple Saute

Sprouted Mung by Indiaphile.info

A post on mung beans has been long overdue. Puja and I have been talking about doing a post on them ever since we first started this blog. Much like lentils, they can be used in so many different ways.

Well, I’ve sort of been on this Sisyphus diet of losing a couple of pounds and gaining it back a day or two later. So I’ve been trying to think of different foods I could eat that might help me break through the rut and mung bean sprouts popped in my head. (more…)

How to Make Restaurant Perfect Basmati Rice at Home

Basmati Rice by Indiaphile.info

Puja taught me how to cook basmati rice many years ago but I was never completely happy with it because whenever we would go out to a restaurant the rice seemed so much better to me. It was a problem that lingered with me for years until I finally decided to sit down and figure out how to cook basmati perfectly. After doing some research and taking my time with it, it came out perfectly on the first batch, no experimentation needed. Because the trick is so easy. It just takes a little time. (more…)

Indian Film Review: Hostel


Hostel is probably the first Indian movie I’ve watched without Puja. I picked it because it’s about a serious social issue in India and I thought it could teach me something about the culture and it’s values. My hope was since it was about a serious topic, and not one of the standard premises of Bollywood that it would avoid some of the cliches that make some Indian movies so hard to watch sometimes.

Whatever hopes I had of that were dashed in the first scene. As the movie opens on a low angle trying-too-hard shot of a hallway, soon filled with the feet of five men walking in lockstep. We don’t see them above their waist, but given the ominous music and the ferocity of their walk, we know they are up to no good. (more…)

Saffron Tandoori Chicken

Saffron Tandoori Chicken by Indiaphile.info

I’ve been talking with Puja for a long time about doing a series of posts on tandoori cooking. I want to cover everything from naan to restaurant style tandoori chicken, and talk about how the oven works and all of that. After talking about it for weeks and weeks, I finally stepped up and made a recipe for it.

I did some research and came up with what I hoped would be a very traditional, restaurant-style tandoori chicken. What’s special about this meal is that we actually planned it out ahead of time, and started making it the night before since the chicken has to marinate for at least a few hours. We usually don’t start to make food until we’re already hungry! Also, we rarely have meat in the house.

Margarita Contest

Lemon-Cumin Margarita, Mint-Lemon Cumin Margarita, Ginger Tamarind Margarita

Our favorite Happy Hour spot is hosting their third annual Margarita contest and the deadline to submit a recipe was today. Puja and I came up with our own recipes and held a tasting last night. Last year’s winner was a “Thai-garita”, a Thai inspired, lemongrass and Thai chili flavored margarita. So of course we went Indiaphile on the contest.

Puja couldn’t make up her mind on her recipes without tasting them first, so she made two versions of her margarita for the tasting. She was inspired by Indian style lemonade, which is made with cumin and salt in addition to the sweetened lemon juice. (more…)

Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Mash – Baingan Bharta

I can’t remember ever eating eggplant until I was with Puja. She loved it at a restaurant we used to frequent in Arlington called Delhi Club, so I figured out how to make it at home for her. Since cooking with eggplant, I’ve found a few different ways to use it that I really like, but by far the best of them is Baingan Bharta.