Bar Contessa – New York City style Cafe/Restaurant in Balmain

I study for Diploma of Photo Imaging at CATC Design School and currently one of my subjects is Light & Lighting. Our main assignment was choose a local café or restaurant and seek permission from the owner to photograph the interior and exterior. The idea of the shoot was to capture the mood and ambiance of the café/restaurant and to make the establishment look at its best (as for an imaginary magazine review). Whilst the subject matter and the composition of the shots was paramount, the use of light and lighting techniques was of the utmost importance.

 

Choosing the right place:

It was easy to choose a local Café/Restaurant as I have my favourite place – Bar Contessa which is located in Balmain (I live on the boarder of Rozelle and Balmain). It is open 7 days a week from early morning until 3pm, so people go there for breakfast, lunch or just a coffee. The owner and chef is Marco Adoncello who has Italian roots but has travelled the world and his cuisine is a mixture of American and Italian dishes. Lots of products are sourced from friends and family who operate a range of fruit, vegetable and butcher businesses within Sydney. The free range eggs are delivered directly from a farm on the Hawksberry River. Their bread and sweets are delivered fresh every morning from the Luxe Bakery. The restaurant also offers gluten free, vegetarian and organic food to satisfy every customer. Marco & other people working in the restaurant are very friendly, so getting the approval to photograph my assignment at this place was very easy. I have promised to give them the photos for use for their promotional purposes.

Also you can have a look at their website BAR CONTESSA, or go grab some breakfast / lunch / coffee there!

Planning the photoshoot:

After receiving consent from the owner, I started planning my shoot. The entrance of the bar is facing south and it does not get any direct sun throughout the day. I have decided to shoot in the afternoon between 2-3pm because the bar closes at 3pm but it gets lots of light coming in bouncing from the building across the street to ensure there will be sufficient light to shoot. I did not plan to use any lighting as the shooting was planned during the working hours and I did not want to distract the guests or disturb the functioning in any way. I prepared a tripod and monopod to be able to use longer exposure and avoid camera shake. I decided to use my Canon lens 24 – 105mm as that is the widest lens I own. For interior photos I planned to use 24mm (f 11 -18) and for product photography as coffee, food etc. lower f stop – this lens goes down to f4 only. There might be better lens option for food photography but using one lens only gave me a bit of flexibility to change the subject quickly.

On the job:

As agreed with Marco (the owner & chef) I arrived on Sunday afternoon. I ordered a burger which was one of my subjects to shoot (see below) – have to admit it tastes as well as it looks. The plan was to get 3-4 photos for this assignment but I have added a bit more to show more of the work I have done. I used a tripod for the interior photos and the product photographs were taking while hand holding the camera. Even though it could be better to use a tripod, I did not want to attract too much attention & disturb the functionality of the restaurant. Tripod for the interior photographs was not used only to let enough light in due to limited lighting conditions but also to blur some movement (which makes the place look busy and people should not be recognised on such photos unless they agreed to it). I have tried to include guests in the background in some of the food/coffee photographs to make the photos more life, social (photo number 2 and 4 below).

Below are the results including settings. Hope you like them. I would like to thank Marco for the opportunity (and supplying me with different coffees for my shoot, especially the smiley face – Babyccino (Photo Nr.7).

1. Settings: f16, ISO 320, 1/2sec.

1. Settings: f16, ISO 320, 1/2sec.

2. f4, ISO 320, 1/10sec.

2. f4, ISO 320, 1/10sec.

3. Settings: f16, ISO 100, 3.2sec.

3. Settings: f16, ISO 100, 3.2sec.

4. Settings: f4, ISO 640, 1/60sec.

4. Settings: f4, ISO 640, 1/60sec.

5. Settings: f4, ISO 1000, 1/80sec.                                                                                                                                                                                     6. Settings: f4, ISO 400, 1/125sec.

5. Settings: f4, ISO 1000, 1/80sec.                                                                                                                                                                          6. Settings: f4, ISO 400, 1/125sec.

7. Settings: f4, ISO 400, 1/80sec.

7. Settings: f4, ISO 400, 1/80sec.

 

 

© Gina D Photo Pty Ltd 2014

 

Activity 4: Gestalt Portrait (VC – Visual Communication)

Gestalt psychology was established by three German psychologists in 1910 (Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler). It is also called a theory of mind and brain. In 1910 Max Wertheimer (a Czech born psychologist) was the first who started to examine the phenomenon of the matter of perception while going on a train watching flashing lights. He has hired two younger psychologists Koffka and Köhler and they began to work together (only suspended their cooperation during the Wolrd Was I.). Gestalt psychology is examining human perception of the picture as a whole instead of breaking it down into partial components. So when we see a picture, firstly we see it as a whole and after that we will start breaking it down into pieces. It is crucial for a good designer to understand this phenomenon and it is important to bear in mind the complex totality of elements. This is important in arts, design (for example when creating a logo, etc.) and also in photography as for all of these it is important to understand what will be the first impression of an object (photo, picture) to the viewer.

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http://www.instantshift.com/2011/09/19/the-close-relationship-between-gestalt-principles-and-design/

This is an amazing example of Gestalt Portrait. We all can see a profile of an old man face at first. But when you look at this picture more closely, it is a man and woman with a small infant standing in front of large gateway.

And here is my example of Gestalt Portrait made of small elements that are of similar nature (fruit & vegetables). The first thing you see is a face, not particular types of fruit and vegetables. After the first look our mind starts breaking down the details of the photo, but it is the first impression that matters.

Gestalt-2

Photo copyrighted @ Gina D Photo Pty Ltd 2014