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I'm a photographer in New Jersey who loves food and dogs, so you'll see a lot of both here. Also check out my food blog at Minimally Invasive, where life's a feast. 

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Mistral Restaurant

Chef Nerenhausen of Mistral Restaurant | Amy Roth Photo.jpg

Where has the time gone?! I have so much to share with you! Over the summer, I took a temporary position in the production department at my former office (in NYC) and just lost the will to live for a while. Being back in the fold was pretty nice, actually; it was fun to see my old work friends again and a great chance of pace to be part of a department instead of working alone. The steady paycheck didn't hurt, either. The commute was a bear, though. I'm not sure how I did that trip for so many years, but it really sapped me this time around and left me without the inclination to blog. 

But I did have the opportunity to take on some photo shoots in my off hours. The one I'd like to share today was done on the 4th of July at Mistral Restaurant in Princeton, NJ, and appeared in the Fall issue of Edible Jersey (on p26, if you follow that link). The space is a knockout, flooded with natural light and a rustic feel that puts you at ease as soon as you enter. 

Mistral Restaurant | Amy Roth Photo.jpg
Mistral Decor | Amy Roth Photo.jpg
Mistral Interior | Amy Roth Photo.jpg

But the food is on another level entirely. One of the best things about being a food photographer is getting to sample the subjects and this was no exception. It's nearly a 90-minute drive for us, and I'd drop everything in a heartbeat to go back for a meal. Definitely check it out if you're looking for something new.

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington

Chef Ben Nerehausen was focused and precise as he built each dish for me to photograph. You really do eat first with your eyes at this restaurant.

Chicken Liver Paté. This image was selected for the cover, which was a wonderful surprise.

Chicken Liver Paté. This image was selected for the cover, which was a wonderful surprise.

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Beets

Baby Beets | Amy Roth Photo

How often do you really see the beauty in the food you're preparing? Even though I do this for a living, I'm as guilty as anyone of rushing through food prep to get a meal on the table (or in front of the camera, more likely). But when I take the time to appreciate all of the parts in front of me, I'm never disappointed. 

And I find myself taking that time more and more, especially now that the farmers' market is in full swing. But even the freshest, least picked-over produce can be a challenge to appreciate fully. Take beets, which are hard to love; they're lumpy and a little hairy, stain your hands and take a lot of work to prepare. It's easy to dismiss them because of appearances and say that their flavor is what makes them special, but I disagree. I really enjoy the difficulty of trying to communicate a story with them and highlight their best sides, as I tried to do here.

Tell me, what are your favorite shooting challenges?

Beets | Amy Roth Photo
Beets, Baby | Amy Roth Photo

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The Three B's

Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of overcast, foggy days, but when it comes to photography, there's nothing I love more! And when you combine the perfect conditions with the perfect subjects, magic can happen.

I love Buster so much. AGH! I just want to eat him up! If we didn't already have two large greyhounds, I'd be pleading with/cajoling/noodging my husband daily to visit Buster and bring him home with us. He's a gentle soul, attentive and loving with his humans, but had problems with separation anxiety in his last home, so now he's waiting at the West Milford Animal Shelter for a better situation to find him. 

Buster, an American Bulldog, is a big, gentle mush who loves attention from his handlers and walks very well on leash.

Buster, an American Bulldog, is a big, gentle mush who loves attention from his handlers and walks very well on leash.

Brownie is a staff favorite, an energetic little Boxer mix who loves — I mean LOVES — being outdoors and exploring her surroundings. She's really friendly and outgoing, which you can't quite tell from these photos, because she just clams up whenever I point the camera in her direction. And she sits like a champ, doesn't she?

Brownie, a Boxer mix, is all smiles until I pull out a camera, then it's serious business!

Brownie, a Boxer mix, is all smiles until I pull out a camera, then it's serious business!

And then there's Boomer, our resident goofball. He's technically a senior at eight years old, but you'd never know it. He's active when we take him out and walks on leash like a dream. And he has a great Fozzie Bear smile, don't you think? 

Boomer reminds me so much of Fozzie Bear whenever I take his picture. He's a lovable senior who enjoys head scritches and walks.

Boomer reminds me so much of Fozzie Bear whenever I take his picture. He's a lovable senior who enjoys head scritches and walks.

if you'd like to meet any of these dogs, come down to the West Milford Animal Shelter sometime. Click through the link to find a time that works for you!

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Manischewitz Plant Tour, Edible Jersey

A worker inspects cut matzoh squares for defects before they go into the oven at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

A worker inspects cut matzoh squares for defects before they go into the oven at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

I just received my copy of Edible Jersey's summer issue and opened it to find the story I photographed at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. I just love going on assignment for the magazine because it takes me out of my little studio and lets me meet people I otherwise never would cross paths with. I learned quite a lot about matzoh history and production on the tour, too! Pick up a copy of the magazine on newsstands if you'd like to be similarly edified by Diana Cercone's excellent article. Below, a few more of my favorite images from the shoot.

Matzoh dough gets the spa treatment with rollers at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Matzoh dough gets the spa treatment with rollers at the Manischewitz plant in Newark, NJ. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Baked matzoh rides the conveyor belt to the packaging area. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Baked matzoh rides the conveyor belt to the packaging area. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Rabbi Yonah Hayum led the tour of the Manischewitz factory floor. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Rabbi Yonah Hayum led the tour of the Manischewitz factory floor. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Though the manufacturing process is a wonder, I was most impressed by the workers at the Manischewitz plant. So many of them have been there for years and years and everyone had a smile and a kind word for us as we passed through. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

Though the manufacturing process is a wonder, I was most impressed by the workers at the Manischewitz plant. So many of them have been there for years and years and everyone had a smile and a kind word for us as we passed through. Photography by Amy Roth, on assignment for Edible Jersey.

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Toronto, Part I

YES | Amy Roth Photo

My husband Gil and I just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Toronto for TCAF, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We've been going for several years now and I've grown to love the city with its diverse neighborhoods and solid dining scene, represented this weekend with outstanding meals at two of our old favorites — Bent and Lai Wah Heen. I'll be easing back into dining reality and exercise purgatory this week. Gustatory thrills aside, it's always great to see old friends at the show and make new ones each year. On Saturday, Gil recorded interviews with a few TCAF attendees for his Virtual Memories Show podcast while I met up with a till-now virtual friend.

Shannon Nicholson is an accomplished Cambridge, Ontario boudoir photographer who was matched up with me through an online business course we're taking. We're supposed to be accountability partners, but I'm awful at holding myself accountable for things, much less anyone else, so we've just discussed our businesses via email, celebrating our successes and brainstorming areas that still need work. Her knowledgable advice has, in part, led to my redesign of this site, so I was thrilled when she agreed to meet me for a walkabout over the weekend so I could finally meet her, explore a new part of the city (Leslieville) and take some pictures with my new 24mm lens in the process. We had a terrific time despite the sad, sad lunch spot we chose.

I've posted a few of my favorite pictures from our walkabout. The streets were relatively deserted for a Saturday, but there seems to be an ordinance that 30% of all residents must own a dog, so I was happy. We even saw two greyhounds who leapt for joy when they crossed paths. If we hadn't been in the car at the time you'd better believe I would've said hi because I'm one of those crazy greyhound people. Oh, yeah.

All of the color images below are for sale in my Etsy shop — just click on the photo to be directed there. TCAF photos coming in the next blog post!

Toronto Street Scene | Amy Roth Photo
Perspective | Amy Roth Photo

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More Doggie Love

Hello, everyone! I hope you're enjoying Spring, wherever you are. Now that it's warmed up a bit and all of the snow has melted, we're loving life that much more. Not that I don't enjoy spending time at home (especially now that we've put up our dining room shelves), but it's a wonderful thing to simply walk around the neighborhood without feeling like your extremities are going to fall right off and shatter from the cold.

On the work front, I've had a few food-related shoots in the last couple of months, but can't really share them with you until they're published. What I can share, however, are more photos from the West Milford Animal Shelter! All of these dogs are currently up for adoption, and after working with them for the past few weeks, I can tell you any one of them would make a great pet!

First up is Asia, an energetic little lovebug who enjoys trotting along beside you on walks and lots of play time. She's smart, too; she knows basic commands like sit, stay, and off and learns quickly. 

Asia | Amy Roth Photo

And here's Chance, Asia's buddy. He's a good guy who knows basic commands and loves to play, too, but he's really strong, so the shelter won't be adopting him out to a home with small children. 

Chance | Amy Roth Photo

And he has a lot of character, shown best in his smile.

Chance's Wish | Amy Roth Photo

Buster is a strapping American Bulldog who loves attention and is typically pretty mellow, though he may pull a little on leash if he sees something he wants to investigate. He was adopted out last November, but had separation anxiety issues, so he was returned to the shelter recently. Because of this, they're thinking he might possibly do better in a home that already has another dog.

Buster | Amy Roth Photo

And here's miss Brownie again, enjoying a beautiful Spring day and a little tug-of-war with a volunteer. She has that adorable Boxer underbite and loves getting attention and affection. She was brought in with Buster. Maybe they can be adopted together?

Brownie | Amy Roth Photo

And finally, here's our resident joker, Diesel, a gorgeous, affectionate Husky/Lab mix. 

Diesel Channels Groucho | Amy Roth Photo

If you're looking for a new, furry addition to the family this spring, stop by the West Milford Animal Shelter for a visit and meet all of the resident charmers. But if cats are more your speed, believe me, you won't be disappointed

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Diesel and Brownie

A couple of weeks ago, I began volunteering with the West Milford Animal Shelter, something I've wanted to do for a long time. Our greys are rescued, but I wanted to do more to help local animals that need good homes. I'm on cat duty until I complete my dog training course, at which time I can go where needed, but for now I'm enjoying getting to know the felines and am happy tagging along on dog walks. 

During my orientation session, I also volunteered to photograph any animals they thought could use a special picture to pique the interest of adopters. So last Sunday, I had my first shoot!

First up is Diesel, a Husky/Lab mix who's just a big ball of fun.   

And then there's gorgeous little Brownie, a Boxer/Terrier mix, who is truly a little love bug.

Even though I just started volunteering, it's been very rewarding to spend time with these animals and get to know them. If you'd like to learn more about Diesel or Brownie, click the links on their names or visit the West Milford Animal Shelter website.

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Stay Gold, Stay Gold

Golden Milk Chai Tea ingredients shot with off-camera flash

Golden Milk Chai Tea ingredients shot with off-camera flash

I wrote a post at my other blog, Minimally Invasive, about a new concoction of mine called Golden Milk Chai Tea. I started out with the photo in that post, but found it boring. While it captured the essence of the tea well, I've done that type of food photography shot bazillions of times and wanted to do something different. So I tried a couple of alternate lighting setups and ended up with the photos I've posted here.

This wasn't JUST about boredom, though. Freelance work has been sloooooow this winter, and while I've been sending inquiry after inquiry, the offers haven't flooded in just yet. Working with different lighting setups has helped me to stay positive and maintain a strong work ethic, while preparing me for any eventuality that may come up on a shoot. I'm most comfortable working with natural light, having logged countless hours in front of our magical Sliding glass Door to Nowhere in the dining room, but over the past year I've also developed a real rapport with my studio lights — Frick and Frack, the Strobe brothers. So the last frontier for me is off-camera flash. If I were a portrait photographer, I would've gotten comfortable with it earlier, but with tabletop food photography and natural-light pet photography, it just hasn't been a priority. But things changed after seeing the beautiful work photographer Kyle Cassidy turns out with off-camera flash. (I met Kyle when my husband Gil interviewed him for his podcast last year — give it a listen —and immediately started following him on Facebook. You should, too.)

Golden Milk Chai Tea ingredients shot with Frick and Frack, the Strobe brothers

Golden Milk Chai Tea ingredients shot with Frick and Frack, the Strobe brothers

All of this is to say that the top photo was taken with an off-camera flash and reflective umbrella combo. For that shot, I wanted strong shadows and a minimal/clean setup and think I achieved that, even if it isn't the warmest look for food photography. The photo just above was taken with strobes and a softbox for softer light with the fill strobe aimed at the ceiling.

Styling is bare bones because I really wanted to work with few distractions, but I'm excited to see how this plays out in other ways with more complicated setups.

 

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New in the Shop

Hi, folks! I've been working diligently behind the scenes, preparing for the holiday season and still can't believe it's knocking on the door already! Weren't we just ringing in the new year a few minutes ago? To say this year has flown by would be a huge understatement, but I suspect I'm not alone in that feeling. 

I've spent a bit of time updating my shop as well, adding photos, printable cards and more, and I'm so happy with the results I just want to share the new stuff with you today!

I've been playing around with double exposures lately and loved this image, which I call A Greyhound Dreams of Spring. With bare, winter branches trailing behind him, this greyhound dreams of of warmer days to come. Find it here.

I've also been working on printable photo cards for the holiday DIY'er. You can print these on your own at home or use a specially-designed template to send to Moo for professional printing, where you can add a customized message of your own and get free envelopes with your order. Being the greyhound-obsessive I am, a couple of the cards feature those sweet faces, which really shouldn't come as a surprise. Check 'em out below and click on the image to go directly to the item in the shop.

5x7_Hanukkah.jpg
7x5_stirring_front_display.jpg

In a previous life, I was a graphic designer and like to keep up with the programs in a "use it or lose it" sort of way, so I had fun creating a couple of typographic printable cards for New Year's Eve or just a fun holiday party. Again, you can print on your own or send to Moo for a no-hassle experience. Click on the images below to view them in the shop.

A card for the champagne connoisseur in you.

A card for the champagne connoisseur in you.

Continuing with the bubbly theme, a set of five cards available for download...

I hope you like them! If you have any suggestions of things you'd like to see for sale or if you want to inquire about a custom order, drop me a line at amyrothphoto [at} gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you, even if it's just to say, "Hi."

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How I Got the Shot — Beets

Hi, all! I'm going to start a regular-ish feature here showing the steps I take to get the shot I want. As anyone who photographs food knows, what you envision isn't always what you get right away, so I want to go through my process. I'm sure there are as many ways to approach this as there are photographers, so if you have a process that works better for you, please leave me a comment or email me. I'm always looking for ways to improve my work flow!

Today I'll be discussing the opening shot for my most recent Field to Feast post at Minimally Invasive. I'd say about 95% of the time I have a pretty clear vision of what I want the final shot on the blog to be and take concrete steps to get there. At other times, I really just want to eat before my food gets cold, so I snap a quick picture. But this shot was set in my mind from the start. What I wanted from this image was a dark, moody look with pops of color coming from the golden beets and an emphasis on the rough texture of the skin. 

Process Beets | Amy Roth Photo

1. My first shot. I set up next to a northwest-facing sliding glass door in late afternoon so I had moderate, diffused light for this shot. I shoot in manual mode (always with a tripod!) and measured the exposure with my light meter at 1/30 sec at f4. The X-Rite Color Checker you see in the shot, in combination with its Lightroom-compatible software, ensures proper white balance. 

2. With the beetroots facing the window in the first shot, I got exactly the opposite look I was going for, so I turned the board holding the beets 180 degrees to have the greens facing the window. In Lightroom, I increased highlights and darkened shadows just a tiny bit.

3. The green stems were a little too shaded, so I used a piece of white foam core board to reflect a little light back onto them. I held it up and to the left of the shot, about two feet away.  

4. Added a little more fill light by moving the foam core board closer, plus I wanted more of the shot in focus, so I changed my settings to 1/4 sec at f8.

5. The beet in the upper-left of the previous shot looked dry and was reflecting too much light, which draws the eye, so I turned it over to make sure it looked more like the rest of the beets in the shot.

6. Another styling change. I felt the golden beets were spaced too evenly to be visually pleasing, so I grouped them together at the bottom of the shot and about 2/3 of the way up. This is a pretty good example of the Rule of Thirds, as the top golden beet sits at the upper-left intersection of the imaginary rule of thirds grid. At this point, I was pleased with everything and took one final shot:

To get the exact feel I wanted, I made a few final adjustments in Lightroom. I took the Blacks and Shadows sliders down to deepen the dark parts of the image, and increased Clarity a touch. (This slider increases contrast in the midtones and can really make your images pop in a pleasing way if you use a light touch.) With my Nikon D700, oranges and reds can be overpowering, so I decreased the saturation a little bit overall, and also decreased just the yellow saturation to make the stems less muddy-looking. 

Of course, if you're really tweaking color, you need to make sure your monitor is calibrated. I used the Spyder system for a few years, but found it difficult to navigate and thought the calibration was inconsistent. I switched over to X-Rite's ColorMunki Display last year and love it beyond all measure. I recalibrate every two weeks unless I'm working on a big project, in which case I do it more frequently.

Overall, I was very happy with the way this photo turned out because it's exactly what I was looking for. I'd say this was pretty typical of the way I approach shots; I try to get it right in-camera as much as possible, then tweak it in post. Before putting the beets up on the blog, I added a Tom Robbins quote because TR makes life a little more enjoyable. 

Hope you found this useful! If you have any ideas for a future installment, or need clarification about anything, drop me a line.  

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Black Forest Inn

A couple of months ago, I received an email from the editor of Edible Jersey asking if I was available to shoot at Black Forest Inn in Stanhope, NJ for their holiday issue. The story would feature three generations of the Aichem family who work there. Honestly, I couldn't jump at the opportunity quickly enough! I love shooting at restaurants, especially in the kitchen (where I make sure to stay out of the way as much as possible). We'd scheduled the shoot for a slow-ish day, so I got to chat for a minute here and there with Chef Heiner and his son Heinrich, who couldn't have been friendlier or more accommodating. 

And the food? Oh, my! I was able to sample the plate I shot for the article — braised pork cheeks, spaetzle and braised red cabbage — and can't wait to go back for more!  

A few of my favorite shots for the article are below. If you have a chance, do check out the Black Forest Inn!  

Chef Heiner | Black Forest Inn
Heinrich | Black Forest Inn
Barbara | Black Forest Inn.jpg
Sneak Peek | Black Forest Inn
Write it Right | Black Forest Inn
All Smiles | Black Forest Inn.jpg

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Oldies but Goodies Adoptathon

The Oldies but Goodies Adoptathon at Rusty's Place in Ringwood, NJ showcased a lot of wonderful older animals that are available for adoption from area rescues. Featured organizations were Growl, Pets Alive, Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. and All Humane Animal Rescue, Inc.

Tasha was a particular favorite of mine. She's available for adoption through Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. For more information, click through the picture.

Tasha was a particular favorite of mine. She's available for adoption through Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. For more information, click through the picture.

I donate my time to rescue organizations when possible and love to hear the success stories when the animals find their forever homes. There are far too many unwanted dogs, cats and other animals crowding shelters. They're often there through no fault of their own and just want a family to love; that's why I'm so adamant about adopting, not shopping.

Chuck and Chris Coslet held the event at Rusty's Place in Ringwood. It's a great pet supply store with owners who really care about animals and know everyone who walks through their door! If you're in the area, check 'em out!

For more pictures from the adoptathon, complete with information about each animal pictured, visit the gallery here

 

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