prime lens

These are a few of my favorite things...George's at the Cove by Amanda Liew

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One of the things I was most excited about with getting my Nikon 50mm prime lens was shooting more...FOOD! Whenever I'm back home in La Jolla, I try my best to cram all of my favorite restaurants and all of my favorite home cooked meals into the few days I'm back. While I went straight from the airport to In-N-Out (animal style fries and a cheeseburger with grilled onions, please), my post-Christmas lunch with my little sister, Kiersten, had to be at my all time favorite restaurant George's at the Cove! As a native La Jollan, I have two favorite restaurants in the village: Don Carlos Taco Shop for that authentic Southern California style Mexican food, and George's at the Cove's for delicious new American lunches with a view. The restaurant is technically three levels, and I've admittedly never gone to the "actual" restaurant for dinner, because I'm too obsessed with the Ocean Terrace's views during midday. In years past, you had to wait at least an hour or two to get a lunch table on the weekends, but the world rejoiced when they finally took reservations on Open Table (hallelujah!). The view from the terrace looks out upon a phenomenal view of La Jolla Cove on the left and La Jolla Shores on the right - it's truly breathtaking. The weather was unbelievable at a hot 79 degrees, but our very wonderful waitress kept us cool with endless water and ice teas.

This picture really doesn't do it justice - I almost creeped in between two tables to get a better shot, but decided I better not._DSC0328_Christmas 2013We started with the chips and salsa ($6) which is a huge plate that can really be shared by 4-5 people. I ordered the Blackened Seasonal Fish Sandwich ($13.5) which was so flavorful and spiced the perfect amount. The bread is often one of the key parts of a sandwich and I was super happy with it's perfect crunchyness. Also, it had avocado and who doesn't love avocado? I opted for the side salad which was surprisingly tasty with a tangy champagne dressing (I say surprisingly because so few restaurants actually put effort into the salads or fries that come on the side!)_DSC0325_Christmas 2013

Kiersten ordered the Grilled White Shrimp with Tabbouleh Salad which was much different than what we expected, but in a good way. The shrimp was plentiful and the presentation showed a lot of attention to detail._DSC0326_Christmas 2013

So there it is, one of my favorite things: George's at the Cove! _DSC0330_Christmas 2013I don't think this blog is popular enough for a disclaimer of any sort, but I'm not affiliated with George's or any other establishments. All opinions, however, are highly influenced by my taste buds.

Photographic Thoughts/Critique: Sometimes with photographing food at restaurants, I feel the need to choose between embarrassing myself/everybody else at my table and getting a good shot. I'm hoping getting good shots will become easier and easier as I practice, but there are some imperfections with my photos that definitely drive me crazy. For example, I think the chips and salsa photograph would be more interesting/stronger if the salsa were more in focus rather than the chips. One thing I've found particularly difficult with the 50mm prime lens is being too close to my subject and not being able to focus easily on the right spot. I often have to back up more but then I don't get the close up cropping I want. As for the sandwich, I think I could have rearranged it a little bit to show the inside details (the fish, avocado, etc.) to let the photograph describe itself. Again, how much do you want to look like a fool at a restaurant? And finally, I think the shrimp salad could have benefited from including the end of the bread stick on the left to make a balanced photo. The end is cropped off and a little distracting to the eye.

A Christmas Wish: 50mm Prime Lens by Amanda Liew

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After learning the basics of photography with my Nikon D3100's kit lens (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) for the past year, I decided it was time to upgrade my equipment and branch out. After talking with a few other friends and doing some research online, I thought the best next step would be a prime lens, specifically the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G! I requested the lens for Christmas from my family and my wish was fulfilled! I had a fun day trying out the new prime lens and comparing it with my zoom lens today. _DSC0272_Christmas 2013 _DSC0279_Christmas 2013

Some delicious macarons from Bouchon Bakery - hand carried by yours truly for my grandparent's Christmas gift!_DSC0306_Christmas 2013

For those of you who don't know, a prime lens is fixed at a specific focal length (thus, also called fixed focal lens). My zoom lens goes from 18-55mm, but my prime lens is static at just 50mm. This means that you have to actually move closer and farther from your subject to get the right framing - it's a challenge to be constrained in this way, but supposedly it also helps you to develop a photographic eye and to be able to frame things in your mind before you look through the view finder. The quality of the lens is often much better, and the aperture on this prime lens can go much lower (f/1.8) than my zoom lens  (f/3.5 minimum). The lower the aperture number, the more light that can come in and the shallower the depth of field. This is perfect for shooting in low lighting which was something I was really looking forward to!

A great practice field was our Christmas tree. My mom has long foregone the cute kindergarten macaroni ornaments we made years ago & instead has curated a musically themed Christmas tree complete with various instruments, bells, speakers, etc! Below is a comparison of a similar shot between the prime lens and the zoom lens. Note how the low aperture of f/2.2 on the prime lens allows for a bokeh effect with the Christmas lights in the background, but also helps to increase the shutter speed.

Prime lens: f/2.2 aperture // 1/80 shutter speed // ISO 1600_DSC0237_Christmas 2013

Zoom lens: f/5.3 aperture // 1/50 shutter speed // ISO 1600_DSC0242_Christmas 2013

One thing I really like is how I don't need to be as concerned about the background of my subject because of the depth of field. In the background of this image there's a boring staircase, but I could be in a nice little studio for all you know!_DSC0257_Christmas 2013

The 50mm prime lens is also often turned to for portraits, and I can see why! It's easy to have your subject stand out, and the extra aperture stops help with making the background blur aesthetically. _DSC0217_Christmas 2013

As a final note, I've made all my purchases (camera body, zoom/kit lens, prime lens, and other accessories) through Amazon, and each product has always come perfectly packaged and protected. I highly recommend it as a supplier!

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