Gianni’s North Beach: Tuscan Black Kale

If you’re even vaguely aware of food trends, you know that kale’s been a thing. Everyone seems to have their own take on how best to cook this ridiculously good for you superfood, but we think that the latest episode of  Gianni’s North Beach shows one of the better ways to prepare it. Of course, we could be biased since we, uh, produce the show.

This episode was a lot of fun to shoot. It was our second shoot day working together as a crew, so things started to get more into the groove. Part of that was probably due to this awesome app Shot Lister. If you haven’t used it, it’s a pretty great piece of tech that obfuscates the printed excel spreadsheet with all the crossouts and notes you’ve been using to track your shots and stay on schedule. Shot Lister gives you a nice interface to manage all that and, since it’s on your device, it also gives you info about how behind or ahead (ya, right!) you are. It seriously kept us on track. Totally worth the $14.

On the gear side of things, our FS700 was camera A–notice that super slow mo vegetable washing at the beginning?–and our Canon 5D Mark III was camera B. Both used Canon 24-105mm L glass. As for other stuff, lights were Linco, tripod was Sachtler, slider was Konova, and slate was Pearstone.

Gianni’s North Beach: Tortellini in Brodo

As you know, we produce Gianni’s North Beach, a hyper local cooking show based in SF’s traditionally Italian American neighborhood of North Beach. To make the production efficient, we of course produce multiple episodes when we shoot. So the same day we did cioppino, we also did tortellini in brodo.

It was also the first time the three of us were working together on set, so we also had to learn everyone’s unique style. Crazy day.

For this shoot, the A camera was our Sony FS700 armed with the Canon 24-105mm L. B camera for video but A for photography was our Canon 5D Mark III with a second 24-105mm L. Gianni has a tiny home kitchen, one of the soft boxes was “mounted” on top of the fridge. And by “mounted,” we really mean “placed precariously on top.” Yes, the inevitable happened, and one absent-minded trip to the fridge send the light crashing. No damage.

Final victory: One of the best things about shooting a cooking show is you get to sample what the cook makes. That tortellini was duh-licious.

Gianni’s North Beach: Cioppino – Christmas Eve Stew of Seven Fishes

We produce Gianni’s North Beach, a super local cooking show based in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. This video was shot handheld in his tiny home kitchen on a Sony FS700, but there’s some Canon 5d Mark III action if you know where to looking. Lenses used were the Canon 24-105mm L and the Canon 100mm Macro L. The set was lit primarily by 2 Linco Flora lights. Two-person crew.

This is what Gianni has to say about cioppino in his blog post:

Cioppino, the famous fish stew invented down on Fisherman’s Wharf by the immigrant fishermen from Liguria and Sicily is just the quick and easy dish I need for a busy day in the kitchen with the cameras rolling.

The local tale is that when the boats were all in a big cauldron was put over a fire to cook the tomato broth. After selling their catch, the fisherman one by one would bring whatever fish were leftover on their boat. They “chipped in” and the dish they all shared on the wharf got its name. More likely the name is derived from the classic Ligurian dialect for the fish stew found around Genoa,  ”ciuppin”.

We got to sample the finished product and as usual, it was delicious. No animals were harmed in the making of this video. Unless you count the ones we, uh, ate.


Dungeness Crab

Dungeness Crab

I was on assignment for Where Magazine shooting images of SF’s Fisherman’s WharfI saw the crab guys doing their thing at their stalls and got a few shots of them in action, but it’s the food that’s the money shot, right? So I popped out my trusty 85mm f/1.8 prime–alas, no f/1.2 yet–got up as close as I could for framing and got the shot. I’m pretty happy with how this turned out and I guess Where was, too, since they used it in their June 2013 issue.

Corn Dogs

Corn Dogs

I shot this at the same SF Zoo event with  yummy sliders.

I love the way the light wraps around the corn dogs in this shot. It was late afternoon and the sun was additionally diffused by some trees, so the light’s nice and soft. I got some other decent shots at the event, but this one was probably my favorite. I thought it came out great and, apparently, Jeff did, too, since we use it at the beginning of our videos. And for you camera geeks out there, I shot this with a Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 24-105mm L lens at f 4.0, ISO 100, 1/100 shutter.

If you have a chance, go check out the zoo. I didn’t get to see the whole thing, but the few areas they had open seemed pretty amazing. And, yes, I did see the tigers and it was perfectly safe.



I do freelance work for various clients and one of my favorites is Where Magazine. They hold frequent events for hotel folks to get the skinny on various joints and attractions around town, and they often call me to get some event photos. Luckily, they like good food as much as the next person, so I get to sneak in some food shots for pretty much every event.

This event was held at the SF Zoo and immediately upon entering we were greeted by jugglers, stilt walkers and a person in a fuzzy penguin suit. We then followed the sounds of a mariachi band and found ourselves presented with lovely hors d’oeuvres like corn dogs and the sliders you see above.

Unlike the deep fried perfection of a corn dog, these sliders were really messy, so there’s stuff exploding out that hints at what’s to come. Were I to do it again, I might try to sneak in some viscous sauce like mustard or mayo or ketchup, but, hey, it was a live event and people probably wouldn’t have appreciated my grubby hands on the food they were about to eat. But I think overall the shot works pretty well in that I kinda want a slider right now.

For the technically inclined, I shot this on my Canon 5D Mark III with the 24-105mm L lens at f/4.5, ISO 100 at 1/60 sec.

Crab picking


Where Magazine asked me to get some shots of Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf for a feature they were doing on the neighborhood–the people, the sights, the sound and the food–so I immediately thought of the crab since it’s such a big draw and probably the second thing people think of in the area. The first for most is the sea lions, but I’m a food person so crab comes to mind first for me.

This pic was shot on a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-105mm L lens at f/4.0, ISO 400, 1/400 sec.



Almost a year ago, I bought a case of Sriracha sauce because, really, why wouldn’t you? I’ve since become more enamored of Huy Fong’s sambal oelek‘s funkier vibe, which is why I still haven’t finished the case yet, but I still have a special place in my heart for rooster sauce.

I knew I wanted to capture the bottles en masse because, really, why wouldn’t you? But I kept putting it off and putting it off until finally I was close to the end of the Sriracha I was working on prior to the case and got inspiration late at night. Since it was late, I didn’t want to set up my lights and annoy my neighbors bumping around, so I just used the little light above my stove. I might have had some ambient light from the moon or something, but the vast majority of the light came from the stove light. Oh and I took this before I upgraded to a 5D Mark III, so I shot this on a T3i with a 28mm prime, so goes to show, you can get some pretty decent images without lots of big fancy super expensive gear.

And if you’re curious about the settings, it’s shot at f/1.8, ISO 1600, 1/100 sec.