Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.
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Picture this: three people at your door Sunday morning in their pajamas, asking “is your living room on fire?”
That’s what happened when I made pulled pork BBQ on my balcony. Too many wood chips in the smoker bowl, and the smoke was ferocious for about an hour. Luckily it slowed, and I was able to finish the smoke without any further complaints.
The first thing in making BBQ is to find the right cut of meat – ideally a Boston Butt with enough fat to keep the meat moist during cooking. Boston Butt in German: I bought Halssteak (though Nackensteak should also do), a 2.5kg hunk of meat. Here it is after brining and a nice rub (details later),
Next throw that baby on the smoker for about 6-12 hours (depending on the size of the meat). Target smoker temp is anywhere from 100C-110C / 210F-230F. Of course the hotter you cook the shorter the cooking time will be (thank you, physics).
My 2.5kg / 5.5 lb chunk took 9 1/2 hours to cook, but was only up to 80C / 175F inside. Better would have been 85C / between 180 and 190F. I turned it once, about 2/3 of the way through that time.
After the internal temp is to your target, pull it off! If it’s too low, it will be difficult to pull. Let it rest for about an hour so you don’t burn yourself during the pulling. Here’s the fully roasted meat:
To pull pork, get two forks and just go at it, tearing off shreds and hunks. I left aside lots of fat bits and some super-hard outer portions that didn’t look very edible. If you have dogs, they will be going crazy right about now. Here’s the interior of the Boston Butt:
It took about 30-40 minutes to pull the whole thing, and my arms were definitely worked over. Probably I could have let the internal temp go a bit higher, to make pulling easier. And I guess I lack a bit of technique too. But the final product looks (and tastes) great:
For the final step I slapped my pork on a bun and doused it with some Hot Texas BBQ sauce from a high-rated recipe on a website (details below). MMM-MMMMHHH!
Definitely every bit as good as restaurant BBQ at big smokehouses in the States. And I’ve never seen BBQ anywhere in Germany before, so it’s a first for me to have a real pulled pork sandwich over here. Delicious!
Dave’s Top 10 Pulled Pork BBQ Tips (no, I’m not Famous Dave…)
1) Watch Alton Brown’s pulled pork bbq episode on YouTube.
2) Print out Alton’s recipe here with details on the brine and the rub.
3) Find a nice Texas Hot BBQ recipe like this one from Epicurious
4) Choose some nice chunks or chips of wood like apple, hickory, olive, etc. Some have a stronger flavor than others, you can read all about wood here.
5) If you are a hot-food wimp, skip the cayenne (and maybe even the chipotle). On the other hand, if (like me) you love the heat, add something more… I went with half a smoked habanero to bring the sauce up to my level.
6) Smoke your pork as described above, low n’ slow. Smoker target temp is 100C-110C / 210F-230F.
7) I’d recommend a meat internal temp of around 85C / between 180 and 190F. Too low and you will have trouble pulling it.
8\) Pull your pork – it’s easier if you have a few people to help.
9) Slap the pulled pork on a toasted bun, don’t be shy.
10) Douse with BBQ sauce to taste and enjoy!
Posted 4 years, 8 months ago. 1 comment
Having a bit of time on my hands, I decided to take up smoking. No, Mom, not cigarettes… food! I’m using a terracotta smoker, which (hopefully) will not make my picky German neighbors insane at the first whiff of charred mesquite.
I got the idea from Good Eats (Alton Brown), though now you can find dozens of pages explaining how to make a terracotta smoker, so I won’t go too much into detail. The basics: buy 2 flower pots, an electric burner, a heavy duty pie pan, and a round grill grate. Slap a thermometer on there and fill it with hardwood, and you’re smokin’! Here it is:
Smoking MUST be done outside. Preferably far from anyone’s house windows! If you do try this on an apartment balcony like me (disclaimer: I’m not responsible, blah blah blah, not recommended), read these
6 Tips for Balcony Smokers / Grills
- Tell your neighbors first so they don’t think someone’s places is on fire
- Promise your neighbors some of the finished product as payment for putting up with your smoke
- Don’t use too many wood chips, or any sawdust – they make massive amounts of smoke FAST
- Try chunks of wood and longer cooking times to minimize smoke output
- Keep your windows/door closed, otherwise your own apartment will smell like smoke
- Use a meat thermometer to measure the smoke temperature, as it’s more accurate in the narrow range where you want to be smoking (up to about 230F / 110C)
Below is my first attempt: smoked jalapeños and habaneros. Note the former are not chipotles, because I used green jalapeños; to make chipotles you need to find ripe red jal’s. Weighing in at 308 grams before smoking…
Here are the peppers mid-smoke. I smoked ’em for about 12 hours on low heat (70-80C).
And the final product: note they only weigh in at 28 grams! >90% weight loss…
I’ve made salsa and Texas-style BBQ sauce with these babies and they are deliciously smoky. Just one pepper adds huge flavor to a bowl of fresh salsa!
Posted 4 years, 8 months ago. 6 comments
I took a cooking course at the Sapa Boutique Hotel in Sapa, Vietnam – here was the result of one dish!
These tasty fried spring rolls were made with a chicken & vegetables filling, wrapped in rice paper, dipped in egg and bread crumbs, and then deep fried. One of the best spring rolls we had on the trip!
For those making your own deep-fried Vietnamese spring rolls, here’s a short how-to video showing you how to roll the filling in the rice paper:
Posted 4 years, 10 months ago. Add a comment
These are not the lights of Las Vegas, Nevada… but rather a different kind of lights in the tiny town of Las Vegas, Tenerife. I set up my Nikon D7000 and tried out some Milky Way star trail timelapse sequences. By pure chance, one of the nights happened to be the 2011 Geminids meteor shower! Lots of Sternschnuppe made it onto my 30s-exposure photos.
See how many shooting stars you can count. Can you find Venus, the Pleiades, and the Andromeda galaxy? I recommend 1080 full HD on Youtube to give your peepers the best resolution possible!
As I’ve been doing a lot of timelapse stuff lately, here are
Dave’s TOP 10 Night Timelapse Tips
- Make sure nothing annoying is moving in your photo, like trees that cover a large portion of the frame.
- Avoid super bright lights being in the shot, they can create lens flare at long exposure.
- Beware of battery life. Even my D7000 (one of the longest battery-life cameras) lasts under 400 shots at ISO 2000 and 30s exposure.
- If possible, choose a location without motion detector lights. Unfortunately I couldn’t do that in this video, so I minimized the amount of scenery that was hit by the light.
- Watch out for the moon. If it comes up during a night timelapse it will wash out all the stars.
- Use a steady tripod and put it somewhere it won’t be disturbed by wind gusts, pets, or other people while you (hopefully) sleep.
- Make sure to set a fixed (manual) focus, and don’t let the camera autofocus during the shoot. I use Live View on a bright star or very distant house light for the initial focus.
- Keep the aperture constant to avoid changes in depth of field during the shoot.
- Use manual exposure mode and fine-tune the ISO and shutter open time with some test shots. Of course you’ll want to set the widest aperture of your lens.
- Last but not least: Check the weather report and pick a day free of clouds! Forecast should be 0% chance of rain unless you want a wet camera.
Posted 5 years, 2 months ago. Add a comment
Due to the graphic nature of the following story and photos, it is recommended that children under the age of 12 are shielded from this information.
Reports indicate that Santa fell out of his sleigh during a Nov. 24th practice run for Christmas 2011. Recent photos taken from a passing 747 confirm this tragedy:
These are the last known images of Santa.
Note that Santa’s beard appears to be a freefall hazard:
A final image (where Santa’s hat appears to be coming off) reveals that old Saint Nick may actually be bald.
At this time it is unknown if Santa was equipped with any emergency safety equipment, such as a jet pack or parachute. However, based on a prior skydiving trip in 2010 (file photo below), there is still hope that Santa will be found alive.
Our thoughts go out to Mrs. Claus. At her request, donations to the Elves’ Fund can be made through Traveldave.com.
Photographs by Eric Babcock.
Posted 5 years, 3 months ago. 5 comments
On a recent trip to Greece, I tried out timelapse photography on my Nikon D7000 D-SLR. With about 500 photos you can get a great 20 second sunset sequence in 24p! Taken in Athens and on Aegina island. Here’s a shot of the setup I used:
With my Intel-Atom-powered Asus Eee PC along, I was able to check out the results directly after each timelapse shoot. I used free software (Virtualdub with the deflicker plugin) to compile the single shots into a video. This quick feedback enabled me to fine-tune my techniques on the fly and get increasingly better timelapse videos each day.
I foresee a lot of changes in cameras during the next 5-10 years. Higher-end models will have (real, quality) HDR functions integrated. The sequential photo setting now used for timelapses will integrate the photos automatically into a video in the camera, including exposure adjustment to avoid flicker. This is going to need a more powerful, yet still low-power processor built into the camera.
Let’s see what happens as cameras + processors improve. One thing is for sure, technology isn’t slowing down yet!
Posted 5 years, 5 months ago. 1 comment
What better time that Oktoberfest for a Guided Munich photo tour. I took some clients around the city on the first night of Oktoberfest 2011, and we were lucky enough to get this beautiful sunset.
A nice longer exposure shot:
Then off for a few really long-exposure nighttime shots before a thunderstorm brought our evening to an end. Yeah, I was too lazy to perspective-correct these in Photoshop (hehe).
I love the stationary car in front of the archway!
So get out your tripods and let’s see some long-exposure car trails! (All photos here with a Nikon D7000 and 18-200mm VR lens)
Posted 5 years, 5 months ago. 2 comments
When traveling in my home country, visiting friends and shopping in strip malls, I don’t have such the incentive for scenic photos. But I do find other subjects at which to point my camera. In the holiday spirit, here are a few random photos of friends’ pets being cute…
This is Diesel, the one-eyed horse:
“Eat the kitty!”
Encyclopedia Brown and the Mystery of the Symmetrical Hounds:
“This thing had better not run over my toes.”
Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays!
p.s. for the Encyclopedia Brown fans, the answer is that Bugs Meany has drugged their food and arranged them in this curious pose. This way he could egg(nog) Encyclopedia’s house while the young detective was busy figuring out what happened to the dogs.
Posted 6 years, 2 months ago. 4 comments
So, I’m out of Blair’s Death Sauce, at least the “less strong” varieties like Salsa de la Muerte that are usable straight over food. I decided to try my hand at some hot sauce of my own. For those that know the habanero, it’s one of the hottest peppers in the world, 50-100 times hotter than a jalapeno. Here are the ingredients of my sauce:
List of ingredients for Roasted Garlic Habanero Hot Sauce:
- 20 habanero peppers
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 3 rawitt chilis
- 1 large shallot (not pictured in photo!)
- 1 head garlic
- 1/2c white vinegar
- 1/2c water
- 1/3c lemon juice
- 2tsp brown sugar
- 1tsp roasted cumin
- 1tsp salt
I halved and then roasted 3/4 of the habaneros (seeds and all) along with the jalapeno and the peeled garlic cloves. This was done in the oven, maybe around 350°F for 15-20min until lightly browned. Then everything went in the blender including the remaining (uncooked) habaneros. Roasting supposedly reduces the heat a bit (nooo!), and I also wanted to keep some fresh habanero flavor, so I left 1/4 of the habanero pods raw & unroasted.
Here’s the final result:
The flavor is amazing! Perhaps because it’s so fresh, and hasn’t been processed as much as your average store-bought hot sauce. Due to the high acid content with vinegar and lemon juice, I suspect this will keep for a very long time (months or more). Although I am a bit concerned that it could grow mold eventually. I’m also looking for some pH test strips to check the acidity, as this will tell how safe an acidified food is. I suspect it’s in the mid to low 4’s, making it long-term shelf storage safe, but for now it’s in my fridge.
If you do give homemade hot sauce-making a try, let us know here! Until then I recommend Blair’s Death Sauces. Available in Germany at www.importladen.de. My favorite is Salsa de la Muerte, as most of the hotter ones have to be diluted – I like to drizzle my food with sauce.
Happy tasting, and don’t numb your tongue too much!
Posted 6 years, 3 months ago. Add a comment
I love eating raw food. Usually it just tastes better to me, and has a great texture compared to most things cooked. And in today’s markets, it’s relatively safe for healthy adults to eat several kinds of meat & fish raw. (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist, and I take no responsibility if eating raw food makes you sick).
Below is some of my homemade sushi from a few days ago. I always buy the fish in a high-end market, and ask the fishmonger what he recommends for sushi. Often they say “Nothing today, come back on xxxx” – and I definitely respect that. Usually they have tuna and salmon; on the right days sometimes another one or two. You can also find frozen sushi (such as pre-cooked Unagi, or eel) in some Asian shops.
Of course to get this nice blur, I used my 35mm f/2. ISO was cranked up to 800 to avoid using a flash, and I white-balanced on an empty plate before shooting.
Despite that I once ate raw chicken in Kyoto, I don’t recommend that for everyone. Nor would I ever recommend eating raw pork, because the consequences are too dire. But I’ve never been sick from raw beef or fish. Of course I only consume these in countries where I trust the food processing chain.
So, if you live in a well-developed country, check out the best fish market you can find in town – maybe you, too, can make your own sushi for a fraction of the restaurant price!
Posted 6 years, 5 months ago. 2 comments