Author Topic: Looking for constructive critisim  (Read 2163 times)

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Online JD

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Looking for constructive critisim
« on: August 26, 2013, 03:10:06 PM »
I've been posting for about a year and a half, and I think I've come a long way from where I started. One thing I've noticed though is a lack of feedback on most of my posts, which typically means it's nothing worth commenting on.

So I'm putting myself out there for the sole purpose of getting better. Not knowing anything about my process, techniques or crazy experiments, I'm asking you to please share your constructive criticisms so I can make the best possible NY pizza.


Pic 1 was from this weekend: White pizza 1/2 spinach (I already know it has too much ricotta)
Pic 2 is a crumb shot of 1
Pic 3 is roni' slice
Pic 4 is buffalo chicken with 1/2 roni'


Looking forward to hearing all comments (good or bad)
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 03:18:29 PM by JD »
Josh


Offline slybarman

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 03:19:19 PM »
Oven spring looks terrific. The first pie looked like it had some signs of excess bench flower on the cornice that may have inhibited browning. Have you tried semolina for your dusting flour. I found that helped mine quite a bit. Shape is nice and even. Thickness factor looks good. I prefer mine just slightly more done, but that is a personal preference kind of thing.

Nothing much wrong with any of them to my eye.

Online JD

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 03:59:17 PM »
Thank you for the comments sly.

I use semolina for as a peel dust, but I use regular flour for my initial dough dip (straight out of the container into a pile of flour). Do you use only semolina for this?


Please keep the comments coming, even if its bad. I'm originally from NY, I can handle criticism well :-D
Josh

Offline slybarman

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 04:07:58 PM »
Yes, I use semolina only. I found the flour tended to stick to the dough it give it that chalky coating that kept if from browning well. I know lots of people use straight flour, but they must be much better at dough handling than I am and are able to use much less. For me the semolina really works well and you can even brush any off with your hand that remains after baking - if you were so inclined.

Online JD

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 04:24:59 PM »
Yes, I use semolina only. I found the flour tended to stick to the dough it give it that chalky coating that kept if from browning well. I know lots of people use straight flour, but they must be much better at dough handling than I am and are able to use much less. For me the semolina really works well and you can even brush any off with your hand that remains after baking - if you were so inclined.

Excellent, I'm going to adapt this on my next bake. Thanks again.
Josh

Offline mkevenson

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2013, 04:44:42 PM »
JD, I am no NY expert. Probably no expert at any style, but
to my eye it appears that you have mastered opening your dough. Nice and round and uniform crust.
I prefer not to use grated cheese, I guess that the NY style uses it a lot. I like the 1st pie, yes too much cheese but that is an easy fix.

When you say that you get lack of feedback, do you mean none, or only a couply replys?

I would say that there are many of my posts that don't elicit a huge  response, try not to let it bother you, you are doing very well from the looks of things.

Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles

Online tinroofrusted

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2013, 04:56:40 PM »
Hi JD,

First of all, your pizzas look very good.  I would not normally say anything critical about them but I can see you really do want some feedback so here are my more critical than normal thoughts. These comments are more about your photos since I think you are trying to present the pizzas in the best light possible and that includes getting the photos to look better.   

  • I would say the first pizza looks a bit uneven (more done on the right side, less on the left).
  • On the first pizza, the cheese pools (is that ricotta?) on the first pizza are perhaps a bit big in relation to the rest of the pizza, so I wonder if you cut down on the size of those cheese pieces and perhaps do a few smaller ones the pizza might be more attractive. (I guess you self-identified that problem though.)
  • Your photos look a bit overexposed to me. Maybe they were shot with a flash which can give a somewhat flat, washed out look.  Try shooting without the flash (if you are using a flash) and just use normal light.  If you are shooting with normal light try adjusting the camera so it takes in a bit less light. 
  • Half/half pizzas (different toppings on one half versus the other) don't photograph particularly well.  They might taste good and feed your guests according to their tastes but the photos are going to be somewhat wanting on a half-half topped pizza. The eye is looking for symmetry and the half-half topping is not as satisfying to the eye from an artistic standpoint.
  • Also regarding the composition of the photos, the kitchen stove background of some of your photos is somewhat distracting. If you can find an attractive darker surface (a wood table, a cutting board) to photograph the pizzas on, then you will probably get a better photo. (The first pizza is the best in this regard.)

I hope these criticisms are somewhat helpful. As you can see I didn't have too much to say about your pizzas themselves because they already look very good to begin with!  You obviously are an experienced pizzamaker and are producing some really nice pizzas there. 

If you look at some of the photos I have posted of my pizzas you will see that I myself am often guilty of some of the same errors I have pointed out to you.  During the rush of getting pizza on the table and fighting off the people trying to reach for a slice as you are photographing, it can be kind of hard to get a good shot!  Also, getting a really good photo does depend somewhat on your camera. I wonder what model of camera use used to take the photos you posted.   

Regards,

TinRoof


Offline Polo1523

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2013, 05:30:23 PM »
The pepperoni Pie looks delicious JD,
On the white Pie,  I prefer making a base, ricotta cheese, a bit of pecorino or parmesan, garlic, a touch of pesto, than I spread directly to the dough a thin base, than Mozzarella cheese and whatever topping you want, maybe some tomatoe slices or no topping is ok, it really looks better than throwing the ricotta on top and gives more creamyness and flavor.
Regards Leo.

Online JD

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2013, 05:42:30 PM »
JD, I am no NY expert. Probably no expert at any style, but
to my eye it appears that you have mastered opening your dough. Nice and round and uniform crust.
I prefer not to use grated cheese, I guess that the NY style uses it a lot. I like the 1st pie, yes too much cheese but that is an easy fix.

When you say that you get lack of feedback, do you mean none, or only a couply replys?

I would say that there are many of my posts that don't elicit a huge  response, try not to let it bother you, you are doing very well from the looks of things.

Mark


Thank you Mark. I've put in so much time & effort into making pizza (mostly for the fun of it) and sometimes you need some fresh eyes to point out some obvious flaws that you may not otherwise notice. I got some feedback from Sly a couple weeks ago, and it was so obvious I was surprised it didn't stand out to me. Otherwise I rarely get feedback on my pictures. This is what prompted me to start this thread, to see if there were any other "obvious" or possible not so obvious flaws in my pizza.

Thank you for your feedback! I'm very happy when I get a round 18" pizza from my home oven. When I do it right, the pizza is very close to the back & front of the oven.

I hope these criticisms are somewhat helpful. As you can see I didn't have too much to say about your pizzas themselves because they already look very good to begin with!  You obviously are an experienced pizzamaker and are producing some really nice pizzas there. 

TinRoof,

Thank you for putting in the time to make that elaborate post. I admit, I have no idea what I'm doing in terms of taking pictures. I use the camera on my phone or my wife's digital, and all I know about her camera is that it is pink..........

I will certainly take another look at all the suggestions you made and hopefully take some better pictures. I have a dark wood kitchen table so I'll try that next time. Regarding lighting, the picture never looks like reality. I know it has to do with lighting I just don't know what adjustments to make. I rarely cook during the day so I usually take pictures under false lighting (regular incandescent). Maybe I should read the pink camera user manual   :D

You're absolutely right about the unevenness. I'm going to give it a spin next time, admittedly I do not. Also, this was my first white pizza so I overestimated the amount of cheese for sure. This is great advice, thank you again.


The pepperoni Pie looks delicious JD,
On the white Pie,  I prefer making a base, ricotta cheese, a bit of pecorino or parmesan, garlic, a touch of pesto, than I spread directly to the dough a thin base, than Mozzarella cheese and whatever topping you want, maybe some tomatoe slices or no topping is ok, it really looks better than throwing the ricotta on top and gives more creamyness and flavor.

Thanks Polo.
I was attempting to re-create a "typical" NY style white pie which I think has pools of ricotta. I do like the sound of yours though, I think I may try that next time instead. Do you use any oil?
Josh

Offline Polo1523

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2013, 05:49:47 PM »
So sorry by mistake I hit Ignore :-S, yes I use a drizzle of EVVO, It really makes a difference on how your cheese melts and brings up the flavors, and since I use a wood fire oven higher temps, if I dont use the oil the toppings get a little dry.
Regards Leo.


Offline vitus

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2013, 06:01:31 PM »
JD,

I'm no expert, but from my point of view the pies look very, very good!

There are a few things I might want to do to perfect them even more, but it's a matter of taste:
- I would cut down on the cheese a little bit. There's nothing wrong with not having everything covered with cheese.
- I would rotate the pies 180 degrees when they were half done. Most non professional ovens have an uneven heat distribution.
- I would remove any cheese on the cornicone before baking the pies. To me the cornicone looks more beautiful without small bits of cheese.

But these are very minor points. Your pies look delicious.

Online JD

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2013, 07:45:28 PM »
So sorry by mistake I hit Ignore :-S, yes I use a drizzle of EVVO, It really makes a difference on how your cheese melts and brings up the flavors, and since I use a wood fire oven higher temps, if I dont use the oil the toppings get a little dry.

Great, I'll keep it in mind for next time. You put out some nice pizza so I appreciate your response.

JD,

I'm no expert, but from my point of view the pies look very, very good!

There are a few things I might want to do to perfect them even more, but it's a matter of taste:
- I would cut down on the cheese a little bit. There's nothing wrong with not having everything covered with cheese.
- I would rotate the pies 180 degrees when they were half done. Most non professional ovens have an uneven heat distribution.
- I would remove any cheese on the cornicone before baking the pies. To me the cornicone looks more beautiful without small bits of cheese.

But these are very minor points. Your pies look delicious.

Thanks Vitus. You're right on all three points. I don't want to just make pizza, I want to make it an art. These are the details I need a lot of work on. I appreciate your input!
Josh

Online tinroofrusted

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2013, 09:11:21 PM »
Quote
I admit, I have no idea what I'm doing in terms of taking pictures. I use the camera on my phone or my wife's digital, and all I know about her camera is that it is pink..........

JD, if you don't mind, perhaps this is a good place to elaborate a bit more on this subject of pizza photography.  Consider for a moment some of the pizzamakers who are well known for their beautiful pizzas (e.g., Craig, Omid, Bill/SFNM, among others); most if not all of these people are also excellent photographers. They know that a beautiful pizza must be photographed beautifully as well.  By way of example, look at the beautiful pictures Omid took of his pizzas (the first one color corrected by Pizzablogger). Admittedly, Omid had some great raw material to work with, but we would never have been able to appreciate those pizzas if Omid hadn't taken such stunning photos. 

JD, you mentioned that lighting is important, and I totally agree.  Omid uses a very simple "Jansjo Work lamp" from Ikea (purchased for under $10). I can't remember what type of camera he has but I don't think it is super elaborate (though I bet it's not pink). 

So there's yet another skill we can work on, in addition to pizzamaking!   

Regards,

TinRoof

Online JD

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2013, 10:49:50 PM »
You're right, that is beautiful. Looks like I have some more to learn, thanks again!
Josh

Online JD

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2013, 08:46:22 PM »
Tin:

The camera is a Cannon Powershot 1200si. I have a lot of research to do, but I pulled a cold slice from the fridge and did a quick comparison using Automatic mode & Program mode just to see if there were any major differences.  I also added some light in the background.  Pretty surprised in the difference, and this is after 10 minutes of research.

Thanks again for the advice. I'm looking forward to learning more now.

Josh

Online tinroofrusted

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2013, 12:47:51 AM »
Tin:

The camera is a Cannon Powershot 1200si. I have a lot of research to do, but I pulled a cold slice from the fridge and did a quick comparison using Automatic mode & Program mode just to see if there were any major differences.  I also added some light in the background.  Pretty surprised in the difference, and this is after 10 minutes of research.

Thanks again for the advice. I'm looking forward to learning more now.

Hey now!  That's quite the difference.  That Canon camera is plenty good for photos, even if it is pink.  I think you will really enjoy getting some great photos of your creations. 

Regarfds,

TinRoof

Offline Needssalt

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2013, 08:39:31 AM »
   Pizza is just so subjective.  When I look around my local pizza-scape, I'm shocked at what people like.   I just have a hard time saying someone needs more top browning, or less toppings.  I know what I like, but..........   Maybe if you posted an example of what you consider your ideal, there could be a more objective comparison.   
   I've been a part of a fishing lure forum for years, and the same things always happen.  Someone will post a pic of what they've made, and there will be 10 posts of short comments like "looks good",  or "great work".  I'm guilty of it too.  Sometimes that's all people want is to show others what they're working on.  Sometimes a dialog starts,.... Sometimes people just want to look. 
  I would agree with some of the others, to make them show the best they can be in photos, if you want feedback on how they look.  I would still like to see what your ideal looks like.  Keep experimenting, and soaking it in. 

Online tinroofrusted

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2013, 10:18:34 AM »
You're right, our viewpoints about which pizza (or fishing lure) looks best are pretty subjective. But they are informed by what we have seen in our own kitchens, what looks appetizing (or in the case of a fishing lure, what we think looks appetizing to a fish), what looks well baked, what looks well composed, etc.  We are more or less in the realm of art here, aren't we? None of us really know how the pizzas represented on the forum would actually taste; we're more or less supposing what they might taste like, and reacting to photos based on our own personal experience of eating pizza (or catching fish).

There is a certain tribal aspect to what we do. Norms arise over time, often influenced by others whom we've come to respect as knowledgeable. Some members ascend in perceived importance based on the knowledge and good looking pizza they display, and over time an aesthetic takes hold as to what's good and what's great.  And it's all pretty subjective, but ultimately based on our own experience in the reality of our own kitchens or restaurants (or fishing spots) we visit. 

As far as what my ideal pizza would be, I would have to say that the photo of Omid's pizzas that I posted above would be pretty darn close to ideal. Pizzeria Bianco is pretty close to ideal too.  I also really admire the more charred "coal fire" look which pt is working on (example below). Just about anything coming out of TXCraig's oven looks great to me. And Chao has certainly inspired me with his pizzas and lazy bread.  It seems that we are all constantly striving to reach the ideal and will probably never quite reach it. But therein lies the fun; it's all in the chase! 

Regards,

TinRoof
« Last Edit: August 29, 2013, 11:59:50 AM by tinroofrusted »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2013, 11:12:30 AM »
JD I really applaud you for putting yourself out there although, it is what many of us should be doing if we truely want to improve.  It should be a normal type of behavior instead of such a rare occurance.  Most of us are on here just to past the time, for entertainment, to see friends, or get our egos stroked.  Pizza is a side matter.  Not that pizza should rule our lives, but we often are afraid to speak up or disagree.   Often afraid to seek the truth.  Often afraid to post up a bad picture or be honest about pizza making.

I know I also need to get a better camera.  Most of my pizzas actually look better in person.  :-D  But aside from looks, I am constantly shooting for crumb texture.  Trying different techniques to improve upon that.  Looks only get you so far, and then you have to eat the pizza.  So does it stack up or live up to the hype?  For me in many cases, no.   :-\  It's just the nature of the beast.  But we all have to figure out what it is that we really like, not what some popular forum member says is great. 

Online JD

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Re: Looking for constructive critisim
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2013, 12:28:23 PM »
Thanks Chau.

I'm quite happy with my recent pizza's. In support of your comment, some of the pizza that haven't been very photogenic, HAVE been some of the best tasting ones I've ever made. So your point is well received and I suppose the 30lbs I've put on since joining this forum says it all (wish I was joking).

Also, just because you're putting out a great product doesn't mean you can't still do better. This type of fine tuning is my new goal and all the advice I received was a perfect way to understand right away what needed to be adjusted. It's almost like cheating if you think about it.

Funny thing is I originally thought perfecting NY pizza would be no sweat. I mean, how hard could it be when there are pizza joints 1/2 mile apart where I came from? Now it's become a full blown obsession and I can't help but think I can always do better, even if by thinking outside the box a little. Take Omid for example, he put's out some absolutely stunning work, yet he's still not satisfied. You have to admire that drive & passion. 

It's nice to know that the things you learn on this forum will benefit you outside of pizza. Tinroof's comments about taking a proper photo really hit home for me and I've been playing around with my digital camera ever since, taking pictures of my 6mo old son that actually look somewhat artistic.  I've also started making bread which has been a lot of fun and rewarding, and one day when I'm in a comfortable financial situation I'm going to build a WFO myself and will use the advice found in this forum every step of the way. This forum is such a great resource and I'm glad NY pizza brought me here.
Josh