Leavenworth | Summer Cabin Party

Sometimes, its just nice to get away for the weekend with friends with the intent of doing much a do about nothing. No plans, no schedule. Just a destination and on the way there, we picked up some food and light refreshing beverages to share, coors light in this case and just let loose relaxing in style. It's exactly what we all need sometimes and is also a great way to nurture your friendships and make new ones. As usual once again, Rose came through with a great find on the cabin. Thanks Rose, you're the best and I can't wait for Whistler 2011! We enjoyed a cozy 3k sq-ft pad with an outdoor pool, jacuzzi, large deck, game room, bar, big screen tv, internet, and a nice landscaped yard with a great view and backdrops perfect for you know what, of course a photo shoot! There were plenty of cool spots around the house and ended up picking a few places that I was drawn to.

Here's a few pictures of Linda around the house. I was mixing ambient, a speedlight in a satin umbrella modifier and a real legit reflector this time around instead of my ghetto car dash windshield blinds. =) First time I've used all three together. It was early afternoon so the sun was basking us overhead, which is one of the reasons I chose the spots I did because there was some much needed shade to help a brotha out. Linda's outfit matched with the setting so I felt it all just came together well. We had a blast even though we had our first equipment accident which I knew would happen sooner or later...more on that in a bit. We were really happy with the number of keepers from this shoot. Here's a few of them...

Rose and Jesse got in on the fun...say cheese =)

"Do my eastside run this motha for ya?"

It seems like whenever there's a pool on these getaways, there's going to be some crazy aerial acrobatics going down. I have to say each year, the tricks get more silly yet impressive and the cannon balls more powerful. Linda and I decided it'd be fun to practice some bare bulb lighting during one of our pool parties and also try out the AI Servo AF Mode on the Rebel. Since this pool had a roof over its head, flash was needed to freeze the action as it was pretty dark. We tried off camera flash on a light stand camera left, on camera axis from the other far end of the pool and also from behind with the flash firing towards the camera. Thanks to our models Air Carl and Force Jerry, they put on a show for the rest of us in the jacuzzi. Big ups, literally ha!

Crunk'in in mid-air!


Just for fun, my prediction!

Photography enthusiasts are all enjoying the entertainment from the DSLR war that is going on right now as Q4 has already creeped up on us and the usual key players are releasing their refreshed models that are most due up for a refresh. I don't keep tabs on all the manufacturers except Canon since it is what Linda and I've chosen to start playing around with but I heard Sony recently came out with two new DSLRs that now does continuous auto-focus for HD video recording and that sports a transparent mirror that allows it to not have to move out of the way to expose the CMOS/CCD sensor when taking a shot.

We as consumers are spoiled in so many ways when it comes to technology in general and cameras, both compact point and shoots and DSLR's are no exception. Being the most familiar with the happenings with the Canon DSLR family of products, we as amateurs or prosumers have fantastic options for choosing an amazing capable camera at obtainable price points. It's clear that Canon's APS-C sensored product line has received the most attention recently with a refresh of the Rebel T2i (550D) shortly after the Rebel T1i came out, as well as the 7D and as of yesterday, the 60D. All great cameras with similar features and capabilities in my opinion. The T2i, which is their newest and best entry DLSR, which is what Linda purchased is like a mini 7D with a housing build quality that of a economy Honda and an Acura for the 7D. What really is interesting is the timing of the release of the 60D yesterday, which also is very similar in feature set as the latter two. The interesting part being the timing in relationship to the specs. The rumor for those waiting for the next refresh of the prosumer grade release of Canon's full frame camera, known by all as the all mighty 5D Mark II, is that it could possibly be this time of year we'd hear the announcement but instead if ended up being the successor to the 50D, the 60D. Now it seems that much more likely the 5D Mark II refresh won't happen until sometime next year. That is what I'm waiting for in basing my first DSLR purchase decision. In the meantime with what we now know about the 60D feature set, here's my fun little prediction of what the 5D Mark III specs will be.

Similar body size and build quality as the current Mark II and 7D
Same or similar sensor as the 1D Mark IV
Same 60D 3" screen with articulating arm
Continuous auto-focus during video capture - This is a big one!
Same metering and auto-focus as the 7D - The obvious
Oh I almost forgot, priced around $3K for just the body
And all the usual we would expect....

The big one I'm betting on is Continuous auto-focus. Because they did not release it on the 60D at this time when Sony already has, it makes me more optimistic that they're saving it for the Mark III. I and many many others hope I'm right on this one!

It is indeed a happening time in the DSLR world and I look forward to what unfolds in the next 6-8 months regarding the Mark III or whatever they end up calling it. In the meantime since I'm still such a newb, I will continue to practice mastering the craft with the amazing entry level T2i in hopes that I will then have at least an inkling of business needing a camera of this caliber. =)


Vancouver B.C. Pics

Photography wise, Vancouver B.C. ended up being the trip where we practiced a lot of bouncing on camera flash off whatever was available (mostly the ceiling) to get the much needed fill light for the pictures we shot. We got an awesome downtown hotel room thanks to Amy's great find at the brand spank'n new Coast Coal Harbor Hotel near Stanley Park. The hotel is modern, clean and simplistic in both it's interior and exterior design. We got a corner unit facing the bay with both corner walls wrapped in floor to ceiling windows. It had semi white transparent track curtains covering the entire two glass walls essentially giving it a very modern lounge like ambiance, which I totally dig. Because I really liked this room and its offering of a crisp white ceiling, I went a bit crazy practicing the bounce flash technique. Surprisingly, the four Costco Kirkland Signature brand AA batteries in the speed light held up all weekend. I'm impressed.

So here's what I learned from reading and then by doing. On camera flash isn't very flattering. First because the light hits the subject straight on, making it look flat. Secondly, the perceived light source to my subject in this case was very small which is the area of the speed light head the light was emitting out of. As a result, the quality of the light hitting Linda and especially the lamp post and glass were all somewhat harsh. The white drapes didn't look too bad probably because it absorbed and diffused reflected the flash well. Here's a picture of what that looked like.

Now when I bounced it off the wall at a reasonable angle, I essentially changed the small light source to become a much bigger one (the ceiling) causing the light to both become diffused and thus much softer and flattering. This also caused the reflection of the metal lamp post to become more of a diffused instead of specular reflection.

Here's one showing more of the room with bounce flash off the ceiling. The wider angle focal length made this room look much bigger than it is. No wonder why they go wide for room shots in real estate pics!

And finally my favorite pictures taken in the room with bounce flash was of Carl and Amy, who I asked to role play like they were really pissed off at each other while going to bed. It took couple of tries before they could keep a straight face but we got one on the fourth try! I really enjoyed capturing this sequence of them because I think it captured how cute these two are as a couple. Gotta love Carl in bed with his red net book...priceless! He was probably surfing slickdeals like I usually do =)

Jarvis + Jasmine

Just got done watching the video of Chase Jarvis talking shop with the up-and-coming wedding photographer Jasmine Star. It was very inspirational as she spoke of how she dropped out of law school to take a chance with photography, picking up a digital camera (a gift from her boyfriend) with zero tech knowledge for the first time five years ago. She was inspired by the photographer at her own wedding and the beauty of being able to capture such priceless moments that happen in weddings and even the lifestyle of this occupation. This reminded me of what Jin told me a year ago that he believes I have a knack for capturing details of everyday life and events and that I could start capturing moments in the day of a life of other couples for fun. I love the idea of that. As an amateur, we learn through time what we prefer to shoot and as I don't have a strong grasp of that yet and enjoy shooting whatever catches my eye, I am slowly learning that I love shooting people and capturing their emotions. I know it is crucial for a viewer to be able to connect with a photograph and feel what the photographer was feeling, what the subject was feeling. Without emotions our lives would be bland, disconnected. It is through emotions whether good or bad that make us feel alive and able to connect. Emotional is a good thing, it means that we are living, feeling, and learning. Also, it's easy to get the conception that a photographer is so generalized in what they know how to shoot, that they know how to shoot anything, but this interview made me realize a profressional photographer that shoots commercial photography can be a foreigner in the world of something like wedding photography. I am excited to dive deeper into this field to see where my experience leads me. Jasmine also shared some of her current equipment which is a Canon 5D Mark II, a 50mm 1.2, and a 24 mm 1.4. Though this isn't feasible right now, it made me want a full-frame Mark even more if that's possible. Luckily Jin keeps me in check about this since I'm starting out but a girls gotta have dreams, right? :)

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”


Summer in Vancouver

We made it back safe from a good trip in Vancouver! We managed to escape in one piece from the rollerskating, pig-tailed she-man with the old school walkman and handycam that was skating circles around us in the intersection of East Hastings (note to self, don't cross the East and West border of this street.) We started our day riding around Stanley Park on bicycles which was very refreshing and were pleasantly surprised by our nice hotel room with floor-to-ceiling windows and I knew Jin was thinking the same thing once we walked in--perfect backdrop and lighting for great pictures :) We were able to get some shots at the park and the hotel room, including some humorous ones in the gym thanks to Carl's "sexy pose". While deciding what we wanted for lunch, no one was up to try to the scary Indian buffet that Jin wanted to go to so he wants to eat there the next time we go back. I'm all for eating and another trip to Vancouver. After lunch we stopped by Robson for some quick window shopping and Jin surprised me by purchasing the purse I was eyeing being the sweet boyfriend that he is. Continuing our eating fest, we beat the hungry rush at the Richmond night market and burned off the calories from all the involuntary city walking we did that evening until the wee hours of the a.m. Poor Carl found himself hugging the toilet at dawn so the rest of us resumed at our favorite market on Granville Island for pastries and got our Chinese food fix in Richmond on the way home. At the end of the day, the very eventful one night trip felt like a full weekend for us all :)

Granville Island Farmers Market

Underneath the Granville Bridge




We're off to Vancouver B.C. this weekend! I love hanging out in this city. Looking forward to riding around on a bike around Stanley Park with some friends. Last time Linda and I rollerbladed around the park and it felt really refreshing. Maybe we'll squeeze in a photo shoot somewhere while we're playing around. =)

Here's a few pictures from Balboa Park in San Diego last weekend. I guess this is a popular wedding venue as there were several wedding parties engaged in photo shoots. So of course naturally, I went into role play mode and pretended we were there to shoot too, not of a bride of course but a princess in my book. =) I wanted to shoot RJ and Yuki as well and we got a few of them as well. We've been shooting a lot at dusk lately so I've been struggling with having enough available light to get good camera focus especially with the kit zoom lens, but I like these pics anyhow because it reminds me how much fun we had strolling through this beautiful park in San Diego with RJ and Yuki showing us around.

I was going for a low key shot here to go with Linda's dress, the moody chandeliers and her hat she picked up at Pacific Beach. Dig the hat! Kind of Michael Jackson/Thriller like. RJ helped me out by holding the speed light, thanks buddy! You can just barely make out the flash on the left side of the frame. Could have cropped it but then it again, leaving it as shot will be more entertaining for me down the road when I look back on it.

I like this shot of Yuki and RJ with their pimped out bikes and RJ's green color coordination going on. They are into riding their bikes whenever they can so I think this picture captures that lifestyle well and in high fashion with their shades and all, ha. =)

The sun was setting and we saw this spot where the warm light was peeking through on the edge of the trees so it made for a nice back lit shot. A key thing I learned from this day of shooting is that I was not using a much needed bump in ISO to my advantage to keep these hand held shots from blurring. I shot in aperture priority mode and I didn't pay close attention to the shutter speed it used, which was too slow to avoid blur. ISO was on 100 or 200. Man, the beautiful 3" high res preview screen is very deceiving. Everything on it looks crisp and sharp in focus but as I found out, that doesn't mean it is! I know I'm supposed to zoom in and see what I'm getting for sharpness (shoot and chimp) but I got caught up in the shoot while the light was still there. Now I know when compromising with a bit more image noise for sharpness is worth it in situations like this.

Got one of Yuki too but of course it is a bit blurry too, sorry Yuki :( ha


Beginning the journey

I've always believed in the importance of memories since I was a little girl. Looking back as an adult, I realized that I grew up reminiscing, dreaming, and striving to be. I cherish every wonderful moment as I believe our lives are a collection of memories and have always documented my life in some way whether it be through writing in a journal or capturing the moments through pixels on a camera. I've always appreciated that Jin's been on the same page as it's enabled us to create endless unforgettable moments in life which we have captured through our archive of photographs. Moments that we might have forgotten or that might have been a bit blurry amidst the giant pool of events had it not been for the pictures that bring us back to that time as we relive the memories. I believe the slightest effort to take even a snapshot is worth what you will have for a lifetime, which might come in handy when you are old and gray and though at that point every picture might look blurry, it is a reference that will surely stir up nostalgia.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to deepen this skill as I've always wanted to take on photography through more than just a point-and-shoot. After the purchase of my first DSLR, it's motivated Jin to join me at a focused level and our compatibility has enabled us to have fun creatively while taking the technical aspect seriously. We dove into the water with the same appreciation and love for it and it's been an exciting adventure with much more that awaits with my camera and partner in life and pixels.

This will be the first time cohering the documentation of both writing and photographs in one place thanks to Jin's brilliant suggestion and I'm anticipating this new journey.

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange


Sculpture Park | 03.27.2010

A trip to Kasala Outlet in SODO turned into our first impromptu photo shoot of my favorite subject for portraits, why of course no other than the beautiful amateur model exploding with potential, my Linda! I had absolutely no idea what I was doing as we just started learning how to use a dslr, but I was happy with how a few of them turned out. I got the silly idea to bring my car windshield screen visor thingy since I learned strong afternoon sunlight creates harsh shadows on subjects and so with this make shift ghetto reflector blinding Linda and some diffusion from a few helpful clouds, this is what we got. I really like the texture and color of this sculpture but didn't care for the bird poop. Left that in to capture the fact that I'm such a newb. I wasn't even aware of it until much later when I started to learn about distractions to look out for in compositions. It is an added bonus that my girlfriend shares the same interest and is a good sport about being my model. For now, I'm sure much of my practice will be of her because she's usually by my side :)

A few shots just outside Kasala

First Post

Linda and I just got back from visiting close friends in San Diego. I proposed the idea to Linda recently that we should make a point to do a photo shoot in every city we visit. Many of us snap away picture after picture with our compact camera or smart phone throughout a trip which I think in itself is important in capturing the trip chronologically to look back on (Linda is a natural at doing this which I've learned to appreciate) but in addition, I like the idea of having an on location photo shoot while visiting a city even if we've been there before. It doesn't matter what type of shoot whether it be macro, landscape, fashion, portraits, architecture, etc...just go with what inspires me during the trip I guess. There's so many places to see and things to do in each city that by making the effort to go out for a photo shoot I think will increase our chance of seeing and experiencing more of what a city has to offer. As for the shoot, I like to think of it as role playing which I've always been a believer in when it comes to becoming better at something you aspire to be or like someone you want to be. By doing this consistently, I think we can convince ourselves that we are and in time, we do become that person and it no longer is just role play. I know this sounds silly which it kind of is, but hey, it's always worked for me and I also have more fun acting the fool while I'm at it.

I want to become a better photographer because I've always had an interest in it in my heart like I have for architecture, interior design and graphic design. I don't know why it took so long to give it a go, but thanks partly due to Linda for stirring up this long interest of mine by going out and buying herself a dslr for me to tinker around with too, we've ventured into it together as it's something she's wanted to explore as well. I'm excited to find out where it will take me and all the enjoyment I'm sure it will bring. I just know I have so many unique stories and experiences that have shaped me to be who I am, how I think and feel, and the artistic tastes I've aquired because of it and so through photography, I hope it shows though in my images as I get past the technical and start to tap into my creative potential.