Love Locks Down

The other day, my friends James and Amy who are visiting home (Seattle) away from home (Hawaii) came over to hang out and grab a bite to eat at BIS on Main in Bellevue. They've never been there so naturally we had to take them there since it's our favorite happy hour joint on the east side. They arrived while I was practicing shooting high key shots of Linda for the first time using the off white sliding door's cellular blinds in the living room. The one other time I tried using this same shade as the backdrop was for the giraffe shot which was posted previously here. This window shade is starting to become very useful but I'm hoping down the road to install a real back drop system in the living room that can be rolled up and out of site when not in use or pulled down when needed. The blind wasn't optimal in size for full body shots but it worked ok for head to shoulder compositions while the subject was sitting. Since we were just hanging out, of course I wanted to shoot them especially because James in particular has these awesome long dread locks that I wanted to shoot in the high key lighting style to see how it would turn out. I also wanted to get a few silly shots of them together for them to have and enjoy. Now they are not the type of peeps to be jumping out their chairs to volunteer getting photographed which means they are probably not that comfortable in front of a camera cheesing it up so when they were willing, I saw it as an opportunity to practice what I've tried to be conscious of since day one which is to always make it about having fun for everyone involved and to try to capture their natural and genuine personalities through our interaction together. It was pretty easy to do in this case since we are close friends and I've known James since pretty much forever. They both did awesome and we all had a good time shooting and messing with James' locks for his shots with good music going and drink in hand to kick off the beginning of the weekend.

James and Amy, to send you off properly JINDA style, of course I have to share how the pictures turned out with you and our network of friends and family on this blog! =) I'm glad you trust me to represent you to the best of my ability. Technically they are not the best because of lighting and focusing reasons but personally who cares! I totally dig them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them. Have a safe flight back to the island and best wishes!

One Love...Jin


Herbs & Cars

We had our first gardening class yesterday at Cascade Park in Seattle. I told you we're random, or I like to say well-rounded :) We've wanted to start our own little garden out on the porch for a while and didn't get a chance to plant it over the warmer months so I was excited to see that it wasn't too late. A couple things that might be new to you, there's a type of sage called pineapple sage and it really smells like pineapple. It isn't as versatile in cooking but works great in teas and for aromatherapy. The speaker also recommended organic fertilizer. Jin likes to make the most of his resources so he asked if Kimmy's poopie might do the job. Not so much because of the bacteria but can't blame a guy for getting creative, right? At the end of the class we were free to take some of the herbs home and Jin jokingly grabbed the huge plant that she potted and pretended to walk out of class. I swear, the girl put on her "what the h..." face and was about to beat him with the basil in her hand. Okay, I'm exaggerating a little but you get the picture.
Also a peek at what we were drooling over later that night. We like looking at hot cars. One time we stopped by the BMW dealership for fun just to check things out. We were psyched when the salesperson offered to take us on a test drive in the M3 and 335i. You could tell he was Korean. Very proper, black-rimmed glasses, a little on the chubby side, potential tech-field employee. We hit the road and you could almost hear the classical music playing in the background like on those Benz commercials. After a little small talk, he was shocked to learn that we were Korean as well. Apparently learning we were Korean to him was like us telling him we were related to the Obamas. He did a 360 at that point, his personality that is. It was like a movie in the scene where the not-so-cool kid walks into school looking like a rock star with all the hot chicks on his arm. "Ah, you guys are Korean. Let me show you what this car can REALLY do" in his best Al Pacino voice. The way he said it, if I didn't have my seatbelt on I would have been fighting to put it on. But I like it when people loosen up and show a side that you don't expect. So he speeds around a curve super fast and breaks really hard to show off the breaks and handling. Is that 'burnt rubber' flavor air freshener I smell? At this point I think someone changed the Beethoven I imagined in the background to hard core rap, specifically Tupac's Ride or Die. Someone put a red bandana around his forehead and gold fronts in his teeth. By the way, I love the sound of the exhaust on the M3. Masculine and deep toned but not too obnoxious like some others. After he shows off the M3, we get into the 335i. I love that car but was a little bummed I didn't have my license on me to test drive it. But it's okay. Because luckily God made me Korean. "You don't need a driver's license. It's okay, go ahead, take a spin." Sweet. So needless to say it was a fun and wild ride.
Back to what we were drooling about. Jin loves the new ISF so he was browsing the Lexus site last night and came across a beautiful car. Only "starting at $375k" beautiful. But it's made to order like McDonald's. 550 hp, v10. Here's a peek at the car that comes out end of year. I've never seen him so excited, it was cute.

He had the best idea ever. To get the pearl ISF and black Range Rover one day. I couldn't agree more. It's always good to set goals :)


Babe, What's For Dinner?

Linda gets very excited when I get it on in the kitchen and of course ya'll obviously know I'm talking about me cooking. =) I felt like cooking last night and decided while I'm at it just for a fun challenge, I'd practice taking pictures of what I was whipping up to practice shooting at a fast pace using bounce flash like I was at an event or something. It was fun and challenging since I often like to time my cooking in a way there's usually a peak period when all the dishes come together in harmony...well usually. I also like to flash cook at a high temp so it meant I had little time to photographically capture what I wanted at the correct exposure in manual mode and get right back to cooking to avoid burning dinner.

The evening's special for Linda was Blacked Cajun Lime Steelhead Salmon Fillet with Garlic Butter Mushroom and Green Beans. Of course since we're Asian folks and all, you can guess what the complimenting starch was, yup you guessed it, rice!

I usually like doing a soy based marinade for the salmon but I felt like doing something different. The green beans looked really fresh at the grocery store so that's what I picked.

I started off with the rice using a 50/50 mix of basmanti and sticky Thai jasmine. The taste and texture is awesome! You should try it.

While that was cooking and turned the oven on to 400 degrees, I rubbed in the Cajun seasoning we got from the spice store at Pike Place Market a while back. To spice it up even more which is how we Korean's like to do it, I also included some salt, pepper, more Cajun powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and topped it off with a few thin slices of lime and some of it's fresh squeezed juice. I let that sit in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

While the salmon was getting it's pampered spa treament, I washed the veggies and prepped it all for the saute show down. The oven let me know it was ready so in went the salmon.

I steamed the green beans for a short 5 minutes and when the steam was building, I got the butter and fresh minced garlic and chopped scallions going into the saute pan on medium-high.

Half way through before turning golden brown, I threw in the mushrooms and onion.

Just when they started to caramelize, I threw in the green beans and gave it a few good flicks with my wrist to coat it all with the delicious garlic butter. =P

Btw while this was all going on, Linda decided to make her awesome bagette sandwich for our lunchies, so I had to capture this delicious thing of beauty!

Alright so back to what's cookin. I then cranked up the heat to high and seasoned the veggies with a touch of salt and pepper only. Reduced it down a bit with a splash of Pinot we were drinking and a few minutes later after the alcohol evaporated it was good to go, the salmon was ready and after plating, dinner was served. Bon Appetite or Chal Mohguh!

Take a Chance

Weddings are glamorous. Wedding photographers catch that glamour with their hands. But like everything else in life, with glamour comes the sacrifices. I came across a photographer's blog that shed some light on the reality in the life of a wedding photographer. She was bit by the "blues" bug. The "Seattle weather" bug. But when you're working for yourself, there's no calling in sick. There's no replacement for your only employee, you. Sometimes you just want to curl up into a ball in a sea of fleece blankets and do nothing else but hear yourself breathe. While the world is passing by you and the green summer leaves are fading into autumn orange. There are days when the frosting on cupcakes don't have the magical powers to make you do a happy dance. When you don't feel like humming along to your favorite song. Even the most optomistic have these days every so often. But it's the support we need on days like this, a few encouraging words from loved ones that get us swimming out of the sea of blankets and chasing after the stars.

Speaking of chasing your dreams, a blog post by Chase Jarvis intrigued me. Take a chance. How our society celebrates people that have taken non-traditional paths to pursue their dreams but doesn't encourage people to do so. I've experienced a situation similar to this in my past. I came out of my mom's womb with a painting I had done during the nine months I was waiting for my number (419-April 19) to be called. I won book illustration contests throughout grade school, once winning an autographed book by an author who now has her cartoons on Nickelodeon. I was hand-placed in an AP art class my senior year, the year I was to decide my route after high school. Though I'd taken art classes before, it was this class where I really found myself as an artist. I expressed my emotions and what I was going through at the time through my work and that enabled me to create the best work possible. I realized I liked creating abstract work because I like people to interpret what I do with their own perceptions so it's not set in stone. I like to captivate the viewer to stop and think rather than to glance and keep going. But one thing was always set in stone since my arrival from the womb days. I always knew that I was going to be an artist. Fashion, interior, graphic designer, animator, architect, I wasn't discriminating and had a passion for it all. My mother had other dreams for me. Typical parental ideal of her daughter going to medical school because "she would have a secure future." Forget that I had dreams, the talent, the heart.

Despite the lack of support, I scoured the countries best art schools. I was drowning in brochures and mailings from FIDM in LA to FIT in NY. I secretly flew out to visit an art school in San Francisco (don't worry I made sure to call once I arrived.) But I didn't have a spare arm and a leg to trade in for tuition. And all the artists out there know how many arms and legs I'm talking about. So I stayed and explored my paths in ways that I could here. Interior design, animation, graphic design, you name it. But I never strayed even at the hardest times. And I don't regret it one bit. Because at the time I wasn't sure exactly what type of design I wanted to focus on, taking my time to explore each option really helped me to learn what that was. My mother regrets now not sending me off to art school but I am content and am humbled by the path that I have taken and everything I learned on the way. And as I find myself in the world of design, I am feeling nostalgic like on the path I was in high school with my dreams ahead of me with this new love called photography.



Field trip to Adobe! Follow-up

Wow, I actually won something!

The Adobe Lightroom 3 class put on by SMUGMUG Seattle and presented by Tom Hogarty, Sr. Product Manager for Adobe Systems Professional Digital Imaging Department was fun, informative and best of all, I won a retail copy of Lightroom 3, which there were only two of that they gave away! Sweet...couldn't have been better timing because first the product is awesome as I'm already using it and Linda was really wanting to get it for her Mac.

I definitely had to earn the prize though because nobody really raised their hand to Tom's pop trivia question which was, what are three key advantages to using the .DNG format instead of a different RAW format like Canon's .CR2 raw format. Not even knowing he was going to give a prize and since nobody really seemed to know, I raised my hand like a uncertain little school boy and gave it a shot and got it right on the money, booyah! I have no idea how I got it right on the spot like that but people were clapping for me and everything. It was very entertaining. I felt like going in on a round of Jeopardy after that. =)

For those curious, the advantages are:

1.  The .DNG file format isn't a company's proprietary format so there isn't the risk of it going obsolete because a company goes under.

2. This format is smaller in size while still uncompressed and lossless, so it can save significant disk space in the long run.

3. The untouched RAW file plus it's associated processing file (aka sidecar .xmp file) are all encapsulated into one container file which is the .DNG file, so in otherwords all your post processing for a file will always stay together with the original RAW file.

I had just recently switched from Canon's .CR2 format to .DNG about two weeks ago when I randomly read that the file size is about a third smaller than .CR2. That sold it for me because I am already running out of disk space on my large partition where I store my raw files.

Value of the prize is $275...Somebody was a very happy girl last night! =)


Field trip to Adobe!

I'm excited today because Linda and I are heading to Adobe's campus in Fremont this evening for a seminar on their latest release of Lightroom, version 3. I've been trying it out for almost a month now and have nothing but good things to say about it although my home computer could use more RAM, a SSD hard drive, and 64bit OS of Windows 7 to hang with it but that's another story. I've managed to get through one of Lynda.com's LR3 courses which was excellent so I'm hoping today's course will help solidify what I've learned thus far as well as take away some tips and tricks to improve my workflow to be that much more pleasantly efficient. I'm also looking forward to networking with new photog enthusiasts as we're like the new kids on the block. I'll follow up later with my thoughts on our visit.

Btw, we got some new gear and some still en route from our friends in Hong Kong which we will share soon! For our curious friends and family that are also into photography, we will be adding a "what's in the bag" section to the blog to share the gear we're currently using to create the images you see here as well as on Flickr.

Happy Monday ya'll. | Jin |


White Seamless | First Attempt

By Jin.

Zach Arias, my man, you probably will never see this measily little blog but this post is a shout out to you for  inspiring me to learn about light and simply for being the man. Not because you walk around struttin your stuff talking about how much you know and with the ladies hanging on by your angles but because you share so much of it with us the photographic coummunity and you do so with a great sense of humbleness, humor, sincerity and style with that fierce beard of yours and all. Respect =)

So a month or so back, I was learning a bit on how to shoot white seamless using minimal lighting equipment from severeal different sources. I had watched Zach on CreativeLive's live streaming course, part of which Linda and I watched while out in the woods camping. The typical demonstations showed setting up two light stands raised with a cross bar hanging across where the white seemless paper get's rolled out to create the seemless backdrop from wall transitioning to the floor. Then you set up couple of lights pointed at the background and put something in the way to block those lights from makings it's way back into the camera lens and subject. After that, you set up your key light with modifier of choice and whatever other lights you want to include to complicate things. Pretty cool this white seamless stuff and definitley my kind of style that I dig as it's so fresh and so clean clean! :) I'd love to give it a go but there's just one problem. We don't have all this stuff that's required nor the space for it in our home. So I left it at that with the realization that it'll just have to wait until I get the opportunity somewhere, somehow to try it out.

Then the other day, I came up with the idea to try shooting white seemless using our window shade as the backdrop so I tried it out. I chose a gift I got a long time ago of a wood carved giraffe as my subject.

I tried to use one of my two speedlights for the key light to expose the front of the giraffe and the other light to blow out the off-white window shade behind it. That didn't work out very well because the one light lighting the background (the windows shade) wasn't enough to immuninate enough of the shade area I needed for the composition. Here's what that looked like.

So I had to use both of the flashes, one on the floor and the other held by my lovely assistant Linda to get the overall window shade area blown to white. As a result I didn't have a flash to light the front of the subject so this ended up being a silloette shot. Once again as you can see from this picture, one speedlight to blow out the entire window shade wasn't enough as it wasn't able to illuminate the upper part of the shade.

And here's the final shot using both of the flashes to blow out the entire background to white. Technically this isn't really a seemless shot since the window shade didn't roll out past the wall and onto the floor for the giraffe to be placed on but whatever, it was close enough for me to practice the concept.

So as you can see, these were shot in portrait orientation but I wanted it to be in landscape so that there is more white space in the composition for flexibility in case I wanted to use it for a graphics piece with text, post card or whatever. I could have shot it in landcape orientation from the get go but I learned a little tip from Mr. Arias that it's better in general to fill the frame with as much of the subject as you can if you don't care about capturing the background or foreground. Naturally this subject demanded I shoot in portrait orientation if I wanted to fill as much of the frame as possible. By doing this, you're essentially getting the maximum resolution possible of the subject. Not a big deal for a smaller resolution picture as I could have just cropped it horizontal without sacrificing image quality and be done with it but let's say you wanted to print this out really big to hang on the wall. Having maximized the resolution of the subject when shot allows me go that much bigger for print. Pretty smart stuff, thanks Zach! So with that said, I took the picture above and processed it in photoshop by using the dodge tool to clean up a few minor small areas of the picture that wasn't fully white (coffe table the giraffe was set on) and then used the auto-fill option to create a horizontal composition. Here's the final image.

It took about 25 shots or so before I had the light output close enough to what I wanted. It took this many shots to get the background blown out to pure white the way I wanted and at the same time not have the light bouncing back from the shade back onto the giraffe in a way that started to light the edge of the giraffe's silloette making the hard edged silloette more soft edged. So it was a fine balance of light output and light positioning that resulted in this final picture.

I had a lot of fun with this shoot and took away from it a few key lessons. I learned after the fact that it would have been possible to blow out all of the window shade with a single flash. All I needed to do was move everything, both flash and giraffe further away from the window shade. That's it. I think this would have allowed enough distance for the one flash to spread it's beam of light at a wider angle making it wide enough to cover the entier area of the shade. Also by moving it further away from the backdrop, the bounce light hitting the shade and coming back at the giraffe from behind would have been reduced, making it that much easeier to get a pure black front silloette without the edge light contamination. Oh well, now I know but I don't think I would have learned it withouth having gone through the process. I know Linda wants to try this out so she can apply the things I learned from it and maybe pull it off in half the amount of shots it took me.


Days of our domain

I just had a quarter of a bavarian creme Top Pot donut for the first time since two years ago. It's funny how the sole act of eating something you love (usually sweets for me) makes you happy. Well it feels like bliss until three bites turn into ten and nausea starts to replace the happiness. But I still like my sweets and the occasional Red Velvet Cupcake Royale Jin surprises me with on random days never gets old.

Speaking of food (you might see a pattern here though I swear I'm not affiliated with any groups that begin with "Food-obsessed" and end in "Anonymous" no matter what my friends may tell you), we finally had a chance to go to some of our favorite restaurants on our first free weekend in a while. It felt nice to be back to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the food, each other's company and good service since it's always a combination of all these things that really makes a restaurant "go-back-to" worthy. We joke how our ideal of a night out has slowly transformed from going out dancing to a nice evening out at happy hour, though dancing once in a while like at Sway in San Diego is always a blast, just in moderation like the donut.

We didn't do anything too crazy over the long, holiday weekend which was nice. We followed lunch at Tamarind Tree with a stop at one of our favorite stores, Kasala, in So-Do (where we had one of our first impromptu, on-the-spot photoshoots) and magically left with a large 8x10 rug. If you know us the way we probably only do, impulse purchases don't exist in our vocabulary. Put in short, it takes two hours to decide on a cutting board at Crate and Barrel on a good day. But as much as we like to be smart with our purchases, we also like to be random once in a while. So as we wandered over to the rug section, there it was. The funky rug we'd been eyeing for the last year at Kasala. Maybe not particularly because we were in love with it but because it just stood out because it was different, artsy, had character. And right then we made history with these two lines, "Should we get it?", "Let's do it!" So after betting each other over who got our regular salesperson's name right we left with the rug stuffed into the back of my Honda with Kimmy's crate plopped on top (before stopping by another furniture store of course and picking up some Korean food.) The impulse buy turned out to be a good one when we got home because we loved how the current rug in the living room looked in the office. The warm colors added a lot of character and texture to the space as did our newly purchased rug to the living room.

Adding to our shopping ventures, Jin came across some treasures while shopping. Things he'd been searching for for a long time. I think because we are very picky with our purchases we can stand to shop together as it might drive other people nuts. Plus I really value his opinion on things since we have the same taste. But I know how hard it is to find something that I really love and how rewarding it is when I find it so I was really happy for him. It's the simple things in life, right?

The empty weekend also allowed us to do some much-needed tidying to our home which was really nice. Clean home, clean mind. I'd been itching to bake since I haven't had a chance to in a while so I was making up for lost time by baking two things at once and that was me being good as I had enough juice in me to bake a cake for a 250-person wedding. Maybe it was the sugar rush. I attempted my first cinnamon roll and peach strudel. I had just as much fun rolling the dough as I did photographing my results using on-camera flash bouncing off of the pure white ceiling and using a cutting board as a white base for my dish.

For our Sunday dinner, we had a chance to meet my mom which is always nice and full of laughter. I always appreciate how easygoing and funny she is, her sense of humor. Minus the frequent "go to church" outbursts and there you have perfection (just teasing as I love her for all that she is though she is a little overworrysome at times by mother's nature.) As she was pleading us to stay out of the hot sun to prevent freckles and telling us to brush our teeth every night, Jin was joking that we never floss and she was almost in tears (luckily from laughter.) It's cute how much she likes Jin as if he was her own son and that's all that matters to me as I know of many Korean mothers that have a very strict, militarian ideal of who they want their daughters to marry. So I feel very blessed.

We planned for movie night but decided to watch a documentary on NetFlix about design. It was really intriguing and a guy from Apple was talking about how they conceptualize and invent their products. It is stripped to only the necessary parts, removing as much bulk possible. I believe this is why Apple is the leading industry standard to products that are released today. One quote that stands out is that you design it the way it should be so the consumer's reactions is, "why would it be any other way?" This is so true. There are so many products out there that could have been made so much better (or nicer way of saying "crap".) This also reminded me of the design principle, simplicity is key which I've always lived by. And this applies to many things in life, including photography. You take things out of your composition one at a time until you are left with only the elements that are necessary to convey your story or your point. That way you declutter. The brain is not attracted to clutter. Like clean house, clean mind. Clean design, clean message, happy viewer.

We were also practicing a lot of photography over the weekend and Jin had me set up the lightstand from square one, something he usually does. I learned he is a very serious teacher that doesn't like to mess around. But I had fun having it the other way around and using Jin as my practice model as I was shooting him from different angles, from up above, down below with the off-camera light with uhm-brella (as Zack Arias likes to say it) placed at different distances from the subject. I was also practicing the inverse square law for the first time and it was really satisfying to physically create what I had been reading about since that's the real test of knowledge. The room was actually a lot brighter than it looks in the picture below but the placement of the lighting made the sconces look almost like candles in a pitch dark dark room. Thanks Jin for being my model and teacher as there will be many more times to come :)

(Jin: Hey why do I look like I'm giving a confession? haha)

All in all we were able to make some purchases we were really happy with, eat some of our favorite foods, spend time with family, create a clean home. Clean equals happy. And to me that is the ideal, productive weekend.


San Diego Revisited

By Jin...

I don't think I could live in San Diego like a couple of my friends do who are originally from Seattle but I definitely enjoy visiting. This city usually always welcomes me with warm weather and there's so many places to check out and do and the endless sandy beaches where you can just do nothing at all. A few of my favorite things I enjoy is taking in the vibrant nightlife downtown, chill-lax'in at the beach, and boogie boarding in the ocean. Primarily though, I keep coming back to catch up with my good friends Yuki and Eric who refuse to move back to Seattle. I must admit, one of the unique reasons I enjoy SD so much is simply because of Eric. He keeps it fresh and at times, on my toes. First time I brought Linda down with me, she knew pretty quickly after meeting him that she was in for an entertaining weekend. You know the saying opposites attract? I think that's Eric and I. He's one of my closest friends going back since our glorious junior high days and all the way through high school when amongst other silly boyish things, we were really into putting our parents bookshelf speakers into the back our our family mini-vans bump'in around to Ant Banks, Too Short, Biggy Smalls, Keith Sweat and the likes...making our many frequent trips to Wendy's for the still ever delicious double stack and jr. bacon cheese burgers. Of course after a while the speakers sounded like crap because we blew them out not knowing about proper imedence ratings. We thought...I mean, we were so cool back then, ha! So those who also know Eric, what can we say...the guy is a character. Is it just me or is this post starting to sound like a best man's speech? Oh well. So like how any other good friendship goes, on occasion, he can get on my nerve with his over the top antics, but most of the time, he cracks me up. He can be the type of guy you try to avoid if you're not the type who knows how to be silly and loosen up, but he's without a doubt a great guy who is very genuine, dependable, loyal to his friends and family, loves to be act the fool just for fun, and one of my favorite qualities about him, who hasn't lost his inner kid.

With that said, there always seem to be something new and interesting with him when we visit. This last time around, after picking us up at the airport and on the way home on the freeway only minutes of being with him, he gets stuck behind a really slow car. Of course he could have changed lanes but no, this guy whips out his newly installed intercom radio and tells the driver they're driving too slow and asks to move aside. I think he blasted off a few sound affects while he was at it to ensure he got their attention. I'm like "Eric, wtf...are you serious!?" And his response was simply something to the nature of, "what, I'm just having a nice conversation...just trying to communicate with him." =) Classic Eric right there. Another time he pulled up to his house and Linda and I were down the block a ways walking towards him. He starts talking to me with his intercom because I don't know...maybe he didn't want to be a dick to his fellow neighbors by shouting. Next thing you know, his next door neighbor comes running out freaking out thinking it was the cops or something. Eric's like "I'm so sorry, sorry." :/ haha! These are just two of several times he showed off his new personality complimenting gadget. Anyway, that's my friend Eric in a nutshell. He's always been this way all these years we've been friends and we continue to create fun memories together whenever we get to hang out. I'm not really sure why I went on a little rant about him for this post but I guess I was feeling a bit reflective as I appreciate our long and un-shallow friendship. Of course this rant wouldn't be complete without sharing a few pics of him during our visit. If you see this Eric, love ya son! Now stop hating and start using Facebook and be cool like the rest of us. =)

Anyone need some soap?

Strutt'in the rake walk. He was preparing the court for our introduction to Bocce Ball which was a lot of fun and went perfectly with the outdoor BBQ we had going on.

Now on to a photographic adventure, we accidentally left behind the SLR battery charger at home for this trip, so the challenge was to make the juice last through the long weekend which we did but barely! This reminds me of earlier this summer when we went camping at Deception Pass. We were both excited about the nice scenery we were going to see and practice taking pictures but when we arrived and were welcomed by exactly what we hoped and went for the camera, I realized we forgot the one and only battery...crap! We ended up getting creative with my built-in iPhone camera. The point of going on this tangent is that it's just too easy to forget the battery, so what did we learn from this? Hopefully, to double check the camera gear before heading out. Btw, we just purchased two more extra batteries and a second charger, so that should help but then again, I guess it still deosn't matter how many batteries we have if we don't remember to grab them on the way out.

We've been to The Cove in La Jolla Beach before but since it's a favorite spot of ours, naturally we went again and this time the seals weren't hanging out as close up on the beach so we took the opportunity to get some shots down below the cove on it's foundation. It was early afternoon and sunny with some clouds so I wasn't sure how much I was going to have to stop down the aperture with the shutter speed already set at its maximum sync speed of 1/200th of a second and still get enough output from my newly purchased Chinese made Canon Speedlight knock-off, shooting it with direct flash. Since we flew, I just brought the flash with no modifiers except for the sto-fen omni-bounce diffuser cap thingy.

I think this was the first time using flash outside on a sunny day so I didn't really know what I was doing. I was just trying to apply what I remember learning about mixing ambient daylight with flash. Before this trip, I  primarily shot in aperature priority mode but when I started messing around with flash not too long before this trip, I started to understand the importance of shooting in manual mode if I wanted total control and consistency. I'm just starting to feel like I get it shooting manual but I know I have a long ways to go but the improvement is satisfying.

Here's a few shots I took side lit at roughly 25 degrees off camera left with the speedlight free standing on the same ledge Linda was sitting on. Nothing too exicing about these pictures although my model was great. =) I was trying to bring out the rust color and texture of the concrete wall and also fill Linda's face to reduce/eliminate the harsh shadows from the sun overhead. I went wide focal length on some of these shots using the zoom kit lens to include in the frame the wrap around lines of the concrete foundation which I thought looked cool.

We came across this sand dune wall carved out with people's names. Looks like a wall of love. I remembered learning that when a light source is closer to being parallel to a plane/surface of an object, it will bring out and enhance the textuture of the surface, so we tried it out and it definitely did just that. Practicing this concept made me understand that the same principle applies to any surface including skin, so I learned that I need to be conscious of this in that if a face in particular is closer to being side lit by the sun or whatever light source relative to the camera position, it will show more of the imperfections, bumps, scars, etc. on ones skin. You can see both the non side lit (by the sun only) and side lit (sun and bare flash) parts of this wall of love. Pretty cool effect!

As mentioned in a previous post, we went to Balboa Park on our last day for for a quick sneak peak of what it was all about.. I loved it and can't wait to go back to check out the museums and have more time to play around shooting. It was getting dark fast so when we were walking back to the car after splitting up with Yuki and RJ, we saw that the Spreckels Oregan Pavillion stage was totally vacated. It was pretty dark but we couldn't resist not taking a picture or two on stage so I told Linda to hop up on the stage and I'd see what I come up with for a creative shot.

Here's a shot of what the pavillion stage looked like hand holding the camerea with almost no available ambient light. It was shot in AV mode at ISO 400, 2 seconds shutter at f7.1. I also had to guess and manually focus these shots. Looks like crap but this picture captured what the place looked like by keeping the sensor exposed for 2 seconds even though in reality and to our eyes, it was much darker.

Our eyes saw the stage look more like this below. I put a speedlight with the omni-bounce sto-fen diffuser connected on top of a plant bush (camerea left slightly) right below the stage to light Linda. If you look closely at upper right of the pic, you can just make out the detail pattern of the building architecture and Linda's shadow. I liked how this one came out!

Here's one more shot of the pavillion from a different perspective.

Earlier on our stroll through the park with Yuki and RJ, we were having such a good time, we couldn't help but to do our happy dance...

Of course we made it to the beach during the trip to lay out but while it was over 80 degrees that day back home in Seattle, it was much cooler here unfortunatley. We still had a good time and got a much needed tan.

Karen just flew in after visiting home in Seatown and met up with us at the beach so these two were being extra lovey-dovey, touchy-feeling, hanky-panky...ok I'll stop. I gave that shirt to Eric last year and he wore it to the beach in style...it always drives the ladies crazy...haha!

All in all, the trip felt like a mini vacation which is always what we hope for when leaving town. There were other great highlights like dancing to really good music at Sway (I think that's what it was called) which was our first time there. Best of all we had the night club to ourselves for a bit before people started mobbing in. I'll end this post now since I'm getting tired of writing. But before I do, here's a few more misc. pictures from the trip. Until next time guys and to Karen and Lisa if you see this, again congrats on finishing law school and best of luck on the bar!