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!

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