Monday, December 15, 2008

LA: UCLA Botanical Garden

After discovering this garden, I find it hilarious that I passed by it often (on Hilgard) and never knew that it existed! It's so easy to miss. The meandering paths and the idyllic streams make it an ideal escape from the urban chaos surrounding it. I even spotted the wandering turtle that lives there! I decided to do part of my UCLA shoot here and saw this odd looking plant floating in a tree stump. I'm not actually sure what it is, but I liked the lighting conditions on it and shot it.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I did a final photography assignment on UCLA. I always found the campus to be quite beautiful and it provides an endless array of photographic opportunities. Throughout the semester, I actually ended up shooting quite a few projects here, including environmental portraits, architectural shots, and even botanical life photos. My teacher loved the one below. I still don't understand what she looks for in photographs, but I'm apparently doing something right.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Travel: San Francisco

  • Day 1: I flew up LAX >> SJC and met up with C. After he picked me up, I dropped off my stuff at Hotel Avante in Mountain View. We went out to Palo Alto for dinner at Bistro Elan and for drinks at a popular college hangout whose name escapes me at the moment (it was suggested to us by B's friend S who had gone to Stanford).
  • Day 2: The next day, we drove out to Muir Woods and took one of the easier paths. Since we were already on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge, we decided to tour Sausalito. After a late lunch there, we headed back and went to Fisherman's Wharf and the Embarcadero for a little shopping. We then caught a movie (Quantum of Solace) out at a local AMC. C had never seen Casino Royale (with Daniel Craig), so I had to give a synopsis of the first part while we were driving around town. It was interesting that one of the movie trailers that played was Tom Cruise's Valkyrie. C remarked how in Germany the story only warranted a made-for-TV movie, yet, in the US, it was a full-blown blockbuster. Afterward, we strolled through the City Hall-area before heading back to our car. It was a bit scary, as we ended up walking through a dodgy part of town.
  • Day 3: We headed out to Golden Gate Park and strolled through various parts of the park including Stowe Lake Island (where we got hot chocolate nearby), Strawberry Hill, and the Golden Gate Pavilion. Afterward, we drove out to Ocean Beach, followed by a trip to the Presidio. We had dinner in Palo Alto at Joya. I flew back to LAX later that night.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Travel: New York City - Lower Manhattan

B got invited to come out to NYC and, so, we did the quickest trip ever.
  • Day 1: Took the red eye out LAX >> JFK.
  • Day 2: Arrived in New York City, checked into an executive suite at Club Quarters. The hotel is kind of interesting because it serves purified water on every floor, complete with provided water bottles. Other than that, it's your standard business hotel. Because we were located 2 blocks away from the New York Stock Exchange, we decided to check out the Lower Manhattan: NYSE, Federal Hall, Trinity Church, Battery Park, City Hall, and the World Trade Center Site. We then went to the NYU area and saw the Washington Square Arch. We walked from NYU all the way back to our hotel to see sights along the way.
  • Day 3: We checked out of our hotel, and went to Grand Central Station. We explored Times Square, ultimately having lunch there. We then strolled through lower Central Park before our return flight JFK >> LAX.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

LA: UCLA Hanna Carter Japanese Garden

The UCLA Japanese Garden is actually off the main campus and in the hills of Bel Air. I had to make a reservation to go because of how tiny the parking lot is and they attempt to maintain the tranquility of the garden with as few people as possible.  There are so many elements to this small space that it actually feels much larger than it really is. With a pond (with koi fish!), gentle mini waterfalls/streams, a garden house, a shrine, and of course the garden itself, there were plenty of things to photograph within the 1 hour I spent there.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

LA: The Getty Center - Revisited

I knew it was too soon to post a Getty entry this year. Lo, and behold, I had a photo assignment to shoot the architectural features of the Getty. Above is the main waterfall and garden at the Getty. Below is the inside the main building.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Travel: San Diego - San Diego Zoo

I decided to shoot my first official photography assignment at the San Diego Zoo (I had free passes). My photography teacher couldn't stop giving me accolades for this photo. Perhaps it was my best shot of the day? But, I personally don't think this shot was all that great. Then again, she sees thousands of horrible photos over the course of a semester, and I've only now begun developing an eye for photography. Hopefully, I'll be able to appreciate what I did here, later.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

LA: La Brea Tar Pits

E got us free tickets to see 88BoaDrum which occurred on August 8, 2008 at 8:08PM at the La Brea Tar Pits. It had 88 drummers play 88 minutes of noise band "music" by the supposedly famous Japanese band called Boredom. It wasn't my thing, but E's into all sorts of stuff I'm not into and because I'm generally open to new experiences, this was me learning something new.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Movie: X-Files: I Want to Believe

R, E,  one of E's other friends, and I went to an AMC in La Jolla to watch the new X-Files movie which ended up being so mediocre. It was particularly disappointing because I was such a huge fan of the show and had high expectations. I suppose too much time had lapsed to maintain my interest or the storyline was just that weak. I'm not sure. Sad to say, but it was a fail.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Travel: San Diego - Comic-Con

I was a volunteer this year at Comic-Con. During one evening event that I worked on with E, I must have been asked where the after-party was at least a dozen times. Because I worked so late that night, I was hoping that I could get my day pass to see Hall H the next day (without working that day), but by the time I picked up my badge the next morning, the line for Hall H was so enormously long that I had no chance of getting in. I suppose it makes sense, since there are people who camp out the night before just to attend certain events. I met R (E's friend) who helped explain a lot of the convention to me; otherwise, I would have been clueless, as I am year after year.

Monday, June 9, 2008

LA: The Getty Center

I was playing tour guide and decided to showcase LA with a trip to the Getty. I love using it as a reliable tourist sight because, not only does one get to see world famous art (Van Goghs!), but also fantastic views of the Westside and downtown (smog permitting, of course). The museum itself is an architectural dream.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Travel: San Diego - La Jolla Cove

E, MP, B and I all went to have dinner at Alfonso's of La Jolla before checking out La Jolla Cove's seals. The next day, E, B, and I all went to Coronado, Seaport Village, and then hung out at Pacific Beach. We had quite a time at Gringo's Cantina (in PB) and E even fell asleep on the beach afterward. Loved their cheese dip!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Travel: Zurich, Switzerland & Florence, Italy

I did a 12-day trip to Europe to meet up with E and C, and where I also got to meet new people (G and T, among a few others).
  • Part 1: LAX >> JFK >> ZRH. Originally, my flight was to go through IAD but it was cancelled entirely. United Airlines worked to get me on another flight as soon as possible and I was only delayed a couple hours. As soon as I arrived in Zurich, I stored my luggage and got on the train to Bahnhofstrasse. From there, I rode the trams to a stop to meet up with C. He took me to have lunch with him at the Google offices in Zurich. I had a very nice tour and even rode down the slide! After lunch, I wandered around aimlessly (taking photos) and eventually picked up my luggage. Later that evening, after meeting up at C's apartment, we went out for dinner and drinks. The next day, I flew out to Florence, Italy.
  • Part 2: ZRH >> FLR. E, a couple of her friends (L and G), and I all stayed at an apartment in Florence for 8 days to attend a conference. We learned a lot, had a good time, and met some very nice people. We had authentic Florentine steaks for dinner not once, but twice! It was insanely expensive, but oh so delicious! In the evenings, we attended local parties and had tons of fun (courtesy of open bars). I wasn't too keen on doing that many touristy things this time around because I had already been to Florence before. I also met T who seriously sparked my interest in learning about photography using a dSLR.
  • Part 3: FLR >> ZRH. I flew back to Zurich with C's apartment key in hand, so I didn't have to stow my luggage again. The next day, we decided to do free things around town (seeing as how I'd already been to Zurich last year). So, we went to see the Botanical Gardens of the University of Zurich, Voliere Zurich, and Langenberg Wildlife Park. We had ridiculously expensive Starbucks while waiting for our train and then later, upon our return, a very late snack at the Coop near Bahnhofstrasse. That evening, we attended a sophisticated (ok, maybe not so much, but definitely grown-up) birthday party (everyone was about a decade older than I was). At first, I thought my not knowing enough German would pose a problem, but everyone spoke English :). One guy especially cracked me up by promising to visit me in LA when he would go to SF (I had to keep explaining the distance factor, but he didn't seem to understand or was too drunk by then. Haha.).
  • Part 4: ZRH >> IAD >> LAX. :(

Monday, March 31, 2008

Travel: San Francisco & Mountain View

  • Day 1: E, B, and I drove up to Mtn. View to meet up with C. That evening, we went out to Castro Street for a little nightlife. 
  • Day 2: B, C, and I picked up E from her aunt's nearby place (where she was staying) and drove out to SF. We visited the Palace Hotel, Coit Tower (pictured above), Lombard Street, and Lincoln Park. We had lunch at some random place suggested in C's out-of-date guide book. Afterward, we grabbed coffee and pastries at some random Italian bakery we passed by. E left us at some point in the afternoon to meet up with her friends. So, B, C, and I had dinner at Plouf in the French Ghetto. It was fantastic food. We then drove back to Mountain View.
  • Day 3: While E attended to other things, B, C, and I had breakfast with C's colleague at Hobee's. We then went to the expansive Shoreline Park and saw various lake activities (sailboats, paddle boats, etc.), joggers/walkers, and picnickers. We also went to the Rengstorff House, a Victorian house located within the park. We then wandered to the outskirts of the park, until the Shoreline Amphitheater and golf course. Afterward, we picked up E from a nearby train station, had a late lunch at Neto Cafe & Bakery, dropped off C, and then drove back to LA.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Travel: Joshua Tree National Park

    • Day 1: E and H drove out to LA from SD to ride up with us to Joshua Tree National Park. My tango partner, F, drove up in a separate van with 4 other people and met up with us there. We stopped at an REI along the way to rent camping equipment. At the park, we drove around taking pictures of the trees, flowers (they were in full bloom!), and mountains. We couldn't find any camping grounds in the park (we didn't make any reservations), so we camped off the park grounds. We spent the night getting to know each other, dancing (E was our DJ!), drinking wine, and eating smores around the campfire we built. In reality, we had very little food and not even the correct cooking supplies, but we, amazingly, had a blast. We slept through the incredibly windy night.
    • Day 2: Starving, we drove out to have breakfast at a diner at Chiriaco Summit. We were near the General Patton Memorial Museum, so we checked out the various tanks and military equipment on the grounds. After taking a long, wrong detour, we then regrouped to hike Ryan Mountain for a 360-degree view of the park. We all made it to the summit but we went with a girl who was dressed in inadequate boots and who slowed us down. To convince her to continue hiking, we told her there was a Starbucks at the top of the mountain (which there was not). Later that afternoon, we all drove home. Despite everything that could and did go wrong, we all had a really good time :).

    Saturday, January 5, 2008

    Travel: Las Vegas - Hoover Dam & Red Rock Canyon

    We did a hectic New Year's Eve meet up between 10 people!
    • Day 1: Drove F & H up with us to Las Vegas. We met up with E and her entourage at the Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas where 6 of them shared one room. B and I had our own free room on the Strip. That night, we had the Fremont experience, ate at Firefly, and then went to a hookah lounge.
    • Day 2: We found everyone at Golden Nugget's pool, despite the freezing outside temperatures. We toured the Strip (Bellagio, Caesar's, etc.). E and everyone else left to go to the Grand Canyon. B and I decided not to go because we'd already been a couple times.
    • Day 3:  B and I, instead, decided do the tour of the Hoover Dam. We invited J and A to stay in our room because we had a spare bed.
    • Day 4: B and I toured Red Rock Canyon. That night we attended a NYE banquet and had steak and lobster dinner for free! We met up with J and A to be on the Strip when midnight struck. They took us out for Korean BBQ afterward.
    • Day 5: J and A left early the next morning. B and I toured the Wynn, Palazzo, and Venetian. E and her entourage returned from the Grand Canyon and we met up at the Luxor. We took F and H out for dinner at Canters in Treasure Island. Then, we left everyone and went home.