Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The View from L'Observatoire de la Capitale

I know this is going to sound weird, but of all the things you can see from L'Observatoire de la Capitale in Quebec City, this cute little street caught my eye (don't worry -- I photographed the things that most people take a picture of as well). I think it has to do with my fascination with the red/green contrast. Who knows? Love, love, love the snow!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Downtown Montreal

I was at the Kondiaronk Belvedere at Mount Royal Park in Montreal, Canada a couple years ago when I shot this. The sun was just beginning to set and so cars and street lamps were just starting to turn on their lights. It was so cold I remember my gloveless fingers were shaking as I pressed the shutter button down. Afterward, I recall rushing inside the nearby chalet to get some hot chocolate to warm up.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Woman Versus Sea

Like yesterday's shot, this is another one I snapped while on my way to the top of Diamond Head crater in Oahu, Hawaii. It's funny -- it's basically the same concept as yesterday's post: a red object balancing the entire weight of the ocean. I just thought it was cooler having a person sitting, admiring the vastness of the sea. I wonder how the heck she got there, though.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I captured this on my hike to the top of Diamond Head crater a couple years ago in Oahu, Hawaii. I thought the red head of the lighthouse contrasted well with the blue-green water. I remember it being so windy up there and down by the ocean as well. I wonder if the lighthouse still works.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Leading Lines in the Sand

This was shot in San Diego (you can see Mexico in the background) on Christmas day last year. I couldn't resist waiting for my dad to get centered between the tire tracks of a lifeguard's car as I snapped this one. I should have used a deeper depth of field but I'm still pretty happy with it, particularly since I got the sun's setting light.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fido Redux

Sometimes I just have the urge to look at something cute. So, here's another shot from the photo session I had with my friend's dog (Fido). Thanks to the magic of cropping, I've surreptitiously removed my friend's hand from the top of the photo (she was petting him on the head). I love the reflections in the Fido's eyes and the sharpness of his whiskers. Gah -- too cute!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Aloe Plant

I shot this aloe plant in Balboa Park's desert-themed garden in San Diego, California. I made it black and white to emphasize the shape of its amazingly long leaves. It's almost like an octopus! I do wish I had added something to this picture to demonstrate its scale. It's absolutely enormous!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


One of the reasons why I love shooting in color is that I get to see the contrast of red on green when I photograph tomatoes on the vine. I've even shot them before in my parents' backyard and in downtown LA. Maybe they remind me of Christmas or something. No wait -- it's because they remind me of my logo for this website (above). Ha!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snow at the Grand Canyon

Continuing my fascination with snow, here, I captured some of it (the white stuff toward the bottom of the photograph) at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon last year. I was pretty surprised considering that it was already April, but it actually was quite cold still. This was captured near the south entrance close by to the Grand Canyon View Center (the main visitor center). I believe we are looking at Mather point (?).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Surfer Girl

I shot this in Imperial Beach, San Diego, California last year (apparently it's a great spot for surfing in the winter). I pulled it from my archives because I'm playing around with composition. I cropped her thinking that her black wet suit would have enough weight to balance out the white crashing waves. Also, I stuck her off-center in the hopes of giving her room to move and to make the composition more dynamic. I regret photographing her in mid-day light and from a high position (on the pier). Here's to balancing enough features to make this somewhat interesting.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Donner Lake in the Winter

Here's another shot from doing a scenic drive around Lake Tahoe last winter. This view of Donner Lake (named after the ill-fated Donner Party) can be seen from McClashan Point. I thought the surrounding dark forest helped frame the lake beautifully.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow on Sand

I shot this this time last year while at Lake Tahoe. I was amazed by the concept of snow on sand. It never occurred to me that this would be a reality in places with lakes (I just associate sand with sunny, warm beaches). I recall walking along the edge of the lake just photographing the snow (I'm from LA, remember!), and all of a sudden found myself on the beach sinking in the sand. That was a wonderful surprise. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Golden Gate Bridge in Color

Here's another shot I took while on vacation in San Francisco last year. I know it's been shot to death, but what made it interesting for me is that I debated for a while about whether I should have made this a black and white image. I decided against it though, because the Golden Gate Bridge's red/orange paint is iconic. It would have looked like any other bridge in b&w and I knew that the foreground was a bit unusual already. I then mulled over how much foreground and how much bridge to include because this actually came from a much larger image. In the end, I cropped it as seen above and just wished it had been a sunnier day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sunset on Maui

Since today was a rather gloomy day, I went through my archives to find this warm, sunset shot from our trip to Maui last year. We had stopped by this private beach in Kihei (which I think belonged to the Aston Maui Lu?). There was actually a wedding going on on the other side of the rocks (that we sort of interrupted as we passed from the parking lot to the beach). You can see a couple people from the wedding party near the base of the palm trees. It was so windy that day, so I was a little paranoid about getting sand in my camera. However, I still enjoyed the sunset, as B splashed around in the water.

Photography notes: what caught my eye for this photo was the partially destroyed sandcastle. However, when I photographed it, I snapped it as a horizontal. No matter how I cropped it, it just didn't seem to work. I eventually decided on this almost square vertical (above), but I still feel there are competing subjects in this photo. I know I'll never have a chance to capture it again. Oh well. C'est la vie.

The sunset itself. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: "Douglas Kirkland on Photography: A Photographer's Eye"

I was prepping for a trip to Palm Springs, when I coincidintally watched "Douglas Kirkland on Photography: A Photographer's Eye" on lynda.com. I couldn't believe my luck!

This short, 45-minute video follows Kirkland as he uses both a SLR and compact digital camera around town and on a hike. He begins by commenting on various photos he's taken in the past around the world. Afterwards, he starts photographing Palm Springs all the while explaining his mindset, his equipment choice, and technique.

I know he's a famous photographer, but I still couldn't believe how good his images turned out (especially with the point-and-shoot camera!), considering how few shots he was taking (maybe there's a little magic courtesy of video editing). But it seemed like he would just look around and know (instantaneously) what makes a good image. I hope I can do that someday (instead of being a trigger-happy shutterbug). It definitely gives me something to aspire to.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Accidental Portrait

I was still digging through my archives when I found this shot. It was taken at the end of a photo shoot intended to create a business portrait. My subject was so tired from the session and so uncomfortable in his suit that he began taking off his coat and tie as I was still shooting. I think this captures his frustration quite perfectly.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Drive from LA to Vegas

No, I'm not going to Vegas again. I was just going through my archives when I spotted these images.

I remember the first dozen times we drove out to Las Vegas from Los Angeles on the I-15, I thought I would die of utter boredom. Joshua trees, barren mountains, and desert just didn't do it for me back then. I, of course, hadn't yet taken up photography, and did not yet see the world with the appreciation that I have now. I used to even prefer driving out at night (gasp!) because I could at least see the stars above the desert. Now, the drive to and from Vegas is one of my favorite parts of the trips and provides plenty of opportunity to photograph landscapes. I think that next year (after I finish my attempt at portraits this year) my resolution will be to actually pull over the side of the road and just shoot until my heart's content during one of my pilgrimages out to Vegas. Maybe I shouldn't have gotten rid of my polarizing filter...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Portrait of My Blue Parakeet 3

I dug this one up from my archives and wasn't sure if this photograph of my parakeet (Blueberry) worked or not (especially when compared to these of Blueberry and Kiwi). I like taking high-key images of these guys, and felt this was too dark. His eyes almost disappear into the background. But I love the texture of the feathers on his body, so I'm sharing it. :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Black & White Is SO Not For Me

I was attempting to watch Ben Long's 3-hour online course "Foundations of Photography: Black and White," on lynda.com, the other day, and I just couldn't bear it. I don't know if it was the video itself (which I kept falling asleep through) or if it's my general dislike for black and white photos. The only time the video had my attention was when Long was out in the field shooting a railroad track, and he was working the shot to find interesting perspectives. Other than that, especially with all the Photoshop tutorials, I was just not interested in what he had to say.

Well, I guess I'll keep shooting in color for now. Maybe, I will give this video another play in six months and see if I can finish it that time (I'm about halfway through it, anyway). It'll probably work for you if you're actually into B&W photography; this was just not meant for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Money, Money, Money, Maaah-ney. MAH-NEY!

For whatever reason, I had the Apprentice's opening theme song stuck in my head when I sat down to write today's post (I don't even watch the show!). It's probably because the bills from Christmas are starting to roll in or something. Anyway, before I shot today's picture, I looked up the rules on photographing money  So, the short version is it's fine to photograph money -- just not to churn out realistic copies of it. Apparently, Photoshop is so intelligent now that it'll prevent you from printing banknote images. Wow -- I never even thought anyone would want to do that (just goes to show how sheltered I am, I suppose). It makes sense though. I, now, wonder if we have Photoshopped currency circulating. Nah, I doubt it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: "Foundations of Photography: Composition" by Ben Long

After realizing I had gotten into a compositional rut a long time ago, I decided to watch Ben Long's 5-hour video course "Foundations of Photography: Composition," on lynda.com. Long covers a lot of material, but obviously doesn't delve into as much detail as one possibly could regarding every element of composition. For example, there is only about 11 minutes dedicated to the subject of color (which clearly can be discussed ad infinitum). At other times, he does say all one can about a subject, if the topic is small enough.

But for the meatier parts of the course, I was very happy with how the video presented them. For example, Long describes four fundamental composition ideas: separation of the subject and the background, balance, point of view, and a degree of simplicity. The rest of the other compositional elements he discusses (and there are A LOT!) build upon them (e.g., geometry, light, best practices). He encourages shooting in black and white to concentrate on composition itself.

Other interesting aspects of the course include a look into a photography workshop where the workshop's students are given two assignments that Long also gives to the viewer (the video actually suggests several exercises to the viewer). We can see what those students photographed and, more importantly, the critique their photographs generate. In the course, Long and Connie Imboden (the workshop teacher) critique the work of professionals as well, particularly that of Steve Simon, Paul Taggart, and Imboden's. Long also provides a very light discussion of post production (cropping, re-sizing, changing tones, altering perspective, retouching, and vignetting).

The video does have a few shortcomings (there is about 25 minutes of dry exposition in the beginning before you start getting to the crux of the course), but I still definitely recommend it. It helped me build a vocabulary for what I was seeing and doing, and it formalized/organized random tips I've been receiving throughout my photography education. I can't wait to try out what I've learned in the upcoming year!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I was thinking about what I wanted to post today when I suddenly had a craving for lumpia shanghai. Then, I remembered I had a photo of it from when I was down in San Diego. I don't recall if these are store-bought or if they're homemade, but this picture makes my mouth water (even if they aren't cooked yet). Mmm... lumpia... :::drool:::

Monday, January 9, 2012

Portrait on a Railroad Track

So, while in San Diego (before my last Vegas trip), I did a spontaneous photo shoot on a railroad track (we were actually driving by from another shoot at a park nearby). I wasn't really happy with the light I had to work with (it was the middle of the day!); so, I didn't have a lot of shots to choose from. But, we had fun. Definitely interesting working with so many leading lines (and stares from curious people passing by) ;). I'm really just glad I got to do another portrait . New year's resolution? Check! :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

UCLA Perimeter

So, these shots aren't the usual quality I post because these were taken with my cell phone while I was exercising around UCLA's perimeter. It's one of my New Year's resolutions (working out, that is -- not shooting with my cell phone). I thought it was cute that along the 4 1/4-mile path there are, sporadically, these mini-bruin bear claws on the ground. I shot this one (below) at night without a flash (hence all the graininess). I should probably shoot my path in the day with my SLR camera for better, more interesting pictures.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Travel: Las Vegas - The Obligatory Food Post

Deep fried mac and cheese. Yum.
In light of my experience with  the "Buffet of Buffets" pass, we decided not to do that again and instead opted to go to actual restaurants in Las Vegas. The first one (below) is at "Noodle Asia" at the Venetian. It was the first time I had even seen it, so I'm assuming it recently opened up and was part of all the renovations at the casino. It's quite expensive Asian food (think: double the normal price of what it should be in LA), but it was quite good. Your view is the slot machines nearby. The second photo was taken at the Macaroni Grill on Sahara Blvd. (above). I don't know what prompted us to eat there, but we did. :/

Friday, January 6, 2012

Travel: Las Vegas - Vdara (& The Cosmopolitan)

During this most recent trip to Vegas, I went back to CityCenter to find Vdara. It was the last of the three new hotels that I had yet to see. Man, was I disappointed! First off, it took a bit of navigating to even find the hotel. We knew it was behind the Cosmopolitan but we couldn't find the parking structure for it nor could we find a walkway to it. We eventually received directions from a few helpful people at the Cosmopolitan. When we arrived at Vdara, we were surprised to find that it had no casino but that it did have a tram that connects to other casinos. The best thing, though, were the outdoor art sculptures (see below).
The sculpture in the turnabout in front of Vdara. The backdrop is Aria.
This picture is a bit misleading, as the sculpture is on Vdara's grounds and the Cosmopolitan is across the street.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Travel: Las Vegas - The Venetian (Revisited. Again.)

The Venetian at dusk.
We just got back from yet another trip to Vegas (yes, we were just there two weeks ago). We stayed at the Venetian again (surprise, surprise). The Venetian is still decorated in the same winter motif, but the walkway from the parking elevators to the casino is now finished (yay!).
The cool thing this time was that we met up with I. I hadn't seen him since J + A's wedding. We enjoyed a night of free drinks, gambling, and late night Hawaiian food. We did wish that the rest of the gang was there, though :(. I didn't bring my camera much (my back was killing me!), but I'll post what little I did take in the next couple days.
View from the 2nd floor balcony.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Learning French with Rosetta Stone

So, I decided to take care of my perpetual New Year's resolution to learn French by getting Rosetta Stone. This is exciting for me because I've learned every language I've ever studied in a school setting. This is the first time I'm using something that uses no textbook, no flash cards, and no other tool I'm so used to having. It's been interesting so far because I feel like I really am learning the language. Anything I have a question about, I'm able to look up for free on the Internet, since French is so widely taught. I do admit that had I not studied Spanish and Italian in college, I would be somewhat confused. I'm sure my pronunciation is crap still, but it's nice to know I can get a 50-minute session (along with up to 3 other students) with a live native speaker for as many times as I want through their online component (that's so cool!). I can't wait until I start learning the words for food!

Monday, January 2, 2012

LA (Downtown): Grand Central Public Market

So, for lunch the other day, B, G, and I met up at Grand Central Public Market. While waiting for a taco vendor to prepare our food, I wandered around and quickly snapped a few stands nearby. It's amazing how cheap the produce is (as well as other kitchen staples).
With so many affordable, good eateries here, I wonder why anyone would bother going to the McDonald's across the street.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year (2012)!

Happy 2012 everyone!!! Hopefully, you didn't procrastinate and you had your resolutions down before the clock struck midnight tonight. I was writing mine earlier this week, when I noticed that I've been writing the same ones for years now (below). However, I do have several other photography-related ones, so you should be seeing my photography continue to progress on this photo blog. Again, I wish everyone a happy new year and may the world not end this December! :P