Monday, December 30, 2013

Family photo shoot with eleven year olds (Portraits 47/52)

I literally googled "11 years old kids" when I got a booking for this family with 11 year old twins. I had no idea what 11 years old would be like for photoshoot, or even how big they would be.

These two eleven year old twins are just fun to hang around. They have tons of ideas for photos, full of energy and laughter.  They are easier than newborns or toddlers because they listened, understood and co-orporated.

Easy to talk to too. All I need is our common interest of Harry Potter to start with. Now I know what to talk with 11 year olds. LOL.

It's amazing how the parents did such a good job at raising them to be able to read and write Hindi and play indian music very well.

The boy was writing beautiful Hindi characters with real ink fountain pen. He was writing his family names, and when I asked him what the last long line is, thinking he wrote "I love my family". He answered "I am the greatest person". He just cracked me up.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jen Maternity (Portraits 46/52)

It was such a fun and easy photoshoot with Jen and Tipp. I got some workout too, hiking up the nice hill with beautiful scene and light, along the way. After this session, I found myself advising hiking hills or nearby parks as possible photoshoot locations to my other clients. 

Tipp is such a funny father-to-be. Just fun watching them. They brought to my attention a good point of photographing people as who they are and not how I envision my photographs.  Showing their true personality in photos is important, and it's definitely not easy. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Brad Pitt family (Portraits 44/52)

This family is super pretty, every single one of them. The girl already looks like a super model with a model-ish smile and the boy with huge blue eyes looks like a mini Brad Pitt.

When photographing toddlers, their parents know them best how to get them do things. Leave it to the parents to handle the toddler, let them play and shoot quick.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Asian fever

Hong Kong island. Seen from Victoria Harbour promenade from Kowloon side 

I am such a "hay-fire"-- quick to catch the flame and quick to smother the flame too.

Every time I travel international, I always come back with a new obsession. After I went to Europe, all I want is french bangs and french style. I even watched the horrible movie "In Bruges" from start to end just to relish the memories.

Then after India trip, French obsession was replaced by India craze. I started going to Bollywood classes, listened non-stop Indian music and watched pop-culture indian movies, such as "Student of the year".

It lasted for a while till I went to Myanmar ~ 6 months later. I came back with new Burmese songs and books and didn't get to any of my indian music again so far.

That also lasted for few months till I went to Thailand. On my way back to US, I studied Thai language like crazy. I signed up for online language videos and that's my obsession to learn Thai during any free time for a good few weeks, and now i haven't opened any Thai book for months and forgot everything I learned. eek. Such a hay-fire.

Now, I just came back from Hong Kong  with asian fever. Korean and Japanese obsession to be exact. I watched 3 asian movies straight on the flight back home. I was searching for Japanese fashion magazines online like mad till I found a good solution.  (This magazine site has downloadable scans, super slow though).   Japanese magazine subscriptions from Amazon are like $140/yr!

Anyway, here is some photos from Hong Kong.  I took about 500 pics over 10 days trip, so it's less than 50 pics per day on average. I think I did pretty well in not taking many pics, good or bad I don't know. Some days in HK were just shopping with a heavy camera in my bag the entire day. (I still didn't have guts to go out without the camera during the trips). And some days or places are just not interesting enough to take pictures.
St Paul ruins in Macau. It's completely just a facade left.  

Macau/Portugese v.s Hong Kong egg tarts. See the difference?
I don't know if I was that big of an egg tart fan before, but I was totally obsessed with egg tarts during this trip. That's my mission each day to eat as many egg tarts, egg puffs and drink at least two milk teas and as many HK desserts as I can stuff in. 

Hong Kong view from the peak.
Don't take the tram. 1 hour wait in line for peak tram each way is NOT worth it. Just take the bus up there.
I love Hong Kong. It's my 2nd favorite city so far. It's not cheap, it's organized and clean though it's crowded and pushy. People speak English pretty well, and so foreigner friendly. Look at this Maxim's palace dim sum restaurant for instance. (The best dim sum I have ever eaten, btw.) They have English translation and pictures for each item in each cart for people like me. How cool is that! We didn't even have it this much internationalized in bay area dim sum restaurants.

Hong Kong history museum
One of my favorite things to do in each city is visiting the history museum. I always feel like I learn a lot about the place that way. I know everything is on wikipedia now, but I would never go read it if not searching for something in particular. Another one of my fav is Chicago history museum. Hong Kong museums are cheap!  They are ~US$1.25.  Cheap compared to the food cost there, and compared to ~$15 California museums. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Last weeks of fresh flowers

One of my routines on weekends is picking roses from our front yard for Buddha stage. As a kid, I was taught that offering flowers will bring you beauty, so I'm always a firm believer in donating flowers. :-) hehe.  Belief aside, it just makes me happy to see beautiful flowers on Buddha stage. 

I am lucky to have fresh roses from our rose trees once a week during spring, summer and fall. During some weeks I get two bases full of roses, so I can put one in living room.  As we go toward winter, I'll start to lose that privilege and have to go through a few winter months without any free fresh flowers on Buddha stage. 

And they are entertainment for my cat's boredom.  He sits next to the vase and keeps shredding them whenever he's bored or hungry.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Canvas on Demand prints

I got two Groupon coupons for CanvasOnDemand 16x20" gallery wrapped canvases (thanks to Jeff). Each costs $27 including shipping. Good deal!

Now some of my pics made it to a canvas. yayy! (This is all part of my resolution this year to make more photos into prints.) But all four canvases of two separate orders at two different times came out  kind of unsaturated, a bit washed out and dull-looking than I had intended when I submitted it on my computer.  I don't know whether it's my monitor calibration or I should oversaturate a bit more for future CanvasOnDemand orders.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens review

The itch for fisheye lens is over. I got a chance to try Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens on Canon 5d mark ii for about half an hour walk around. It wasn't my cup of tea.

I was worried that it might not work well on full frame. It doesn't fill the frame on full frame sensor (as seen in the pictures here). But it fills enough to be cropped, so it's not too bad. I didn't crop the pictures here to show how they are straight out of camera. They look like I added a black border.

Since it's very wide, the lens hood petal is visible in the frame. But later Rokinon fisheye lenses have removable hood so the petal won't be in the picture.

After Cropped

The hardest part about fisheye lens is the composition.  I just can't pre-visualize how I'll frame it or what I'll get out without putting it up to my eyes.  Even that, depending on the angle I tilt, the curvature of the whole scene changes.  I can't simply move left and right to get a better composition. Something else will get distorted. (See the first picture of watering jar. I tried many ways to de-center it, but it just doesn't work well to move it to off-center while maintaining the shape I want of the jar). It's definitely non-linear optics. LOL

Manual focus, manual aperture, both very easily adjustable. I put camera on aperture priority and it does the rest to work with manual aperture set on the ring.

It works best with lines since you can see how warped they get with fisheye.
I can't tell fisheye effect in straight merging lines. It looks just like a normal wide lens. 
Same scene with the bridge I'm leaning on included.  
Same position, same scene, different tilt.
Same position, same scene, different tilt

I can't think details with fisheye lens. My normal photography style looks for details, such as leaves, flowers etc. But with fisheye they don't turn out what I saw in my mind. So it's not for details. After all, it's super-duper wide angle lens, right? What was I thinking?


Couldn't be happier to get back to my 50mm lens right afterwards.
50mm view for comparison
I'm glad I got a chance to try it (thanks to a fellow Googler). Otherwise, I might keep coveting fisheye lenses. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Colorful arrangement

I don't cook much, so grocery shopping is not my favorite thing to do. 
But these organized arrangement of colorful vegetables are just beautiful at my local fresh produce market. I can never resist wanting to take a picture whenever I see a row of fresh produce session.