In the recent months, i've been really pushing myself to live a "less is more" life motto. i think with having 2 kids, living in the bay area, and being a free-lancer, i really shouldn't have any other option. i've always wanted to live the "minimalist" lifestyle but i've always been the excessive type. if i like something, i gotta have lots of it. i liked to collect shit; like toys and art paraphernalia. i'm into fashion and sneakers so when shit drops, im always finding myself in the predicament of, "do i really need this? duh.. yes." so as much shit as i get rid of month to month, i just replenish it with something else eventually. i think that these last few months, however, i've really come to realize that i really do need to cut back on shit that i don't need to live off of. i am so inspired by how Japanese people live in Japan; the necessities only. so clean, so simple, and makes all the fuckin sense. every time i visit japan, i come back home like, "man what the fuck am i doing with all this junk?" but i quickly fall back into the bad habit of living the "american dream" of owning senseless shit. i think with not traveling at all this year, it made me think hard about what camera equipment i really "needed" versus all the shit i "wanted." i got rid of the bulky Canon build and sized down to a sony and now getting rid of bulky glass to going as compact as possible. i've been doing a ton of research on a lens that i can make use of for a life-time and i ended up with the zeiss c sonnar 50/1.5. it's not the "everyday" lens like a 24-35mm is but i didn't want so much of an everyday lens, but more of a lens that would challenge me to make a more conscious decision on getting a shot worthy of archiving. being that it's a M-mount lens constructed for rangefinders, it lacks in the close-focus field. meaning i can only focus on subjects about 1 meter away, posing an obstacle to how i would shoot a subject. all in all, i really love the quality of both the construction of this lens and the quality output. there really isn't any other lens that can produce the results the c sonnar can especially in its weight class and price bracket. as you know already know, i like customizing my gear to make it feel more "me." i've done a heavy blackout on it to match my camera, which i will show in another post to come.
so i've been getting a ton of questions lately as to what or why i've switched back to sony setup. so to give you a little background, i started off photography with a canon rebel xti that i bought back in 2007. later upgraded to a t2i, then t3i, then 7D, then 5D2. So i've been shooting with canon for a loooonnnggg time, but it wasn't till the day dropped and snapped my canon 24L off my camera, that i finally decided i wanted to make a change. there wasn't really a huge deciding factor as to why i switched over to the sony a7ii, i honestly just wanted to try something new, and at that time (2015-16) sony was definitely coming into the market strong. i did no research whatsoever, and just sold all my canon gear, and copped the sony a7ii and the voigtlander 21/1.8. used the set up for a while then sometime last year, i decided to jump back over to canon, 5d3 and back with my beloved 24L. i decided to go back to canon because i was headed to a trip to iceland and i really wanted something that can withstand some gnarly weather conditions. lots of cold, and lots of water.
fast fwd, i got tired of lugging around the canon setup again, especially now more than ever since i am carrying around a diaper bag almost everyday thats jam packed with diapers, bottles, wipes, babyfood, etc.. the last thing i needed was my brick of a camera to weigh me down even more.. so again, i sold my canon setup and jumped back over to sony, this time the a7r2 and of course, had to get back one of my favorite lenses, the voigtlander 21/1.8. i was pretty stoked on this because i really missed the ergo on the a7's, it just fits my hand perfectly. canon was always a bit bulky and heavy, made it pretty uncomfortable to hold after a period of time. i also missed how light and portable the a7's were, and not to mention, the world of options for lenses. canon, i was stuck with red rings, which is not a problem since they are some of the nicest pieces of glass out there, but they are mad heavy and bulky. as much as i love the red rings, it always made me choose to leave my camera at home as it becomes a huge burden to lug around. i love the fact that i can literally pair any lenses out there with the a7. being that i already own a voigtlander r3m 35mm camera that is an m-mount... it was a no brainer to stick with m-mount lenses such as leica, voigtlander, zeiss to name a few.. which are sharp af. even tho they are manual focus lenses, the a7's focus peaking feature and focus magnifier is a godsend. furthermore, so yea, there you have it.. what i switched to, and why i switch to.
i've been keeping a disposable camera handy in our apartment for a while now, and i would always take a photo or two randomly when i come across it. every time i get the scans back from them, I'm always in love. there's just so much nostalgic feels to these types of photos. these are the type of photos that my mom has in all of our photo albums tucked away somewhere. there is really nothing like shooting family photos on disposables. i highly encourage everyone to do this. you can find a bunch of disposable cameras on eBay or amazon, you can buy them by the bulk like i did. I just stash all the cameras by my desk, and just have one around the house always ready to fire. replace it with a new one when the roll is done.
fujifilm quicksnap disposable
cv r3m + cv 40/1.4 nokton on kodak tmax 400
about a month ago i was blessed with the opportunity to speak at the apple store in union square. to be honest, i really didn't have the time to do it but it wasn't something that i could pass up. as daunting and tedious it was to get everything together for the keynote, I'm so glad i was able to receive help from the kind souls at apple. i really had no expectations for the talk, i had only hoped that i would be able to fill a couple of seats for the event. would've been real bad if nobody came, but to my surprise, we were able to fill up over 150 seats. beyond humbled at the turn out, and all the people i was able to share my story with. just want to give another huge thank you to everyone who spent the evening with me.
it's been a gnarly few months. i still can't believe so much time has passed, my daughter is already 9 months, soon to be 10. it's been a huge challenge trying to balance responsibilities between family and work. there honestly just isn't enough time in the day to do everything. living in the bay area with no other family around to help us can be quite tough. my wife at work, son on summer break, daughter becoming a pro crawler, and work tasks piling up; i can't help but to feel helpless and hopeless at times.
good thing i have a wife that's super supportive and understanding. we work hard to try and find a balance between family time and work, and really trying to carve out some dedicated hours for work. i've said this many many times; that i will try and write more on here but it always seems that i take these long hiatuses from it.. but i always return. so here i am, yet again. hello.
pardon my absence, i will resume posting shortly; cheers.
I was lucky enough to hitch a last minute helicopter ride during my stay in Maui. the guys hit me up the day before and told me they had an open seat to fill and of course i wasn't going to pass that up. started early in the morning to get to the place and ended up catching a pretty gnarly sunrise, just wish i was up in in the sky already during prime time but next time, yea?
i remember sitting in the car before going in for check-in, contemplating which lenses to bring along with me because through experience, there really is no time or room to swap out lenses during a flight, especially since its such a short flight to begin with. you definitely do not want to miss a moment for the sake of switching lenses... i knew that we were going to be flying over a bunch of waterfalls and i really wanted to get up close to them so i decided to bring the canon 70-200/2.8L with me and also something wide, so i went with the voigtlander 12mm all paired with my ex-sony a72. so i was locked and loaded, ready to roll. the company was flying with a family of 4, so it was pretty tight in there. even though i got the window seat, being shoulder to shoulder next to a 6' dad didn't leave me much pivot room to shoot. if only they allowed doors off, that would have made it all perfect but they made it very very clear that they do not do that. trust me, i begged. views were breath-taking. as we got closer to the first set of waterfalls, i slowly wiggled to try and grab the 12mm to swap out and... fuck! I had forgot the adapter for it. pretty pissed because we kept flying super close to all of these falls and the widest i was able to go was 70mm.. smh. fucked up big time on this, so many shots i missed out on because i just didn't have the right lens. i shoulda stuck with my gut instinct and kept my voigtlander 21mm on and left the other lenses in the car. definitely a lesson learned, always check you have everything you need before you're stuck with equipment that's as good as dead. I did the best I could with what i had but i definitely want to revisit and fly again.
I think I've been to Hawaii around 6 or 7 times and not once have I ever caught the Milky Way out there. It's always bad timing; sky isn't clear enough, too much light pollution, wasn't the right season, list goes on with the amount of excuses I have for never catching it but I was finally able to catch it on a clear Summer night in Maui. Crazy thing was, I caught it just steps outside of our hotel which is something I could never do when staying in Oahu. The amount of light pollution from Waikiki is brutal. Definitely stoked to have gotten some decent shots of the milky way with palm trees, you can't really beat paradise like this... i've mentioned numerous times that there are only a handful of things in life that i find to put me in complete peaceful bliss; the sound of the ocean waves, driving late night with the windows rolled down, staring into a clear night sky in dead silence, and drinking coffee in freezing weather while waiting on sunrise (this was something I recently discovered).
on our way to tokyo, we had a very very.... very lengthy layover in shanghai before catching out connecting flight. our layover was 20+ hours and the airlines required us to retrieve our luggages at baggage claim and to exit the airport. this meant we had to find a hotel for the night and was that a shit show. we booked an airbnb somewhere in shanghai. we decided we weren't going to need to get a portable wifi since we were only going to be there for such a short amount of time and boy, was that a mistake. shanghai is one of those places where getting internet is like running through an obstacle of american ninja warrior. they simply do not want people to get on the internet, politics man. so we ended up wandering around with our heavy ass luggages all over the city trying to find a building with a chinese address, which was nearly impossible. we had tried to ask a bunch of random people but nobody was trying to help, until finally a younger couple was nice enough to save our lives and point us in the right direction. it was such a pain; main reason being that my wife was in her first trimester at this time and it was just brutal for her to have to go through all of this but she was definitely a trooper. yes, a trooper but this shanghai experience definitely left her in a bit of distaste with this place.
once we finally checked into, what seemed to be a scene from a horror movie, airbnb room; Nikk and I decided to head out and hunt for some food. I'd have to say, after all that hassle and trouble we went through to find our room, aimlessly marauding the shanghai streets late at night was definitely worth it... i think.
Bro i want to ask something, What you use for photo editing? I think you using Lightroom application, If you use lightroom what preset you use for it? -anon
one of the most common questions i get, what preset do i use. it's just crazy to me how VSCO + lightroom really changed the world of photo editing. it's almost too easy now. I remember i used edit all my photos in photoshop and it would make me forever. creating that correct amount of fade on each photo, color correcting, and fine tuning all the small details, all would take me forever. now, i just a click... banger. click.. banger... click.. banger.. so much easier nowadays and I'm not complaining at all, time comes sparingly these days for me with a family and all. but back to the original question, presets. to be honest, i don't even remember the preset i started off with.. it must've been one of the portra series, of course. i love portra film so it's probably why i was pulled in with that setting. it had the tones that i really enjoy, fade, grain, etc. however, i never stuck with that preset as is, i've fucked around with that preset so much that it's not even close to what it was before. i've changed the entire S-curve, saturation, and each photo i edit, i always fine tune it to fit my style. this is why this question is always the brick wall question for me, i really don't know what to tell you, or how to answer the question.. i simply don't have an answer, and you shouldn't want to know my answer. as a creative, part of the process is trail and error. test every preset out that you have, tweak all of them to really nail down something that's of your taste. as we all know, we constantly change our preferences. one day you may really dig this look, week later you think its embarrassing you even thought that it was cool. so my advice is, fuck whatever setting it is that i use. play around and some photos and throw in all the aspects you enjoy in a photograph and make a medley for it, this will be your preset.
want to ask me something? ask away
spent the weekend in japan town in san francisco for my sons early birthday. my wife had the idea of booking a room at hotel kabuki since she knew that this was about the closest we were going to get to the real japan with the new baby and all. it's always good to get away from home and venture out and stay at a hotel even if it is only 30 minutes away from home sweet home. we got to just kick back and relax, ate a bunch and did some shopping. i definitely want to take mia traveling but theres just so much work behind traveling with a baby at such a young age. i think this was for sure a good way to ease it in for all of us; luckily we have an amazing daughter who is just a blessing who's always down for anything just like us.
I have a question about your photos. I'm fairly new to photography and I recently got a ae-1 program and I'm curious as to how you get the digital at such a good quality? I know some places do it for a fee but they sometimes have restrictions on their resolutions etc. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! -Jose
congrats on your ae-1 program. I remember when I picked that camera up and I must say, it's definitely the camera i recommend to everyone who is just starting in 35mm film photography. as far as getting your film scanned, i let The Dark Room handle all of my film developing and scans. They give you resolution options; standard $11 (good for 3x5 prints and most of web-use), enhanced $15 (good for prints up to 11x14) and super $20 (good for large format printing). I honestly just stick with standard scans since most of my use for my film photos are for my blog and small prints. the good thing is that if i ever do decide that i want higher resolution scans or to print large format, i have the developed film in hand to do so. I have uploaded 2 photos to show you the difference between standard v. enhanced but the choice in film also has a lot to do with the quality.
want to ask me something? ask away.
it's without a doubt that 2016 was a grand ol' year. i take a look back at all that I was able to do and see, and all the places i got to visit and experience; no other word in the dictionary can describe it but blessed. at the beginning of 2016, my wife and i decided that we should try for a baby. i really didn't know how to absorb something like that; it's such a grown up decision. i've never been faced with something that made me really sit and rethink my entire life like this did. it's truly a life-changing moment. I mean, there's a ton of choices in life that can alter your life but there really isn't any other choice like this one. it's just crazy to me; we legit planned to have a baby. like we really said to ourselves that we're are going to attempt to conceive a life. not one of those oh shit, i accidentally.. uh... yea... we planned this. well, my wife did all the planning, i just did my part in the process i suppose, haha. it's one of the best decisions i've ever made. most rewarding, at that. i know a lot of people are scared to have kids, or just waiting for when the time is right but i've always believed that there really isn't ever going to be a time where things are right. it's those people who hang on to that belief that someday, all the stars will align and hold up a sign that says, "hey, it's time to have a baby." and even if that were to happen, it's not as simple as going to the store and swiping your card and bam, there's your baby. i know people who have waited and when they finally decide to have kids, it's too late. i've heard some sad stories about the stress that comes with many failed attempts at have kids, or ivf's not working, which are hella expensive by the way. i thought to myself at that time,
hey, i'm in my late 20's, 30 is right around the corner, i don't own a house, i don't have a steady income, i really don't know how we are going to handle 2 kids with no family around to help, but shit... we can figure all that shit out a long the way. fuck it, let's have a baby.
it was a tough choice to put away my travel bug. it really took some convincing, that this is way more important. it's not like i've never travelled. hell, i've done quite a bit of traveling around the world and i think that's what made it easier for me to make the decision. i've got to see the world and experience so much diversity outside of the states. although i know there's so much more out there to see and do, i am 100% content with putting a bookmark where i left off and pick up this new book and start this new chapter of my life. i think the change in pace will do me some good honestly. it was my dream to travel the world and get paid for it; i did that.
now it's time to follow through with another dream of mine, to have and raise a daughter, to raise kids, to raise a family.
cv r3m + cv 40/1.4 nokton on kodak ektar 100
cv r3m + cv 40/1.4 nokton on kodak ektar 100
finally got around to sorting through this roll from the same Yosemite trip. this roll was shot on the fujifilm fujicolor 200. It's not that bad of a roll, especially considering the price. you can pick these up at just about anywhere, i got a pack of 4 rolls for only $10 from CVS, so I can't complain too much. it holds color very well, heavy on the blue side, great contrast but too much contrast for my personal taste. I like the very faded look which is why I won't use this film as my first choice. so if you see me shoot on this film, it's probably because I ran out of other films and I got desperate at CVS... anyhow, this was en route to glacier point, while making a stop at mirror lake. we came to mirror lake a few years ago, and hiked before sunrise to get here to only find that the lake was completely dry... we were literally walking in the middle of the lake, with no freakin clue that we had arrived to the lake already. so it was pretty awesome to come across and actually witness the lake this time around. awesome place, awesome reflections.
cv r3m + cv 40/1.4 nokton on fujifilm fujicolor 200
after hours and hours of driving the night before, we had intended to just take quick nap around 3-4AM and wake up at 5:30AM to start hiking in order to reach our 4 mile destination but we ended up sleeping right into the storm that pounded the roof of the car in the middle of the night. there was no way we were going to be able to survive hiking in the pitch dark in freezing weather in a heavy dump downpour... without hesitation, we made the chief decision of... sleeping in. i woke up after sunrise in the back of a SUV with a dude on each sides of me, uncomfortable af after sleeping on what felt like planks of wood (pause). we decided to just drive around and head back into the valley, grab lunch and cut out since the weather was so shitty but the more and more we drove, the better and better the weather conditions got. that feeling of completely losing track of time and chasing location after location cause the views just get better one after another...
cv r3m + cv 40/1.4 nokton on kodak portra 400
I shot a couple rolls of portra 160 going into yosemite, here is the first one. i personally love the look of portra film, especially the 160 rolls. it just holds a certain amount of blue-green colors that really gives off that nostalgic film look. i know that nowadays, that film-esque look is very easily imitated using Vsco, and they do a damn good job at it. vsco is actually one of the main reasons why i love portra so much to begin with. i remember having bought all the vsco packs for lightroom, and i would always find myself back at the portra filters. i just loved the colors to gave off, and from there i basically adjusted and tweaked a bunch of stuff to finally get my own style and look that I was happy to call my own, but without a doubt, the roots came from the portra filter sets in vsco. so of course, portra film is always stocked up in my camera bag.
so back to yosemite. driving in is always exciting. it's foreal driving into a world of its own. yosemite definitely holds a place in my soul because its just that damn breathe-taking. as soon as we got into the park, we were on a mission. we knew exactly where we were headed for sunset, taft point. the shitty part was that even though we had got into the park at a certain time, we knew that taft point was still a good ways to go, about another hour. that just goes to show how massive Yosemite national park really is... but on the way, we made a quick pit stop at tunnel view, then made our way to taft point trailhead, hiked a bit and made it just in time, for what was going to be an awesome sunset.
cv r3m + cv 40/1.4 on kodak portra 160