Monthly Archives: September 2008

arrggg stupid house. (again)

so my backyard pipes I guess sprung another leak. I’ve decided to call Antonio back to just eradicate all sprinklers in my backyard. Noo more sprinklers. Then of course, the stupid thing that I called Mr. Rooter for that cost me nearly 1.7k (fixing a pump) has decided to not work anymore. 2 months! I’ve called the company and of course they can’t bring anyone in until tomorrow. But I shall raise hell. Arg…I wish our loser president will get out of office, and hopefully the new one will be capable of fixing his little(big) mess so I can sell my house. Arrrggg..arrgg…
I’m now drowning in my sorrows i with Stargate episodes.

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Photography as a profession changed last week

So the past few months, the internet was a buzz with leaked specs over the 5D mark II. The successor to the first full frame digital camera sub $4k. I ignored it because it’s one of those, “my 5D already kicks ass, I really don’t need a 21mp full frame camera. What on earth can I do with 21mp that I can’t do in 10. The intriguing thing about is they did announce that it can take videos as well. Granted, if you really want to take HD video, get an HD camera. Based on some of the live view technology, auto-focus may be a bit problematic, but regardless. Here’s a link to Vincent’s laforet’s website. His credentials by the way, is that he was marked one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the ‘nation’.
So I guess if you’re as badass as he is, Canon lets you borrow their prototype to play around with it.
Link to 5D sample video
Watch the reverie video, and if you’re interested there’s a video on how some of that stuff was shot, which was pretty cool as well. So if you watch the quality and don’t wet your pants, then clearly you don’t have a libido.

I’ve told Chrissie I’ve always wanted to dabble in video as soon as I conquer stills. I probably have a few more years before I can remotely consider myself proficient in stills. But wooo the prospect of taking videos using the full range of my canon lenses makes me as giddy as a little school girl. At first I dismissed it as another gimmick that I’ll never used. Just like Live View. I still assert that video should be done well..with a dedicated video camera. But I mean…Really, I can give the bird to brides looking for video of their weddings, but don’t wan’t to pay 3-4k for a videographer in addition to their photographer. Instead, pay the photographer, say an additional 1k or more and heck, I’ll hire someone to use the 5DMKII, get videos of the footage that matters ( the ceremony, speeches at reception) and call it a day! Edit, put sound, integrate it to a slideshow, and vuela.

It’s still a tad slow. 3.9FPS, but really, if you’re using the 5D or 5DII for that matter to take quick sports pics, then you’ve clearly chosen the wrong gear for the job. Another nifty feature is the ability to split Raw into 2 smaller forms. Up till now, all we had were RAW and sRAW which I must admit I’ve never use because it’s too bloody small. Now the 5DII introduced sRAW1 and sRAW2. So if you really don’t want to blow 21mp per shot, you can do sRAW2, and I believe it’s 11mp, and then sRAW1 which is still like tiny. But regardless, the price tag for this puppy MSRP is about $2.6 thousand. Which Is much much cheaper than when the 5DI first came out, which was about 3 grand. Yes, comparatively speaking 2.6k is much cheaper than the 4k MarkIII, so in theory…it’s a bargain! But alas…with the crappy economy the way it is, I will not be picking up a 5DMKII when it’s released. …ok..that’s what I said about all my other cameras, but I really mean it this time!
(maybe if I book 3 weddings next year, I may splurge a little)…. =)

I must thank Microsoft

For ruining my wedding anniversary. Granted, Chrissie and I already celebrated it on Saturday, this is the official date, so after work we decided to keep up the tradition of eating the frozen wedding cake. I have no clue who started this tradition, or what crack they were smoking, but here is the cake.

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Here is me eating the cake…yummm..yumm…
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woo I’m still alive! Yaay
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Now comes the fun part. Boy I hate microsoft. Chrissie was working on a paper, and I decided to install my printer on vista…(good luck with that). Turns out after I installed the printer drivers, my Vista died. Black screen of death…yes I spent about 3 or 4 hours if not more trying desperately to recover data on that stupid machine. Finally I did, and boy I hate..hate..hate..Vista… hate hate hate. To get the stupid thing running, I had to restore it back to factory settings and wiping the drive. I’ve tried to put my XP disc to wipe the OS, but alas.. a lack. First thing tomorrow, I’m going to go out and find a copy of XP pro. or home…anything, I really don’t care.

3AM….I can’t sleep. How bout some statistics?

I can’t bloody sleep tonight. Maybe it’s because my house is pissing me off. Soo, in an effort to procrastinate from work, I decided to run some stats on my flickr account.  I started Flickr 3years ago.  First photo was posted on April of 2005.  Since then, I’ve gotten (and this is not including me as the stats don’t take my ip/login views into account) a total of 179,694 visitors.  Wow…well, that’s probably not impressive compared to most people, but to me.  Holy shiza, that’s a huge number.  Last week alone, I’ve had 1,545 visits.   ooh la la.

hmm… I’ve posted 9,634 photos….Of which 165 different people marked those photos as a ‘favorite’.  See, if I was a cup half empty kinda bloke, I’d say that’s a pathetic 1.7% of my photos.  However, I’m not really a cup half empty sorta guy.  So I think to myself,  how can I take better pictures so i can get 2%!I guess I’ll just need post another 9 thousand photos =)

What really knocks my socks off…is out of all the places I’ve seen, or cool things I’ve shot.  My most ‘Interesting’ photo according to flickr is:

Optimus Prime

It doesn’t mean it got the most views.  Interesting takes a few factors into account. 19 different people added that as their favorite with 1.3k individual views.   hah, and it’s of my Optimus Prime toy!  Oh yeah baby, transformers rule.  What’s great about it is…no it wasn’t taken with my uber expensive DSLR with an equally uber expensive lens.  It was taken with my first digital camera, the Canon S1 IS. 4mp, semi point and shoot fitted with a macro filter.  Yup. yup…. I should really just show up at weddings with that camera instead.  As it clearly takes interesting photos!

Its official. Owning a house = Suxor

People who say it’s good to own a house…are smoking heavy heavy doses of crack, weed, and other abusive substances.  Lets see: maintenance, repair, insurance….all a big pain in the arse.  A few months back, my sewage pusher upper thingamabober busted.  That was 1.6k to fix.  (All houses on a hill who are not street level need a sewage pusher upper thingamabober to pump all the water from the house upwarsd to the street level to the main sewage line), hence every year all houses who are on a hill like mine must get their water pressure tested.  Tis mandatory law.  Anyways, I digress..  So a few years back due to the rains, I had to clear out some mold and redo one of the rooms.  That cost like 7k.

Now, my water heater broke.  My wife said, “honey, I think we have a problem, we have no hot water”.  To which I mumbled in my head.  Oh $h!t.  So I quickly donned my manly flashlight and stumbled onto my basement.  And well what do you know..  a puddle of water.  Yes, the heater went bust.  So tomorrow I have to call mr. plumber guy, bend over as he rams his skyrocket plumbing prices up my balloon knot, and brace myself for how much this will cost me.  I swear, when this housing market picks up, view be damned.  I’m going to sell this house and get me a small little one…or rent.  I’m not sure yet.   Lets see, bought this place in Oct of 01.  Seven years is good enough.  I’m over it.  I’m over the house, the movie room, all of it.  Just give me my computer room, my cameras, and a place to sleep, and I”m happy as a pickle.   (I’ve decided the phrase happy as clams is retardmo.  How can clams be happy?) Pickles on the other hand, everyone loves a crunchy pickle.  yumm…

Sure, that was a brilliant idea….NOT!

So I finally finished the Michael and Hung set.  Well, that’s a lie, I finished it a week ago, I just finally decided to put it up online.  Reason was I did do an album and I wanted it to be a surprise so they see the pictures for the first time on the album as opposed to online.  Well the album is complete and is in  the printing queue, plus they are on their honeymoo, so I figured it doesn’t hurt to put the pics up online.  It was my first Jewish, same sex wedding.  At any rate, I’ve now decided, as a general rule, pictures mean a little more when you’re surprised.  The whole set can be seen here: hung and michael

At any rate, back to the topic at hand.  So have you ever patted yourself on the back for a brilliant idea (well it seemed so at the time), and then afterwards, you looked back at that concept in total disgust.  Then wondered, “what the heck were you thinking at the exact moment you decided to take that shot”?  Well…I have.  It was the wedding rings.   Have I told you the wedding rings were what I hate the most at a wedding?  Literally, this is the exact scenario.  For all you aspiring wedding photographers, practice this a lot:

1) take two shiny objects preferably diamond and a shiny ring.
2) Give yourself five minutes (usually all the time you have).
3) have a friend pick a random time slot between 5 and 8pm because on avg. that’s usually the time slots of the reception when the rings are available, and you never know when they’ll be free, so on the most part, it’s a random light schedule.
4) now the fun part, use a random room, with random ornaments and decoration, and random lighting. Now make the rings look spiffy!
5) don’t forget the 5 minutes part.

The thing is, you really only have one shot at it. I have never lowered my head in shame and had to ask the happy couple the next day or week or whatever, to have their rings so I can take pictures of it again. It’ll totally be out of context, and well, not to mention the fact that unless you lost the images, you as a photographer TOTALLY SUCK! if you have to do that. Yup…that’s right..I said that out loud. Anyways, so I’ve painted the scenario, and why I hate the rings. It’s one of the most important shots, and not to mention, the most difficult, creative, and challenging, all rolled into a neat little package aptly titled, “hell”.

So, I have the rings, and I walk into the reception area, scanning for a suitable location to take these in. Tick..tick…tick…that’s the internal clock ticking. I can’t putz around with these too long because I’ll be missing opportune shots while I’m doing this. So aha! Since it’s a Tiffany themed cake, replete with Tiffany rings, I figured what better place to do the rings shots than near the cake. It turned out pretty good, I thought.
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Of course, on the tables, they sprinkled little hearts and little rings (as seen in the picture below).
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So seeing as I don’t want to clutter the 2 rings with a bunch of little rings, I moved the rings aside…but wooo what’s this I see?! Little hearts… I thought to myself, “awwww, wouldn’t it be a brilliant idea to put the hearts on the rings and take the picture?” ..[sarcasm]Gee Nghia…What a fantastic idea.[/sarcasm]

See, at this point, as I was taking these, if I could take my arm out of its socket and pat myself on the back…I would have. But as you can see when you look at my shameful pictures below, you’ll wonder, how on earth did this guy ever get hired? When I was in post process…I just gasped….Wow…what a tremendous cluster%!@k. It just ooozed cheese, and I wish I could take the hearts out in post process, (trust me I’ve tried), but the way it’s positioned, it’s just too darn hard without ruining it. So yeah, now, if I could take my arms out of their sockets and slap myself on the face. I would have. Heck, I’d fire myself if I could. Anyways…below is the shameful cheesy evidence. Please prepare your crackers ready as I’m about to pour a generous amount of cheese.
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But…there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I guess experience is worth something eh? It’s as if I subconsciously knew the hearts would just bite me in the ass later, I quickly took those rings and used a second location (generally I like to pick 2 spots, more but time never permits). And I think I redeemed myself.
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9-11-08

You know, it’s really funny, the way time works.  At any given point in time, a  singular event: such as when you lost your first tooth, or the breakup of your first love, can mean soo much to you.  You relive it over and over, or remember it with such fondness, or feel the pangs of pain as it tears out your heart every time you think about it.  Moments in time where you could scarcely fathom a day in your life where you would forget it.

But the haze and fog of time usually blurs the little details, and as the years goes on, these events start to mean less and less, only to be triggered by shapes, smells, or a familiar song.  You’ve moved beyond it as a person, and life goes on.  There are events like 9-11, where it really didn’t affect me personally, but  I recall the eeriness emtiness of the skies.  I remember watching the news, and noting that cell phone service, even the internet was bogged down by people scramling for information.  Noted how our infrastructure could barely handle a crises 25 hundred miles away.   Then watched footage of the commander in chief, reading to school children, not quite grasping the situation.  And watched as we invaded Iraq again, fighting for Justice, and Terror….I used to drive to work in the morning, and note the time. 9:11, and think wow, I guess from now on, those numbers carry on a significant meaning, then laughed as I realized bad things happen every single day to people all over the world.  Big massive earthquake in China, Tsunami in Asia….I really don’t remember those dates or times.  As a matter of fact, those tragedies happened further from where I am.   I used to light candles on 9-11, two of them as a matter of fact, I think every year…except this year.  To be honest, it too started to fade. I’ve forgotten…this morning as I went to work, I didn’t realize it was 9-11 till the Stern show noted the date.  And I said to myself, wow… 7years later huh.

This doesn’t mean that it’s not any less important.  It doesn’t mean that a lot of lives weren’t senselessly killed, and our way of life practically changed afterwards.  From travel, to gestapo like legislation with fancy euphemisms, like the ‘Patriot Act’.   Doesn’t mean I don’t love my country any less.  It just means, that I think personally, my anger has passed, and life went on.   Maybe we can move on as a country.  Why go fight more wars and seek vengeance?  Surely we’ve killed a lot of people, sold lots of weapons to other countries that killed a lot of people.   Sat by and did nothing while other countries killed a lot of people.  We nuked two cities =)  (well, technically they started it).   Bombed innocents.  heck, we even like to start killing our own people  (Kent state massacre during the 70’s).

But humor me here.  Lets say for arguments sake, we take the high road.  Yes, you don’t like our foreign policies. Yes we’re infidels…blah blah blah.  Yes, you walked on our soil and fucked a lot of shit up  (excuse my language).   Isn’t it our own hubris as a nation to think we are untouchable?  But lets say for arguments sake, we said ok…bygones.  Don’t mess with us, and we won’t mess with you.  The moment….you decide to step beyond your agreement.  I’m just going to turn your country into a parking lot ( Well, I guess technically it would be a shiny parking lot.  The nukes and fire would probably turn all that sand into glass).   Simple as that.   But give peace a chance.

Otherwise, I see this endless cycle of violence repeating itself.  There’s no way we can win this war on terror.  There’s no reasoning with religous nuts  (and I’m also referring to religious nuts in our country as well).   So why not, just try to live our own lives and go our own ways?   Israel and Palistine for instance…man they’ve been going at it for a loong loong time.   We keep this up with the so called ‘axis of evil’ and we are bound for mutual destruction.   Though…what do I know…I just write code and sometimes take purdy pictures.  But I think the world would be a much happier place, if everyone looked at nekked pictures, had fun, smiled more often.  Not take themselves to seriously, and keep their beliefs to themselves.  After all, faith and spirtuality I think come from the inside.

Samurai Girl

I think I found my new TV crush. Well, not really the girl from Samurai girl rocks. Granted, I think she looks like a younger version of one of my relatives, which is kinda sick come to think of it. Damn why do us Asians look alike?! *sigh* At any rate, aside from the slight flaw, and the show’s uber cheesiness at times, I think it’s worth watching. There are three characters that are pivotal to the plot. The main character (the one that reminds me of my relative). The cute sidekick with blond hair that reminds me of Chloe from smallville. And the ex fiance of this one dude who looks like a model. I don’t really watch shows unless I’m doing post processing work. That’s where dual monitors are a joy to have. One is playing a movie/show, while the other one is um…’working’…yeah that’s it.

In other related news. Booy do I hate windows Vista. I must hand it to Gates. I think he single handedly sold more macs and linux boxes than any commercial ever can. My mom got a new laptop. It takes 3 bloody gigs of ram to even power that thing, and it’s sluggish and retarded. I wanted to throw it out the window…really I wanted to wipe it clean and put my XP pro on it. But, laziness got the better of me. That would require me to take it offline, blah blah blah…and she just got it, so I don’t want to mess with it at the moment. But I refuse to by another machine with Vista for myself. I think I’d rather get my spleen taken out. So useless…

Today I went to my parents place, and my dad and I took a trip to Costco. Well he drove, and we picked up an air conditioning unit for him. Ahh..the Asian Gene. See, he already collects air conditioners. As a matter of fact, their place has central air, plus he has a few window units. However, since costco has a ‘SALE’ on this one AC unit for 59.99 he just couldn’t resist. It’s like every cell in his body compelled him to go to Costco to purchase yet another air conditioning unit. I oblige and went to buy it for him. I mean, who can resist an old man who just wants a few more toys. I asked myself that very same question…gee, I already have 4 cameras, why on earth would I need another one? Alas, with that line of reasoning I decided not to question the insanity of my dad’s purchase.

Sports Illustrated Eat your heart out

Ok, so I took the MKII and III for a spin today.  Both with some serious telephotos, figuring I’d take a stab at sports photography ( heretofore referred to as SP).  A friend of mine Robert Burke, manned the MarkII with a 200mm prime, and I took the III with the 300mm prime.   I think he did pretty good for a first time photographer. I even got him to shoot in Manual mode!

So far, I thin as far as action shots, the 300mm 4.0 is a tad soft wide open.  Then again, I was being anal and pixel peeping at 100%.  the MKIII autofocus did a decent job. I did get my fair share of way out of focus shots, but really, what can one expect. The problem with having a computer decide what to focus for you (AI Servo mode, where it’s continuously focusing in real time), is that computers can’t replace the human brain. One moment I want to focus on girl A, the next, I want to focus on the soccer ball. But it doesn’t exactly know to lock focus on objects. Because well, to a camera, it doesn’t quote know the difference between the ball or the girls. What’s cool about the 1D series bodies, is the fact that they have pure dedicated focus chips. I’m not quite skilled in using them yet, but allegedly it can lock focus, on a subject. For instance, I’m locked on player number 11. Then a girl quickly runs slightly in front of #11. It should, depending on the setting be smart enough to stay on 11 instead of shifting focus on the new girl. Well, I haven’t quite figured out how to master that yet. I suck…

Technical difficulties I had with focus and lenses aside, I think sports photographer is a lot harder than I thought.  Well kind of.  It’s hard because you really have to anticipate the shots, and still try to frame in the midst of the action.  But all in all, it was more of an aim and burst sorta day.  I really miss trying to get the emotios and the story, but it was weird that my brain was thinking in action sports mode, and totally missed some of the more human aspects.   By the time I noted the shots, my reflexes were too slow to get them.   But my thoughts on SP in general is I don’t think it’s really for me.  A lot of it I think relies on luck (granted most of photography relies on luck.  Being there at the right place at the right time to capture the right moments).  The skill lies in the ability to successfully take that shot when it counts, and of course anticipating events as they unfold.  But I think in SP, it relies too much on the luck portion.

Doh. occurred to me I need model release forms filled for these posted, so took the set down.

Great Big Circle of Life

Back in 1995-96, a little Asian Boy hoping to follow in his fathers footsteps enrolled in a summer research program at UCI for the American Cancer Society. When I completed it, the head professor Bert Sembler at the time, professor who has signed and wrote my letter of recommendation to attend UCI/USC, and a few other colleges at the time. Well first semester of bio-chem and I realized wow, I don’t think I can deal with being a Dr. and to the disappointment of my parents, I switched majors to Business (Yes, that or underwater basket weaving was the quickest way to graduate at the time). So fast forward ooh 13 years later, to the wedding of Dr. Hung Fan and Michael Feldman. I see this gentleman who is a guest at the wedding and he looks soooo familiar. Towards the end, I had to ask and I told him I think he’s the Professor I interned for (well he headed it, I actually interned with one of the graduate students working under him). But long story short, he was Bert, and he did somewhat remember me! Turns out Dr. Hung Fan, who did his Ph.D at MIT is the co directory of the Chao Family Cancer research center and now heads up that program that takes interns (like me so many years ago) to UCI and gets them on the path. So hah it was just one big circle of coincidence and fate. It was just too funny. I’m soo glad I did the wedding.