Monthly Archives: November 2008

ThanksGiving food coma

today was an interesting day. I think I ate way too much. Whelp, today my dad and i went to visit grampa at forest lawn.
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It’s kinda odd, every time I drive to that place and I see that huge white building and I get flashbacks of when I was in sixth grade, when grandpa passed away. It was a milestone I think in my life. It was the first and only time I’ve seen my dad cry (which can be pretty traumatizing when you’re a boy who’s never seen that before in his father). The wake was for a few days and every single day after school, I had to go to the wake. Which made me quite miserable. I think one day I rebelled, and my brother had to call all my friends to find me and take me back there to Forest Lawn to attend the wake. I think I still feel guilty over that, but as a kid, it was really the only thing you could do. Stressful situations? Run away! Everything was much simpler back then. But yeah today as we drove by the doors to that big white building was closed, and I was thankful. I didn’t want a family to have to attend a wake, during thanksgiving.

Well, we visited and of course the two plots next to grandma and grandpa are of course ours. My parents bought them for themselves, so my dad threw me this question out of left field. He said, should I get the one on the left? or the one on the right? To which I retorted, clearly you want to be next to your mom, so the one on the left. To which , he agreed. So the funny thing was he walks over to the plot on the right and wanted to know if it was male or female. And he joked, “If it belonged to a male, then he’s gonna get the one on the right so he can’t flirt with mom. haha…I told him he was insane, and he said clearly he was kidding. But I just thought it was funny.

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These pics were of us taking chopsticks and hammers to make sure the flowers we bought stayed in place. Afterwards, we went home to eat an Asian Thanksgiving dinner. Lots o food…to which I came back home to eat leftovers from Chrissie’s family’s Thanksgiving dinner (Honey baked ham, yams with marshmellows, and a tasty mashed potato, replete with home made pumpkin pie). slurp.

model photography

“When Jack London had his portrait made by the noted San Francisco photographer Arnold Genthe, London began the encounter with effusive praise for the photographic art of his friend and fellow bohemian, Genthe. “you must have a wonderful camera…It must be the best camera in the world…You must show me your camera.” Genthe then used his standard studio camera to make what has since become a classic picture of Jack London. When the sitting was finished, Genthe could not contain himself: “I have read your books, Jack, and I think they are important works of art. You must have a wonderful typewriter.”
-(anon)

Kathy, a friend of mine sent me a link to that quote. I thought it was very amusing. So I’ve signed up for a new site that hooks up models and photographers. www.modelmayhem.com A genius idea really. People looking for pictures…and people willing to take pictures. Vuela! A match made in heaven. (WARNING, the site is sometimes NOT work friendly). What’s interesting is at the site, it requires the photographers to submit pictures for their porfolio. So out of the thousands and thousands of photos I’ve taken. I had to select around 20 to represent me. That’s a pretty insane. I guess it’s as nerve racking as writing your ciriculum vitae. Put your life in one or two sheets of paper, so how to construct it and make it interesting so the person that picks up that paper wants to look at you closer.

I think I’m moving closer to my goal of switching up my portfolio. I’ve had a number of leads to take pictures, and gathering my own little volunteer army as well. w00t. As for my little theme, shoot it’s a lot harder than it looks. Think of it as making a still movie. You have an idea, a concept that is sketched out on paper. Then, the next step is pre-production. Test shoots, concept shots, lighting trial runs, location scouts. Finally, you have to acquire a model, or someone willing to pose for a shoot. They of course either do their own makeup, or have a make up artist present. Of course wardrobe factors into the equation. And all of this, for one…ONE usable shot! When you factor in a good theme or series of photos require a series of 12 shots or so. I used to think these contrived shots were easy or just too boring, but now that I’m beginning to explore that area, I realize wow. It’s flippin hard and such a royal pain in the arse.

ideas themes….something new

Whelp, I’ve decided, though I’m not officially hanging up my wedding/event photography hat, I’m no longer actively pursuing it. Quite frankly, as crazy challenging as it is, I’m bored with it. I’m going to switch it up a little, get back to the roots, and do free pics to build up some creativity again. Finding themes to shoot, instead of just ‘weddings’ I think is the way to go to diversify the skill set and keep my blind eyes sharp. There are just so many things to explore. Going political of sorts is one idea. With the passing of the lame prop 8, maybe some work involving that. Or I’ve been toying around with darker ideas, such as abuse, alcohol, addictions. I’m actually quite fascinated by the 70’s pinup models, or the old movie stars, with their dark makeup. I actually started a notepad and jotted down ideas in my head. The trick is finding people, plus performing location scouting to execute them…though I’d imagine it can’t be that hard to find people who want photos. Though haha I do have one cool idea in my head, though the actual shot will require money. And lots of people. Hah, maybe one day =)

I think my fish has cancer

Booo…one of my fish I think has cancer of some sort. He has an abnormal growth from his stomach, sorta as if he’s swallowed something huge like a big D cell battery….he’s gone much more pale as the days go by, and I notice he’s struggling a lot to try to even swim correctly. I named the twins Dumb and Dumber, but alas, I think Dumb within the next coming weeks will be alone, because his close pal Dumber may not make it through next week. I don’t have it in me to just put him out of his misery, and I’ll probably have nature take it’s course. But I do think he’s suffering. He’s swimming upside down, and sometimes just lays there, waiting to die. But it’s interesting, sometimes he has good days, and he’s swimming along and playing with Dumber, as if nothing is wrong. But you can totally see it in his eyes. He does seem a tad lethargic. It’s not surprising, I don’t think. These fish are actually freaks of nature. They’re smiling fish. A cross breed between two species that really were not meant to exist on this planet. But of course people bred and sold them. Some pet stores don’t even carry them, just simply because they think it’s unethical. In order to breed them, so they can get their grin, they sometimes have a lot of defects. Well I inherited these fish from one of my aunts, and they’ve been with me for about 4-5 years now. It does suck, and this is why I can’t have a dog or a cat. I get depressed when my fish aren’t feeling well, let alone a big fluffy animal.
Whelp, I’ll see how long he lasts. I don’t think he’ll get any better, as this growth will most likely continue to grow until his own body kills him. I guess it goes to show that this disease affects everything in the animal kingdom.

class is now in session!

well, today I met up with someone I’m tutoring in photography. It was an interesting and fun first experience. I think I’ve decided I’ve learned something new today. People don’t care that they have a 1.6crop, 1.3crop, or a full frame camera. They really just want to learn how to use the tools that they currently have effectively, and how to just generally shoot better photos. So with that in mind, I think for next time I’m going to try to skip the the more esoteric technical jargon (though personally, I think knowing you have to multiply every lens you own by 1.6 and why is a somewhat interesting fact that’ll bite you in the butt later down the line). All in all, it was fun and rewarding trying to teach someone something new.

My wife was saying that there are a lot of upper level executives that don’t even know how to use word, excel, or any of the basics of computers, and they pretty much take night courses or secret classes to try to get themselves up to speed! Which may not be a bad idea, they pay big bucks to learn how to do how to add in excel. Yikes. But I think our generation just has does things differently. Things that come as second nature to us can be very foreign to others. My parents for instance barely know how to use e-mail. I’m sure it’ll hit us when when our kids start whipping out the crazy tech gear that we’ll have absolutely no clue how to use. Nevermind, I take that back. I don’t think I have to wait forty years. My dad kicks my ass up and down the block when it comes to anything remotely mechanical. He’ll take apart car engines and piece them back together again, whereas I’ve barely recently figured out how to change my spark plugs within the last 5 years. (though he kicks my butt in all things science/physics/math). Chrissie, my wife works her way through kitchen appliances and recipes, whereas I can only make fried eggs and boil water. So everyone has different skill sets, and everyone big or small, old or young has something out there to teach us and that we can learn from. All it takes is a good cup of coffee, a willingness to learn. My basic philosophy…unless you have the title ‘master’ or better yet, ‘grand master’ next to your name, there’s always something new to learn.

Sequoia Redux

So I’ve been on my blogging kick with pictures to try to tell the story. Here’s stuff from my Sequoia trip.
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Well, lets face it. The point of my trip wasn’t to look at Sequoias, but to have a chance to hang out with this man.
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Who happens to be my father. He’s 75 years
old, and currently fighting a bout with a small little disease called Cancer.
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During this leg of his earth walk, he has fathered 5 children. My brother Trung,
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and three step brothers. One of which was lost during his failed attempt on a boat journey to America. We made an attempt to hire investigators, but we suspect he was killed during a pirate raid of some sort near Thailand. He is a retired medical Doctor, survived through re-education camps after the Vietnam war because he was a pretty high ranking medical officer, and he makes a meean meaaan cup of coffee.
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We rented a little vacation home near Dunlap. At first it looks pretty sketchy from the outside, but the inside of the place was pretty nice. The trip was very rainy
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I went with my both my parents,

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my brother, and my sister in law.
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Chrissie has a lot of school work so she was unable to attend.

There was a ton of fog during the trip. At one point I had to get out of the car, and walk in front to be sure I’m driving towards more road, or running into a tree. Which is kinda cool, I don’t get much opportunity to take pictures inside of fog. I was very curious how they all turned out when I got back.
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We saw this old tree called the “Sentinel”. Who is a mere 2200 years old. However, they say it’s technically not ‘that’ old. it’s pretty average for the Sequoia trees in the area.
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We did a lot of hiking, especially a really cool place called Moro Rock.
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It was approximately a 25-30minute trek to reach the top. My mom and I took pictures during our breaks. Yes, I’m aware she looks sorta like ‘Doc’ from “Back to the future”, replete with sunglasses, gray hear, and an eccentric yellow rain jacket.
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All in all, I think it was a fun little getaway. Though next time, (hopefully there will be many more trips to come), I want to go some place a little warmer, so my dad can do more. He hates the cold. I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture, but he has a runny nose at this point
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But I’m very glad and thankful that I got to spend time with him. When he was diagnosed, the Dr. Gave him 6 months left. Which quite frankly, scared the crap out of me. I brought along a video camera as well as my SLR to document everything just in case, though I must admit, the sense of urgency has dissipated. I remember when he was in the hospital, I used to bring in a recorder to try to just get the sounds he made when he was snoring, just so I could remember it. It’s very odd, losing a loved one. Life goes on, and eventually, you start losing little bits and pieces of memories. What they smelled like. The nuances of their smile. The inflections of their voice. Pretty soon, you start to forget what they looked like, to some degree. And I wanted to document things, if anything for his future grand kids. What sucks though is since I’m the one doing it, I don’t get much footage of me being with him. It’s all implicit, so I guess between now and then, I’ll have to get more footage of us interacting.

But at this point, he goes through chemo every week, and his body is taking it well. He was able to climb up the lower portion of Moro rock, and do little walks with me to see the trees. He even offered to drive during the trip!
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I really hope when my dad looks back at his life
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and be proud that he has raised two great sons. We immigrated to America, and we are considered first generation, and that we’ve done pretty well for ourselves. I hope he has no regrets, and if and when he ever arrives at the pearly gates, he’d smile
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and say, If I could go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. … well…maybe bypass the whole re-education camp ordeal…. and try to give Nghia a sister! (yes, I remember asking my Mom many times, that I wanted a sister).

Boooyah! The Victory Dance

Yaaay! Obama won the Presidency. I’m actually quite grateful, that we’ll have someone who can represent our country who’s articulate, and not a bumbling idiot that every country pretty much laughs at. Never have I seen such cheering…world wide mind you, that we have Obama as president. I guess people are tired, and they do want change. With everything going on, and the fear that our country is just going to shambles thanks to the previous administration…one can say, “hey…It can’t get any worse”.

But at any rate, I’m hoping this means better things for the environment, and science and research. Maybe we can catch up with the rest of the world on stem cell research, and just get the US back on the map as a country where people go to for education. Granted, yes out of all the nations out there, we’re still pretty up there, but c’mon! Most teens can’t even do basic arithmetic.

So I am very glad that we have Obama and Biden. There are some policies that I don’t agree with, and I truly hope he doesn’t give any position of power to that other bumbling idiot (who threw him under the bus a few years back) Jesse Jackson, but I digress. Those are things to think about, if we can get past the next big hurdle. And that is to not have our new President to be get shot. Not by foreign powers who wish to undermine us. Not from crazy extremist… But sadly…by racist redneck retards from within our own country. I do have more faith and hope in humanity for that not to happen. However, history, is a very wise teacher. Plus, judging from all the hate legislation out there, and hate crimes that occur every single day. I seriously don’t think we as a people are beyond such blind hatred.

I think a lot of people would of voted for McCain. Bush didn’t screw it up that bad…ok..nevermind, maybe he did…but for arguments sake, lets say Bush wasn’t a nimrod. I think McCain’s biggest blunder was choosing Palin for VP. It was his most costly mistake. Many many people that I know (myself included) were just too fearful that there’s a small possibility that she may be the President if anything were to happen to McCain. So alas, I think it was a mistake that McCain can only make once. Ooohh…it makes me cringe every time I hear Palin’s accent. And I guess Tina Fey is very happy she doesn’t have to impersonate Palin anymore. Anyways, W00t.

Sequoia National Park

There was so much to write about as it was an event filled weekend. I had the honor of hanging out with my parents as we went on a family trip to Sequoia National Park to see the giant redwoods.
(yeah strange how life works. When you’re a child you need your parents, then you push them away, only to find out later in life how much you appreciate them, and then it’s just counting each day that you can see or hear them). Anyways, I digress.

There’s actually a bunch of things to write about, but I’ll get to them when I’m not super tired. Here are a few snapshots from the trip that I thought were kinda spiffy.

This was taken on top of Beetle Rock. We lucked out and had clouds and fog rolled in. A bonus (after the fact) was the fact that it rained the day before, so the puddles on the ground made for a perfect view. At first I made an attempt to just take the picture of the water puddle and some, then I noticed the fog was clearing and the blue sky and clouds started to shop up in the relection, so I waited for the cloud to pass by at just the right time before the snap. Well, that’s a lie, I took a few at various angles before hand to find the optimal spot where I could get a decent cloud reflection.
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This is of my mom (yes she’s wearing a bright yellow jacket) as we both trekked up Moro Rock. The painful steps reminded me a lot of Italy. The view was spectacular, until this huge thick fog rolled in. (Which made for an interesting trip down, as well as the drive back. (alas a story for another day).
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Even wrote a Haiku about this picture! Thanks to Neil’s Haiblog, I’ve been pretty well versed in the 5,7,5 syllables of a Haiku. Her yellow jacket plus the fog and the environment reminds me of a bow of the ship as she stands defiant against the elements. Kinda like the sea captain cursing the weather. In reality, it’s much more boring. She’s simply reading the sign.


running up that hill
take me, I am not afraid
endless sleep awaits

This was taken of a random leaf that was on the ground. As you can see it was raining, or actually raining. Lets just say I checked the weather conditions before-hand, knew there was going to be crappy snow and rain, and am really glad the “weather proofing” aspect of the camera really worked, and wasn’t marketing-speak for…”Oh crap, we really didn’t mean for you to get that camera drenched in rain.” I took along the MKII, and since I only own a handful of actual weather sealed lenses, I pretty much only took the 24-70 with me for the duration of the trip. someone bothered

Lastly, these were of the stairs as we headed down. Note the fog that’s creeping in.
descent into madness

Congratulations to Le Gramonds! Oui?

Well, it was an interesting Friday. I took the day off to celebrate the celebration of Christina and Eric. I guess they’re now officially the Gramonds! (remember you need to plug your nose and have a fake French accent when pronouncing that last name).

For those unacquainted with messieur Gramond, he looks sorta like this. All that is missing is the mustache!
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For those who were unable to attend, here’s a brief synopsis. My apologies if this is long, but since most of it is pictures, I promise it won’t be too painful.

The ceremony took place at:
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Halloween! So they were gracious enough to provide us with some
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masks in case us lame people didn’t wear any costumes. Though my excuse was I was dressed up as a Groomsman.

Since Eric did not have the guts to get married in this outfit:
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We settled for some more spiffier attire and champagne celebrations were in order. The ladies got a head start, and got champagne first =(
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Oh wait..since this is a French wedding, technically it isn’t champagne. It’s sparkling wine, as champagne can only be called as such if it came from the Champagne region of…oui oui France!

Eric’s brother Nick was the best man. He, in my humble opinion looks sorta like a cross between Niles from the Frasure TV show and the actor Chris Eliot from that old American 80’s tv show “Get a Life”.
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I was the Groomsman, and I’d post a pic of myself being one, but since I had the camera and didn’t take a picture of myself. You’ll have to trust me on this one. Nick gave a riveting speech

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until this man:
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pretty much walked in and stole the show! He even took best costume during the costume contest and swiped it away from underneath Christina’s dad’s nose. Poor Mr. Mitchelle. He didn’t even know what hit him =( The man in the suit is no other than ‘Justin Miller’.

Though it is in this humble photographer’s opinion that this little dude should of won. He was the ring bearer (quite literary). He looked so cute as he walked up the isle in this fancy attire. All that was missing was the hairy feet! But worry not. I whispered in his ear, that when he gets older he’ll have all the hairy feet he’ll ever want!

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Though he is not to be over-shadowed by the adorable flower girl!
I don’t know her real name, but she loves frogs and nicknames herself ‘frog’. Therefore she’s clearly my favorite. I luckily snapped a picture of her and her mom having a cute loving smooch.

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Eric and Christina danced the night away. As the party progressed, every one got down and boogied.
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And it got pretty scandalous!
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all the kids had to leave the room!
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(Ok fine, maybe that didn’t happen, but it sure sounded better if it did!).

At any rate, it was a fun night for all! and I wish them the all the best!
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