Monthly Archives: March 2010

Perspective

I now have a new found appreciation for moms with baby strollers, or people in wheelchairs. Today I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific (Thanks Jack for the tickets), and had my dad in a wheelchair because it would be difficult for him to walk around all day on his cane. Opening doors was the biggest challenge. Few places have the nifty ‘press the button’ and the doors automatically open.

Usually, I have to rely on the good graces of other people to open the doors for me. On top of that, I was always worried about bumping into things, or people not paying attention and backing up or tripping on top of my dad. Any exhibit that required you to stand up to view, due to a railing was pretty much impossible. Waiting for elevators was dreadful, and I’m constantly on the lookout for access ramps. Things you just don’t pay attention to in every day life, because it simply does not affect you.

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I’m thankful that we are in America though. We have handicap parking, and most places have ramps and elevators. When Chrissie and I was traveling through Europe, I realized it is much more harder for the elderly and disabled to get around. The streets were mostly cobble stone, Prague was riddled with hills. Italy required a lot of trains and public transportation. Japan, forget about it, there are just too many people there. Do they do it “Logan’s Run” style and just whack their their elderly and disabled? Where do they all go in other countries? Just staying home I would imagine would quite miserable.

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This was a Bell Jellyfish at the aquarium. I named it “Crown of Thorns” because it just looked like a regal crown, with spikey red thorns. This of course segways into
my next rant regarding healthcare. Every other country has a decent healthcare, except for ours. People rant and rave about communists and socialists, but really?
Do their parents use medicare? medicade? What’s social security? I think it’s a great step forward, and the the fear of government controls is unfounded. As if private companies can do health care and social security any better. Does Enron? G.M? the bloody banks and mortgage crises ring any bells? Yes, because private companies are sooo much better at managing themselves. But it is a bit odd that the right wingers who (generally are of the more conservative religious types) refuse to help others in sharing some of the burden of taking care of the needy. Yes, there are people who take advantage of the system, but there are many more who genuinely need the system. I make a decent living, and as my friend Danny stated, we pay more in taxes sometimes than most people’s income. Which is profound, but I know my taxes go back into the system, which hopefully one day I too will be using.

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I always thought jelly fish were very beautiful creatures. If there’s anything I’d like to photography that’s wild life related, it would be these guys. I always found their movements very graceful and angelic. This picture of them dancing, reminds me of the cure song “Last Dance”. One of my old favorites, about dancing with your first love, but just from a different perspective.

“I’m so glad you came
I’m so glad you remembered
To see how we’re ending
Our last dance together
Reluctantly
Cautiously
But prettier than ever
I really believe that this time it’s forever

But Christmas falls late now
Flatter and colder
And never as bright as when we used to fall
And even if we drink
I don’t think we would kiss in the way that we did
When the woman
Was only a girl”
-The Cure
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Fear of Ghosts
Not sure if they look like angels of ghosts, or aliens. But I think they’re both beautiful, nonetheless.

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Random red blue fish, I couldn’t think of anything cool to title this one,
so I just left it blank.

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Portrait of my Dad. His eyes do look a little sad.

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A family photo taken by Steven. Interesting, actually, I would never have thought to attempt a photo of more than two people with a 200mm lens, but that was all I had on my camera at the time, and I was too lazy to switch out. The perspective is interesting, I sorta dig it. You just really need a lot of space in order to pull it off. I guess I’ll stick to using 200mm’s as a portrait lens. Space is a luxury something us photographers usually can’t afford.

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My mumsy! People say I look a lot like her.

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I think I’ve been doing it wrong all this time

Took a stroll down to the “Wild Animal Park” in San Diego. I’ve heard many tales that this place was not very good, and I’m now officially confirming this fact.
However, I do feel that it is important to help donate and protect these animals, as we are essentially wiping their habitats from them, and many of them are just dying off. It’s really quite unfortunate.

On a lighter note, here are my thoughts on photographing animals: It’s not really an interest of mine, I find, though some animals can be challenging, for the most part, it’s highly based on
a) luck
b) equipment
c) lots of patience, coupled with more luck.

So out of all the types of photography out there, animals are my least favorite. Though I speak about wild animals. I think the hike, and being outdoors coupled with the fact that you’re taking pictures makes it for a more enjoyable experience, but I’m not quitting my day job any time soon taking pictures of wild animals.

Domesticated animals that people love, on the other hand is quite different. I treat those as I would do kids, or a family member. Only a lot of the same principals apply. It requires a) Luck b) equipment (though not as much because they’re not wild and you can get close to them). and c) luck.

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This shot reminded me of a Soul Asylum lyric. Titled “Homesick”. …”I’m homesick for the home I never had”. I thought it was deeply apropos, as this baby elephant was most likely born in captivity, and never really knew his roots.

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“The Fade” is actually an allusion to the video game Dragon Age.
It initially is an un-remarkable photo of an element, that looked too blended in with the background, so I deemed it a bad photo. But the more I noticed it blended in, the more I realized, how tragic it is for the elephant to fade into the wall. Like he’s moving into obscurity like the rest of his kind over in Africa. And pretty soon, there will be nothing left of elephants, except on walls and paintings. They ended where they began.

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When I first took this photo, this exact thought came to mind. “We are no different, yet we stare at you like some wild beast, to be gawked at behind caged walls.”
And so the title of the photo during post process just became “Judge not, let ye be judged”. And a brief little text snippet to go with it:

“Why are you looking at me like that?
Do you think I’m of any lesser importance in this world than you?
We’re not that much different, you and I.
Yet you have chosen to cast that first stone. ”

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This action shot was when the lioness actually started to move. It was a hot day, so they just sat there and hung out for a bit.
It just reminded me of a childhood memory. A movie I found very un-interesting at the time starring Robert Redford, now I want to watch it again, I’m sure I have a much different perspective on life.

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This one was of the male lion..doing what male lions do “snoozing”.

Back to the original intent of this post. I’ve been laying low from photography for awhile now. I do feel like I’ve reached a stumbling block in terms of creativity, so I’ve just been searching for my purpose and style. Been reading some articles, one of which was from Steve McCurry. If you don’t know who he is, you may know him from one of his famous photos, “The Afghan Girl”. He has a blog here. And you can do a web search on his body of work.

Here’s the quote I took out his article in “Outdoor Photography” magazine.


“One critical element of all this,” McCurry adds, “is you have to engage your surroundings. As you move through the situation, as you move through those streets of Jodhpur, you have to engage—the people, a dog or a cat or a cow or a child. I think you have to interact with these things and stop and talk with somebody or play with somebody. That’s really important because then you’re inside of your surroundings, you’re inside the situation, you’re not an observer, you’re not on the outside looking in. You’re in it. When you’re inside of it, you’re not separate. You’re one with the thing, with that place. And a lot of it has to do with interacting with the situation.” -Steve McCurry

All this time, I’ve been trying to do the opposite. During my private or portrait sessions, I of course have to engage the subject and try to interact to bring life or get certain looks out of the subject. However, for events, I’ve always attempted to be the distant observer. More of a photo journalistic paradigm, where I feel that If I’m “In their moment”, I’ve altered history. They won’t be natural if they know I’m present, the subjects won’t be natural. So generally, I try to shoot along the fringes, and sniping my candids”. It’s worked for me so far, but I’m now thinking of it in a different light. Maybe, what Steve is saying is, in his environment, where he really doesn’t fit in at all. –He’s in exotic locales like India, or China, Mongolia, where he sticks out like a store thumb– We as photographers generally stick out like sore thumbs with all the gear we lug around so we’re not ‘that’ much different. But what he is trying to get at is, because you stick out, and there’s no possible way anyone can blend in. People know there are cameras there, and based on that fact alone, you’ve already altered their reality. So you may as well interact with the it, get comfortable, and in doing so, then those unguarded moments will come. Because ultimately, they will be at ease.

I guess to some degree, I do that when shooting the couples ahead of time, so they do get to know me and they’re not meeting myself or the ginormous cameras for the first time. But that’s just two people out of the entire wedding party or event. I’m thinking maybe I should be more assertive in introducing myself and being more outgoing, rather than my typical stoic self.

77!! And finally used my camera again!

Well it’s been a long time since I just went out to take pictures, so a group of buddies and I went down to San Diego to celebrate his birthday.
Speaking of birthdays, my father’s birthday is tomorrow. He’s gonna be 77! w00t! Wasn’t sure if he was gonna make it to see this day, and there were some crazy ups and downs, but I’m goad he made it to 77. Here’s to 10 more years! (I’m not too greedy).

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Here is the requisite panoramic stitched shot. I believe it was approximately 6 frames, but I didn’t really want it that wide so I trimmed it some. On a 14mm lens. Note the stupid flare shooting into the sun. I don’t feel like forking up nearly 2k for the Cannon 14mm 2.8, so the Sigma one does just fine. You’ll need to be at F11 or so to get any sharpness out of that lens, but since it’s a 14mm, shutter speed is pretty much inconsequential.

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These guys were very cute. These shots were done with a 200mm prime, with a 1.4x tele-converter , and since it was on a 1D. there’s a crop factor of 1.25x so it was effectively a 350mm lens. Interesting thing though, I was next to this couple, and the guy said to me. “wow, that thing must take great pictures”. I really didn’t know what to say to that. I responded with, “It does all right, it gets the job done on occasion.” What I really wanted to say was, yup. It’s magical! Anyone who uses it will take great pictures too! hah..but I didn’t want to be rude, nor get punched. The gentleman was rather large. And could easily have kicked my ass and taken my gas.

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This is a shot of Betty while all of us got on the Merry go round (that went approximately 13mph). The thing got me super dizzy, not sure how kids could handle all of that action.

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A B&W shot at the infamous Gas Lamp District. I had no idea all this time when I used to go to Comicon in San Diego that the Gas Lamp was right there, so technically yes, I have visited that place before. I just never knew it had an official name!

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This was just a cool little crane we saw at the pier area. Looked very Zen and Asian-esq so it intrigued me. This was just shot with a pure 200mm, no teleconverter was used.

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The artist village area near the zoo. It was so-so, the artwork was ok, so the only thing I got out of this was the neat yellow door!

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Another beach shot at La Jolla. The text was the title of a Cure song from the “Wish” album.
I think you truly can’t screw up a picture there, even if you tried. It’s like the grand canyon. It’s so beautiful, you can’t go wrong!
see below The point I’m trying to make is, next field trip, we should go some place nasty. And it’ll really flex or creativity.

2nd favorite shot

Lonely Tree