Okay! This was a photographic bucket-list accomplishment! I've always wanted to come and checkout this Pirate tower located south of Laguna Beach. Although high noon wasn't probably the best time to take pictures, but we just have to make do with what we got.
It was very warm day for mid-October, so we decided to take my son here. He can have fun chasing the waves, while I explored the Pirate's Tower. There weren't as much people around as summer, so that was nice. Still it was hard to take a picture of the tower without somebody standing around it.
Being in the hot noon sun, I also tried to go for some high-contrast BW shots. [CLICK HERE] to see the full album...
We went camping again this past weekend at Barton Flats Campground in Big Bear Mountain. Since other campers didn't seem too enthused about hiking the short trail up to Jenks Lake again, I went with my son, who kept telling me this is one of his most favorite hikes.
Last month when we were here, the water level at Jenks Lake was really low. But it has returned back to normal level now. While we explored around the lake, a ranger told us that they had to clear a 3.5 mile stream with shovels to keep the water coming in. He was really proud, and we thanked him for his hard work.
To see other photos from the trip, [CLICK HERE]
This weekend marks the beginning of my son's spring break. So we went to check out the Natural History Museum (NHM) and California Science Center (CSC) next to USC. This was our first time visiting the NHM, and it was as expected... a display of old bones :)
We've been to CSC before, but I've never seen space shuttle Endeavour since it moved in there. What a magnificent display! Humanity really can accomplish anything, if we put our minds to it.
28'Cron was glued on the M9 the entire day. I tend to not switch lenses once I get out... maybe half of it is just laziness, but the other half is because I become adapted to the field of view of whatever focal length the lens I have on, and I just feel comfortable staying with it. To see the full set, [CLICK HERE]
We passed by the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) before, but never got to visit inside. So today we decided to give it a try. The kids will have the whole week off from school next week, and we didn't want them get stir crazy at home. First, we stopped by the Mitsuwa Japanese market near South Coast for lunch.
The museum was surprisingly small, compared to all of the other museum we've been to in Los Angeles. I guess that meant we'll have time to really study each exhibit. Most of them seemed really modern, lots of audio/visual stuff and recorded performances. Then there were a couple of interesting statistical stuff that picked out the most frequently used words from each President's speeches, and a map of cities labeled by the most common words captured from online dating profiles.
After OCMA, we swung by Fashion Island Shopping Center to walk around and get some PinkBerry.
The "Leica Q", just released yesterday, seems to have a lot of people excited. It checked a lot of must-want boxes that people have talked endlessly for: full-frame, slimmer body than the M, better ISO performance, EVF, and very good autofocus. Wait, what? AUTOFOCUS?! When did that become a big thing for Leica shooters?
The Q looks to be an effort for Leica to appeal to non-RF shooters who might come from DSLR or other Mirrorless offerings, but it doesn't interest me much. To be honest, I was tempted at first, too. I immediately thought that this would be a great backup to my M9 when the lights are low, but then I realized the flaw in that line of thinking... it will only be an second option for me. What I wanted was a camera that's good enough to replace the M9 to be my first option.
Since I shot exclusively with the 28'Cron on Sunday in the San Diego County Fair, I thought about how it would have been if I had the Q instead? I think it would have been just fine. For the shots of my son on the rides, I would have relied on the autofocus and it probably would have gotten me more shots than I did with the RF-and-wait method. It could also miss a few, like the shot above. It wasn't mission critical for me to get every shot in the right focus, but I got enough keepers to make me and my family happy, and most importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the photo-taking process because I was 100% involved. If I had shot with the Q instead, I feel my own efforts or involvement would be greatly reduced to the level of using it as a point-and-shoot. Obviously, that's not where I want to be.
I know one can turn off all the auto-ness and shoot manual, but focus-by-wire with focus-peaking and live view zoom doesn't appeal to me. So... for now, I'll keep waiting. I'll wait for the right M9 replacement, while enjoy every minute with the M9.
While we were down in San Diego for a birthday party, we stayed over night and went to the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairground the next day. It's been a while since we've taken my son to a similar setting because he has been fairly skittish about going on the rides. Well, it seems he has grown up a bit this time. He was much more willing to get on the faster rides and overcome his fears. I was so proud.
The fair had a reserved section that contained rides for younger kids and that was perfect for Aidan. As for me, my wife and I just indulged in some not-so-healthy food :-) It seemed the most healthy food there was fish tacos and it gets much worse from there, fried-everything. I had my fill of fried zucchinis and fish tacos, which was what I missed about the Del Mar Fair.
For the full set of images, please check it out in my personal gallery [HERE].
I would title the above image with "Waiting to take off...", which is the way I'm feeling towards 2015. Looking back, I feel I picked up the camera less in 2014 than in 2013. I'm looking forward to the resurgence of my photographic activities. Some people talk of their one-camera-one-lens goal, or a-picture-a-day goal for the new year... Me? Not so ambitious. I want to take more pictures of my family, and more pictures with people in them in general.
I just returned from a rejuvenating vacation trip to Taiwan to visit families and friends and I'm still suffering the jet lag which prompted this post. It brought full on nostalgia visiting the island that I grew up on, but have parted for almost 30 years now. As I reacquaint myself to the city streets and country sides, I found that I was looking for a reconnection... to this land, to the people there.
When we go out to places, I often find myself trying to capture the scenery... waiting for people to get out of the way, or find a vantage point void of people. However, looking back at the photos taken, I find that it's the ones with people in them that make them more interesting. The scenery doesn't change much and one shot isn't so different than another, but it's the people, their facial expressions or the way they're organized within the frame, that makes that capture unique. Perhaps that's what makes street photography interesting... and it's something I've just began to grasp myself.
As for families... I want to capture them unposed. I want to capture them as I will remember them, not a smile for the camera, but with real emotions. It's a little easier to do this with family and friends than with strangers. I can blend in better with the camera so they won't be so conscious of me taking pictures. The three shots above are of my older brother, Roy, whom I rarely see once or twice a year. I love these shots because I snapped them just as I normally look at him, with no purpose in mind than just trying to capture his essence. Emotionally, these shots speak volumes to me.
So there it is... a bunch of rambling thoughts on a jet lagged morning. If you want to see all of my vacation photos from Taiwan, click [HERE].
Kids are basically sheets of white papers. As parents, the burden is on us to introduce and guide the right elements so that they develop into beautiful paintings one day. There's a lot of attention paid on reading and writing in school, a little lesser on math than I would like, but seriously lacking in the areas of the arts.
My son tells me "I can't draw very good", and I want to tell him that he doesn't have to draw good, he just need to draw. I think kids are inherently creative because they don't yet know the artificial boundaries that we have placed around ourselves. They are more free to experiment, do as they like. Here's famous quote by Pablo Picasso: "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."
So, when I can, when I remember, I ask my son to draw something... anything. I think (hope) this would pay off in the long run...
Here's another interesting place to visit on our way to Vegas. Take the Kelbaker Road exit off I-15 at Baker and go east for about 20 miles, then turn left on to Aiken Mine Road, which is a dirt/gravel path, for another 4 miles. While driving towards the destination, you can almost tell from the landscape where the lava flowed from, coating the land, and where it stopped, creating a wall.
Once I knew that we were going to visit this place, I wanted to buy the Sony A7s camera which would be perfect for this opportunity. But after some debate, I decided to stick with the M9 and bring a tripod instead. Limitation breeds creativity, right? Unfortunately, we got there a little too late to catch the sun ray beaming through holes. So, I setup the tripod and we took some silly long exposure shots.
It gets pretty dusty in there, so I wouldn't recommend anyone staying there for too long. After climbing out of the hole and look at the surrounding landscape again, you can't help but wonder how was this place ever discovered. Here's a shot of my friend, David, who at the time of this shot, had no idea his daughter Isabella will born in another 24 hours. Somehow, I feel the essence of happiness is captured here.
I also took a bunch of photo and videos via Google Glass, you can see them [HERE].
When I think about driving to Las Vegas from L.A., I usually dread that boring 3 to 4 hours drive. There is a high chance of slow moving traffic on certain spots, and some long stretches of nothingness through the desert landscape. So when I had to make that drive this past weekend, I tried to look for interesting places to visit along the way. The Bottle Tree Ranch can be found on the historic Route 66 between Victorville and Barstow.
Apparently, some guy named Elmer just decided to build this in the middle of nowhere. It has grown over the years and the "installation" has gained some notoriety. We spent around 15 minutes just look around the forest of bottle trees and saw other groups of tourists stopping by. Too bad we weren't able to speak to Elmer directly that day.
My Journey into Leica...
A path not to be taken lightly, not without reservations, and not without dedication, but the results can be sweet, OH SO SWEET! This is a documentation of my trials and tribulations into the world of Leica Rangefinder Photography, and I hope you'll enjoy coming along with me.