Picking up the Winnebago Revel 4x4 from Iowa and meander our way back to California, this is truly a dream roadtrip. After months of planning and anticipation, we've hit all the major destinations I've plotted out on Google Map. Yellowstone National Park was the obvious grand finale, but it's the Ayres Natural Bridge Park and Buffalo Gap BLM in Badlands that got me feeling secluded wondered why not more people are enjoying the great outdoors.
Yellowstone was a park in its own class. No amount of research could prepare me for its beauty and vastness. Sure, the major touristy spots were amazing, but I find myself enjoying breathtaking sceneries just driving around the park even more. The great plains with herds of buffalos scattered, the minor lakes and streams that were just painterly, these are the things that will make me want to come back and spend more time at each turnout to soak them all in.
For this trip, I packed only the 50'Lux and WATE. It seemed that we were following a thunderstorm or it was chasing us most of the time. We experienced 90 degree heat in South Dakota, and had to keep warm through the 35 degree cold nights in Yellowstone, but the Revel handled them with ease. It was truly our home away from home. If you wish to check the rest of the photos from the trip, [CLICK HERE].
In an effort to take myself out of my current photography rut, I've started taking my camera to work. I leave it turned on during my commute, ready to snap at anything I see interesting. It's helping, I think. It forces me to observe more, think more, instead of just space out during the drive. I can't say the images are very interesting, but this will have to do until I find more chances to shoot more seriously.
I heard someone said "There's no way out but through", and I liked it. When you're stuck in something, whether it's a creative rut or depression or something else, sometimes there's no way to get to the other side except fighting your way through. You fight it by doing what you're suppose to do, or what you would do once you reach the other side. Just keep at it, and eventually you'll realize that it's by doing that things improve and breakthrough. Well, here's me... doing it...
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...
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.
A few weeks ago, I sent my 4th and 5th roll shot with the SL66 in for processing. It came back today! With great anticipation, I open the envelopes and got ready to scan. As I inspected the negatives and watched the scan comes alive on my computer, I was amazed with how rewarding shooting films can be. It's strange because I know I probably could have capture the same shots with digital and might even get better exposures, but knowing the limitations in the medium and number of available shots, I felt more proud of each properly framed, focused, and exposed shots. Please have a view of the shots below:
In French, it means "against daylight". In photography, it describes the type of shots when shooting toward a light source, or backlit subjects. Lately, I find that I like the look more and more, especially in black and white. I especially love it when the light glows and creates an outline of the subject's face and body.
I've been feeling a bit of shooting drought lately, both on and off the basketball court. I don't know if it's lack of inspirations, opportunities, or just the drive, but I think the best way to get out of the funk is the same: you gotta shoot your way out of it. Just keep shooting.
Today, after coming home from playing basketball, I saw this nice light glowing on the plants we had in the backyard. Before I change out of my dirty shirt, I put on the trusty 50'Lux and went out to take some shots. Nothing earth shattering happened, but it did get me thinking and shooting again. I played with different angles, shooting into the sun and got a few crazy flares.
During post processing, I played with some VSCO film presets again, but decided that I liked the images just as the 50'Lux had rendered. The next two look particularly nice in black and white to me.
Not every company observe the President's Day, but I got the day off. Since I've been cooped up in the house enough lately, I was really hoping to get out and do something. I've visited the Downtown before with the Sony NEX5, and have always wanted to go back again with the M9. The day started kinda cloudy so I was pretty bummed, but it cleared up after lunch so I quickly packed up the M9 and the 28-50-90 setup and left the house.
First stop, Bradbury Building, the oldest commercial building remaining in Downtown and was famously featured in the movie Blade Runner. Externally, it's not much to look at, but once you go in, it's glorious. It's got a glass roof that light up the center court, and everything glows with the lights reflecting off the wood and red/orange color bricks and tiles. On each floor, there are black ornate iron railings that wrap around the building and decorates the two open cage elevators.
Honestly, I could have stayed there all day, but I dragged myself out eventually. One block up, there is the Angel's Flight, a funicular railway that was built in 1901. Right next to it, is the Angel's Knoll, which contained the famous bench featured in the movie 500 Days of Summer. The hilly park provides a nice resting area that overlook the busy streets down below. I walked up the flight of stairs and spent some time sitting in the park just people watching and snapped some shots.
Not sure where else to go, I just wandered a bit. I came across the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art (MOCA), and walked by the Walt Disney Concert Hall, before I decided to head back. This is my first real "photowalk" since my previous attempts were disguised as a family outing, and I had a great time. If you wish to see the whole set from this inaugural photowalk, it's in my personal gallery [HERE].
Or, some call it the "Thousand yard stare". According to wikipedia, it is a phrase coined to describe the limp, unfocused gaze of a battle-weary warrior, but the symptom it describes may also be found among victims of other types of trauma.
Whatever it is called, I find it to be great when capturing portraits. When done right, it can bring a boost of dignity to the subject, and a bit of mystery to make viewers wonder that the subject is thinking.
I caught this shot of my son last Saturday morning. From the little "monster" backpack on his back, you can tell he was being his jovial self and playing around, but for just one second, he had this deep look, and I was lucky to have the camera ready in hand to take a quick snap.
Been a bit busy with work lately, but it's shots like this that reinforce that idea that I should at least take a few shots every day, because you'll never capture life's fleeting moments if the camera isn't even on!
Went out with friends and family last night, or I should say early this morning, to try to catch the show in the sky -- the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. While it wasn't as spectacular as the Leonids that I saw about 10 years ago, we still saw a few "fireballs" that make the kids oooh and aaah. Since we had two cars full of people and young kids, we didn't drive to far out of the city, but we were able to find a secluded spot on the side of a mountain pass to block out some of the lights from the city.
I set out to catch some falling stars with the M9, but didn't end up with any in my shots. I did search online for some of the suggested settings for an event like this:
I also found a hidden self-timer mode with the M9 which will allow me to expose it for as long as I want:
What I've learned was that even for a 30 seconds exposure, you can easily see the stars' movement when viewing the files at 100%. But since the meteors disappear so quickly, you pretty much have to be lucky to capture any with a short exposure time. So... while I failed to catch any shooting stars... I still got a few nice captures of the night sky, and everyone had great fun :)
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.