After a few month hiatus, I am back with another blog post! Washington is such a beautiful state and I am so glad that I got a chance to visit Seattle.
I heard that it rains most of the time in Seattle so summer is probably the best time to visit. If you like the rain, I guess the right time to visit is all year long!
Pike Place Market is a great photography spot with a lot of delicious options (clam chowder soup, cheesecake bites, Chinese pastries etc.). I visited during the weekday and it was still pretty crowded so try to plan accordingly.
Aside from Pike Place, I also visited Starbucks Reserve Roastery located in Capitol Hill. This roastery is not the first Starbucks in Seattle (the first Starbuck is actually located in Pike Place) but it is an "immersive, theatrical expression" of Starbuck's coffee passion. The place is huge and there are specialty coffee blends, cute Starbucks souvenirs and they even have a bar serving wine and cocktail.
The main inspiration in editing these photos comes from Seattle's weather itself. Even though there wasn't any pouring rain, there were still cloudy days and some light shower.
I didn't stick with one LR preset throughout the entire set because each photo varies quite a bit in terms of exposure and tones. I also forgot to take my photos in raw format (huge mistake!) which makes post-processing a lot more challenging than I initially expected. I used a combination of Portra 160, Kodak Gold 200, Provia 400X and I set my photos to a cooler temperature to give an impression of blue hour.
Another side note, all of these photos were taken on my brand new Sony A7R. My sister bought it for me as a graduation gift (if you are reading this, thank you so much for making my dream come true!) So far I only have the kit lens, but I can't wait to explore more options in the future.
Here is Mt.Rainier-- which is the highest mountain in Washington. The national park is about a two hour drive from Seattle itself, which is not too bad. However, the drive can be quite challenging so make sure to do some proper research beforehand and download an offline map!
For those who are not into national parks-- another option is this cute little Japanese garden in Seattle. The park also has a photo exhibition by high schoolers. I was actually very impressed by the quality of the photos because they all have such good composition. If you plan on visiting the Japanese garden, the entrance fee is $5.
Seattle is a beautiful place and I would love to go back sometime in the future. I would also like to say thank you to my special person for taking me around and making time for me. I hope we get to do the underground tour together the next time we are here!
That's it for now-- thank you for reading until the end!
When I first started doing photography, I was not a huge fan of B&W ("black and white") at all. In fact, I like to use B&W as my back-up plan. If the colors are still not working out in my favor after countless trials and errors, I'll simply switch a photo to B&W mode, hoping that I'll be able to salvage it.
A lot of photographers choose to take their photos in only B&W. I've always wanted to take a photo with the B&W vision in my mind and be able to tell myself confidently "okay, this view in front of me will make a great B&W photo" instead of "oh, let me use B&W on this mediocre photo". In my opinion, I think black and white deserves more credit than simply being a photographer's back-up option.
I always associate B&W with sadness which makes it challenging for me to fully appreciate B&W (maybe because I am a generally happy and non-edgy person). My struggle with B&W photography is how to express emotions through such a limited color palette.
I decided to start off by editing at least one or two B&W photos from my set. I tend to pick photos with interesting textures or photos I want to emphasize the subject. While I still occasionally use B&W to salvage a photo with bad colors or bad light, I can also see the appeal in deliberately using B&W to edit a photo. Removing colors from a photo and turning it to B&W can stop viewers from getting distracted by the colors
The one thing that I try to avoid when editing B&W photo is making my white look too white and my black look too black. While I do edit the photo for contrast and clarity, I try to be careful in terms of highlight and shadow to avoid losing important details.
I am by no means an expert when it comes to B&W photography but here are a few things I like to keep in mind when I edit my B&W photos:
First time in Big Bear with USC Photography Club. I wasn't planning on waking up for sunrise but I was super glad I did in the end (shoutout to Trevor).
Here are some of the photos I took that morning. Enjoy!
I was really debating on whether I should decrease the foreground shadow in these two photos but I decided to keep it pretty dark for the silhouette look.
Most people were too busy taking photos on the sunrise side of the lake that they forgot about these beautiful gradients on the other side.
This photo is probably one of my favorite from the entire set because it feels just like sunrise to me. The hues in this photo just complement each other very well in my opinion. I decided to bring out the orange and blue when I was editing the photo.
PHONEOGRAPHY IS PHOTOGRAPHY? Yes.
Don't be afraid to learn something new simply because you feel like you are not good enough. Everyone starts out as a beginner and I'm a huge believer of slow progress is better than no progress. This post is dedicated to anyone out there who loves taking photos but is too afraid to consider themselves a photographer because the only camera they own is their phone camera.
I've talked to so many people who are afraid to call themselves a photographer because they don't own a DSLR or "one of those proper camera". However, over the past two years with USC Photography Club, I am lucky enough to know so many talented individuals who build amazing portfolios based on just one fixed lens or even a phone camera. It makes me rethink what it means to be a photographer and allows me to step out of my comfort zone.
So, since we're on the topic of phone cameras and what not, here is a compilation of some of my #iphoneography over the years...
Most of these were taken on an iphone 6S (some were taken on an iphone 5).
Good lighting makes a huge difference when it comes to taking photos with your phone. I tend to avoid taking any photos during nighttime because phone camera doesn't work too great under low-light condition, even if the flash is on.
Sunset is also another great time for photography in general. Personally, I like to lower the highlight when I take photos of the sky or the sunset so that the color gradients are more prominent. If my photo has some silhouette (like the ones above), I will also bump up the saturation quite a bit. However, I wouldn't recommend doing this too much if the photo has no silhouette since it can mess up the color of the entire photo.
Here are the 3 apps that I use:
Extra tips that might be useful:
I hope anyone reading this find some of the information useful! For those who own high quality camera gears, that is great. For those who don't, that is completely fine too. In the end, photography is all about being able to convey stories and feelings through photos. Best of luck to all photographers and aspiring photographers!
My first roll of film from a year ago. I haven't touched film after that at all for various reasons but I might get back to it again someday.
A mall near my house has some carnival event going on that day. This photo is heavily underexposed (weird because it was sunny outside) but I kind of like the red-- it adds a nice touch of color to the otherwise dull photo imo.
Bangkok city's traffic summed up in one single photo.
Sora Cafe (aka Bicycle Cafe)
I ordered strawberry pancakes and Hojicha latte. I'm not sure what the clear drink is-- probably some kind of flavored soda.
This right here is literally my neighbor. Yes, my house is located next to an apartment complex. That is some slice of city life for you.
Note: all these photos were taken with Rollei35 on Kodak 200 (not too sure about this) and edited for contrast
If you know me well enough, you'll know that cafes are my thing. I have a soft spot for them. To be exact, my ideal "lazy" weekend consists of checking out new cafes and collecting lifestyle shots around the city.
There are a bunch of different cafes and new openings around Bangkok so here's a small list of some of the places I've been to so far. I hope you enjoy them!
(Roast (The Commons)
One of my personal favorites because it is such a reliable option. They have a good selection of brunch and lunch options as well as desserts. My favorites: Nutella french toast and strawberry waffles with vanilla ice cream. Not only are they photogenic (and social-media worthy) but they also taste as good as they look.
Address: The Commons 335 Sukhumvit 55, Thong Lo 17 Alley
Slow Room by Room 111
The main concept here is to provide customers with a space where they can wind down and escape the busy city life (hence the name "slow room"). The cafe has no wifi/power outlet, which is a pretty rare occurrence for cafes in general. They have a decent selection of coffees (including cold brew!) and their flourless chocolate cake is a must.
Address: 399/5 Silom Soi 7 Bangrak
This place is the most photogenic "cafe" I've been to in a while. It is a modern glass cubicle with wooden frames surrounded by lush trees and flowers. The cafe boasts its organic spa products and (somewhat healthy) drinks. Personally, I'm not quite a huge fan of it. The aesthetic doesn't fit together too well in person and the space is not very practical.
Address: 9/2 Klang Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea
I visited this cozy place on a rainy afternoon and it was such a perfect combination. There are many food and drink options (mostly a fusion of Japanese-Thai) as well as many seating options. Their food are quite decent but I'd definitely recommend their crepes (note: one crepe serves about two but you might not want to share it).
Address: 53 Ekamai Soi 12,Sukhumvit Soi 63
"Why don't you join photography club then? You like taking photos right?"
I remember my suitemate asking me after I complained to her about not knowing which club to join at the involvement fair. Even though I do enjoy taking photos, I only take photos with an iphone and occasionally with a digital camera set in auto-mode. Does that count as being a photographer? At the time, my answer was no. The club is for photographers. I am not a photographer, so I clearly don't belong in the club. What if they ask me all these technical questions about photography? I don't know anything. That would be a pretty embarrassing experience.
Long story short, I ended up joining USC Photography Club anyway. I remember showing up to the first photowalk meeting with just an iphone and feeling so intimidated by everyone's giant DSLRs, tripods and lenses that are bigger than my arms (not even exaggerating here). Even though the Facebook event caption tells me that it is perfectly fine to show up without a camera, I still feel self-conscious. Just when I decided that this is probably a wrong decision because I am only an amateur iphone photographer, I remember people approaching me and asking me if I wanted to try out their camera and lenses. By the end of the photowalk, I officially joined the club and it was probably one of the best decisions I have made throughout college.
After going on a few more meetings and outings and borrowing other people's camera, I finally bought my first ever DSLR and my first ever lens, the 50mm 1.8. It was a used Canon 70D but it feels brand new. I was so excited when my camera first arrived that I treated it like a newborn baby the first few weeks and I carried it with me everywhere...even to the dining hall on campus. Yep. And possibly a few other embarrassing places that I will not be mentioning here. Everywhere feels like such a "great photo opportunity" when you first started out-- am I right?
I joined eboard the second semester of my sophomore year and from then on, every weekend is a new photo adventure that I constantly look forward to. From breathtaking rooftop views to old abandoned zoo, I was able to visit so many incredible places that I never thought would even be possible. I was able to capture special moments through my lens everywhere I go and improve my skills with the help from everyone around me.
Looking back, three years in the club feels like such a short time. Over three years, I found such a loving and supportive group of people who all share the same love and passion for photography, creativity and inclusivity just like me. To anyone reading this who is hesitant to start a new hobby or take the first step out of your comfort zone-- don't be! Even that one person who you admire used to be a beginner too. We all start from somewhere so take that first step and you will not regret it :)
To all my lovely people from USC Photography Club: I would like to dedicate this post to you all. I cannot wait to see what you guys are up to this upcoming school year!
First time trying photo manipulation!
Recently, I've been playing around quite a bit with photo manipulation. I'm not an expert when it comes to photo manipulation, but I think it's a great way to turn my favorite shots (as well as my mediocre shots) into something completely new. All photos were edited using Lightroom before they were manipulated in Photoshop. I posted two of my experiment-photos so far and some rough guidelines in case anyone is looking for any inspiration. Enjoy!
"Looking for You"
The original photo was taken at Dante's View in Death Valley. It is probably one of my favorite shots so far because it gives off such a serene vibe. I wanted to take it a step further so I figured why not add some night stars to the already beautiful sunset sky. I thought it wasn't going to work out because the two skies are quite contrasting, but the hard overlay mode on the astro layer ended up working perfectly.
"Small Beginnings, Big Dreams"
When I first saw this little girl standing against the Hong Kong skyline, I knew I had to get the shot. The walkway was packed the entire evening but just for this one moment, no one was around to block my view. Sadly, I messed up. I couldn't get the girl in focus nor the bokeh effect in the background. I wasn't happy with the end result at all but I knew the photo has some potential . My photo manipulation here is inspired by anime/video-game arts. I used a combination of pixelated and trace contour filter to achieve the end result.