Thursday, November 23, 2017

Alaskan Waters

Glacier Bay, Glacier, Glacier Calving, Lumiere and Lens, Lumiere Lens, Glaciers
Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay, Alaska

Hello from sunny and 77° F California!  It's almost December and it's hot enough to go swimming out here.  It's Thanksgiving today and we've got the oven on to cook a 27 lb turkey in a house with no air conditioning.  Since it doesn't appear I'll have cold any time soon, I'm sharing these photos of Alaskan waters and glaciers from my trip this past June.  Yes, yes, definitely long delayed!  However, I'm sitting here in a tank top and shorts, so I'd really rather reminiscence about colder places.

We took a boat (the Baranof Wind) through Glacier Bay and went right up to the border of the Canada, where the Grand Pacific Glacier is situated.  As global warming is a thing and climate change is real, we were greeted by bare earth with a completely melted glacier.  The waters by the glaciers were dotted with small icebergs from the calving glaciers, which is when ice cracks and falls off.  In fact, Margerie Glacier (shown above) was actively calving!  A crew member fished an iceberg out from the bay for us to touch.  It was very smooth, very cold, and definitely smaller than the one that took out the Titanic.

Grand Pacific Glacier
On board the Baranof Wind.

 South Marble Island, a wildife hotspot (top).  Sea lions lounge on the rocks (bottom). 


We passed South Marble Island during our boat ride.  The island is considered a wild life hotspot.  There were sea otters, sea lions, puffins, and gulls.  There was also a humpback whale swimming in the waters.  Occasionally, he would surface to spout and dive back under, flipping his tale above the water.  Look at the beautiful color of the sea lion coats!  They were certainly more vibrant than our California sea lions. 

Islands recovering after glacial retreat are covered in moss, lichen, and young trees.
Glacier Bay

We passed islands that were covered with moss, lichen, and young trees.  The growth of lichen helps prepare the earth for the forest to grow as the land eventually recovers after glacial retreat.  As we traveled North towards the glacier heavy, thick trees gave way to more moss.  Eventually, we saw more rock than green.  When we finally reached the Canadian/Alaskan boarder, the waters were smooth like glass, with small ripples on the surface.  The air was cold, crisp, and clean.  Heaven is a place on Earth and it was these calm, beautiful waters.  

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday #61: Retreat

Photo by Dazy J.

Hello, friends!  Guess what?  I've passed my proposals exam!  Basically, I had to write three research proposals and defend them to my thesis committee.  Passing it means that the last hurdle I have to cross (well, on paper, anyways) is scheduling and doing my thesis defense.  I say on paper because I have a lot of revisions and experimental work to wrap up.  Plus, I have to find post-graduate employment!  I don't anticipate things getting less busy any time soon.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA


A few research groups and departments have an annual retreat where there are talks and poster sessions in a resort hotel near the beach.  It was my first year at the retreat and it happened to be the day after my exam.  I really enjoyed listening to the panel of speakers and seeing the exciting research that's happening in the Southern California area.  I had some time in the morning before breakfast and a multi-lab workshop, so my friend and I went to walk on the beach.  It's finally cooling down in California -- I loved breathing in the cold, foggy morning air.  I was pretty tired after the retreat because I'd been working for weeks straight before so I crashed the night I got home before going out to Din Tai Fung for dinner.  Pork xiao long bao, garlic string beans, Shanghai rice cakes . . . MMM.

Huntington Beach in the morning light.

SUNDAY


I had a slow start to my Sunday, but finally ended up in lab to set up an overnight reaction and take care of my cells.  I'm on two projects at the moment.  One needs to be finished and the other one is new.  It's a lot of juggling, but I don't mind.  I quite enjoy having a lot to do at the moment with the pressure of my exam lifted.  I'm heading to do some work on a different campus for the weekdays before this Thanksgiving so that will be fun!  I haven't gotten the chance to work out much this week so I'm packing sneakers to try to run around campus.  

THANKSGIVING


American Thanksgiving is this upcoming week!  Our house is doing a potluck dinner and I'll be making mac and cheese with bacon.  Since it's a long weekend, I'm aiming to get a little photography done (my poor neglected camera!) and maybe some Black Friday shopping.  I've realized that I don't have much decent clothing that's not adapted for lab.  Might be time to upgrade the wardrobe a little as I'm looking for jobs. 

By the way, I was really touched by how many of you left thoughtful comments on my last post.  Things move fast on blogging and social media.  In my absence, I'd been unfollowed a lot across all platforms so it was nice to see people stick around.  Thank you. 

Questions for this week:
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving?  What's your potluck specialty?
If you could invite any guest you to Thanksgiving, who would it be?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday #60: Hello, November

Self-portrait 11/12/17.

Hello, friends!  Or are we strangers?  I've been absent for about a month.  Here's a self portrait -- I cut my hair awhile ago and I've gained a lot of weight.  Same person inside, a little different wrapping.  For the past month, my camera has barely been touched and my social life was basically nonexistent.   It definitely felt awkward to be in front of the lens today.  To be honest, I think I needed a break from social media and blogging for this time as well.  By now, you all know that if it feels forced, I won't write here, though I'd attribute most of my absence to putting graduate school as my first priority.

I'm currently writing this on my couch, listening to the new Taylor Swift album, and soft lights in my living room (see below).  I'll be making dinner soon: pasta with meat sauce and brussel sprouts cooked with pancetta.  A little bit fatty?  Yes.  Satisfying?  100%!  For now, let's have a catch up, shall we?

Fairy lights in my living room.

GRINDSTONE


For the past few weeks, I've had my nose to the grindstone, poring through the scientific literature, reading, and writing.  I handed my written proposals in this past week and my exam is coming up on Thursday.  However, everything in graduate school is a learning experience.  For all the stress that writing proposals amounted to,  I've emerged from as a more efficient writer, a better read scientist, and with a lot more new ideas percolating in my head.  In addition, my advisor put me on a new project in September, which has kept me busy.  There's been a lot of trial and error (always more to come in research), but it's been one of my favorite things I've studied in my graduate career.  The new research has reinvigorated my relationship with science as well as opened up new intellectual avenues that I hope to have the chance to pursue!  A downside to the new project is going back and forth between two campus in a sprawled out city.  However, I quite like the change of scenery, the new environment, and also, having wonderful meals out in Los Angeles with my friend.  A local, family run pasta place is our current favorite spot!

Clams in white wine sauce with spaghetti.

AUTUMN


Fall has finally arrived in Southern California!  Personally, it's still too warm for me.  When I work from home, I have the windows wide open to let cool air into the house.  I can't wait for temperatures to drop even further.  Aside from the cooler weather, I'm enjoying the arrival of other fall treats such as the new Taylor Swift album (it's catchy and fun, but derivative) and Stranger Things 2 (absolutely fantastic).  Last year, I started to look for Venus, the winter star, in the horizon as I walked home each night.

I can't believe it's already mid-November.  The holidays will be upon us and there is so much work to do!  I'll be in town for Thanksgiving, but not sure what I'll do yet.  If I have to, I'll work in lab to push things forward.  It's so surreal to think that I am almost at the end of my Ph.D.  

I'll keep it short and sweet this evening.  Honestly, life has just been work so there isn't much else to talk about that won't be repetitive.  My days have consisted of coffee, work, literature, science, and exercise when time and energy resources permit.  I got to see my friend today for brunch so that was a nice highlight!  If you're still reading after the long absence, leave me a note in the comments.

Questions for this Sunday:  
What is your favorite thing about autumn?  
What did you think of the new Taylor Swift album?
Are you watching Stranger Things 2?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rapunzel


Last week, a classmate of mine was headed out to the opera and coordinated a photoshoot session for our cohorts.  I shared one photograph in my Sunday post from this week and figured I'd share the set of this girl who I will name Rapunzel!  She wanted some more glamorous photos.  Believe it or not, as graduate students, most of us don't wear our nicest clothing into laboratories.  (Sarcasm).  

We met up in a nice part of our city to do these photos and I provided only the necessary direction.  I would pick a spot, briefly describe the composition I was looking for, and let Rapunzel move to her own whims.  This was how I directed the other subjects I worked with that day as well and the feedback I received was that people felt very comfortable!  As I strive for natural, organic photographs, this is just the response I want.


Like other photo sessions, I provided as minimal direction as I could.  I asked the model to do what felt most natural and let her express the emotions she was feeling that day.  I wanted her to feel relaxed, confident, and able to shine which I think we achieved!  Does this translate across to you?

FYI, I once watched a docuseries called Tales By Light that showed the lengths photographers go to obtain their photos.  One photographer went to document a tribe, but directed the minutiae of every picture, from the posing, to the artifacts he wanted the subjects to hold.  It's interesting how he wanted to document the culture yet staged it to how he thought it should be presented, thus inserting his own cultural viewpoint into it.  To me, that was no longer a true or organic representation of the native people.  

What are your views on direction in photography?  What constitutes too much or just enough?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday #59: Murphy's Law


Murphy's Law states, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."  Listen, I'm not using this as a platform to whinge, but transparency is a big part of my philosophy on authentic blogging.  You'll find no blush toned, marbled backdrop, or glossed over stories here, no missie.  I intend to Keep It Real. 

Hence, this Perpetual Disappointments Diary seems particularly apt.  My friend is a new scholar in the lab and we got this matching diary on our last bookstore trip.  You'll find translations for unfortunate situations such as being locked in the toilet, death dates of famous people, prompts for listing personal shortcomings, and a full week of Monday stickers.  There are even disappointing proverbs for each week (If ignorance is bliss, why are you so sad?).

Ok, I'll get to the point.  Here goes . . .

WHAT WENT WRONG . . .


These past few weeks have been full of ups and downs.  A few weeks ago, my bike was stolen from campus.  This doesn't upset me on a material level, but it sure makes it inconvenient for me to get around now.  I don't drive so I now walk, bum a ride, or get an Uber.  This has been very annoying for getting to school rapidly or going to my regular photo job.  Part of recent job responsibilities has included working in West Hollywood for 12 hour long experiments.  Unfortunately, I experienced a lot of equipment issues this week and came back earlier than planned.  I suppose it doesn't sound like a lot written out, but it was a trying week.  However, graduate school isn't meant to be a walk in the park!  One of the biggest lessons I've learned is the importance of tenacity.

BUT A LOT WENT RIGHT!


You know I wasn't going to talk about problems without looking for the silver lining, right?  I want to acknowledge my wonderful friends and colleagues.  People aren't required to bestow favors, but I appreciate those who go above and beyond.  I had many moments this week when I was grateful for company, for gestures of kindness, for human decency, and for people who were as pleased to see me as I was them.  I may be extremely stressed with a formidable to-do list, but I am happy!  Even on bad days, I smile and laugh more than I ever have in my life.

(1) Gallery wall in Westwood, (2) White oleanders, (3) Wilshire Blvd street plaque, (4) Basecamp Fitness Pasadena.

Speaking of good company, Basecamp Fitness in Pasadena invited Ana and I out for a free class this Friday.  The class completely kicked my butt!  I actually couldn't finish because I got so queasy from the HIIT workout.  Lesson here?  Start doing cardio again because while I can lift and I'm strong, I need to work on endurance and intensity.  Afterwards, we had a lovely dinner of delicious tacos at Trejo's Cantina before I finished out the night watching Wonder Woman with my partner. 

THE VERMEER GIRL & THE SUNDAY


My friend asked me to do a photography session for herself and a few people in the community.  She organized the event and gathered the photo release forms, making my job far easier.  All I had to do was show up and capture people at looking their best!  I'll be sharing a dedicated post on one subject, but here is one of my favorite images from the day.  I think this girl looks like a real life Vermeer painting!


On Sunday morning, I went to 85C Bakery with my new friend/colleague to get some pastries for breakfast.  We ended up walking around for a few hours and shopping afterwards (oops!), but made it into lab in the early afternoon.  I picked up a few things from an aromatherapy and natural wellness store in Old Town.  I can't wait to write a post about the items because they're such amazing quality.  If anyone needs aromatherapy for relaxing, it's a senior graduate student!

This Sunday's question: What are your favorite scents?  Do you have a scent that always calms you down?

RECOMMENDED


• Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish win the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on validating the existence of gravitational waves (ripples in space and time). 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Excursions Into Film Photography


My roommate lent me his Canon AE-1 SLR this summer with a roll of ISO 400 black and white film. He recently developed and scanned the film because I was being a real slowpoke about the process. Here are a few of the shots that turned out alright.  I definitely struggled with the proper exposure and focus; I haven't shot film photography since high school! 

I do dig the grain and old-time vibes from these images.  I haven't done any editing because I wanted to present the images in their raw form.  What is it about back and white that seems to add more to a picture?  I think the grain fits the masculinity of the subjects.  Overall, I think my film skills leave room for improvement! 

What are your forays into film photography?  Do you prefer digital or film media?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday #58: Heaven Is A Place On Earth With You

Snapshot from a botanical garden.

I'm on a real Lana Del Rey kick this week, loves, in case you can't tell from the title today.  I've always liked her and I've had her new album Lust for Life on repeat which means my house got to hear me belting her all of Saturday morning.  Sorrynotsorry.  Am I listening to her as I sit in my office this Sunday?  Yes, I am.

DATE NIGHT


My social life is very touch and go at the moment.  I think the social lives of most people go right into the la basura towards the end of their degree programs because there's simply too much to do.  Not to mention that our stress levels rise through the roof!  Any social outings have consisted of spontaneous food and coffee breaks!  I haven't seen my friend Ana in quite a long time; we had planned to do a coffee/study date, but I was caught up in the frenzy of cell work so it turned into dinner.  We went to Bone Kettle in Pasadena for meat and bone broth (Go. There. Now.) before ending the night watching The Big Sick at my house with my roommates.  Oh, we might've squeezed in a quick Sephora detour somewhere in the night as well because, you know, that's important.  As always, time with Ana is relaxing and full of good vibes!

Me and bb!

UNO


My friend's baby turned one this week so a whole bunch of us went to his birthday party this weekend.  I've never been to a birthday party for a baby, let alone shopped for one, so Friday evening was spent at Westfield Santa Anita mall with a friend picking out presents.  After perusing a whole bunch of stores, we settled on some stuffed animals from the Disney store.  Every kid likes Disney, right?  At the party, we had a lovely homecooked Chinese dinner, played with the baby, and generally, had a really great time.  There's something beautiful about the pure joy and excitement of a tiny human!  By the way, I learned that running after and watching a one-year-old is a lot of work.  My upper back is a little sore now from doing the elevator with the baby!

OTHER


Other highlights from the week: (a)  I reunited with a friend who I met during graduate school visiting weekends about five years ago.  She's completed her doctoral degree and is now a scholar at the university I attend.  It's nice to see another familiar face!  Also goes to show you how small the world of academia really is.  (b)  My new coworker and I have been hitting up the nearby bakery for macarons the entire week.  Delicious, sweet, probably fattening.  YOLO.  (c)  Watched The Imitation Game with my other half yesterday and we're going to have delicious steak for dinner tonight!

I've been trying to catch up with your blogs -- forgive me if I'm spacey or miss posts!  I don't get as much time as I'd like to get on here nowadays.  Certainly, my time for creative photography has suffered as well hence the paucity of posts!  Just to change it up a bit, this Sunday's question is: What's the song you've had on repeat this week?

RECOMMENDED


• Nat wrote a really timely post (personally) for the job hunting process.
100 Images From Cassini's Mission to Saturn.
• Best skincare deals at Sephora.  Just treat yoself, okay?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday #57: Gone Baby Gone

Photo by Jake Kim.


Hello.  It's been about three weeks since I've written here, hasn't it?  I haven't really had a full day off from lab in the past few weeks.  I'm working a lot more and even photography outside of my one regular client has taken a backseat as of late.  Thanks for the nice comments you've all been leaving.  I feel guilty that I haven't been as active with reading and replying recently!  I'm hoping to be better about it this week. 

THE SCIENTIST


I'm starting a new avenue of research that's required I learn brand new skill sets.  For the last three weeks, I've been completing some rapid training from my friend and colleague.  He's returning to his home country soon so it's been a crash course in the transfer of knowledge.  Burnout towards the end of your PhD is a real thing, but I've been really jazzed with my new scientific venture!  Last week, I got to work off site out in a different part of Los Angeles.  Mini-travels, new science, and renewed excitement?  I'm all for it, though it was wonderful to be back in my own bed by Friday.  

SANTA MONICA


My friends/colleagues took a short trip down to Santa Monica during one of our long time points this week (it's where the photo above was taken!).  We walked on the pier and beach, taking lots of pictures along the way.  While we were exploring under the pier, I spotted a pregnant couple and their family.  I love the concept of family and having never done a pregnancy shoot before, I asked them if I might take their picture and they said, "Yes!"  Here is my favorite photo from the day, possibly from all this year so far. 


On the technical side, I wish it had turned out sharper and I'd taken more care with the settings instead of rushing.  On the other hand, I think the moment and emotion are more important than taking a technically good photograph.  In any case, they liked the photos so much that they asked me to photograph the baby when it's born!


Afterwards, we went to grab dinner with Stout Burgers & Beer before heading back to lab.  All in all, it was a fantastic day.  We spent a lot of it talking and laughing until our sides hurt.  I'm definitely going to feel the void when my friend leaves the country. 

SUNDAY FUNDAY


I logged a few hours at lab today and got lunch with my beach-mates/colleagues.  Afterwards, we purchased macarons at our favorite bakery for dessert.  Yes, macaron addiction and love still going strong.  Later in the evening, my boyfriend and I had a double date with one of couple friends.  Now, we're just relaxing before bed with the new season of Bojack Horseman.  I guess running around all the time is pretty tiring, even if it's fun!  I have quite a bit of science/application work to do tomorrow before heading off to a photo job.  Hope Monday will be productive! 

Here's to a new week!  Since I've missed so much, tell me about yours, leave me your links, or any tidbits I've overlooked in my absence.  Hope you all had a lovely week.  Talk soon, 'kay?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday #56: La La Land

A lovely candle on a beautiful day.

Hello, friends!  Over here in Los Angeles, it is hotter than I can bear.  I've been fairly comatose from the heat and I've spent the majority of the weekend with the fan aimed at me because our AC doesn't really work.  Thankfully, its cooled down a bit during the nights (though this coming week will be a scorcher) and we could watch Game of Thrones comfortably.  Did anyone else see it?  I can't even deal right now.

HEALTH


I mentioned that I was sick last week.  This year, I've noticed a tendency for me to get hot, overheat, and generally be intolerant of higher temperatures.  I've always love the cold and ran a little hot, but after I had another overheating/nausea spell this past Tuesday, I decided to go to my university's health center.  We've ruled out the major culprits like diabetes and pregnancy.  We suspect a medication I've been on for a large part of this year is the root of the problem so I'll be getting some blood tests and having follow up appointments in the coming month.  In the meantime, I'm doing my best to get moving when I can, eat a healthy diet, and stay hydrated. 

SCIENCE AND ART


I had a discussion with my advisor and I'll be pursuing a new avenue of research in the last few months of my doctoral research.  I'm pretty excited though also stressed because I have exams as well as searching for employment.  In less stressful news, I managed to get in three photoshoots this week.  Whew!  It's been a pretty crazy week.  Here is an image I shot on Friday.

Yes, I know, I know.  I'm getting boring.  All I post are photoshoots and I still have Alaska / beauty / and new haircut posts to write.  Holy moly, it's been two months since I've been to Alaska.  Where did the summer go?

OTRO


As I've mentioned above, I cut my hair short this week.  It feels so much lighter and I may never go back to long hair again.  On Saturday, Roberta made me a lovely homemade meal that included handmade pasta an slowcooked sauce.  We ate it outside under fairy lights with lit candles.  I always end up doing the stereotypical "romantic" things (biking down the shoreline of Santa Monica, walking through the gardens as the sunset) with my female friends!  I wouldn't have it any other way than to be in good company and having nice moments. 

Well, that was my week?  How was yours?  Tell me the most interesting thing that happened!

RECOMMENDED


•  Kyle's street photography during the solar eclipse in NYC.
•  Michelle's take on the "busy" norm.  Definitely worth a read!
•  Victoria Sand's article on the commercialization of self-care on YouTube

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Look Into My Editing Process in Photoshop and Camera RAW

post processing, camera RAW, photoediting, Lumiere and Lens
A peek into post-processing after a photo shoot.

Hello!  I asked if you would like to see a photo editing post and there was some interest so here it is! A few FYIs before we begin: (1) I have only taken one photography course in my entire life and it was analog film in high school, (2) I am completely self-taught in digital photography, and (3) I am all about "the ends justify the means" so these might not be the recommended methods.  Let's begin!

Every person has a different photo aesthetic -- I don't believe there is a "right" way to create pictures.  In general, I aim to create images that enhance and showcase natural beauty.  First and foremost, I try to take a photograph that is good straight out of the camera.  I shoot in full manual or aperture mode where I set the ISO, exposure compensation, focus, metering, and white balance.  I always shoot in RAW -- this method creates digital files that retain ALL the data in an image which is optimal in post.

STEP 1.  ADJUSTING LIGHTS AND DARKS IN "BASIC" 


On the left, I have the image as shot.  It is not under or overexposed and the model is centered in my composition.  I browse my images in Adobe Bridge and open it up with Camera RAW in Adobe Photoshop (just double-click if you use PS).  I start on the Basic Menu.  Believe it or not, you can enhance the colors in your image simply by adjusting the shadows and highlights.  I typically bring down Shadows and Blacks while increasing Highlights and Whites.  To increase the contrast a bit more, I will increase Clarity.  I also increase the Vibrance in the image.  Saturation is increased, but always at less than half of Vibrance.  I will also adjust the Temperature/Tint sometimes.  Exposure typically gets a slight increase because you know I love bright, airy images!

post processing, camera RAW, photoediting, Lumiere and Lens

STEP TWO:  ENHANCING COLORS IN "HSL"


HSL stands for Hue/Saturation/Luminance which is the second menu I go to in Camera RAW.  I like to enhance colors in my images, but not to an extent where it's not believable.  For example, the model's hair is actually quite vibrant in real life, but was less so in the shadows.  In this image, I've increased the saturation of Reds to make her hair more vibrant.  I increased Oranges to bring warmth into her skin.  I also increased Blues/Aquas to bring out the color of her eyes to how I remember them in real life.  Purples and Magentas got slight boosts as well! 

post processing, camera RAW, photoediting, Lumiere and Lens

The depth of colors can be adjusted by changing the Luminance.  I increased the luminosity of the model's skin so that the orange wasn't as deep.  The Blues were bumped up to +42 to bring more light into her eyes.  Again, I'm making the edits as natural as possible.  In this case, I did not adjust Hues.  I know that at first glance, these two images look identical, but I promise they're not!

STEP 3.  EDITING IN "EFFECTS"


I don't add a whole lot of bells and whistles into my photos.  My last alteration in Camera Raw is to Dehaze the image slightly and, occasionally, add a Vignette (darkens the edges of the photograph).  I've been playing around with subtle vignettes on some of my photos recently.  I think it's a nice way to draw focus into the more luminous center of the image.

post processing, camera RAW, photoediting, Lumiere and Lens

At this point, I'm typically done with tweaking in Camera Raw and I open the image into Photoshop.  I crop the image to my liking and start retouching, which is the most time consuming part of the editing process.  I use the Spot Healing Brush to smooth over blemishes and more extensive work to remove the bra that is showing under the model's clothing.  I also start to Burn and Dodge.  Burning darkens parts of the image and brings things into focus.  It's useful if you have areas that might be slightly over exposed.  Dodging is the exact opposite: it increases exposure.  I like to do very light Burning on facial features, hairlines, and the jaw.  The idea is to enhance the subject without making it the editing obvious.  My motto is to leave no trace.

When I'm completely done with retouching, I sometimes add Adjustment Layers, such as Curves.  I add in contrast by tweaking the shape of the curve: a prominent S will product a more visible effect.  Like the other adjustments, I've keep changes very slight here to keep things natural.  The goal is to enhance, not completely change and obliterate things in the picture.

Now, I'm done!  I typically resize the image for my usage purposes and save it.  The final product you see the top of the post is what makes it to the Internet!  Occasionally, I brighten it even more on platforms like Instagram because I love adding more light into images.

I hope this was a useful post!  Everybody has their own aesthetic and ideas so this is by no means the way you HAVE to photoedit.  Let me know what you think and whether you're interested in more of these posts!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday #55: Focus on the Good


Hello, lovelies!  Hope you're all relaxing on this Sunday night.  Confession: this photo from Huntingdon Gardens is from last Sunday and not these past seven days, but I have my reasons!  I'm sitting on my couch, getting some rest after an eventful afternoon as our house watches Game of Thrones.  No spoilers, but it was NOT a restful episode.  

EENA, NANCY, ALYSE


Eena, Nancy and I made plans to get food together this weekend.  We decided to meet at Arcadia Mall and . . . here's here it gets extra eventful!  I'm notorious for getting motion sickness easily.  Even though the trip up to Arcadia was only 15 minutes, I somehow managed to get overheated, carsick, and extremely nauseated.  Yours truly managed to upchuck twice in the multiple hours.  I had to cut the trip short and ask to be taken home by Nancy.  I spent the rest of the afternoon resting and trying to rehydrate.  I think it's mostly intense motion sickness, but it could've been something I ate, too.  *shrugs*

The dumplings at Din Tai Fung. 

It was really nice to see Eena and Nancy -- I appreciate hanging out with great gals!  I felt incredibly embarrassed and kept apologizing for putting such a damper on our girls day.  The real MVPs here are the two of them for being incredibly patient, caring, and making sure I was as fine as I could be.  I said it many times today and I will say it again, "Thank you and I really appreciate it."  Kindness is never taken for granted by me.  I'm also grateful to my other half who brought home saltines, Gatorade and ginger ale for me.  Let's focus on the good things!

STEPS AHEAD


Since we're focusing on the good things, I made some strides at work (science) this weekend (more if/when things are final) about which I am both excited and nervous.  In non-science related work, I've recently booked a regular photography client where I shoot images that end up on an online clothing boutique.  It makes peanuts because I quoted the client before I settled on my minimum rate, but she's a dream to work with and I'm getting commercial photography experience!  I also managed to see my friends Liz, Ana and Roberta so it's been a good week for nurturing female friendships.

Oleanders in my neighborhood.

DO SOMETHING NEW


I've been perusing some newer photography accounts and I have realized I am in a bit of a rut.  I always use natural light around golden hour.  How about if I challenge myself more?  Edit differently.  Shoot in difficult situations.  Be less reliant on soft light?  Here are images of Ana and Roberta that were shot outside of my comfort zone.  This time, they're both shot in poor, fading light and edited with more darkness in mind.  What do you think?  Next, I want to try challenging lighting situations at night.


I'm also forcing myself to take pictures on my iPhone because, if I am good, then I should be able to make great images on any device.  Right?  Right!

Here is a parting questionnaire:

1.  What did you do this week?  Highlights and lowlights?
2.  Do you want to read a post on photo editing?
3.  Are you watching the solar eclipse on Monday?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday #54: Sunflowers

Sunflowers!

Hello, friends!  I've been a little off the radar, but I'm back after two weeks of missed Sundays.

ALYSE LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY


I've finally bitten the bullet and made myself a real photography website!  After consulting with some friends who suggested that naming my photography after my blog might be confusing, I've settled on Alyse Liang Photography.  There are quite a few things I still want to work out, but I think it's time I took this more seriously.  I've been building up my portfolio and have gotten a few (very small) photography jobs in town.  I'm making peanuts, but I'm chasing my dream, you know?  Here is some recent photographic work! 

GIRLFRIENDS


This week, I got to spend time with a lot of my girlfriends!  Interestingly, all our time together usually involves food at some point.  On Thursday, I had Ana over for dinner and she was kind enough to get me the sunflowers you see at the top.  We went Griffith Park on Saturday to watch When Harry Met Sally on blankets, under the stars.  This evening, Roberta took me The Huntingdon to stroll through the gardens as the sun set.  It's funny how I do more "date" things with my girlfriends than my boyfriend!  

I've just finished Game of Thrones with my roommate and I'm heading to bed soon.  I've had a raging headache for most of today and I want to rest up before Monday.  How was your week?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Snapshots with Printiki


{I was sent a voucher for prints from Printiki.}

I really like the idea of Polaroids - instant film, a square snapshot, a capture of a moment in time.  What I don't like is the expense of film and a single function piece of equipment!  Call me a millennial who's been raised in the age of digital media, but I like the flexibility of multi-functional devices.  A phone that takes texts and takes photos?  Great.  A DSLR that captures both stills and moving picture?  Even better!  

Even in the digital age, however, I can appreciate the physicality of holding pictures in my hands and mounting them on walls so it was an easy yes when Printiki asked if I'd like to try their prints.  Those closest thing I have to an instant camera is Instagram (and I'm sure was the idea behind the original app).  I was offered 30 Square M Prints.  Once you're on the website, you have the option to upload photos from your computer, Facebook, Google, or Instagram.  I opted to get all my prints from Instagram because they're the perfect square, instant photograph shape!

Square M prints - 4 x 4 inches. 

The prints arrived about a week after I ordered them.  I like that they're printed on photo paper so they aren't flimsy to handle.  There is the option to put text on them when selecting photos, but I prefer to hand write my own.  The resolution of the prints were pretty decent, as you can see!  Your resolution will be correlated to the quality of your original image, but I had no problems with pixelation or blurriness.  I think the prints stayed fairly true to color and saturation as well.  One of my favorite photos taken of Manhattan Beach Pier (see above) turned out beautifully!


I'm waiting to move in to a new place to hang these prints up.  I'm envisioning a grid of friends, family, and pretty landscapes.  In some ways, like an Instagram grid brought to life on my wall.  I'm thumbtacking a few up on my cubicle at work as well,  I mean, look how pretty the images look just arranged next to each other!  I appreciated this collaboration a lot more in hindsight.  Almost all my photography work is in digital media; it becomes easy to forget how satisfying it is to hold real images in your hands.

Has anyone else tried Printiki before?  What do you think of have physical prints of your Instagram photos?  Let me know in the comments!