Saturday, March 8, 2014


It's been over a year and a half since my last post.  Time goes by so fast when there are lots going on in life, and documenting it became the last thing I remember to do.

Ever since I celebrated my anniversary of stepping into the world of DSLR (and blogged about it in my last post), I have bought a new camera, gone to more photography classes, done many different projects, and most importantly - given more thoughts about how to be better.

Becoming better is vague and there are so many dimensions to it, but defining my aesthetics or point of view is a big part of my struggle.  How do you refine both technical and artistic aspects of the craft, so it becomes uniquely your own?

Few days ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Michael Kenna's lecture at the Cincinnati Art Museum.  I've talked about him in my prior post and I've loved his work ever since I started learning photography.  So it was really an exciting opportunity to finally meet him in person.

Michael shared many stories along with his works, and let us know more intimately about who he is as a photographer and how his journey has been.  One and a half hour felt like thirty minutes - time went by so fast!  He engaged the audience as if he's just having a personal conversation with friends.  I felt his passion and wisdom in his speech.  It was an enlightening experience.

Michael's lecture reassured me that establishing your unique point of view is an evolving process.  Your past experience, whether conscious or subconscious, already defines part of your style.  With this basis, you take on a never-ending journey of self discovery.  You have multiple conversations with yourself and your subjects.  You start from the surface, like everyone else, and you go deeper.  Michael thinks that he's been going around in circles, except that his circles become bigger and bigger.  I think this analogy makes so much sense - you don't become someone else, you never depart from what's in your soul, but you use what you've got and try to expand the energy as much as you can.  You will come back to where you started, but every time you come back, you are a more mature and wise individual.

So with that, I put aside my self-doubts and carry on.  I hope this blog will continue to be the documentation of my self-exploration, my journey in circles.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

one year

Can't believe it's been a year since I first started shooting in DSLR and writing this blog.  I guess time moves much faster when you're passionate about certain things in life!

When I first started learning tennis, my instructor told me that people generally learn most at the beginning and then after you get better, improvements come in much smaller increments and that's when the real challenge begins.  I of course never became a real good tennis player, but I went through the learning curve and understand what he meant.

As I move on to the 2nd year of my photography study, I remember what it was like when I first started playing tennis.  Looking back this past year, I can see my skills improved noticeably.  I still take lots of crappy photos, but at least I kind of know what I am doing now.  But as I continue to learn more and be happy with what I've achieved, I should also remember that the real challenge is always ahead and the learning never ends.

Last week I was at the Cincinnati Art Museum for my new AAC Photojournalism course assignment.  This was my second visit and it's been 6 months since my first.  I am breaking the rule by showing 6 photos in this post because I want to celebrate my newbie achievement.  With this post, I can now pat myself in the back, be happy with what I've done so far, and look forward to many more years of learning!

October 20, 2012

 March 31, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

goodbye summer glories (part 3)

Life by the Ohio River is a wonderful experience and this river has gone through a lot if you look up its history on wikipedia.  I was at an Ohio River photography exhibition last week.  All the works were taken by Cincinnati Enquirer's photojournalists.  They are all inspiring works and make me even more sure that photography is not an art of the moment but an art of the collective moments from the past.  Only when a photo tells a story of the past, it strikes a chord in people's heart.

These photos were taken in the summer when my parents visited.  We were at Mt. Adams looking out to Kentucky.  It was a hot but beautiful day.

goodbye summer glories (part 2)

Cincinnati is a city with non-stop summer fireworks bonanzas.  I am grateful to be part of the excitements especially because I learned to shoot fireworks with my ancient Nikon D70!

First of all, you really should have a shutter remote (along with a tripod) when shooting fireworks because fireworks is spontaneous (for the viewers at least) and you don't know what you'll get until you see it.  Putting the camera on a timer is just simply crazy- and that's exactly how I did it.

Because my camera is old (8 years and counting) so buying a shutter remote is not a smart investment, especially knowing I will be upgrading my camera in the near future and it may not work on the new camera.  So it's my choice to live with the timer situation for now.

There's a minimum 2-second wait time for my timer so I needed to anticipate the fireworks and pressed the shutter beforehand.  This means taking fireworks was a hit-and-miss exercise for me.  I should be proud of what I got and not dwell on what I couldn't get.

I want to highlight the last photo here - it was taken at the Labor Day Riverfest, in the rain, with an umbrella, standing on top of the muddy Kentucky Newport levee, looking out to Cincinnati.  Not great work but it sure was a messy and interesting experience!

goodbye summer glories (part 1)

It's now mid-October and my last post was in June!  How time flies and sadly, summer is long gone...

I complained about the hot summer in Cincinnati and I'm sure I'll complain it again next summer.  But I know I'll miss the hot humid air more and more as the weather gets colder and colder.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

b&w to the rescue

Sometimes converting a photo to B&W is not entirely an intuitive and creative choice, but a reality.

My Nikon D70 is 8-years old and the ISO technology back then is nothing like the DSLRs today.  So when I photograph in low-night situations, I have no choice but to crank up the ISO setting and that just means the photos will end up with lots of unwanted noise.

The B&Ws here are the outcome of these situations.  I've spent a lot of post-processing time on these because the originals are just awful.  I was not happy with the color in the originals but I am quite happy with I was able to salvage by turning them into B&Ws.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


One of the things I've learned to photograph at art museums, is a more candid way in which viewers interact with the art works.  At the beginning, I have the tendency to capture people looking at arts and just accept what are being presented.  But now, I am more interested in how people and arts co-exist in the frame, more like equal partners.

These were taken at MOMA on a Free Friday Night.  Note to myself - Free Friday Night is a perfect time for people watching and photographing but definitely not a good time to enjoy arts quietly!