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Showing posts from 2011

Arena Stage Architectural

Shot the Arena Stage few days ago.  I have the deepest respect for both architecture and architects.  In some sense, I think photography and architecture are somewhat similar to each each other in the fact that we both have to be very familiar with technical knowledge along with artistic. I've met the Media Director Kirstin Franko of the Arena Stage, a while back while scouting for a photo shoot for the Design Army.  She was very helpful then and very helpful now when I wanted to shoot the theater for my portfolio. Canon 5d MK II, 24 3.5L TSE II This building has huge wooden pillars that sits up along the perimeter of the windows.  I find it interesting that in this building, you can't find too many right angles. The structure is mostly made out of concrete and glass but the addition of wooden posts and the lack of 90 degree angles give it more organic feel to such modern structure.  Canon 5d MKII, 24 3.5L TSE II Because of the wall of windows, the light plays a very imp

Shooting the Hay Adams Hotel with 2 guns.

I've had the privilege of shooting the Hay Adams Hotel in Washington DC.  I've shot a number of their "Author Series" in the past and I was hired to shoot some of their interiors recently. 24 3.5L TSE II, 5D MKII I love this hotel!  It was built around the turn of the century (1913 I think?) and it is just a wonderful place. It is considered to be one of the best hotels in the United states.  It has won many awards and their attention to detail is remarkable. One of the best asset to this hotel is the view.  How is the front lawn of the White House for a spactacular view?  No sudden moves, because the secret service guys on top of the roof will "take note" of you if you linger around too long with a lot of equipment. 50 1.2L, 5D MKII The suites are immaculate.  Plush bedding, steam pressed drapes, carved ceiling panels... Top notch.  24 3.5L TSE II, 5D MKII Used the Canon 24mm TSE for this project. Great lens. For this kind of work, you can't b

Childhood Memories... By Bessa R3M

I can't believe that I used to live here about 30 years ago.  Brunswick, a very small town on the border of Virginia and Maryland. Bessa R3M 40 1.4 MC Nokton. Kodak Portra 400 I was about 10 years old and my parents ran the only grocery store in the town.  After school I would go to the store and hang out and rummage around some old junk in the storage...  Old tin beer signs, big poster boards with items that was on sale and other junk that would only fascinate a 10 year old child who recently immigrated from a country he hardly knew himself. As I was deep in my mischief, I would always hear the horns of the freight trains that was less than a block away from the store. Me and my brother used to play around the tracks too. putting down coins or rocks on the tracks and hiding behind a bush before a big diesel locomotive would run by and smash it to a point where we couldn't find any traces of them after it was run over. Bessa R3M 40 1.4 MC Nokton. Kodak Portra 400 Its a

H St Festival

I was hired to cover the H St festival in Washington D.C.  It was a nice festival. hordes of crowd and food everywhere.  My assignment was not to cover the festival but to capture the interesting subjects that will be attending.  The look should be more realistic with natural lighting. It was cloudy most of the day so it created nice soft lighting.  It did drizzle a bit but that did not stop the crowd from enjoying the day. By the way, does anybody know when Pabst Blue Ribbon made a comeback?  Everybody was drinking that stuff at the festival!  In my days we only drank that stuff because we couldn't afford anything else...  Is it something like using outdated film for its coolness? 50 1.2L Canon 5dMK2  The challenge was to shoot these real people in a way so others in the festival would not be too recognizable.  The reason is since it can be used for commercial purposes, we needed model releases.  Can you imagine getting release for all the people if you shoot wide

Go Wide!

Got my hands on a 617 medium format panoramic camera. Its a Gaoersi 617 .  Its built like a Chinese tank! Not as pretty as Linhof 617 , but at 1/8th of the price do you really care? But the glass is German, Grandagon-N 90mm 6.8. Its interchangeable with most large format lenses using their 'cones'.  The camera is heavy, painfully slow to reload, and the viewfinder is not that accurate (its a 'ballpark' finder). Focusing is done by guessing the distance and turning the ring to the proper distance. You only get 4 shots per roll of 120.  So most of the time you're reloading the camera... Did I tell you that its a pain to reload? So noticing its poor handling characteristic of this camera, I thought it would be perfect for street photography.  Some would say I'm smoking crack. Your typical pano shooters are obsessed with getting things leveled, and they love their tripod. I could understand why. but I wanted to use this camera in a way I wanted to. Hand-held, l

Flagelacion in Mexico

When I spent some time in Mexico around year 2000, I had an opportunity to witness a very interesting religious ceremony.  Many people are familiar with the religious practice of flagellation.  This is where the participants whip themselves with steel studded cords usually on their own backs. This particular ceremony happened in Tzin Tzun Tzan, a small town near Morellia in the state of Michoacan Mexico.  The name of the town is not in Spanish and there are many people who still speak their indigenous native language. The idea of this self mutilation is based on 'giving penitence'. Also, some will say its an act of cleansing themselves of sin.  This type of ceremony of giving pain, or punishing themselves can be seen in many different cultures. Many will dismiss this kind of ceremony as 'barbaric' or 'ignorant'.  But after spending the entire night (it went on from around 11pm till 7am) I understood a bit more.  It was a bit uneasy photographing this event


I wanted to expand on scanning the 4x5 instant film negative bit further. I'm really excited about this because it offers such a distinct texture and color that it stands out in our world of sparkly clean digital images.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of clean digital imaging but I think there are more to imaging than trying to translate the light into clean digital files. I've noticed that film is catching on a new wave, especially from the younger generation.  The reason I think is the fact that they grew up in the digital age and film is something new to them.  For us older generation who have grown up in film, we see the digital imaging as something new. On top of that, digital imaging has improved so much in the last 5 years that the old argument digital vs film has become pointless, as far as 'quality' was concerned. But now, I'm questioning that idea of "quality".  Does quality mean more megapixels? more accuracy in color?... I think

Polaroid Negative?

I've been wanting to do color large format for awhile. When there were photo labs around the corner, it wasn't hard to do a E-6 process in a day or two. Now that process has gotten expensive and if you're doing sheet film, its even more pain. So my solution... Polaroid! well technically, it should be called "instant film" since Polaroid is trademarked term. I'm using  Fuji FP 100c45. But here's the twist. I wanted a different look. If I want true colors, I wouldn't bother with the cost of 2 bucks per shot.  I also was fascinated with some surface texture that I saw on polaroids.  I recently came across some sites that talks about turning a polaroid into negatives. Its true that Polariod years ago did have those positive/negative film, but they've discontinued all instant film a couple of years ago.   The process is simple. you take bleach and take off the black stuff on the part that you throw away.  Once the black part is off, you have a negati

School Bus

A night series that I did. Since I don't like to use tripod, I brought along my Zacuto camera support. This rig was made for video, but I like to use it when I have to shoot 30th or slower. Shot with Canon 5d MK2 and 50 1.2L.  The 1.2 really comes in handy in situations like this. I tried to not go over 1000 ISO because of the noise. I worked the colors to get more of a mood. Hand holding the camera allowed me to work the angles more freely. Click on the image to see the full series.