Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Empty Seat


You sit down for dinner on a Friday night at your favorite restaurant, and you begin to look through the menu that you know by heart. The waiter comes by to ask if you are ready, and the answer, of course, is that you need a bit more time. You decide on what you want and you put the menu down, waiting for the waiter to return. But as you wait, you begin to look around. You see the couples and the families happily eating together and talking about what families talk about.  Then you become painfully aware of the empty chair across from you and the untouched wine glass. As you wait for the waiter you realize that he is not the one you are truly waiting for.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Watch-The Time Pass

As we read a watch, we read the results of gears and motors, constantly turning without purpose.  We read the calculations of the watchmaker. We read humanity's observations that the sun rises and sets with relative consistency. The time of numbers and clocks is the meaningless creation of man. Dates, concerts, dances, sports games, and experiences are timeless. They are not bound by the limitations we created. These limitations that schedule our lives control only one thing: ourselves.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CameraPhone: Be

"Be" is such a powerful word. Be who you want to be. Be a star. Be more than you ever thought you could be. But you can't just "Be". You also have to act. You have to make the changes first. Start "doing" so you can start "being".

Unnamed Landscape

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Photography, Video and Video Journalism"

As I take photos and maintain this blog, I try to regularly look at the photographs of other photographers on other blogs. Doing so helps me gives me insight into my own life and my own photography, giving me new ways to be creative with how I compose photos, or what I aim for them to mean. So many of my photos have little or no meaning to me, but the photographs on the New York Times blog called Lens always speak a thousand words. As new photos are posted each day or every few days, I always feel like I am experiencing the moments shown with the subjects of the photos themselves. These photographers capture emotion, movement, catastrophe, and everyday life. Each album has something to say, but it doesn't require words to say it. The subtitle of the blog is "Photography, Video and Video Journalism" for good reasons. It combines the three mediums into a powerful mixture that goes beyond the power of any one form. Lens is a diary of the people of the world.  I give you the challenge that I gave myself; find meaning for your photos! Don't take photographs simply to capture the beauty(or ugliness) if our world. Take photographs to hold on to the significance of those images, and to give that significance a new light.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It Doesn't Take Greatness...

...To Make Something Great. In a recent article on,  Hugh Hart discussed a new phenomenon in which videographers are beginning to use video-capable DSLRs as an alternative to professional video cameras that often cost ten times as much as a DSLR. DSLRs have been used for several professional short films, portions of Black Swan, and a whole season of House M.D.  The main two cameras mentioned are the Canon 5D($2500) and the Canon 7D($1500), both of which support FullHD video recording at 30 fps. Although they lack the sensor quality of more expensive cameras, mid range DSLRs as low as $500 can be used for high definition filmmaking. See the video below for a short film shot with a Canon 5D.

"The Last 3 Minutes" Directed by Po Chan from Shane Hurlbut, ASC on Vimeo.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Look into Infinity

What does it feel like to look into infinity? Can we truly comprehend what we see, or do we only see a snapshot? As we wake up each day and live our lives, we have to always take in so much information, especially from the media. We are constantly being bombarded by images, sounds, and smells. Maybe the peace that we are looking for in our lives is actually in the snapshots of every moment we live through every day.

Fresh Snow Silence

Witnessing a snowy Sunday on a University campus is unlike anything else. Everything is peaceful and quiet; nothing around besides the occasional snowplow. The joy of a snowy day comes with how we experience it. While we might be sharply in tune with the bitter cold, it is so easy to lose ourselves in the beauty of the world around us; something that may only become apparent with a fresh snow.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gizmodo Video Challenge

Gizmodo, a popular blog for technology, science, and random other life stuff, hosts a weekly shooting challenge for its readers. These challenges often last about 5 days, during which people can submit photos that fall under the category for that week. In the past, some of the shooting challenge categories have been 3D photos, high dynamic range photos, family portraits, and photos taken with the lens off. Today, Gizmodo introduced its very first Video Challenge. Despite its name, however, it does not require the use of a video camera. The challenge announced today is to make a time lapse video, involving a series of photos spanning anywhere from several hours to several years being strung together in a video to create the illusion of time passing. Readers interested in taking on this challenge have approximately 1 month to make the video and submit it to Gizmodo. The web page for the contest describes more specific rules for the contest, and it also gives tips and examples for producing such a video.  Time lapse videos can show anything from construction to grass growing. Now feast your eyes upon the following example, created by Henry Jun Wah Lee.

Joshua Tree Under the Milky Way from Henry Jun Wah Lee on Vimeo.

Friday, January 7, 2011

There's More Than One Way to Stop Time...

When taking a photograph, we must consider the setting as well as what we want the photo to look like. At times we may want a blurry, out-of-focus photo, while at other times we may want a photo to be sharp and in-focus. Using a slower shutter speed would reduce the sharpness of the photo because it would give more time for camera movement to affect the image. However, using such a shutter speed also allows a photographer to capture a scene over time, creating a sense of motion in a photograph. On the other hand, a fast shutter speed can freeze objects in motion, as in the photo below.
This photo was taken using a 1/60th of a second exposure combined with a flash to light up the subject.  The key to freezing the motion is limiting the amount of light exposed to the camera sensor, or a piece of film. If the amount of time of exposure can be controlled on a camera, then this effect can be achieved. Usually, the flash on a camera has to be able to sync with the shutter speed being taken, but built-in flash units are typically unable to sync with shutter speeds of approximately 1/250th of a second. As shutter speed is increased, light exposes the sensor for less and less amount of time.  Indoors, shutter speeds anywhere near 1/250th of a second will create dark photos.  Nevertheless, there are occasions in which motion is too fast to even be captured by a 1/250th second exposure, such as a falling droplet of water or a bullet speeding through the air.  In order to capture these moments, many photographers use a technique, which was popularized by Harold Edgerton, in which a 2 second exposure is used in a completely dark room.  An external flash unit with is connected to the camera, and triggered during the 2 second exposure at the precise time at which the object passes by. This essentially simulates taking a photo using a shutter speed faster than 1/250th of a second, but this also keeps the object lit and captured mid-motion, as shown in the photos below. 

In these photos, I am using a setup that is detailed at The company sells a pre-made kit to help make photos such as these and many more, but you can also make a kit yourself for far less! All it takes is a camera with shutter speed controls, an old external flash unit, a hotshoe adapter, an Arduino microcontroller, and the external sensors for the type of photo that you wish to take. All of the necessary supplies(besides the camera) can be purchased for a grand total of less than $50. It is a great way to branch out in your photography and learn more about how photography works at the same time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Matter of Perspective

How does it feel to be on the other side of a camera lens? As I look through the viewfinder to watch the world, the world watches back. When we see a shooting on the news, we may try to empathize with the individuals on the barrel-end of the gun, but do we ever stop to consider the perspective of the man pulling the trigger? As humans, we lack perspective beyond our own, for no one can ever fully understand another until he walks a day in the other man's shoes, as the saying goes. So how can we broaden our perspective? Disagreements, battles, and wars all start from a lack of perspective. It is the lack of understanding and empathy that results in irreconcilable differences between people. The only way to bridge this gap of ignorance is communication, and I have chosen my medium. Though undeniably inadequate, photography creates a gateway into the lives of the subjects of photos taken, as well as into the life of the photographer. Other forms of communication are necessary to breach through the pit of indifference, but photos encourage us to seek meaning and understanding beyond that which is apparent. Photography gives us a chance for awareness. A chance for empathy. A raw perspective, exposed to the world and for the world.

About Me

My photo
I am a sophomore in college, studying Biochemistry and math, but I am a pilgrim for knowledge. I seek neither greatness nor acknowledgment, but rather to experience and understand the complex world of ours. My desire for this experiential journey of mine is to gain knowledge and wisdom and, more importantly, to form strong bonds of friendship with the individuals around me. This journey began in December of 2008, when a friend of mine died at the age of 17. In his short life, he had changed lives in ways that I never have done. I was struck by the beauty of the life that had been lost, and I made a promise that day to reach out to people around me; to live a life not wasted. My eyes were opened. My life was changed. My journey had begun.