Thursday, July 01, 2010

Engagement Photography: Stacy and Tush at Fort Point

I had a lot of fun shooting Tush and Stacy's engagement session. I think they did too. Instead of going for the traditional poses, which I wouldn't have done anyway, we opted to try for something that would suit their personalities and their relationship. You know what they say, give an Englishmen a soccer (football) ball and he'll...something. I actually don't know what they say. We shot as the sun came down by Fort Point in San Francisco. It was pretty windy, but they were good sports about it. The sacrifices we all have to make.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Landscape Photography: Barn in Meadows at Sunset

After the Finger Lakes, Tracy and I drove to her hometown, Millerton, an awesome two stop-light village just about 2 hours north of New York City. On our way to the Red Devon for dinner, we drove through the countryside and raced with the sun as it set. Along the way, we stopped by this old barn in a beautiful meadow to watch as the last light of day made way for the night. I got down to a low angle and shot through the flowers to capture a ground level view of the weather worn structure.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

People Photography: Perfect Lighting At The Finger Lakes

On the way back from our tasting at the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery over at Lake Keuka, we stopped along the water and chilled for a bit. Sometimes you have to go looking for the perfect shot and the perfect lighting, and check the local almanac for sunset and sunrise time (because everyone does that right?) and other times you just luck out on that perfect opportunity when all you wanted to do was stop to get a beer for the ride home. The weather worn dock, the deep blue water and the soft light just before dusk provided just that. I also had a willing subject at my disposal. What I really like about having good soft lighting is the way it brightens up the person's eyes. That and you can make me out in the reflection of Tracy's eyes lit up by the skies from behind.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vintage Photography: Hangar One Vodka VW Van

I took these shots outside the St. George Distillery in Alameda. We were the first one there, except for whoever left this van in the parking lot.

It's on my bucket list to own one of these babies and drive it around the country.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

People Photography: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

On our shoot, we came across an awesome location in Golden Gate Park with a pretty old looking door that provided a rustic contrast to what the girls were wearing.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

People Photography: Coffee Shop Reflection

I haven't posted in a while, so instead of bombarding you with a bunch of photos from a shoot this weekend, I'm going to milk it over several posts. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Motorcycle Photography: My '74 Honda CB-350F "Emma"

I just got Emma back from the shop after it was knocked down again. I wish I had a better spot to park her than on the streets. As I'm writing this post, a car is parked blocking a driveway with only like a foot to spare behind it and in front. Why are people so inconsiderate here in SF. It costs like $1000 each time the bike gets knocked down.

With the sun out yesterday, I went for a ride and then gave her a good cleaning and a nice coat of wax. It'll be nice to go for more rides this year after the April showers come and go.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

People Photography: Kaiser Half Marathon

Woke up to a beautiful Sunday and ran to the Kaiser Half Marathon. That's right. I ran to the race, not the race itself. Why? Because a half marathon is 12.1 miles more than 1 mile, which is 12.1 more miles than I wanted to run. Congrats to my lady friends for making me feel like less of a man that morning.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Travel Photography: Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

The gray skies and wet ground in San Francisco are bumming me out. Makes me think of how different the rain was in Costa Rica. Rain that made everything look a bit livelier and refreshed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Food Photography: Butter-Poached Lobster and Risotto

You really can't go wrong when 2 out of 3 words of a dish is butter and poached. Since I had a couple of nice live lobsters to play around with, I followed Thomas Keller's method of "steeping" a lobster in boiling for a couple of minutes and then stripping the meat out to be slowly cooked in butter. The lobster turned out really tender and flavorful, which only made it more difficult for me to just leave them alone in the pan while I worked with the butternut squash risotto and the Parmesan crisps to complete the dish. The aged balsamic turned out to be a surprise cutting right through the richness of the entire dish and refreshed my palate after each bite.

I saved the body and shells to make a lobster stock for the French Laundry Creamy Lobster Broth. That shall have to wait, since the process would take a few extra hours of simmering, crushing, straining, and more simmering. I made a leek and potato soup to substitute for the meal. Not the same, but hard to beat with the crappy SF weather at the moment.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Travel Photography: Adventures In Solitude

It's been only about a month, but Costa Rica seems like it was so long ago. The trip was amazing (My Travel Blog) and I came back with some new material for my portfolio that I really liked. I don't care much for a buildup, so I'll just show you my two favorite shots from the trip. I found that while I was accompanied by a friend or a stranger for most of my journey, the rainforests were so expansive and filled with the loud ambient sounds of nature that I often felt like I was walking through it alone. The two shots resonate with me the most because of how the subjects appear so isolated and frozen in time. The first shot of the bird was captured in the Monteverde Biological Reserve and the second was taken during a rainstorm as the water came flowing down the corrugated metal roof over the Sirena Ranger Station in Corcovado National Park.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kien Travels: Costa Rica

I'm currently traveling in Costa Rica so should be coming back with some pretty cool new additions to my photography. Though it means I can't post anything here, I'm currently posting travel logs on my Kien Travels Blog @ You can follow my adventure there. Pura Vida.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

People Photography: Candid Photography Tips

A number of my friends have recently started upgrading from their point and shoots to a DSLR so I thought I'd offer a few tips for taking nicer everyday shots. I always ask what people plan to do with the cameras and I usually hear that they want to take nicer photos when they are going out and traveling about. I interpret this as "I want to take better pictures of my girlfriend". That said, I'll gear my tips towards that end goal.

Tip 1: Learn the techniques. If you don't know the difference between f/1.8 and f/5.6 or why the camera is blinking EE and won't shoot, figure it out before you miss out on that awesome shot. It is not cool to fiddle with the camera while your girlfriend is looking pretty.

Tip 2: Stand back. Just far enough so that she forgets she momentarily forgets that she's being photographed but not too far that you are mistaken for a stalker. I shoot with a 80-200 f/2.8. Nice blurry background. Nice focused face.

Tip 3: Trigger a reaction. People get used to the camera pretty quickly as long as you don't come off creepy. Make her laugh, smile, pout, frown, or flash her pasties at you.

Tip 4: Take pictures of pretty people. I'm not insensitive, just experienced. Some people are more photogenic than others. If you have unattractive friends, suggest other activities you can do together like karaoke.

Tip 5: Avoid contrast. Your camera can't capture the same range of light that your eyes can see. The general rule is to avoid shooting someone in the shade with a bright sunny background. My general rule is to avoid taking pictures when people are squinting at the bright sun. The best time to generally take a photo is during the "golden hour" just before the sun sets since the light is very warm and soft.

Tip 6: Take lots of photos and keep only the best. You can only get better if you start to notice the small differences that make one shot better than another. It's just training your eyes to look for those little details the next time you are shooting.

Tip 7: Put the camera down. If you are constantly snapping, your girlfriend will get bored. And plus you'll be missing out on whatever you're supposed to be doing.

That's all for now. I'll say that always remembering Tip 4 and 5 will generally yield you the best results, but that's just me. If you've read up to this point, please share this wealth of knowledge with others. Digg it!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

iPhone Photography: SF MoMA Shadow Art

It's hit or miss with me when it comes to modern art, so it's nice to have free corporate membership allowing me to check it out every so often for new things that might catch my eyes.

Here I saw a art pieces that created these beautiful shadows on the wall from the strong lighting above it. Again, the camera on the iPhone had it's limitation, but I ended up with something that itself was a bit more abstract than a regular picture.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

iPhone Photography: Subject, Lighting and Framing

I'm excited about the new iPhone 3GS, mostly because the camera is now 3 megapixels (respectable), has a controllable focusing mechanism capable of shooting macros and can capture videos. People have complained about how the iPhone's camera is crappy and useless, but I've disagreed. It's certainly not going to match up to the quality of a Nikon SLR, but it's always going to be on me. I've captured quite a few shots on my iPhone that I wouldn't have otherwise just because I had my camera with me.

But beyond that obvious point, a good shot still comes down to good lighting, composition and a compelling subject, all things that any camera can capture at a basic level. While I don't ever convince anyone I'm a photographer by pointing an iPhone at something, I've seen people carry around lots of unnecessary equipment and still not get the shot. I've picked a few below to show what a little post-processing on my iPhone shots can produce.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Travel Photography: London In Gray

I miss London and a certain friend who doesn't have the time to talk to me anymore in her new city.

A shot of the Tower of London covered by an early morning fog and a shot of a storefront being worked on.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lease Agreement To Find The Perfect Roommate

Finding a roommate can be a daunting task. So you've interviewed a number of people. Some odder than others. You've struggled between the girl who's a kindergarten teacher by day and pin-up model by night, the yoga instructor, the sous-chef, and the hot blonde that could be your Carrie Underwood. You make your choice and you hope this person doesn't mind that you sing while on the loo because it helps. It is time to lay down the rules of the house without sounding anal and controlling. But what should actually be written down on paper and signed? I say everything. Here's my lease agreement I wrote up for my new roommate that you can use as a template.


RENTAL AGREEMENT: Commencing on the 1st of June, 2009, [Roommate's Name], Facebook member and recent graduate of The University of California, Berkeley, (hereinafter referred to as “Flatmate”), agrees to enter into an agreement on the 20th of May, 2009 (hereinafter referred to as the “Contract”) to pay to [Your Name], the greatest strategist and photographer of our time, (hereinafter referred to as “Lord of the Manor” or “Incumbent Flatmate” or “Other Flatmate”) the sum of [Rental Amount] per month on or around the beginning of each calendar month to share in the occupation of the apartment at [Your Address] (hereinafter referred to as “The Place”). Rent check shall be made out to [Your Name] and can be written in Black, Blue or Red ink. The usage of Green ink shall result in the unconditional voidance of the check. Exceptions will not be made. Please refer to the Webster’s Dictionary for clarification on the word “unconditional”.

TERM: The lease term follows a complex algorithm whereby the termination of the lease can be triggered at any time by the following in descending priority:
  • Death: The lease will be terminated upon removal of FLATMATE’s corpse, pale or otherwise.

  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me: A lack of it and utter and uber disregard for the other flatmate. This may include, but is not limited to walking into the restroom while the other person is poo-ing more than three (3) times in as many days or twice (2) in a period of 8 hours, taking a bite out of the person’s KFC 3 piece meal while said person is in the restroom and leaving only a post-it with a winky face.

  • Peeves: If the entirety of one flatmate becomes a pet peeve to the other flatmate, the lease shall be terminated upon a series of passive aggressive email exchanges with a minimum of 2 responses from each person following initial email, and a verbal tirade of mother insults and derogatory racial comments directed directly with eye contact towards the other flatmate despite both flatmates being of Asian descent.

  • C’est La Vie: The lease can be terminated via the employment of an argument about the merits of “just living life man” and that one shall not be “tied down to the rules of the society and the oppression by The Man” and that “its just time to see the world, you know, and like experience the awesomeness of it”. This will require at least a 30 day notice to the other flatmate out of courtesy and the binding constraints of the Contract.

  • In Other Words: It’s month to month, until it’s not.
SECURITY DEPOSIT: FLATMATE shall deposit a payment in the amount of as security collateral against the property should damage claims be made by the LANDLORD. This amount shall be returned upon the termination of the lease within 30 days.

UTILITIES: Utilities will be estimated and determined monthly, with exceptions, and shall include the use and services of Comcast Wi-Fi Internet Access, Comcast Digital Cable (Excluding Fee-Based On Demand Services and Pornography not included with internet access), PG&E and Garbage Disposal.

SUBLETTING: FLATMATE shall not be permitted to sublease her room because that would just be uncool.

CLOSET RENTAL: FLATMATE shall not be permitted to engage in the rental of the closet space despite its attractive value as a small room for someone who is not claustrophobic.

LATE CHARGE/BAD CHECKS: In the event of a bounced check or payment not received by the 5th day of each calendar month, the FLATMATE shall purchase dinner to turn the frown upside down that will surely be on the face of the Lord of the Manor. And then make out a check that will not bounce even if it requires capital support from the FLATMATE’s parents or a good friend willing to lend such money without worrying about the strain it will have on the friendship.

NOISE AND DISRUPTIVE ACTIVITIES: FLATMATE shall exercise restraint and consideration whenever necessary, using best judgment. This includes, but is not limited to, off-key karaoke singing in the living room, restroom, or any shared spaces, including standing at the bottom of the stairs, off-rhythm tap dancing, inappropriate bird calls, and unnecessary flatulence between the hours of 9 pm and 2 am, except on weekends.

PETS: One Pet shall be allowed until the existence of the Pet is discovered by the LANDLORD at which time the Pet must be donated, exterminated, left at the FLATMATE’s parent’s house or the FLATMATE must trigger the C’est La Vie termination clause and vacate the premises with a 30 day’s notice.

VISITORS: Visitors are allowed to stay overnight with advance notice to the other flatmate. Long term visitors are allowed on a case by case basis as long as the person is attractive or is not a douchebag. Please refer to for clarification on what the term “douchebag” covers.

HYGIENE: The facilities of The 404 are there to be used. Odors should only emanate from the restroom or the compost and trash bins. Tampons, wings, pads and other female hygiene products should be disposed of properly. Please remove of any hair that is no longer attached to one’s scalp from the floors, showers and other shared spaces.

ADDITIONAL TERMS: The basic rules of engagement shall be observed. That is: Respect, consideration and an avoidance of being petty and passive aggressive.

In Witness Whereof, the parties have caused these presents to be duly executed:

_______________ FLATMATE                      ____________ DATE

_______________ LORD OF THE MANOR     ____________ DATE

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Travel Photography: Arches National Park Climbing

Another National Park that I'd recommend visiting is Arches National Park in Utah near Moab. The place just feels prehistoric. It's also one of those places where you should visit sooner rather than later. Because the arches have been formed and worn away by the forces of nature over millions of years, some are quite fragile and can collapse at any time. Just a matter of time before gravity wins the fight. In fact, just about 2 months after I visited in June, Wall Arch collapsed. That's it. No more. To try to comprehend how something that's been there so long is destroyed in just a span of a few seconds. Unbelievable. One of things on earth that just makes you feel so small and insignificant.

On our first day, we went to see a few of the arches, but got distracted with the area by the Turret Arches. There was just so much to explore and climb. We got these shots in the late afternoon and then hurried to hike into the canyons before dark to find a place to make camp for the night.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Travel Photography: Las Vegas Desert Sunset

I took this shot years ago while driving back from Vegas with my first real camera, my Nikon FM-10. I smile when I look back at my earlier stuff and think about how little I knew about photography back then. It's also a nice little coincidence that I posted this today because just a couple of weeks prior to taking this little trip and finishing up my first semester of college, I had shaved my head at 3 am in a random act of why not. I have not shaved my head since then...until today.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Fashion Photography: Balance and Contrast

When I first saw the wall lined with photographs of made-up mannequins, I thought it was a bit disturbing, but more than that it was just visually very unnerving. At the same time, it had built in symmetry and lines that made me think that it could be a good background that would provide some contrast and balance with the beautiful models. This was my favorite image from the shoot mainly because of how much the model still stood out even against such a mix of striking figures. The youthfulness in her smile and her relaxed posture, to me, seemed louder (in a good way) than the faces and obviously so much more lively. That said, it's still an odd picture for me since it doesn't really resemble anything else I've shot. This could be a good thing though to allow myself to experiment a bit more and shoot outside of my comfort zone.