bird

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Back in 2018, my cousin gifted me with his old film camera. It was unexpected but I am so grateful for it. It brought back many memories of when I first started in photography. At that time, there was no digital photography. Everything was on a negative film. But what had initially sparked my interest in photography was being able to go out with my friends and capturing portraits of them with my SLR camera, point and shoot, and even disposable cameras. It was just something fun for us to do and I used to love seeing pictures I took on my friend’s bedroom walls or lockers. So from that point on, everywhere I went, I had a camera on me.

Obviously with a “new camera” comes new adventures so when I got the film camera, I was excited to start experimenting with it. It’s been a while since I have used film so along the way, I’ve learned to take my time with composition and framing. I learned that each frame is precious and should not be taken for granted, especially since a roll is film is just 24 or 36 frames. Photograph the moments that really speak to you. And practice patience in creating and developing the images.

But omg, that sound of the shutter too! It instantly brought back so many memories.

So I thought it would be fun to go through some images that I’ve taken in the past year or so with my Canon T70 and 35-70mm lens. By the way, none of these images on this post have been edited. I may or may not edit them in the future, but for now, it’s just fun seeing the results of the film.

My first set of images were taken in August 2018. I brought it on a peach picking trip with me and it was really just to see if the camera was working if there were any light leaks and a refresher on how to use film. I’m sorry to say that I forgot what kind of film these were captured on. I tried going through my Amazon orders and I don’t see any film listed. It may have just been some old rolls of film my cousin had in his camera bag. Although it’s a little fuzzy, this roll of film got me excited to start shooting again.

Delaplane, Virginia August 2018

Nowadays, I find myself researching different kinds of film and cameras, just to see what’s out there. I love watching youtube videos of other photographers getting great images with their analog cameras. I have to admit though, it’s a little hard for me to capture film images. I have my digital camera which I love, but it’s hard to balance the time between my digital and film camera. I spend most of my time shooting on my digital camera because I’m so used to it that sometimes I’ll even forget that I have a film camera on me.

It has helped to go on photo outings that are dedicated to just film. I’ll leave my digital camera at home and I love the feeling of roaming with such light equipment. Since I don’t have additional lenses or equipment for my film camera, it has been a nice change of pace to just have one camera with one lens.

Kodak UltraMax 400: San Diego, California January 2019

Kodak UltraMax 400: San Diego, California January 2019

Expired Film

I am extremely grateful for my friend, Jim. He was my photography mentor when I interned at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum while I was in high school. We’ve been able to reconnect through social media which was really cool when we found each other! Last year, he was kind enough to give me a whole bunch of expired Portra film 400 and 800 rolls of film. It has been so fun to try to go through all the rolls. I’m nowhere near completing them, but to see how the expired film develops has been super interesting.

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A little more than a week after I returned from Taiwan, I was back on an airplane but this time to Florida. It was a quick weekend trip to celebrate my friends Taz and Fahim’s wedding vow renewal but that doesn’t mean I didn’t bring my camera with me. It was my first time in Destin, Florida and to be honest, it was a lot more scenic than I thought it would be. I never knew the beaches in the panhandle of Florida were so beautiful.

The entire wedding party stayed in a beach house right on the beach. It was so nice to wake up in the morning and walk right out onto the sand before anyone else in the house was awake. Maybe because it was the beginning of December but the beach here was so quite. You barely saw anyone else out so my photo subjects were birds until the rest of my friends woke up. LOL.

My camera settings for this image are F5.6 at 1/100th sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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Taken right after I captured this image, this bird was basically singing in my ear. I turned around and I could tell he was having a good time in the Smithsonian Gardens hopping from one branch to the next. So when he actually stopped to pose for the picture, I had to take it. He kind of sticks out but also kinda blends in with the background at the same time which I like.

By the way, why are all animals always “he”?

Along with the cherry blossoms, I always look forward to when the Magnolias bloom around the city. I don’t think they get enough credit because they are beautiful too. It seriously feels like you’re walking through a pink wonderland sometimes with how much blooms around the city. I love spring.

Anyways, hope you all have a great weekend. I’ll probably still be out taking pictures throughout. Even though peak bloom has passed for the magnolias and cherry blossoms, I also kind of like it when the flowers are falling off a bit. When the pedals are all over the grass and in the Tidal Basin water. Especially with the rain and hopefully wind, we’re getting today it should make for some interesting petal formations. I’m hoping the Tidal Basin and surrounding areas will look totally different.

That’s the thing about cherry blossom/magnolia/flower season, it’s just so hard to let go. LOL. It comes and go so quickly when all you want to do is just sit and appreciate them for a little while longer.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/80th sec and ISO 640 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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After doing a little bit of research, I found that one of the best places to practice flying your drone is in Fiesta Island in San Diego. It’s a wide open area with plenty of room to fly with not a lot of trees or anything to get in your way. It’s perfect. So one beautiful afternoon last week, I headed down there by myself to get some fly time in.

Overall, it was an awesome experience. It was my first time flying over water and the views were beautiful! However there are a few more things here that I have to look out for than I do flying back home. First of all, there are so many more birds here. It’s a little nerve wracking when a whole flock of them fly by. But I did get a pretty cool shot of them flying below the drone… youtube video coming soon 🙂

Second, the wind here is a huge factor. At one point my drone went a little bit too high in the sky and I honestly thought it was a goner. I hit the ‘return home’ function on the remote but it just went higher and further away. OH MAN were my hands shaking. I was so nervous about it drifting to the other side of the island or even hitting a bird or something and going straight down. Luckily, I was able to get it back and it’s all safe and sound.

So here’s one of the images I was able to capture while practicing. It’s a simple one of me sitting on the beach as a bird is flying by but I really enjoy the lines in the sand and the color of the water. Hopefully I’ll be able to fly more asap.

The settings for this image is F2.2 at 1/1100 of a second and ISO 100 with my DJI Mavic Pro.

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On my quest to take more cherry blossom images this year, I thought I’d leave this one for you for the weekend. This image was taken in 2012.  This is what the cherry blossoms should look like. Beautiful puffy white clouds along these delicate, windy branches. A glorious morning only shared by those who didn’t mind waking up before the sun. Ripples along the water created by a bird, a duck or slight gust of wind.

LOL I can’t keep a straight face anymore. I tried to be poetic. I’ll stop now.

Yea… So I took this in 2012, I have another version of this here but this one is a brand new one. I did not process it until now. The first time I processed the original image it was in HDR. For some reason it created all these unnecessary lines and colors along the branches called chromatic aberration. Trust me it is a pain in the B-U-T-T to get rid of. Man. I think it took me almost 3 days of fixing before I could get it just right for a client to print. So this version is vertical and it’s a little bit of a different point of view. The colors are definietly not as saturated but I much prefer this version. What about you? Which one do you prefer? Here’s the link again to the first one. 

If you’re wondering, I stopped processing my images using HDR a while ago. I just realized I was spending all this unnecessary time processing and editing that I didn’t have to be. I am really enjoying my workflow now which is only photoshop. Nothing else. If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out my video here.

Have a great weekend everyone. May the flowers be dancing above your head like the cherry blossoms in 2012 were. LOL.