Friday, January 30

January 29, 2009

Alice, caught contemplating her oolong ice cream at Lung Shan Restaurant on Mission Street Food night. We didn't get there until almost 11:00, but the late hour meant we avoided the lines for some very tasty food.

January 28, 2009

This time I had much better results at my attempt to take food photos in low-lighting environments. The secret is to crank the aperture to it's biggest possible opening, increase the ISO, and hope that the shot comes out with minimal blur and noise. Thank you, Nooshin, for ordering such picturesque sushi! In the best coincidence of the day, I came home to find out that my roommate had dinner at another small sushi restaurant in Menlo Park only a block away from mine.

Wednesday, January 28

January 27, 2009

I've been feeling that my photos for the last few days have been too episodic, too focused on my everyday life and not enough on composition and artistry. I tried to get away from that with today's post by taking some time outside of my normal routine specifically for photography. I'm not saying that this photo is particularly artistic, but I do think it has a different feeling that the rest of my recent posts. I like the juxtaposition of the telephone wires and the tree branches, the gnarled chaos of one corner set against the straight parallelism of the other.

Monday, January 26

January 25, 2009

There were a lot of photos to choose from today -- brunch in Berkeley in honor of an ex-roommate's visit, the pi pie plate found in a computer science Ph.D. student's room (, and an ominous grey sky overlooking Jackie's defenseless U-Haul. In the end, it did more than rain -- it hailed!

January 24, 2009

My earlier post about my presence at Stanford Men's Basketball games was utterly and completely wrong. We lost to Oregon State by 15 points, and we were never closer than 5 points away from their lead. It was sad, but at least the LSJUMB kept their spirits up.

January 23, 2009

In honor of our many Restaurant Week excursions in DC, Sonia and I decided to catch up over a nice dinner at Campton Place in Union Square during San Francisco's Dine About Town. I had visions of all the great gourmet food photos I'd take, but the lighting did not cooperate and my photography skills were not up to the challenge. Luckily on the way back to her car we passed this poster. I thought it was a good way to end inauguration week and a fitting way to represent my last official day working on Monsters v. Aliens.

Thursday, January 22

January 22, 2009

Some would say that rain makes it hard to take photos. I actually think the opposite -- I like the way the gray dreariness of the day makes colors look brighter. The plan today was to take
photos of rain droplets on pine needles. This hibiscus proved a much better subject. I also got to play around with reflections in puddles. Maybe I'll post one of those on the next rainy day.

January 21, 2009

Big day! Lost was finally back on TV, and we would finally find out what happened to the island when it disappeared in a flash of white light way back in May. May! I'm not going to lie -- there was a lot of anticipation and a little bit of impatience built up. In keeping with last year's tradition, I suggested we go to Hahn's Hibachi for a pre-Lost meal. Once there, we proceeded to order what we always order: the dulcet bibimbap in all its sizzling goodness. Besides the return of Lost (finally!), we had other reasons to celebrate -- two Harvard Business School acceptances! It occurred to me only later that we had gone to Hahn's to celebrate the awarding of interviews for said business school. This begs the question: is Hahn's really a place to celebrate, or do we need to expand our restaurant repertoire? Either way, the dulcet bibimbap is always delcious.

Wednesday, January 21

January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day! I knew I was excited to have Bush out of office and Obama take his place in the White House, but it wasn't until I started tearing up during Obama's speech that I realized how much it really meant to me. I knew the day's photo had to be something patriotic. This flag and the light shining through was perfect.

January 19, 2009

The weather all weekend was absolutely beautiful -- sunny with bright blue skies. Since we were leaving at noon, we arrived at the slopes earlier than usual, and in addition to another gorgeous day, we were treated to pristine conditions. The crowds had been cut in half, and the snow had barely been touched. You could actually see the individual trails left by the few boarders and skiers that arrived before we did.

You can see the rest of my Tahoe photos here:

January 18, 2009

I saw this little girl dragging a miniature LL Bean sled as I was walking toward the ski lift for my first official day of snowboarding (the previous day was my learning day). Her and her dad were adorable, especially in this pose, so I whipped out my camera and took their photo. Only after I reviewed the photo did I realize that the reason they had stopped was so they could gawk at the fallen skier in front of them. Now I don't know if the photo is cute or disturbing.

January 17, 2009

I took this photo in the morning as people were getting ready for a day of skiing and boarding. Even though I have more scenic, stereotypical Tahoe shots taken throughout the day, this was my favorite. I don't know if Carina was zoning out or thinking hard, but I was glad to get her in this pose, in focus, and with the right amout of blur (bokeh to the photo people) to stand out from the background.

January 16, 2009

A group of friends and I rented a cabin at the Kirkwood Ski Resort for Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. This one was across the street from ours.

Thursday, January 15

January 15, 2009

I was waiting to get into a review room on the first floor this afternoon when the light shining through the tall grasses outside caught my attention. I liked the way it shimmered, making the weeds seem much more exciting than they normally are. After the review, I went outside and took a bunch of shots, playing with aperture, white balance, and exposure. Most of the photos came out great, with differing levels of gold, light, and intricate criss-crossing compositions. In one, a little puff of dandelion peeked out from the bottom. It's circular shape and white color juxtaposed nicely with the linear yellows of the grass. I cropped it closer and liked the result better than all the rest. I love how photos make us notice the little details we weren't aware of before.

Wednesday, January 14

January 14, 2009

I've been reading a book on photography by Bryan Peterson, trying to get some ideas for creative compositions and understand the mechanics of photography overall. He despises white balance. Absolutely hates it. He says he sets it to cloudy, increases the exposure by three levels, and never touches it again. I thought I'd try it out this morning when the intricacies of the bench and shadows attracted me from across the street. I'm not sure that I'm in complete agreement with Mr. Peterson, but the photos with his settings ultimately were more attractive than the ones with automatic white balance. Time for more tests ...

January 13, 2009

I took this photo after my swing dance class ended. After the structured 5-6-7-8 movements and rhythms of the class, the mass exodus to the sidelines is a jumbled chaos with people chatting, rehearsing the evening's lessons, and changing their shoes. Since the lighting was poor, I just put my camera on the floor and hit the shutter release. I think the resulting photo captured the feeling of the room well.

Tuesday, January 13

January 12, 2009

I stayed late at work, taking advantage of my working computer there to check email and edit some business school essays for a friend of mine. I hadn't taken any photos that day, and I was worried I wouldn't find anything interesting.

Then I walked outside. I noticed three things:

1. It was cold, but not overwhelmingly cold.
2. There was a VW Bug parked in the parking lot.
3. The moon was close to full.

It was the perfect time to practice night photography! I used my car as a tripod and a shirt to stabilize the camera and started clicking away. When I saw headlights approaching, I new it was my chance. It hit the shutter at exactly the right time so it it would look like the interior of the bug was illuminated from within. Very cool.

P.S. The photo looks much better when viewed either fullscreen or against a dark background.

Monday, January 12

January 11, 2009

My computer stopped working on Friday. It still wouldn't start on Saturday, so on Sunday I gave in and took it to the Apple store at the Stanford Shopping Centre, hoping they could perform some magic. They couldn't. The hard drive was dead, and I'd be lucky to retrieve anything on it. That's why I'm behind on my posts. No computer equals no blogging. Please be patient with my sporadic posting until I replace it!

The Stanford Shopping Centre is a beautiful outdoor mall, filled with children, flowers, and dogs. I brought along my new camera, hoping to get a feeling for how to focus with its very sensitive lens. I also wanted to see the effects of my warming and polarizing filters. I spent twenty minutes with poppies. Some were in full bloom. Some were just emerging. All of them were bursting with color and looked fantastic against the blue sky. Happy with my results, I headed to Starbucks to reward myself. Then I saw this man and his labradors. I thought, "This is the strangest definition of lap dog that I've ever seen!" and asked to take his photo. So much for the poppies!

When it came time to post, I was torn between this photo and one of a poppy about to bloom. The prickly green outside cut by a small swath of orange reminded me of an alien licking its lips. If you're curious, you can see it here:

January 10, 2009

I wasn't really in a photography mood, so I broke down and took the easy way out -- using our labradoodle, Murray, as my subject. The weather was nice, and he'd been pent up inside for most of the day, so I took him to the dog park around sunset.

Murray usually shows two sides of himself at the dog park. Some days he is very friendly and energetic, running around with the other dogs and winding himself around their owners in pursuit of pets and "whose a good dog" praise. Other days he's shy and prefers to play fetch and roll around in the grass by himself.

I like this photo because it looks like he's trying to decide which mood he's in. Should he approach the distant people? Or pick up the ball to his right and do his own thing? Looked at another way, he seems to be on the outside looking in, wanting to join the group, but not quite knowing how to insert himself.

January 9, 2009

2319 hosts its first house party of the year! As our house is usually freezing, we declared the theme to be "polar opposites" and allowed everyone to interpret as they wished. People came as their opposite selves, in pairs with opposite wardrobes, even bearing Palestinian pitas and Israeli beer as opposite foods. The drinks we supplied were opposite, too.

Thursday, January 8

January 8, 2009

Today is Shiyan's belated birthday!

Her actual birthday was twelve days ago, which would explain why when we surprised her with cupcakes from Sprinkles, she asked who they were for. Once we sang her a very off-key rendition of Happy Birthday, she understood what was going on.

Wednesday, January 7

January 7, 2009

Nothing says the end of the holidays like stuffed reindeer on clearance at Starbucks.

Tuesday, January 6

January 6, 2009

One of the hardest parts about winter for me is the lack of exposure to sunlight. I wake up in the dark, drive to work just as it's getting light, experience some fresh air walking through the parking lot, and that's about it. I might see sky out the windows (usually gray), but by the time I leave, it is dark again. The only upside is sometimes the emerging sunlight does great things with the sky. Like today. The gray and orange banding fronted by the delicate silhouettes of electric towers struck me as very picturesque in an urban way.

Monday, January 5

January 5, 2009

"Welcome to Dave's Elevator Bar. Can I get you some coffee with Kahlua or Bailey’s to ease you into your work week?"

Dave’s words float to me over the cheerful music uncharacteristic of PDI elevators as we begin our ascent to the second floor.

I thank him and decline with a smile. Only at DreamWorks Animation would you be offered unsolicited alcohol at 9:00 am.

I love my job.

January 4, 2009

Mel and I attend the our first in-conference Stanford Men's Basketball game of the season. The week before, we lost by 30 points to #14 Arizona State University. This time we trounced the University of Arizona by 16 points. Mel and I decide that it is our presence that tipped the ball in our favor (pun intended). I vow not to miss another home game.

January 3, 2009

While looking for something to do on Saturday night, the five of us wander into Melt on Emerson Street. What is inside is shocking -- a bar and lounge on the ground floor and a bar, DJ, and dance floor upstairs. It's crowded, but not overwhelming. The music is fun, and people are dancing. We exchange amazed looks. There is nightlife in Palo Alto!

Later on that night, my camera comes out and a nice person offers to take a photo of the group. For some reason I think it would be funny to put my glass on Vickie's head. Of course, I don't tell her this, and she tosses her head at the unexpected pressure right when the flash goes off. Which bring us to the day's photo. I love the still-sloshing liquid in my glass, the surprised look on Vickie's face and the streak of spilled lemon drop on her sweater, Alice playing peek-a-boo between Jackie and me, and the random intrusion of a hand anxious to help.

January 2, 2009

I got the idea for this blog late at night, right before I went to bed. I hadn't taken any photos, so I looked frantically around the room for a subject. My eyes hit briefly on the bulging suitcases I had been avoiding unpacking, but quickly discarded them because (a) they were decidedly unphotogenic and (b) taking photos of them meant acknowledging them. Then I saw the gnome. It had been a Christmas gift the year before, but I hadn't managed to take it outside to its natural garden habitat. Perfect. It could serve as a reminder to actually do the things I'd been meaning to do and help me test the quality of the zoom on my point and shoot. Plus, how can you not take a photo of a gnome so excited about reading that he gives you thumbs up?

January 1, 2009

Sunrise Over Lake Michigan

The sun rises on a new year. This isn't entirely true since this photo was taken in September a little over two years ago, but at least the sentiment is correct.

Why the blog?

Halfway through 2008, I bought a road bike. It wasn't the lightest or the fastest, but it was expensive enough. I thought I'd use it for leisurely rides on weekends, maybe bike to and from work, conserve gas and save money and exercise all at the same time. It was a good idea, but not one I implemented well -- so far I've ridden the bike maybe ten times.

At the end of 2008, I purchased a top of the line DSLR. The photo bug had hit late, but it hit hard. Then I was given a new digital point and shoot camera. This was an opportunity to master the medium and flex my inner artist. It was also an opportunity for my excitement to go down in flares of inertia, impatience, and frustration, leaving my new gadgets collecting dust on a shelf. That's not supposed to happen. It can't happen. That's where this blog comes in.

These pages will record my year as seen through my photos. Most will be taken that day and serve as a symbol of where I've been, what I've been thinking, or which photographic technique I've been practicing. If the shutterbug lies dormant, the photo will be old but fit the same criteria. All the photos will either be taken by me or feature me in some way. 365 posts later, voila! I'll end 2009 with greater photographic skill, the satisfaction of a good investment, and an engaging record of what I'm sure will be an excellent year.