I'm so glad you found me! I'm a San Francisco photographer, and this blog charts my journey in the ever-evolving world of photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm constantly learning and meeting wonderful people. Please peruse the blog to your heart's content, then check out my website and feel free to contact me! (I love hearing from you.)

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

Alamo Square

A classic San Francisco shot, I couldn't help taking this as the light was just so good.

I'm undecided about that light splotch in the middle, I could have fixed it in Lightroom, but I decided it gave the photo a bit of quirkiness.

Also, a great time-lapse video of Vancouver: the clouds are amazing!

And I'm jonesing for some of these brownies, right now.

And if you have a couple of hours to burn, check out Syl Arena's roundup of videos about great photographers. I've only managed to watch the Richard Avedon videos so far, but I'm looking forward to fitting in the rest.

Life and Death

Saw this cigarette butt on the ground amidst some moss, and I appreciated the contrast.


Focal length: 100mm
Aperture: f/5
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 200

The internet is abuzz about the iPad, and I have a few thoughts.

#1 - I want it. It's beautiful! Can you imagine handing the iPad to someone to show off your images? (Just so long as they don't drop it.)

#2 - If I have an iPhone, what else will it do for me? Seems like aside from being bigger, the functionality isn't that different. I'd feel silly carrying both, but probably not silly enough to stop me from doing it, if I could get my hands on one. Which is unlikely to happen any time soon. (So back to thought #1, I want one . . .)

#3 - What would portable technology look like without Apple? I ask this as a PC user, but an iPhone owner. A lot less attractive, and a lot more gray plastic, I think.

Anyway, back to the picture at hand, which I think would look excellent on an iPad. I've been pushing myself recently to shoot at longer focal lengths, as I got really comfortable in Thailand with 50mm and wider. And although sometimes it's a bit tough not to throw my 50mm on the camera, I've been enjoying the exercise. I love the depth of field here, that's for sure. And I've been having fun playing with compression.

Mist at Elephant Falls

I shot this back in November at the Elephant Falls in Dalat, Vietnam.

San Francisco


It's been raining a lot here recently, and while I absolutely should be going out and braving the weather to shoot in the rain . . . well, I haven't. I've been a bit of a wuss. And so I fall back on familiar subjects, the most photogenic and easily accessible of whom is the cat, whether she is directing a kill stare from her throne or hiding among the blankets.

I cropped her square because she is anything but.

Plus, sorry for the little blogging hiatus these past few days. I just started a new job, and decided that when push came to shove, the blog was less important than the other things going on in my life at the moment. Also, the rain, and a bit of lack of creative spark. But I didn't forget you, and I didn't abandon you. I'll be here again tomorrow.

See you then!

Snow Portrait

This one's from a couple of months ago, but it's so much fun that I just had to post it. My mom and her boyfriend are just so cute together!


I have this cheap fisheye lens that I can screw onto my kit lens, and I wondered recently why I never used it. So I decided it must be experienced!

And I realized why I never use it, it's terrible. The image is completely soft anywhere but the center, and the chromatic aberrations have to be seen to be believed (I worked really hard in Lightroom to get rid of them here). All reasons I can't wait to get rid of it and potentially pick up the Lensbaby fisheye optic, hoping that it performs a little better.

Still, there's something to be said for even a failed experiment. And I do like the experience of shooting with a fisheye, even if coming home and reviewing the images from this one was a bit of a letdown. As I recall, I paid less than $40 for it, so I really can't complain.

Neighborhood Cat

Baleful stare. Cats are good at that.


I wish these were ride-able, but, alas.


I have no idea what happened to these chairs. Perhaps someone thought some drugs were stashed inside and took a knife to them? Or perhaps a whole herd of scratching cats?

Regardless, I kind of get why they're out on the street.


It always makes me believe the cones more when they are struggling to stay upright themselves.

Plus if you haven't seen The Third and the Seventh, you should go watch it now. I wish I could do with my camera what this guy can do with CGI.

Kao San Road

A view from a couple months ago, of Kao San Road in Bangkok (the backpacker's area, although it's also so much more than that).

I just love the way that this photo encapsulates what it's all about: spectacle, bright lights, and then this meeting of many cultures through nightlife. If you get a chance, stop by. It's an area that's definitely worth checking out.


If this bird can survive in San Francisco with only one leg, what are we all doing with our two legs?


I went out walking because I wanted to capture some of the wonderful slanty San Francisco afternoon light. It's like butttah, people. Yellow, directional, not too bright. It's gorgeous. And because I live in the heart of the downtown, this light goes away at about 4 pm. The tall buildings around me simply swallow it up.

Now, I didn't know what I wanted to shoot, but I knew this light was the key. And I knew I wanted it as a backlight. I saw it in the park, behind these trees, and I stopped down to f/16 to get those rays of light nice and defined (did you know that's how you do that? You won't see the rays of light at a small aperture number), and took the shot just as the man was between those two trees.

And I love that shot. Love it. I love the light, where the man is, the green, the nice halo the trees are getting, everything!

But I knew I had to try to make a sunstar. It was perfect light for sunstars, and I've been not so satisfied with my efforts to date.
Quick and dirty recipe for sunstars:

Step 1: Find some slanty morning or afternoon light. You need the sun pretty low in the sky. Winter is perfect for this, the farther north you live, the better. (Part of why sunstars were difficult in Thailand - but no excuses here!)

Step 2: Point your camera toward the light. You need the sun in the frame. It's that simple. No sunstar without the sun.

Step 3: Stop down like you mean it. At least f/22. I tried this at f/16, and no dice. (I'm talking about aperture, folks. Bring that aperture number up. Make the hole your camera gets light through as small as possible. This has some downsides, but that's a subject for a different post.) If you're using a point and shoot, the highest aperture your camera has, maybe f/8 or f/11. Set your shutter speed and ISO so that you get a proper exposure, and can hand hold the camera if that's what you're doing.

Step 4: Partially obscure the sun. This is the important step. It's not going to work if you don't do this. Use a building (or a tree, like I did), and get rid of most of the orb of the sun. Why? Don't ask me. That's a topic for a different post as well. Maybe written by someone else.

Step 5: Take a picture! You know how to do that, right? Mash your finger down on the big button on top of your camera.

Step 6: Go have a beer. You've worked hard, you deserve it. (Note: this step is not essential, but it makes the whole process a lot more fun!)

If you have any great sunstar images, please link to them in the comments. And let me know, which of the above images do you like better? I think I'm leaning toward the first one, even though the sun isn't in the frame.

Jason D. Moore Guest Post

I'm guest posting over at Jason D. Moore's blog today.

Here's the link, come see what's cooking.

And you might want to stay a while and look around. He's got a pretty great blog, chock full of photography and Photoshop info, and some contests you can enter.

Guest Photographer at World's Best Photography Blog

I'm over at World's Best Photography Blog today (don't worry, the name is a bit tongue in cheek). Come check me out!


Take some time, lie down on the grass today. Literally, if you can, or figuratively if you have no grass available. Spend ten minutes where all you do is look up at the sky and find the shapes in clouds. Or let your thoughts wander.

It's Sunday, you deserve a break.

Coot, and a Few Links

(Shot in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. There are a lot of coots there, not all of them birds.)

Tabbed browsing (where you can have more than one page open in one browser window) is both a blessing and a curse. I love the freedom of opening a page in a new tab: I can go back and look at it later, and it doesn't interrupt what I'm looking at now.


Then I'm left with 800 tabs that I have opened and therefore have to get through. Some of them are links I'd like to share with you, so I keep them open until I write a post. It can get a bit hairy.

So, in the spirit of getting rid of some of those tabs, here are some links for you, stuff that I found interesting. Feel free to click on them all or ignore them all. Free choice. No one's forcing you to click on anything.

In the spirit of New Year's Resolutions, whether you made any or not, Mostly Lisa has created a list of Ten New Years Resolutions Every Photographer Should Make. I think they are great ideas, no matter what time of the year it is. If you're looking for bigger projects (and longer lists) Christina Dickson over at Digital Photography School has written down 30 Photographic Goals for 2010. Now, I won't get to all 30, but there are certainly some great ideas in there.

For some powerful black and white animal photography, I recommend taking a look at Dark Zoo over at Photography Served. I especially like the ones of the giraffes.

A beautiful example of what can be done with stop motion video, Notte Sento was shot in Rome, and is composed of over 4500 photographs. It's beautiful. You should go watch it.

And, last but not least, need some help with those resolutions? (Assuming you made any.) Check out Zen To Done.

That's it for today, see you tomorrow! Hope you're enjoying your Saturday.

Some Thoughts About Resolutions

A couple of days ago I posted about my resolutions for 2010. And I mentioned that I never used to make any, because I was afraid I wouldn't keep them.

There are a lot of things in my life that are like that. Things I don't do, or don't try, because I'm afraid things won't work out as I'd like them to. And really, that's just a waste of time.

If I don't try, then for sure I won't succeed. If I do try, and I fail, so what? I'm in the same place. If I succeed, then I'm ahead. I only lose out if I don't try in the first place.

The first day of the new year is a good excuse to stretch ourselves, and try. Try things we otherwise might not.

Because really, what have you got to lose?


Resolutions for the New Year

I used to never make resolutions because I was afraid I wouldn't keep them.

If it was important enough to make a promise to myself, then why couldn't I do it on any other day of the year? Why the first, specifically? But since I've procrastinated as usual, and here it's the 5th already, I feel like this is prime time for resolution making. And since I'm making them public, I'll have you all to hold me accountable.

I have two kinds of resolutions, photography related and life related.

Life Related (these are more important, although it's hard to remember that, sometimes).

Consume less. And, consume consumables. I don't want to surround myself with things. Living in a small apartment is teaching me about how much junk I really have. I want my extra money (when it comes around, if it does) to go to new experiences: travel, education, even going out to restaurants or concerts. For me, this is a difficult resolution.

Give more. To people on the street, to my friends, to charities or causes I believe in . . . do more favors. Be more available to help.

Enjoy. The little things. Good meals. Walks in the park. Listening to great music.

Photography Related

Shoot More Portraits. I love taking pictures of people, but often I am just too shy about actually doing it.

Get Paid. I'd like to make this photography thing a bit more lucrative, if only to justify my obsession by turning it into a useful skill. Know anyone in the SF Bay Area who needs some photos taken?

Increase my percentage of keepers. I want to go out shooting more, but come back with fewer photos. There are times now when I take a photo and I know it's not going to be good, as I press the shutter button. I want to be able to stop myself from taking that shot, and go and search out a better shot. Plus, my hard drives are filling up with photos at an alarming pace!

Print more. What good are my images if they never get off the computer? I've got plenty of wall space that's just calling my name!

What about you? What are your resolutions? Did you make any?


I was playing with 8x10 crops yesterday, and I realized that, although I love the 3x2 ratio, I'm a little tired of it. I've been influenced by all these photographers who say they never crop their work, and I've been working on perfecting my image in camera, but what if I don't want a 3x2 image?

And I like this photo just as much if not more, with a little bit off either side. I think I might shoot with this crop in mind for the next few days, see which subjects work for it, which don't.

For your reference, here's the 3x2 image. I took this shot in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in a temple. These are clay roof tiles. Which crop do you prefer?


Another photo from the snow. Two ways of processing it, which do you like better? I'm leaning toward the first, because the second one hurts my eyes a little. Not sure that the first one is interesting enough, though.

Brian and Cynthia, Married!

The thing I love most about Brian and Cynthia is their quiet, unwavering appreciation for each other. It imbued everything in their wedding, leading up to it and during it I never saw either one of them less than smiling and happy. It was truly special to see them together.

Brian and Cynthia, I wish you the best in your future together, I am sure it will be great!

I wish this shot were sharper, I just think the expression on her face is so beautiful.

Making it legal, :).

Isn't she gorgeous?

The image below was taken by Evan.

The image below was taken by Evan.

Thanks for a great time, guys. Hope to see you again soon!