Monday, March 28, 2011


Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs (Tesla)
The individual image by itself looked boring to me so I lumped them into a collage and I thought I would call it art. I guess that would be arguable. At times, I observed that the less inspiring photos are a matter of perception. I think our minds anticipate certain things because that’s how we learn stuff. In my estimation, one’s mind is often tricked when one sees familiar things with an unexpected twist – then things begin to look more “interestingly” ___ (fill in the blank).

I must say that I’m almost ashamed to share this one although admittedly it does evoke a twisted satisfaction as I look at it. I have a weird brain. Too much caffeine in my blood. Too much medication. I’m reminded of one acquaintance telling me that you really know that you’re old when you start talking about your medications. But that’s another topic for later if you’re interested. The images in the collage reminds me of how we are being consumed by day-to-day urbanization. Perhaps, this is the price we pay for progress. Interestingly (at least for me), I find that the more progress we make the more we restrict ourselves. We end up giving away something more precious… that is freedom. Fortunately for some of us, we can distract ourselves with ___ (fill in the blank). In my case, perhaps it’s art.

Sorry for my silly banter. Hope you just enjoy the collage and whatever it represents for you.

Featured Comments:

I very much enjoyed the photo. And I share many of the thoughts you shared. To me, it seems that the more we "progress" we actually end up "regressing". Such a shame, we have such potential. But humans are weak and cheap and easily seduced and lazy. Until we all realize that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves I am afraid it will stay as it is. What a waste! We have so much compassion, love, generosity and other wonderful gifts but we cover them up with distractions. It's funny, because even in that it truly is very "easy" to love, to share, to bond. We have become complacent and self-centered and that's why we are where we are. I become very discouraged and heartbroken, and see that you do as well, but we must continue on, in love, in compassion, in the family that is humanity if only to be an example and a reminder of what is possible. Too deep?! See, this is why we get along so well. Thanks for sharing. --- p

Rat-on, sistuh :-)

yo! rat-on, rat-on!  --- rob

Looks like something the MOCA museum would display. I worked in downtown LA and Century City for several years as a Legal Secretary. Several times a year the streets where full of artwork. Now they have Dia De Los Muertos on the Boyle Heights Bridge near first and Boyle or is that Soto? Hmmm! I don’t know if you have had the privilege of visiting the new “In Place” of downtown LA or even Forever Cemetery in Hollywood in November. – Rachael

Very nice Rob – I like it. Signs – we see them everywhere and don’t really pay attention to them. Yes, we take a quick glance so that we might know what to do or where to go but we really don’t see them. But, in your collage - they stand out. I look at it and see 2 things – a pleasing, creative art piece and a reminder of all things man-made. Sometimes I look down a street and really look – I see all the telephone poles, wires, signs, buildings and see the ugliness of what we’ve created. That’s when I have to go somewhere to get away from it all – a walk in the canyon or Sedona! -- Sinde

Good Morning Rob! Great pic and great sentiment. I wholeheartedly agree with you that the more progress we make the more we restrict ourselves from what is important. I found it ironic that you lumped all the signs in together. I think it expresses our respect for signs. There are so many we hardly even notice them. They are just like blurs of colorful signs that we see every day and we don’t really pay close attention to their purpose. Ok, enough morning ramble for me, lol, and I haven’t even had any caffeine or medication :D -- R

I was sooo busy yesterday so had not time to check out my pic of the day. This one is cool….I like your angles. I hear what you are saying-signs, signs….I like the colors – very vivid…..hope you had a good day (yesterday)……..j

If ever I...

Panasonic DMC-LX3

I usually don't want to post images of floral as I feel that I could never get the look that I wanted.  Morever, there are countless of great floral shots out there that I feel mine would not match up.  I'm trying to change that mindset.  I know I should just shoot whatever I want and post stuff without necessitating any rationale for doing what I like to do.  It's a struggle as I tend to be obsessive-compulsive.  I always end up second-guessing myself.

Lately I have been forsaking my daily morning walk with Rose and Mimi.  Partly because I've become lazy.  Partly I've been getting up late in the morning that I don't have much time for it.  This morning I tried to break that habit.  It was so good to go out again and feel the morning breeze.  As usual, I brought my camera with me.  

On my walk today, I stumbled into this flower bed.  I shot the floral with my point and shoot that fell on a river (but I wouldn’t recommend you doing it.  When I got home, I had my usual ten cups of coffee…  By the time I was on my fifth I was ready for bourbon.  Then I thought perhaps today is different.  I decided to post this because I really like the way the picture came out.  I like how the daisies are glowing against the dark field.  

Tech notes:  I used Nik Viveza to selective brighten the floral and darken the background… if I have to pick only one plug-in it would be Viveza.


Panasonic DMC-LX3

Measuring a summer's day,
I only find it slips away to grey,
The hours, they bring me pain.

Tangerine, Tangerine,
Living relections from a dream;
I was her love, she was my queen,
And now a thousand years between.

Thinking how it used to be,
Does she still remember times like these?
To think of us again?
And I do. (Tangerine, Led Zeppelin)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cherishing the Reckless Joy

Canon 5d, Lensbaby

I was so much older than I'm younger then that now (mangled Dylan)

Remaking of a Movie Star

No, she's not Elizabeth Taylor.  But she does look like a movie star in those glory days of film noir.  My friend Rachel asked me if I wanted to retouch her mom's photo.  I told her that I've done it before and wouldn't mind giving it a try.  I have fun doing it, and I actually got paid. [Note to IRS:  Sorry, I'm not declaring this as income.]  Below is the original photo, which I also like because of the distress it endured.  Very vintage look.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wish you were here

Panasonic DMC-LX3
So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell? (Pink Floyd)

One of my fave Pink Floyd songs. I suppose it has nothing to do with the image… but I thought it would make a great title. In the meantime, Rob is still hibernating in the sunshine of his mind.

I think the reason the image works for me is the apparent contrast between the ominous clouds and the serene water.  In hindsight, I’m reminded of Rembrandt’s Jesus Calms the Storm… heh not that my art is in the same league… but in the way the approach was taken… “do you think you can tell, heaven from hell…

see RB to read what others are saying about this art

View the updated version here.  (July 9, 2011) 

. . .

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rendezvous in Blue

Canon Rebel 2000, Lensbaby

From time to time, I’ll play around with my analog cameras. On this one, the colors came out this way without any digital manipulation. Somebody told me that the photo lab’s equipment didn’t operate properly. I should thank the lab technician Leanne for unwittingly helping me create art.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cult of Personality - It's not art unless the experts say it

Canon 350d, Lensbaby

Quote of the day (iv)
1. It's not art unless the experts say it is; 2. negatives aren't actually worth much; 3. if you make a nice heartwarming story that follows an accepted sappy narrative familiar to the public, and attach a preposterous enough number to it, people will eat it up; and 4. we probably have a real problem with reporting in this country, since way too many news outlets are content to repeat appealing stories uncritically even though they're untrue.  [Mike, Two Lawsuits Settled, TOP]

Van Gogh never sold any art in his lifetime.  No, I take that back... he did sell one but he bought it back.  Poor Theo, he could not sell any of his brother's work.  The irony is that people would not have been understood or appreciated Van Gogh if his art had been keep in storage.  What bothers me is just because somebody said it's art we are suppose to agree.  Okay, perhaps Van Gogh is not a good example. Andy Warhol?  Cristo?  Are they art geniuses or just good in marketing their art?

Monday, March 21, 2011


Canon EOS 60d, EF 135mm L, 1.4x extender

Noche ...  Juanita
Donde esta?

Blue moon hot night

Canon EOS 60d, 135mm L, 1.4x extender

Last Saturday in SoCal was supposed to be a good time for capturing the moon.  I could never capture a decent moon shot.  Don't know but this is what I got.  Weird.


Canon EOS 60d, EF 135L, f2

Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one
(Three Dog Night)

Today is gorgeous after the rain. Every 8am, the birds visit my backyard. It’s almost like clockwork. So I set out to shoot birds but I think as soon as I went out all the birds went away. I ended up shooting this.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Canon EOS 60d, 50mm Carl Zeiss, Canon 580EXii

I’m a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to flash photgraphy (among other things). For the longest time, I resisted using the strobe because it seemed too complicated for this feeble brain. Just recently, I took a quantum leap and bought a Canon 580EXii. I now realized what I was missing.

Test shot with the help of Rose who was patient enough to hold my reflector during the photo op.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fractured Botanica

This is from my archive. I remembered it while thinking how to help our friends in Japan. I’m hoping to sell the artwork and donate the proceeds to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief. Also for a limited time, I’ll be donating all the profits from selling my other artwork to this cause. Please help. Go to RB to buy my artworks.  Cheers.

Addendum (Updated March 19, 2011):
One of the great things about shooting still life is that the subject doesn’t usually complain.

I shot this set a couple of years when I was learning to shoot with the Lensbaby.  More accurately, I shot it when I was learning how to even shoot with a DLSR.  I found this orchid in somebody else’s cube after almost everyone in the office were gone.  I took several shots and when I downloaded the image file in my PC, I found them to be mostly boring.  Never wanting to toss things away, I decided I could still use the botched shots and create a collage of the parts of each of the full image that I liked.  The process allowed me to piece things together and create an almost abstract art. 

Moral of the story:  Don’t toss away your botched shots.  You may just have some use for them later

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just trying to help Japan

For a limited time, I’ll be donating all the profits from selling my artwork to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief. Go to link for my portfolio. Please help.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Questions on Japan

Canon EOS 5d, 35 mm Carl Zeiss, ND filter, tripod

Why?  I'm thinking Japan.  Why did it happen to this country?  A culture praised for its patience and hard work, why?

I've read some angry blogs.  Some people are upset because they heard professed Christians attributing Japan's plight to its denial of the God of the Bible.  I have not heard nor read what these Christians are actually saying.  It could be that some angry people are imagining that Christians are judging the event.

It seems to me that whenever calamity happens, everyone becomes the victim.  May one be a believer or not, everybody is affected.  I think God isn't just dealing with Japan.  God isn't just dealing with non-believers.  God is also dealing with those who put their trust in him.  The question is not only "what have they done?" but "what are you going to do?"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Would you still love me?

Canon 350d (crappy rebel), EF 135mm L

If one morning you wake up, and saw me for who I really am, would you still love me?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Don't leave me

Sometimes to me the most interesting part of doing art is the process.  I know this sounds so post-modern.  But I am not saying that the process is the most important... just saying it is sometimes more fulfilling.  I think that the end results and the process are equally important.  I know that at times I tend to deliberate on things without regards to the end result.  I must be post-modern in my thinking.  But what is wrong with that?

I created the image above with the intention that I was going to process it to look the way it did.  I am very satisfied with the final outcome.  It was so close to what I have pre-visualized. Before shooting, what I saw was the budding leaves that were overshadowed by colorful bloom surrounding them.  The budding leaves have no chance to compete with their glory.  Yet, I identified with the leaves.  Insignificant to many yet at that one moment I felt like I connected. 

see comments in RB and Flickr

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quote of the Day (iii) - This is where I shot my baby

Canon EOS 5d, 35mm Carl Zeiss

"Black-and-white photography has a grammar of its own. Indeed, there is a certain poetry in black and white that color seems to lack. Consider the landscapes of Ansel Adams, Bruce Barnbaum, William Clift, Michael Smith or John Sexton. Now try to visualize any of their beautifully expressive black-and-white prints in the colors of nature. They didn’t see their pictures that way, and neither should we."  (Back to the Future, Jim Hughes, TOP)

Addendum (updated March 11, 2011):  Stripped of distracting colors, BW gets right to the core essence.  It’s like trying to remember something, and what remains of my memory is sublime essence of reality. Heh… the title was an afterthought… I was thinking of Neil Young’s Down By the River (I shot my baby) but this wasn’t a river… oh well.

Note the distracting elements on the colored version:

Tech notes:  Shot in Jpeg format at high noon contrary to conventional wisdom, Canon 5d, 35mm Carl Zeiss, f8, Graduated ND filter, long exposure, tripod, converted to BW using Silver Efex Pro

I think the gradient sky is the result of using the graduated ND filter. Believe it or not, this was shot at noon contrary to conventional wisdom. I think the noon day lighting filtered through gradient ND produced a pseudo film noir look. I was thinking how would Ingmar Bergman interpret this scene. Quite a challenge to think like Bergman because first I would have to experience massive nervous breakdowns and go through several divorces. I’ve not accomplished that yet.

see also Flickr

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who needs patience when one can get lucky?

Canon 5d, 35mm Carl Zeiss, f8, ND (0.6), Graduated ND, Jpeg

A seasoned photographer waiting for the perfect image knows when to click that shutter after sitting in the field for hours.  I am not that kind of photographer.  I don't have much patience.  This shot was captured not out of patience but out of my incessant need to do something else.  ADD, perhaps?  Taken from the fifth floor of the district building where I work.  It was probably about 5:45pm yesterday when I took it.  You could tell the time and the circumstance because I think most people leave around 5:20pm.  By 5:30pm (the official clock out time) the parking lot is nearly empty.  Anyway, I'm digressing.  I was tired of staring at the computer and fiddling with paper work, and I still have to stay a bit until I could clock out.  I figured I'd call it so I grab my camera and saw this view from the window.  Sometimes, the moment is there when you least expected.  Who needs patience when one can get lucky?  (And I don't even believe in luck.)  Heh.

Tech notes:  Canon 5d, 35mm Carl Zeiss, ND filter (0.6x), Graduated ND filter, f8, long exposure, camera flushed unto the glass window - hand-held with my nose acting as extra support.

Addendum (updated March 12, 2011).  If you've read this far, I recommend that you read more of my thoughts on this exercise at RB.  Cheers.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Or this is where I'm really at (we are not in Kansas anymore)

Panasonic DMC-LX-3, Canon PhotoStitch
Woke up this morning and went for my daily walk, and I noticed the place was strange. I then realized that I was on the wrong track… it was for the bikers. That explains why. And I thought I was just hallucinating.

On the other hand, maybe I was. David Lynch, anyone?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Where I'm at

Panasonic Dmc-lx3, Canon Photostitch

Taken this morning during our daily walk.  It felt like it was going to rain but it didn't.  It was a good weather to catch up with my garden work.  Now my legs and arms hurt after working for three hours.  I need Vicodin.  Heh... just kidding.  Actually, I could use a smoke... maybe pot.  Still kidding.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Q and A

I really like shooting candid images of people.  Hence I couldn't resist this.  They are really such cute couple: Pastor Quentin and Amanda. Hence the title "Q and A".  Taken at our recent church pot luck using the Canon 60d and the 135mmL at manual focus.  I think the composition works.  They are both smiling and unguarded.  Also, the general form is pleasing to the eye.  And the black and white treatment tends to give it a sense of timelessness.  But I would have wished Amanda's shot was more sharp.  Since I was shooting indoor without flash, I was forced to shoot wide open (my iso was already at 800)... I think f2.8 or wider.  At f8 Amanda's image would have been sharper as I manually focused on Quentin.  Perhaps I could have bracketed the focus and took the middle road, which would have been the average.  Q would be less sharp and A would be a bit sharp. Also I think the bokeh should have been more blur.  But this would exacerbate the shot.  My thoughts.  My afterthoughts. I'm hard on myself.  But overall, I still like the image.  I really like shooting candid images of people.  Did I just say that?  I have a strange mind.

Saturday, March 05, 2011


Maybe I should start a series on signs.  No?  Boring?  I'm always fascinated to read signs.  Maybe I just have an abnormal mind. 

I'm still enjoying the process on stitching multiple images  together.  This is one of them.  Shot this morning and stitched using Arcsoft Panorama Maker 4 (a freebie I got from purchasing my 60d).  I converted the stitched file to BW using Nik Color Efex and tweaked the background a bit to create an illusion of night shot.  Pretty cool tool.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Nobody's Fault But Mine

I decided to shoot in RAW format again for this very reason:  the file is malleable.  The image was shot in broad daylight and the background was originally green but in RAW it can be changed to black with ease.  Shot using my battle worn Panasonic point and shoot.  RAW file processed in Photoshop Elements.

Addendum (updated March 5, 2011):  Quite frankly, I thought this was a boring image.  I still do.  But I shared it to some friends at work and perhaps they were just being polite because all of them said they liked it.  I also posted it on Flickr and RedBubble and have received modest compliments.   Perhaps, it goes to show that what you like does not always coincide what people like.

What fascinated me about this image was the process.  Strictly speaking, light reflected on the bluish green background bounced on the plant's stem and some on the petals.  By converting the background to black, part of the plant that had the bluish green reflection also turned black. Other than that, I think the process becomes threadbare.  I guess I just get bored easily.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

How I turned my Point and Shoot Camera into a Monster

Click image to view large.
The day after the rain is one of favorite time to take outdoor photos as the sky is usually clear. Last Saturday was one of them. Taken using my battle worn Panasonic Point and Shoot compact camera on my way home from the morning walk with the wife and the dog.

The image is actually stitched from several shots. I think I shot 8 RAW images from left to right with the camera oriented in portrait mode. Downloaded the RAW images in the PC and converted them into TIFF without any corrections. Then I used a freebie software Arcsoft Panorama Maker 4 to stitch all the images into one composite. The Arcsoft seems to work just fine. If you look closely, you will find that the final stitched image has some aberrations but I’m pretty happy with it. I tried the Microsoft freeware and it sucks. Same with the Canon Photo Stitch. I really like the Helicon as it allows one to stitch RAW files but my trial period expired. Both the Arcsoft and the Microsoft can only stitch TIFF.

I applied some post processing in Photoshop Elements. My computer kept hanging up as the working file was more than 700mb. I kept rebooting but I think the final result was worth it. Hope you enjoy. Cheers.