Saturday, April 30, 2011

Uncle Norm's Interview!!

I worked on this interview all week long.  The editing format from this interview is motivated by Screen Tests videos of the New York Times. I first edited the clips in chronological order and showed it to uncle Norm himself. Norman suggested that I try shuffling the clips in more random order, and we both think it's so much more better. Much more rhythm and energy. I made the title page with After Effects. It's not as sophisticated as I'd like it to be, but, hey, that's all I know how to do so far. As far as the shoot, it was a simple three point lighting set up with my new ghetto video lights.

This week especially, I've been focusing on focusing and enhancing creativity. Creativity is a weird thing because the way it manifests seems totally random. I think I've been an artistic minded person all my life, but it's this week that I am becoming somewhat obsessed with creating a environment where creativity can thrive.
To me this means clearing away a lot of life clutter; Internet, stupid tv, clothes on floor...
and instead increasing my ability to focus like when I was in junior high or high school.  Hope to post more on creativity as I work.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Interview with the Uncle Norm: A Teaser

This is a kind of test interview I did with playwright Norman Bert using my new video lights. I think it came out nicely but I see a lot of image quality loss when uploading to You Tube. The full version is going to be released in a couple more days, I'm working on the bells and whistles in After Effects.

This interview is about 7 minutes long and this clip is just a teaser.  I tried to include stuff about Norman that people might want to know about (but then again, they might not).

stay tuned for more!

Friday, April 22, 2011


my clean desktop. doesn't is look nice?

My pictures would be better if ----

Chase Jarvis thew this idea on the table.  My answer to the blank is " if I had more focus."
Focus has been a huge problem for me since I got my great imac. It's so wonderful and fast to use, I'm here all the time. Back in the day when I knew no Internet, I  always read actual books all the time.
Norman has great focusing abilities. Maybe because he's not a product of the Internet generation ??
I see myself as a geranium that hasn't been deadheaded for a long time. If a geranium isn't deadheaded properly, all the energy leaks out to the various stems and makes it hard for the plant to blossom well.
Since all my energy goes to compulsively checking updates on facebook, yahoo mail, and NYT style section, I feel like I have hardly any energy left to be creative.

So I'm going on an information cleanse. I'll try to check my emails and facebook only 4 times a day.10:00, 2:00, 5:00, 9:00. I'm also going to clean out my work area and hard disc real good. I cleaned off my desktop today. Doesn't it look peaceful?

Then I'm going to focus in intervals; my plan is to do 40 minutes focus/ 20 min rest. I think I can do that.

Did I come up with all these great ideas on my own? No. You can down load a free pdf. at Zen called Focus. It had exactly the tips I needed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a little springy

I started two new things since my last post. I started reading a blog called Zen Habits and I started to take 30 minute walks in the morning.  
According to this blog, solitude is a key ingredient to creativity. I think I'm quite a loner myself, but still decided to walk around the hood for 30 minutes. The goal for me is not for calorie burn or even health, but just to free the mind and get away from distractions.
During my walk, I came across this little bundle of flowers growing out of a crack right in the middle of some one's driveway. It seemed hopeful and inspirational. Isn't it cute?
Aside from creativity, I like these walks because it just feels good.
I guess I'll find out if it helps with creativity or not.

Monday, April 18, 2011


So, I think I'm in a creative rut; All my pending projects are out the way. While I finally got accepted as a istockphoto contributor, my latest submission got rejected. I'm still waiting for my video lights to get here. I discovered that using an off-camera flash is much more complicated than I thought and will require at least the same amount of time and effort it took for me to get camera basics. Feels overwhelming. I also need wireless triggers to use my flash and they cost over $300. I'm also tired of always figuring out everything by myself.

More importantly...

I ran out of ideas. Don't know what to shoot, be it still or motion.

I could whip-up another photoshoot, but I wanted to do something that is perhaps a bit more thought out.

I think I ought to do a light project. Maybe follow a theme?

Hopefully my rut will be an opportunity to try something new. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flash 101 with LP 160

test shot with lp 160:can't say I know how to use it yet. at least the flash provided illumination in this windowless bathroom.  f/6.3, iso 160, 1/160, my subject was very enthusiastic about posing.

I got an off camera flash about a week ago. Holy cow, I didn't realize flash photography is a whole new animal. The flash I got is the Lumo Pro 160 recommended by the Storbist blog. For those who aren't familiar, Stobist is an online community devoted to learning lighting with small off camera flashes. I got this flash because it was much cheaper than Canon and because it was recommended by the Strobist himself. I got my unit assembled yesterday per instructions on the Stobist blog and not surprisingly ran into some obstacles.  To start, I didn't realize that the LP 160 is a manual flash that works somewhat differently from the high-end flashes made by Canon or Nikon. I'm writing out these hiccups for myself and for others who are having similar confusions.

Obstacle 1: Jargons.
While reading my manuals and books, I kept encountering words like slave, ttl, first and second curtain. It began to drive me crazy so I'm outlining short definitions here. Note that I am no flash expert and these are my own definitions in my own words so that I could grasp the idea easily. Probably not worth quoting if you are writing a paper or some other publication.

Flash is also called a Speedlite and also called a strobe.

What is a slave flash?
A slave flash is a external flash unit that is dependent on a master flash unit. Usually, the master flash unit is the camera's built in flash.  The master and slave flash unit communicate information through sensors. There are several different ways (and tools to use) for sensors to communicate, but I won't get into that because that information is pretty easy to find.

What is a TTL system?
TTL is for Through The Lens flash technology and it is a method that enables the camera to automatically calculate exposure when using flash. It was developed by Nikon in the '80s.
I found a really good explanation of this system here:

and here

What is 2nd Curtain Sync:
(still investigating)

Obstacle 2: Lumo Pro 160 is manual flash.
I didn't realize this at the moment of purchasing. I'm not 100% sure what this means, but I do know that LP 160 does not have a TTL system.  So now my question is how to measure exposure when using this flash.  This article had some solutions 
I posted a question about this issue on a flickr discussion board and it looks like I just adjust exposure by shooting and adjusting and winging.
Here's the flickr thread, people wrote some good advice:



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A day of stories

The Road Less Travelled By event at LHUCA. We were told Lubbock is the biggest turn out in term of crowd.

I went to two community gatherings. One was a meeting with Women in Communication Lubbock and the other was a unique gathering with the GLBT community in Lubbock. Both were camera related.
At the Women in Communication luncheon,  professional photographer Jerod Foster did a presentation on telling stories through pictures.  I get a little nervous when people talk about telling a story because, really, the expression is so overused. On the other hand, true, it is story that people relate to. This time, I really liked Jerod Foster's presentation, and thought his pictures were very engaging and interesting. He seemed like a really nice guy too.  His website is I even went up and visited with him a little.Going to this meeting was something that I though I ought to do but never actually got around doing it up until now. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming and there were already a couple people I knew.

In the evening, there was a town hall style meeting at the Charles Adams gallery at LHUCA.  There's a team of film students who are doing a walkumentary about gay rights. What a commitment! Tonight, they happen to be in Lubbock. Many poeple in the GLBT community were present and it felt good to be a participate in this rare event. Their website is  http://www.roadlesstravell

I feel like I did good today. I went out and pursured expanding my network a little and shared my presence.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I think Vermeer would have been a camera guy (upstairs/downstairs)

Upstairs/ Downstairs: currnetly on PBS (highly recommend)

Vermeer Paintings

Quite by accident yesterday, I began to watch a mini-series on PBS called Upstairs / Downstairs.
Anyone familiar with this show? My google research told me it's a classic Brit drama remade.
Anyways, I was completely mesmerized with the cinematography, and especially with the treatment of the lighting on this tv series. All I could tell that it was classic Vermeer style; clean white light spilling in from a side angle or milky white light pouring in from a window that looks just like this one above. I would say the downstairs scenes looked even more Vermeer. The leading ladies looked oh so beautiful.
Marvelous skin. I don't know who's behind this geniusness but someone studied the paintings pretty seriously.Credits for the show only cite the art director. Maybe he's the guy.

I first became familiar with Vermeer in while I spent a year in France when I was in college, oh so long ago. My dad sent me an essay about European art written by a Korean artist who travelled Europe. I liked Vermeer's work immediately. I can't remember if I actually saw the paintings in a museum.

Then, when I briefly studied theatre set and lighting design, Vermeer came up often amongst designers. Now that I am a student of my camera and lighting, I am feeling that his work will be a obsession all over again. This is a guy who was obsessed with light.  Wonder what he could have done with a camera...

On an end note- let's support public television!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Finding Authenticity

f/4, 1/60, iso 400, 24-105@105

f/4, 1/160, iso 100, 24-105@45
Yesterday, I watched a online live show on  He's kind of celebrity photographer.
Anyways, one of his guests was a creative director from REI and they talked about what they expect in
a photographer. The most repeated phrase was anchored in authenticity and finding a vision.
A hard one, this is as I am still figuring out which button on my camera to push when. That being said,
I see many camera people falling in love with the iphone camera due to its simplicity and finding vision there.
Some photographers such as Chuck Close or David Hill have very distinct styles. Others don't have such a trademark style, but nevertheless do have their own style. Norman says I don't have to worry too much about finding a style because that's something that develops naturally as I keep working. I am curious what this Amy Kim style will look like.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More Shots with Cici

f/5, 1/160. iso 100, 24-105@67
f/4, 1/60. iso 200, 24-105@105

Here are some more shots with Cici. It's beginning to sink into me that I must use a higher shutter speed to get sharper images especially for portraits. That means I almost always need additional sources of light. I bought a LumoPro off camera flash and a couple of reflectors yesterday . That should help in the future.
This week is red time (as opposed to green time); I will plan to plan, get junk off my computer, and dumdidum clean out the garage. I am hopeful that this off time will help me come up with some refreshing ideas for my next video (whatever it may be).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Photoshoot with Cici

f/4, iso 200, 1/160, 24-105@88
I did my photo shoot with my Chinese friend Cici yesterday. I must say, Cici is a natural model. She offered so many wonderful poses, it made my shooting experience very enjoyable. She looks like a doll, but she is also very smart doing her post-doc at TTU biology dept.
I love this picture, probably one of my best shots. Tack sharp and nicely composed.  I used window light, an LED mini light, and a reflector in my humble bedroom.
I also love the style concept here; modern Asian with a vintage twist. The camera here is Norman's dad's
8mm Bolex.
I submitted this one to istockphoto and they snapped it up right away. They got back to me in 2 hours and told me that I qualify as a contributor. Hahaha! I'm going to treat myself with buying new reflectors.
Anyways, there are more to come.

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