The dilemma that is 9,000 pictures

Business Card Candidate - I thought this woman made a fascinating, beautiful subject. I can't stand the way I shot it and feel like the potential has been lost. On the other hand, walking at a brisk pace to keep up with the people you're with doesn't exactly allow one to setup the perfect shot. I suppose I could give myself that!

I have a school photo contest I must enter in 5 days and I decided that it might be time to print some business cards upon my return to Hong Kong. Therefore, it’s time to look at the mountain – approximately 9,000 – pictures I brought back from Hong Kong. Even with daily processing in Hong Kong and eliminating the truly bad, there is still so much I haven’t looked at.

Processing is probably my least favorite part of the photo taking process, perhaps because I feel so bad at it. I never know how to bring out the best in my pictures and my tinkering and experimenting seems to result in so little. Not having the proper tools and not truly knowing how to use the ones I do. Wrestling with an aging computer that is not really fast enough to do an efficient job doesn’t help.

Given that I’m my own worst critic, so little really makes the cut for something to show in a public way that goes beyond this web site. The few pictures that really hit me showcase people in a way that feels way too uncomfortable to put on a business card – full frontal shots of faces? A little creepy if you don’t know them, and still creepy if you do (Unless you really want to ask for permission….). Kids? Anyone is going to like a picture of a kid – doesn’t show your skill. The homeless and the down and out? Predatory and capitalizing on the suffering others to make it look like you know WTF you’re doing. More complex but potentially interesting scenes? Needs a caption. Religious and rather strong messages? Don’t want to seem like I’m endorsing them. Interesting cultural scenes, and yet again religion? Good job at appropriating… (Please note that these are not thoughts that cross my head when others promote themselves through their photography…)

I think all these things boil down to one thought – if you are going to try to evoke a response from people, you better be the genuine article.

…my computer’s charger just burned out. Not going to interpret that message today. Perhaps it is “stop being so brutally honest.”

Maybe I’ll settle for tepid landscape shots.

A Man and His Radio, A Girl and Her Camera

A Man and His Radio

A Man and His Radio - Lou Lim loc Gardens, Macau

I constantly examine my pictures by “looking for the flaws” first. Rarely do I see a photo straight out of my camera that I deem stunning. It’s with trepidation that I say – the one above qualifies. (I’m sad to say that once uploaded, it doesn’t display the full range of color I’m getting on my own screen… Firefox, the bane of a photographer’s existence….)

Been running myself ragged since Thursday so I haven’t had much time for anything, including posting. I am continually blown away by the D700 and only wish I hadn’t held out so long. The classic line is that your lenses matter the most, the body not so much. I wish I had a more nuanced knowledge of this, as it was my original upgrade strategy and what I had thought was sound given my reading. I’m glad my hand was forced.

Also – just saying hi from Macau. I saw the reflections and couldn’t resist. I am indeed in one piece:

Reflection in Macau

Reflection in Macau

Erin and The Sands

Erin and The Sands - Waiting on the Ferry to go home.

D700 First Impressions, with Pictures

Bone-Tired: One of my first and favorite shots from the D700. Focus is a little soft.

Feel like I’m slacking on the content end just a bit here given there are more important posts in the wings, but I wanted to write down first impressions on the D700. After work today (at which I attended an interesting but infuriating labor conciliation meeting) I dashed out immediately with the new camera, going back to the Yuen Po Bird Garden and wandering around the Mong Kok night markets.

This post is probably going to get somewhat technical….

I am slightly worried about acclimating to this camera as I got a lot of crap today – tons of shots with underexposed areas to the point of being black. My D100 tended towards the overexposed side when indicating the exposure was correct, so I adjusted my expectations and settings to compensate. I came to anticipate what I would need to do to get the look I wanted. The underexposure with the D700 is definitely throwing me for a loop and I hope I can learn how to read and adjust my perception to it quickly. I know I’ll learn with time, but July 1st is right around the corner and personally, it will be a really important shooting day for me.

Chained Macaw

Chained Macaw - This Macaw has been chained to this post on both my visits to the bird garden. It can barely move. So cruel!! (White balance on this shot is off.)

At the same time, the few shots that did come out great are amazing. Do not regret my purchase at all – I know what the camera is capable of now and I’m seriously excited to see more. I definitely see a difference in color, one of my favorite aspects of photography, and the difference in noise is incredible. That has been the major problem in my shots with my D100 for the past few years, to my increasing chagrin. Seeing similar shots from a D700 with no noise whatsoever is pretty breathtaking for me (Ok, I am a camera geek.).

Street Food Vendor

Street Food Vendor - I like the colors here. Too garish? She's obviously not too happy with me...

There is one change with the D700 that sort of irks me and it’s mystifying. They removed the focus point diagram from the top setting readout and replaced it with the meter. I used the focus point diagram with my D100 all the time, changing the points to achieve the composition of the photo I was framing before lifting the camera to shoot. The meter readout just doesn’t seem to have the same practicality – I’m not going to be looking at it until I lift the camera to shoot as opposed to a focus point diagram. Slightly frustrating change to me, but perhaps I am missing something. Also liked having the histogram readout on top of the D100 photos. I can easily ignore it with the way the D700 works. (Found that I can look at focus points on the info readout – I’ll get used to that. I suppose the light meter might be there for tripod work.)

Lastly, given it’s a FX camera I figured it would change my lens perspective a bit and it definitely does – I don’t get as “close” with my walk around lens as I used to with my subjects. They’re smaller with the full frame. But hey, seriously not complaining here…. never thought I’d be owning a digital FX in the first place.

Langham Place World Cup Banners

Langham Place World Cup Banners and five story escalator. Having problems with over exposure too it seems.

My precious D100, we had a beautiful run…..

Smiling on a Queens Corner

Smiling on a Queens Corner - a picture I took approximately a year after purchasing the camera, in 2003. I kinda thought the smiling, dirty ball amid wrappers and dead leaves on a random Queens street corner had fleeting existential meaning.

Well, today is the day I’m officially retiring “my baby” – my eight year old Nikon D100. After excessive scrambling and researching of my options, Adorama, one of the best camera shops in NYC, (And the one I favor in the city given they were incredibly helpful when I was researching my first DSLR purchase – this is payback, thank you!!!) came through for me. I ordered a Nikon D700 on Thursday night Hong Kong time and it arrived here today, Monday afternoon. I was pretty behind on technology in the camera world still sporting my D100. While I wasn’t going to let it bother me all that much, when my camera started showing its age with its various malfunctions it was clear to me that it was time to upgrade. I had been thinking about it for a few years and I feel like I made the decision at the perfect time.

One of the biggest features of the D700 is that it’s a full frame camera instead of a DX – older digital sensors weren’t advanced enough to offer full frame shots unless you were going full on pro with a $5,000-$8,000 camera. Given that, all your lenses would be “cropped” by 10mm (or 15mm… a bit fuzzy right now…).

I have been gradually adding more pictures to the Hong Kong gallery in the portfolio though there is a bit of an annoying hang in between the loading of each one. Going to be researching that in the next few days and try to fix, and I’m writing a number of different posts about Hong Kong. In the meantime, I would suggest checking out my friend Alex’s blog, as she tells of her own experiences about Hong Kong from a pretty interesting perspective herself…. The line-cutting/bathroom stories are pretty infuriating, the first one happened on our day out to see the Filippino Independence Day Parade…

2/365 – Lazy Days – Book, iced coffee, sun.

Book, iced coffee, sun. What more could one need?

Seems now that I made the decision to stick to the 365 project, everything is conspiring against me. Murphy’s law, I suppose. The galleries I had set up long ago to implement future projects malfunctioned as soon as I edited them, but luckily I discovered the issue relatively quickly. I lost all the pictures on my camera card the other day but managed to recover most of them after some gnashing of teeth and much cursing… The pictures of the baby bird are intact but pretty underwhelming. Mysteriously enough, Friday’s photos of a visiting Swami to Heckscher Park remain lost. Consequently, I’m behind in posting the pictures for each day give all the issues I’ve been having!

Funny the things you can capture if you actually bring your camera everywhere… That is, if things don’t malfunction on you!!!

Project 365 Starts Tomorrow!!!

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple at Planting Fields Arboretum

…since I’m putting up an old picture today. One of my favorite trees in the arboretum, and the one I camped out under today with a blanket and a book…

Project 365: Hoping to post 1 picture per day for a year. Don’t have much faith in myself that I’ll stick to it, but I do hope so! Not sure how I’m going to make this all work in terms of logistics which is probably why I haven’t started yet despite meaning to since August.

I’d really like to use the blog everyday during my trip to Hong Kong with the focus on photos. Hope to be diligent about both taking photographs and posting them here.