haven't done much or gone out lately these past few months. just hanging out around the house with my daughter while wife is at work and our son is at school. it leaves me with many many hours to keep her entertained. usually consists of going up and down the stairs, playing with magnets and blocks, games on the iPad and watching movies... oh and of course, eating all day. since I started shooting more film again, I've learned how difficult it is to take photos of her. she never stays still; constantly on the go. focusing with a full manual rangefinder is a pain in the ass when your subject is running towards and away from you all the time. i guess I can always counter that with a high f stop, but where's the fun in that. shooting at 1.4 and 1.5, trying to get that sharp focus, man its tough. but when you do get a shot that's in focus, and correctly exposed, cue the fuckin triumphant music.
finally got around to dropping off some film to get developed this weekend. over the past few months, I had accumulated 3 disposables, and 1 natura and 1 tmax. really haven't shot too much film lately since it's pretty expensive to get developed, let alone, the film itself. however, I do enjoy sparingly taking photos here and there on my film cameras and just let them sit for a while before I finally take them to get developed. again, I surprised myself with what I found on this roll of fujifilm natura 1600. here are some shots that were taken in October of 2017, at the end of my daughters first birthday party. everyone had left, except for these awesome girls who were sticking around for the after party... cake.
Finally brought some life into the studio
These past few months have been just hectic. Being a stay-at-home and work-from-home dad has its ups and downs for damn sure. time management has never been as challenging as it is now but I think I am finally getting the hang of it. I've always been the type of person to work the entire day. it just goes with being a self-employed artist; I am never not working. throughout my entire day, im always thinking about work; whether it's just coming up with ideas or actually solving a problem, etc. but after moving back to sacramento, and my wife working full-time, I took on the task of staying home, working and watching the kids. I mentally had to tell myself to turn my brain off work mode. that was probably the most challenging thing ever; living and working went hand in hand, it was second nature. it's taken a long time to finally get the hang of it. to have finally accepted the fact that from this time to this time, I am not working, I am dropping my son off at school, I am hanging out with my daughter, doing things around the house, etc. And you know, im not ashamed at all to say that I am a stay-at-home dad, that I cook (sometimes...) and clean, do the laundry, all that shit. But I knew that all of this took up a lot of time out of my week, leaving me with only certain amount of hours to work. So I ended up putting off a lot of things that didn't seem necessary at the time and just prioritized all the things that needed my immediate attention like project deadlines and the logistics side of the brand. I have this studio space that has been a complete mess for months now. shit is laying everywhere, the walls were a ugly cream color, spiders chillin the corners of the ceiling, just not that healthy of a work environment for me, but I just got in, did my work, got out, and that was that. But I realized that the reason I've been feeling like I've been in such a rut is because I didn't have a space to work that really motivated me to create. So I finally made it priority to fix the studio space to hopefully spark some motivation and creativity to do more. scrubbed the space down, painted the walls, and currently going to build out work table and work station. something I've always enjoyed was working with my hands, making shit. photography and graphic design doesn't allow much of that; other than using your index finger to click the shutter, or click on the mouse. Hoping to be able to share more of the process through here in due time.
After hearing all the hype about the super blue blood moon, that the last time that something like this happened was in the 1800's, to it not happening again in 30+ years, to how rare of a spectacle this event will be, to thinking that this may be a once in a lifetime experience, I made a huge effort in making sure I didn't miss it. when I say huge effort, I mean waking my ass up. mind you, I have two kids, so finding the energy and will power to wake up at 4a.m. was a huge challenge. I actually snoozed my alarm a couple of times before my wife turned over to me and said, "wake up. you're going to regret it if you don't." that was enough for me to peel myself out of bed because she's right. I would've woken up and seen all these crazy photos of the super blue blood moon and I would've been kicking myself because I would've missed it all because I didn't want to wake up.
as much as I would like to tell you how freaking awesome the super blue blood moon was, it honestly wasn't as awesome as I had expected. I was hoping for the moon to be much larger than it actually was, only because of the word "super" ... typically on the moon calendar, "super moons" are usually pretty fat, especially at rise. being that this eclipse didn't happen until around 5a.m. , the moon was already pretty high up so it was pretty tiny; larger than usually, but still tiny. especially since I totally wasn't prepared equipment wise. I was shooting with a 50mm but with the Sony a7r2 so I had a ton of reso to crop pretty tight, as you can see. there was also a shit load of people at the location that I originally wanted to go to, so I ended up just driving around until I found a isolated place when I could just park and roam around without feeling like I was ruining other peoples experience. all in all, I think the experience of it was cool, witnessing the event was cool, the shots I got were cool, but was pretty pissed that when I got home in the morning that I could see the moon from our bedroom window all along. lol.. and I thought I had to drive out to the middle of nowhere to see it because I was worried about trees, buildings and what not obstructing the view of it.. nope.
"Hey Marvin! I wanted to ask you about blacking out your cameras. I've been wanting to do it with my a6000 that I'm starting off with and I remember you did something on insta stories but I don't remember the process on how you did it. I tried using the xacto knife that I briefly saw you used in the s in Sony, but it seem like I fucked up and scratched not only the s out a little but also around it. Sucks but would like to know how you kept it clean as fuck."
So i've been getting this question a lot ever since i posted about it not too long ago, i mean A LOT. hopefully this post can help you start off in the right direction. the process really isn't that difficult; just very tedious and time consuming. it's definitely not something you want to rush so make sure you block out maybe an hour or 2 to really sit down and knock it out. to begin, there's always the question on "why do you black out your camera/remove the logos?" most people use gaffers tape to cover up all brand logos on their camera. one reason is that companies do not want any third party logos to be seen. another is to be more of a ninja. however, i personally just have a distaste for the big ol' logos. i've always like to customize my belongings to feel more like "me". so the past few cameras that i've owned, i've completely blacked them out. sometimes with gaffers tape, other times with paint. for my latest camera, i the sony a7r2, i painted. the paint i used was an enamel paint, same paint used for model cars and such. my first step was to remove the shirts the paint completely, leaving the surface under it to be exposed and rough, important so that the paint has a higher chance of staying put. this part is very tedious, you want to use something very sharp. i used both an xacto knife to scratch off majority of the white paint but then used a broad needle to get the corners and edges. i found that stabbing the edges and corners worked much better than used the knife because i sometimes slipped with the knife and scratched the surrounding area which makes the job look like shit. so be extra careful and take your time, and use a headlamp to make sure you got everything.
once all the white paint is removed, use a very thin paint brush to fill in the area. don't go too heavy on the paint, instead use light and layers of paint and repeat after the first coat is dry. i used a heat gun to speed up the drying process, saves you a lot of time this way. i did about 5 coats or until you feel like are happy with the way it looks. you can apply less so that you can still see the logo but very subtle or you can. try and fill it all the way to be flush with the surface. after the paint is completely dried, i took a piece of cloth/towel and sanded down the entire face surface to remove any excess paint that may over gotten out. do not use sand paper, it's too rough and will end up scratching the body. cloths like t shirts work, just apply good pressure. this will be the end result.
keep in mind that i don't recommend this to anyone. do this at your own risk and do not blame me if you fuck up your camera. if you're like me, and like to sell your old camera in the future to upgrade, having a camera that's all jacked and scratched up won't help your sale. so if you do this, make sure you got bars or else you've just scratched away $2000 (or whatever your camera is worth)
In the recent months, i've been really pushing myself to live a "less is more" life motto. i think with having 2 kids, living in the bay area, and being a free-lancer, i really shouldn't have any other option. i've always wanted to live the "minimalist" lifestyle but i've always been the excessive type. if i like something, i gotta have lots of it. i liked to collect shit; like toys and art paraphernalia. i'm into fashion and sneakers so when shit drops, im always finding myself in the predicament of, "do i really need this? duh.. yes." so as much shit as i get rid of month to month, i just replenish it with something else eventually. i think that these last few months, however, i've really come to realize that i really do need to cut back on shit that i don't need to live off of. i am so inspired by how Japanese people live in Japan; the necessities only. so clean, so simple, and makes all the fuckin sense. every time i visit japan, i come back home like, "man what the fuck am i doing with all this junk?" but i quickly fall back into the bad habit of living the "american dream" of owning senseless shit. i think with not traveling at all this year, it made me think hard about what camera equipment i really "needed" versus all the shit i "wanted." i got rid of the bulky Canon build and sized down to a sony and now getting rid of bulky glass to going as compact as possible. i've been doing a ton of research on a lens that i can make use of for a life-time and i ended up with the zeiss c sonnar 50/1.5. it's not the "everyday" lens like a 24-35mm is but i didn't want so much of an everyday lens, but more of a lens that would challenge me to make a more conscious decision on getting a shot worthy of archiving. being that it's a M-mount lens constructed for rangefinders, it lacks in the close-focus field. meaning i can only focus on subjects about 1 meter away, posing an obstacle to how i would shoot a subject. all in all, i really love the quality of both the construction of this lens and the quality output. there really isn't any other lens that can produce the results the c sonnar can especially in its weight class and price bracket. as you know already know, i like customizing my gear to make it feel more "me." i've done a heavy blackout on it to match my camera, which i will show in another post to come.
so i've been getting a ton of questions lately as to what or why i've switched back to sony setup. so to give you a little background, i started off photography with a canon rebel xti that i bought back in 2007. later upgraded to a t2i, then t3i, then 7D, then 5D2. So i've been shooting with canon for a loooonnnggg time, but it wasn't till the day dropped and snapped my canon 24L off my camera, that i finally decided i wanted to make a change. there wasn't really a huge deciding factor as to why i switched over to the sony a7ii, i honestly just wanted to try something new, and at that time (2015-16) sony was definitely coming into the market strong. i did no research whatsoever, and just sold all my canon gear, and copped the sony a7ii and the voigtlander 21/1.8. used the set up for a while then sometime last year, i decided to jump back over to canon, 5d3 and back with my beloved 24L. i decided to go back to canon because i was headed to a trip to iceland and i really wanted something that can withstand some gnarly weather conditions. lots of cold, and lots of water.
fast fwd, i got tired of lugging around the canon setup again, especially now more than ever since i am carrying around a diaper bag almost everyday thats jam packed with diapers, bottles, wipes, babyfood, etc.. the last thing i needed was my brick of a camera to weigh me down even more.. so again, i sold my canon setup and jumped back over to sony, this time the a7r2 and of course, had to get back one of my favorite lenses, the voigtlander 21/1.8. i was pretty stoked on this because i really missed the ergo on the a7's, it just fits my hand perfectly. canon was always a bit bulky and heavy, made it pretty uncomfortable to hold after a period of time. i also missed how light and portable the a7's were, and not to mention, the world of options for lenses. canon, i was stuck with red rings, which is not a problem since they are some of the nicest pieces of glass out there, but they are mad heavy and bulky. as much as i love the red rings, it always made me choose to leave my camera at home as it becomes a huge burden to lug around. i love the fact that i can literally pair any lenses out there with the a7. being that i already own a voigtlander r3m 35mm camera that is an m-mount... it was a no brainer to stick with m-mount lenses such as leica, voigtlander, zeiss to name a few.. which are sharp af. even tho they are manual focus lenses, the a7's focus peaking feature and focus magnifier is a godsend. furthermore, so yea, there you have it.. what i switched to, and why i switch to.
i've been keeping a disposable camera handy in our apartment for a while now, and i would always take a photo or two randomly when i come across it. every time i get the scans back from them, I'm always in love. there's just so much nostalgic feels to these types of photos. these are the type of photos that my mom has in all of our photo albums tucked away somewhere. there is really nothing like shooting family photos on disposables. i highly encourage everyone to do this. you can find a bunch of disposable cameras on eBay or amazon, you can buy them by the bulk like i did. I just stash all the cameras by my desk, and just have one around the house always ready to fire. replace it with a new one when the roll is done.
fujifilm quicksnap disposable
cv r3m + cv 40/1.4 nokton on kodak tmax 400
about a month ago i was blessed with the opportunity to speak at the apple store in union square. to be honest, i really didn't have the time to do it but it wasn't something that i could pass up. as daunting and tedious it was to get everything together for the keynote, I'm so glad i was able to receive help from the kind souls at apple. i really had no expectations for the talk, i had only hoped that i would be able to fill a couple of seats for the event. would've been real bad if nobody came, but to my surprise, we were able to fill up over 150 seats. beyond humbled at the turn out, and all the people i was able to share my story with. just want to give another huge thank you to everyone who spent the evening with me.
it's been a gnarly few months. i still can't believe so much time has passed, my daughter is already 9 months, soon to be 10. it's been a huge challenge trying to balance responsibilities between family and work. there honestly just isn't enough time in the day to do everything. living in the bay area with no other family around to help us can be quite tough. my wife at work, son on summer break, daughter becoming a pro crawler, and work tasks piling up; i can't help but to feel helpless and hopeless at times.
good thing i have a wife that's super supportive and understanding. we work hard to try and find a balance between family time and work, and really trying to carve out some dedicated hours for work. i've said this many many times; that i will try and write more on here but it always seems that i take these long hiatuses from it.. but i always return. so here i am, yet again. hello.
pardon my absence, i will resume posting shortly; cheers.
I was lucky enough to hitch a last minute helicopter ride during my stay in Maui. the guys hit me up the day before and told me they had an open seat to fill and of course i wasn't going to pass that up. started early in the morning to get to the place and ended up catching a pretty gnarly sunrise, just wish i was up in in the sky already during prime time but next time, yea?
i remember sitting in the car before going in for check-in, contemplating which lenses to bring along with me because through experience, there really is no time or room to swap out lenses during a flight, especially since its such a short flight to begin with. you definitely do not want to miss a moment for the sake of switching lenses... i knew that we were going to be flying over a bunch of waterfalls and i really wanted to get up close to them so i decided to bring the canon 70-200/2.8L with me and also something wide, so i went with the voigtlander 12mm all paired with my ex-sony a72. so i was locked and loaded, ready to roll. the company was flying with a family of 4, so it was pretty tight in there. even though i got the window seat, being shoulder to shoulder next to a 6' dad didn't leave me much pivot room to shoot. if only they allowed doors off, that would have made it all perfect but they made it very very clear that they do not do that. trust me, i begged. views were breath-taking. as we got closer to the first set of waterfalls, i slowly wiggled to try and grab the 12mm to swap out and... fuck! I had forgot the adapter for it. pretty pissed because we kept flying super close to all of these falls and the widest i was able to go was 70mm.. smh. fucked up big time on this, so many shots i missed out on because i just didn't have the right lens. i shoulda stuck with my gut instinct and kept my voigtlander 21mm on and left the other lenses in the car. definitely a lesson learned, always check you have everything you need before you're stuck with equipment that's as good as dead. I did the best I could with what i had but i definitely want to revisit and fly again.
I think I've been to Hawaii around 6 or 7 times and not once have I ever caught the Milky Way out there. It's always bad timing; sky isn't clear enough, too much light pollution, wasn't the right season, list goes on with the amount of excuses I have for never catching it but I was finally able to catch it on a clear Summer night in Maui. Crazy thing was, I caught it just steps outside of our hotel which is something I could never do when staying in Oahu. The amount of light pollution from Waikiki is brutal. Definitely stoked to have gotten some decent shots of the milky way with palm trees, you can't really beat paradise like this... i've mentioned numerous times that there are only a handful of things in life that i find to put me in complete peaceful bliss; the sound of the ocean waves, driving late night with the windows rolled down, staring into a clear night sky in dead silence, and drinking coffee in freezing weather while waiting on sunrise (this was something I recently discovered).
on our way to tokyo, we had a very very.... very lengthy layover in shanghai before catching out connecting flight. our layover was 20+ hours and the airlines required us to retrieve our luggages at baggage claim and to exit the airport. this meant we had to find a hotel for the night and was that a shit show. we booked an airbnb somewhere in shanghai. we decided we weren't going to need to get a portable wifi since we were only going to be there for such a short amount of time and boy, was that a mistake. shanghai is one of those places where getting internet is like running through an obstacle of american ninja warrior. they simply do not want people to get on the internet, politics man. so we ended up wandering around with our heavy ass luggages all over the city trying to find a building with a chinese address, which was nearly impossible. we had tried to ask a bunch of random people but nobody was trying to help, until finally a younger couple was nice enough to save our lives and point us in the right direction. it was such a pain; main reason being that my wife was in her first trimester at this time and it was just brutal for her to have to go through all of this but she was definitely a trooper. yes, a trooper but this shanghai experience definitely left her in a bit of distaste with this place.
once we finally checked into, what seemed to be a scene from a horror movie, airbnb room; Nikk and I decided to head out and hunt for some food. I'd have to say, after all that hassle and trouble we went through to find our room, aimlessly marauding the shanghai streets late at night was definitely worth it... i think.
Bro i want to ask something, What you use for photo editing? I think you using Lightroom application, If you use lightroom what preset you use for it? -anon
one of the most common questions i get, what preset do i use. it's just crazy to me how VSCO + lightroom really changed the world of photo editing. it's almost too easy now. I remember i used edit all my photos in photoshop and it would make me forever. creating that correct amount of fade on each photo, color correcting, and fine tuning all the small details, all would take me forever. now, i just a click... banger. click.. banger... click.. banger.. so much easier nowadays and I'm not complaining at all, time comes sparingly these days for me with a family and all. but back to the original question, presets. to be honest, i don't even remember the preset i started off with.. it must've been one of the portra series, of course. i love portra film so it's probably why i was pulled in with that setting. it had the tones that i really enjoy, fade, grain, etc. however, i never stuck with that preset as is, i've fucked around with that preset so much that it's not even close to what it was before. i've changed the entire S-curve, saturation, and each photo i edit, i always fine tune it to fit my style. this is why this question is always the brick wall question for me, i really don't know what to tell you, or how to answer the question.. i simply don't have an answer, and you shouldn't want to know my answer. as a creative, part of the process is trail and error. test every preset out that you have, tweak all of them to really nail down something that's of your taste. as we all know, we constantly change our preferences. one day you may really dig this look, week later you think its embarrassing you even thought that it was cool. so my advice is, fuck whatever setting it is that i use. play around and some photos and throw in all the aspects you enjoy in a photograph and make a medley for it, this will be your preset.
want to ask me something? ask away