Saturday, December 29, 2012

Farewell 2012

26/52 - Street Sheet by Wayne-K
26/52 - Street Sheet, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I’m not one to establish New Year’s resolutions, as I find them rather pointless and arbitrary. To me, New Year’s resolutions are sort of like the motivational slogans we frequently see posted on Instagram and Pinterest. People post these cute one-liners, but most don’t truly have the dedication to achieve their so called resolutions. It takes much more than a catchy slogan to achieve one’s goals. True goals take determination, focus, and often times sacrifice to achieve. For those of you who have New Year’s resolutions, I apologize if I put a damper on it. ;-) By all means, please do focus on your resolutions in 2013 and best of luck in achieving them!

I don’t have any goals, per se for 2013. Photographically speaking, my plans are to continue to develop my skill and experience with film, to continue my ongoing pursuit of landscape images while trail running, hiking, and backpacking, and to give street photography a try. Regarding that last item, I’ve been reviewing the work and writings of Eric Kim and think street photography would be an interesting pursuit. I also plan on making my time on Flickr more productive by reducing the number of superficial, “non-quality” interactions, and increasing the quality interactions with a smaller circle of friends. Lastly, Instagram has been a major distraction and I plan on scaling back my time there significantly.

As 2012 rapidly comes to a close, I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year and a great 2013. Here are a few photos from our walk around San Francisco the other day.

Street Dancers

San Francisco

Waiting and Walking

Behind the Window

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sunol Regional Park

Water Under the Bridge by Wayne-K
Water Under the Bridge, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.
The weather is frequently overcast and rainy this time of year and the flat light isn’t great for the wide landscapes I enjoy shooting. While hiking at the Morgan Territory last weekend, I made a mental note to visit the Sunol Regional Park while the weather is overcast. Flat light on overcast days is perfect for photographing creeks. The winter storms have been frequenting the Bay Area for the last few weeks and I was certain the Alameda Creek at Sunol was flowing vigorously.

I frequently use slow shutter speeds to turn moving water into milky, mistiness and the low light (and a neutral density filter) allows me to slow the shutter speeds down. The diffuse light also allows for more pleasant exposures. The creek is lined with trees the contrasty light on clear, blue bird days creates deep shadows.

I decided to shoot my Nikon FM2 today with Kodak BW400CN black and white film. My brother has my light-weight, Benro travel tripod, so I dusted off my old Bogen 3001N tripod and used it instead. The Bogen is actually a much better tripod and it wasn’t too bad carrying it on the short one mile walk to Little Yosemite.

Here are a few photos from my trip to Sunol. The color photos were shot on my Panasonic LX5 and the B&W photos on my Nikon FM2.

Little Yosemite

Supper Time

Water Under the Bridge

Little Yosemite 1
Little Yosemite 2 Little Yosemite 3 Little Yosemite 4 Little Yosemite 5 Little Yosemite 6

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Morgan Territory

Got Milk? by Wayne-K
Got Milk?, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Gore-Tex is a beautiful thing. The weather outside's been frightful, but I decided a hike would be delightful...and headed off to the Morgan Territory today. The trails are mostly clay and with all the rain we've had over the last few days, the footing was a bit goopy and slippery. But, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. Neither an apple a day nor Vitamin C can cure acute cabin fever. A hike, however, does the trick every time.

The sun rarely pierced through the thick layer of fog, haze, and clouds, so the light today was pretty flat. I shot primarily with B&W film and a yellow K2 filter to increase contrast, and I am interested to see how my shots turned out in this light. I also managed a few shots on my Panasonic LX5. I think the light worked well on the cow portrait, but it was definitely too flat for wide landscape shots.

Here are a few photos from my hike.

Oaks Along the Trail

Morgan Territory

Trails Through the Hills

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Simplified Post-Processing Workflow

San Francisco Bay by Wayne-K
San Francisco Bay, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

When shooting my Nikon D80 DSLR, I capture in NEF (raw) format and post-process my images in Lightroom 3. With my film camera, I have my negatives scanned by the photo processor and only use Lightroom 3 for cataloging and tagging my files (basically, I don't post-process my film shots). I was looking for a middle ground for my Panasonic LX5. Many of these images will be processed in Lightroom, but there are times I just don't feel like powering up the computer and expending time on post-processing.

I've been experimenting with post-processing on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Android tablet, using Snapseed. I customized two processing options in my LX, one for B&W and one for color. Both use less contrast and sharpening than the "standard" JPEG processing options in the camera. It's easy to add contrast and sharpening to JPEGs in post-processing, but very difficult to decrease it. Therefore, turning down contrast and sharpening up-front gives me the option to keep it low or to increase it later in post-processing.

It's only been a couple of days, but I'm enjoying the simplified workflow. The tablet boot up time is quick and Snapseed has enough functionality to be useful, but without being overly complex. I do wish, however, that Snapseed had noise reduction capabilities. The only issue I have so far is I'm finding a seven inch tablet a bit too small to post-process photos.

The wife and I had a "date day" today and caught the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train into San Francisco. We had a nice lunch at Waterbar and then spent some time hanging out in the Ferry Building. It was raining this afternoon, so hundreds of us packed ourselves like sardines in the narrow confines of the Ferry Building. I shot B&W film on my FM2 camera, but also took a few shots with my LX5 so I could play with it in Snapseed.

The opening photo was taken outside the Ferry Building, looking toward the bay. The photo below was taken yesterday, primarily to help me get acquainted with Snapseed.

Priceless Art Exhibit

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – Almost

24/52 - Oak on a Hill by Wayne-K
24/52 - Oak on a Hill, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

My trip to Guam started last night when I realized the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains don’t run early on Sundays. Thankfully, my lovely wife drove me the 41.3 miles to the San Francisco International Airport this morning. After clearing TSA security, I proceeded to my gate for my 10:10 AM flight to Guam (connecting through Honolulu). I actually arrived before the 8:40 AM flight to Honolulu left the gate and considered taking that flight, as there appeared to be many seats available. However, I decided to stay on my original flight…a decision which would prove to be a bad one. I’ve taken earlier flights in the past and in some cases, the earlier flight encountered problems and got me to my destination later than if I had kept my original ticket. Unfortunately, that was not the case today. My flight was canceled and rescheduled for tomorrow. Had I taken the 8:40 AM flight to Hawaii, I could have taken an alternate flight from Hawaii to Guam. Bummer!

After getting my new flights sorted out, I proceeded to take the BART train to Pleasanton, followed by a taxi ride home. Anyone that knows me understands how important weekends are to me, and this was not the way I wanted to spend my Sunday. However, it was a beautiful day in the Bay Area and I decided to make lemonade out of lemons, and spent the afternoon running on the Pleasanton Ridge. Joining me was my Panasonic LX5, set to capture in raw plus B&W JPEG. I am testing various JPEG processing settings in the camera to see if I can get the results I want “in-camera.” It’s not there yet, but with further experimentation, I hope to get there.

BTW, after further consideration, I decided to cancel my trip to Guam. The flight delay will cause me to miss one of my customer meetings and it’s not worth the travel time or expense to travel thousands of miles for a one-day meeting.

Here are a couple of shots from my trail run today.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Motu'aina Ho'ike

Waihine by Wayne-K
Waihine, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Motu'aina performed their annual ho'ike today at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center. The ho'ike is a Hawaiian performance or show, essentially their annual Hula and Tahitian dance recital.

Cameras weren't allowed inside the facility during the performance, so here are a few photos after the show.

Kami and Kevin


Hula Pals

Kami and Kevin

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Trail Running with the Panasonic LX5 Camera

Bend in the Trail by Wayne-K
Bend in the Trail, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I went for an early morning run on the Pleasanton Ridge with my new Panasonic LX5 camera and learned something…I’m out of shape. I also confirmed the LX5 is a wonderful camera for trail running. In the past, I carried my Nikon D80 DSLR and 35mm f/1.8 lens in a Lowe Alpine fanny pack. While this was a very manageable kit for the trails, I found it bit bulky for running, especially when carrying a water bottle and other necessities. I also longed for a wide angle lens for trail runs, but unfortunately Nikon doesn’t make a compact, lightweight, wide angle prime for APS-C “crop-sensor” cameras. My 12-24mm f/4 DX zoom lens is great for hiking, but adds too much bulk and weight to my running kit.

The Panasonic LX5 was on sale for $250, so I decided to purchase one. I wanted a compact “carry around everywhere” camera, but didn’t want an “idiot camera” with no manual controls. The LX5 is like a mini-SLR, offering the photographer a lot of creative control. It includes aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual shooting modes. One can even set the hyper focal distance in manual focus mode, which I didn’t realize was possible on these compact cameras. The LX5 also saves the files in raw format, which provides a lot of creative options in post-processing. I’m not an excessive post-processor, but I do enjoy black and white conversions, and the ability to adjust the saturation, contrast, etc.

The LX5 is an ideal trail running camera. It sports a sharp 24-90mm Leica lens (35mm equiv) and the 24mm is perfect for capturing landscapes on the trails. I also love the compact size and low weight. I am able to fit it into a small Case Logic case, which slides onto the belt of my Nathan water bottle holder. While the Panasonic LX5 won’t replace my digital or film SLR cameras, it’s a great addition to my photography toolbox. It enables “better than cell phone camera” image quality, with the manual controls of an SLR, but without the bulk and weight of an SLR.

Here are a few photos from my run this morning on the Pleasanton Ridge.

Pleasanton Ridge


Trail Runner (Self Portrait)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

American Samoa

Walking the Coast by Wayne-K
Walking the Coast, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I traveled to American Samoa last week for business, my second trip there this year. There are two flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago each week, on Monday and Thursday. For this trip, I flew to Honolulu on a Friday, spent the weekend with family, flew to Pago Pago on Monday, returned to Honolulu on Thursday, spent another weekend with family, and returned to California on Monday. After my time on two tropical islands, returning to the mainland was definitely a challenge spiritually.

The Samoa Islands are located in the South Pacific Ocean in the Polynesian Triangle, a triangle formed by imaginary lines connecting Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island. Within the Polynesian Triangle is the area known as Polynesia ("many islands"), which include New Zealand, Hawaii, Easter Island, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, and several other islands. Prior to my visits to American Samoa, I had only been to the Hawaiian Islands. I would, however, like to visit some of the other islands one day.

Growing up in Hawaii, I was exposed to the rich traditions and culture of the Hawaiian people. The Samoan and Hawaiian cultures and languages are very similar. The Hawaiian Mahi Mahi (dolphinfish) is the Samoan Masi Masi. The imu (Hawaiian underground oven) is very similar to the Samoan umu. The imu consists of a hole in the ground, lined with heated stones, whereas with the umu, the stones are put on the ground (instead of in a hole). Nonetheless, the names of the ovens and cooking techniques are very similar. I mentioned to my Samoan hosts how the umu is like an imu and the Samoan foods are very similar to the Hawaiian foods I’m accustomed to. In response, my Samoan friends reminded me…King Kamehameha’s ancestors came from Samoa. So, correction -- the imu is like the umu (and not vice versa).

It’s always a pleasure traveling to American Samoa. If there is a culture where people smile and laugh more than the Samoans, I have yet to meet them. Although I travel there on business, my Samoan “customers” always take time off from work to take me around. On this latest visit, they took me spear fishing. I borrowed a mask, snorkel, fins, and spear, and enjoyed my time poking holes in the coral (or as they say, “making sponges”). The fish didn’t appear afraid of my spear for some reason and in fact, I swear I heard them laughing at me as the spear missed them by a country mile.

Here are a few photos from my trip to American Samoa. I shot these using my new Panasonic LX5 camera.

Tiny Pools

John and Mike

American Samoa

American Samoa

View of the Ocean

20/52 - What a Wonderful World


Uncovering the Umu

Samoan Dinner

Reflecting on a Great Day

Blow Hole

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hula Festival - Day 2

19/52 - Hula Girls by Wayne-K
19/52 - Hula Girls, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

More photos from the Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival and Competition.

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival

Ia 'Oe E Ka La Hula Festival