Best of 2011

01 13 2012

A few of my favorite photos posted in 2011 are below. You can view the rest at

























You can view the rest at

Mic Costumes Interview

12 11 2011

A big thank you to Mic Costumes for interviewing me for their blog! It’s now up on their site at

The birth of child #2 and a new job has been taking up most of my time for the past 6 months, but things are beginning to settle down. I exoect to start posting regularly again soon!

Anime Expo Day 4: Sunday, 7/5/2009 & Wrapup

09 17 2009

Sunday was a very short day for me at AX because we were being kicked out of our hotel room at noon. Theoretically, we could have left our luggage at the front desk for the day, but that was not practical for a number of reasons. The biggest was that since we had driven down, we had a lot of luggage with us. (We tend to pack a lot more for a road trip than a plane trip.) The other reason was that I’m reluctant to leave several thousand dollars worth of camera & computer equipment in the hotel’s care. The odds of having something happen is low, but why take unnecessary chances?

(Next year if we go to AX, we will stay until the following morning, eliminating the issue of trying to check out on the last day of con.)

Because of the tight time frame, Caroline stayed in the hotel room with Mai while I went over to the convention center for about 2 hours. First up was the dealers’ room, where I wanted to purchase a Photoshop plugin I had seen the day before. (Clever dealer, selling portrait-oriented PS plugins to cosplay photographers; I hadn’t seen that before.)

Next was my one and only shoot of the day — K Valentine cosplaying as Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop. I decided to do something different, and do the whole shoot with only natural light and using my Sigma 50/1.4 lens. I think the results came out very well:

You can see the rest of the photos from the shoot at Spike Spiegel (K Valentine) from Cowboy Bebop.

On Saturday, I had taken a lot of hallway cosplay photos:

You can see the rest at Hallway Costumes (Saturday @Anime Expo 2009).

On Sunday, I had only a little time for hallway photos. I used the Sigma 50/1.4 and natural light only for all the hallway photos on Sunday, same as the photoshoot, so they look somewhat different than my normal hallway photos:

You can see the rest at Hallway Costumes (Sunday @Anime Expo 2009).

Shortly after my one and only shoot on Sunday, I rushed back to the hotel to finish packing. We were able to check out (almost) on time, and hit the road at 1pm. It was probably just as well that we left early; between the traffic and stops (for lunch, to take care of Mai, etc), we didn’t make it home until about 9pm.

Caroline and I had a great time at AX, and we’re hoping we’ll be able to attend in 2010.

Angels Camp Summer Vacation

06 27 2009

As I alluded to in the previous two posts, Caroline, Mai, and  I went to Angel’s Camp for our summer vacation. In between the big trips (Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom) and the various photoshoots, we had a fun time in and around Calaveras County. We walked around our resort to see the gorgeous views:

played in the playground:

went wine tasting:

went swimming:

and many other fun things. After ten days at Angel’s Camp, we drove over to Windsor, where we had fun walking around downtown Healdsburg:

After two days at Windsor, it was time to come home, and finally sleep in our own beds.

You can see the rest of the photos from our vacation at Angels Camp & Windsor Summer Vacation 2009.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

06 21 2009

One of the places we visited during our vacation with the Holmes family was Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Located in the mountains about 30 minutes away from Angels Camp, it is a beautiful place to go hiking. Walking between the enourmous trees is awe-inspiring. We had a wonderful time until it started raining, and we had to go running for the cars.

Here are some of my favorite photos from there:

You can see the rest of the photos in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park album.

Holmes Family Photoshoots

06 21 2009

During our recent vacation at Angel’s Camp, we met up with some friends visiting from Missouri. The resort we all were staying at was quite scenic, and I didn’t have many good photos of them, so I was eager to do some photoshoots. They obliged, and I was very happy with the results:

You can see the rest of the photos from these shoots in the Holmes Family Photoshoot gallery.

Vasona Lake Park

05 02 2009

My new Canon 5D Mark II camera arrived this past Monday, and the 24-105 f/4L lens followed on Wednesday. Due to my work schedule, I wasn’t able to do much with it (other than a few family portraits) during the week. Today, though, we all, along with Ian, Peggy, and Erin, went over to Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos to have some fun and take lots of photos. Ian also got some new camera gear this week (in his case, the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS lens), so we were both eager to experiment with our new gear.

The weather was ideal by my standards — overcast, slightly windy, and a temperature around 65. Surprisingly, Vasona was not crowded. Perhaps the rain in the morning scared everyone away? In any case, we couldn’t have asked for a better place for the kids to play and for us to walk around.

The 5DII and 24-105 performed surprisingly well. Focus was fast and accurate, exposure was dead-on about 80% of the time, and the photos were sharp with lots of detail. Because the 5DII is full-frame, I had to keep my aperture smaller than I would have on my 40D to avoid depth-of-field issues.

The only major disadvantages to the 5DII so far are all file-size related. Photos eat up space on the flash card much faster (4.6GB in less than 2 hours), take longer to copy off the card, are slower to open/edit, and take longer to upload. I could save sRAW (small RAW) instead of RAW, but then I wouldn’t capture as much detail or be able to crop as much. I’m a big believer in always setting a camera to maximum quality to ensure flexibility in future post-processing.

Here are my favorites from Vasona:

You can see the rest of my photos at, and you can see Ian’s photos at

Little League Spirit Day

04 25 2009

Our friends Erik & Emily’s two oldest kids play in Fremont’s American Little League (Minor-B). Today was the league’s Spirit Day, where all three teams played each other for two innings each. The fields were decorated for the occasion, with different themes for each team, and the fans (aka parents) were very enthusiastic. I came because I wanted to take pictures and because it sounded like a lot of fun. Caroline, Mai, and Caroline’s parents (who are visiting us for a week) came for the third game, and then we all (along with Emily’s parents, who are also visiting this week) went to lunch at the nearby Olive Garden for lunch.

I’d never photographed a Little League game before, but I think I picked it up pretty quickly. I did end up borrowing Emily’s 75-300 lens because my longest lens (18-200) was not long enough. The downside of the 75-300 lens is that it’s very slow to focus and doesn’t have the best optics, so some of my photos are a bit softer than I would prefer. (Memo to self: save up for the 28-300L). The day started out cloudy (yay, perfect for photography!) but it cleared up quickly and was sunny for the rest of the morning, making the photography much more challenging. (Rule 1 of outdoor photography: don’t take pictures in direct bright sunlight if you can avoid it.)

Overall I think the photos came out pretty well, though I’m hoping next year’s photos be even better, and will be taken with a 5D Mark II and the 28-300L lens.

Here are some of my favorites:

You can see the rest at

San Francisco Zoo

03 31 2009

Last Saturday Caroline, Mai, and I visited the SF Zoo with Ian, Peggy, and Erin. Given the fairly early (for our family) 9:15am departure, I was very happy that Ian agreed to drive us in their minivan. The weather was pleasant, though the ocean breeze occasionally made it a bit chilly. Ian and I both brought our cameras. He used a Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 as his primary lens, while I used my Sigma 18-200mm OS lens. The kids behaved well overall, despite some occasional issues, especially by the end when everyone was getting very tired. The zoo was just the right size for a day trip, wasn’t too crowded, and had a pretty good assortment of animals to see. We had a wonderful time, and look forward to coming back on a regular basis as Mai gets older.

Favorite photos:

You can see the rest of my SF Zoo photos at Ian’s photos are at

Joshua Tree National Park

03 12 2009

During our vacation at Indio late last year, we visited Joshua Tree National Park three times. The first time we left a little later in the day than we intended, and only had about two hours there before dark. The second time, we decided to drive up to the north entrance. This unfortunately took three times longer than Google Maps estimated, again leaving us with relatively little time in the park. The third time we arrived much earlier, giving us a full afternoon there. Between the three trips we drove the entire length of the park in daylight, and visited most of the points of interest. We still want to go back again, though — it would nice to be able to hike around when Mai is older, and to spend more time at the many scenic spots in the park. If you’re ever in the Palm Springs area, I highly recommend taking a day or two to visit.

Between our relatively hurried schedule and having a fussy toddler, photography was a bit challenging. I’m also more of a portrait photographer than a landscape photographer; this was very apparent when Caroline started sorting through the many pictures I took there. In the end, in between the tons of boring photos we found some really nice ones, so I was happy.

Photographs in the desert are also challenging because the colors frequently come out pretty dull straight out of the camera. When editing these photos I increased the saturation quite a bit on many of them. I really like the result, but Caroline, who tends to prefer very minimal editing, is less thrilled.

The other thing I learned while taking these photos is that my camera sensor has dust. Sensor dust is only visible with relatively small apertures. Since portraits are generally shot with large apertures, I didn’t notice the problem until I started using the small apertures required for landscape photos. Canon’s Dust Delete Data worked well at removing most of the dust specks, and some quick work in Photoshop fixed the rest. At some point I should get my sensor cleaned, but since I’m back to shooting mainly portraits I don’t see the problem any more. Perhaps I’ll get this done right before the Yosemite trip this summer?

Here are my favorite photos from the three park visits:

To see the rest, please go to