Archive for the ‘on life’ Category

I have been photographing babies lately. Babies aren’t necessarily easy to photograph, but they’re certainly fun, interesting, and – when things go right – very rewarding subjects! A couple of weeks ago, I did a shoot with Baby BooBoo, my friend JoJo’s 11-month old baby girl. I came around dinner time so I was able to get some nice shots of the baby eating.

Last week, I did a multi-day shoot with the Wonder Twins, my friend Lisa’s babies (yes, the same Korean-food Lisa I mentioned in my previous post). It was particularly fun and challenging to photograph the Wonder Twins – a boy and girl with two very different personalities. Baby G was just a natural with the camera, which made photographing her very easy. There was one point when she was reclined in her mom’s arms, drinking from her bottle. As I moved around to take her picture from different angles, her eyes followed me, making eye contact with my camera lens. The image below is one of my favorite images from the shoot because it truly shows off Baby G’s personality.

Baby G of the Wonder Twins

Nikon D90. exposure: 1/25, aperture: f/2.5, ISO 200

Baby B was a different story. He was the serious type and rarely broke into a beautiful dimpled smile. Had I been shooting with film, I would have gone through several canisters just trying to capture his elusive smile! Finally, towards the end of the shoot, I was rewarded with a happy giggling baby. However, I chose to post this pic of Baby B:

Baby B sleeping

Nikon D90. exposure: 1/40, aperture: f/4.8, ISO 200

This one was taken around dusk with some diffused lighting coming in from a window. I really wanted the image to focus on Baby B’s beautiful long lashes and also the serenity of his nap. The angle from above his head allowed me to do just that.

At the end of the week, I had some really beautiful shots of the twins. However, I have to say some of my favorite images were not of their faces. Babies grow up so quickly. There will be tons of pictures of their mugs, but the daily details of their little lives often are forgotten. I wanted to take pictures of those details – their tiny feet and their chubby hands. This one is of the twins miniature feet as they sat reclined in their car seats.

Baby Feet

Nikon D90. exposure: 1/30, aperture: f/1.8, ISO 200

So what have I learned so far on the photoshoots I’ve done with babies?

  • Always have your camera ready. Remember the details I mentioned above? You can’t capture a shot of that infant smile or those precious baby yawns unless your camera is always ready.
  • Don’t be afraid to move around – and above, and to the left, and to the right. Find the right angle for the shot you want to capture.
  • For babies, natural diffused light is best.
  • Avoid flash. I’m not a big fan of the built-in camera flash to begin with, but it’s almost an entire no-no for photographing babies.
  • Take as many shots as you can. Especially when you’re in learning and practicing mode like I am. Believe me, out of those two dozen shots you took is bound to be crisp, bright, and perfect!

Special thanks to Lisa for allowing me to post some pics of her beautiful Wonder Twins!

I’ve still so much to learn, but I wanted to share with you where I am in the process. What about you? Do you have any tips for photographing kids and babies?


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This week we had house guests – my friend Lisa (who also happens to be BGP‘s cousin) was visiting us along with her 3-month old wonder twins. It’s been fun having the three of them in the house. I have to admit it’s been quite an experience having the twins around, but I’ll save that for another blog. Suffice it to say for now that my respect and admiration for parents – esp. single parents or parents of multiples – have been upped several notches.

Lisa is Korean and also went to culinary school. This is a double jackpot for me and the rest of the Roomies because we love Korean food. She has been teaching BGP all week how to prepare some Korean dishes and of course, I was more than happy to be the taste-tester. The other night she made this delicious dish called kalbi-jjim, which is braised short-ribs. If you think regular kalbi (Korean BBQ) is good, kalbi-jjim is even better: slow cooked, tender short-ribs with a sweet finish.  Lisa garnished it with cubes of radish and carrots, which were the perfect companions!

kalbi-jim, traditional Korean dish

braised short ribs with radish, carrots, and scallions

The rest of the week, we were treated to chapchae, udon noodles, kimbap, and home-made kimchi. Alas, the trio head home this weekend and the Roomies and I are all sad for various reasons. Not the least of which is the delicious meals every night.

BUT – hopefully BGP took some good notes and can prep the dishes again in the future. Or even better, pass on the knowledge to us!

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Window through Time

Streets of Macau, May 2010

I was so excited to capture this shot because it’s the first time I successfully used the S mode (shutter speed) to capture motion. This was taken on a very crowded and very busy street in Macau, China. I was so fascinated by the old European (Portuguese) architecture intertwined with the Chinese culture that I kept stopping along my walk just to take pictures of the juxtaposition.

While this picture doesn’t exactly display the contrast between the Portuguese and Chinese influences, for me it was still a study in contrast.

I saw that window on the old stone building and imagined it standing there silent and unmoving for hundreds of year, witness to thousands of people who have hurriedly walked by. Just as it did on that day that I shot the picture.

Image Specs: Nikon D90, 1/6,  f/22, 18mm, ISO 200

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We were supposed to grill corn for our 4th of July BBQ, but we had so much food that weekend that we completely overlooked the corn.

We ended it up grilling it the following weekend (yes it was still good). The corn was so delicious – so sweet and juicy. The picture really doesn’t do it justice but I thought I’d share anyway. I liked the soft yellow of the corn and the grill marks on them.

This photo was taken with a 50mm/f1.8 lens, mid-afternoon in our kitchen where we get a lot of natural light. It was easy to make this look good.

Happy summer everyone!

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Recently, a group of us from work decided to put together the soundtracks of our lives. We then posted them on on our shared iTunes network. It was interesting how much one’s taste in music can say about him/her. After listening to some of my co-workers’ soundtracks, I felt like I knew them better.

I put together my shared soundtrack quite hastily one morning, so it probably didn’t capture all I wanted it to. But here’s my revised one. Since it is a life soundtrack, some of the songs are reminiscent of my “youth”. While most others are a reflection of how I get through the day (let alone my entire life!) and also what I try to live by.

I also added a link to song clips on Amazon.com, in case you’re not familiar with the songs and would like to listen to a clip or download the full version. I hope you enjoy!

  • So Young – The Corrs
  • Brown-Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
  • Dreams – The Cranberries
  • Under Pressure – Queen & David Bowie
  • Independent Women – Destiny’s Child
  • Life is a Highway – Rascal Flatts
  • Waiting on the World to Change – John Mayer
  • A Natural Woman – Aretha Franklin
  • Unwritten – Natasha Beddingfield
  • Extraordinary – Mandy Moore
  • The Warrior is a Child – Twila Paris
  • How You Live – Point of Grace
  • Voice of Truth – Casting Crowns
  • Redeemer – Nicole C. Mullen
  • Great is Thy Faithfulness – Avalon
  • What’s on your life soundtrack? Do share!

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    “She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.” – Proverbs 31:25


    Today is my Lola‘s birthday. She is 77.

    My Lola (grandmother) is one of the strongest women I know.

    She was widowed when she was in her 30s and raised 7 children on her own.
    And she did it in a place and time where there was no such thing as food stamps or welfare. She buried 2 of her own children (4 if you count the twins she miscarried when my grandfather died).

    She found odd jobs doing laundry and ironing for people. She also tried her hand at several businesses.

    Japanese paper balloons

    Japanese paper balloons

    For a long time she made Japanese paper balloons and sold them in bulk at the market or to people for fiestas and parties. She actually continued making the paper balloons well into my childhood — I remember helping her make the rice glue used to stick the paper pieces together. She said it was a way she made money for herself, even when her children were willing and able to support her.

    When her kids were older, Lola opened up a little canteen that catered to sailors (she and my aunts are fabulous cooks!) It’s actually how my mom met my dad.

    My Lola helped raise Sister and me, along with several other cousins. She lived with us when I was a young child, caring for us like only a grandmother could. And when she returned to live with us during our teenage years, she endured our teen angst.

    I love many things about my grandma. She’s taught me many things, and I am thankful for all she’s done for me.

    But the one thing that I will be forever grateful for is her fervent prayers for me to know and have a relationship with the One True God.

    It was she who gave me Bible stories to read and songs to listen to as a child.
    It was she who encouraged me as a moody teenager to always have faith in the God Who Is Able.
    Even now, it is she who shows me what it is like to truly trust in God for all that we may ever need.

    Happy birthday, Inay.

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    Have you heard of cats bringing their owners their prey as a show of their love and appreciation? Well if that’s true, then I know BGP’s cat really loves me.

    Although he’s technically BGP’s, I’m Cat’s favorite aunt/pet-godmother. I am usually the one who feeds him and cleans his litter box. I also play feathers with him.

    Cat helping me make my bed

    Cat "helping" me make my bed

    Best of all, I am his sleeping buddy. We have a routine going, too. At about 5am each day, he’ll wake me up so I can pull up the blinds for him and he can sit on the window sill, or open the bedroom door so he can go do his thing or take in an early breakfast.

    A few weeks ago, I was just soooo tired that I decided to call it a night really early. I think I was in bed by 8pm. At that hour, Cat is usually not in any mood to sleep. Plus, I wanted to sleep in as long as I could. So wanting to avoid a 5am wake-up call, I purposely left Cat out of the room.

    I woke up at about 6am the next morning to go the the restroom. I was greeted by a very eager and especially affectionate kitty who was probably wondering why he was left out in the ‘cold’ living room by himself the night before. After a few obligatory pets on the head, I went back to bed but decided to leave my bedroom door ajar so Cat can go in and out.

    I must have dozed off for another couple of hours, because the next thing I heard was my two roommates, BGP and Mun, sneaking quietly into my room to see if I was up yet. But their attempt at being quiet was short-lived when I heard BGP gasp and exclaim, albeit in a whispery voice, “Oh my gosh! What’s that on her bed?!”

    Now before I continue with my story, there are two things to keep in mind here:
    (1) My bed linens are all white. White pillows. White sheets. White duvet. Anything un-white would immediately stand out against it.
    (2) Cat is an indoor-only cat. He doesn’t have prey.

    The gasp and exclamation were then followed by BGP, in her controlled yet task-ready voice, telling Mun, “Quick! Go get some wipies!!” As drunk with sleep as I still was, my curiosity had understandably been piqued at this point. So I raised my head, squinted at my roommates who, even without my glasses, I can tell were trying to stifle laughs, and asked groggily “What’s going on?”

    “There’s poop on your bed!”

    And the stifled giggles from BGP and Mun suddenly erupted.

    Sure enough, once I put my glasses on, I witnessed the 2 pieces of dried poo in the middle of my bed.

    Once we recovered from laughing (and cleaning up the poop), we deduced that Cat had been upset about being left out of my room the night before that he had raided his litter box for a peace and love offering to me, if you will. I have to admit, it was better than finding a dead rodent on my bed.

    Now I have to ask you, what can be better than being loved like that?

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