New Year, New Lenses

It’s been about a year since I bought Marcus. It’s been a faithful travel companion, and has withstand my clumsy hands. In this time, I’ve only been using the kit lens since I figured it’d allow me to learn the ropes. Well, recently, I decided it was time for me to outfit Marcus with a new pair of lenses. It was an impromptu decision, but I had done some preliminary research in the past, so I hit up the B&H Store in New York, and took advantage of their generous holiday sale.

I purchased the 50mm f/1.8 lens and I’m really satisfied with my decision. I loved the kit lens, but the f/1.8 lens is sharper and creates a more editorial look. Since it’s a 50mm, it means that my field of vision is significantly smaller, and I will have to be more judicious in what I allow in and out of my frame. I think these lenses are fabulous for portraits — it captures the perfect amount of softness and sharpness. After using the kit lens for so long, these prime lenses feel like such a treat!

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Singer in front of Ai WeiWei’s “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” installation // Washington Square Park, New York, NY

Since I have some quiet time at home, I’ve been doing some self-reflections. I think 2017 was a little bit of a chaotic year for me; there was a lot going on, and I got way too burnt out by the end. I kind of did a hard shut-down as the semester and the year wound down to a close, and I feel much more refreshed going into 2018.

If you’ve been reading this blog for the past year, then you’ll probably know that I started a 365-day photo project, that started off quite strong but I kind of gave up midway through the year. Looking back, it was too much all at once, and if I am to come up with some New Years Resolutions, then I’d better start small.

I’ve got four major “projects” that I want to work on in this upcoming year. They are: (1) capsule everything, (2) budgeting, (3) reading more books and watching more films, and (3) experiment more with my photography.

I think that the first two go hand-in-hand. Fine tuning my capsule system will allow me to be wiser with my spending, and in turn, help me get into the habit of budgeting. I’ve been trying to get into the capsule wardrobe system for some time now, and though I’ve done a great job parring down over the years, I don’t think I’ve quite curated a capsule wardrobe that I’m proud of. I think I will start with parring down my makeup collection first, and then stepping into other things like books, before finally revisiting my clothing for a capsule wardrobe finale! I’ll most likely keep the details to that for a separate post, so this one won’t get too long.

In terms of budgeting, I think I need to work on not just budgeting my spending but also my time. I find myself always doing menial tasks (checking my e-mail, scrolling through Facebook) because “5 minutes” just isn’t enough to do something meaningful when in reality – it totally is! These are larger goals, and will probably take me longer to accomplish than others on this list.

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1 Washington Mews // New York, NY

I was particularly inspired by a friend who committed to watching a single film every week over the past year. Watching more films has been something I’ve been meaning to do now, and haven’t, ever quite gotten around to it. Honestly, since I spend so much time watching Netflix and YouTube anyway, I could turn this time into accomplishing things that I’ve been meaning to do. (Same goes for reading – all those memes could’ve totally been a new book.) I think my goal is to watch a film a week, and read a book a month.

And my last goal is to just have more fun with my photography. I want to challenge myself to look at photography a different way. I’ve noticed that my attitude towards photography has always been secondary. That is, I’m always bringing Marcus along to photograph something an experience of mine. This is detrimental, I think, in two ways – firstly, it interferes with me truly being present during the experience and thus also prevents me from really spending quality time with the person I’m with. Secondly, it’s also a disservice to my photography, since I’m viewing the perfect opportunity to be more passive, when I can be creating my perfect shot. So I guess these are a lot of words to say that I’m going to treat photography as an ends-in-itself, rather than just a thing that is convenient for me to do at that time.

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Passenger (or conductor?), on board the Holiday Nostalgia Train // New York, NY

And of course – one thing that I have to work on is posting more often! I think I started 2017 off quite well, but lost track of it by the end. This year, I hope I am on the up and up instead – I love blogging, and posting about my experiences, and hearing from you all.

So, in the spirit of my new resolutions let me know in the comments below on what is your:

  1. Thoughts on capsule wardrobes/etc.
  2. Budgeting tips and tricks
  3. Favorite book
  4. Favorite movie/film
  5. Photo that you’ve taken in 2017 that you’re most proud of

Thank you for reading, and I wish you the absolute best in 2018. Cheers to a new year! 🥂

Fin.

Writer’s note: 
1. I cannot decide if a pair of camera lens should be “lens” or “lenses”… Any grammar experts out there who can illuminate the proper term?

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Photos from My Phone (V.)

It’s been months since my last update – the semester came and went, and is nearly over. And though I’ve done some light traveling in the past month, I must admit that I am starting to get rusty with both my blog-writing and photography skills!

I’ve sat down a few times to write an update, but each time I do so, I don’t seem to be into the subject I was writing about. I had some photos from Kansas City, MO that I was going to make into a post, but I just didn’t know what to write and how to approach the subject. I will probably write a photo-dump post soon to reflect on my (hopefully) growth as a photographer in the past year.

For the first few months of moving back to school, I had left my charger for my camera at home. I procrastinated on buying a replacement charger (which literally only costs $7 on Amazon), and instead used my phone’s camera a bunch. With the new camera software updates from Android, I’ve been able to experiment with some new camera modes (i.e. the selective focus mode – which is akin to iPhone’s Portrait mode).

I didn’t think much of these photos until I saw Camila Cabello’s Havana music video in vertical mode, directed by Sam Lecca. (I actually love this video so much more than the original music video, which I thought was kind of boring and forgettable.) I was really inspired by the unconventional use of a vertical filming and it made me realize the potential we each hold in our compact cell phones!

So I selected some of my favorite photos and I played around in VSCO with some new filter packs that I purchased (Vibrant Classics and the Aesthetic series). I’ve been able to snap some pretty cool pictures with my phone, since it’s always on hand and I never miss a beat! While Marcus (my Pentax KS-2) delivers superior quality, I find that, in general, people tend to be more receptive to the camera on a phone than the lens of a heavy-duty camera. Some of my favorite portraits have been from my phone. (Plus, a phone is generally more inconspicuous than a camera, so it makes taking sneaky candids way easier.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this set of photos – and don’t forget to let me know what you think!

Fin.

Writer’s notes: 
1. Curious about the specs of the photos? Or want to see them in greater detail — click on the photos to enlarge and learn more technical information about them.
2. Triva: the cats in the last set of phots are actually two different cats!
3. I’ve been playing around with the theme of the blog — let me know if you have any thoughts about the dark background. I think it helps to make the photos pop, but I’m worried that it will compromise readability. LMK what you think!