Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A rant on Bokeh

smooth escape

First of all what is this bokeh stuff I always talk about? It's a Japanese term that refers to the out of focus parts of the image.

Present Tense: JoAnn Verburg
At the Moma in New York, I was taken aback by the simple beauty of this image, it inspired me to start taking pictures...


A lot of times in when I'm in my car waiting on a red light, I like to ask myself, "Why is photography so important to me?" And most of the times I come up with an answer similar to this: Photography is preserving a  moment for later inspection. A second chance at re-living a highlight of beauty, a peek of emotion. It's not only a method for me to show others how I perceive the world, but also a way for me to see it again as well. To finally see everything, the "complete picture" if you will... is a treat.


The camera works uncannily like our eyes, but unlike film our minds usually only take in what's in focus. In darker areas our pupils widen and so do apertures. Put your hand close to your face and focus your eyes on it, and try to examine everything behind it... it feels weird right? The thing is... that out of focusness is beautiful, just awkward to look at normally, and a photo gives us a relaxed way of looking at it.


Bokeh adds to the composition of an image. One major goal of photography is to entertain the eyes... to make them search for the subject. So why not give the eyes something pleasant to look at while they're dancing around? Even when my subject is smack dab in the middle, the bokeh draws attention elsewhere, it makes the image more interesting, not so obvious(I hate being obvious). I'm not Ansel Adams... I don't live in a beautiful national forest where everything is beautiful and everything needs to be in focus. Blast that boring background with a low F stop and make it something special.


Bokeh gives a picture depth, a 3rd dimension to a physically flat canvas. It's character derived directly from our gear... it makes me crave zeiss and leica glass. (even though all of these were taken with a lowly canon 50mm f/1.4)

i try to keep awake

Bokeh allows for creativity, it can actually be the subject of the image.

tell me...

And for some of us... the more pictures we take the more we want to see it. Like addicts... Seeing in real life is boring without it.


If you're wondering how to achieve this effect, take a look at my basic tutorial for it

tapioca with jane

rainbow tapioca

In moderate light the Lumix GF1 + 20mm f/1.7 can really go to work. Since I've finally done some extensive photo taking with this combo I'll do a post on my opinions of micro 4/3rds soon (hopefully).


Don't really know what to do with this site. I think I need to revise the way I do tips... or maybe not give any tips at all. Perhaps this will be a less emo version of my regular blog.

A while ago I stumbled on Millie's xanga(a long while ago), and I was intrigued by her... sort of dark and mysterious personality.


I'm glad I got an afternoon with her for myself, shes actually quite cute and quirky.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

easy to remember...

I printed this picture for my brother last Christmas, his wife brought it up when we got tea after dinner today.

Perhaps the best meal I've had in my life so far, an Omakase at Sushi of Gari in New York.

Back in Texas we drive everywhere; there is barely any street life. One moment you're here, the next you're at your destination. I remember walking to the restaurant from my brother's apartment, the feel of the streets, loving the the fact that walking was a necessity.

Omakase means "It's up to you" you let the chef decide what to make based on whats fresh, what he feels like, you're trusting him to show you a good time. At the sushi bar we had those prepackaged chopsticks that all Japanese places have, and for the life of me I can never break the chopsticks evenly. Usually after I fail, I just suck it up and carry on with my meal. However... this time a waitress noticed my displeased look and gave me a second chance. I knew there was going to be beer, I know now it's not a big deal... but back then getting to drink alcohol was worth noticing, it was different, fresh. It's as if every Sapporo I drink now is a futile attempt at reliving that moment. There are better beers, but I still drink Sapporo anyway just to see if I can get that spark back.

The rice was extraordinary. First time sushi rice has ever really surprised my tongue, it... tingled, in a good way of course. The fish was fresher than any I've had before, but the chef took it to the next level by pairing each fish with a flavor, essence of lemon, a hint of spice from the skin of hot peppers, creme fresh, always something extra special. There was fois gras sushi for heavens sake. I was lost trying to quantify it all. It was as if all the tension built up from years of watching food network and travel channel was being released from my brain into the stratosphere. I was happily snapping away at the first few dishes, but suddenly I felt guilty... I felt as if I should have been just enjoying the chef's preparations without pausing to take a snap. So I skipped some courses, and just so happens the one course that I did decide to pick up my camera for, someone walks through the door. All the chefs look up... *click*

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Photoshop Tutorials: Basics

These tutorials go over the basic tools that I use in photoshop. Somethings I'll explain are the RAW editor in the photoshop CS series, curves, basic detail management, and basic tools to achieve "pop." Make sure to watch in 720p, and perhaps full screen it.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask, thanks for watching.


Instead of letting this blog die, I'm going to try and salvage it.


My cousin lauren, taken at my brother's wedding.

Canon 5D, Canon EF 50mm f/1.4, at f/2.5, 1/200 sec, ISO 100.

Not a true F/stop I know, but I'll take it anyways.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meimei's wedding


I haven't been updating :/, however I have a new microphone, so I will be doing a photoshop tutorial on black and white processing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Canon 100mm f/2 test~

Went downtown with my friend Joanne. It was drizzling a little bit at first, but then it started to clear up, which made the lighting conditions into a mix of soft and strong light.

I actually didn't spot these until Joanne pointed them out!

nice dog

There was a triathlon going on, but I found the crowd a bit more interesting~ I take pics of dogs and little kids... hah.


I actually really enjoy the 100mm focal range for street shooting! I'll do a review after a month shooting with it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Singapore Harbors

singapore harbors

I haven't been shooting much lately :( But hopefully that will change since I'm going to be carrying my film camera around with me now, and I'll be getting a 100mm f/2 lens for my Canon on Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New york~


Sorting old archives... and noticing interesting pictures =)!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rule of thirds

Haven't been taking many pictures since I've been only moving stuff around :/

Here's a video on rule of thirds, but remember that it's not really a rule, only a guide line, use it, then break it!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ashley @ zilker park

ashley @ zilker park

Daytime went pretty well =). I'm still writing a small article on portraits... I have a final in 2 days, so hold on!

If you would like to see more from this set, visit my smugmug album : http://moarbokeh.smugmug.com/People/Ashley-Austin/13253358_42WyR#962463672_eKBwL

As far as the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L goes, it's a spectacular lens, but for my purposes it's a bit excessive.

The thing weighs a ton, and the autofocus is a bit slow. With adequite light, f/1.2 seems to give too much dof, I found myself opting for f/1.8 - f/2 most of the time... using the maximum aperture seemed to give a to make her nose out of focus with the focus on her eyes... and the rest of her body? Totally blurred, and blasted away.

Even with the extra f stop, the dang thing is too heavy... causing some additional shake from your hands. If you want to take it for a try, go to precision and rent it for yourself!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ashley @ night


I think things went really well tonight, I'm not sure how people will take the weird / very dark lit shots, but we'll see :P.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

domy books

I'll be posting a tutorial on portraits in a bit...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

reading rainbow

for a while now... I've been obsessing over getting a 100mm or 135mm f/2 lens. I think I should just stick with the good old 50mm.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Adopt Me!

adopt me!

Vicky and Henry

vicky and henry

Micro 4/3rds cameras can be quite good =P

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gear recommendations.

23rd st

As far as this blog goes, I haven't posted much on what gear I recommend, but here it is:

DSLR's allow you to have more control over pictures than your traditional small "point and shoot" camera. After a long time of being a gear snob... I'm going to tell you now that your gear isn't THAT important. There's really a marginal difference after making the jump to these somewhat larger/clunky gadgets.

Right now, if you're looking to buy a DSLR, I recommend getting almost any camera you can get at a reasonable price. Well, whats a reasonable price you ask? Use the search feature(by registering) on the Fred Miranda Buy/Sell forum and see what the average price is... the market fluctuates too much for me to tell you right now ^^; Generally an older body should be around 300-500 dollars, models released recently in the past year should be relatively expensive still... take a look and see what fits your budget.

**(Update): I have a general brand preference for Canon and Nikon... but brands such as Olympus, Sony, Pentax, Panasonic, and (of course) Leica are all good, I just didn't do much research into their DSLR lines. My photography professor, Eli Reed, prefers Olympus and Leica to any other brand. If you asked me... "What is your dream camera?" I would answer "Leica M9 with a 50mm Noctilux." anyways~...

As far as used gear goes I use Fred Miranda. For new i use BHphotovideo or Amazon.

-Camera Body:

DSLR's actually come in 2 parts, the actual camera, and the lens. You need both.

Camera bodies to look out for: (generally from cheaper to more expensive)
-Canon: XTi, XSi, 30D, T1i, 40D, 50D, 5D
-Nikon: D80, D90, D200, D300,

Most recent models, which would be harder to find at a discounted price:
-Canon: T2i, 7D, 5D mk2
-Nikon: D300s, D700

**You'll notice that I left out the Nikon D40, 40x, D60, and D5000. These cameras are perfectly fine, but they lack an internal focus motor that will limit your next lens choices. I know a lot of people who have been taking amazing pictures with these cameras. If you see one at a bargain price, get it.


Lenses are a tricky issue now days, there are just so many of them. They come in all sorts of zoom lengths... and everyone's preferences are different!

In my opinion it would be best to start off with 2 lenses. A general zoom lens, and a prime lens (a lens that cannot zoom).

Most cameras come with a general zoom lens, most of the time its a 18-55mm. If your camera comes with it, use it for a bit and get your next lens based on your own personal needs. If it doesn't... I would recommend jumping to a better lens (mentioned below).

As for the prime lens, its the 50mm F/1.8 lens for both Canon and Nikon. Now why does everyone recommend this lens, and what does it offer that your zoom lens doesn't? In short it allows you to be more creative with your pictures. First off it's a fixed lens... you can't just stand there and zoom in on something. You will have to zoom and frame with your feet, you'll actually start to give a damn about your framing due to the extra effort. Second, the lens lets you achieve a shallow depth of field or DOF. What is depth of field? Let this wonderful youtube video explain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfOC_Msb1dI

However if your camera does not come with a zoom or if you're looking to upgrade your zoom lens, hands down I recommend either the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 or the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. These zooms have a constant f/2.8 aperture. No more having to deal with your F stop changing from 3.5 to 5.6 when you zoom in! Also they're sharper than your average cheap zoom. If you get one new it comes with a 5 year warrenty, but either used or new... its the best bang for the buck in my opinion!

**There is a newer version with vibration compensation, I recommend the older one with out it due to the price difference. The 17-50 is 414$ after rebate from BHphotovideo.

The most reasonable combo for a person starting out would be in my opinion a Canon XSi, 30D, or 40D with a 50mm Prime, any zoom lens that ranges from around 18mm to 50+mm, any flash compatible with your camera, and any basic tripod(would at least spend about 100$ on one).

For a person looking for a true workhorse combo. I recommend the Canon 7D, 17-55mm F2.8 lens, 70-200mm F2.8 L lens, and a 50mm F1.8 lens(the 1.4 ain't that much better at the moment). For the Nikon shooter, either the D300, or D300s should do nicely, same with the equivalent Nikon lenses. A Canon a 530EX flash, or for Nikon a SB600,800,900. Also a Gitzo or Manfrotto tripod would be ideal.

Personally I never use flash, and I don't use a tripod either. But that's because my style is usually spontaneous and not calculated. Flash and tripods will only expand your creativity =).

-If a DSLR is not your thing

DSLR's are a pain to bring around sometimes, they're big, loud, and obtrusive. What's a better alternative?

Best point and shoots period: Canon S90, Lumix lx3

Micro 4/3rds:


My thoughts on this system are somewhat divided. I have a M4/3'rds or "EVIL" camera, and I actually like it. It provides excellent image quality while being relatively small. If you're interested visit your local camera shop and check out for yourself. To be honest the picture at the top of this post was taken by one of them... they are the real deal!

Only gripes about these cameras are that they are still pretty expensive, and their low light capability is pretty poor.

The most consumer friendly EVIL camera: Olympus EPL1.
Get the zoom or the 28mm.. either one would be good =). These cameras also allow you to use virtually any lens out there via an adapter, with some research you can find some reallyyy cheap, but fantastic lenses that will pair nicely with your camera. The EPL1 is simply hands down the best M4/3rds camera available, sadly... its painful to say that it's better than my Panasonic GF1 (pic above)

-In the end...
The idea is to get any camera you can get your hands on and go out and take pictures! practice practice practice!

**will be updating/editing this frequently, along with linking you to most of the gear... I have homework =(.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment, or message me on aim, my sn is "ibeplu"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hallie @ cactus cafe

I think everyone hits a road block photographic every now and then. When your daily surroundings get boring, make an effort to put yourself in an unfamiliar location. Take a different route perhaps, or if you're in college offer your services to your school newspaper! They'll take all the help they can get, and put you in places that you'll normally won't have access to. If anything just take pictures through that block, at even the slightest thing that catches your eye.

Don't lose your way of seeing! Like everything photography requires practice, even if you're having an off day (or month~).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010



Flickr has a great new layout, it's a really subtle change... but amazing nevertheless! And now they have a larger 640px default size, which means larger pics on this blog~!

Also, check out Ashley's current project it's wonderful.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

fireman's 4

fireman's 4

This is what summer should be... why am I taking class? (and still under 21)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

study distractions

stressful cafe

4 way chess (in the back) blows my mind.

Friday, June 18, 2010


These posts will be links to amazingggg photographers.

1. Todd Heisler
The man behind New York Times 1 in 8 million...

Ordinary people... with truly powerful imagery and audio. You have to see his work for yourself, inspiring.

2. Fabuchan

Amazing japanese street photography

3. Noircorner

Film + medium format goodness =).

4. For Students at UT~~~!!!

The Harry Ransom Center has a collection of over 200,000 pictures taken by Magnum photographers, that you can actually TOUCH. This is amazing... amazing!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back Alley

back alley

When light is just right you can make even the dullest things look quite cool.


jerry @ 31st & speedway

Rethinking my own gear...

Monday, June 14, 2010

After Sunset

after sunset

I'm currently writing a post on camera recommendations~ Also, if you're in Austin I want to experiment with a lens... contact me =).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010