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Spring

Sakura PanoramaSpring arrived in New York… I thought. We had many warm days in March and sakura – cherry blossoms – decided to bloom a bit earlier this year. Last Saturday, on March 24, I went out to shoot sakura and this kind called Someiyoshino were in full bloom. But right after this, the cold came back. It was a cold week and I had to put my coat back on…

Anyways on that shooting day I decided to take the a77 with the kit 16-50mm f2.8 on, which I bought in October. Wrong decision… The files from the camera are awful and it’s a truly useless camera, at least for me as a still camera. I had decided to sell it so I wanted to shoot with it for the last time. Looking at the files I was re-convinced about my decision to sell it. I did sell it a few days ago at Adorama. I only got half of what I paid in October… I’ll try to consider it as a discount 5-month rental fee to try the new toy… I will post a full (very negative) review some day.

Sakura in New YorkSakura in New YorkSakura in New York

The kind of sakura in the photos below is called Yaezakura, which is very pinkish and shaped differently. These usually bloom in the second half of April but they’re likely to bloom soon. I took the photos on April 17, 2010, with my D700/Nikkor 27-70mm f2.8. I reprocessed the second photo and posted on 500px here. I will also add it to the NY Street Gallery.
Yaezakura in New YorkYaezakura in New York

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Dogs

A photo contest site ViewBug asked me to be a judge for one of their contests. They chose a theme “Dogs” to assign to me (http://www.viewbug.com/contests/dog-photo-contest). I wonder why – I am a dog lover, but I don’t really have any photo of dogs in my portfolio… The only thing would be this photo in the Japan Gallery, which I titled “The Guardian Dog”…

Or, I like animals in general and shoot them (with a camera:) a lot and have some pictures of them in my portfolio… Yes I’m a pescatarian…

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Antique

Metropolitan Life TowerIt was warm and nice this Sunday. My friend invited us to go to this antique shopping place in Chelsea. I’m not into antiques but thought new experience was always good and it would be a good photo op. Brought my usual walk-around set – D7000/35mm f1.8.

Before we met up I took several shots near Madison Square Park on betw. Madison and 5th Ave. and 23rd and 26th St. I’ve always been fascinated by this Metropolitan Life Tower. Apparently the building is more than 100 years old…

Metropolitan Tower plate
One of the most famous landmarks in Manhattan – The Flat Iron Building – how do you shoot in the middle of the day and when there’s no clouds in the sky? I didn’t really get an answer but these will be archived anyway. I renamed the Empire State Building Gallery to the Landmarks Gallery am adding these two photos there together with those of other landmarks.
Slanted Iron

Flat Iron

Clock near Flat Iron

So there’s this antique flea market, if you will, at this open space on 25th St. betw. 5th and 6th Ave. I must’ve passed by this place many times but had never noticed till this day.
Antique Flea Market

I wasn’t interested in most of the junks except for these old magazines. But what would I do with them at home? I couldn’t think of anything.
LIFE Magazines

Shopping for Shoes

African Mask

Doll

Doll in Yellow Dress

There’s this entrance between 6th and 7th Ave. also on 26th St. to the Antique Garage Flea Market.
Entrance to the Antique Flea Market

There was a whole new world I had never known about.
Antique Flea Market

I thought $5 or so for a 30-year-old magazine is a good deal.
Playboy Magazine

One of the few things I’d be interested in at this kind of place was an antique camera just to display on a shelf at my place, but the conditions didn’t seem so good.
Antique Cameras

My friend was interested in these very old cork screws from France which cost hundreds of dollars. Me? I’d rather buy a shiny, brand new and modern design one at Crate&Barrel for 10 bucks. He doesn’t even drink wine…
Antique Cork Screw

Old Photographs

Creepy Doll

Most of the people working there were interesting looking like this…
Russian Lady

Pink-Haired Lady

To be honest I’m not good at asking strangers for shots, but I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to shoot this gentleman. He was very nice anyway.
Antique Seller

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500px

Folks at 500px picked my image which I titled “Sky is the Limit” for Editors’ Choice. I’m honored and excited since I think 500px is the best photography community site in North America. It’s probably the best in the world but I couldn’t say because I don’t know anything about non-English sites, and probably I should say best in the US but they’re based in Canada…

Speaking of 500px, they also included my photo I took in Japan in January last year, which I titled  ”Gate to the Sacred“, in their selection of “Silhouettes” here. I added this photo and a few others to my Japan Gallery. Please check out.

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55th – 60th Street

Snaps from wandering in Manhattan with D7000/35mm f1.8 last Sunday. I have nothing to do with Bloomingdale’s but these old-looking letters have always appealed to me, so got the shot.

I went to the Sony Store in this Sony building on Madison at 56th St. I wanted to check out their touch-screen desktop.

I’m a Mac user – the only reason why I’m interested in a PC is because the program I have to stream Japanese TV can only be run with Windows. Besides, the touch screen means less clutter, which is good for the small dining table at my place.  The touch screen function worked very well – might get one. Or would the next generation iMac would have touch-screen?

Took a break at this small place, Obika – Mozzarella Bar, in the space open to the public across the Sony store, surrounded by glass walls. This salad with smoked wild Alaskan salmon with mache leaves, arugula, avocado and tomatoes was awesome. Simple but perfect for me. This place had a lot of organic stuff, and their chicken for example was free-range, which I wouldn’t eat of course. The walls are all glass including the ceiling – the open, bright place felt very good. Became my favorite place although I didn’t expect it from a place in public space. I used to like Mozzarella but don’t eat any dairy any more. But if I ever decide to eat it again, it has to be certified in terms of being organic and animal welfare, which this place seems to care. My kind of place – bravo.

Kiosk in a subway station.

[D7000/35mm f1.8]

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Nature

Speaking of Water Taxi, I recently pulled out and reprocessed this shot I took in June 2008 while riding a Taxi. I like how it came out. I added this and a few new photos to my Manhattan Gallery. Please check out.

Also I created a new gallery called “Nature” under the New York theme. You might wonder: Nature in New York? You’ll see.

[above: D300/Nikkor 17-55mm f2.8 | below: D700/Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8]

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Water Taxi

Two weekends ago, on Feb 5, it was a relatively warm day so I decided to take a water taxi for transportation. You can buy a ticket for $4 and just hop on. There’s one every hour or so on weekends. It was still too cold for a boat ride but I enjoyed it. These boat rides make me feel like I’m sightseeing. I definitely recommend trying these water rides occasionally instead of the subway since the real beauty of Manhattan can be seen when you get out of the island. But not in February…

I brought my walk-around camera D7000 plus the Tamron 18-270mm PZD. I bought this lens as my travel lens on the DX body last summer but couldn’t quite like it till this day. I didn’t hope for much from a super zoom, but still… Let’s see if the rumor that Nikon will release a 18-300mm lens is true or not. I didn’t get any shots worth going into the gallery, but am posting some snaps from the day. I gave HDR treatment to some of them out of 3 bracketed exposures.

Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn BridgeThere’s this interesting building, New York by Gehry, near the City Hall – should be a good subject in good light.This is where we got off, South Street Seaport South Street Seaport – after we got off the boat“Freedom Tower” going upThe Empire was beautiful – I like it in blue.Where we had dinner – Souen, the vegetarian Japanese restaurant in the East Village. Tempe (meat alternative) gyoza.  Curry/miso ramen. They follow the microbiotic style so you can’t expect salty ramen. Still this is a precious place for me, a pescatarian – I love gyoza and ramen but even “vegetable ramen” at most places contains chicken/port/beef stock in the soup. 

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Snow

This evening It started to snow lightly –  no wonder it got cold today after many warm days here in New York. I immediately thought of making a picture I’d had in mind for a long time. I think I got what I wanted. The main frame is in color, but presenting B&W first…

I’m adding this to my Manhattan Gallery together with a few others. Please check it out.

D700 | 14-24mm f2.8

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Equipment Matters

As a religious Nikon user and a D700 owner, I could not not be excited about today’s announcement of the D800. Although I had almost decided to go for the D4 over it, the announcement of the coming birth of my beloved D700′s big brother (actually much more than that) was something special. I ordered it on Amazon anyway just in case I will change my mind and decide to get it instead of the D4. Actually I’d been hoping for a small version of the upcoming D4, just like the D700 as to the D3. I would’ve gone for the D800 if it had the same 16mp sensor as the D4. I just don’t think I need that much of mega pixels for the kind of work I do. I’d choose high sensitivity performance and speed.

I love my D700. I actually thought of buying another a couple of months ago when rumors that the D800 would have a 36mp sensor were almost being confirmed. It was too late. I would’ve had to pay almost the same amount of money as what I paid in 2008, which was not acceptable. I wish I’d bought it a year ago or so when the price was just going down. If you think about it, it’s the only “compact” full-frame body available with a modest pixel count, and is probably the last one ever to be made (I hope I’m wrong).

Anyways, when exciting news like this come in, I’d start to hear this mantra – “equipment doesn’t matter” – more often. I hate hearing this. It’s wrong. It’s this kind of extreme and shallow perceptions that mess up the minds of beginning photographers or mess up the whole world for that matter. Like calling a certain people this and that after a terrible incident takes place just because it was carried out by individuals who happened to be part of that people. Of course equipment matters. And of course, equipment is not everything.

You give a top end SLR to a bad photographer using a 5-year-old entry-level SLR, and would his/her picture quality instantly become better? Yes of course. OK, “less bad” to be precise. Pictures would become a lot cleaner because of the high sensitivity performance of the new camera, and more chances of getting the shot because of the more frame rate, etc. It doesn’t mean s/he is a better photographer now of course.

Shooting is like driving. I don’t think bringing up Shakespeare’s pen is a good analogy, as in: “Even if you buy a pen Shakespeare used to use at Christie’s, it doesn’t give you the ability to write like him.” More appropriate would be: “You can have the same car as a professional race car driver but you won’t be able to drive like him.” I don’t think many people would look at a Mercedes or a Porsche on the street and start judging the driving skills of the person driving it. People buy a car they want, if they can afford. There’s nothing wrong about it. Why is it like a sin if a beginner photographer buys a top end SLR? What’s wrong with a very enthusiastic beginner trying to start practicing photography using something like that? Nothing, if s/he can afford it.

If one wants to teach a lesson that a camera is just a tool and skills and a vision are the most important things, s/he should say it as it is, or simply, “Equipment is not everything.”

photo below | D7000 | 35mm 1.8

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Hello World

Hello World – I know it’s a lame thing to say on a blog. But I feel it’s appropriate – I finally set up my own website open to the public and this is my first real “blog” post. So – Hello World.

On this site I will be sharing things related to photography, New York, or whatever I’m into. It’s so exciting to be able to share with others what I love. I can’t believe how long it took for me to set up the site, but I really couldn’t find a web format I liked.

The site is still work in progress, but I decided that it reached the level that’s presentable. I love how easy it is to browse through the photos. I hope visitors enjoy them. I do myself:)

D700 | Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 | 3 frames stitched together