Friday, August 31, 2012

American Whitewater Expeditions

Remember the star trails I did last time? If you missed it, you can see it here. Here are the other photos from my camping trip. Obviously, I did not bring my camera along on the rafting trip, so there will be no photos from that. These photos was from around the campsite. I took both regular and HDR photos there. I hope you enjoy these!

If you want to see my star trails, you can see it here. There is also a tutorial on how you can do star trails on there too.

Full Resolution Photos and Prints: If you want to see full resolution photos or buy prints of any of the photos you see, they are up on my portfolio for viewing. See my best photos from that trip here. See all of my photos from that trip here.

There were some baby ducklings in the pond near the campsite.
边上一个池塘里的小鸭子。

The duckling in the back was slightly blurred.  

Can't tell if this was due to bad focusing or high ISO, but I thought the slight blur made a great effect for the photo. I suspect the blurring was bad focusing. Should have used AI SERVO on my camera instead of ONE SHOT.

Another shot of the ducklings. 

Photography accessories for your camera!

 American river, and a house in the background. I thought the golden color of the sun as it was setting for the day looked great on the house. 

A photo of the sunset in Placerville. This was taken after the rafting trip on the way home.
在回家路上拍的日落。

Photography accessories for your camera!

The rest are the HDR compositions I made. In my option, they weren't very good subjects for HDR. LOL Please enjoy.

This is the pond the ducklings was swimming in. I don't think they are in this shot.

A shot of the American River. A 5-stop neutral density filter was used for the shot. 

HDR composition of the house and the river. This time zoomed out a bit. 

This is all the photos for this trip. I hope you have enjoyed those! Again, if you haven't checked out my star trails photo and instructions on how to do one yourself, you can see my post here. Please don't forget to share my blog posts with your friends! If you would like to get notifications next time I post, you can "Like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What's In My Bag...

I noticed I have only been posting photos recently, and wanted to change things up a bit. For this post, I will be showing you all the photography equipment I have. :) This is most of my equipment and I usually carry all of it with me when I go on vacations to far places. I will usually skip over a few items if I'm only visiting nearby places depending on what I feel like shooting that day. I bring most of them to farther places when I visit because I don't know what to expect! No reviews of the products will be given here, but you can get an idea of what I bring and maybe what you are missing in your photography equipment collection. :) These photos do include the new 600EX-RT flash I purchased recently.

The first photo is of most of my equipment. My camera, tripod, and 1 of my lenses are not in the photo for obvious reasons.


Equipment listed in the above photo (Starting from the left):
Surprising how I can fit that much inside such a small camera bag right? LOL So now let's move onto the things that was not in that photo because I had to use my camera for that photo. The last 2 photos was taken using my Samsung Galaxy Nexus.


Equipment shown in this photo:
Here is a photo of the whole tripod with the camera on top. Photos also taken with my Samsung Galaxy Nexus.


So there you have it, most of the equipment I use and bring along for a photo shoot. :) It is very heavy. LOL Even though I have so much equipment, I can still quickly remember where I put it and quickly locate it in my bag. Sometimes I do hunt around a bit, but I usually don't. As a photographer, it's good to memorize where you store everything so you don't miss the perfect shot! As of right now, I actually don't have any space in my bag to store the flash. Not sure what changes I'll be making for that, but I bring most of these equipment along when I go on trips to far places. I most likely will probably just strap my flash to the outer part of my camera bag, the same way I'm storing my camera filters... If you read carefully, you'd know I usually cheap out and buy 3rd party equipment for all the parts that DO NOT affect optical quality! I never cheap out on lenses, batteries, or flash equipment... It's a very good money saving tip. :) Please don't forget to share my blog posts with your friends! If you would like to get notifications next time I post, you can "Like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lake Chabot Regional Park

I took a friend to Lake Chabot Regional Park a while back. Here are some photos from the trip. I didn't end up taking too many photos as it was too windy. Lake Chabot Regional Park is located in Castro Valley, California. If you are from the area, this park is a great exercise spot with lots of long trails! I hope you enjoy these photos!

I meant to do the photos from my white water rafting trip today, but I ended up uploading these. >.< Sorry, been having a lot on my mind lately with school and stuff. School has been very stressful for me, which is why I ended up uploading the wrong photos after such a big delay in my posts. Oh well, please enjoy these, and I will upload those photos next time!

Full Resolution Photos and Prints: If you want to see full resolution photos or buy prints of any of the photos you see, they are up on my portfolio for viewing. View my best photos from Lake Chabot Regional Park here. View all of my 2012 photos from Lake Chabot Regional Park here

Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)

I'm not very sure on what flower this is. If anyone knows, please comment below!



California Towhee (Pipilo crissalis)

Wild blackberries in the park. This is a close up photo of its flower.

This is a close up photo of the blackberry. These berries are edible once it turns black or almost black. These berries in the photo is not very ripe yet. They taste very good! :) I've ate them before. Generally, in the wilderness, you should never eat any berries you don't recognize! They may be poisonous. These berries, I do recognize, told to me by a park ranger it's safe, and tried before so I know it's safe. 


I usually don't do portrait shots, but I thought the tree's shape looked really cool and shooting it in portrait was the only way to get the most out of it. 

Some landscape of the lake.

Another shot of the lake from a different part of the park. I got some lens flares in this one...

This is all the photos for today. Hopefully I don't forget again, in the next post, I will have more photos from my white water rafting trip! I hope you have enjoyed these photos for today. Please don't forget to share my blog posts with your friends! If you would like to get notifications next time I post, you can "Like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Star Trails Photo/Tutorial

Hello guys, so today, this photo is so special to me, I wanted to make it into a blog post all by itself! This is the result of the first start trails I tried. So a while back, my church hosted a rafting trip with American Whitewater Expeditions in Placerville, CA. Since we camped out for one night, I thought I'd go ahead and do a star trail photo. It was a very clear night anyways... The rest of the photos I took during that trip will come up in the next post. So I hope you enjoy this star trails I did! I would also like to take this opportunity to teach you how to take star trails photography if you are interested. Those will be under the photo. Remember, you can click the photo to view it larger.

If you want to see the rest of the photos I took on this trip, you can view them here.

Full Resolution Photos and Prints: If you want to see full resolution photos or buy prints of any of the photos you see, they are up on my portfolio for viewing. See my best photos from that trip here. See all of my photos from that trip here.

Photo Data:
Exposure: 20 photos X 5 minutes (5 second delay between each)
Focal Length: 17 mm
Aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 100
Artificial Lighting: Very strong LED flashlight to light paint the trees in the foreground.


So how do you do star trails? First off let me tell you some stuff you need to do before you start. The following are required materials for these types of photos:
  • Your camera (obviously)
  • Full battery
  • Tripod (Has to be very sturdy, won't shake in the wind)
  • Powerful flashlight (Optional, depends on if you want to light your foreground)
  • A red flashlight (So you can see the camera controls with out damaging your night vision)
  • Intervalometer with full battery (Sometimes this feature is built-in. Check to make sure. If not, buy one.)
  • Fold up chair, or tent (Somewhere you can stay for the duration of the exposure.)
  • A friend (Optional, but you will be sitting for a few hours at night, all alone with nothing to do)

Next consider the following in the area you are taking the photo at:
  • Are you close to a big city? If you are, you will get light pollution in the photo and it won't look good. You can counteract this later with shorter exposures.
  • Is the full moon out? If it is, it might wash out your photo. Can be compensated with shorter exposures and the camera facing away from the moon.
  • Is the sky clear of clouds? If it isn't, your photo might not turn out that good.
  • Is the North Star in your photo? Depending on what effect you are trying to achieve, take this into consideration. If you have trouble finding the North Star, go get the Google Sky Map app for you Android device.
  • Is there any good foreground in the photo? You will need some foreground for a good star trails photo or it will be boring. 
  • Is it hot outside? If it's hot outside, your camera sensor heats up more quickly which in turn causes image noise.
  • Is there any bright light sources around the area you are taking the photo at? Like me, I was at a camp site, so there was people walking around with flashlights. A little bit of light shouldn't be a problem, but if a person uses a light in the same place for too long, just go ahead and tell them what you are doing, and nicely ask them to turn it off. 
  • Is it likely someone will bump the tripod during the exposure? If it's very likely, find a new place. By bumping the tripod, I also mean yourself! Make sure you place your chair or what ever you will be resting on while you take the photo far enough away from the camera and tripod that you won't accidentally bump into it during the exposure. 
  • Is my battery full? Check that before you start, and make sure it's full! Not half full or 75%, but completely full! Your camera will be locking up the mirror for the entire exposure which will take more power than normal shooting! 
Now that you have checked those things, you have to think of this:
  • How long do I have? It is generally recommended you go at least an hour. If you can't stay awake, you might want to reconsider. Stars move about 15 degrees in one hour, so how long you do the exposure for really depends on your lens's field of view. 
  • When can I start? Around 30 minutes after sunset. Just make sure you can't see the sun's light in the sky anymore. (Technically moon light is really sunlight, but I'm pretty sure you are smart enough to figure out what I mean.) If you are going hours during the night for these photos, it's recommended you check the time of sunrise for the next day. 
  • Should I go for one long exposure or multiple short exposures? (I will go into more detail later in this article.)
Now that you have thought about all that, let's talk about which you should do, one long exposure or multiple short exposures? 

Many beginners may want to try one long exposure but I highly don't recommend you doing this. If you accidently bumped the tripod, it will be very hard to correct if you just have one photo, also your camera is very prone to noise if you have it just take a long one hour exposure. The camera sensor is an electronic component! It will heat up and cause noise! Another reason you should not use one long exposure is if you don't want any airplane trails to show up on your photo, it will be harder to take it out of the final image than if you had multiple shots. 

So what are the pros and cons about using multiple exposures? Well one thing is, your camera will take a few seconds to record the photo down once it finishes a photo, and you have to wait before the next photo can start. This leads to the final product looking like the star trails being dotted lines because the camera missed a little bit of it's rotation during the image recording! If you shrink the photo a bit, or use some other software to fix those, it will be barely noticeable, so don't worry. That is the only con to the multiple shot method, well other than it will also use up more memory card space. That's about it, let's move on to the pros. Don't like airplane trails in your final image? Just take out the exposure with that in there before you combine! Bumped your tripod during your exposure? Take out the bad images before you combine! Taking multiple exposures will also help lower image noise which is great! If you do use this method, I recommend you let each exposure run about 5-20 minutes. I can't tell you exactly how long to take the photo for, but one easy to to try is to use a higher ISO for a few test shots, then work your way down. Every time you cut your ISO in half, you multiply the exposure you used by 2 (More details below). Then do the math on how many exposures you want to do! Program your Intervalometer to take the photos. Don't touch the tripod during the shots! Always make sure you set some delays between your photos so your camera has enough time to write to the memory card before beginning the next photo.

More on the high ISO testing. So here is the bottom line:
If your shot took 30 seconds at ISO 1600, it will take 60 seconds at ISO 800, or 120 seconds at ISO 400 for you to reach the same effect. Notice how whenever I halved the ISO, I doubled the exposure.


Now that you understand all that, let's teach you how to set up the camera settings for this.
  • Long exposure noise reduction should be turned off. Just do this in post processing.
  • Set your camera on RAW. There is more work room for Photoshop later on.
  • Either first auto focus, than turn the lens to manual focus, or just activate manual focus and do it manually.
  • Use a wide aperture. Something between f/5.4 - f/10 is good. If your lens can go wider, do that. Normally in night photography, people tell you to close down the aperture, but with star trails, you open it up wide! Don't forget that. 
  • Use the lowest ISO setting available. Remember, this is a long exposure, you don't want to get any more noise! 
Once you got that all done, start the photos and wait. :) Talk to your buddy during the photos. As much as you want to play with your phone or laptop during the photos, please refrain from doing so. It will cause unwanted light in your final product! If you want to light paint the background, make sure you do it in a few of the exposures and not just one. Just incase one doesn't turn out that well.

After the photos are on your computer, open them up in Photoshop via File >> Scripts >> Load Files into Stacks. Then set the layer mode to lighten for all the layers and you are done! Sadly, I don't know how to do noise removal or filling in the gaps in post processing. If you need to do that, I recommend you go Google for a method. If you know how to do it, please tell me in the comments below.

This is it for this tutorial! If I missed anything, just tell me in the comments below. :) Thank you for reading! Please don't forget to share my blog posts with your friends! If you would like to get notifications next time I post, you can "Like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Moon

Hey guys, I am so sorry about not posting recently. College classes has started for me and I have been very busy with school work and didn't have much free time left for photography and blogging. I happened to have found some time today, so let's get started with the intro to today's photos. For this post, I have some moon photos that I took over a period of one week (I think). I hope you enjoy it. The photos were all taken with my Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens. These photos have been cropped. Also, some of  the pictures don't seem to be viewing right on my computer via Safari. If this happens with you, just switch browsers and it should show up a lot better. There are some tips on moon photography in today's post, so make sure scroll down for it!

Full Resolution Photos and Prints: If you want to see full resolution photos or buy prints of any of the photos you see, they are up on my portfolio for viewing here.

For this photo, I exposed for the dark part of the moon that was not lit by the sun, so the part that was lit by the sun is washed out. As you can see there are some motion blur on the photo. This is not my camera moving, but the actual moon moving. You can also tell there was a star moving too. 

Same night as the first photo, but at a different exposure time. As you can see the dark area no longer shows up as the exposure was not long enough. After shortening the exposure, the lit side of the moon's detail is clearly visible.  

This is a different day from the above photos. As you can see, more of the moon is visible. 


More of the moon is showing.

Photography Tip: For photographing the moon, it is recommended you have a good telephoto lens or a telescope. Depending on your zoom, you want to keep your exposure as short as possible and try not to pass 1/100 of a second exposure as the moon would have already moved a great distance during that time and you will get motion blur. If you turn on live view, you can actually see the moon moving! You should also keep your aperture wide as the moon is very far away so you are getting quite a lot of depth of field at a wide aperture. Generally the camera will have a hard time getting the right white balance for these kind of photos, so take your photo in RAW. In Photoshop, I'd usually tweak the white balance a little bit, turn up the contrast, and then crop out the large black area around the moon. Photos right out of your camera of the moon will usually not have enough contrast. 

Shortly after I took the above photos, some clouds came in and blocked out the view of the moon. I thought it would be nice to see what it would look like if I did a long exposure of the clouds moving between the path of my camera and the moon. This is the result.



A even longer exposure than the one before.  

 A even longer exposure than the one before. I can tell both by my meta data in the image and how far the star streaked in the photo. 

Looks like an airplane or a satellite flew through as I was taking the photo.


 Full moon photo.

Another photo of the full moon.

I hope you have enjoyed these moon photos. I would appreciate it if you leave me some positive comments below! Please don't forget to share my blog posts with your friends! If you would like to get notifications next time I post, you can "Like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Caterpillar

Hello fans, I'm sorry about the delay in photos. I have a good friend of mine visiting from China, and I have been taking him to different places, and it has been extremely tiring for me, so I never really got time to do a new blog post. Also, college classes start for me soon, so you should expect more delays like this. I am taking quite a lot of classes. Sorry!

So... Let's get started with today's intro... I have 6 caterpillar photos for this blog post. I found this caterpillar in my front yard. :D How cool is that? So, as all of you know, I have 2 parakeets as pets. I usually pour their poop bowl at the bottom of the cage in my front yard. This leads to a lot of their food being grown, and they sure love fresh food! So, as I was harvesting some for them, this caterpillar fell off one of those and landed on the ground. I picked it up with some leaves from my orange tree. LOL You should never pick these up with your bare hands. It will give you a rash. I thought it would be nice to try some macro shots of it (not real macro). Anyways, sorry for the high amounts of noise in the photos, I didn't have a flash and I don't have a macro lens, so these photos have been heavily cropped. The quality isn't too bad though. It was done with my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens. No extension tubes were used. The white areas on some of the images is where the shade ended and the sun was shining, so exposing for the shade has washed out the bright areas of the image. I have put all the almost all in focus photos first, and the rest of them are slightly out of focus. If you ever tried macro photography, you'd know what a pain it is to focus on the shot!

Full Resolution Photos and Prints: If you want to see full resolution photos or buy prints of any of the photos you see, they are up on my portfolio for viewing. See my best backyard photography photos from 2012 here. See my best insect photos here. See all of my backyard photography photos from 2012 here.

I know it looks dead in this photo, but it's not. I never knew caterpillars can play dead so well! 

I'm not sure if this caterpillar is still alive... This plump and juicy caterpillar is exactly what the 5 robins that hang around in my front yard loves to eat! XD

I should try looking harder for these types of things in my yard. It looks so cool up close. :D I should find another one once I get a pair of extension tubes. 



I told you guys last time I will post something cool! Isn't this cool? :P Well, I thought it is pretty cool. I'm pretty sure it's cool for you too, unless you are really scared of caterpillars and worms. I hope you have enjoyed this post. Please don't forget to share my blog posts with your friends! If you would like to get notifications next time I post, you can "Like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Plasma Ball

I know this isn't much but, the other day, I was wondering what would happen if I did a long exposure shot on my plasma ball. Here are the results. Looks pretty cool actually! I'm sorry if I let you down in the post. I promise I'll have more better photos still to come. I would have skipped over these, but as I said before, the Yosemite photos are going to take me a long time to look through and process, and I still would like to post new photos up on here while I'm doing that. So, I hope you don't mind some filler photos. :/

Full Resolution Photos and Prints: If you want to see full resolution photos or buy prints of any of the photos you see, they are up on my portfolio for viewing. See my best backyard and at home photography photos from 2012 here. See all of my backyard and at home photography photos from 2012 here.




I hope you have enjoyed these cool photos. Again, sorry for the short post. :/ I promise there will be better photos next time! Please don't forget to share my blog posts with your friends! If you would like to get notifications next time I post, you can "Like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

200 Blog Posts Celebration!

It has been about 2 years since I started this blog and started sharing my photos with the world. I am happy to say that I have now posted a total of 200 blog posts so far (201 once this one is posted). I would like to take this time to thank all of my fans out there that made it happen and helped me keep doing what I do. There was a period back then when I was about to give up on photography, but one special fan of mine, found me on Facebook, and told me to keep posting because my photos are amazing. You know who you are. ;) If it wasn't for you, I would have probably abandoned this blog then along with my hobby as a photographer. I would also like to thank the people who purchased things on Amazon through the Amazon Associates links I have all over this blog. The money I make from those ads do help me quite a lot in covering the costs of maintenance and for my photography equipment. It is your guy's work that help me buy storage space to store all these photos in. I guess that is all I have to say really, I am not very good at these things sadly. LOL So I hope all of you will continue checking out my blog and enjoying the amazing photos I take!

If you are new here and enjoy my photos, please do take note that I have fan pages on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. You can "Like" or Follow on any of those and you will get notifications as I post up new photos. You don't have to if you don't want to, but I'd appreciate it if you do. :) If you scroll up and look on the right side bar at the top, you can also find the links there. 

我这个博客已经有两年了。两年前我在这上面个全世界的人看我的照片。我高兴的跟我的粉丝说我已经写了两百文章了!我很感谢有这么多人来看我的照片。我的中文没有那么好,所以我没办法翻译所有的英文。

I'm not about to let the blog post stop here. Here is some of the best photos I have taken so far all these years. :) Well, I already picked out my best photos before posting them on this blog, but I guess you can call these the best of the best photos. If you want to "slideshow" through the photos in the post, just click on the first photo and the slideshow feature should be brought up.

下面是我拍的一些最好的找片!

Full Resolution Photos and Prints: If you want to see full resolution photos or buy prints of any of the photos you see, they are up on my portfolio for viewing. You can visit my portfolio here.

Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park. 
Original Blog Post Date: May 25, 2010

Sunset in Central Park
Original Blog Post Date: May 27, 2010

Forget-me-nots (Myosotis latifolia)
Redwood Regional Park in California.
Original Blog Post Date: June 6, 2010
Original Blog Post Link


Jellyfishes at The Aquarium By The Bay 
Pier 39 in San Francisco, CA
Original Blog Post Date: July 30, 2010

Sunrise over Mono Lake
Lee Vining, CA
Original Blog Post Date: August 17, 2010


Bisons at Yellowstone National Park
Original Blog Post Date: October 7, 2010

Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park
Original Blog Post Date: November 30, 2010

Twin Falls County Centennial Waterfront Park
Twin Falls County in Idaho, CA.
Original Blog Post Date: January 14, 2011
Original Blog Post Link



Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, CA
Original Blog Post Date: January 26, 2011

California Saxifrage (Saxifraga californica)
Quarry Lakes in Fremont, CA.
Original Blog Post Date: March 20, 2011
Original Blog Post Link

Squirrel eating cracker
Central Park in Fremont, CA.
Original Blog Post Date: November 16, 2011


Sunset during Half Moon Bay mega low tide.
Half Moon Bay, CA
Original Blog Post Date: December 3, 2011

Fall Leaves
Alliance Redwoods Conference Grounds in Occidental, CA
Original Blog Post Date: December 6, 2011

 Squirrel
Arroyo Del Valle Trail in Pleasanton, CA
Original Blog Post Date: December 11, 2011


Turkey in flight
Near Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore, CA.
Original Blog Post Date: December 15, 2011

Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)
Lake Tahoe, CA
Original Blog Post Date: January 2, 2012

Lake Tahoe, CA
Original Blog Post Date: January 6, 2012


Lake Tahoe, CA
Original Blog Post Date: January 7, 2012

Lake Tahoe, CA
Original Blog Post Date: January 7, 2012

Lake Tahoe, CA
Original Blog Post Date: January 7, 2012



Lake Tahoe, CA
Original Blog Post Date: January 10, 2012

 A squirrel standing erect.... Literally.
Arroyo Del Valle Trail in Pleasanton, CA.
Original Blog Post Date: May 5, 2012

Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
My front yard
 Original Blog Post Date: May 27, 2012
Original Blog Post Link



American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
My front yard
Original Blog Post Date: May 30, 2012
Original Blog Post Link

Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)
My back yard
Original Blog Post Date: June 29, 2012
Original Blog Post Link

4th of July Fireworks
Foster City, CA
Original Blog Post Date: July 5, 2012

Sunset over Foster City
Original Blog Post Date: July 8, 2012

Western Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica)
Point Lobos State Reserve in Monterey, CA.
Original Blog Post Date: July 10, 2012
Original Blog Post Link

Point Lobos State Reserve in Monterey, CA.
Original Blog Post Date: July 16, 2012

Monterey Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja latifolia)
Point Lobos State Reserve in Monterey, CA.
Original Blog Post Date: July 14, 2012

George's Birds
Fisherman's Wharf at Monterey, CA
Original Blog Post Date: July 29, 2012

Fisherman's Wharf at Monterey, CA
Original Blog Post Date: August 4, 2012

Wow! What a long blog post! As you can tell this post has already gotten a bit long and out of hand. I had more great photos I wanted to add to this post, but I had to skip over or you'd have trouble loading the article on your computer! HAHA Well anyways, thank you guys for your support. If you are new here and enjoy my photos, please do take note that I have fan pages on Google+Twitter, and Facebook. You can "Like" or Follow on any of those and you will get notifications as I post up new photos. I hope you have enjoyed this special post, and as always, please keep checking back for new photos and also please share my blog posts with your friends! 
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