Thursday, December 31, 2009

This was also taken at Minnehaha Falls.  For whatever reason, I found it intriguing.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Minnehaha Falls

I found a new shooting location!  Although I don't like the icicles here as much as I do at The Ruins in Minneapolis, Minnehaha Falls has many other great scenery!  I didn't show them below cause the setting needed a subject to be a complete picture, and i didn't have a model with me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


For one week of this break, one photo assignment I was given was to take one pic a day of a normal everyday subject in different lighting and settings.  In short, this is just sort of a random picture I'm posting.  I thought it was an interesting composition though.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

hai-lights GlamFix: Masking Techniques

So I thought it would be fun to take some screen shots of the whole hai-lights GlamFix photoshop action.  But then I figured it wouldn't look that cool as a series of pictures, and that it would be much cooler as a movie.  maybe I'll record it and upload it to Flickr one month.  Anyways, I decided to take 3 screen shots that summarize the important steps of my GlamFix masking shortcut.

This is certainly a replacement and wouldn't be as good as someone who masked in each picture individually.  This is the picture I started with for this example:

The next step (after color corrections and such in Camera Raw or Lightroom) would be to do some manual-spot-blemish removal.  I skipped that cause I'm not processing this picture for anyone in particular and the point of this post is just to demonstrate the masking shortcut.  So after I click the play button on the GlamFix action, the next manual input that will show up are adjustment bars for a stamp filter whose purpose is to preserve dominate features:

Then after the GlamFix does its thing, the next window that pops up is a levels adjustment on a Find Edges filter-layer which is then adjusted to preserve hard edges and fine details:

And then you combine the two into a single mask layer a copy of the post color-correction image, which, courtesy of GlamFix, has undergone a surface blue and a Gaussian blur.  You adjust the opacity as desired, apply a final levels adjustment and a Guassian blur (to sooth the edges) if desired.  The final mask for this image looks something like this:

Typically, you only want to blur the skin of your subject and not everything else.  So somewhere along in GlamFix, there is a stopping point that allows to to mask out all non-skin areas (which I didn't do in this example because I've temporarily misplaced my wireless mouse and it is quite the pain to use a touch pad.)

There's more to GlamFix too.  The next few steps includes adding some grain into the skin to make it look a little less edited, evening out the overall skin tone of the face, and finally applying a High Pass filter over the eyes, eyebrows, and lips.  Then of course comes case-by-case edits.

Hopefully this wasn't too technical for people.
Happy Holidays,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Next Big Project

I was thinking about what can I do next in terms of photography.  Well, Carleton starts soon and spring break will be claimed by CUT and a horrendous car ride from Northfield, MN to Austin, TX.  This means I probably won't be back home until summer.  Carleton summer that is, which is significantly later than most other colleges.

Anyways, I thought it would be cool to do some sort of charity work.  Something like free senior pictures for financial-need students at my local high school here in St. Louis Park.  I'm not exactly sure how that would work out.  i'd have to try and get some sponcerships for print and lighting and stuff.  Or maybe I can just offer digital photos and the family would take care of the prints?  But that doesn't seem quite right.  But that's the next big project I have in mind.  I was thinking 1 a week for all of summer ... or something like that.

I'm gonna try to keep up with a post-a-day but with school coming back into session, I don't think I'll be able to keep it up.  I'll probably drop down to an average of one a week or something like that.  Thanks for checking in thus far.  Hope you've been enjoying the pictures.

Here's pics of the ruins where I shot most of my model-portraits:

Friday, December 25, 2009

What an Odd Christmas

So typically, in Vietnam at least, presents are opened after mass on the night of Christmas Eve.  This year, Christmas Eve was filled with shared tears and stifled voices.  This year, my best gift was that which I gave.  But I am not some saintly child.  No, I didn't give away a present, I gave away a burden.

I went to sleep reminded last night that the happiest people on earth aren't those who have experienced a single moment of greatest bliss, but rather those who find happiness when it is nowhere to be seen; those who can still smile in any and every situation.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A couple more Reflections

So I'm out of hai-lights for the time being.  I've had countless requests for TF* shoots, but I've turned them all down.  I just don't think modeling photography is for me.  Though I'm glad I gave it a shot and it certainly helped my portfolio.

Anyways, here's just a fun picture of Justin, Susie, and me (3 Carls):

Merry Christmas Eve!  Best wishes and best of luck from yours truely,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Friends are back, but I'm about to Leave...

All of a sudden there seems to be such a shortage on time.  Especially when you have to wait on your 56k internet...  It's been great since friend have been back, but Carleton students go back to school in less than 2 weeks.  I had another shoot scheduled for this saturday, but I think I'm gonna try and get out of it.  All in all, modeling photography has been fun, but I don't think it's for me.  Glad I gave it a shot and now I've expanded my portfolio and so maybe I'll be able to pick up a freelance job somewhere sometime.  Maybe even get paid.

Here's the last one from this one:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

hai-lights GlamFix: Before and After

So here's the hai-lights GlamFix photoshop action I've been working on.  Something else came to mind last night on how to improve it.  I should incorporate smart filters into all my adjustments so that I can have even more control over it.  The second picture below is comopsed of two photos and the top one is just one of them.  I also color corrected the photos (or adjusted the color I suppose.  The blue is more genuine, but I didn't like it) before I applied the GlamFix.

Pretty big difference huh?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Feeling the Rhythm

So this next shoot went really well.  At first, when I got home and looked over the pics I thought that I hadn't gotten many good shots.  But then yesterday, when I looked over them again, I found some more goodies.

So the shoot.  I came early to check out the shooting location.  I found some new places I hadn't seen before.  Eventually I got a call and the model said she was here but couldn't find me.  After like 5 mins, we eventually found each other and she showed me the wardrobe she brought.  I picked out the outfit and we started shooting.  Things went a lot more smooth and she warmed up to me a lot faster than the last model.  She also knew some Carls!

So we did a bunch of poses and she was pretty easy to work with.  I was expecting a bunch of good shots but, as I said, they didn't meet my expectations.  She got pretty cold, we went indoors, shot some more, shot outdoors again, and then called it a day.  She said she had a great time and enjoyed working with me :)

Here's the first set.  Also, I fixed hai-lights GlamFix!  More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another day at the Guthrie

I'll give a better review of how the photoshoot yesterday went tomorrow.  Don't have a lot of time to type right now.  Another day of shooting today.  She was really fun to work with to say the least.

So hai-lights GlamFix needs some work.  I tried to use the stamp filter for a quick mask, but I realized after trying to edit some pictures yesterday that the stamp filter is a little too harsh.  I think I'm gonna do something with the "find edges" filter and experiment with that.

But here's one from the shoot.  Don't worry, we didn't just shoot all reflections agian.  But this is one I wanted to reshoot from last time.  Check it out.  Look closely.  Let me know what you think of the concept.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Reshoot

So today I have another solo shoot scheduled at 12.  It'll be the same setting...   ...a couple different spots though...  And mostly just a couple shots that I'm going to reshoot.  But I'm hoping that it'll still be a new and different shoot, though I'm not exactly sure how that'll work out.  Ultimately, its just for more solo experience.

Finished the hai-lights GlamFix photoshop action last night.  It includes a series of surface blurs, Gaussian Blurs, adding some noise to the skin, a high pass filter for the eyes, eyebrows, and lips, and a lot of masking with an initial stamp filter mask.  It's pretty subtle, but it looks good in my opinion. It evens out skin tones, blemishes, and makes the eyes and lips pop out more.

Here's the last of this shoot:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Photoshop Actions

I've been working on a Photoshop action for general glamor portrait fixes.  I recently learned about Pixel Level Dodging and Burning where the editor will actually zoom in to about 500% and adjust the lighting in every pore they deem is important.  Every given pore, because of lighting, will have a dark half and a light half.  These people will smooth out that luminous transition to give the skin a more even look, but still maintaining all the natural textures giving the portrait a more realistic look.  ...WOW...

Anyways, more to come on hai-lights GlamFix (my photoshop action) in the next post.  It's looking pretty good to say the least.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just a little more photography

So i just realized today that I have another shoot set up with another model this Saturday.  Her mom is also coming.  I don't think that'll change anything.  They're wasn't gonna be any risqué pics anyways.  Anyways, the problem I'm having now is coming up with new ideas for shoots.  There's soo many uncontrollable properties.  Such as their wardrobe, make-up, sunlight, etc.  There's a couple things I want to reshoot/redo from last time's shoot, but I don't want to have the exact same shoot either...  And the other part of this problem is that I don't know many good places to shoot indoors...

Also, I just put in google analytics into the html thingy of my blog.  I guess this means I'll see how few people actually check my blog ... :'(

Anyways, just one pic for ya'll today:

This one isn't to artsy, crazy, or revolutionary.  I just thought it was a good picture :)
Hope you enjoy it.  Keep stopping in, more of her to come.

A Little Bit of Everything

So there's a couple things I wanted to type about today.  First is a possible (but unlikely) investment in a new lens.  I either wanted an ultra wide angle lens or a telephoto lens.  Having played with some other telephotos throughout the school year, I decided I would want at least a 300mm zoom for sports (Ultimate) photography.  However, zooms this great often has a lot of distortion.  Most professionals would use mutiple lenses to maintain the same glass quality that I am looking for in my telephoto lens.  My go-to lens is my AF-S 16-85mm f/4-5.6 VR ED.  It's considered a slow lens.  In fact I don't have any fast lenses.  But the thing is, I don't knowi f I could actually justify buying a Nikon 70-300mm VR.  I just wouldn't be taking that many sports shots cause I don't plan to be sitting on the sideline all season.  And I don't really travel much into nature with school and all... *sigh*

Second thing I wanted to ask, if there's any med students reading this, I've been going to sleep and waking up with a really dry.sore throat every morning with a lot of nasal congestion.  It only really happens at night (or that's when it's worse anyways).  It's been going on for like a month and a half now...  I thought it would just go away...  Anyone have any ideas on this one?

As for the photo shoot, here are some real portfolio ones.  I started to get a little more creative with the post production process for some of these.  Be sure to check back all week!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

First Solo Photo-shoot

So, as the title suggests, I has my first solo photo shoot today!  Woke up a little later than I wanted to, wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get the car, and everything else that makes this story just that much more entertaining.  Anyways, I did end up getting the car after dropping off my mom and doing a few chores for her.  For some reason, I had in my mind that I needed to be at the Guthrie by 11.  Anyways, I stopped by Micheals to pick up props.  I wanted spirit gum (thanks Justin), push tacks, and some other crazy stuff.  They didn't have the spirit gum so I didn't buy anything.

Got home, rushed around the house to pack some props, played around with the props, and decided they wouldn't be helpful.  All I brought was my laptop and my camera bag.  Then I remembered I don't have to be there till 12.  I ended up leaving 20 mins earlier than needed so I could get comfortable with the setting again (figuring out my angles and lighting).  Needless to say, being Asian, I got lost.

Arrived at about 11:59.  Walked around.  The model called, met up with her, exchanged words, she changed, and we began to shoot.  I think it started pretty well.  Problem was that I don't think she particular warmed up to me (that's probably my fault) and I don't think she was that experienced either.  Kind of stiff and couldn't throw out any poses.  I had to tell her specifically what to do just about every shot.  But she was really nice and definately a great model for my first solo shoot!  More than I can ask for really.

Took about 400 shots in the Guthrie and the Ruins by the stone arch bridge.  I'd say there's about 47 good shots, about 76 other passable ones, and probably 17 that I'll edit for portfolio purposes.  (Which is really good considering before now, the most I've ever edited for portfolios per photo-shoot was about 4-8!!)

So although the atmosphere wasn't perfect, I think the photos will turn out well!  Here's a couple to start off the week.

Both are experimental.  The first one was only color corrected, no other edits.  It's also not a portfolio shot.  The will probably be a portfolio shot.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Just to keep to my post-per-day average, her's a random picture someone took of me with my camera today at the Depot in Minneapolis:

Help-Portrait Continued

Here's a couple more.  These ones I can show :)  No edits.  Just color corrected.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


pent the day at the Salvation Army in Minneapolis yesterday volunteering for Help-Portrait.  I'm not allowed to share any direct portraits of the people who came in, but I think these will be fine:  [EDIT: I guess it's not okay for me to upload any pics where the subject can be identified.]

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Last Day at the Finn's House

Well, it's been quite the treat to have had high speed internet like the rest of the world for a couple days, but alas i must return to 56k.  I thought I should use it while I still can and so while these may not be "hai-lights", here are just some casual pictures from the Guthrie:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Last One for a Little Bit

Dear Fans,

I've ran out of cool pictures to share with you. So unless I take some today or tommorrow, I probably won't be keeping up with my post-a-day average.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Models are ...

Okay, so after letting myself become ever so flattered with the amount of responses I've received from a casting call, I've been told/am experiencing that I guess models just send every photographer a message about working with them and then will more often than not flake and the photographer will never hear from them again.  bummer.  So among my ... 20some replies, I think I have 1 model that will actually be working with me.  One of my higher picks, I must say, but we'll see what happens.

Speaking of models, meet Adam.  He's an amazing model to work with!