Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nice to Meet You, Home - 2

You would think this shot was taken by Terry Richardson but actually it was from Dad... many years ago XD

It is always nice to see my sister Ruby. She has been in Hong Kong all these years and she knows all the nice places to shop, eat and party. She is currently in her final year of college and unfortunately November was one of her busiest months with tons of tests, exams and projects. But luckily we still got enough time to hangout and took some photographs.

We took all our shots at home, right before Ruby run to school for her exams. Here is the (mock) setup for one of the 3 compositions:

We used our living room for one of the setup. (Mom was rushing XD)

The mini-shoot was a lot of fun... although now I can only remember the super delicious Hai-Nan chicken rice after the shoot that afternoon lol. I look forward to hanging out with Ruby again the next time I return to Hong Kong :)

For the result of this mini-shoot, please check out my website

Nice to Meet You, Home - 1

The name of this restaurant described the quality of Chinese food in Hong Kong. XD

Eat, Eat, Eat, Eat...

That are tons of great food in Hong Kong. You can buy materials from local markets and cook it yourself or you can go to pretty much any restaurant and enjoy really high quality cooking. Once you have you first meal in Hong Kong you'll LOVE the city (and no don't go to McDonald's) XD

Shanghai cuisine is very popular in Hong Kong. You can find them anywhere (there are at least 3 restaurants serving Shanghai cuisine near my house)

There are a couple main differences between Chinese food in Asia and Chinese food in the United States. Firstly, fresh meats (aka. live animals) are available in local markets. Chicken and fish (and most seafood) are still alive in the market. Butchers kill them for you once you purchase the item. Secondly, there are many chefs from main land China and Taiwan who have been cooking Chinese food for generations and have all these secret recipes. This magically make the food taste good :D

Not sure what's the name of this type of fish.. Fresh from the market

Thirdly, most restaurants use a lot more oil in cooking than in the US. A single serving of beef-fry-noodle might contains 10+ tbsp of oil. And that, although make the foods taste better, might mess up your stomach if you are not used to it.

Herbs and Chinese medicines are added to many type of soups (to aid digestion, help your skin, etc etc...)

My stomach started complaining on the 3nd day of my trip thanks to the "beef-fry-noodle" and my sudden 4-meals-a-day diet. I guess it's never good to over-do things haha. The doctor told me to not eat "greasy, cold, raw and/or too much" food and I lol'd cause I did them all during the first 3 days of my trip! Fortunately it only took me two days to recover and it didn't affect my trip much.

Dried sea horses and sea dragons... probably soup material?

That's it for now about food in Hong Kong. Definitely worth a try if you are a fan of Chinese food!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nice to Meet You, Home - 0

My 1 year old nephew Joshua from the Bay Area who keep calling me grandpa...

After 2 weeks of telecommuting from the Bay Area tomorrow is finally the first day of my Hong Kong trip. I haven't been back home for 3 years and I'm sure a lot have changed since my last visit. The temperature is still very warm (around 83 degree) over there so I guess it'll be like summer again.

Aside from shopping and visiting friends and family, I'll probably check out a local cosplay event called HKU cosplay party during my short stay in Hong Kong. Can't wait for some cosplay-culture-shock XD

The amount of HK money I'll bring with me to the airport (~ $87.73 USD)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hong Kong Trip

(image source: National Geographic)

Haven't been back home for 3 years... Finally got a chance to go to Hong Kong for a visit next week.

I look forward to really living the life of a HK ppl for 2 weeks. Can't wait to bring back stories and photographs of this amazing city! ^__^)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Photoshoot - Dating 101

My friend Tyson is thinking of doing some freelance modeling. We decided to work together to pull out a portfolio for him to show his potential clients. Instead of starting off with fashion photographs we decided to do something fun/silly in our first shoot.

Tyson has this ultimate gorgeous Lexus IS 300 he got a while ago. When I first saw it I knew I have to somehow incorporate it in every single photo of this photo shoot. XD

Billy and I with the 3 awesome models (Leilany, Tyson, IS 300)

The best part of a casual shoot like this is we both got to play around with idea, props and location without worrying too much about brand images, wardrobe and styling. It is also a nice way to develop our teamwork.

Thanks a lot Leilany for being the "mystery date",  Tyson for being our awesome model and Billy for assisting with lighting! You can view all the 5-setups here: Dating 101

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fashion Brands by Mark Tungate

Awesome book by Mark Tungate

Picked up this book at a local bookstore a couple weeks ago. Author Mark Tungate did a wonderful job introducing us to the world of fashion. He first covered briefly on the history of fashion branding from Worth and Bobergh in 1858 to some of the top fashion brands nowadays including LV, Gucci and Chanels. Then he went ahead and talked about the business trend in the fashion industry, as well as discussing strategies some brands and designers used in selling their products. Being a "fashion outsider", Mark was able to cover all these topics in a way that is easy for everyone to understand.

I especially love how this book focused mainly on the business side of fashion. Fashion is a really tricky business. As Mark mentioned in this book "Fashion is based on creating a need where ,in reality, there is none" and because of that, marketing pretty much determine the success or failure of a brand. Media has always been the tool of choice in marketing fashion brands. Understanding the business side of fashion helps me understand fashion photography better. I highly recommend this book to my fellow photographers and anyone who is interested in the fashion industry :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mega64 Video

(img source: komica)

The above image is pretty much my impression on one of the funny videos from Mega64. The team from this well-known gaming blog/forum occasionally film themselves dressing up (and acting as) video game character in public places. Usually making people annoyed and sometimes getting themselves arrested. Other than just this group of (silly) gaming fans sometimes you might even see famous guests such as Hideo Kojima in their videos. From the couple of videos I saw it seems like San Diego is one of their favorite cities to film their video. ^^;;

While dressing up in costume and disturbing people in public is not what "cosplay" is about (no, not at all), you might still find some of their video funny if you are a gaming/costuming fan. I personally found these video a little disturbing because this is exactly the type of things that give ACG* fans a bad reputation. Oh well, maybe it's just me XDD
*Anime, Comic, Game

RE4 merchant is not quite a good career in San Diego (especially near Costco XD)

If you just want a laugh and/or just wanna see how crazy gaming fans can get I'd recommend checking out some of their videos. You can find some of their videos on their YouTube channel: here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Photographer - the Sartorialist

(image source:

Couple names always come up when we talk about fashion photography - Nigel Barker, Annie Leibovitz, Steven Meisel, etc... The wonderful works from these world famous fashion photographers defined the look of fashion photographs in our time. Teaming up with world-class models, makeup artists and fashion designers they portrayed an extremely glamorous world of fashion that is more a fantasy than reality. Their extremely creative take of fashion photography also gives some of us an impression that fashion photographs have to be "loud" in order to be noticed by the general public.

Truth is, fashion doesn't have to mean loud. Scott Schuman, aka. the Sartorialist, takes a totally different approach in fashion photography. Instead of following the big trend of creating an unreachable fashion fantasy he decided to shoot most of his fashion work on the street with "real people" he saw everyday. As a photographer who really know fashion, he knows what is "IN" and he captures what is really attractive to the viewers. His back-to-basic approach put *fashion and style* as the main focus of his image which is sometimes not the case in today's fashion photography.

The Sartorialist Book (image source:

Being listed as one of Time magazine's top 100 design influencers, Schuman is now a frequent contributor of GQ Magazine. This year he published a book with some of his favorite images. His signature street-style photo made this book a really great reference of today's fashion. If you are a fan of fashion I'm sure you'll find the images in this book very inspiring. ^___^)

The Sartorialist official site -

Monday, September 14, 2009

Underwater Photography

I was discussing with my buddy Muze and Tony the other day about underwater photography. Muze was studying the possibility of bringing cosplay photography underwater and all of us suggested a favorite underwater photographer. Here are the 3 awesome photographers we were looking at that day:

Elena Kalis -

(image source:

Alix Malka -

(image source:

Zena Holloway -

(image source:

They are really great photographers! I really enjoy seeing how they each handle underwater photography with their own unique execution/vision. Loving their works BIG TIME!!

Can't wait to try out underwater photography some day ^__^)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

18+ Anime Convention?

This poster pretty much summed up yoai-con... not really XD (image source: komica)

If you are not too familiar with the cosplay circle you might be surprised to learn that there are actually 18+ anime conventions out there. Yaoi-Con which takes place in San Mateo, CA on the October 30 - November 1, 2009 is one of these conventions. The theme of this unique convention is "yaoi"*. It is an anime convention for "fans with an interest in yaoi-related anime, manga, and other aspects of Asian culture." (wikipedia)

*Yaoi(やおい) is a popular term for female-oriented fictional media that focus on homoerotic or homoromantic male relationships, usually created by female authors (wikipedia)

Due to the adult nature of this convention, the registration process of Yaoi-Con is a little different from your usual anime conventions. Other than the regular online form and payment, pre-registration requires an extra mailing of a photocopy of your proof of age. At-con registration/badge pickup also requires a mandatory picture ID check. You will be given a bracelet upon getting your badge and you are supposed to wear this bracelet throughout the entire 3-days convention. In case you lost your bracelet you'll have to pay a rate of $60 to have it replaced.

A Ulquiorra cosplayer from Yaoi-Con 2007. Highlighted is the bracelet.

Although the theme of this con might not be something you are interested in, however, IMO this is one of the best conventions in CA for photographing cosplayers. The location is extremely photography-friendly. With some pretty nice indoor and outdoor locations to work with (if you are not planning to get away from the con-center). It is also a great chance to see costumes from series that are totally unheard of (assuming you are not a Yaoi-fan). Overall it is a totally different experience from attending bigger cons such as Anime Expo and SDCC.

For more information about this convention check out the official website: here
Location of the con: Marriott San Mateo-San Francisco Airport

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Who is Ayanami Rei?

Ayanami Rei Cosplay
Ayanami Rei, cosplayed by Anh (click for large image)

Across the whole anime universe(?) there are two characters that give me huge headache when it comes to photoshoot concept. They are Ayanami Rei from Neon Genesis Evangelion and Goku from Dragon Ball. They are two very popular, almost mainstream, anime characters that everybody know even if they are not particularly into anime, comic or game. I've seen them so many times over the years that seeing them anywhere hardly trigger my creativity anymore.

I used to be a fan of Evangelion and I am planning to do an Evangelion shoot later this year/early next year so I really have to know the characters. So I read the manga, re-watched the 26-episodes TV series, the first movie "Death-and-Rebith", the classic "The End of Evangelion" and the new movie Evangelion 1.0 movie "You are (Not) Alone". Now I think I have a nice idea about most of the character but still... I have a hard time coming up with a concept for Rei.

I think the main difficulty is she is sooo well known that there is no ONE Rei. Every person have a different perception on this character. If you google for images of this character you'll notice throughout the years people had portrayed her as sad, happy, sexy, mean, friendly... etc. There is no one image of Rei that everybody agree upon.

Despite all those perceptions from others, I think Rei is a little creepy, to say the least. She is this very pale, emotionless girl almost always being seen wearing all these heavy bandages and yet we have never seen scars or even hints of wounds on her... really I mean, does it even make sense...?

It's almost as if she's not a human being.

Thanks to my friend Anh for being the awesome undoing-bandages-Rei! ^__^)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Say you hate Photoshop

A cosplay image before-and-after retouching. (image source: komica)

I was looking at some amazing before-and-after shots of celebrities on this funzblog article and it reminded me we have the thing in the cosplay circle too.

Digital photography makes PP (post-processing) of photos so much easier. Photographers no longer need a fancy darkroom to edit their image. Most photographers these days PP their own images after shooting. The degree of processing ranges from minor exposure/color adjustment to major retouching of the model's skin/bodyshape/face etc.

Although most of the time the photographer did the processing. However, if a job wasn't well done most often the cosplayers get the blames. Cosplayers certainly don't want a reputation of "over-shopping" their faces. That's why so often you will see people arguing violently on and other forums about PP and cosplay photo.

Photo retouched by master photo retoucher Amy Dresser (image source:

Do realized that post-processing is a necessary part of the creative process. Telling your photographer to not process your images will greatly limit the creative potential of the shoot. However, if you do have concerns on the degree of processing the photographer might apply to your photo by all mean you should
discuss with your photographer about it.

Another thing you can do is to talk to your photog to see is it possible to get a copy of the unedited images along with the edited photographs. Be sure to talk to your photographer before editing any of the unedited images as there might be a particular look/style they want in all of their photo and you might ruin their reputation if you didn't do a great job on the editing.

That's about it, happy photoshopping (or not) XD!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cosplay Photoshoot - Perona, One Piece

Perona Cosplay
Missing the cold in San Fransisco (photo credit: Raymond)

I just recently came back from the Bay Area and I'm now really missing the cold weather over there (especially after this last weekend of 100+ degree in San Diego...). With the helps of many friends I was able to execute 2 photoshoots during my short stay in the Bay. One of them is with Nadia as Perona from One Piece. Perona is a crazy gothic-lolita ghost princess with the ability to split into many ghosts in combat. Definitely a very unique and interesting character from the show.

Perona Cosplay
Foggy location at foggy hours (photo credit: Raymond)

Shooting with this ghostly lolita princess reminded me of the good time last year with the Beautiful Nightmare shoot. Except Perona isn't really a "beautiful" type of character in the show XD. We went to a random mountain area near Cliff House to make use of the fog in San Fransisco.

Perona Cosplay
We were doing the last setup of the day, we got no more fog at that time (photo credit: Raymond)

In the original series Perona has a "Wonder Garden". When I first heard of this "garden-of-the-ghost-princess" thingy I thought it would be so much fun shooting Perona in her garden! And the shoot did turn out to be A LOT OF FUN! Thanks so much Nadia for being our model and Raymond for assisting us with the shoot and transporting us there and taking so many photos of me XD!

Perona Cosplay
Graffiti at the Princess's garden? I bet Perona is a big fan of art (photo credit: Raymond)

Perona Cosplay
Crazy time! (photo credit: Raymond)

For the result of our Perona cosplay shoot please click here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nikon P6000 with Pocket Wizard

A lot of people are wondering about whether the Nikon P6000 supports the Pocket Wizard radio trigger system. The answer is YES. The only thing you'll have to do is to turn off the build-in flash as shown below and you'll be good to go:

(image source: johnbiehler blog)

You will then see this icon indicating that your flash is on remote-triggering mode:
Nikon P6000 with Pocket Wizard

Other than the Pocket Wizard, the P6000 also supports Nikon CLS as well as other remote triggers such as the Cactus Triggers as shown in this article on johnbiehler blog.

Nikon P6000 with Pocket Wizard

I did notice that if you turn off your built-in flash while having your Pocket Wizard on the hot shoe (turned on) the camera might not recognize the PW right away (it happened once) in M-mode so you might wanna turn off your camera and turn it back on again to use the PW with M-mode.

I haven't played with the CLS on this camera much but the original press release only stated that the SU-800 (NOT SB-800) and the SB-900 can be used as the commander so I'm not sure can the Nikon SB-800 be used for such purpose.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

IMO - Criticism

Say you just finished watching an anime and you really like a character in the show. You think it'll be cool to cosplay the character in an upcoming convention and thus you wake up your inner nerdy cosplay spirit and start constructing a costume. In the end you spend some money and time putting it all together and in return you get to have fun at the con and get some pictures taken. Obviously it has nothing to do with your profession life and you are definitely not doing it for a living.

Do realize something as simple as that might still attract harsh criticism from people. It's because in the ACG world many fans are hardcore. They might notice an ultra tiny piece of detail missing on your costume; or they might think your body type doesn't fit the character; or they might notice this extremely minor color different of your wig from the original... etc. Sometimes these criticism can get quite personal and none of them make much sense.

Don't take this type of harsh criticisms seriously.

Remember that you are doing it for fun and you are doing it as a hobby. There is no reasons for you to have to handle any harsh personal attacks just for cosplaying. And C'mon let's face it, no matter what you do you simply can't please everyone. You might wanna treat a comment/criticism seriously if it is constructive and helpful but otherwise maybe you should just ignore it.

During an interview in the May 09 issue of Vogue supermodels Hilary Rhoda, Lauren Hutton, Karlie Kloss, Paulina Porizkova and Caroline Trentini touched briefly on this topic. Attached is that part of the interview:

(Vogue USA, May 2009 cover from

On Rotten Remarks, Or What Not to say to models... (Vogue USA, May 2009)
Lauren: As I was coming out of doing a Vogue cover with a well-known photographer, I passed him and said something like "Good nite. Have a good time." And he said something like "You're a whore, aren't you?" It was almost 40 years ago, but I remember thinking, What was he really trying to say?
Hilary: That happened to me about two weeks ago. We were shooting in Los Angeles on location. Somebody said to the production guys, "Are you shooting porn?" I was so shocked, not offended; but it was really strange.
Karlie: This sounds petty next to those stories, but I think the worst thing for me was being told I was too skinny. That hurt because I know myself enough, and it's such a stereotype in our industry,k especially with my generation.
Hilary: If one person doesn't like your looks, somebody else will. That's what I have learned. I was too American-looking or whatever... you have to laugh.
Karlie: I'm obviously still growing my thick skin.
Paulina: I have been criticized from the roots of my hair to the very tips of my toes. I was thiking about that the other day and wondering if there's one part of me that got away unscathed.
Lauren: It was covered.
Caroline: In the beginning you think, OK, this is a real job and I'm searous about it, so I should listen to them. But then you're like, Oh, God, how am I going to change?
Paulina: How am I going to change my right eyeball?
Caroline: Exactly.

(full interview can be found at

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

IMO - Gake no ue no Ponyo

(image from

Ponyo is kinda cute but I guess I will still probably freaked out if I see a fish like this in the sea XD. This "fish" is the main character of Gake no ue no Ponyo, the latest anime movie from Studio Ghibli, written and directed by my favorite anime director Hayao Miyazaki.

This 100min long anime movie is about the interaction between Ponyo and a five-year-old boy Sosuke. The graphic of this anime reminds me of the more "old-school" hand-drawn animes and that added a really nice back-to-basic feel to this movie. As usual, Miyasaki did a wonderful job in portraying the hearts of children. It's fun to see how different adults and children react when they saw Ponyo and it's this purest heart of Sosuke (and his love of fish) that eventually saved everybody from the storm.

I think it's a very cute + heartwarming movie I'd recommend to friends.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Photographer - Ume Kayo

(image from: this online interview)

A couple days ago while I was browsing around the web I came across works from Ume Kayo. This Japanese photographer has an incredible ability of capturing mood. Her works shows off the natural beauty of her subjects as well as displaying a very refreshing style of her own.

Similar to photojournalism used in newspaper/Natinoal Geographic. She creates images by capturing street-style candid shots from her everyday life. However, her images are more "personal". There is a strong sense of herself in each of her images. Every shot captures actual moments/interaction between the photographer and the subjects.

No strobes, no fancy lenses, no typical themes/poses/angels... just herself, her camera in "P"-mode and her 50mm prime. I find her works extremely inspiring ^__^)

Interview 1 (Japanese)

Interview 2 (Japanese)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Cosplay Photoshoot

Got an email from a cosplayer asking me for tips on her 1st cosplay shoot.

Since I have never cosplayed (drunk "cosplay" doesn't count XD) + I was still at work when I saw her email (!) + I'm not even the photographer of her shoot (!?) I was only able to reply her with what I could think of at the moment. I modified it a bit and here it is:

1. Be punctual
It's like the #1 rule in the photoshoot world.

2. Know the character you are cosplaying
Usually a cosplay shoot is a shoot about your character... not so much about yourself. Knowing your character makes coming up with poses easier. You might also wanna prepare a couple poses for your character to bring to the shoot.

3. Communicate with your photog before the shoot
IM, Tel, Facebook, Myspace... etc. Get a sense of what your photog is looking to achieve in this shoot. You should also inform your photog if you are planning to bring bodyguards/escorts/friends to the shoot. It's also a great time for you to exchange idea with your photog.

4. Don't be a last minute flaker
You will make a name on 4chan screw up an entire team of creative/hard-working/expensive people if you do so... Try to inform your photog at least 24hrs beforehand if you are thinking of canceling a shoot.

5. Relax, don't worry about wasting "films"
If it's your 1st time working with a photog chances are you won't be getting any award-winning pictures from the first hour of the shoot. Maybe you will, but don't expect it to happen XD Most photogs are shooting digital these days so don't worry about wasting their films. Relax and work with your photog and everything will be fine.

6. What to bring?
It really depends on the shoot. If the location is cold make sure to bring a warm jacket; If the shoot is gonna be long make sure to bring snacks and water; If you might fix/modify your makeup during the shoot bring your makeup with you... etc. Make sure to bring your cellphone though!

Good luck and have fun!! ^__^)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some Cosplay Photography Thingy

I am taking a 30min break from work and I spend a few seconds of it browsing at Seriously if you are not familiar with the cosplay circle, seeing all these "recent images" might tricks you into thinking that “cosplay photography” is just a fancy term for portraiture. If you are a fan of Tim Gunn you might even think it is a subset of fashion photography (??). Now I think about it there are indeed tons of similarities between these 3 fields but I view cosplay photography quite differently from the two.

Cosplay Photography is not a commercial art form

…and thus, cosplay photographs can be crazily creative. There is usually no (huge) money involved in a cosplay photo shoot (cause of all these copyright issues). So the job of the photogs and the cosplayers is not to produce works that please clients/bosses. Unlike in commercial photography projects, neither the photog nor the cosplayer is obligated to take shots in a certain way. Afterall, we are not trying to sell a product as in commercial photography. We are totally free to think out of the box and do ANYTHING we wanted.

Creativity is extremely important. A creative team is more likely to produce interesting cosplay photographs. Creative photogs are able to come up with unique concepts for a shoot while creative cosplayers are able to come up with idea to modify and inject personal vision to the original costumes of a character.

Understanding the characters

With the infinite possibilities in cosplay photography, I am most interested in telling stories about the character(s) or the series I'm photographing. Unlike in fashion photography, knowing the characteristic of the outfits might not be as important as knowing the characters you are about to shoot. Having the freedom to create shots that interpret a character my own way is really interesting. Again, since it's not a commercial project, it's entirely up to you and your subject to decide how to showcase a character.

Photographers competing against each others

IMHO, NOT worth it. The more you wanna “WIN” someone the more you’ll (maybe not on purpose) imitate his/her style. In the end of the day even if you “win” you probably won’t gain much plus now your style is nothing original. Since quite likely you won’t make much money doing cosplay photography anyway why not treat it as a personal/side project that allows you to break from your professional projects? Once you have this mindset you won’t be afraid of failure and you’ll be much more willing to test out whatever crazy idea in your mind.

...Now time for me to get back to work ^__^'')