ramen tatsuya

I don’t know how far my word goes for food/ ramen, but this place is amazing.

I literally have knots in my stomach from my excitement for going back to this place to try more, it was that good.

What about Austin’s other offerings?

  • Michi Ramen? Trash. You expect me to finish an entire bowl of tasteless lard? You call this tonkotsu?
  • Musashino? bleh. flabby tasteless pork, unevenly cooked noodles, and tasteless broth
  • Kome? LOL

I’ve only been one time, but in my honest opinion it’s on par with the best ramen in America(Ippudo/Totto in NY, and Monta in Las Vegas).

Before arriving I was debating between the tonkotsu and miso ramen. I ended up ordering a salad, the original tonkotsu, with an extra egg, and something they call a “corn bomber” which is basically a nub of butter with corn in it.


The dishes come out amazingly fast. I would say it only took 10-15 minutes before our dishes started to come out.

Taste / mouth feel

The salad is a great mix of shredded carrot, dikon, and red cabbage with a nice vinaigrette. Perfect for getting your tastebuds going.

For the ramen itself… hmm where do we start.

tonkotsu ramen - ramen tatsuya

The first thing I check out is if the temperature of the dish is right. What do I mean by that? Well you know when you cook instant ramen at home.. and you eat it piping hot right off the stove and you end up burning your mouth? That’s way too hot. Ramen should be of a comfortable warmth, but not hot. 

Actually the real first thing is…

Is you egg soft boiled and cold in the middle? If not, you’re at the wrong place.

There should be a distinct difference in between the temperature of the broth, the temperature of the noodles, the middle of the egg, and the butter if you have it in your ramen. In my limited experience, the noodles should be the most warm, with the broth relatively luke warm. Then the egg and the butter should be slightly cold, offering you a mix of temperatures when you eat it. Literally stick your tongue into the yolk of the egg after getting a portion of noodles/broth in your mouth… it’s quite the experience. Also notice how the coolness of the butter plays with the warmth of the broth, it’s pretty good too.

The noodles should slightly bouncy, and may require a pull upwards (raising your chopsticks above the bowl) which does a few things. It makes a perfect bite sized portion, makes the noodles of a comfortable temperature, and gets the noodles in perfect order to *slurp* up, which should be emphasized.

Am I going overboard? No, since ramen is probably the greatest thing on Earth if done right. And these guys do a great job. Think of a bowl of ramen like any other dish in the world of gastronomy… there should be interesting things, interplay between flavors and temperatures… and most important umami. You need to go “Ahh…” after you eat it.

//One thing though.

Cashier girl? Great. Asian dude? Cool. Our server? REALLY BAD. He had no idea what the fuck was going on. I ordered a kae-dama, extra noodles and he put in a whole order for a tsukumen ramen. If they want to create a legitimate ramen experience, they need to foster an environment full of “Irahsai!!” and “SUMIMASEN KAE DAMA ONEGAISHIMASU.” You have to make us ABC Asians feel uncomfortable, like we have something we need to learn about traditional culture when we go to your place.

In Texas we have a saying that goes “Well that’s all we have here…” when it comes to a lot of Asian food. But this place isn’t a compromise… it’s really fucking good.

On the way back the first thought in my head was, “When will I be hungry next? I want to try x, x, and x on their menu…” Also.. I just wanted to yell out my window at random people to tell them about this place. “HEY YOU ASIAN LADY AT THE BUS STOP. WE FINALLY HAVE ARAMEN PLACE HERE IN AUSTIN!”

monthly ping


//(Warning) This post was intended for my tumblr which is usually a lot more raw/personal than I’m willing to let out into the public. If you find anything confusing, vulgar, or offensive just keep that in mind. 

Recently I’ve been thinking about blogging something.

Like, I’ve been getting this little notion of having to do a write up, but nothing has come to fruition.

Now, after reading a bunch of my friends’ blogs, which are all quite good I must say, I’m going to channel their energy to finally write an update. Thanks friends.

Life is really good. Like… really really good.

I ride my bicycle, see new things, run into interesting people, and eat yummy food everyday.

Proof? Below is a mix of pictures from Austin and SF taken in the last 2 weeks. They’re taken with a special camera… and it’s not micro 4/3.


on top

When people ask me “How are you doing?”

I tend to reply now.. “Good, really good actually.”

“Why? What’s new?”

“I have a bicycle.”

They tend to not understand this statement. But believe me… my bicycle has changed my life entirely.

It’s not like a religious thing or a scam. It’s a fucking bicycle for fucks sake. You buy one, probably off craigslist, and if you like it you can keep it, if you don’t you can sell it. What are the draw backs of getting addicted?

Hmm… exercise… less gas usage… any cons? Iono yo.

-New things

cal train

I recently took a trip to San Francisco. It was absolutely flipping amazing.

The weather for one… was a solid “Hmm maybe I should bring a jacket.” 70 average during the day, 55 average at night. Compare that to the 100 -> 70 weather we have here in Austin… jeeze. As a lover of public transport, I had a great time figuring out how to get around the city. The pic above is of the Cal Train which can take you from SF to San Jose, which I thought was the coolest thing ever.

omada health

To be honest I really had my heart set on moving to New York after graduation, and even though my brother told me that SF was “different than any other place on Earth and amazing for people in tech” I didn’t want to believe him. Well… it turns out he was right. There’s just something about the people in San Fran. There’s just this air of doing things just cause it’s an awesome idea, and designing tech oriented businesses to help people that you can’t find anywhere. People in Austin have warned me about the viciousness of the Valley when it comes to startups. It’s not viciousness… really… it’s just people who are hungry for change, and will be up for doing anything remotely awesome. They are not afraid of failure, which they actually look to as a badge of honor, and because of that the products just turn out better. In my honest opinion, cities such as New York, Boston, and Austin will never be able to catch up to Silicon Valley.


I’m just feeling this new fire for technology and software. And I have no idea where this is coming from. I hated this shit 2 months ago. Now it’s time to play catch up with the people who are already legit and have been in the game for years. The pic above is of a company called Omada Health, who are solving type 2 diabetes with a 16 week program designed with Ruby on Rails. I met a couple of the guys at Nerd Beer, which is one of the many many tech meetups in the SF area. Props to my brother to getting me an invite…

And yeah, I did do a spontaneous interview with Omada... I think I did okay? Actually I didn’t do that great. heh.

-Interesting people

mission workshop

I went to Mission Workshop, which is a bicycle bag manufacturer in San Francisco. Their store is really cool since they actually ship all their orders from this large table in the store front. It turns out I learned a ton about photo printing from this guy since they had a fantastic photo exhibit up in the store, what a weird turn of events.

biking betties

Back in Austin, I went over to Fast Folks, which is a fixed gear/single speed bicycle boutique, to buy a small lock. I couldn’t have chose a better time since they were shooting for their 2013 calendar which features a ridiculously hot girl + bike for each month of the year. I’m sold.


She has a Cinelli frame and a Mission Workshop backpack. I’m in love @_@


Apparently they produce a zine! I think it would be amazing to be in one of those.


Most legit cyclist I’ve met. The bike repairmen at Mellow Johnnies were asking this guy for tips… heh


Fellow Leica user in San Fran:).

-Yummy food


Katanaya, one of the most famous places to get ramen in SF. To be honest it was only okay. I ordered the Katanaya ramen, which was decent… but not the greatest. 3/5? My brother and I tried to go to Orenchi Ramen in Sunnyvale, but there were 25 parties ahead of us so we couldn’t eat there. Insane.

four barrell

As I was walking along in Mission, the most hipster part of SF, I came across this really huge ass cafe with a ton of bikes outside. Yeah… it was pretty cool inside. They don’t have wifi or power outlets! That shit is too mainstream.


Still wondering around Mission, a very familiar smell came to my nose. It was that of a legit bar. I actually passed this place twice, and on the 2nd time decided… why the fuck would I not go in?

I asked for a local IPA… and guess what, Racer 5 by Bear Republic is local in California, which has been one of my favorite beers for the past year. SO COOL.


I rented bikes with my friend Hoan, which we took from 1 neighbor hood the next and back. We had some extra time, so we decided to take a hill for fun, and circle around.. and when we did we saw Absinthe, which was a recommendation from my dear friend Eve. We popped in for a couple drinks and oysters. It was divine!

bacon chicken salad

yumz. Cenote is definitely my new favorite place cafe in Austin. Tasty espresso, beer, amazing sandwiches… and you KNOW a place is going to be good if you see 2+ Surly’s out in front. It takes a certain mentality to own a Surly(LOL).

Mediterranean panini @ hot mama's

This sandwich was surprisingly good. Imagine a muffaletta but daintier and more elegant.

hot mamas cafe

Outside there was a group of people doing hoola hooping. Old men, young women, and kids too. I ended up ordering a custom hoola hoop for my mom.

-My photography

paris texas

The thing is… I think my photography is finally starting to change.

I’m becoming more comfortable with who I am as a person, and it is really showing through my pictures. In the past I would be scared if someone noticed me taking a picture, but now I take it for what is and run with it.


When I notice I’m in an environment where people are hostile to me taking their picture, I leave, and never come back. Fuck them. But recently most people have been really open to me and my pictures.

mirrorball satelite

Again, I really want my images to become more raw… to reveal more and more about who I am on the inside. I went to Spider House to grab some food at love balls, which as a bit meh. There was an awesome punk rock band called Mikey and the Drags… I could only imagine what it would be like to listen to their music while biking. There were these 2 cute asian girls smoking outside… and it turns out one performed later in the night and I missed out. What a bummer!


So yeah… there you have it, my life in a nutshell.

The kicker is that I find myself alone at night and it kind of sucks.



And as a sort of take away from this post… life is absolutely flipping amazing. It’s beautiful, and the subtleties go on to no end. Don’t be comfortable where you are. Keep exploring and find new things. Escape the cycle.

July Photo Contest Winners


I’ve been super busy with hackathons and bicycling!

This is long overdue, but here are the winners for the Aperture Junkies’ July photo contest.

1st: Daniel Chen – Pro Flickr membership ($24)

A shining example of why you should try and take pictures during the “Golden Hour” which occurs during sunrise and sunset. As the sun sets or rises it creates very vibrant warm tones. I love Daniel’s picture since the reflection of this building is actually not in a lake or river… it’s actually a puddle on the sidewalk! Great eye, great catch.


2nd: Waytao Shing – Tea Lounge Giftcard ($10)

So many good things about this portrait. In all portraits the first thing that you usually notice are the eyes. The catch lighting on the eyes is wonderful, and from there the model’s arms take your eyes for a trip all around the frame. I love the detail in the hair on both sides of the model’s face, as well as the simplicity of her outfit. It’s cool that one side of the model’s hair is high key (lighter tones) and one side is low key, giving you a clue about how her hair looks under 2 different situations. The overall tonality of the picture is great aswell, rich deep blacks to hints of highlights on her hands near the face, and overall great use of grey midtones. Yep… pretty awesomes.


3rd: Alexander Wang – Tea Lounge giftcard ($5)

I’ve never really come across a picture quite like this, and I think thats why I like it so much. The focus on the gridlines is just… unique, and it fits with the vertical structure of the buildings. I like the cool tones as well. Cheers to Alex for the interesting shot.


The next photo contest will be all about portraits. I’ll post the rules and details later, but I think the due date will be around the end of september.

Surround yourself with passionate people

Yesterday was a very good day.

I went with a couple of my friends to what I thought was a talk by my photography professor Eli Reed, which turned out to be just a small meet up at a speakeasy. It was a dimly lit room (ISO 1600, 1/10, f/1.7 <– that dark) and the first thing Eli said to us was, “look at your eyes! yall must have been looking at computer monitors the whole day!” How.. are his eyes so good?!

I love how when you talk to Eli that he will go off and tell you the most interesting stories about his photography and his interactions with people. I didn’t even bother trying to tell him my boring ass proposal story. He showed us pictures of a young Ryan Gosling, Russell Crow, and his travels to other countries, all backed up with hilarious and ridiculous narration. “So for this one we just poured buckets of ice cold water over Russell’s face until we got it right.”

eli & his leica

I picked up his camera, a Leica M9 paired with a 28mm Summicron (summicrons are always f/2 by the way), and turned the focusing knob at the bottom. WOW, it was like butter… so smooth.The M9 is a relatively new camera, yet Eli’s is so worn, so broken in. If you truly love your camera, don’t baby it, use it as much as you can.

I’m of a firm belief that we have to specialize in something, cause it’s only when we mash out our passions to the extreme that we begin to see these little glimpses of elegance.

You’ve seen it too right? When you’re watching an athlete, and it seems  like they’re moving in slow motion. Moving effortlessly through air or water… it’s just breath taking.

Perfection is always a fleeting tease. I mean what’s the point in trying so hard to do something so little? We practice everyday… unappreciated by the masses, and for what? To show your “friends” what you do, only to get puzzled looks and phrases such as, “I don’t get it.” “Why don’t you shoot video? It’s better right?” “The photos in that book look so old” (showing someone Elliot Erwitt’s pictures).

I believe that it’s only when we’re at arms length of “perfection” that we reach a state of euphoria, a state of infinite possibilities, where amazing things happen.

A photographer like Eli can simply walk in the room, lick his finger, hold it up to the air, and instantly know which settings to use to gain a good exposure. The thing is, he can do something even better. He can wander aimlessly through out the city…  drifting from place to place, walking miles upon miles without even noticing how far hes gone, capturing priceless moments. He can walk from bright light into a dark ally way, see an interesting person walking towards him, and in one swift motion change both his f/stop and shutter speed, predict his subjects motion, frame the shot, and take the snap at the decisive moment. He’s done it so many times that it’s all an after thought for him.


Afterwards I biked to my local pub since it was “free glass” night, where you get to keep the glass after you order a certain beer.

I sat at the bar, just playing around with my new smart phone, eating sesame sticks and having a Milk Stout, when I overheard the bartender talking to the man sitting next to me. Turns out he was a chef at Uchiko, probably one of the best restaurants in Austin (I haven’t dined there yet, but it’s nationally acclaimed. It’s one of those places where you see all your friends dressed up and taking pictures next to the sign.) I started a convo with him, he obviously was very. VERY into food. It was amazing how the conversation ranged from mixing in chemicals to form the perfect consistency of gelatin all the way to how to simply make caramelized onions(I had no idea how to make them!)

  • Heat the pan, and put oil in it until its smoking hot
  • put onions in the pan
  • put a little bit of salt on the top
  • cover
  • turn heat down to medium
  • the salt will draw out the moisture out of the onions in the top, which will base the onions on the bottom which started caramelizing due to the high heat.
  • about 10 minutes, toss once, you will see that the onions at the bottom will be liquefied enough to make it really easy to
  • another 5 minutes on the pan
  • the onions will be perfectly done, soft, yet firm… sweet, just right.

The excitement in his eyes as he was talking about his dishes, just the purest look you’ve ever seen.

We went outside to chill with the other chefs from the restaurant. It was a scene similar to only something I read about in books (Anthony Bourdain’s). They were all so raw, poking fun at each other, downing pitcher after pitcher of beer(good beer), and smoking cigarettes. Towards the end of the night the chef I met, Dustin, got into an argument with another chef at the table about food. Despite the others’ efforts to quell the shouting…  it went on and on, until Dustin eventually stormed off.

That’s passion yo. #passion. right there.

One of the most painful states to be in is to not know what you’re passionate about.

It currently bothers a ton of my friends… and I can do nothing but say, “Sucks, man.” I think the best advice I gave to one of my best friends was to just listen to a bunch of Barenaked Ladies albums (before Stephen Page left). I know the feel, it’s just like you’re in a rut, it feels like there’s nothing you can do, and even if you admit and complain about it you’re still in it.

Everyone is different. You never know what will click and stay with you.  It can be anything, from code, entrepreneurship, gaming, sports, art, clothes, interior design, music… anything. You just never know.

It’s horrible seeing the minds of my friends wander… towards… well.. shit basically.

You must find it. Don’t stop until you do.

And when you find it, keep going. You’ll practice day in and day out. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night with new ideas, and jump out of bed to write them down. You’ll seek out others who can help you out, and easily be able to tell the difference between a fraud and someone who is legitimately earnest too.

And suddenly when you’re in the mix of it all, just going through the motions… time will just slow down. It’s just so rare, as the weeks, months, years zoom past us… that we can have a time to just breathe. To slow it all down for even just a couple milliseconds.

So surround yourselves with these people. It’s just fucking interesting as hell.

olympus omd em5 banding issue

Some of you might be wondering about the banding issue on the Olympus’ omd-em5.

draught & blue

If you look closely at this picture, you will notice that there are these horizontal stripes going from left to right for the full height of the picture.

This phenomenon happens when you use the panasonic 14mm f/2.5 or panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lenses on the olympus omd em5 and use an ISO of over 1600. This is quite weird since they don’t appear when I use my 50mm summicron. Also it seems that this doesn’t happen every time, it depends on the lighting situation.

red white and blue

However, as a long time micro 4/3rds user (Bought both the panasonic GF1 and Olympus EPL2 on their respective launch dates) I can say that it’s a miracle that I can shoot up to ISO 1600 with close to no noise. ISO’s of over 800 were noisy on the previous models.


It’s weird though, that there are not many forums online that address this issue. Many blame the image stabilization for making a weird frequency.

I sincerely hope that this issue can be resolved by a firmware update, as it does ruin the experience with this camera. If those high

I will be writing a full omd-em5 review in the next couple days. So stay tuned.

Proposal Status

jen and joel

I just wanted to let everyone know what was happening with this story.

Yes, I met up with the couple, and we’re getting dinner next week. Joel, Jen, and I have a lot in common since we’re all in the tech space, so we’ll have lots to talk about!

//Did I get the coffee and cheesecake?

The reason why I asked for coffee and cheesecake was because at the time of the interview (kvue / cnn) Joel had already reached out to me to meet him at Mozarts, a cafe located along Lake Austin, which is known for having great desserts, especially cheesecake.

The thing is it kind of hurts that this photo is being shared on a bunch of other sites not giving credit to me at all. This is not the first time this has happened to me though. I’ve had another popular photograph on take off on tumblr which has over 12000 likes and comments in different threads, with the original only having 1 like.

le tart

I did buy myself a nice tart and an iced americano(no suger or cream).

I’m pretty sure that I’m getting that coffee and cheesecake.. many many times since Joel has a group called “the regulars” that meet up at Mozarts to talk about all sorts of random stuff! Can’t wait to meet them.

//How much money have you made off of this?
So far? $0.40.

Sucks right? But this is happening to countless photographers all the time. To give an example… the photo of Jenn Orr on the CNN broadcast was taken by Emily Kinsolving, please give her website a visit:


I feel sort of used by CNN since they didn’t link to anything of mine, not even my twitter, after using the video on their front page for 2 days in a row, and now on their official facebook page. But this is every day for them.

By the way the $0.40 was from one of you guys purchasing the kindle version of The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum

The only way I am monitizing this is by posting links to Amazon in my about page.

I seriously think the gear I use is great, and I own and have read the photography books I linked to multiple times over and over. It would mean so much to me if you used those links on your next purchase.

//How has my life changed?

Not by much… hah. Really. I go to work…. and I still just hangout at my usual pub where I usually get free beer anyways even without the popularity. Today is Thursday so I’m going to go on a social bike ride, perhaps I will find another viral photo this time as well.

//Overall though…

I feel so blessed that my pictures are gaining exposure. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. My goal now is to share with you guys my opinions on the most controversial topics in photography.

I’m about to post a buying guide soon. It’s going to be the best thing you’ve ever seen.

//So… without further ado...

this is a compiled list of all the links that I know of so far(based off my analytics):

more after the jump ->

Continue reading

How to take pictures of strangers

Generally there are 2 schools of thoughts when it comes to taking pictures of strangers:

chicon st crew

1. You ask them

party of 3

2. You don’t

The obvious safe practice is to ask them first, which is safer since you don’t want someone chasing you down trying to destroy your CF card. But in many cases it ruins the moment, probably the very reason why you were enamored with the person in the first place.

And you know what? Countless amounts of people have noticed me taking a picture of them, some happy, some weirded out, some indifferent, and even slightly angry in some cases, but never has a person ever tried to do anything about it.

The correct choice in my opinion is… both. I do a bit of both. It just depends on the situation.

oh taisho

If a person looks occupied with something, I leave them be. I try to capture them in that moment. This is a situation where you need to be as discrete as possible.

Do not make any sudden movements. Ease casually into your shooting position, or even better shoot from the hip. I find that the best time to take candids of strangers is when I’m already participating the scene myself. For example if I’m waiting outside to be seated at a restaurant… and someone of interest comes outside to sit down, they don’t notice me cause I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

A discrete shot needs to be fast. Take a quick glance… then

*Breath in* -> meter, focus, compose

*Breath out* -> click

Take as many frames as you can, which I find to be about… 2-5 before they notice (depending on your camera’s fps and loudness of your shutter sound). Then just carry on with what you’re doing. 

When I’m at a bar, I order a drink and sit around for a while, then I start looking for pictures. I’m part of the scene already so people are less alert to my presence.


For this one I was already drawing on the floor with a friend when these lovely ladies showed up. Street photography is magnificent since you actually get to participate in the event. The way your subject reacts to you is a direct reflection of your involvement in the scene.


I find it helpful to actually shoot wider (28mm~)… and get super close to the subject, so close that they think you’re taking a picture of something else. Again I will write another tutorial on how to take pictures like this quickly, efficiently, and without bothering your subjects.

at the pub

On the other hand, I ask quite often. It doesn’t always have to be a verbal agreement though. A lot of times I just point at my camera or make eye contact and smile at them right before I take the picture.


I used to be a very shy person who stayed inside all day. But now I’m probably the most extroverted person among my friends. Photography propelled me to speak to strangers, hear their stories, and it’s gotten me very far. This guy happened to be the head of customer service for the Metro in Boston, he gave us a couple free limited edition Japanese T passes. Pretty sweet right?!


You just never know the stories people have… or what they do. It’s all quite interesting. I had probably one of the most high level conversations about photography with a complete stranger. (I apologize in advance) Life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get.

Oh yeah… what happens when the person says no? Don’t take the picture. Don’t think anything of it, sometimes they just don’t want it done, maybe they were having a bad hair day or something. Just walk away… you’ll find another potential target soon enough. 

next stop

So yeah… in the end its your choice. Just remember to participate, be chill about it, be kind, and smile.

Aperture Junkies July Photo Contest

I have a facebook group comprised mostly of my real life friends called “Aperture Junkies” and we just hosted our first photo contest.

Yes, this is TWO HOURS of me critiqing images. If you’re hella bored you can watch it, I wouldn’t be offended if you didn’t. I’m choosing a final 5 images to move on to the next round, and those should be decided by yesterday(hah).

To view these images, you can view the google doc here: http://bit.ly/MFWx2l

I plan on making the next photo contest open to the public, and have the prize something worth while, like a camera bag. Stay tuned!!

Instagram, good or bad?


I remember reading an article complaining about how instagram’s filters were killing creativity with photography.

I believe the author’s opinions were unfounded since her own images were pretty bad, as in… worse than an average picture found on instagram. The irony is that the only photoshopping she did to her images was applying filters and changing saturation… (I’m not going to bother linking to her post).

Instragram is a fantastic application which has raised the bar when it comes to quality of images. The filters are actually very impressive on an algorithmic level, as in they fix things such as dynamic range without the user ever having to bother with layer masks in photoshop.

By removing the step of photoshop, which takes time and effort to learn, it allows the photographer to:

  1. Take more images, which is practice in itself
  2. Focus more on their composition (I love the square crop!)
  3. Eventually get used to the filters and how they work, to a point where they can actually view a scene and know exactly how to manipulate the shot so it works with a particular filter. This is a very powerful mindset to have since a lot of seasoned photographers think in this sort of manner. They take pictures with the post processing in mind even before clicking the shutter.

I feel that for those of us who take pride in our pictures and want to remain relevant, we need to step up our game to shine in this deluge of new images. We have the ability to be more innovative than a couple a algorithms. Embrace instagram, try it out, and then use it as a springboard to take your photos to the next level.


There’s an article by Ming Thein about how he uses iPhones for his photos… absolutely brilliant pictures:

Stunning photos from the 12′ Olympics taken with an iPhone:

Learning by mistake

“If you don’t succeed, try, try again”

Photography, like many things in life… requires practice. If you look through the beginnings of my flickr stream, you can probably see how much my photography has evolved in the past 4-5 years.

With the rise in popularity of digital cameras, especially digital SLR’s, I see way too many people taking pictures of their living room or their desk at home. These people rattle on and on about all the features of their camera, they upload jpegs straight from camera and complain about the smallest little details. “Oh no, the images from my 5D mk3 don’t seem as sharp as the ones coming from my mk2, look at this 300% crop of my coffee mug….”

In order to take good pictures, you have to go outside.

It’s not just that, you have to go outside often, and to different places.


The overlying montra of photography is rather simple actually. If you see something you like, then take a picture of it.


The thing is, in order to improve, you must review your images

Is it exposed correctly? Is it in focus? Does the image convey the message I want it to?

Focus and exposure are probably the most common problems with pictures, even pro photographers face these issues everyday. The difference however, between an beginning photographer and a seasoned photographer is that the more experienced photog will have seen a particular setting more than once and will generally know what to do.


For example, you’re taking a portrait:

  • First off you have to have a person who you generally like and want to take a picture of.
  • Then there’s the location… you need to pick out an area where the subject can be separated from the background. If the background is too bright, the viewer’s eyes will be directed to the background and not the person.
  • Third, you need to get the exposure correctly. For this you have to know your camera, and it’s little quirks.
  • Forth, composition. Even though rules are meant to be broken, I think the rule of thirds is a great place to start.
  • Fifth, focus… generally for portraits these days we enjoy using a very wide aperture (read my aperture review!), which creates a very shallow plane of focus. In my opinion, portraits are centered around a person’s eye or face. You need to get the eye in focus.

This checklist is one of many that should be in a photographer’s tool belt. You should have one for every situation from landscape to street photography.

Missing an image

I distinctly remember getting off a flight at SFO, and seeing a long line of flight attendants for Japan Airlines lining up for security checks… they were all so orderly and uniform… I was hesitant to take out my camera due to it being a security zone. It might have been my favorite image… ever.

I use this mistake to motivate me to bring my camera out every time I get the “itch” to take a picture. In turn, losing that one image has motivated me to take many more pictures.

Dropping an image

The hardest thing to do in my opinion is to drop an image, I think we’ve all experienced a special event where we tried to capture the essence of it, but in the end the image did not convey the feeling at all. After hours of photoshop manipulation the image still looks off and flat… We have to drop images like these, since more moments will come later. You have to reflect on what you did wrong and come up with a more innovated solution next time.