yoga, art, and hotdogs

Instead of just the weekend, I’m going to cover everything I did this week… this could be quite long. I’m sure I’ll eventually get tired of doing these posts, the whole “kissing and telling” aspect of it is already beginning to turn me off.

//The Week


I’m done with physics finally after having a test on monday, then a final on thursday in the same class. I find it cool that I can apply the light and lenses chapter to photography, with the most obvious application being polarizing filters.

I still have to finish up math, which ends on the 17th. After that I’m going to SF for a couple days to check things out. If you’re in SF, or have recommendations on what to do whether it be tech meetups, events, places to eat, or things to see, let me know. (tweet at me)

-East Side King’s new cold ramen


Went to ESK Hole in the Wall to meet up with Deana and to take pictures of their new ramen specials. Honestly, despite all the hype of an ESK opening up near campus, I didn’t really like the food at the hole in the wall. I know I’m being a tough critic, their fried chicken is indeed tasty… but the ramen and the rest of the menu has always been sort of a miss with me. The problem may be that there’s just too much quirkiness going on without getting down the fundamentals first.

So the new cold ramen that they’re presenting this week are the best specials I’ve had at ESK hole in the wall. Most of the time I recommend eating there only if you’re in between class or close to campus, but I actually think these new ramen are worth taking a drive for.

-Dumpling happiness

dumpling happiness

Dumpling happiness is a food trailer located right outside Whislers, which is an up and coming bar on the East Side. The bar itself is a mixed bag, in the sense that their cocktails are pretty bad, and the crowd is full of Rainey St. yuppy transplants, but it’s quite a cool looking place where you can get a really tall pour of straight liquor for 6~ bucks(which is average).

The trailer apparently has been around for a while, just in other locations in Austin. Which leads me to this point: It’s not worth driving to eat at a trailer in Austin.  Why? You have to eat outside, it’s more expensive than a regular restaurant, and they’re generally really inconstant. Of course there are exceptions… actually I can’t think of any right now.

To put it straight, I think the dumplings taste good. I like the Pork and Ginger since the filling is very soft and tends to melt in your mouth sort of like a soup dumpling. I would also recommend the Glass Gyoza which is a pork dumpling wrapped in chicken skin and fried. The rest I don’t really care for. I respect that they have black vinegar available, never trust a dumpling place that doesn’t have vinegar. 

I know a lot of my friends have already tried this place and dismissed it for being too expensive(to get full you’d probably have to spend $14+ bucks). The thing is, the location is really convenient which is the whole point of a trailer in the first place. You have to admit it’s smart as a business owner to place yourself at a bar full of drunk yuppies with lots of cash that are feeling adventurous since they’re finally getting out to the east side. The cook is hustling, putting forward a decent product with grounded roots. And for that I give this place a thumbs up.

-@dennis_qian visiting


For lack of an image of this, here’s a picture of my bike on the Metro Rail. Which is California-esque anyways.

One of my friends from high school came to Austin from California on Thursday. When he brought the trip up I told him I’d be available for dinner, blah blah blah. Turns out I had a physics test from 7-10pm on the only day he was visiting. I have to get more organized… especially when it comes to friends making trips to my city. It’s horrible but I always intend on crashing at friends’ places when I visit, and I’m always scatter brained with people visit me.

Dennis happens to be a developer(Github), and one that I respect very much. It was sobering talking to him about the job market for programmers. It’s not like dream jobs are handed to you on a silver platter, you have to at least make some effort. The biggest point he made was relying on the fact that a nice cushy, entry level corporate job is waiting for you incase you fail is the wrong mindset to be in. It’s all about the hustle.

By the way, as of today I’ve made headway on Flickr. It’s crunch time to improve my skills before I meet up with the team later this Summer. And for you critics… saying “Wait isn’t Flickr huge and owned by Yahoo?” Photography is my passion, and Flickr has been my favorite photo sharing website for 6 years… to be able to work on the product and have users that I adore and admire would be a dream. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s my dream job.

Props to Dennis for landing another job in SF.

P.S There’s probably a reason why I don’t hang out with random people from high school anymore unless they’re close friends. I hate talking about prom(it went pretty bad for me) and reminiscing about those days makes me immediately want to down as much alcohol as possible pronto. I had a terrible hangover on Friday.

-Mission Hotdogs


Oh and here’s a food stand called Mission hotdogs, I can’t find them on yelp because they’re quite new, but I really liked the one I got with green papaya salad on top. It was $5, and beat the hell out of Frank’s hotdogs which are about $9. You can find the cart located outside of The Brixton Thursday-Friday night.

-The Weekend:

For some reason Dennis woke me up at 7am, despite me going to sleep at 5am, still drunk, in this period of lack of sleep/hangover we managed to get food at Habanero which is still the most consistently good Mexican/Tex-Mex place in Austin. And after we went to Summermoon Cafe… where apparently the Americano’s come with 3 shots of espresso on the regular. Started the weekend both wired and tired.

Laid around the house in this zombie like state all day, and eventually kicked myself into going to a yoga event which I probably would have never gone to:


When I tell most people about this type of yoga… they’re like that’s yoga? Well apparently so, if you’re interested in coming here’s the facebook group:

While watching the 3rd season of Portlandia, there’s a scene where someone makes the comment, “Maybe everyone’s just cropping out the sadness.” referring to people online who just instagram or post the fun bits so Here’s me… struggling Mandy’s expression is… well… yeah.

-Random Art


Headed downtown via metro Rail to check out some art exhibits I saw on Facebook. One of which was at Farewell Books, which was formally known as Domy Books. 

As a guy who hasn’t studied art and is still new to the contemporary art scene… I really don’t have much to say about the exhibit named “Jungle.”


What I did find interesting though, was this book called Shoot: Photography of the Moment which has photos that exemplify a candid style of photography I hope to work towards… which is pretty challenging if you think about it since in order to have interesting candid pictures, you have to live an interesting life yourself. 

If you’re in Austin and you’re bored, going to Farewell Books, grabbing an espresso from Flat Track Coffee, and taking a look at the art and their book selection sounds like a fine plan to me.


The second was located at Mass Gallery which I couldn’t find for the life of me. It’s located in the same complex as Mettle which is a new restaurant by the same people who own La Condessa and Sway. Haven’t ate there yet, but it looked like a poppin’ joint from the outside.

They were showing some films that apparently made a commentary on modern social media. I didn’t understand the 2 I saw, and the room was too crowded to go in.

-Ryan’s Birthday party


Back at the house, a bunch of my roomate’s friends came by most of whom are in the service and food industry. Had some tasty drinks, grilled food, and the most amazing salsa I’ve ever had.


Afterwards they went downtown, I went to the arcade to play street fighter for a bit, then headed downtown to join them at The Eastern. Lester was in attendance. Wesley, who now works as a bartender at The Jackalope, asked, “Patrick, do you want to go Swimming?”

“Yeah I’m down.”


Normally if you said that you swam in someone’s apartment complex at 3am, it doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary. Well… yeah, I hope this was ordinary so it happens more.

floating vibes

Fun people. Good times.



I played volleyball for the first time in years. I’ve only played a total of 3-4 times in my whole life, at least I got the ball over the net a few times and got all my serves(noob underhand style) inbounds. The house is now covered with sand, sorry roomies.

-Interesting posts:

Well if you’ve already made it down here in the post, why not indulge in interesting articles I’ve found over the week.


So yeah that was this week.

A random weekend in Austin

Well I actually did some stuff this weekend for once.

Today (Sunday):
I spent most of today hungover and now I’m supposed to be cramming for a Physics test tomorrow… but instead I’m going to take a moment to boost my e-credibility.


A while ago I met a local artist named Kevin with his dog over at Tamale House East. He posted on his facebook page about having a piece in an art show located at a gallery that I’ve always passed by and always wanted to go to.


The gallery, which I think is named H15H, was a short, yet hilly bike ride away from the house I just moved into(it seems everywhere is uphill from my place).

pizza cats

I arrived hot and sweaty as usual to a really crowded, tiny, and unairconditioned room with a lot of odd pieces of art. I was familiar with the main artists running the show, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I think the most standout piece of this pizza art exhibit was a wooden pizza, adorned with various wooden pizza toppings.


As I was taking a breather outside, I overheard a girl who was sitting near a couple plants ask, “Is this kale?” And I was like… hmm this is something that would probably go on the “Stuff girls say” twitter. On the flip side, I think the question stood out to me so much since I like kale quite a bit and have an obsession with it myself.

My intention was to then head to either a Foreign Mother’s concert which Kana, a girl who also waitresses at Tatsuya, is the main singer for, or to a birthday gathering a Plush(which I want to claim is one of the coolest bar’s downtown for several reasons). Both seemed to start at 10, which really means 11 or later now days, so I decided to stop by Qui… which was on the way.

That logic works right? 


I only wanted to stop for a beer, but Tim Dornon… the scooter rider and ex head chef at Uchiko, convinced me to stay and eat. It was a good decision.

ode to michel bras @qui

I’m going to repeat this… when you go to a restaurant that has a nice bar, try and sit there. One of the chefs working right behind the bar, Colin, recognized me from the last time I came in and we had a nice conversation. Initially I ordered 2 sashimi dishes, and the really pretty Ode to Michel Bras dish which I always wanted to try. I was afraid that I was going to leave still hungry.

Ode to Michel bras is a really beautiful dish which combines the textures of various veggies from local farmers with a refreshing garlic dashi stock. I actually had this stock some time ago at Uchi, which was the first time I got a glimpse of Paul Qui’s skills and genius.

The notion, “Food can be uplifting.” crossed my mind as I ate this.

Between the 2 sashimi courses, my waiter handed me a wet towel and told me that I’d might need it for the next dish. Turns out I was given a plate of grilled shrimp, and pretty huge ones at that.

Day boat gulf shrimp @qui

I’ve never been a shrimp guy, always thought they were too much hassle for the reward. But I think these have changed my mind. They were prepped in such a way that the goodies located in the head and abdomen slipped out as you pulled out the tail. The creaminess of those parts, along with the succulent meat of the tail really got to me.

This dish embodied Qui in my opinion, it’s a place where the chefs are constantly receiving new and interesting ingredients that they can experiment on. Paul said the shrimp wouldn’t be as good the next day so he gave me a plate of them. After downing 6 of these guys I was stuffed. I was scared that I wouldn’t have the appetite to appreciate the next dish. Luckily it got canceled, and I walked off full and happy.

What do I think of Qui as a restaurant? I don’t know. I think I’d have to go a couple more times to give a proper judgement. I shall make a post in the future about it.


As I was biking towards downtown, a stream of pedicabbers with no passengers were biking the opposite direction towards me, saying that it was going to rain heavily soon. I saw a ton of thunder coming from downtown, but decided to head down anyways. As I was biking past the convention center… the train was there almost ready to leave, so I was like… hmm free ride home(no hills!)! Arrived back just as the storm started.


Had breakfast of sweet potato hash at Cherrywood cafe (where I currently am right now writing this…) with 2 friends.

corgi san

We saw a cute corgi.

ala momofuku

Went to East Side Kings to take food photos with my roommates. I’m not allowed to upload the photos for myself before the official announcement according to a decree by lord D. So here’s a photo of a special that they don’t have. I honestly think The Grackle is the best out of the trailers since they’re the most inventive and playful.

The new menu at the Shangrila location was pretty bad… which is probably why it’s being removed. Despite all the yumminess of ESK, I think if they made food that was easier for drunk people to eat that maybe came in a bun or you could eat off a skewer… it would be a smash it.

There’s a new dumpling place at Whislers that I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about, that’s the way to go since you can share them easily with friends and eat them without much fuss.

I think a dessert even as simple as a custard or ice cream would kill over on the east side. It’s hot as hell here in Austin during the Summer. I don’t know why there isn’t a snowcone stand on East 6th(correct me if I’m wrong).


I headed over to Cenote after to finish up some homework, which was surprisingly empty for a Saturday night. I saw a chick pour a Topo Chico into a champaign glass and head outside to join her friends. I know the mineral water has been popular for years, but now it’s literally everywhere.

I don’t have anything against the product… just an observation.

Finished the HW, and proceeded to head to a birthday party…

Long story short, Tatsuya chefs were there, I drank too much, missed out on some epic Pokemon freestylings, and ended up puking for the 3rd time in my life.

rio rita

Oh yeah they had a fat kitty.

Austin is a pretty cool city. I keep talking about heading off to other places, criticizing and mouthing off about things I find wrong here. But in reality I think I’m just making excuses to not take the effort to change myself.

Random good mood

Hi official blog, here’s a post from my tumblr:


I’m not sure why, but I’m in a good mood.

After giving another photography lecture… I’ve sort have got to thinking about this whole photography education thing. The only people who are good at this thing are self-doers. They learn by going out in the streets, getting their hands dirty. They make mistakes, but know the possibilities out there, and that their goals are actually in reach.

I’m still going to hold these photography lectures, since it’s sort of cool teaching something for once. The idea of having pretend “office hours” where I just sit at cafe medici for 2 hours and see if anyone wants to come by and talk about photography sort of excites me.

The thing is, very little comes out of these lectures, the prodigies get little out of them since they’re too hot headed. How do I pull all of our talents together and make something cool out of it? What can be done with all of these photos that we’re taking?

Oh, here are the slides from the lecture!


One of my pictures just got explore on Flickr! Please favorite and comment on it >_<!!!


I met Kevin and his dog while grabbing a quick breakfast at Tamale House East. I took a couple pictures of them chilling and eating at a table outside. He was approached me to exchange info so he could see the pictures. I wasn’t really confident in the ones I took, so I ran after him as he was leaving to take a couple more. The sky was super cloudy which created a really nice diffused light for the whole area, perfect for a couple quick candids!

Oh yeah. His design work is actually quite impressive, check him out!

East Side King – The Grackle Reopening

East Side King – The Grakle reopening.

east side king - the grackle

Here’s a little history lesson for yall. (Hopefully this is accurate, and sorry for the long rant!)

I’m going to make the assumption that if you live in Austin you have heard of East Side Kings.

paul qui

It’s the brainchild of Paul Qui, pretty much our most popular celebrity chef, and the original location at The Liberty bar has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.

east side kings - the grackle

Currently, there are 4 East Side Kings, which is comprised of 3 stationary trailers next to bars on East 6th St. and one mobile trailer which they use for special events and catering.

The first East Side King location is at The Liberty Bar, which features pork belly buns, fried chicken (karaage), and beet fries.


The 2nd location, which is now at The Grackle has gone through a lot of iterations over the past 4 years. At first it was located on Rainey St, and they served wonderful yakitori(Japanese shishkababs).

The thing is business wasn’t that great at that location, so they relocated to the East side where did away with the skewers, and had a menu of grilled meat which was similarly prepared, but not as fun to eat. I wasn’t a fan of this change, and I guess the people of Austin weren’t too impressed either as the menu has gone through a revision, which I will go over in a little bit (wait a sec!).

sous vide pork belly

The 3rd location is at Shangrila, which used to serve pretty mediocre buns until they redid their menu to feature AMAZING dishes, including sous vide pork belly and tounge, the best damn shrimp tacos I’ve ever had, and pho buns(that actually work and taste great!).


Onto the preview of the new Grackle menu.

Here’s a link to it

Before I went I discussed it with my friend Jasmin who works for Food & Wine in NY. Immediately we decided that the tongue sando and the quail were the most interesting. I decided to get the mackerel just to see if they did it right, and also picked up the broccoli as well to get some veggies in.


Uzura – Quail and roasted edamame with shrimp paste

This dish is quite tasty, but I really don’t think it’s worth 12 bucks. First of all quail is really tiny… and the edmame/shrimp paste combo, while filling… doesn’t really pair well with the quail overall. Mint, even though not listed on the menu, seemed to be the strongest flavor in this dish to me. Not sure about this one!


Panko fried beef tongue in brioche, kewpie mayo, karashi mustard, served with shira-ae.

First bite into the buns is quite surprising and nice since “karashi mustard” actually tastes a lot like wasabi. Shira-ae is a mashed tofu salad, which kind of pairs nicely with the bun, but in my opinion it doesn’t offer much flavor or add to the dish at all except for adding a smooth mushy texture which contrasts to the crunch of the panko-breaded tongue. As you eat more of the bun, I sort of got the feeling that the tongue could have been more fatty and dense, but this is probably a problem with the beef tongue they had, and not them.

The thing is, the beed tongue at their other location is always pretty darn good and moist. Overall I think this dish is worth it since it’s interesting, and provides a quite a bit of flavor and textures.

saba don

Saba Don – Mackerel, beni shoga, and furikake on rice.

This dish is indeed nice. It’s a great piece of grilled fatty fish with the skin still on. The “beni shoga” pickled ginger is a no brainer addition to the dish, as it adds a ton of flavors that cut the fattiness of mackerel very well. “furikake” is that seaweed  sesame seasoning that you can get at Chinese food marts, it’s a good addition cause it adds a nice bit of salt which goes a long way with the fatty fish. This is PERFECT drunk food.

I do have some complaints about this dish though. It’s advertised as a “don” which in my opinion should be a rice bowl with stuff on top. I really believe they should get some larger styrofoam or plastic bowls, fill them with rice a lot of rice, and then top it off with the mackerel and other toppings. This for one will fill up the person more eating it, and give a better presentation of the dish overall. Maybe add some lemon on top! Or something!


Broccoli Pop – with sweet chili miso

Really flavorful grilled broccoli, would eat again.

-A Side Note…


As I sat down I noticed some really pretty light, as well as a really fashionable girl.


Turns out it was Deana! Who manages all the social media for East Side Kings.


Gettin down to business! Ooh ooh!


Again this is just a preview since I’ve only had 4 out of the many dishes that they have. Overall I think the new menu at ESK – The Grackle is refreshing, but it still needs some tweaking. The ability to get a nice piece of fried mackerel after a night of drinking downtown is an unbelievable thought. (Also this place is like 3 blocks away from my coworking space).

The current state of cameras in 2012


So this is a post I’ve been wanting to make a while, but I’ve been really too lazy to make one. The thing is Photokina is coming up and a lot of really interesting cameras are coming out, which in my opinion is the first time that we’re seeing any innovation since 3-4 years ago.

First off let me say this, this post will be very confusing to those who don’t follow camera gear closely. And when I mean closely, I mean every single camera that has come out recently including DSLR’s and Mirrorless.

This will be just an exercise for me to organize my thoughts. I get most of my opinions from reading DPreview, and browsing rumors sites such as mirrorlessrumors, and 43rumors. I don’t usually go onto forums since I feel a ton of photographers on there are really ignorant and take bad pictures.

ranbow puddle

I’ve only been shooting for about 4-5 years, by no means does this make me an expert on anything, but I believe that I have very grounded opinions through using a wide spectrum of the cameras that have been available. I’ve owned the following cameras: D40, 30D, 5D, M6, GF1, EPL2, OMD-EM5, M9P. I’ve tested and returned a Fuji X-pro1.

You know what I’ve found out? There’s really no all encompassing, perfect camera. All cameras have different characteristics, and that’s what makes them so frustrating yet fun at the same time. I do feel like the technology is out there to create one AMAZING camera system, but the market is just so fragmented and new that no company will make it.

These ramblings will be accompanied with relavant images, taken by relavant cameras. Feel free to check out the exif info on flickr if you’re curious to which camera I used for each shot.

-Micro 4/3 and Mirrorless

the last high

I was one of the first adopters of micro 4/3’s when the GF1 came out. Mirrorless cameras are fantastic. They’re small, discrete, they don’t get in the way, and they take really decent pictures. At this current point my recommendation for anyone going mirrorless is the Sony NEX 5N.

Wait a sec, why are you recommending a non Micro 4/3 camera?

I really think Micro 4/3’s direction is completely misguided right now. Both Panasonic and Olympus have confused consumers by producing so many different iterations of their cameras in the past 2 years, and they’re continuing to do so.

I’m very sure that a consumer won’t know the difference between the EPL5 and EPM2, actually I’m sure the average enthusiast photographer doesn’t really know the difference between their OMD, EP, EPL, and EPM lines of cameras. And let’s face it the OMD-EM5 isn’t really a digital OM, it’s just another pen camera.


Also I feel that Olympus is scared to release lenses that compete with the current Panasonic equivalent. The only 28mm equivalent lens we have is a crappy 14mm f/2.5 lens from Panasonic. Sure it’s light, but the iq is pretty flat in my opinion.

Also the OMD-EM5 still suffers from really bad banding with both the Panaosnic 14mm and 20mm lenses… ugh…. why hasn’t this been fixed?!?!

The GH3 is a bit of an anomaly. The GH1 and GH2 were hailed as fantastic video cameras with a very small footprint, but here they are making a super beefy pro version of the GH2… I know that they’re targeting the main consumers of the GH2, but doesn’t making a beefy micro 4/3 camera defeat the point of it all? Why not just get a Canon 5D Mark 3?


Also don’t you think a 2x crop sensor is so much less appealing with cameras such as the Sony RX1, Sony NEX C5, and Fuji X-E1 coming out… I really feel like micro 4/3 is in danger of becoming obsolete for high end users. I mean, look at this picture. This is all the bokeh I could muster with a 20mm f/1.7!

The thing is the micro 4/3 market is a great place for beginners looking for a cheap camera that takes better pictures than their smartphone, but I’m already assuming that none of you reading this blog post this far in are one of those.

The only saving grace for this format are the pro quality lenses being made by Olympus. Currently only there is a 12mm, 45mm, and 75mm (24-90-150 equivalents). These lenses are really fantastic, and they just announced a new 17mm f/1.8 which looks amazing as well. I was so impressed with the 12mm implementation, that it had a pull back ring to switch from focus by wire, to mechanical focus. It literally blew my mind that they could make such as lens. Hopefully olympus will make these types of lenses for all the standard lengths.

Sure there are a ton of manual lenses being produced… but the thing is micro 4/3 does not have focus peaking yet! What is up with that?!


In my opinion the Fuji cameras coming out such as the Xpro1 are not bad at all, the thing is I don’t think they’re sexy cameras. For one, all the lenses are focus by wire, which makes manual focus just so crazy bad… Also the aperture rings are electronic, which means that when you change the aperture at the front… the blades don’t move at all. Along with poor EVF implementation, the fuji xpro1 is just a powerful camera with crappy MF and AF, which makes it not a very good tool for street photography or capturing the decisive moment. It’s like a crappy 5D mk2.

The Sony NEX line in my opinion has the best mirrorless implementation so far. They have a 1.5x crop factor which makes mounting old manual lenses a lot better vs using a micro 4/3 camera with 2x crop. They actually have focus peaking… for those using manual lenses, and despite being so slim, they have a wonderful, fantastic handgrip.

-Entry Level Full Frame DSLR’s


Full frame cameras have been long sought after by almost all photo enthusiasts, but the thing is they have been at a price point quite out of reach for most people over the last few years.

The announcement of consumer focused, full frame cameras such as the Nikon D600 and Canon 6D doesn’t really come as much as surprise to me. I knew that eventually digital SLR’s would come back to being “full frame” just like the 35mm film SLR cameras of the past which were all technically “full frame.”

I mean the whole crop vs full frame war was only started due to the fact that companies could not make a cost effective sensor that was as large as a piece of 35mm Film. Explaining that some sensors have a 1.5 or 1.6 crop to new camera adopters has been a real pain in the ass over the past few years.


Finally we can see more people being able to grab a full frame camera and use lenses how they were meant to be, and perhaps put an end to this dilemma created by a limitation of technology. My roommate Waytao has a really good point, that now days photography is pretty much up to the photographer… since now almost anyone can grab a fantastic full frame camera and a some decent sharp glass.

-The future for gear junkies…

fast folks

With all these amazing cameras coming out, it really seems like the playing field is being leveled, and your true ability as a photographer will be tested in this new sea images taken with great gear.

The thing is, there is still an escape path for crazy gear obsessed folk like me, who shoot mostly natural light, who try to distinguish their look with the gear they use.

I’m going to say it now. M mount lenses are the future. Invest in them now before they become CRAZY expensive.

Canon and Nikon lenses are so… boring. For example look at Canon’s selection of 50’s… we have a 50mm f/1.8, decent, but completely plastic and toy like which makes the photographer want to look at the 50mm f/1.4 or f/1.2. The f/1.4 is really soft at under f/2… with a really unique hazy look that is very unappealing. The f/1.2 is a huge chunk of glass that has notoriously slow autofocus and a soft center.


Look at Leica’s range of 50’s. The 50mm f/2 Summicron which is AMAZINGLY sharp at f/2, the Summilux… which is ridiculous at f/1.4, and the Noctilux which is sharp even at f/1 or f/0.95. The noctulux produces images so unique and beautiful that they keep me awake at night.

The thing is you have more choices than just Leica… you have really awesome offerings from both Zeiss, Voigtlander, and small companies such as MS Optical. The image above of the 2 fixie chicks, was almost UNTOUCHED in ACR/CS6… the files are absolutely mindbogglingly sharp.

The most exciting camera that I’ve seen ever… is the new Leica M. Why? Because it’s going to completely rock the socks off anything made in the past.

peco peco

Until now the only full frame camera that could accept M mount lenses has been the M9, which in itself is great camera during the day, but it has HORRID high iso limitations. I find myself trying not to shoot at anything above iso 800.


A lot of people have been giving me flack for getting the M9P, which is such a crazy expensive camera. The thing is, in my honest opinion, I’m taking the best pictures of my life right now, and I need to have the best camera possible to use one. If you haven’t used a Leica M… it’s like no other camera. The controls all make sense, the focus is insanely fast even though it’s manual focus only, and the lenses just produce outrageously sharp images with a unique feel.


It’s not a camera for everyone. For one all lenses are manual focus, there’s no auto/P mode, and the real kicker is that you’re using a range finder window to frame your images versus a mirrored or live view image like in a DSLR. This means that a lot of your images, unless you compensate yourself, will be off by a little bit if you don’t know how to use the camera well.


The thing is, the new M will have live view (WITH FOCUS PEAKING!!), allowing you to have the option to frame your pictures using an actual representation of the scene. The regular optical viewfinder will still be in the camera, which means that you don’t lose all the perks of having a rangefinder, which are being able to see a subject wonder into your frame lines, and having very precise focus even in the most dim lighting.

What’s more is that the new accessory port will allows us old Olympus pen users to reuse our EVF2’s which are fantastic, yet again! So glad that I didn’t sell mine. I can’t wait till I can tilt the EVF upwards and focus a Leica M camera at my waist similarly to a medium format camera! (I REALLY CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS >_<!!!!)


So when I say that Leica’s are like pure photography leading from you brain to your hands, what do I mean?

  1. Your aperture and shutter speed are clearly visible from the top of the camera.
  2. Lenses come with a fantastic focus markings which make focusing by estimating distance a breeze, which is amazingly important in street photography.
  3. With Leica’s there’s no sense of seeing a scene and miss it due to autofocus hunting. It’s up to you, and you can focus super fast with Leica’s really unique split prism implementation.
  4. Metering is simple, responsive, and clearly stated in the view finder. You can see a scene, bring the camera up to your eye, and instantly, with 2 hands, change your exposure settings to obtain a correct exposure.
  5. M mount lenses are eyeball slicingly sharp at all apertures, and have their own unique/pleasing look.
Huge cons of Leica’s:
  1. Horrible close focusing distance, which makes macro/food photography is extremely hard.
  2. Slow FPS, makes shooting sports really hard…
  3. Manual focus only… makes shooting moving things and tracking movement difficult.
Point and shoots
As a guy who likes to take tons of pictures of food and such, I’ve started to pair the M9 with a high end point and shoot such as the Canon S95. They’re fun, quick and snappy, making them a great paring to any camera in my opinion. A lot of photographers that I follow closely are starting to use the Sony RX100 or Ricoh GR4 along with their main cameras.
A friend has asked me if I think point and shoots are dead. I don’t really think so… recently there have been a lot of P&S cameras that are clearly better than the iPhone camera. The thing is, I don’t think the average consumer will yearn for that difference in image quality or usability. In the end I think low end point and shoots will start to fall off the spectrum, while high end and unique point and shoots such as the water/weatherproof ones made by Olympus will still have their place in the market.


I still think gear matters. A lot.

Best the best gear reviews:

I’ve yet to come across better resources for camera reviews. The reviewers at DPReview are fantastic photographers that go very indepth into every camera now. Also, I’d like you to take note that Kai does a lot of trolling when he sees useless Camera iterations (T2i -> T3i -> T4i), but recently you’ll see that he’s been doing more serious reviews due to all the cool cameras coming out.

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.