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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Photography / Philosophy

Photography became an essential tool for composition studies after I bought my first digital camera in 1997. The zero cost/time factor in development allows me to explore relationships of lines and space to refine my visual development very effectively, and it is really from these studies that I began to understand and appreciate Bauhaus.

I did not, however, work with photography seriously as an "end-product" until a few years ago, when a couple of my long-exposure shots of the Manhattan Bridge (shot with a Canon G2 at the time) caught the eye of a semi-professional photographer. He urged me to pursue it seriously and after a year convinced me to buy my first DSLR, the Canon 10D. Getting back to a Canon SLR was like reuniting a long-lost friend, as my first real camera also happened to be a Canon EOS when I grew up as a teenager.

When it comes to photography, I'm a purist. I like to use the camera to express how I see, and as such studio photography and any forms of setups is close-to-absent in my photography work. I see the natural surroundings as a never-ending source of visual challenges, which explains why I am thoroughly impressed with Lucien Samaha's urban mundane still metropolis series.


There are a few ongoing (and perhaps never-ending) projects in my pursuit for photography:

1. Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan BridgeManhattan BridgeManhattan Bridge HDRManhattan Bridge HDR / BW1Manhattan Bridge HDRManhattan BridgeManhattan Bridge HDRManhattan BridgeManhattan Bridge HDRManhattan BridgeManhattan Bridge (not hdr)CRW_9649CRW_9675CRW_9646Manhattan Bridge cablesManhattan Bridge / New York

This subject is of historic importance to my affair with photography, and as such remains to be an active focus. One of the reason that I picked it is because I live right next to it, and I am terribly sick of all the attention that Brooklyn Bridge tends to get. Another reason has to do with my passion with its utilitarian attribute, which I blogged about many moons back. The experience with working on many long-exposure shots of Manhattan Bridge also leads me to become interested in HDR photography.

2. Dead Yard

CRW_9568_to_9572_hdr-bwCRW_9559CRW_8986CRW_8985CRW_8983CRW_8982CRW_8981CRW_8979_1CRW_8979CRW_8978CRW_8974CRW_8972CRW_8970CRW_4366 copyBeach at the Dead YardCRW_4362 copyCigarette BlossomCRW_4353 copyCRW_4421 copyCRW_4415 copyCRW_4412 copyCRW_4407 copyCRW_4585 copyParameter defenseCRW_34579CRW_34131CRW_34130CRW_34128CRW_34126CRW_34125CRW_34124CRW_34123Deadyard IvyCancerBowl 41046Deadyard Sunshine20060606_10D_3969820070507_10D_41767Dead Yard / Night LightsDead Yard / Night Lights

This is a fun one. I always thought that it is a very unreal experience when photographers present portfolios with perfect bodies, flowers, settings. It also disturbs me when it is often the subject and not the photography that people tend to respond to. Since i believe that photography is about composition and visual relationships, I started taking photographs of subjects that will otherwise be considered repulsive outside of its context. The response I receive is interesting. People tend to have a mixed feeling about them--they appear to be drawn to the composition, but at the same time do not wish to hang dead things on their walls. This fulfills my intention and as such has driven me for more.

3. Numbers in a city


This was my first photography project. It started out as a project for a typography class while I was in college. Like most graphic design assignments at Yale, it was very open ended. We were asked to show the experience of a city through the language of typography. I have always been interested in numbers, and I as such I decided to run around New Haven and photograph numbers which represent the city, from 1 to 100. The series is to be projected on the wall as slideshow. The numbers are recognizably New Haven, and most who have been in New Haven can recognize the sense of time and space as they go through the series. Some commented that it reminded them of Sesame Street. It was so successful that I thought of extended this to different neighborhoods in New York, but I never had the time to work on more of them after college, and as such I have only completed the first and only one...


On the technical front, I am exploring flash photography and macro photography, which have both been very challenging and expensive, but the results are often surprising and inspiring, and I plan on continuing them whenever I have the time, and little experiments often result in the form of studies.


My public photography series are available on Flickr.


I have also created a set to allow reviewers to look at my range:

Ronald McDonald / Mermaid Parade / Coney Island / Brooklyn / New York City / 2007CRW_4688CRW_9702CRW_9816_anSoho Night lights HDRCRW_4160-001 copyBrooklyn Bridge Sunset HDRCigarette BlossomCRW_7555 copyConstruction TruckCharmedCRW_8525 copyCRW_9038CRW_5855CRW_34579CRW_34130CRW_8531 copyVeinsCRW_8425Spice FactoryCRW_5145-002 copyCRW_9262Still Life: Boys / Folsom Street East 2007 / New YorkRelaxation / Mermaid Parade / Coney Island / Brooklyn / New York City / 2007Lone Star Fish / Mermaid Parade / Coney Island / Brooklyn / New York City / 2007Folsom Street East 2007 / New YorkFreedom / Mermaid Parade / Coney Island / Brooklyn / New York City / 2007Triumph / Mermaid Parade / Coney Island / Brooklyn / New York City / 2007Temet Nosce / Mermaid Parade / Coney Island / Brooklyn / New York City / 2007Ship's Figure Head + Sony Cybershot / Mermaid Parade / Coney Island / Brooklyn / New York City / 2007Gay Pride / New York / 2007Annual Faerie & Church Ladies for Choice Drag March / New YorkSign / Annual Faerie & Church Ladies for Choice Drag March / New YorkHawaii SunsetCRW_4721Manhattan Bridge / New YorkManhattan Bridge HDRManhattan BridgeManhattan Bridge HDRBrooklyn BridgeManhattan Bridge HDRManhattan Bridge HDR / BW1CRW_34011_1_ptCRW_36583_31Folsom Street East 2007 / New YorkCommunication / Folsom Street East 2007 / New YorkPony Ride / Folsom Street East 2007 / New YorkFolsom Street East 2007 / New YorkFolsom Street East 2007 / New YorkComfort / Folsom Street East 2007 / New York

Related SML Pro Blog entries

Functional = Beautiful
HDR: Manhattan Bridge in Black and White
Manhattan Bridge HDR
Photography = Composition
SML Collection
Theorizing aesthetics

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