Photo Contest…

I entered another photo contest by See.Me!  This one is called “Exposure: A Competition Celebrating the Power of the Image.”  I entered the same photo contest last year, and though I didn’t win anything (or even go far), 3 of my photos were later chosen to be part of a different photo exhibit in NYC.  I entered the photo contest again this year, and hopefully I get a little better results… maybe even win something (*crossing fingers*)…

Check out the website for my photos.  Please VOTE for me!  Voting is free!

Please vote for me! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

Oh… and also… please share this link on your FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc…


Vagabond Eyes

I kinda took a break from writing in this blog during the last month.  I still intend to keep writing and updating friends, family, and the WordPress community about what’s been going on in my life, but in the meantime, I started up a new blog… a photo blog to post random pictures I’ve taken over the years.  They’re geared more at photos that I’ve taken while traveling.

The new blog is titled Vagabond Eyes, and you can find it here:

Come and visit, like it, follow it… I’m going to continue posting pictures there on a regular basis, and any feedback, comments, tips, and advice (either about photography or photoblogging) are greatly welcome!!!  I really want to improve my photography and be able to showcase them in a tasteful way online.

See | Me’s 4th Annual EXPOSURE Photo Competition 2013…

Some time ago (about one and half years actually), I entered a photo contest on Smithsonian Magazine Online and was an Editor’s Pic for a “Photo of the Day.”  That kinda made me realize that “hey… I guess people really do like some of my photos”… so I decided to do it again.  Today, I entered in the See | Me website’s 4th Annual EXPOSURE Photo Competition.

Please click on the link below and view my photo entries.  If you like them, please VOTE for me, or SHARE the link on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, PInterest pages, etc.  Thanks for all the support!


Pictures of the Gambia: Janjanbureh

I’ve decided that I want to start posting more pictures of the Gambia – images of the country, it’s people, daily life in the towns and villages – but I’m not trying to make this a photo blog… well, maybe I am, kinda, a little.  Anyway, for now, here are pictures taken last Sept (or was it last Oct) of Janjanbureh, also known as Georgetown, also known as MacCarthy Island.  People loved changing its name over the years.

The Gambia 001 The Gambia 002


My little European video…

I’ve had my DSLR camera since August 2011, and I’ve been taking thousands of pictures with it ever since.  My hard drive in my Mac was exploding at the seams until I purchased a new 1 TB external drive last March.  The reason I’ve been taking so many pictures is because not too long after getting my DSLR, I discovered time-lapse photography.  I fell in love with the concept and had been learning how to create time-lapses, from how to take the pictures, to how to edit them, to how to create and edit the videos.  I quickly learned you need a lot patience.  Needless to say, taking pictures of an ice cube melting was one of the first time-lapse clips I created, and much patience was learned.

Fast forward to February 2012.  I took a trip to Europe for the first time, visiting Barcelona, London, and Paris.  I decided it would be a great opportunity to take time-lapse pictures on the trip, so I packed 2 tripods with me and off I went.  It was quite a hassle having to stop every now and then for 10-15 minutes to take pictures, and I know I might have annoyed my friends a bit, but it was well worth it in the end.  Since this is my first video, any feedback and comments are welcome.  I’m hoping that I can continue taking time-lapse photos while I’m abroad in Africa, so the more I can learn now, the better prepared I will be later.  Enjoy!

Back home…

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve been traveling throughout Europe, specifically London, Barcelona, and Paris.  The motivation for the trip was a culmination of several reasons.  The first and foremost reason was to visit a good friend that moved to London.  Second, I had never been to Europe, and it was the only continent that I had never been to.  I can now say that I’ve been to all 7 continents on this Earth!  Thirdly, it was a test trip for some of my gear that I would be bringing to Africa in the Peace Corps.  And last, but not least, it was a trip to capture as many pictures as possible to create a time-lapse video (my new hobby).

London was my favorite city of the three I visited.  Though cold and gloomy with some rain, I was lucky enough to catch several days of sunshine and crisp weather.  London was a hustle and bustle city much like New York.  There were lots to things to do, places to go, and sites to see.  Navigating the city and their public transportation (e.g. the Tube) was easy.  Many places were within walking distance once you got to the touristy spots.  One of the downsides to London (as an American traveler) is the British Pound and how expensive many things cost.  Since my friend lived in London, we cooked many of our meals.  Shopping in the supermarkets or at your local grocer was surprisingly cheap.  You could also find very good inexpensive restaurants, coffee shops, and corner cafes without much effort.  Another plus was most of the museums were free!  I took advantage of that fact and visited a few of them, including the National Gallery, the British Museum, and the Tate Modern.  A few things in London, however, were closed down or being renovated.  There was lots of construction going on in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics.  Ads abound throughout the city highlighting the upcoming games.  Oh to be in London during the Olympics; all the excitement, all the national pride, and also, not to forget, all the frustration due to the population surge during the 2 weeks of competition.  Nonetheless, I wish I could be there during the Olympics!

Barcelona was another great city.  Staying at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, we were right by the beach and not too far from many of the touristy locales.  Unlike London where I took the Tube almost everywhere, in Barcelona I walked almost everywhere.  La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia, La Catedral de Barcelona, La Pedrera… there were so many great sites to see.  I would describe this leg of my vacation as an architectural exploration: my friends and I basically went to almost every major Gaudi location in the city (Gaudi was famous Spanish Catalan architect, and his work is visible throughout Barcelona).  By the way, Spanish tapas are delicious!

Bonjour!  Paris was a city where I felt transported to the past.  Throughout the major streets and small alleyways, all the buildings were reminiscent of a world long ago.  One would find tiny shops that sold only breads, which so happened to be right next to the cheese shop on the right, the meat shop on the left, and the wine shop a few storefronts down.  However, eating in restaurants in Paris was quite expensive.  Parisians have an exquisite sense of taste, and I’m assuming they have exquisite wallets to match!  Navigating the city’s public transport was also easy to do.  We visited many sites, including Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Champ-Elysses, and the Arc de Triomphe.  One of the major downsides to Paris, which was rather annoying, was that so many people smoked.  I even spotted and smelled a person smoking in the subway tunnels, which was clearly prohibited.  As a result, cigarette and cigars littered the streets making them filthy.  Car and truck exhausts also reeked of fuel and smog, and many buildings looked like they were covered in a layer of soot.  I definitely felt I was transported to the past… say, the time of the industrial revolution.

I took many MANY photos when I was in Europe.  Barcelona and London alone have taken up about 45 GB.  I have yet to upload my Paris pictures because my external hard drive is almost full, so I need to get a new one very soon.  Needless to say, I have many time-lapse clips of my trip.  Here’s a small taste of what I hope to complete, once I get more space on my computer.  Click here and use the password “europe2012” (without the quotes) when prompted.  (Note: I selected a random song clip from my MP3 playlist for this short vid, but the final version will probably feature a different song.)

See ya later… adios… au revoir!

Catch up time…

It’s been quite some time since my last post.  I guess I should start by saying Happy (belated) New Year and Lunar New Year!  Happy (belated) MLK Jr Day, and in light of today… Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ve been doing quite a lot these last few weeks, but also quite a lot of nothing in between.  The winter holidays were relaxing but eventful.  I spent time at home with family for the Christmas holidays.  New Years was celebrated in Palm Springs with friends where we hiked for 2 days: Jan 1st at Mt San Jacinto and Jan 2nd at Murray Canyon.  What a great way to start off the year with 2 hikes!  A week later, I went hiking again, this time to Sandstone Peak on the Mishe Mokwa Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains.  And then a 4th hike the following Saturday at Caspers Wilderness Trail in Orange County.  Needless to say, I was all pooped out with hiking, and I’ve since taken a break.

Peace Corps-wise, I’ve taken care of a few things that needed to get done quickly.  I mailed my passport forms and Visa forms.  It took some time to figure out and required a call to SATO travel, but once I knew what I had to do, it was quickly completed.  I also took care of my Yellow Fever Vaccination, and sent the paperwork off to Peace Corps.  Despite all this, I still have loads of things to do, such as financial paperwork (loans, insurance, etc), before Staging.  I’ve been putting them off because they don’t seem to be extremely urgent, but they still need to be completed before Staging in June.  I also purchased a book called Our Grandmothers’ Drums by Mark Hudson about a European man’s experience living in The Gambia.  It’s entertaining, but the reading is slow.  It’s been several weeks, and I’m halfway done.  My goal is to finish by the end of the month so that I can start looking at another book that I purchased, the Lonely Planet’s guidebook for The Gambia and Senegal.

In January, I went to 2 different travel shows in the area.  I saw famous Travel Channel celebrities Samantha Brown and Andrew Zimmern talk about their traveling experiences.  I also sat in on a panel discussion about traveling on a budget and what good websites to use.  They gave really good tips and pointers, and listed some awesome websites!  Going to these travel shows, how can you not enter your name into a contest or two to win a free trip?  So I entered myself into at least 20 or 30 different contests!  Now my email inbox is slowly pilling up with travel emails, discounts, and spam.  Le sigh…

A lot of my time has also been spent learning how to use my DSLR camera, watching countless hours of YouTube tutorials about DSLR photography – the basics about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and light; how to adjust the various settings on my camera; and also some fundamental theory about how to observe and frame your subject.  YouTube is such a great tool to use for self-learning!   Oh, and I’ve also been enthralled by time-lapse photography!  I started making my own short clips of random things.  Taking it simple, I started with ice melting and trees swaying in the wind.  Then I started walking around Santa Monica and took pictures of people along the bike paths and walking paths, of the cars by the beach, and of a beach sunset.  My goal before leaving for the Peace Corps is to be able to make a decent 3-5 minute video of Los Angeles and the beach areas, sort of a tribute to LA and also something that I can show my future friends in Africa about where I’m from.  The more I do this, the better I hope to become.  And I’d like to take time-lapse vids of my future African adventures.

Speaking of adventures, I’ll be leaving this week for a trip to Europe.  I’m hitting London, Barcelona, and hopefully a 3rd city, possibly Paris.  I’m staying with a friend that lives in London, and together we’re meeting up with one of my college buddies that is vacationing in Barcelona.  These past few days, I’ve been highlighting, Post-It-ing, and scribbling notes all over my Lonely Planet guidebooks.  I’m so excited!  Oh, and I’m also learning French (using Rosetta Stone) for the hell of it.

Till next time… Au Revoir!