Daily Activity

Parts Unknown by Phu Qui Nguyen

Been thinking about Uncle Tony all day. Even if I didn't know him personally, many of us would spend 45 minutes with him once or twice a week to catch up on his latest adventures. Even though I haven't sat down with him lately, he's still like family you see every so often and somehow he imparts knowledge that you can be sure is rough all the way around, dimpled in the flaky crust over a very humble tender slice of pie.

I had no idea what traveling through life was, what experiencing the people around a hemisphere and filling a lifetime with experiences and relationships. Who knew. He kept it real for us at home in a not a world not generally accepted for reality. Uncle Tony experienced worse things growing up during rougher times, only one could imagine and be thankful that someone went through this in order to give us some insight at the end.

People are saddened by some loss due his physical well being fading into the airy existence. I like to think of him as that Uncle that is out adventuring, finding the next best thing. Don't say boo hoo, he owes anyone anything -- he paid his lifetime of dues as a father and creator. Just glad he's still enjoying the hunt elsewhere. Thanks for all those good trips around the world all these years, Uncle Tony. May your family find some peace in this all. Cheers.  1956-2018

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The chase for fall colors by Phu Qui Nguyen

I didn't grow up in a town with 4 seasons.  Basically in southern California, we have hot, less hot, and lukewarm.  Some evenings get chilly, but I've had others (from out of state) visit during wintertime in their T-shirt and shorts.  So we often have to go elsewhere to chase the seasonal appearances.  This time, we found ourselves in Alabama Hills, located in Lone Pine, CA.  It's an out-of this-world rock haven.  Even though it was a busy weekend, camping spots could still be found whereas I've found trouble getting a space in Joshua tree if I didn't show up Friday mid day.  Spaces are spread out and we were able to have a whole corner rock stack to ourselves with the best views of the Sierras.  We journeyed through the Mammoth Lakes, hiked up the Mt. Whitney trail, dipped into the Lone Pine Lake and took the smokey views of fires in Lion Meadows Trail.  It's the best to explore for change in seasons at the moment.  The colors are the most vibrant in the season before the leaves start to descend.  Don't wait, the time is now!

Stupid tent blocking the Sierras, Oct 2017

Stupid tent blocking the Sierras, Oct 2017

Bama Hills, Oct 2017

Bama Hills, Oct 2017

Silver Lake, Oct 2017

Silver Lake, Oct 2017

Around Mammoth Lakes, Oct 2017

Around Mammoth Lakes, Oct 2017

Lone Pine, Mount Whitney Trail, Oct 2017

Lone Pine, Mount Whitney Trail, Oct 2017

The view toward Lion Meadow Trail.

The view toward Lion Meadow Trail.

Pray for rain by Phu Qui Nguyen

Fire, fire, everywhere in California.  What the heck is happening?!!  Unfortunately it's been an extremely parched season.  Even a tossed cigarette or cars sitting in traffic next to dry brush can have some strange effects when introduced to nature.  When two objects collide, a sudden, spontaneous spark of energy manifests and it's not exactly the power of love. 

On Monday, we were in a mandatory evacuation zone due to the fires spreading too quick to contain.  We did our best that we could to get family, neighbors, and anyone that needed help.  I'm thankful to witness local authorities were working hard to get everyone to safety.  

Thank you to the Anaheim Hills Fire Department, Anaheim Police Department, Orange County Fire Departments, Orange County Fire Authority, Helicopter Transport services, and and all those involved with their blood, sweat and tears to get these fires put out.  

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Big rock in the middle of the sea by Phu Qui Nguyen

And from inlands, I was headed out to the islands!  I know it's nothing special to most people, but we decided to do it local style,  spend time with family, dance party in the car, hike out to some special places, do some fishing, fish for avocados, wait what? Just watch!  

Along the way, we got out of the sun and up for a trail run on Waihee Ridge to round things out.  

All in all, keeping things different and fresh all the time will grow the mind.  Sometimes doing things over and over will put you in a rut.  Change it up like you change your underwear and see what happens. 

Whoa Whooaaaa by Phu Qui Nguyen

Hold your horses.  I should update more.  Been busy being outside where you should be too!  I'm starting to MLOG aka music log my trips these days.  Although I can't highlight everything there are some great moments and who wants to hear my funny voice anyway?!  

Earlier in July, I was invited to spend a few days driving with some of internet's finest Toyotas in Moab, UT.  You can follow along to the Top of the World and Seven Mile Rim Trail.  Thank you to Dev, Mas, Lau, Deb, Chr, and Pre (names shortened to protect the innocent) for making this a memorable trip.  Even with the troubles along the way, catastrophic axle failure, the team was able to venture on and enjoy the rest of the week.  

What a beautiful place on this Earth.  Where anyone can go, but sometimes you need a good ol' 4x4 to bounce and climb over land.  Thank you for taking us in Moab.  

Gear Review: Fuji X100F by Phu Qui Nguyen

I had an unboxing party for a new toy this week.  Actually it was just me, my cat, and my new Fujifilm X100F.  I'm downsizing a lot of my gear for future endeavors.  Sometimes having too much equipment can be a blessing and a curse.  It's amazing what you can capture with what you have available.  These days, professional equipment has certainly changed in function and form.  You can go oversized, packed with a slew of features or miniature, minimalist with the necessary goods.  These days, technology moves fast and always provides options for many different types of fellow photographers.  I wouldn't hesitate to place this camera in a range for professional use. 

Does that sound silly?  If so, you can interject or be in denial of this powerful compact that has now upgraded it's internal sensor to meet the demands that professionals have been touting for awhile now.  Canon and Nikon aren't the only ones in the game.  Whether you spent time around cameras or you're a new fresh budding artist, there's probably no doubt you've heard of Fujifilm, the same Fujifilm that produced some amazing film.  These days, the younger generation may have only heard of their film preset filters and it's not sad at all.  At least the new millennial pluses were exposed to some of the influences Fujifilm had on the world.  

X100F with JB Camera Designs hand grip. 

X100F with JB Camera Designs hand grip. 

Fujifilm is one of the few companies that listen to their audience and not just shove the camera in user's faces with reckless abandon.  As a fourth iteration, each model specifically became better through user ergonomics, adding and removing, buttons, rearranging layouts, improvements in the electronic view finder, improved sensor technology, and fast auto focus.  Some things never change though, they've had the same fixed Fujinon 23mm F/2 lens on the X100 series for their life.  For good reason, it's a reliable and simple setup.  With a leaf shutter planting itself in history from a land beyond time, SLR (single lens reflex) cameras such as the digital ones, are only a technology of the late 1800's. 

Now, we're not ones to leave our cameras naked.  Many times cameras aren't the most ergonomic but still highly functional.  Why not make some additions to add to the pleasure.  Pictured above is the JB Camera Designs X100F Grip in rigid polyurethane.   Not only for the body but for your lens as well.  Pictured below is a  JJC Lens hood  and B+W 49mm clear MRC nano filter as well. 

Now, on to some samples.  H'ordeurves for now.  Shot in "Astia/soft color" preset filter with no edit to the jpg file. Stay tuned for more shots as we get a feel for this little pocket rocket!!

Coming up... Myanmar 2016 by Phu Qui Nguyen

Things are getting real as my take off time rapidly approaches.  I haven't even booked my hotels yet!  But good thing, there's sweet trusty internet.  It seems like rooms are abundant, but November is busy season... so I guess we'll find out who's lying!  

I'll post my travel set up this time.  I'm going in hot.  With only one carry-on backpack, my trusty 45L adventure/camera backpack, no check-ins, and fewer items.  I don't know why, but traveling lightly seems like a better direction.  If I have space, I'll pack luxury items, but I mean that I can buy everything over there right?  This might be a hit or miss! Stay tuned to see if I made the right decision or not. 

Doing the Golden Circle of Myanmar, Yangon -> Bagan -> Mandalay -> Kalaw -> Inlay -> Yangon. I'm keeping this update short.  Pictures to come shortly of what I'm working with. 

Lastly, check out my IG for my latest work!  If I can't write about it here, it's going up on IG.  We just had an amazing session over at Black Velvet Pole Studios where we were able to one-on-one with Aerial Ginger  http://www.blackvelvetdance.com/  Ginger and all the ladies there are extremely dedicated to their art.  The focus and strength required was absolutely inspiring. Thank you for sharing your passion Ginger!

Planning by Phu Qui Nguyen

I've been a wee bit busy getting plans together and booking some flights.  I was actually wanting to explore SE Asia again.  Behold!!!  Okay, it's not that exciting.  I ended up finding cheap tickets to Myanmar.  It's my first time back to SE Asia since.. 2011 and I'd hardly call that SE Asia.  SE Asia reminds me of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, but I was in South Korea, where everything is developed and it's one of the power economies in Asia.  Some of the best ways to explore is sometimes add stopovers to certain places.  Although it's not a stopover exactly, but I planned to fly out of JFK instead of LAX for a change and making a stop to visit some good friends makes it even more worthwhile.  Also along the way, I have a couple stops in China that give me a day to explore.  I thought I'd give it the ol' good college try!   

I don't think I'm any worldly traveler.  I'm just finding out that many things can be achieved with some research and decisive decision making.  Learning how traveling with credit card points and mileage has been a headache, but I hope to be able to share that with some of you all.  I'll be roughing it at lots of these spots and considering backpacking if I can pull out my sleeping bag somewhere.  But we'll see.  I'll be updating my travel gear.  Normally I have all my camera equipment, but I'll be traveling lighter and packed for only a couple days at a time.  New and scary is O-KAY!  

Meanwhile, let me update my trip from Istanbul this year in my next post.  It was somewhat hectic around the holiday schedule and I was lucky not to get caught in the crossfires of the socio political strife that has been occurring there.  And if you've been following the news, it was a hotbed of attacks and the recent coup attempt by the "rebel military".

More on this scoop soon!!

 

Canon 1DX disassembly by yours truly by Phu Qui Nguyen

I was in some killer dust storms during my trips to the desert for my expedition runs.  I was able to keep the exterior looking minty, but unfortunately, there's sand and dust everywhere you can't see.  Fortunately, I have two hands and wanted to share the tear down. 

"A man that doesn't appreciate his tools is no man" -Anonymous.  Ladies and gents, see how your partners treat their tools of trade and that might reflect much about other things they care about!  

Building a sturdy foundation. by Phu Qui Nguyen

I guess that last post will tie into with today as well.  Sometimes it's not always worth the time and energy consumed to complete a task.  And we always have to ask it's worth for our future pleasure as well.  What we can do today may set us up for better things tomorrow.  

So I've been compartmentalizing our workflow here.  In addition to improving our workspace, we had an extra corner for setting up for scanning film negative (which we hope to offer in the near future) and processing work as well.  What better way than to take something that is going to be thrown out and give it new life.  One man's trash is another man's treasure.  Well it wasn't trash.  Originally from a studio, the tabletop was hand built for another project.  Somebody put in the time to build it.  

Luckily we were able to salvage it from a bitter ending.  But one problem. It was amazingly wide and built for giants!  Approximately 10 feet corner to corner, I went to work mocking it up in photoshop right away to see how it'd fill out in my tiny office.   

Work Bench, Snaps by Jon. Modified by James N. July 2016

Work Bench, Snaps by Jon. Modified by James N. July 2016

At first I only knew the overall length and depth of the center.  With a little photoshop estimating magick, I was able to see what kind of cuts needed to be made.  Was it out of my scope? HECK NO!  I got out our eye protection and hand cut this with a jig saw.  118 to 78".  Was it difficult with a jig saw while eyeballing my cuts? HECK YES!

Ta-da! July 2016

Ta-da! July 2016

What wasn't shown was the initial rough cut, overhanging a bunch.  But after some test fits and trial and error, it couldn't have come out any better.  BUT there's still an issue.  There can be no table without a sturdy foundation.  This was floating with the help of some boxes.  

Later while I was talking with the boys at @EastForkSupplyCo with their experiences about standing desk legs.  The best idea for convenience was our buddy, Niko's Ikea extendable legs, but pricey at $35 a piece.  We would have to do 6 legs, totalling $210.  That price is realistic for furniture, but doesn't fit my $0 budget that I worked hard to achieve since the desktop was free.  Then Christian offered up some free 2x4".  That's something I could get behind!  But I didn't want to impose.  That did give me an idea of trying out 4x4" wood.   And quickly our budget went from $0 to $54 quickly which includes 20ft of 4x4", L-bracket supports, Danish oil, brushes, and additional screws.  Shout outs to Chhun @EastForkSupplyCo for helping me out with some tools. 

Home Run at Home Depot, July 2016

Home Run at Home Depot, July 2016

After quick home run!  Home Depot even cut the table legs to appropriate height.  I spent the morning, sanding these logs smooth and applied Danish oil (oil/varnish mixture).  After a double dip and wipe down, the table legs came to life and had this natural look fresh from the factory.  Check it out!!! Will be sharing some full pictures as soon as they are mounted.  It took us a good morning, but I'm feeling quite proud and accomplished today. 

Cut, sanded, and oiled.  July 2016

Cut, sanded, and oiled.  July 2016

Beauty in the Process by Phu Qui Nguyen

Since we're new to this nook of the interweb space, we won't bore you with our site updates.  While working on some projects and I was reminded that many times we're only limited by our creativity.  All the money in the world can buy an end product, but it won't help you realize potential and beauty in the process.  

Whether you're out for your lunch break or walking home on your commute, you probably forgot to close your eyes, breathe a deep breath of fresh air and listen to the sounds of the city.  These things have gone unnoticed easily because they have become so routine.  As much as I want to have today's instant gratification, I want to realize the story that comes along with it.  There's more to just putting our money on the counter.  But you might say you worked hard, so why should you do more work?  The life is made of many processes or maybe just one part of a larger process.  What is one more thing to add?  All we do is understand, adapt, and learn.  It's a beautiful depth of life.  Understanding that there is more than just understanding there's an end.

DIY of handmade birthday card, Music: Wreck It Ralph - Henry Jackman

Down, down, down we go. by Phu Qui Nguyen

Yesterday Camilo messaged me to go shoot film.  It's always nice to unwind and refresh after a long week.   What better place to relax than a stroll in the city A.M.  I woke up bright and early to head out around Alameda and Union Station.  Bright, it was not one bit.  Expecting it to be a scorching sunny summer day, as every week day was, the sky betrayed us with overcast shadows all morning.  

For a Saturday morning, it was quiet in many spots.  Only in Chinatown did markets start up and street deals were already being made.  A mix of Vietnamese, Mandarin and English were being thrown along with bak choy and squash.  Afterwards, we headed down to Little Tokyo, but it was eerily quiet compared to other times.  Then we noticed it was Anime Expo weekend!  People were dressed up as their favorite characters and it was interesting.  I try not shoot events, not that I don't want to, but I like leaving that to the professionals!  I snapped a couple passer bys.  

One thing I've been practicing is less can be more.  I get to know people better before trying to just take their pictures.  I went through about 24 shots in 5 hours with most of the time to explore and interact with people.  It's nice not thinking you have to take a picture.

And by then, time was up and I had  to head out.  On the way, I stopped at this little cafe nook called Jist (116 Judge John Aiso St, Los Angeles, CA 90012),  I was surprised there was a coffee shop there.  I had a Stumptown iced coffee and it was definitely worth it, but who doesn't like Stumptown?!   

Mexico to China to Japan, Los Angeles, c/o Google Maps, July 2016

Mexico to China to Japan, Los Angeles, c/o Google Maps, July 2016

I'm starting to develop my own film so I'll have film scans up soon!  

Film Inverted, Shot with RIcoh GR II, July 2016

Film Inverted, Shot with RIcoh GR II, July 2016