Category: Travel

Facts About Me…as a Photographer

My Beginnings

  • I received my first digital camera in 2003 for my birthday, a Canon PowerShot A60 point-and-shoot.
  • My love for photography started when I used that digital camera while studying abroad. I was attending the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix for a semester.
  • My poor Canon broke, as the lens would not retract and got stuck. Months later, my boyfriend (now husband) gave me a Fujifilm FinePix E550 point-and-shoot for Christmas.
  • My Fuji got stolen, so I purchased my first DSLR in 2006, the Nikon D50 and Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-f/6.3 lens.
  • From 2003 until 2012, I was only interested in landscape and architectural photography.

My Start as a “Professional Photographer”

  • I’ve pawned my Nikon D50 many times. After getting it out of pawn and finding out the wheel to change the settings were broken, I had to get a new camera. In 2012, I ended up getting a Nikon D3000. Unfortunately, it did not autofocus with my Tamron 18-200, so I immediately also purchased a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens.
  • My first subjects were my husband, friends, and family members. Because my husband was camera shy, I had to find other people to practice with.
  • My first TFP (trade-for-print) shoot was for a model who was chosen to appear on a calendar for the lifestyle brand HauteButch. I did this shoot for her 2 years in a row.
  • I would initially find models through Craig’s List and Model Mayhem.
  • I started a 365 photography blog in September 2012 and finished in September 2013. After that achievement, I tried doing a 52-week project and then another 365 project for 2014-2015. Both were huge fails.
  • My first official wedding was in 2014. Prior to that, I was only accepting post-ceremony wedding portraits.
  • My first large wedding was in 2015. After that, I put myself out there as a wedding photographer, especially after purchasing a Nikon D750 full-frame.

Other Facts

  • I’ve owned the Nikon D300 twice:
    • In early 2015, I shot a paid boudoir party. My Nikon D7000 was malfunctioning during the party, so with the deposit I earned, I had to quickly take my “entry-level” Nikon D3000 out of the pawn shop and continued the shoot. Knowing that I needed a comparable body to my Nikon D7000 but couldn’t afford a second D7000 at the time, I bought the Nikon D300 on eBay. I then officially sold my D3000. Once I repaired my D7000 and got my D750, I sold my D300. In hindsight, that was a big mistake!
    • In 2017, due to financial hardships, I had to sell my D7000, only having my D750. Later on that year, I ended up buying a D300 through OfferUp because I needed a second camera for a wedding. This camera was not in good shape as my first D300, but it still did its job!
  • I would have continued to shoot with a crop-sensor camera if I wasn’t going into weddings.
  • Despite trying different editing styles, like moody/muted edits or the ever-popular orange and teal look, I prefer bold and bright colors.
  • I prefer to be a versatile photographer, trying to do well with both natural light and off-camera flash equally.
  • I’ve been using Yongnuo speedlights since 2013. I have no desire to switch to Godox/Flashpoint.
  • I have never shot at f/1.4 because I have never owned such a lens. Even with a f/1.8 lens, I hardly shoot at f/1.8, unless I’m in a low-lighting situation.
  • My go-to lens from 2015 through 2020 was the 24-120 f/4 lens, which was the kit lens that came with my Nikon D750. I finally purchased a 24-70 f/2.8 lens in July 2020, so that is now my go-to lens.
  • My work has been published in many magazines (e-magazines), but I still don’t call myself a “published photographer”. It doesn’t make sense to me for a “published photographer” to pay $25-$30 to get a printed copy of the magazine.
  • I’m a firm believer that “it’s the person behind the camera”, not the gear itself. The most expensive, high-end gear can only help make your job easier, but you can still get great results with whatever gear you’ve got.
    • The boudoir party I’ve shot in 2015 helped proved that theory. Even though I was shooting the party in the evening with no window light, my “entry-level” Nikon D3000 paired with OCF produced better results than my D7000, in my opinion. The colors were spot on and I only had to do minimal editing.

My Great Basin Weekend

I’ve been living in Las Vegas since 2006 (12 years now). Prior to that when I was living in California, I have visited Vegas as a tourist. Because of this, all I knew about Nevada is Vegas.

Over the years, I’m been shocked to see there is more to Nevada than just Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe. The little towns between these cities have some charm and history to them.

My friend and I made plans to do astrophography at the Great Basin National Park a couple months in advanced. When it came time for our trip, the skies were pretty hazy due to clouds and smoke from the wildfires of nearby states. Because this was a concern for us, we changed our plans and went to Pioche instead.

While driving on our way to Pioche, my friend (who is a country girl) saw a flyer advertising a rodeo. After having lunch at Pioche, we drove a few miles back to the town of Panaca to attend the Lincoln County Fair and Rodeo.

When we arrived at the fairgrounds, there were high winds and thunder. We had to wait in the car for about an hour because of the bad dust storm. When the winds died down, we watched the rodeo for a few hours. I attempted to try a technique called panning, where you give your pictures the feeling of motion. The outcome was pretty decent, but not the greatest.

The original plan was to camp at Cathedral Gorge in Panaca right after the rodeo, but it was still windy and cloudy. Since it was my turn to drive, I decided to drive another 100 miles more to the Great Basin like we’ve originally planned.

Because it was new moon, meaning the night skies are at its darkest, it was hard to find a spot at the Great Basin at night because it was so dark. However, the skies were clear and we were able to see the stars.

Because we arrived close to midnight, we did some astrophotography and light painting, but we were tired. While my friend went to sleep, I tried to take 30 shots of the stars and skies (to stack them into one star trails shot), but I was too tired to even do 8. After doing 8 shots, I stopped for the night.

The next morning, we made a detour to Ely (pronounced EEE-LEE, rhyming with freely). On the way, we ran into a field of wind turbines. Since I was driving, we went down an unmarked road to get a closer view of the wind turbines. I was able to get a sweet picture of my friend and her dog.

In Ely, we visited the Nevada Northern Railway Museum and the Ward Charcoal Ovens. Because we were back-tracking 10 miles to get to the Charcoal Ovens, at first, I thought about taking the same highway back to Vegas, which entailed going through Pioche and Panaca. However, we only had less than 100 miles left until empty, so I made the decision to go back to Ely to fill up on gas, and then take a different road to Vegas. According to the GPS, it was quicker to go on NV-318, so we drove on that highway. It was a nice drive, but very boring and flat. Luckily, the drive was more interesting once NV-318 ended at US-93 in Alamo.

My Trip to the Philippines

I’ve spent the first 2 weeks of 2018 in the Philippines. New Year’s Eve was spent in a plane with free champagne from the flight attendants. By the time my parents and I arrived, it was already the evening of New Year’s Day.

The last time I’ve visited the Philippines was during the holidays in 2001, arriving back to the States on New Year’s Day 2002. Things definitely changed 16 years later. The most notable changes were paved roads within the neighborhood (or “village” as they call it) of my Aunt’s house, working and flushable toilets 99% of the time, and my little nieces and nephews who were around 1-6 years of age in 2001 are now young adults. Unfortunately, what hasn’t changed is the major traffic around Metro Manila and the nearby provinces.

The first week in the Philippines was mostly spent with family, seeing relatives I haven’t seen in a very long time. The week ended with a beautiful outdoor wedding with the bride wearing a dress that would put Kate Middleton’s wedding dress to shame.

The second week was spent with more family, especially on my Dad’s side. We ended the week spending it at Boracay, which is a huge tourist destination.

I didn’t want to bring my bulky Nikon cameras that I normally use for paid work, so I used my Dad’s Canon Rebel T1i during this trip. It was a great camera to use, but also frustrating because this camera is entry level, and therefore had less features than my Nikon cameras. Some pictures were from my cell phone, a Samsung S7 Galaxy Edge.