My trip to NY consisted of a lot of walking, delays on the subway, and an insane amount of milk bar and pizza. Scroll along to see some of my film snaps through NY; places like the Oculus, Whitney, MET, and the US Open.
I MADE IT BACK
For my first vacation of the year, I had many places that I wanted to go to, but it only felt appropriate to come back to Chicago. By spending a week there, I didn't have to rush and have such a crazy, packed itinerary. I actually got take my time and enjoy spending my time there.
Chicago is known for many things, but to me it's the architecture that stands out the most. Every moment that I was around the Loop, I couldn't help not looking up and being mesmerized by all the different buildings and how they all looked different throughout the day. If Chicago needed a nickname different from the Windy City, it would definitely be the Architectural City. From all the Art Deco buildings to the collections of Mies van der Rohe buildings, the buildings around Chicago are a sight to see.
GETTING AROUND THE CITY
Being from SoCal, driving is part of my life. A good portion of my day is spent in the car because everything is so far from each other. But in Chicago, downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods are actually really close, making public transportation and walking a part of how you get around. I really lucked out with good weather (no rain!) and was able to walk around a lot. I also chose to walk and not take the train because I was eating a lot on this trip and had to burn off extra calories.
A must on my list for this trip was to watch the Cubs play. And I actually got to see them twice! (thanks Sarah!) Not only is it special to watch the Cubs play because they won the World Series, broke the curse, blah blah, but also because their stadium is amazing. As one of the oldest stadiums in the league, Wrigley Field is integrated into the city. Because it doesn't have that space to expand, it feels so intimate whenever you're there and makes it that much more special.
ART INSTITUTE & MCA
The Art Institute of Chicago has many accolades for being an amazing art museum. So, it was no surprise that I spent time there on this trip, but what I didn't expect was a Murakami exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and ended up making some time to visit the exhibit.
All in all, having really amazing weather through the week played a huge part on the trip being so great. I was able to maximize my time spent outside, revisiting places and exploring new ones with friends. I hope that the images that I captured on film go to show that you don't have to do touristy things to really experience Chicago because there really are amazing things to do that aren't touristy.
Many, many thanks to Sam, Phillip and Riana for their hospitality. And a special thanks to Photovision for these scans.
Film taken on my 35mm rangefinder (Minolta CLE). It was a mix of Portra 800, Fuji400H and Ilford400 pushed to 800.
It has become a personal goal of mine to do document more by shooting film. So, when an opportunity came up to document a medical missions trip, I packed up my videography gear, along with a whole bunch of film. With Redeemer Presbyterian Church, we made it down to Ensenada where the church was supporting a missionary that was church planting and also had a medical clinic going to reach out to the community there. Alongside doctors and dentists, everyone came together to serve the community and to share the gospel.
These were all taken on film: 35mm(Minolta CLE) and medium format(Bronica ETR), fuji400h and ilford 400, pushed to 800.
Film scans by Photovision.
Just a little over a year ago, I quit my engineering job. I had been working as a Biomedical Engineer for almost 3 years and spent the previous 4 years studying it in college, but decided to leave it all behind. You might think, "Yup, he's just another millennial." MMmmm no.
I quit because I knew that engineering was no longer something that I was passionate about and could not see myself doing it for the rest of my life. How did I get to this conclusion? Well, I got to meet awesome engineers along the way, some of the best, and I just couldn't see myself doing what they were doing, and to be honest, being happy while doing it. So, I prepared to quit.
I began thinking about what I could do. I thought about things like:
"Well maybe I could do weddings?" My wedding work hadn't taken off yet, HUGE RISK
"Maybe I can go to a coding camp, they make a ton of money" I've learned that I find happiness from just having the necessities, and I can't spend all day in front of a computer
I sought wisdom/advice by talking to my friends, peers and people in industries that I was interested in. A big challenge here was that I was seeking advice on how to go about changing careers and what's best for me, but sometimes I found myself trying to seek answer/solutions because I was afraid of the risk. In life, there will be really tough decisions to make, but being able to go through it early on will prepare you for the tougher ones that will come later in life. So after all the talking and consulting, I had a plan. It didn't have great structure and there were still a lot of uncertainties, but it was a plan. The next thing I had to do was to get my parents' approval.
With my dad being an engineer, I think my parents take pride in that both their sons studied engineering. That's why I had to have a plan before I quit my job. And after going over everything that I had been thinking and planning, they came to be able to support me in my decision and kept reminding me to trust in Jesus (Joshua 1:9).
For the sake of keeping this post short, I'm just going to skip over 2 things:
- After Allen & Eug's wedding video and feature, wedding work came flowing in
- I went to Chicago for a Design Bootcamp, which was amazing and definitely something that I recommend and will have a separate post for later.
After finishing up my Design program and shooting all the fall weddings, I began applying for jobs. During this application process, I had moments of being super excited, and times where I felt like it was going to be an endless process. But from my engineering background, I knew how to be persistent and to keep working hard. I went through many design challenges and interviews, got to meet awesome people, who provided me great with feedback on my designs, portfolio and my presentations. And I feel this, ultimately, set me up for my interview with BL3NDlabs, which ended up offering me a position.
So, starting this January, I'll be working as a Jr. UX/UI Designer in San Diego. This will begin my new journey as a Designer and I'm completely thrilled, but this post isn't to announce my new job, it's to share my experience, hoping that it can be of help for others.
For those of you that are wanting to make a similar decision to make a career change and aren't sure about how to go about it, this is for you. If you're young and still get insurance from your parents, I highly encourage you to take as many risks as possible, to find out what it is that you're passionate about and to possibly make a career out of it.
- Take risks, not a gamble
- Talk to people, peers and those in the industries that you're interested in
- Create a plan with a timeline
- Stick to your plan
- Have a reason for all your decisions
And once you've gone through all the preparations, go for it. I definitely could not have done this on my own and without God's sovereignty because I met some really amazing people during this process and am excited for this new chapter in my life.
After spending my summer in Chicago, I came back home with a void from not having spent time in the mountains. Luckily, a friend of mine happened to win some Half Dome lottery and we were set to go at the end of September. We had both done it before, so we though, "Hey, why not hike through the night to catch the sunrise?"
Day 0 - A night full of stars
We left Sunday, after church and got to the valley at around 10pm. When we got out of the car, we were greeted with a night sky full of stars and the milky way. I immediately began taking long exposures and watched climbers' headlamps illuminate part of El Capitan.
Miles hiked: 0 // Trip morale: high
Day 1 - Taking it easy
It was so surreal that I was actually in Yosemite; for the first time this year! I'm pretty sure I had been to Yosemite over 10 times last year, so it felt so good to be back. The goals of today were to relax, but spend some time up in elevation, so that I can acclimate to prevent altitude sickness. After roaming the meadows of the valley, we made our way up to Glacier Point and gazed upon the goal of our hike the following day. Then, we hiked to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point for sunset. Sunsets at Taft Point are amazing and I happened to run into @Benjhaisch, who was shooting an elopement. After the sun had set, we made our way back down to the valley, set our alarms to 12:20am, and tried to catch some sleep in the car
Miles hiked: 5 mi. // Trip Morale: still pretty high
Day 2 - Miles, Hours, Elevation
I got absolutely no sleep. It's probably because I can never sleep in the car. So when the alarm finally went off, it was a huge relief to start getting ready for our hike.
We first went through our gears: water, trekking poles, headlamps, food, all things that you'd find in an REI catalog. I've had plenty of trips where I've overpacked, and by this point, I've learned from enough experience to lighten my load. Then we munched on some food, drank some super-early "morning" coffee, stashed all things smelly into the bear boxes, and began our hike. By then, it was 2am, still dark out, but surprisingly warm out.
The first 3 miles were a breeze. Crushed it all under an hour. I normally average 2 miles an hour, so when my friend told me we had just did 3 miles, I felt pretty elated. Small victories. But right after this point, the lack of sleep started to hit. We had just crossed a bridge to hike up Nevada Falls and were making our way up. At some point, the trail wasn't so clear and we found a path that was clearly a "trail," but it felt like we had just U-turned. I didn't think much of it, but it felt odd that we were going downhill...and not going up switchbacks, which I knew we were supposed to. Because it was so dark, we don't get to see too many landmarks, so it was hard to tell if we were actually going the right or wrong way. And that's when we came to the bridge that we had crossed earlier. We had turned around and hiked our way back down to Vernall Falls. Our morales had taken a hit, not just because we had hiked our way down, but that this put us on a tighter schedule to make it to Half Dome by sunrise.
We slowly made our way back up to Nevada Falls, making sure we stayed on trail. Soon, we passed Little Yosemite Valley and began our way up to the Sub Dome. By each minute, we were getting tired from the physical exertion and the lack of sleep. It also didn't help that we both knew how tough the Sub Dome was going to be. If you hate working out and hate the StairMaster even more, the Sub Dome is StairMaster set at the max level. We were moving at the slowest pace ever, one step at a time and taking a break every minute. And then, the dome plateaued, and the cables became visible. A momentary relief.
At the cables, we were the 3rd party there. The other 2 had just started their ascent up the cables. We later found out that they had backpacked overnight at Little Yosemite Valley and only had to hike 4 miles to get here. You can tell from the photo below that the sun was definitely getting ready to come out and there was no longer a need for headlamps. We fueled up with some energy jelly beans, put on our gloves and made our way up the cables. Honestly, the cables aren't that bad, it's actually not even that scary, it's just pretty damn exhausting. And when I got to the top, a bit before the sunrise, I didn't feel accomplished right away, more exhausted. I waited for the sun to come out behind the Sierras, and just as it did, my friend had finished the cables, just in time to begin his birthday celebration.
Photo taking ensued, and we were surprised to find out that there's cell phone coverage at the top, which led to my friend FaceTiming his family, and me posting a pic on Insta. What was once an idea, finally became reality. A reality that completely wrecked our bodies. lol. We had been popping Ibuprofen regularly and we would need to keep it up for the hike down, because now our knees would be taking a beating. And they did their magic. The 7 miles down went by quick and we were back in the valley, at Half Dome village, devouring a pizza and beers.
Miles hiked: over 15 // trip morale: all over the place, mood swings
By night time, I knew for sure that I had swelling in both my right hip and knee. Walking like a normal person was impossible, as we were both waddling around. By the way, my friend just turned 34 and I had turned 27 the previous week. I hadn't hiked all summer and it was good to know that my body was still capable of hiking something like the Half Dome, despite our bodies taking a huge toll. It's a special hike and we did it in a unique way that we know not many people get to do. This is definitely something that I highly recommend to everyone and if you have any questions for me, feel free to reach out!
One of the best things that I got to do in Chicago was going on an architectural boat tour. The amazing skyscrapers all have their own stories, and it's only because of Chicago's First Lady Cruises that I got to learn about them. So here are some of my favorite shots from the cruise that I wanted to share.
not the nicest guy, but it's still an amazing building, and even more amazing when shrouded in fog
other soaring icons of Chicago
from the boat
Be sure to check out Chicago's First Lady for different kinds of architectural tours
- Either go really early or sunset/night time tours. The lighting is amazing and much cooler temperatures.
- Arrive a bit early to claims the seats at the front of the boat.
- Don't forget to bring drinks/snacks!
this was the only time that I used my dSLR in Chicago
edited with VSCO
For those of us that know Eugenia (Eug), we all know that she's super hip without trying hard. And that's exactly how her wedding was. From the first look at the Desert Garden in Balboa Park to their modern warehouse venue that was lined with brick walls, it's the wedding that all videographers dream of. And with friends and family surrounding them with immense love, the ceremony had plenty of emotions gushing out. It was a beautiful day of celebrating them becoming one and I couldn't have asked for a better couple!
I finally get to wrap-up this amazing wedding of Allen and Eugenia and it is with great joy & honor to wrap it up by having both the wedding & engagement work featured on Style Me Pretty! (links attached at the bottom)
Vendor list can be found in the Vimeo Video link
Photos of the wedding by Meiwen
The places that I have gone and the things that I have seen
About a year ago, I took a solo trip out to Utah. When I told friends that I was about to venture forth alone to Utah, almost all of them referenced the movie, 127 hours, and said that I was crazy. Regardless, I went and ended having an amazing time.
I got to see some rad things, like:
- the Subway in Zion(https://instagram.com/p/ues-vFOk15/?taken-by=shldrss)
- a bunch of arches around Moab (https://instagram.com/p/ulCYveOk7M/?taken-by=shldrss)
What was great about traveling solo was that I got to set my own schedule. Sure there were other factors that could throw off my scheduling, like car troubles and having to take breaks on the drive, but, by God's grace, I never had to deal with that. So, out in Utah, I got to see and do whatever I wanted, without having to adjust my schedule for others.
Another great thing about this trip (and traveling solo) was that I got to meet some awesome hikers and photographers, many of whom I still stay in touch with. Traveling solo kind of pushes you to socialize and to talk to people, and it's really not that hard to make friends on the trail because almost all of the people out there are the nicest people ever.
One of them was a couple who had just finished the PCT that year. (Check out their PCT story here : joshcarla.blogspost.com.)
I bring up that trip from last year because last week, I made another solo travel out to Colorado. I've been in a transition period in my life, and with winter slowly approaching, I knew this was a good opportunity to go out and to just have time to reflect.
Below is just a quick summary of my trip out to Colorado; Aspen, to be more specific. But, yeah, I just wanted to share my perspective on traveling solo. If you, or anyone you know, has an urge to just go out, you guys totally should! Sure, there's always concerns about stuff that can go wrong, but I don't think that should ever hold back someone from traveling. Out there, alone, you can really learn more about yourself and enjoy nature, differently. I never missed a sunrise and sunset, and during those moments, I got to appreciate those moments and reflect on things.
So thanks for reading through this and going through my video/photos!
Monday: I drove through some downpour in Vegas and was greeted by thunder at the entrance of Zion. It was kind of fun to experience all this weather; it was a nice change of scenery, for someone from SoCal. Anyways, my original plan wasn't really to stay the night in Zion, but after chasing some fog, it had gotten too late for me to drive out to Moab. And I hadn't had dinner yet, either. I felt pretty unhappy at myself because, at the park's entrance, I was informed that all campsites were taken, but I stopped by the Watchman Campground found out there were 4 unclaimed spots! I quickly made camp and boiled up a can of ravioli by, the one and only, Chef Boyardee and got some much needed rest.
Tuesday: My plan for this morning was to wake up early to see if there would be more fog. Unfortunately, the park was clear, so no fog(boo), but this meant I could get an early drive out East(yay). I quickly broke down camp, munched on a pop-tart and drove out.
One thing that I absolutely love doing in Zion is driving through the east entrance of Zion, especially around sunrise time. This is because there's a lot of wildlife at this side of the park, because right outside, there's just pastures upon pastures for deers, turkeys and even buffalos to roam through. And that morning, I got to see some turkeys crossing the road.
On the drive to Colorado, I was about to pass by Bryce. I wasn't really planning on stopping by, but when I saw some fog/clouds rolling through, I decided to just stop by real quick. And it did turn out to be a real quick stop because there were no fog rolling through the hoodoo's, but it was amazing to see those unique rock formations again.
By 6PM, I had finally made it to Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado, which meant that I had just driven the furthest that I have ever been. As I was approaching Maroon Bells, the weather seemed pretty clear, but by the time I got to the parking lot, the clouds quickly moved in and had started to downpour. Then came the thunder. And hail decided to join in on the party.
One thing about the weather in Colorado, from my short experience there, is that weather changes...pretty rapidly. What I mean by that is, after it hailed for maybe half an hour(?), it kind of cleared up again and the clouds gave some color, as it soaked up the last light of the day.
Wednesday: Maroon Bells sits at about 9,580 ft. I knew it was going to be a cold night, especially since it hailed the other day, but when I woke up, I found my tent and sleeping pad drenched, which made it a miserable morning. Oh, did I also mention that a layer of ice had formed on my car? So, now annoyed, I had my car running to warm it up.
After finally warming up the car, I made it ou to the lake. It was still cold out....so cold that I had a hard time talking to people...I would try to talk, but because my face was so cold, the facial muscles just didn't move as fast as I wanted to speak, so I was slurring all my words. Embarrassing. Anyways after taking some photos, I just hiked up to Crater Lake and decided that I had seen all that I could of Maroon Bells.
By noon, I started driving towards Moab. I knew there, the humidity was pretty low and that the moon formation was pretty small, (I forgot the official term for that formation...) which meant ideal conditions for trying to photograph the stars.
I entered Arches National Park around 7PM, and got to the trailhead for Delicate Arch. If you haven't been to Delicate Arch, I wouldn't recommend coming here during the night...most of the trail is unmarked and people have to retrace their steps all the time. I was pretty confident in hiking it because it was my 3rd time there. I did have about 2 moments when I really had to survey the terrain, but I safely made it to Delicate Arch.
At Delicate Arch, I found that I wasn't alone, which was a relief because it's kind of reassuring to know that you're not the only one there. I ended up befriended one of the photographers there, who introduced himself as Samuel. Samuel was vacationing from Spain, and he had already been shooting the stars, before I got there. He had noticed that I was trying to shoot without a tripod, so he reluctantly lent me his sturdy tripod. I really felt bad for borrowing it, but he explained that he was letting his sensor cool off, so we were all good. I really owe it to him for letting me use his tripod because I was able to get some awesome shots of the milky way, even with Delicate Arch in it.
When we weren't busy taking photos, we discussed traveling and our own travels. He talked about how in Spain/Europe, it's typical to get about 2 months off from work, to vacation. And he shared how he didn't understand how Americans were okay with just getting about 2 weeks off from work. What really got my attention, from our conversation, came when he talked about how much he loved the National Parks in America. He loved how you could go from the oceans, to the desert, then to the mountains. He didn't like that you had to get a permit for a lot of the cool stuff, but, still, he adored the parks. To elaborate on how much he adored the parks, this was already his 4th time traveling through America. And for this trip, his plan was to go from LA - Vegas - Utah - Grand Teton/Yellowstone - Yosemite - then make his way back to LA.
He, also, shared his love for fast food, especially In-n-out. He also thought that it was great how "wee-fee"(WIFI) was usually free in these fast food places, because they're not that available in Spain or Europe.
Samuel was one of the many Europeans that I met that week in the National Parks. And when I look back on it, there were a lot more Europeans, or just non-Americans, that were coming out of their way to explore these parks. I could be, and am probably wrong, but I do think Americans have gotten spoiled with the nature that we have. Most of us are only a couple hours away from a National Park, but we rarely visit. Whereas, there are these Europeans, who plan huge trips to come to America, just to see these national parks. And it's just awesome to see how amazed they are when they enter these parks.
If you've read all of this, thanks so much! I hope this, somewhat, encourages you to make your next trip destination to be a National Park!
I've always told myself that I would never get to this point, where I would blog and create a website...but now, here we are.
I wanted to create a page where I could display my not just my video work, but also my adventures. Many of my friends know that I spend a crazy amount of weekends, going to places like Zion and Yosemite(mostly Yosemite). And from those trips, I've got so many photos and experiences to share. I thought this would be a good place to share and help people plan for their trips, to know what gear to take.
Another big reason for website is the John Muir Trail(JMT). Before planning for it even began, I was presented with a sponsorship for the Pacific Crest Trail(PCT), earlier this year. Sponsorships involved companies like Osprey, Nemo Equipment, Leki, Darn Tough, and Vasque Boots. Unfortunately, I received this sponsorship email on the first day of my new job. And before that, I was almost unemployed for a year. It was a very tough decision, but I ended up having to turn the sponsorship down.
That decision was tough to get past, and while beginning my new job, thoughts of the JMT kept coming up. I would research and go through different people's blog about the trail and their trips. There is just so much content to go through, regarding the JMT, and, these days, people are getting so much better at documenting their trips and sharing them. I've connected with such great people that have hiked it, and they've been extremely helpful for my planning process. This then led to applying for some permits. I was applying for the tail-end of the prime season, which still meant up to a 95% rejection rate. Despite that daunting rejection rate, I was awarded a permit for 4 people for a start date of August 28th.
And now, here we are. I'm currently planning my gear, food, and itinerary for the trip, while creating this website. I want to create this page to become a platform for me to share my trip with you all. I don't expect it to reach out to too many people, but as long as you guys enjoy my photos and even if it nudges you to spend more time outdoors, I'll be happy.
As I go on, I'll share my itinerary, the food plans and the gear we'll be using on the trail.