This morning I woke up extra-early due to jetlag and decided to go for a run. At 6 am, the streets of central Beijing were surprisingly empty. In fact, I could pretty much run in the middle of the streets if I wanted to! I guess most of the people were beginning their commutes outside of the city, so it wouldn’t get busy until they arrived.
Since I don’t know the city at all, I just ran with Google Maps on and I looked for interesting places and parks, which led me to the Temple of the Sun. It’s a cool little park which has a beautiful pond and other points of interest and is also very popular with runners and walkers. So I was totally at home running (more like jogging), walking, and stopping to take photos.
You know, I try to run in new places, like when I visited Stockholm for business. Running can get you to places really quickly, and since you can stop at any time to take in the sights, it’s a great way to get familiar with a new city. Especially if you can do it early in the morning. 😀
Today I ran for the first time in my new On Cloud shoes. I want to make sure they are broken in for my upcoming China trip because I think we might be doing a lot of walking and I’d hate to get blisters because of new shoes. I’m not too worried, though, because these are the same size and model of my old running shoes, and they feel pretty much identical.
But besides breaking them in, I want to improve my stamina for the trip. Before Bay and I went to New York, I started running again in preparation for lots of walking around the city, and it really paid off. I was able to keep up with Bay for pretty much the whole trip! 💪
I have to say though that it was tough on my feet the first two days when I was wearing the Converse High-tops. Once I switched over to the running shoes, it was so much easier! That change, plus leaving the messenger bag at the Airbnb and just taking a small shopping bag, were real eye-openers – travel even lighter than usual and the day is much more enjoyable.
With that in mind, I think I will be taking my lightweight packable backpack which I used on our Disney trip last year for our daily excursions. It weighs almost nothing, but I will be able to throw in my power bank, extra camera batteries, and a water bottle.
Since we are going on a cruise and tour, I am not sure how much walking we will be doing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. One scenario that I can imagine though, is getting tired on the Great Wall excursion.
When I visited China back in 1990(?), our tour group visited a section of the Great Wall, and we really wanted to reach one of the checkpoints to get a souvenir stamp. But dang, the wall was so steep and the steps were pretty big. And we were keeping an eye on the time since we had to be back at the bus soon. Wow, what a workout that was! But we made it to the checkpoint and got our stamps, then jogged back down to the bus. I haven’t thought about that in years, but it is truly a great memory.
Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if that same scenario plays itself out once again. So I ran today with that in mind. 😀
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a big trip coming up (to China!) and since I will be taking a suitcase for this trip, it got me thinking about my travel photography kit. 📷 Specifically, with the extra space, maybe I should bring along the Fujifilm X-T10 and its two lenses. And maybe I can bring the 50mm f/1.4 Minolta lens as well. It’s China after all! We’ll be seeing some amazing sights, so I might as well be prepared to get wide shots, plus some tight shots, so the 18-55mm zoom will be perfect. With this in mind, I figured I should get a couple extra batteries (I only have one for the X-T10), so I put a couple in my Amazon shopping cart.
But before pulling the trigger on the batteries, I thought of my recent trip to New York, last year’s vacation to Morocco and Spain, my work trip to Stockholm, and the reason why I decided to just take my Fujifilm X100T.
And that reason can be summed up in one word: Simplicity.
The Fujifilm X100 series of cameras have a fixed 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens which simplifies the act of shooting photos. I don’t have to think about what lens to put on and what would work best in each situation. And later, I won’t be able to second-guess my decision. With the X100T, I have to use the 35mm field of view for everything. If I can’t get close enough by moving my feet, then so be it. Forget about that shot and move on. If I must have a super-wide shot, then Lightroom can stitch a couple photos together. But taking the lens choice decision out of the equation makes shooting so much more stress-free, and therefore more fun!
Of course, having the single camera and fixed lens also makes for a smaller and lighter kit. (a nice bonus is that I don’t have to worry about getting dust on the sensor). My back and knees appreciate the lightweight setup, I’m sure! 😀
So, I’ve reaffirmed my choice of travel kit (and everyday kit, to be honest). And here it is:
Frankly, the power bank is mainly used for charging my phone, and I can’t remember the last time I used the microfiber cloth, instead opting for the Lens Pen. The USB cable does double-duty since it charges my phone.
This setup is so compact, I don’t even need a dedicated camera bag. And since I am usually wearing the camera across my body using the strap, I just have to put the burrito organizer in whatever bag I happen to have. For instance, in New York I used a small MoMA shopping bag all day. It was a great set up! Burrito, power bank, phone, and umbrella in the bag, camera across my body, and that’s it.
I believe that a simpler, minimalistic life can make you happy, and that a simple, minimalistic camera kit can make photography a lot more enjoyable. In fact, I experience it firsthand every time I walk out the door!
Well, it’s August and we are in full summer mode here in Texas. The temperatures are in the mid to upper 90s so not too bad yet. I actually love the heat, but it makes it a little more difficult to go running. 🏃 Today I went out when the temperature was 92° F and it was kind of tough. Usually, that kind of heat doesn’t bother me too much, but since I just wasn’t feeling it, and also I just started running more consistently last month, I took it easy and walked for the second half of my 2-miler.
Walking around the neighborhood is fun though – I like seeing how everyone takes care of/neglects their yards and lawns. 😝 Exercising is a lot more fun if I don’t think about calories/working out, but just enjoy being outdoors.
I took my Converse High Tops and On Cloud running shoes to New York, and of course the running shoes were way more comfortable. So I am looking forward to using the new ones not only for running, but for traveling. Yay!
Today’s photo is of the evening sun coming into the kitchen. The sun sets after 8 pm now, so we get a lovely light to end the day. 😀
This morning I decided to go running for the first time in a few months. I tend to go in cycles with my running, which is kind of odd because I enjoy it so much. I guess I just fill my day up with other stuff. But for some reason, I just decided I should go. So I laced up my running shoes (actually my On Cloud shoes don’t have laces) and headed out. I surprised myself because I had a lot of energy and my legs didn’t get tired when I expected they would, but I didn’t push it and walked about a third of the way. Maybe it’s because I do squats ever day? I don’t know, but I felt really good!
The Texas heat is coming on strong, though, and when I passed by the small park, I saw the barbeque grills were off-limits as you can see in the photo. It looks like it’s going to be a sweltering summer.
By the way, I use Strava to track my running. If you are on Strava too, let’s connect!
I was thinking about a topic I heard discussed on photography podcasts. It’s basically the question of during special life moments, such as your child’s dance recital or school play, if you should stay behind your camera taking photos, or if you should put down the camera and simply take in the experience with nothing in your way of your senses. It can be difficult because as photo enthusiasts – we love taking photos and want to get that perfect shot.
There are valid arguments to be made for both sides of the debate. On one hand, it’s nice to have photos/video to relive and share the moment, but on the other hand, you aren’t fully in the moment and experiencing life if you are looking through the viewfinder or at the rear screen of your camera. The question is, does the camera enhance your life, or does it get in the way of it?
My opinion is that I think that a happy medium can easily be achieved and you can have the best of both worlds! The keys that I have found work for me are:
Know your camera inside and out – You don’t want to waste time fumbling with settings. And set up your camera before the event starts. It’s no fun trying to tweak settings in the dark!
Think like an event photographer – Have a shot list in mind. Maybe not a written list, but think of the “must have shots” that you need to capture. Once you take care of those, then put down the camera and enjoy the moment. Keep in mind that for most events, the photos you take at the beginning of the performance will look the same as any other part, so no need to have the camera at your eye the whole time. Just be ready for the recognition and bowing at the end of performances. Again, take the photo, then put the camera down and join in the applause!
Automate it – If you want to take video, bring a tripod and set it up beforehand. Then just hit the record, turn off the LCD if possible, and forget about it.
Anyways, those are my tips that I’ve gathered from shooting both student events and corporate events. I hope this helps you “stay in the moment”!
Today’s photos are of my beloved camera (yet again!). 😄 I have a couple trips coming up, and I am taking my Fujifilm X100T with me as my main camera (with my phone being a backup). There was a time in my life when I would spend a lot of time thinking about what camera gear to bring on vacations, but ever since I bought my X100T, it’s the only camera I want or need. Just the thought of lugging around a heavy DSLR and a few lenses makes me shudder… when I used to carry all the gear it was not fun and definitely made “staying in the moment” more difficult.
You know, a life with less can be a good thing, especially in photography!
These past couple weeks have been extremely busy at work. It’s funny that sometimes I have so many projects lined up that it feels like it would be almost impossible to complete them all, and then I finish one of them and it seems to clear a roadblock and I am able to make a huge amount of progress on many of my other tasks. It’s kind of like a magical wave of momentum!
What I have noticed is that it happens quite often, so now I try to set myself up to kickstart that momentum in the morning. This is not really that mysterious or difficult to do. It’s often just the completion of a small morning task, or a productive meeting, or even a chat that can get the ball rolling.
What is great about this is that with each hurdle that is overcome, a bunch of stress is shed and that is a wonderful feeling of relief! I actually enjoy having that bit of pressure or stress when a project or task is looming because I am anticipating the amazing feeling of relief that comes with finishing the project.
Since projects come in never-ending cycles, it’s actually kind of cool to know that I have all these little wins to look forward to. In the past, I’ve been kind of depressed because it seemed like work never ends, but you know, I’d kind of feel at a loss if I had nothing to do. It’s so strange how people change…
Today’s photo is of my new Aquila ukulele strings. I love them! They certainly aren’t anything fancy nor exotic, but they sound a lot crisper (more clarity as Koa told me) than the strings that my ukulele came from the factory with. I’m very pleased!