1. My first DSLR
Many people have asked me: "How long have you been photographing?" and got me thinking about the progress I've made so far and all the pivotal moments. So I thought it would be fun to look back and document my journey with images I've taken along the way.
This post took place in New York & Taiwan, from December 2015 to July 2016.
Growing up, I've always wanted a DSLR. But living on an allowance from my parent, I've never saved up enough to get one. They also strongly prefer I focus my time on education instead of investing too much time and money on the hobby. This goes on until 2015.
After being born and raised in Taiwan for 25 years, I came to New York City for my graduate degree. It was a 9 months Master of Engineering program from Cornell Tech, and it was expensive. My goal was straightforward: get a full-time job before graduating to stay in the US and pay off the student loan as fast as possible.
For people who have been in the same situation, you'd know the pressure can get quite high. Especially when one has no real working experience nor internship on their resume. I'm also not very good at communicating using English. I still remember feeling depressed after school because I couldn't find a way to speak up in classes.
However, lucky for me, I got a verbal offer from Oracle for their Software Engineering position right before Christmas. And that took all the pressure off.
With such a relief and milestone achieved, I know I'll finally be living on my own money soon. Also, being in these exotic places and the Christmas season, it seems like I have all the reasons to treat myself with my dream camera. And so that's what I did. I'm a happy owner of a Canon 6D full-frame DSLR with a 24-105mm F4 lens.
Testing my new camera on my girlfriend. I was so excited with that background blur 😂
Still very excited about the background blur
I also love being able to zoom in at 105mm and still get a cristal cleared image
New year's eve, shooting handheld with ISO 12800, 1/40 sec
Trying to get that silky waterfall effect with 1/4 sec. Ended up also having blurry foreground because of shooting handheld
At this point, I was comfortable with the camera. I already knew how to choose aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to create the desired effect. But what I don't know is what they can do to negatively impact the images. Like f22 will degrade the image quality due to diffraction, or ISO 12800 will have tons of noise. After reviewing my photos at my computer, I learned not to make those mistakes and started getting accessaries like tripods.
I also haven't realized what different times or weather can do to the scene. So I haven't pursued shooting during sunrise/sunset yet. Plus, as someone who has never been to the US before, living only in a subtropical area, there are tons of interesting things for me to point my camera at. Like that UPS sign 🤣
Finally, even though I knew the advantage of shooting RAW, I never bothered to post-process the images. I also couldn't process my RAW file better than the straight-out-of-camera JPEG at that time anyway, so I was taking JPEG only the whole time.
Seems like my interest in shooting those cute squirrels can be dated back to 2015
The Computer Science department building at Cornell looks super impressive
Then I bought my second lens: 24-70mm F4 Macro. I wasn't satisfied with the focusing distance and thought I really wanted a lens that could shoot close up.
Trying to shot snowflake with Macro
Before I graduated, I also got a full-time offer from Facebook for a Software Engineering position in April 2016. It was more than a cherry on top because it has been my dream to work at these tier-1 tech companies for quite some time. And among them, Facebook was my number 1 choice. I love everything I hear about them, from their culture, projects, talents, to perks. It was before all the negative news started piling up on Facebook. But I don't think any of the reasons I joined and loved about Facebook have changed, so I'm still happily employed here as of Oct 2021, with no plan to leave just yet.
Anyway, after graduation, I went back to Taiwan for a month to relax before starting the job in Menlo Park, California. I've used up all my allowance at the time, and my sign-on bonus won't come in until 3 weeks after the job start. So I was pretty broke to take any trip besides just traveling within Taiwan a little.
One last view of New York City hasn't come back since then. I missed the scenery, but not so much on the public transportation
Taiwan had some interesting landscapes, but I have no idea how to best shoot them
Rainbow bridge, 4 sec, ISO 640 with a tripod. A solid night's picture without much noise!
And then firework started. I was very proud of the result.
So these all took place in New York & Taiwan, from Dec 2015 to July 2016. The photos might look blah, but there was no short of fun and excitement during the time. I didn't chase any scene nor post-process any of my pictures. I didn't look at other people's photographs or compare mine with theirs. I didn't even actively learn how to take a good photo. I just pointed my camera at things I thought were interesting and had a good time.
I think this is how most people started with photography, and to be honest, I miss that excitement sometimes.
Roaming in Cornell during snow
With burst mode, I've accumulated quite a lot of photos
My girlfriend got me my first drone as an anniversary gift! It can take HD video!