Feb 28, 2011

In and about the west village

You may be seeing some shorter, miscellaneous-shots that don't belong in a collage (like this one) posts in the next week, as I have a looming deadline at work that I'm racing to beat. Continuing from yesterday's post, I was glad to finally use my 85mm for real and grabbed these few scenes from a walk in the West Village, a neighborhood that never disappoints in providing eye-candy for my camera.

This last shot is from a late afternoon crawl of L'Occitane on Bleecker Street (edited to fix spelling error - shameful). I mean, good god that light! :D

Feb 27, 2011

Chemex, gerberas, and the 85mm

Ok ok, so I'm sorry it's been over a month since I first announced a new lens toy (didn't mean to be such a tease!), but I finally get to show it off in this post. This morning's little coffee routine was all shot on the 85mm f1.8, a pretty sweet not-so-little lens. It produces some lovely creamy bokeh and allows me to creep on street scenes from a bit farther away. It's also great for portrait-y shots, as there's less distortion than on the 50mm.

This morning was also the first time I finally got to use the Chemex, with some great Yemen Moka Sanani beans (at $32.75/lb, they better be!) no less. When I first smelled the whole beans, they really reminded me more of dark chocolate than coffee, but they opened up nicely after grinding.

I kinda reek of coffee today... with an early morning start at Abraco, then Roasting Plant for beans, then Chemex-ing those beans, then more coffee at the Kava Cafe on the west side, it may have been a tad overkill. I took three out of the six pictures here - can you guess which ones? :P

Feb 25, 2011

A sailboat there, a picket fence here

Willard beach in Portland was perfectly charming and adorable - a colorful playground, little sailboats bobbing about in the water, extra-fluffy dogs roaming around, cookie-cutter-esque beach houses in a row, lighthouse in the distance... it was MADE for pictures. It was a little challenging capturing it all with the fixed lens on the Contax. There were a number of times I wish I had a longer lens. And of course, we photographers hate harsh sunlight like this... I mean, I had to STOP DOWN to like f/8, as I was using 400 speed film. Blasphemous, isn't it?? Still, this little beach is a must-visit if you find yourself in the area.

Not that I can really complain about perfectly blue and clear skies, but a few wispy clouds here and there would have made for some much more interesting shots. Ah, well!

Let's let the weekend begin, shall we?

Feb 24, 2011

Scenes from a latte art throwdown

Last Thursday night, I wandered over to Dora to get a glimpse at some serious latte art. I had no idea what to expect but I figured it would be entertaining and a cool new experience, and it definitely was! It was so great to talk to people who really know their coffee and I was eager to meet some of the people behind the bar at cafes I frequent. Espresso flowed endlessly (as did beer, who knew? :P) and I happily swiped one of these creations to drink before it got discarded in the giant bucket of lattes. Check out some of the good fun below.

I'd for sure want to attend another one of these!

Feb 23, 2011

Lobster cages and boat parking spaces

Some four+ hours of scanning later, I am a bit braindead but now have an overwhelming selection of photos I want to share from Portland. On a day like today, I feel like I work a 13+ hour workday when I factor in the scanning, processing and blogging time. Ugh, I love it and all but I think I must get out tomorrow night.

Naturally, I toted around the Contax during this trip - I still like to think that shooting film forces you to be a better photographer but I may just be feeling defensive about this art.

The following pictures are from around Old Port (and shot on 400NC). Everything was really quiet that afternoon - Portland is very much a seasonal city and I'm sure is significantly busier during the warmer months. I was amused by the stacks and stacks of lobster cages and the boat "parking garages." The water and sky were splendidly blue that day and the water noiselessly still.

My favorite shot is the last portrait one in the set. Ah, it just all reeks of New England. :)

Feb 22, 2011

Millesime + a very mouthfuls bite club

Millesime has been on my to-blog list since the actual dinner on February 10th, so I needed to get that out of the way before I start on Portland pictures. Aside from the 45 minute+ wait on that Thursday night, it was a mostly pleasant experience. JJ and I split the market fish of the day (wild striped bass) and it was perhaps a bit overcooked and uninteresting, but everything else was pretty tasty. I'm still a bit numbed from seafood over the weekend, so I don't really remember much else about this meal. One of the desserts was swimming in too much booze for my taste.

I thought I'd mix up the collage format a bit to make it more distinctive.

Below: one of the bar areas.

The second part of this post highlights the much anticipated Mouthfuls bite club dinner event. As usual, it was decadence upon decadence and wine flowed freely. Since it is a bit hard to make out the nicely plated dishes, you can view a full image here. Rather entertaining company (more so than usual) too. :)

Below: wine aplenty!

Feb 21, 2011

Scenes from a bed & breakfast

I'm back from a very COLD but lovely weekend stay in Portland, Maine. Between slipping and sliding on the thick ice that still covers the sidewalks there, I shot seven rolls of 120 film, ate more lobsters and seafood than I can count, saw more fluffy dogs than I've ever seen in one place, found the ultimate idyllic tree + bench scene, popped in to the Portland Museum of Art with barely an hour before closing but caught a great photography exhibit, finally found some passable coffee and had to chuck it before going to the museum, and stayed at the cutest little bed & breakfast with the friendliest innkeeper ever.

Above: a left over breakfast area.

Below: the main living room at the inn with great light and fresh flowers.

I'll have a ton more pictures to come - literally the first thing I did after we dropped off the rental car was go to the film lab before they closed for the night. I've got my priorities down. I also am quite backed up from things I want to blog from last week, but I certainly can't complain about having too much content!

Feb 18, 2011

Packing my bags tonight...

Heading to this hopefully beautiful and charming place up north. Props if you can guess right!

Photo by Mike Carey.

See you guys on Tuesday, if I can keep myself from popping in on here. :)

Feb 17, 2011

Abraço in black + white

It's been a while since I've posted about Abraço, but it is worth mentioning again because this tiny old place probably has the best drip and espresso in NYC (plus amazing pastries). I didn't realize how special this place was until I started going nearly every day. I actually think I drink LESS coffee daily because of this place. I have my nice little pour over drip in the morning and then I don't want anything more the rest of the day because my coffee palate is still on such a high from Abraço. Now, this isn't to say I don't appreciate my other coffee go-tos! Plus, this place isn't exactly ideal for lingering or taking the kind of pretty and charming shots that cafes like Dora, Ground Support, or OST offer. I just think there Jamie (the owner) has some kind of magic/special touch that I haven't quiiite found anywhere else.

Perfect cortado, hello.

These were taken on the Contax with Ilford HP5 Plus. I don't often shoot with B/W film and I got some totally unexpected results from this roll. I'll be sharing more later!

Feb 16, 2011

Dr., mrs., and gpoyw

I think I might have told my parents I wouldn't post the following pictures. Haha, oops and sorry! I wanted to test the Contax and the Portra 400 on their portrait-taking prowess, so I made them sit for me without giving them any time to prepare.

To take any potential unwanted attention off them, I'm including this horrifically embarrassing picture of me getting this shot. Why I didn't think to just step back and lean forward is beyond me. Thank god the picture isn't quite big enough for you to see the most intensely scrunched up face - I didn't even know my face muscles were capable of making such a hideous look. Cringe-worthy! :P I had to include this normal shot for good measure. Also you can see the eerie resemblance between my dad's chin and mine.

And to quickly answer a reader question, the polaroid back for the Contax is this accessory that turns the camera into a polaroid... kinda. You switch out the regular film back for the polaroid back and voila, instant prints! The sad part is you waste a good chunk of the polaroid print - the image only fills up a tiny corner (you can see an example here) - but it's fun nonetheless and at least these polaroid films (Fuji FP100) are still in production.

Happy hump day and goodnight.

Feb 15, 2011

Brunch at belcourt

Last Saturday involved this impromptu brunch at Belcourt after we happily caffeinated ourselves first at Abraco. There was a bit of a wait (duh) so we opted to eat at the bar, which resulted in the below two pictures.

Metering on the Contax (which I've dubbed "Connie"... does that make me even crazier?) is a bit tricky and I had to do a bit of correcting on this particular roll. Ok... so the Contax is not entirely faultless. Of course, some girl walked into my frame right as I took this lemon shot, agh!

To me, it seems obvious the below shots are digital compared to the above film shots, but I'm not so sure how apparent it is to the unbiased eye. Particularly, I think the difference in highlights between the two gives it away.

Like many brunch spots I've been to recently, this place is also streaming with light and has that rustic-y charm. The croque-madame was rich and pretty solid brunch food.

My thoughts are all over the place and rather choppy this Tuesday night. Time to get off the computer, Alice.

Feb 14, 2011


I can't say enough good things about my favorite flower, the ranunculus. Everyone pokes fun at the name, but eh, they are so damn beautiful and I think, more striking than roses. I was beyond thrilled to see them in February at a florist this past weekend (at $3 a stem though!) . I probably should wait for them to bloom a bit more, but I couldn't help but take a few early budding shots. I think I squealed like a silly little schoolgirl every time I looked at them. Thanks, JJ. :D

These were digital, and the below shot was taken on the Contax with a Polaroid back on Fuji FP-100C. I am also completely smitten with the Polaroid back. The tones! The film peeling! The instant print! Ah! This level of excitement is probably not normal. I don't even get this way about my real Polaroid SLR...

Looking at these definitely helps cure some Monday blues.

Feb 13, 2011

The second rule of bite club...

Daniel and Alicia wowed us again with their cooking finesse on Saturday night. After a harried ride to dinner (damn weekend train schedules), we were almost the last to be seated. It was nice to see some familiar faces again and meet new ones at our table. I am still a bit in awe at who I found myself sitting next to... so crazy! Everything was fantastic as expected, and I am still so impressed at how they manage to do what they do.

The eight courses we were served ranged from decadent to outrageously decadent. Some highlights included the peanut butter foie gras cookie, the sous vide duck egg that went perfectly with the farro and mushroom jus, and the Rancho Gordo yellow eye baked beans. JJ and I really enjoyed the dinner party atmosphere of it. :)

We'll be back on Friday night for a little meetup of sorts. Hehe, cannot wait.

Feb 11, 2011

As the day light left the city that night...

View out my window just about 15 minutes ago. I would like to take it easy this weekend. How about you? :)

Feb 10, 2011

Chambres à coucher

Hello, friends. My brain is a bit numbed from work so I have little coherency left in me. Let's keep this short.

Moving on to bedroom shots on the Contax, I present my good old room at home.

I devour food writing and here's just a small sample of some of the food books I've acquired. I first discovered food blogs in the fall of 2006 and then took an "Art of Eating" creative writing class in college which was pretty amazing and made me go through a phase where I pretty much only read this genre for leisure reading.

I've already posted this one to my flickr, but here's the same angle of my room. It's east-facing which I love (except when I'm trying to sleep in). If I ever have the luxury to be picky about an apartment in NY, it would definitely need a set (preferably floor to ceiling) of east-facing windows.

This room was wallpapered when we moved in, and we never got around to changing that (except when my mom and I tried and failed miserably to take down a section - how the hell do you properly remove wallpaper?!). So the guest room remains covered in blue nursery/baby print wallpaper. NOTHING matches in this room, including the furniture. It's pretty great.

Now, where's my bottle of wine...

Feb 9, 2011

Home comforts

These next two shots from the Contax 645 were taken at the house I grew up in. I still call it "home" even though I don't live there anymore, and I wonder if/when that will change. So I went home on Sunday for a giant lunch with my parents as a mini belated Chinese New Year celebration and finished off the roll there.

Here's a peek into the kitchen dining area. I must say our house gets pretty great light everywhere. This room in particular has this window you see here, a sliding door to the backyard and a skylight above. It's too bad I wasn't really into photography when I was around to take advantage of the light.

Our home is certainly not of the spick and span, perfectly decorated, with bowl of [insert fruit here] on the coffee table and carefully aligned books variety. It is homey and yes, cluttered, but filled with memories of my childhood. And there is definitely something comforting about that and knowing my fifth grade school projects are tucked away somewhere, maybe one day (very very very very very far away from now) for my kid(s?) to discover.

Like every other Asian kid, I took piano lessons; though, I was mediocre at best. Well, at least pianos always make for a pretty subject.

I had to warm up these scans quite a bit. I'm not sure why, but the original scans were heavily blue tinted. What gives?

Feb 8, 2011

The first real shot on the contax 645

... because the first shot was accidentally taken when my elbow leaned right onto the shutter button and the lens cap was still on. Yes, JJ picked up what may just be my dream camera from Adorama the other week and I intend on hogging it all I can. Ya hear me? :D

For those unfamiliar with this beaut and beast, it is a medium format (specifically 6 x 4.5) film camera that many of my photography idols shoot with. There really are no words to describe this thing. JJ definitely hardcore geeked out over its impeccable construction and how every function is pretty much a dial or switch, meanwhile trying to learn every minute detail about its technical specs and etc. I mean that's cool and all, but I just want to take pretty pictures. :)

Here is the Woolworth building disappearing into the clouds. I'm giving the new Portra another try and so far I'm liking the results a little better from this roll. It's tempting to share all the shots at once, but I'm going to spread it out a bit because each shot deserves that. Also, it only gets 16 shots per roll (15 usable shots on this one because of my mishap) so I have to be even more careful about what I shoot! I must say, I can't wait to shoot more and share more.

Feb 7, 2011

Is it spring yet?

Now that yesterday and today were a "blistering 43 degrees" or so, I can only hope for warmer weather. Except that the damn weather report says Thursday's got a high of 26. I think ideally, it'd go up one degree every two days or so from today and then hover at 70 for a loooong time. Can we make that happen? Thnx.

I dug up this polaroid from the flickr archives because it felt fitting for what I'm looking forward to - neutral-colored, just a bit sheer, oversized button-ups. This one in particular, I have since turned an unfortunate shade of pink/purple after haphazardly tossing it in the same wash load as a bright coral skirt. Call me undomestic. (Not to mention that shirt should have been dry cleaned in the first place!)

blouse #2Also, this is my 200th post! Woot. :D

Feb 6, 2011

Doing lunch right

Lunch at Bouley is a ridiculous steal with the tasting menu of $36 they offer. I mean, look at how much food we got! I loved the pumpkin soup amuse and the halibut with pine nut. I was even compelled to order chicken for my main and I was glad I did, for it was fork-tender and actually tasted like chicken. At this price, we'll have to make this a more regular stop in our weekend schedule.

And yes, the lobby does smell wonderfully apple-y.

Feb 4, 2011

And we're off!

Methinks it's time for the weekend. And time to play. I'll leave you with this shot from the Pentax 67 archives. Probably one of my favorite colors, these mums.

Feb 3, 2011

Recent japanese treats

From a weekend in the East Village:

1 + 4) From an omakase at Jewel Bako
2 + 3) From afternoon tea and dessert at Cha-An

Not much time tonight for a long post, but aren't these little guys delectable?

Feb 2, 2011

Rustic charm

I think I'll let the pictures do the talking, but is this place not a photographer's DREAM?

Here is Freemans on film (all 8000+ pixels of it :P), taken on Portra 400 and some converted to b/w.

Hands down, my favorites are the two full size vertical shots. And yes, these are the shots with the minor focusing issues. Again, it's hard to see when they are resized like this, but it's just not as sharp or precise as it used to be. I wanted to share these anyway, because I mean, LOOK AT THIS PLACE!

Feb 1, 2011


I had been super excited to get my last two rolls of the new Portra 400 back, and I even braved extra horrible crappy-weather-rush-hour commute traffic to make a detour to the photo lab. My mood took a downhill turn when I realized the poor EOS 3 must've taken a little beating during the same fall where the nifty fifty kicked the bucket. Everything seemed ever so slightly out of focus, and it was especially noticeable in closer up shots. Or if parts were in focus, it wasn't what I had intended the focus to be on. Moreover, the parts that were in focus were also much less sharp than I know the camera is capable of. Major major bummer. :(

This bike shot is from the last roll, taken in Freeman alley. This is one where it isn't super obvious the focus is off. I'm also not sure how I feel about the new film. From just the results from these two rolls, I think I prefer the 400NC, but I think I will shoot off the last rolls I have in my Minolta (which should still be in tip-top shape I hope!) so I can at least have clear shots to judge from.

Ah, glum is me. I really loved that camera.