Monday, February 28, 2011

A Filmmaker's Paradise.

There's always that location that we as filmmakers dream about shooting at. For me, it was always an old run-down building of some sort. About two weeks ago I found this location with the help of a few peers.

This past weekend, a few friends and I went down south for a good ol' fashioned photo/video adventure. Our destination was Fort Ord, an old abandoned military base located in Marina, California. This was only my second time here, but after the first trip, I really wanted to go back and make a short film.

The Pool

This place is just eerie. From the random baby strollers, to the "666" graffiti on the walls, to the stray shoes that line the street, this place just reeks of creepiness. We started out filming in the pool area. The what once was an olympic sized pool was now just an emptied garbage pit filled with empty spray cans and broken furniture. The vastness of this location led for some really great shots on the Canon 16-35mm wide angle lens.

Next, we started exploring the many barracks on the property. Every time I would open a door or walk up a flight of stairs, I was almost certain something was going to pop out. It's not like this place was home to thousands of murderers, but one can't help but feeling like you're not quite alone.


For the short I made, I brought along my Canon 5D Mark II, Indifocus Indislider, and ProAM Crane. With the exception of three or four shots, almost every camera angle was on the slider. I'm a camera movement fanatic, so I try and implement the use of a slider or dolly wherever I can. I also wanted to attempt an epic crane shot that would track upwards as my lovely subject Jenny walked down the deserted street. The wind was not very kind to my crane, so you may notice some camera shake in the final product.

We were losing light fast, so I tried to work as quickly as I could. Ideally, I would've loved to shoot a few more timelapses here, but that will have to wait until another day. A special thanks to goes out to my friends Jennifer Kehl, Ben Bunch, Andrew Cichowski, and Ally Bobus for being patient with me while I got my shots. Also, a big thank you to Ben Bunch for taking the photographs you see above. Without further adieu, please enjoy my short entitled "Ghost Town."

Friday, February 25, 2011

I Hate Pictures of Me.

Yet this still doesn't stop me from taking self portraits. At least I have photoshop to help in the beautification process. Went a little overboard with these, but I think they turned out cool!

Eyes of Green

Bed Head

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Old Things.

Jenny and I cleaned up the garage the other day because we'll be shooting a scene for my film this coming Sunday. It was actually very therapeutic. Every time we park our cars in the garage we promise ourselves that we'll clean up the ever increasing mess, but for some reason or another it never ends up happening. So this past Monday (President's Day) we spent a good majority of the day cleaning up and organizing everything. I'm pretty sure this is how the Presidents of the past would want us to celebrate their special day.

Upon cleaning up some old junk I've been holding onto in the garage, I came across a cool little gem I had forgotten about. It was an old 2006 Lego Exo-Force set. Sadly, this is the last Lego I own because I sold all of my other Legos on craigslist. I should have held on to them in case I could have passed them down to my kids one day. Oh well.

I no longer had the instructions so I found them online. Lego actually has an online database with instructions for every Lego created. I pieced the robot together in no more than five minutes. I forgot what a cool set this was. My new but old lego robot now has a home on my already over-cluttered desk. There's no way I'm going to sell this awesome guy like I did with my other sets. THis one is here to stay.

On a related note, here are some simply amazing Lego creations I favorited over on Flickr.

Little Red Riding Hood - 01

Do you play croquet?

1.21 Gigawatts!!!


This is Thriller

Radio Tower

Lego iPad

Mini Pok

The Last Crusade

The Shining

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper

Death of a Loyalist Soldier

The Third of May 1808

Igor Stravinsky

Anti-Empire protest

Tiananmen Square

Boyd Fortin, thirteen years old, Sweetwater, Texas, 1979

Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent

Dalí Atomicus

That's all for now. Have a nice day!

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Wallet Isn't Going to be too Happy.

I feel kind of weird making a blog post about a new toy release, but this is a big deal.

So as of recent, my new goal in vinyl collecting is to snag a coveted KAWS piece. For those that don't know, Brooklyn based artist, KAWS (aka Brian Donnelly) is a huge figure in the contemporary art and urban grafitti scene. He creates his art through several different mediums, spanning from canvas, to ads, to toys, and even to lightbulbs. The problem with my quest for a KAWS piece is the ridiculous prices that these toys are sold for in the secondary market (i.e. eBay, forums, etc.). The only way to really avoid spending an arm and a leg for a toy is buy it on the release day.

So, the word going around right now is that KAWS is set to release his next Bape collaboration toy on February 26th, 2011. In lieu of his popular "dissected companion" toy, KAWS has adapted the same concept to the iconic Bape character "Milo." This piece is half monkey, and half anatomical sculpt of the innards of the monkey, split right down the middle.

Even if I can manage to purchase one on release day from KAWS's site, the price still verges on the level of expensive. At 15,540 Yen, the toy will cost approximately $186.00 USD. If someone would have told me a year ago that I would even contemplate dropping this much cash on a piece of plastic, I would've called them crazy. After doing much research, the initial cost of this piece does not turn me off as much. Even though the figure is close to $200 with shipping, other KAWS pieces with the same initial price point go for upwards of $650 on the secondary market. I do not plan to sell the piece, but if times get rough, at least I can make my money back, plus more.

The only dilemma I'm facing right now is if I can live with getting only one, or if I should shoot for the whole set. Unfortunately for me, getting the whole set would probably mean eating Ramen and bread for the rest of the month. Because I have tax refunds coming to me in the next few weeks as well as some overdue payments for past work I've done, I may pull the trigger on all three. Only time will tell. I am honestly just stoked to get my first ever KAWS piece!

Here's a few more views of the figure.

Kaws x Bape Milo Dissected

Kaws x Bape Milo Dissected

Kaws x Bape Milo Dissected

I ♥ Tea

A few weeks back, Gizmodo had a "bokeh" photo challenge in which the assignment was to take a creative picture of out of focus light. Jenny and I had an awesome idea for a photo, but because of school and midterms, we were unable to put our idea into motion. Fast forward a few weeks, and we finally found the time to take our bokeh photo!

Jenny and I are both avid tea drinkers. We both have at least two cups of tea a day. Nothing beats that feeling of a nice hot cup of tea in the morning to warm the soul. With this idea in mind, we decided to take a photo that highlighted our love for tea.


To capture this image, we set up our Bodum mug and mini muffin on a dark wooden stool. A small desk lamp was used to spotlight the cup of tea from above. About three feet back, we hung up some old xmas lights in order to get our "bokeh effect". We strategically placed the lights, so that it looked as if the bokeh was coming out of the cup like steam. Finally, we poured the tea into the cup and began snapping away. As seen in the image above, we also played with paper cut-outs. If you cut a shape out of paper and hold it over your lens, you can manipulate the form of the bokeh. This proved to be a very cool effect in making the lights look like little mini hearts.

Because Jenny was ultimately the mastermind behind the initial idea, I acted as an assistant, and kind of let her do her thing. I tend to be a backseat photographer, so I really tried hard to just offer advice when called upon. Jenny also shot an exposure on her Mamiya RB67 MF film camera. Hopefully, when we get that back in a few weeks, it'll look just as good as the digital captures from that night.

When Jenny uploaded the picture to her Flickr, she wrote a sweet little poem to accompany the image.

"Every morning I wake up,
go to the kitchen,
make him tea,
wake him with a kiss,
and a nice warm mug
to start his day

this one's for you Doug

I don't know how I ever got so lucky. Thank you so much Jenny. The best part of my day is waking up next to you xoxo.

Tea Time

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Room.

Haven't seen it? Do yourself a favor and get on it. This is quite possibly the best worst film ever. Between unnecessary characters, discontinuities, terrible acting, ridiculous dialogue, etc., this film is just bad in every way possible. The ironic thing is, it's so horrible, that it is in fact entertaining. So entertaining that the film has amassed a huge cult following, much like that of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

When I heard The Room was coming to the Del Mar Theater as part of their midnight movie, I was stoked. I've always wanted to see this film in all it's horrendous glory up on the silver screen. So anyways, I just got back from the film about an hour and a half ago, and, wow! What an awesome experience. People were quoting the movie left and right and adding in their own wit and commentary to the mix.

Seeing it with a large audience was great because it was almost like a live-action performance. Viewers would use certain cues within the film to interact (via actions and speech) to what was happening on screen. Below are some of the common actions that I picked up on.

+ Every time a spoon was on screen, people began pelting the film with plastic spoons.
+ Every time the film cut to a scene of San Francisco, the audience would blurt out "Meanwhile, back in San Francisco"
+ Every time two characters were kissing on screen, the audience wouldsay, "NOM NOM NOM"
+ Every time the mother was on screen, viewers would yell, "Cancer"
+ Every time a camera would do a long slow pan (i.e. the Golden Gate Bridge), everyone would say, "GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!"
+ Every time a nipple was seen on screen, everyone would scream out "NIPPLE"
+ Every time a football was seen onscreen, viewers would begin passing around a football in the auditorium

These are jut a few of the things that I can recall from tonight. Even though I had seen the film before, I could not stop laughing. I love this film on so many levels. It's just something you can't stand to watch, but at the same time, cannot look away from.

Simply put, The Room is awesome. Tommy Wiseau is my hero.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Marks in the Water.

I'm not to keen on those eyesore watermarks that are scattered across an otherwise beautiful image. I completely understand the need for securing one's work, but there are clever ways to go about protecting your photos.

I've always meant to try and design a semi-unique watermark that I could use appropriately on a photos I upload to Flickr. After fuddling around with some ideas, I came up with a solid design I'm pretty happy with. My goal isn't to put the watermark on every photo, but try and include it when it looks right.


Nothing too crazy, just a sketch of a 35mm film camera and the font "Die Die Die" which gives the look of text being scribbled on something.

Thus far, I've gone through and added the watermark to a few of my photos with borders. For the most part, I think they really give a sense of balance to the overall composition. Before, the black borders were too empty and distracting. Obviously, I liked the look, but I always felt like it was missing something. I think a watermark was just that thing.

Here are a few of my past photos that I re-edited to include my new watermark.


I <3 BM


Taking photos is what's keeping me sane these days. It's almost like a form of therapy. I have so much stuff going on between school, work, and random film projects, it's rare when I have time to myself. Even when I have nothing going on, I still have the desire to be productive. This is when the thinking cap goes on, and I begin snapping photos of the things around me.

Say Cheese.

For Valentine's day, my girlfriend, pug, and I ditched classes and headed up to San Francisco for the day. With our cameras in hand, we walked around the city, strolling into stores that looked interesting. On Haight Street, there was one store, Loyal Army, that had an awesome collection of witty/random tees. There was one in particular with a pug on it that I had to have. It was fit for a girl so I bought it for Jenny. With our newly acquired shirt, we decided to do an informal mini photoshoot on a street running parallel to Haight.

I threw on the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 D and started snapping away. I love how flat the 80-200mm makes everything look. The background that extends hundreds of feet past Jenny, looks like it's a backdrop set a few inches behind her. The shallow depth of field at f/2.8 really gives the image that added sense of narrow focus. My only qualm with the lens is how soft it is, especially at f/2.8. One day I'll own the coveted Canon 135mm f/2 L lens, but for now the 80-200mm is a great alternative.

After posting this picture on my Flickr, it began to blow up. It received close to 100 views the first day it was online. Someone left a comment on the picture saying that Flickr decided this photo would be one of the 500 "EXPLORED" photos of the day. Not too shabby.

Here's the photo that was featured on the "EXPLORE" page on Flickr.

The Notorious PUG. [EXPLORED]

On a side note, here are some other random photos I have taken in the last week or so!

Power: On.

3 Bears.

Ken for President.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentine's Day Came Early.

For this year's Valentine's Day, I was trying to figure out some presents my girlfriend would enjoy. I finally decided on some Guava Ginseng tea that we've both been craving ever since we left Hawaii and a few vinyl toys that she's hinted at. As you probably already noticed, it's not quite Valentine's Day, but yet I'm revealing my gifts. You see, my girlfriend and I suck at waiting to give gifts to each other. The day we get their present in the mail is usually the same day we give it to them. We just find it too hard to wait.

In past conversations, my girlfriend has mentioned her fascination with the vinyl toys known as "Lunartiks." It's hard to say exactly what the figures are based on, but they look like little aliens poking their heads out of cups of tea. Each figure is called by a different type of tea (i.e. Earl Grey, Cinnamon, Berry, etc.). They come in individually wrapped blind boxes, so there really is no say in which character you get. I thought it'd be fun to get two just so we have better odds of getting a cool one.

When they arrived, we each picked a box to open. I went first. I got Cinnamon. Next was Jenny's turn. She pulled out a gray figure with pink eyes. We searched on the box, but could not find that particular figure. A quick google search concluded that she had just pulled the rarest from the set. She pulled "Lady Grey" with a 1:80 ration. Talk about good luck!

While searching for the Lunartiks on various sites, I came across quite possibly one of the coolest vinyl pieces I've seen in awhile. There's no better way of describing it than calling it the vinyl toy version of me. It has the same grin and mop-top hairstyle as me! I figured my girlfriend would appreciate it so I added it to my cart.

Flowers for You.

She loved it. The quality of this toy was top notch. The figure also included a cloth sewn backpack as well as a little red wagon. I love when things come with accessories. Yet another cool piece to add to the ever expanding collection.

As with all my recent toys, a mandatory photo session followed.

Hi. I'm Doug.

Wagon Full of Lavender.

Afternoon Stroll

Principal Photography Has Begun!

Still Frames from "Rise and Shine"

In a nutshell, the film is about a girl who has been studying all night and has slept through her alarm. In an attempt to get her ready, things within her home begin animating themselves to get this girl to her test on time. A relatively simple story that focuses heavily on style, specifically stop-frame animation.

I made it a point to get started early on my short film for my Film 172 class. I'm doing a stop frame that will require countless hours and sleepless nights of post work, so I can't afford to leave it until the last minute. This past weekend I was able to shoot about 2/5 of my film. Arguably the harder chunk of the film. At least it's in the past, and the footage looks great.

My actress Kat Brown was kind enough to let me use her house as our location. This worked perfectly because I was going for the anti-dorm room look. Kat has obviously spent a good amount of time decorating her shelves and walls with vintage posters and knick knacks. Because of this, I had to do barely any set decking. Thanks Kat! I think the appeal of the room translates well to film.

On friday, we shot a quick bathroom segment. Then on Saturday and Sunday we did all the bedroom stuff. Luckily, there were a lot of shots that Kat didn't need to be in so she could relax while we animated things. For the stuff Kat was in, she did great, especially considering this is her fist time working on a stop-frame. There was one sequence where she had to stay completely still for forty-five minutes. I felt so bad. Unlike live-action where you just record, stop-frame forces you to slow down and break up ordinary, everyday actions into specific, exaggerated movements. It almost feels like slow motion when you're capturing the images.

Overall, I am very happy with the way our first shoot went. Obviously, there were times when we were all getting frusturated, but we worked through it. Thanks to my amazing girlfriend Jenny, the animation sequences look stunning. I don't know how she does it sometimes, but when you play the images back it looks perfect!

I can't wait to keep the ball rolling and shoot some more stuff. I plan to resume shooting on Sunday, Februray 20th. Fingers crossed for another successful shoot!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mmmmm Bokeh!

I'm obsessed with bokeh. For those that don't know, "bokeh" is a term used to describe the out of focus lights within a shot. The word stems from "boke" a japanese word, which translates to mean "blur" or "haze."

You might ask yourself, why would someone be infatuated with things that are out of focus? Maybe not. For me, it just adds that little something extra to your shot. When you see a shot in a film where someone in the foreground is in focus and the out of focus background is scattered with bokeh, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. This is why people pay the big bucks for fast camera lenses. The more the aperture can open up, the better the cameras's performance in lowlight and thus quality of bokeh is increased.


Last Friday, My friend Ben and I hit downtown Santa Cruz at around 11PM to do some lowlight camera tests. I brought my slider and intervalometer along to try and get some interesting images. We started off at the iconic Del Mar Theater, which has an epic marquee that flashes a multitude of green, blue, and red lights. After this, I told Ben I wanted to shoot on a highway overpass. We headed off to 41st Avenue, which goes directly over the freeway. On the way, I used Ben's suction cup car mount with fisheye to get a driving timelapse. We parked in an empty Home Depot parking lot and headed to the overpass. There was virtually no light, so I mostly shot long exposure timelapses. I wish there had been more cars driving, but honestly it was nearing 1AM. We eventually packed up and headed to get a late night meal at the only place open this late in all of SC, the Santa Cruz Diner. I wish I could do this sort of stuff every week!

Here is a short edit of some of the footage I obtained that night.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Great Time Killer.

Checking Flickr has always been an integral part of my daily web browsing. So many good photos uploaded everyday. It's also exciting when you see photos that your friends post in the recent activity section of the page. Flickr is also a great way to meet other photographers and learn from them.

Recently I stumbled upon two photographers whose work I am greatly influence and inspired by. Their names are Rick Nunn and Connor Surdi. Both extremely talented photographers with very unique styles.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Surdi posted a photo as a part of his 365 project. For those that don't know, a 365 project is basically a photo a day for an entire year. Most people just snap whatever is around them without too much thought, but Connor goes all out with a crazy new photo everyday. Back to the story. So the photo he posted was of his bathroom, but with multiple versions of him within the space. Unfortunately due to copyrights, I can't post the photo here, but here's the link if you care to take a look.

Here's my version of the "multiple personalities" style photo.


I set my camera up on a tripod so that the framing would remain consistent across all the shots. I then proceeded to snap photos with me in different locations. I merged the three photos in Photoshop and did some minor color correction work to hide the blending across the layers. I'm very happy with the way this experiment worked out. I have some things in mind for a crazier photo of similar nature that I hope to pull off in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Destroyer.

After holding out for some time, I finally got my hands on a limited Buff Monster piece. I was lucky enough to snag one of Buff's web exclusive vinyl toys. This piece is entitled "The Destroyer" and is featured in the classic Buff Monster colorway of gray and pink. Only 99 pieces were made, and each box is hand signed by Buff himself. Cool beans.

Hopefully over time, I can acquire some more art pieces by Buff, but for the time being, I'm content with my little guy. At just over 11 inches tall, "The Destroyer" will annihilate anything in it's path. Do not under any circumstances tick this guy off!

I Will Destroy You.

The Destroyer.