©2013 86Photography

Photographing Everyday Life

A writer makes the leap to the unfamiliar world of color, imagination, meaning and visuals. Enjoy the pictures and feedback is appreciated.


Run For Boston


To runners, the Boston Marathon is a race many desire to run. It’s a race, where countless runners try to qualify for. Its reputation is prestigious — tell people you’ve run the marathon and it’s as if you’ve reached a whole new level.

To the ordinary public, the Boston Marathon is a time to come out and line the city streets and cheer on not only the elite runners, but even those who cross the finish line in the final wave. It’s a day where an entire city and different nationalities and ethnicities come together.

And on Monday, April 15, someone, or someones, decided to try to destroy any good from the race. About four hours and nine minutes into the race, two explosions along the finish line left over a hundred injured and three dead — one of which was an 8-year-old child.

I was working in the newsroom when another reporter asked if explosions usually happen at the end of the marathon. I thought it was a little weird that there would be explosions, so I took to the internet and my heart sank. Twitter became a breaking news outlet, where users were tweeting about two explosions and the chaos that broke out along Boylston Street. I saw pictures of the sidewalk covered in trash, debris and blood. I had two stories to write for the next day’s newspaper, but those were in the back of my mind. My friends were at this race and some were at the Red Sox game at Fenway Park.

I texted a co-worker who was with a group of people and verified there were two loud, big explosions. Thankfully he was fine. I texted another friend, whose father was running in the marathon. She did’t know what was going on, adding that “it’s chaos here.” I told her what we heard. She said she hadn’t heard from her father, who was supposed to be finishing the race. I wasn’t there at the scene, but I began to panic and grew anxious waiting to hear if her father was OK and if my other friends were safe. Thankfully, those who ran the race finished before the explosions went off and those who were in the area were safe.

I find myself reading updates and follow-up stories about the tragedy; about those who lost their lives and those innocent spectators who were there to cheer on friends, family and even strangers. An article from Runner’s World talks about a photographer’s experience of witnessing the mayhem and trying to find the two runners being profiled for a story. I read it at work today and was devastated.

I’ve never considered myself a runner. I ran all year round in high school and stopped after attending college. I never associated myself with the running group. How could I if I never ran on a regular basis week after week? I work at a running specialty store on the weekends and found myself envying a number of coworkers for their sheer dedication to the sport.

I’ve always tried to get back into running. My passion and love for it disappeared after graduating high school. The motivation was gone. And because of that, I lacked the desire to walk out the door and run down the street. But as I train for my first half marathon, I’ve rediscovered why I grew to love the sport in the first place. It’s a sport, where you don’t have to be the best to feel like you’ve accomplished something. As my boss believes, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go — just so long as you go.

And it was then when I realized why I was so affected by what happened on Monday. I’m a runner. And always will be. Whether we know each other or not, we’re a part of a community — a family. And we’ll always be there to support one another. Like many other runners in the country and even around the world, I’m not exactly sure what I could do to help.

So I’ll run. I’m going to run for Boston. You can bet I’ll run that half marathon even harder for those spectators; for the Bostonians; for the volunteers; for the first responders and for those who were so close to finishing the Boston Marathon and had it taken away from them.



To The Capital…


I’m in a photography group with some friends of mine. It’s not a large group — there’s just three of us — but I’ve definitely found it really beneficial. Since I graduated school and started a new job, I’ve been ridiculously busy. I get some chances to use my camera for my work, but I never actually get to go out on photography walks or anything of that nature. The weekly group assignments really makes me get out there and be creative.

We have weekly photography assignments, where we all email one another our photos. Last week’s assignment was “sunlight,” which was my choice. It was definitely a lot more difficult than I thought. Winter is gone and done with, but every time the sun was out, it was always covered by clouds. It doesn’t help that I work until 7 p.m. every day either.

I returned to the capital for my photo. There’s a bridge near the garage I parked on top of to take the night-time shot of the buildings. I walked up the bridge and just took a wide-angle shot.

This was the resulting shot. It really was more of a test shot, so I could gauge how much to change my settings. But after putting it through post-processing via Lightroom, I really like the shot.

Capital At Night


Editor’s note: It’s been a lot of time since I’ve last posted. I graduated college and started my career as a journalist. Needless to say, that’s been my life recently.

I’ve always wanted to take a night-time photo of a city. I’ve been meaning to do it, but I just recently bought a new lens (an ultra wide angle) and thought this would be the perfect opportunity.

After much deliberation and research, I decided on the Sigma 10-20 f/3.5 EX DC HSM. I was nervous about buying another lens, but I knew I didn’t want to buy a lens that would overlap with my Canon 24-105 f/4L.

Every time I drive home from work, I see the skyscrapers and the lights of the state’s capital. It’s great to see during the day, but at night — it’s a beautiful sight. I worked the Saturday shift this weekend, and I decided I would get the picture that night. I got off the highway and as I headed home, I turned left down a road I rarely drive down. The further I drove, the closer those tall buildings got.

To get the shot, distance was only a part of the equation. I knew I needed to get a high vantage point to incorporate as many buildings as possible. In an area where I live, that was going to come from a garage. Luckily, I drove past a visitor parking garage where you’re able to drive up to the top.

I parked my car and grabbed my tripod. I walked towards the lights and got as close as I could without falling into the water. I slowed the shutter speed down to about 2.5 seconds and I spent a half hour taking photos. Being out there and seeing the lights and getting away from the chaos that is life — it was nice.


Going along with my last post about taking pictures while in a moving car, this picture was taken while my girlfriend was driving back to her dorm. What I really like about taking pictures inside a car is the background of the resulting photos. Sure, you can get a great depth of field and blur the background if you’re doing any other type of photography, but when you’re in a moving car, the background is not only blurred, it contains signs of movement.

Capital City

I frequently read The Digital Photography School for new tips, advice, and even for some inspiration. Like many other beginning photographers, I go through brief periods when I believe I have run out of things to take a picture of —- of course this is not the case, as that would be virtually impossible.

One of the most common things I read on Digital Photography School is about taking pictures within a car. If you’re the passenger in a car and happen to have your camera, take some pictures of the moving scenery — you never know what kind of photographs you’ll get.

This photograph is on one of the major highways in the state — the towering skyscrapers in the background really make this landscape photograph come together. So next time you’re in a car, take the camera out and take some pictures.

Warning: Do NOT drive and use the camera at the same time. That is extremely dangerous

Vietnamese Lamp

One of the best things when visiting a country is that there is always going to be history in some form or another. Vietnam is filled with history — history of the war and even culturally. There are buildings and temples that are still standing and maintained that were built centuries ago.

This picture was taken at a temple on Turtle Lake. The lake is significant in Vietnamese history, as it inhabits a giant sea turtle. There used to be two, but the other was killed a few years ago. Legend has it that these two turtles returned the sword to the King of Vietnam.

The temple is beautiful. They didn’t change much, even the lighting was kept the same. The lamps hanging from the ceiling were built beautifully. I took this shot when I was walking through the temple. I enjoy taking pictures of different light sources, just because of the resulting photograph. The lighting in the photograph is always a pleasure to see.

On Top Of The World

While we were in Saigon, we stayed at the same hotel. Out of all the hotels we stayed at during the trip, this one had to be my favorite. Sure, it wasn’t a four star hotel and it didn’t look amazing from the outside either. But it was their staff that made it such a memorable experience.

Vietnam is becoming more of a tourism country, and the residents know that. When we first arrived to the hotel, the security guards all warned us to be careful with our cameras and cell phones because the motorists will grab it as they drive by. On the our final day, we were boarding our van to get to the airport. The security guard saw two motorcyclists driving behind the van with their lights off, so he told them to get away — which they did. That kind of hospitality is what makes staying at a hotel worth it.

While we were bored one day, my brothers, our friend, and I went exploring around the hotel and discovered a spiral staircase that led to the roof. There were these miniature roof tops up there, and our friend climbed up one to take pictures. As he took pictures of the buildings, we took pictures of him. I liked how the pictures came out because it gives you a sense of what he was seeing.

Ha Long Bay

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I’ve always heard about Ha Long Bay and saw documentaries about it on the television, but I never thought it would be so amazing in person.

We boarded a boat and the captain took us through a lot of the famous rock formations. Some of them resembled animals, such as cats and dogs, and another formation looked like two people kissing — unsurprisingly known as The Kissing Rocks.

I took this photo when we started to see the rocks from a distance. I tried to get the best wide-angle shot I could with the Sigma lens, but it wasn’t incredibly sunny out either. It was a day with on-and-off showers, so it was quite cloudy — not a day with ample lighting, that’s for sure.

I initially took three separate photos, and later went into Photoshop to stitch them together to make a panoramic photograph. Although it’s not as sharp, it still captures the beauty of Ha Long Bay nicely.


We spent a few hours at the Củ Chi tunnels — the set of tunnels the VietCong dug underground where they would attack enemy troops. I always knew about them from learning about them in school; how they had rooms to sleep in, strategize, and even make food and eat. But to see them in person, and to actually get to walk and crawl through some of them, was quite an eye-opening experience.

We also visited a small museum before entering the tunnels. It had a few airplanes that were actually from the Vietnam War out on display. One of the helicopters that were flown during the war by the United States had a compartment to hold missiles on the side of it. I got in front of it and initially wanted to take a picture so you can see through the small cylinders to see the other side. It didn’t make for a very interesting picture, so I used the Sigma lens to zoom in. I placed half of the compartment on the right side of the frame and blurred the background as much as I could. The resulting photograph is above.

Not only was this vacation educational — I learned so much about my culture and my family — but it was also valuable photography experience.

Núi Bà Đen

Every time we go to Vietnam, we walk up a mountain to get to a temple, where prayers are said and monks walk around the premises. Núi Bà Đen is the mountain we usually visit, and we were eager to climb up it.

The country has come a long way —- something I focused on in my previous posts — and the mountain is no exception. While we were walking up the stone steps and staircases, my father was telling us the last time they did this there were no steps; just rocks. A ski lift was also built as well as a slide that takes you from the top and all the way to the bottom of the mountain — this was something my parents asked us not to do because it looked pretty dangerous.

Every so often, as you climb up the mountain, there are rest areas — three or four benches underneath a gazebo of sorts, offering walkers shade from the hot sun. But it wasn’t only good for resting, as it also offered an amazing view of the countryside.

I took this photo with the Sigma 18-250 DC MACRO OS HSM lens (it was my main lens I used while on vacation). Initially, I took a few photos at the lowest zoom level, but found that the trees were getting in the way of the shot. So I zoomed in a bit more and made an effort to get the clouds in the shot. It was an amazing view; something I tried my best to capture in the photo.