Kevin Thai Photography

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Photo Prize – 5 Ways to Win


Hi Kevin. Thank you Thank you Thank you x100 for everything 😀:D

You are the awesomest teacher and also my favorite teacher. I respect you so much. I want to be a person just like you when I grow up! You taught me a lot of things – more than any others taught me. As I said before, you are one of the most influential person I met. 🙂:) I can’t believe you are leaving.

Project Looking Glass | Day 24

There are a lot influential people in my life. I have taught elementary and middle school students for the last four years and a lot my experience teaching came before i was called a “teacher.” I think back to one of my most influential teachers – Continue reading

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March 28, 2011 Posted by | Inspired by..., Lessons, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Day 23: Capturing Without the Camera


Maika and I are Going Home

To capture the most important memories – sometimes we need to put the camera down. Continue reading

March 25, 2011 Posted by | Inspired by..., Lessons | , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 22: Pacman and LEGOs


Project Looking Glass | Day 22

This is a photo I’ve been looking to create this kind of photo for years. A few things I was missing was the Ghosts and a Pacman and a good concept. Continue reading

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Aperture 2, Concept to Completion, How To's, LEGO | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 21: Creating Indians, Aliens, and Sheep


Project Looking Glass | Day 21

I wrote a long blog. Then WordPress kaboomed last night when I pressed “save draft.” Blah… Continue reading

March 23, 2011 Posted by | Comic Life 2, Concept to Completion, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 20: JDuels Gone Ape


If a Vampire and a Pharoh had to fight, who would win? Chuck Norris!
Project Looking Glass | Day 20

JD Hancock is one of my favorite photographers. He’s older and has kids and plays with toys. I once commented on a photo of his – “When I grow up, I wanna be just like you.” He responds with “Who says I’ve grown up?”

LOVE IT! Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Inspired by..., LEGO, Lessons | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 19: Creating Photo Diptych with Comic Life 2


Project Looking Glass | Day 19

Comic Life 2 (19.99) is a pretty cool program. I don’t currently intend to use it for its intended program – for making Comics. But I am using it for Diptychs and Triptychs and other speechless storys like from Day 3, Day 5, and Day 6. Tutorial Video and my last 250 hours after the jump. Continue reading

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Comic Life 2, How To's | Leave a comment

Day 18: Gravity and Machines Don’t Mix



Day 18b

Read and watch the the destiny of my Nikon SB-600… Continue reading

March 19, 2011 Posted by | LEGO | | 2 Comments

Day 17: Shower before you Flash


Day 17

Okay, so I thought that was a funny title. Well, it’s kinda true. Have you have used a towel so much that it went from white to… well, not white? I’ll show you what I did with a some wires, books, a flash and a clean towel. I sound like MacGyver! Behind the Scenes Video and Inspiration for this photo. Click if you want to  Continue reading

March 18, 2011 Posted by | LEGO | , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 16: From Vampires to Gorillas


Day 16

I’m surprised and yet, not, that I’ve made it to 16 days. On one level it doesn’t feel like it and on another level I worked so hard every single day to do this. It takes a long time to produce a photo, a video, and a blog. Something like 4-8 hours a day. Which is okay for now but when I return to the US I’ll be much busier. A tour behind Project Looking Glass and the process after the jump:  Continue reading

March 17, 2011 Posted by | Concept to Completion | Leave a comment

Day 15: Stop the Bullying


Day 15
Continue reading

March 16, 2011 Posted by | Concept to Completion, LEGO | , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 14: Ugly Doll Wallpaper Tutorial


Project Looking Glass | Day 14

Today’s Pixelmator Lesson can be attributed to Justin Rampages’ Super Simple Geek Wallpaper. He created these amazing minimalistic desktop wallpapers of just the heads of 8 and 16 bit video game characters like Mario, Sonic, Link, Megaman, and others. He also has other cultural iconic characters like Boba Fett and Deadpool. Justin is giving away these photos for free, so take advantage and give him a thanks. The only sad thing is I haven’t seen him update his Flickr in a while.

So I’ll help you by also giving you a minimalistic wallpaper of a Yellow Bat Ugly Doll. I’ll even show you how to make one with a free raw photo to start with here and a tutorial when you click to

March 15, 2011 Posted by | Free Photo, How To's, Pixelmator, Ugly Dolls | , , , | Leave a comment

Day 13 – A Look into all my Photos


Project Looking Glass | Day 13

It’s March 14. I’m leaving Korea in 16 days. Korea has been my permanent home for the last four years. I’ve been teaching here every since graduation in 2007 from Gordon College, in Massachusetts, USA. It’s starting to hit me. And I’m sad.

I didn’t finish Day 12’s project until 6am the night before. It’s almost the same way again. It just takes a long time to try to get a video right. Tutorials are hard, because I have to practice them over and over again so I don’t have to go in and do heavy editing out of unnecessary mouse strokes. I’ve always been annoyed at people who upload videos and they are not efficient. I need to cut my videos down to 90 seconds because of Flickr’s rules. Just because YouTube allows someone to post a 15 minute video doesn’t mean we should. Yesterday’s video was sped up by 20%, I edited out unnecessary mouse strokes, and got straight to the point.

In today’s world, there are so many editing software for free and cheap. iMovie and Windows media player are two. Learn to use them, and get better. If you take a look at my first video from Day 1, there’s no sounds, cuts are not strong, everything’s at 800% faster, and it’s a bit boring. It’s been two weeks since I’ve started this project and I think I’ve done well for myself. What do you think?

The behind the scenes video today was partly inspired by Chase Jarvis Frames – his own behind the scene videos which are basically all of his production shots – sometimes thousands of them just lined up back to back. I know I had this idea on my own, but my video was inspired by him where he pauses a few pictures throughout. I’m missing about 25% of the photos I took tonight because I didn’t realize I left my memory card in my computer! Gagh! Oh well, just keep on trekking.

March 14, 2011 Posted by | LEGO | Leave a comment

Day 12: Adding Texture to Portraits in Pixelmator


Project Looking Glass | Day 12

Multiply – Darkens the image, lessening the saturation and toning down the color

I haven’t taken a photo yet. Not tonight. What I have done is taken a photo from a long time ago and improved upon it with a new technique I just taught myself. It’s called BLENDING. When blending, I can add textures to a photo to give it more feeling. Someone who I think does this well is Paul Cook. Two examples of his work are Return to Sender and Metamorphosis II.

Other photographers have done this, too, but I was never able to until I got myself Pixelmator. I know there are many tutorials out there for Photoshop – but not a lot for this program.

You can create your own textures as you see them like what I did in my photo here from a slave castle in Ghana. Or you can look up textures from other websites that are royalty free (so you won’t be stealing). I usually use SXC. SXC is free but you have to sign up. They also advertise to iStockPhoto but iStockPhoto costs money. With royalty free images, you can take them without needing to pay the artist, but it’s always nice to credit him/her. The texture I used in the photo above came from SXC, ID#450055.

Please download this photo and my photo so you can go along with my tutorial as well. My final photos had two layers of 450055 and one layer of 857834 from SXC

March 13, 2011 Posted by | Free Photo, How To's, LEGO, Pixelmator | | Leave a comment

Day 11: Rim and Fill Lighting Set Up


Update:

Wow! Thanks Udi for featuring me on your Blog! Also, thanks everyone for visiting. I hope you enjoy these photos and videos you see here. I’d love for you to subscribe to my YouTube, add me as a contact on Flickr, follow me on Twitter, or RSS this blog and continue to follow this behind the scenes Project. I’d love to have your continuing support and feedback.

Project Looking Glass - Day 11

As photographers, we have the important responsibility to control light. We have the ability to control the color, the size, the intensity, the spread, to make it harsher or softer, and we can control where the light hits and don’t hit. Another photographer once said it’s not about controlling light, but about controlling shadows. Either way, we make decisions that affect the emotion and direction of our audience.

Light is also important because our eyes naturally tend to focus on what is lit, and that will draw our eyes there. That’s a reason why vignetting is really cool. Let’s take an example from Gareth Payne. In this photo, he allows the light to tell a story – We can just see his weapon, his mask with a small splash of red, his utility belt. You know just enough details think this subject is dangerous. The photo even enhances its name – Shadow Trooper. He could have simply lit the whole figure – but then it wouldn’t be as interesting anymore. Here is another example of selective lighting. On the flip side, he created a high key (lots of light) image here to create another story for a Snow Trooper in which the background is a washed with white, well, snow!

Rim Lighting is also very important as it’s used to separate the subject from the background. If I only lit my Kid Robot doll from the front, I would lose the black areas of my minifigure. There would be no depth, no 3D like quality to a very 2D image.

This is a very simple set up if you have two lights. It doesn’t have to be a small flash. What I’m going to teach you here to how to create Rim Lighting and Fill Lighting for the Toy sized subject. The equiptment here is adapted from larger human sized devices such as this strip light and this reflector. Here is also another photo that’s a Strip Light “Cheat Sheet,” which is what I had in my mind for weeks waiting for the right time apply it.

Anyways, here is the video below that has a lot of details and examples of what lights and reflectors can do. Let me know if you have any questions. You can find this video and photo on Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube – as well as right here on WordPress.

March 12, 2011 Posted by | How To's, Kid Robot, Lessons | 3 Comments

Day 10: Creating Glowing Robot Eyes with Pixelmator


Project Looking Glass Day 10

Today I’ve spent a long time learning how to use Pixelmator ($59.99 @ App Store). It’s supposed to be much easier (and cheaper) than Photoshop which is in the hundreds of dollars. Even though it’s supposed to be easier, it still took me hours playing around with it to get a basic understanding of layers and how to take advantage of them. I was also learning how to do overlays and well, after hours I’m pretty tired.

One of the reasons it took so long to learn how to use it is because I was looking through YouTube videos and Googling for something specific – how to create glowing robot eyes. I mostly learned from another blogger’s post. Though his was using Photoshop, the basic principles and terms still applied. An example of what I’m going for could be seen in Edward‘s Wall-E and Ironman toys. I’m not saying Edward used this procedure similar to mine, but this is what I learned and I want to share that with you, my fellow readers.

I’m going to include a a video that shows the the step by step of a my Terminator Bunny. I’m also going to give you a LINK to an unedited photo for you to practice on and keep. AWESOME!

March 11, 2011 Posted by | Free Photo, How To's, Lessons | , , | Leave a comment

Day 9: Shooting My Friend in the Face!


Project Looking Glass - Day 9

Today I had the opportunity to shoot Melanie. I don’t usually have the chance to shoot people because they’re a lot less patient than toys. It’s okay to move toys around or sit them still for minutes, hours, and walk away to come back again at another time. It’s also okay to do a lot of experimenting. With people, photographers have to be confident in their craft and technique, that’s expected. We’re also expected to be good talkers and help ease them.

Melanie is a great friend from the last 4 years during my stint in South Korea teaching at an Academy. I’ve learned a lot, and some of that from the wisdom of Melanie. We both have the heart to push the boundaries of the expectations placed upon us by our company. And it’s hard to tote the company line and methodology when it’s part of her innate self to contribute more. To take the lesson beyond the classroom. She loves what she does and what she does is inspire children. She teaches without trying to “teach” by exposing her students to the world beyond the text book through inventive ways.

There’s always more to learn. There’s always more mistakes to make. I’m reminded of a line from my 7th grade history teacher, Mr. Spencer Blasdale. I’m paraprasing but it was something like this:

Never Stop Failing

It doesn’t mean don’t try. What it means is to set goals beyond what your actual goals are. If I know I can run a 10 minute mile, I’m going to push for an 8 minute mile. I know I won’t be able to do that but I’ll push myself harder than I would if I gave myself a “realistic” or easy goal. What Mr. Blasdale was telling me was to always challenge myself. Never be content with just enough.

Melanie reminds me of this line. I try to live by it everyday in the classroom. I try to instill this in my students. Mel and I agree – We need to keep making mistakes in our lives. We need to be willing to try. We need to be willing to challenge ourselves. We need to take risks. We need to be ready to fail. And keep failing. And only then we can become better than who were were yesterday. And only then our society can become better than who we were yesterday. And only then our world can become better than it is yesterday.

 

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Lessons, Portraits | 2 Comments

Day 8: A Day of Just Sitting and Learning


Project Looking Glass - Day 8

It’s another lazy day today again but lazy in the way that I’m able to sit back and really learn about blogging, watch iTune podcasts, and some TED.com videos. Of of the major problems that I have is that I am in LOVE with my work and I stare at it all day. I review my videos over and over again even though it’s already published to YouTube and Flickr. I stare at my photo that I just took for hours, and I’m on Flickr for hours, too! Mostly just waiting for my stats to go up. This is something I have to personally stop doing and work on in order for  me to have some semblance of a life. Right now I’m in Korea and I’m not working so I have literally all the time I need all day. When I get home I’ll be travel ling around the United States and visiting some great friends I haven’t seen in over 4 years. So I need to streamline my workflow so I don’t become overwhelmed with the daily ramblings of life.

Let me remind myself and you that this project is ONE video/photo/blog. But I want to share with you a videos and other media/articles I come across over the web. I have many subscriptions on iTunes and I came across Chase Jarvis. He has a philosophy that’s similar to mine which is to SHARE. EVERYTHING. And he does all this in video. And that’s awesome. I keep my videos to 90 seconds in length to fit to Flickr’s rules but might lengthen it when the time comes.

Chase and David (from Strobist.com) were talking about just doing a blog for the love of what we love to do. I love taking photos (though sometimes I want to kill myself in order to come up with something original and awesome and every time to outdo myself in some form or another) and I love teaching and sharing. I just do. And this blog is my forum for doing that. I also don’t really care about money all that much but for some reason stats is important for me. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I have an ego. This video here is long, sometime like over an hour – but packed with some great content.

 

 

 

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Food, Ugly Dolls | , , | Leave a comment

Day 7: Today was a Really Fun Day!


Project Looking Glass - Day 7

Last night I was talking to a friend and just going on about how bored I was. Wow, I really need to be in the classroom and really talk. Megan mentioned that a lot of my creativity comes from my time in the classroom and after a week without teaching 12 year olds I had a major creativity block. But not anymore! Well, maybe I still do.

There was a this really great photo that I wanted to take for many years now. I can’t find it, but the photo was taken by Mark Harvey and it was a shoot that was in the middle of the streets with a single flash. They ran to the middle of the road during a red light and popped off a few as people were walking by. It was really cool. I don’t have a lot of people who would be willing to do that with me, so I decided I’m going to practice a little bit on my own. Less with the people and technical side but with just building up the confidence of running into the middle of traffic (okay, a red light) and not be afraid.

I had a plan that I would go out near sunset and snap a few frames of Wall-E or an Iron Man Mighty Mugg. Here are my lessons learned.

LESSONS

  1. Do Research: I would scout out the place I want to take a photo of before in order to know where the sun is an how it sets. The first place I went to I saw a great site, but wasn’t able to get the light I wanted because the sun was gone before I even got my second shutter.
  2. Know Your Lens: I forgot that with a wide angle lens that I needed to be REALLY close to my subject so that it/they won’t be a tiny spot if they’re in the middle of the framing.
  3. Know Your Camera Body: I had to remember that I don’t have 51 points of AF. I have 9 on my D90 which is great. But in order for me to NOT lay on my belly on the road with a tired and frustrated bus driver directly behind me is to trust my camera and trust myself to know I’ll hit the AF points on the dot without looking at the viewfinder or screen.
  4. Set Up BEFORE you Head Out: My first shot was WAY over exposed because it was in manual mode with a +2 exposure and 1,000 ISO. I could have had a really great first shot and have been done with the day if I had set my camera settings correctly.
  5. Know Where the Light Is: I wasn’t thinking when I took a few shots in the shadows. I walked back to the curb and kicked it. Wasted a frame and endangered my life for nothing.
  6. Bring a Friend: Either to hold the camera, a flash unit, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY to tell me when the walk light was diminishing so I could run back and be safe. I had one close call when I had 2 bars left on the sign and had to bolt back or get run over!

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Lessons, Street, Wall-E | , , | 2 Comments

Day 6: 24 Hours Later


Project Looking Glass Day 6 (Blue)

24 hours. That’s how long it took to go from concept to execution of this new photo. It took way too long because of a lot of technical difficulties. The first set up was going to be similar to this photo but the water didn’t fall right. I was going to also tether the camera to my Macbook but the camera was in an awkward space so I tried to connect the D90 to my iPhone but the program wasn’t updated and so a few hours later of waiting ended up with a no go. This was at 5 in the morning.

I wanted to take another photo as an update to this photo but it also fell apart, too. I couldn’t get the lighting right enough and so I wasted some more time. I tried the same lighting with another LEGO character but again – no.

Jason Travis is another great photographer on Flickr that does diptychs of people and what’s in their bags. I tried doing that for a while and again – I failed at coming up with something I actually liked. In the end, I did 3 more re-shoots of a new diptych idea but then was hung up with what color choice to make and what composition to put it in. That was another hour or so editing and adjusting.

Throughout it all, I had a major head ache. I stuck with the same lighting set up from Day 1 and changed the colored paper. I have something I feel comfortable with but not entirely proud of. Another thing that gave me a headache as of writing this is the iPhone’s stupid import system where I have to import to iPhoto then import to iMovie which then has to convert the file in order to make it usable for editing. And today it won’t import. Stupid machines. So no video today but two photos.

Project Looking Glass Day 6 (Green)

March 6, 2011 Posted by | LEGO | , , | Leave a comment

Day 5: I had photo-block


Project Looking Glass - Day 5

I went through maybe about a hundred ideas day starting at 5pm till… really late at night. I always want to outdo myself. I didn’t want to do the same type of photo again and again. Even though this is only day 5, I’ve done two (never finished) Project 365 before. I guess that’s the reason why I’ve never finished a 365 because along with not having time to just sit and think – I never was ever able to find a way to outdo myself. Continue reading

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Food, LEGO | Leave a comment

Day 4: Today I’m a Homebody


Today I didn’t feel like going out. So I stayed home all day – minus the dog and trash. Eh, just one of those days.

Project Looking Glass - Day 4 Continue reading

March 4, 2011 Posted by | Food, Wall-E | , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 3: Make Pies. Not Wars.


Ever since waking up this morning, I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to do. I knew I was going to the amazing Tartine today and I HAD to create a photo with one of their pies. PIES!! But I also felt the need to challenge myself and try something I’ve only done once – a diptych. So I was thinking all day and I then remembered Megan had an Ugly Doll that had an apron and I was like, BINGO! But… what’s the story? How can I tell a story in 5 frames or less?

Project Looking Glass - Day 3

The more answers I found, the more questions that arose and more problems to solve. Continue reading

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Food, Ugly Dolls | Leave a comment

Day 2: Another Look that Changed 3 Times


Project Looking Glass - Day 2
OMG! Continue reading

March 2, 2011 Posted by | Star Wars | 1 Comment

   

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