« Kevin Ngo

My Foray Onto Photography

26 Sep 2013

Photography has become largely crowded with much attribution to social networks developing an insatiable appetite for delicious images. You may spot photographers in the form of casual snapshotters wanting to share the not-too-occasional meal, enthusiasts interested in the creative form, pretentious gear hipsters looking to impress, or professionals somewhat attracted to having food on the table. Some hate photographs altogether, feeling they are narcisstic or a reality skewed. But for me, the shutter click never gets old. I enjoy hobby photography as a culmination of the creative, technical, and social.

My father has a long background with photography; he used to shoot and film weddings professionally on the weekends. I grew up exposed around cameras, every significant moment was captured behind a lens. Now I am starting to grow an interest. Not that I haven’t touched a camera before or didn’t already know about basic textbook composition (rule of thirds, lines, etc). But now photography has been bumped up to the top of the list of “want to someday master”.

The cool aspect of photography is the entire process of creating a coherent set of well-composed, well-exposed, and interesting subject photographs that overall portray a glimpse of a story. As mentioned, I enjoy the creative, technical, and social aspects photography offers.

Shooting is the most obvious, pressing dat shutter. We’ve all done it. This part allows some creativity in that I select the subject and create the composition. For me that means travelling, going out to find interesting places, and applying textbook composition. It is technical in that I analyze lighting conditions and control for the desired exposure (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, flash power…the standard sphiel) that captures all the detail I need for post-processing,

Editing is picking the keepers from the lemons, a whole ‘nutha process by itself. Processing, to me, is bringing out the details, exposure, and colors wanted from an image. It is technical in that I become familiar with a bunch of sliders and histograms that alter the image. It is creative in the sense that I select which images to keep to create a coherent set and that I process the image to highlight what I want emphasized.

Sharing is social (yeah, really). The final results are taken and set free online. Really, I don’t care too much if no one bothers to look at them, but it is satisfaction enough to have them out there. I can sometimes show the results in person and have it to support a conversation. There is a technical part for this as I hand-built the image gallery on my site. It is my Javascript baby that has grown over the years which now conveniently feeds off of imgur and flickr APIs. Photography will allow me to discover domain-specific problems to solve as side projects that will become useful to other photographers.

Above all, the satisfying feeling is pulling the shutter, taking a glance at the camera’s LCD, and knowing I captured a winner. A photograph that I will later process thoroughly and then share online, and eventually frame it on the wall.

More on photography to come.


17-55mm weather-resistant lens at 55mm, ISO 100, f/5.6 for 1/800s. Taken at Shark’s Cove, a popular snorkelling and diving location in Oahu, Hawaii. People were jumping in the crashing waves, yet the photograph captures a feeling of summertime nostalgia.