Early Rise: Kate’s Cars and Coffee

Early Rise: Kate’s Cars and Coffee

I’m pretty sure that everyone will agree with me: waking up at 6:00 AM on a Saturday sucks, especially if you had a long day the day before.

Since I’m approaching the tail-end of my current graduate class, it’s starting to become a non-stop cadence of projects until the end of June. This is a normal, albeit very fast paced, occurrence…but since our final project require me to work with a group of strangers, it’s trickier than you think.

Needless to say, I finished my portion of the project early, therefore affording me the time to enjoy this long Memorial Day weekend with my camera (Amy is out of town with her girlfriends in New York City).

One of my friends and mentor asked if I was interested in coming out to Cars and Coffee in Great Falls, VA since this might be one of his last visits to Virginia for a long time since he had taken up a CFO position in Boston.

So I reluctantly threw some clothes on, grabbed my camera and headed out the door.

Photos taken with the Leica M9 + Summicron 50mm f/2

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Dave himself with his love for the Red Sox

Hope you enjoyed the photos!

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The Leica Q never fails to impress

The Leica Q never fails to impress

It’s been about 6 months since I’ve purchased my Leica Q after my test drive with one thanks to Leica Store DC and to this day, it is the best camera I have ever owned. If you look at the current market of premium point-and-shoot cameras that have an EVF, the Leica Q easily stands on its own and as it’s getting closer to 3 years since its introduction, it still has no rival (the RX1R Mk II doesn’t count since it doesn’t have an EVF).

So who is the Leica Q for?

If you suffer from G.A.S. and care about the spec-sheet? The Leica Q covers that.

Are you interested in getting into the Leica eco-system without jumping headfirst with your wallet? Get the Leica Q.

Do you want incredible images quality, the “Leica look”, that only Leica cameras can do?

It just checks off all the boxes for me.

  • Lightweight
  • Full-frame CMOS Sensor
  • 24 Megapixels
  • 3.4MP EVF
  • Leica “M” caliber optics – it comes attached with a 28mm F/1.7 Summilux ASPH
  • One of the fastest AF cameras in the world
  • Small-size considering it has an EVF and a full-frame sensor
  • Legendary build quality
  • You can use Panasonic batteries for it, which are half the price of the Leica batteries
  • The lack of interchangeable lenses forces you to not worry about the lens selection and frees you up to just shoot, thus there is no “lens anxiety” (Thanks Chris)

This post might be a bit short but I can’t emphasize that the Leica Q may be the only camera that most people need.

Photos from the Leica Q at a recent Laos New Years festival. Images are pretty much “stock”

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Date Night in DC – Cherry Blossoms

Date Night in DC – Cherry Blossoms

We had a rare change in weather (for the better) where the temperature rose to the 70’s degrees Fahrenheit. To take advantage of this, Amy and I decided to go out on a day date in the city during the Cherry Blossom bloom by the Tidal Basin.

Photos were taken with the Leica M9

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Switching perspectives now with photos taken by Amy

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It was quite hazy outside, but just enough light for some amazing photos

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Amy’s sweet shoes

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Amy had an infatuation with this dog

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As the sun was setting, it was about that time to grab dinner and our friend Katie recommended a Filipino Restaurant in Columbia Heights called the “Purple Patch“.

I have to admit that I was very impressed with the food there, especially their desserts which Amy and I had devoured like fat asses after our entrees.

The small restaurant is located in the lower levels of the of another restaurant, which gives it a cozy atmosphere.

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Despite the M9 having very poor low light shooting capability, the dynamic range allowed me to recover some exposure. 
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The bar inside “Purple Patch”
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The bar had a very tasty selection of beer

More photos by Amy

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After dinner, we took the Metro back home and ended the long day.

Thanks for reading.

Flickr: Tae

Flickr: Amy

A Short Vacation – Weekend in New York City

A Short Vacation – Weekend in New York City

It was one of those rare weekends when I had a gap between my graduate class ending and before starting my next class. To take advantage of this free time, Amy and I had decided to take a trip to New York City (Chelsea to be specific) for the weekend since we both wanted to go away somewhere while I had the opportunity to travel.

Our method of transportation via Amtrak from D.C.’s Union Station because I honestly did not feel like driving five hours for what was essentially an overnight trip out of town. The train tickets were not too expensive, definitely cheaper than flying for two people, and it the entire trip took 3.5 hours, including several stops along the way. I have to say that we were pretty impressed with the comfort and efficiency of Amtrak.

That being said, we’ve arrived.

Photos taken with the Olympus PEN-F + 17mm f/1.8

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We’re here!

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Performer in front of Madison Square Garden

Koreatown

We’ve decided to detour East towards the Empire State Building to stop by Koreatown…and not soon after walking within a block of the area, Amy had to stop by and shop the local Korean beauty shop for facial masks.

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Koreatown, NYC

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After the short shopping event, we were famished and when you’re in Koreatown, you definitely need to eat some delicious Korean BBQ.

The restaurant that we’ve chosen for our late lunch (it was 4:00pm at the time), was Miss Korea BBQ with their famous beef bulgogi that had been marinating for 48 hours in a pot.

One word to describe this meal: amazing

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Adjustable ventilators above the fire pit sucked out the smoke
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…yet it was still a bit smokey – not a bad thing since it smelled delicious inside

Matcha

After our late lunch, we then walked a few blocks south to 28th street to get to our hotel and as with any tourist, we were distracted by every little shop along the way, particularly this matcha green tea shop.

I’m not the biggest fan of match green tea but Amy seemed to love it.

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INNSIDE Hotel by Melia

We’ve arrived at our little posh hotel on the corner of 28th and 7th Ave. The hotel in general was very modern and had a upscale feel to it in term of interior decorating.

Our room was not very big, but it was more than enough for two people staying overnight.

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Amy loved the wallpaper inside the elevators

Heading West

As the evening was drawing near and the sun was starting to set towards the west, we headed west from our hotel towards the High Line to catch some of the sunset and golden hour while we searched for a place to eat dinner.

Photos taken with the Leica Q

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Ready to go
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Construction behind the Post Office

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The High Line

The High Line (also known as High Line Park) is a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) elevated linear park, built on an old rail track from the early 20th century. The park is built on a disused, southern viaduct section of the New York Central Railroad line known as the West Side Line. Originating in the Lower West Side of Manhattan, the park runs from Gansevoort Street – three blocks below 14th Street, in the Meatpacking District – through Chelsea to the northern edge of the West Side Yard on 34th Street near the Javits Center.

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The park’s attractions include naturalized plantings, inspired by plants which grew on the disused tracks and views of the city and the Hudson River

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Chelsea Market

After our long walk south along the High Line, we’ve ended up in Chelsea Market, which I would say is the equivalent of D.C.’s Union Market, but much larger. We felt that this was the perfect place to grab dinner.

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One place Amy had her eyes one was a place called “Very Fresh Noodles”, where they literally served everything that had to do with noodles.

I personal favorite was the beef noodle (I forget the name and maybe Amy can chime in and I can edit this), but I would admit that it was best noodle bowl I’ve ever had.

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People waiting in line for their carryout
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If you could find a place to sit, this would be it.

After dinner, the rest of the market had your usual fare of international foods and desserts that would make any food aficionado happy.

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What surprised me was that Chelsea market consisted of two floors, each with their own decor and theme.

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You can also find fresh produce if you were grocery shopping.

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After a long day, Amy and I walked back to our hotel but not until we had a speakeasy cocktail bar to try out…

…and that failed miserably.

Our idea of a speakeasy cocktail bar was somewhere quiet, exclusive and intimate…

New York City’s version of a speakeasy was just literally a crowded bar with a hidden entrance, which you can easily miss if it weren’t for the bouncers standing outside.

We’ve tried our three of these bars and we walked away disappointed because it was just too crowded and noisy to sit down and chat.

 

Photos taken with the Olympus E-PL8 + Panasonic Leica 15mm f/1.7

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Not all was lost however as we’ve made a stop at a small and cozy Vietnamese restaurant closer to the hotel. It was no speakeasy, but the small and intimate bar table was exactly what we were looking for.

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Amy’s fancy drink
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My “Passion Martini”

After our nightcap, we finally walked towards the hotel and called it a night.

End of Part I

 

 

Eat Everything – Union Market, DC

Eat Everything – Union Market, DC

I guess you could call this Part II of my previous post since it happened on the same day and in the same city, but this was easily my favorite part of the day.

After we separated from the Instagram meet at the Capitol, we all then decided to make the trip to Union Market for late lunch. It wasn’t a long walk per say, but it definitely burned some calories and I’ve managed to hit most of my walking goals for the day by the time we’ve reached our destination.

Union Market

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Union Market, if you don’t know already, is a place where you can artisan food and organic groceries located in an industrial park area where most people go for their trendy Instagram photos.

Amy and I were pretty excited as we both were planning for this all day, but what awaited us exceeded our expectations.

After you pass the picnic tables and the assortment of chairs filled with people stuffing food in their mouths, you enter through the large glass door – where you will suddenly become overwhelmed with the smell of food.

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Your senses are on “can I have some more?” mode

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Right away your eyes dart left and right as you try to take in what is going on around you.

“Where do I even start?”

You’ll ask yourself this as your natural instincts tell you to start from the left of the building and then walk around the various kiosks serving anywhere from Asian food to Ethiopian delicacies.

“Am I in heaven?”

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“Am I in heaven?”

I’m pretty sure that was what I thought when I walked past the first couple of kiosks that served what looked like…really fucking good food.

I swiveled by head around to take in all the information around me and then checked on Amy to make sure she didn’t get swallowed by the crowds (or her hunger), but sure enough, she was smiling as she was recording a video clip on Snapchat.

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Amy and I both couldn’t decide where to eat first, so walked around and lapped the building until we saw Ben holding some Korean tacos.

“EMPANADAS….!”

I looked over to what sounded like Amy and sure enough, she was gleefully pointing at the empanada shop next to us while I was ordering my Coconut Thai Basil Dumpling from what looked like a soul food kiosk that specialized in chicken broth based soups.

I’m telling you this now…shit just got real…

Amy loves empanadas and it’s probably one of her top favorite foods of all time (there are literally hundreds of foods that she likes) – actually, I think she just likes everything.

While my food was getting made, I continued to take picture to capture some street photography indoors.

So on with the pictures…

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A Seafood Bar
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Indian Food

 

 

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Ramen shop

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A couple of kids playing with Arya

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Amy eating her second meal – Shrimp and Gritz

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Walk with the Locals – A hashtag meetup

Walk with the Locals – A hashtag meetup

For those of you that have never been to these hashtag meets, in this case, @walkwithlocals – it’s a meetup of sorts with a bunch of local instagram photographers that go on a photowalks in various parts of the DC area.

The meetup location and time was at the historical Lincoln Park, east of the Capitol at 11:32am. Despite my best efforts of leaving my place early and grabbing coffee at my favorite coffee shop, alas using the Silver Line on the Metro from Reston-Whiele to Eastern Market took longer than anticipated, therefore Amy and I ended up being 30 minutes late.

We were lucky, however, because by the time we were about 3 blocks away from the park, we could see a large crowd of people walking towards the Capitol.

“Hmmm…I wonder who these people could be?”

The massive mob of people turned out to be the exact group we were trying to meet up with and if the size of the group didn’t give it away, all the cameras around each person’s neck gave it away.

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Walking on East Capitol Street

Strangers from various parts both in and out of the city, showed up today to meet with other photographers with their love for photography. You will meet people of all different backgrounds – from lifestyle photographers to food photographers.

When you’re surrounded by people with a common interest such as photography, you can’t help but notice the gear slung over their shoulders and necks.

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General Survey on DSLRs

Most of the people (around 80%) had both Canon and Nikon DSLRs with kit lenses, while the small 1% came with their full-frame counterparts with f/2.8 zooms. The remaining 19% were the mirrorless crew (Fujifilm and Sony) and one shooter with a Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) with a 50mm Summilux.

This mental survey reminded me that majority of people still used DSLRs, but mirrorless made a big presence as well compared to where we were a few years ago.

I have an affinity for mirrorless cameras and DSLRs are going the way of the dinosaurs, people will get tired of carrying bigger and clunkier systems, unless you still think carrying a DSLR makes you look “professional” to impress people or clients. Don’t get me started with that

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Once the group reached the Capitol, some people just hung out and socialized – trading business cards, introduced each other and some were partaking in a couple of photoshoots.

I myself, was talking to strangers – more interested in hearing about how they got into photography and how they grew into becoming better photographers.

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After about 30 minutes of socializing, we took a group picture in front of the Capitol building and departed ways.

Most of the people planned to make a stop at Union Market and that is where our adventure will head to next in the next update.

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Photos taken with the Leica M9 + SUMMICRON 50mm f/2 V3

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Birthday Weekend: Day Date with Amy

Birthday Weekend: Day Date with Amy

I’ve really been slacking with updating this place with my recently happenings, especially since my birthday was this past weekend.

Amy and I both called off work on Friday so that we could just spend the day together out in the city.

So where did we end up going?

Georgetown.

What we weren’t prepared for was the insane wind due to the crazy “Nor’easter Bomb” that was going North of us at the time.

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Thanks to Amy’s Yelp stalking skills, we’ve decided to eat brunch at a hidden bar/restaurant in an alleyway where most people wouldn’t be going into if it was dark outside.

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The interior decoration had a rustic feel with a lot of metal and wood, but overall we both liked the mood.

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A very cool German traveler that stopped by for food. The stickers on her luggage was really impressive.

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The food was nothing short of amazing.

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Of course we had to get an instax photo from this.

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After lunch, Amy mentioned that there was a cat cafe where people just hang out, drink coffee and just play with cats while they drink.

One word: wow…

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Unfortunately, the cafe was fully booked for the day and we couldn’t go inside, but I plan to make a reservation one day and revisit this place because it sounds so interesting.

The rest of the photos are just pictures I’ve taken during our stroll through Georgetown so enjoy!

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Olivia’s Macaroons
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Dean & Deluca

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Photos take with the Leica Q

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You can see Arlington from the harbor

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Ended the afternoon at Delirium in Leesburg