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

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

Switching perspectives now with photos taken by Amy

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

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

@cosmotographer
Amy’s sweet shoes

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

@cosmotographer
Amy had an infatuation with this dog

@cosmotographer

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.

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

More photos by Amy

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

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

@cosmotographer
We’re here!

@cosmotographer

@cosmotographer
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.

@cosmotographer
Koreatown, NYC

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

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

@cosmotographer

@cosmotographer
Adjustable ventilators above the fire pit sucked out the smoke
@cosmotographer
…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.

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

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.

@cosmotographer

@cosmotographer
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

@cosmotographer
Ready to go
@cosmotographer
Construction behind the Post Office

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

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.

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

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

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

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.

@cosmotographer

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.

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

@cosmotographer
People waiting in line for their carryout
@cosmotographer
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.

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

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

@cosmotographer

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

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

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

@cosmotographer

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.

@cosmotographer@cosmotographer

@cosmotographer
Amy’s fancy drink
@cosmotographer
My “Passion Martini”

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

End of Part I

 

 

First Impressions: Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 PRO

First Impressions: Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.2 PRO

Olympus recently announced two new flagship prime lenses for their professional Micro 4/3 collection of lenses and I was able to pick one up today to compare to my excellent Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH. I took the lens out immediately after picking one up and here are two examples with my E-M5 Mark II.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The images are stunning and the photo below was cropped heavily (approx. 60%) and it still remains sharp. Testament to the Olympus’ 45mm f/1.2 resolving power.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ll follow up with additional more photos as I get more seat time behind this lens.

-Tae

Date Night: Downtown Leesburg

Date Night: Downtown Leesburg
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Olympus PEN-F + Leica DG SUMMILUX 25 f/1.4

Amy and I decided to go out Friday night for date night in downtown Leesburg and I had one place in mind for drinks and food: Delerium.

The restaurant was surprisingly not packed and the lack of crowd in the bar was refreshing to see since the first time I have visited this spot was when they first opened a location in Leesburg and it was absolutely packed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We made some friends at the restaurant that also happened to be Penn State alumni. We’re 6-0 right now at the time of this writing so I’m looking forward to an amazing season.

Thing of note here: Try out their red vinegar fries and thank us later.

After dinner and drinks, Amy and I decided to go out for a stroll for some street photography.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Despite being dark, the Leica DG 25 f/1.4 performed brilliantly with very little AF hunting
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Olympus PEN-F’s Mono Profile #2 never fails to impress with its contrast

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In this same alleyway, I noticed some shadows on the brick wall and how the light played with the safety handles of a walkway.

I thought the lighting was very cool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After a couple of blocks, we stopped by a local bar that looked interesting.

They even had a live band playing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The bokeh is not the creamiest but the lens is sharp and rendering is fantastic

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sneak shot by Amy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This photo was taken by Amy – it looks pretty good no?

I’ll try to upload more photos as I go through them.

Getting Beaned: Blend Coffee Bar

Getting Beaned: Blend Coffee Bar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of my little secrets in my area is this little coffee shop located in the heart of suburbs called Blend. If you’re local to the area, I highly recommend you check out the place and just drown yourself with good coffee and experience the low key and comfortable atmosphere.

I get most of my “off-site” work done here (professional and grad school) with my MacBook Pro and drown out any distractions with my B&O H4s.

If you’re a tea lover, I highly recommend their “Coconut Cake” tea (iced or hot). I promise that you will love it.

Photos were taken with the Olympus PEN-F with the Leica DG SUMMILUX 15mm f/1.7.

Virginia State Fair: Day Date with Amy

Virginia State Fair: Day Date with Amy

Recently I’ve been suffering from GAS with my penchant for fine glass(es) for my Olympus PEN-F and the currently flavor that I’ve been obsessing over are the Leica lenses that are available for the Micro 4/3 camera systems by Panasonic.

If you’ve read my previous blog post about the exotic Leica DG NOCTICRON 42.5 f/1.2, then my recent pick up of the Leica DG SUMMILUX 25mm f/1.4 should be no surprise for those of you looking for excellent image quality out of your Micro 4/3 system.

The lens itself is not cheap, which cost almost double over the excellent Olympus 25mm f/1.8, but the extra stops of light and better sharpness across the frame over the slower Olympus variant (albeit the Leica is softer at the corners wide open at f/1.4) make this an excellent choice for the prosumer/enthusiast photographer that know what they’re looking for.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Minor editing in Lightroom
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
boosted the exposure and lightly edited in Lightroom

The photos were lightly edited in Lightroom, but the JPEGs have impressed me and the RAWs were no exception. The sharp image quality and the micro contrasts that you get out of these lenses are worth a look.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The photos you’ll see below were straight out of the camera JPEGs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
f/2.2 | ISO 200 | ISO 1/160
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
f/5.0 | ISO 200 | 1/800
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
f/1.4 | ISO 250 | 1/8000
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
f/1.4 | ISO 200 | 1/1250

As I’ve been searching for highly quality Micro 4/3 lenses similar to my Zeiss lenses on my Sony, I think I’ve found the answer with the Panasonic Leicas. The price premium over the basic Olympus/Panasonic lenses is worth it to me, if not for the Leica “look”, but for the extra sharpness and extra stops of light.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
f/1.6 | ISO 200 | 1/80

 

The “Kingslayer” – Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH (Review in Progress)

The “Kingslayer” – Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH (Review in Progress)

Every photography enthusiasts has a grail lens that they will inevitable buy if the opportunity presents itself and for most Micro 4/3 shooters, it would be the legendary Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH, the absolute king of Micro 4/3 lenses.

panasonic_leica_dg_nocticron_42_5mm_1023336

Recently, I’ve been on the hunt for a new Micro 4/3 lens for my Olympus PEN-F and I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of candidates:

  • Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8
  • Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH

If you noticed the trend by looking at my choices above, I’ve been on the hunt for a fast prime lens between the 50mm-100mm focal length.

With this shopping list in mind, I stopped by my favorite local camera store and browsed their inventory. As I was eye-balling their new and used inventory, I was notified by the shop owner that they had a used Nocticron on sale.

Of course I excitedly picked it up.

First Impressions

As a PEN-F owner, you’ll want to shoot in “Natural” color settings with no presets because the color and the contrast that come from this lens is stunning. This lens is the definition of shooting just in JPEG because it color rendering is just that good.

Is it as good as the legendary Sony FE 55 f/1.8 Zeiss? Too soon to tell, but the Nocticron definitely has more “character” compared to the Zeiss, but the Zeiss has more contrasty “pop” if that makes sense.

I’ll follow up with an update once I get outside to shoot more. Readers will have to forgive me since I’m extremely busy right now with work and full-time MBA.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 + Olympus PEN-F