Saturday, October 23, 2010

In today's America, We are All Just A Bunch of Bees.

Today's photo can be a visual manifestation of my life in US as a college student.
Just like you, I am very busy everyday.
I am juggling different tasks at the same time like little bees travel among flowers.
Multitasking, in no way, is good for our mindfulness or spirituality, but it works for the industrialization, or shall we call it globalization(Doesn't sound too different to me historically speaking)? Hence it prospers.
Anyway, I took this photo in Lodi, during a wine-tasting festival.
Stay tuned!
I will upload more pictures from the event later.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wine's Pleasure? It's All about Marketing!

Does this picture look yummy to you?

Lars Klove for The New York Times

It certainly does to me!

Aside from being a photo geek, I also happen to be a big wine snob.

It actually came from an article titled "Wine's Pleasure: Are They All in Your Head?" by the New York times' wine critic, Eric Asimov. Asimov briefly talked about a study done by food writer, Robin Goldstein. In the study, Goldstein recruited 500 volunteers to rate 540 different wines that are unidentified to the participants. The price of the wines ranges from $1.50 to $150 per bottle. The results of the study suggest that “a $10 bottle of bubbly from Washington state outscored Dom PĂ©rignon, which sells for $150 a bottle, while Two-Buck Chuck, the cheap Charles Shaw California cabernet sauvignon, topped a $55 bottle of Napa Valley cabernet.”

Think it is pure journalism? Think again!

I know how you feel! In the era of marketing, we all seem like a bunch of babies born yesterday! The article is actually "advertising" for Goldstein's book “The Wine Trials,” which was going to be released one month later after the article was published.

According to Dr. Veronika Papyrina, a Marketing assistant professor at San Francisco State University, good PR works don't leave any finger prints. While PR works in journalism seem way more creditable than marketing, it also cost less! Dr. Papyrina also claims that "40% ~60% of what appears to journalism comes from PR work."

A few month ago, I was at Joseph Phelps vineyard in Napa Valley. As I checked out the prices on the tasting menu, I found one that is $250, at least 5 times more expensive than the other ones on the menu. It's called Backus Cabernet. While the deal-breaker price caught my eye, my tongue was barely impressed, neither.

I shouldn't be surprised, right? Every magician lost its magic when the audience figures out its trick. Even though I couldn't be a happy naive fool any more, I did very much enjoy the unbeatable weather and the handsome scenery of Napa.

the Buddhism of Photoshop

I am no Buddhist, but I believe in the middle-way philosophy Buddhism endorses. I think it well applies in the use of photoshop.

My baby cat Brownie had to wear this "martini glass hat"(It is a nickname invented by my vet. The umbrella term is Elizabeth ring.) because of her surgery last month and I captured her yawning before I went to bed one night.

In such a dim light, it turned out to be very surprisingly in focus, for which I felt glad. Yet you can see the yellow tone in the picture seems a bit surreal and the brand label of the ring is more than disturbing.

Therefore, I made a few changes with photoshop. Look how it turned out!

There is nothing better than these moderate changes in terms of representing my philosophy of using photoshop. Photoshop is indeed evolutionary, yet people's tendency to over-photoshop in the past decade has definitely brought certain bad reputations to this innocent software.

If you are a girl, covering one pimple or two with the "clone" tool in photoshop can be a very empowering experience, but going under a "photoshop plastic surgery" to perfect the shape of your nose or lengthen your legs is a whole different story. In later case, you may have to reevaluate where your problems really are, on your body, or, very often possibly, in your head.

I am not suggesting that it is easy to free yourself from the "ideal beauty" media has brutally forced on us. In fact, I don't know what the solution is, but I know for sure it is definitely not photoshop.

Throughout history, Buddhists often warn us of the danger of binge drinking. It seems that the danger of over-photoshopping shouldn't be overlooked either.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Who is that Girl?

Who is that Girl? You may wonder.

Is she my daughter?
Is she my niece? Nope to both, even though I don't mind having such a cute little doll in my household. (Note: The word "doll" here has no affiliation with sexism.)

She is me! Yes, she is me! I mean, in some essential ways, she is me!

When I was a little girl in the kindergarten,
I didn't need designer shoes or nail polish to feel happy. If you give me a few sheets of blank paper and oil pastels, I could spend hours and hours by myself. I couldn't tell you how very content I felt. Psychologists call it intrinsic motivation, which I later found out in college. It is one of the greatest ideas scientists find out about human nature. (What is so fascinating is that if you reward children to paint, they lose their interests, intrinsic motivation.)

Yet, later I don't think my story has developed much differently from yours or hers. For some reason, I started to believe that happiness doesn't lie within me.

Uh, what can that reason be?

I heard it is called
social conditioning. It is so powerful that I thought I needed to look like those artificial-looking magazine models, wear expensive outfits or go to elite school to feel worthwhile. It is as depressing as it sounds, but fortunately I found my way time-traveling back to my past, when I was mostly intrinsically happy.

I started to "click."

Yes, "click," "click" and "click."

I capture everything around me between classes, on the way back home, during my vacation in the countryside, at farmer's market, or just in my own little apartment. I indulge myself in the magic of changing exposure, ISO and F-stops.

Time seems infinite when I try to capture the most profound beauty in the ordinary things.

No, I am not a photo journalist. I am not intended to be one. And, I don't need to be a photo journalist to embrace the art of photography. Well, maybe, I was born one, but I just don't need to be paid to keep going.