The ending of a packed year, the beginning of a bigger one.

Haven’t spent much time here in this blog talking (you can clearly see that my last post was from May 2014). One must realize that the life of a photographer is full of images in and outside his job. I never stop shooting and when I do, I must carry my intentions to the end. Not only is it duty but absolute passion as well. I've rarely spent time looking back as most of 2014 was about looking forward and being productive in life and career. I shall do now after pouring myself a marvellous and everlasting dram of Highland Park 12.

The year started with an obsession on adapting lenses for mirrorless cameras. Fresh from my manual focus experiences with the Sony A7, I decided to invest in a NEX-6 and a speedbooster for m42 mount lenses. After careful research, I’ve realized that the m42 system hid the world’s most interesting and affordable lenses of all. I settled on purchasing a few (Helios 44-2, Takumar SMC 50mm f1.4) for my upcoming trip to korea and china.

Sony RX100 + Nikkor 50/85mm f/1.8G + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 + Takumar SMC 50mm f/1.4 + Mitakon Speed Booster M42 + F-to-E-mount adapter + Sony NEX-6

Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro 2003 Edition + Marantz Model 1070

Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro 2003 Edition + Marantz Model 1070

The other obsession was on sound. While I was perfectly able to appreciate my Audio Technica ATH-M50, my ears have required more. A audiophile friend of mine helped guide me through a new land of sound in discovery for what I still believe to be the best pair of cans I have ever listened: 10 years aged Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro. Hooked them to a vintage Marantz pre-amp and then onto my computer. Bliss. 

I was very broke while saving up for korea and china. Most of my time was spent preparing for the trip. It was my first time visiting another continent by myself. Safe to say, I was scared.

Asia trip was definitely eye-opening. I’ve seen people, countrysides cities, mindsets that were completely different from what I was used to in North America. I will write more about it later if I have time. Lets just say my life was changed when I came back (some quick snaps from there, full article to come!)

My body brought a terrible korean cold when I came back. Combined with jetlagged, it took me nearly a month to finish processing all the photos, recover from my sickness and get a stable income of jobs coming in. I’ve also did a lot of reading off ming thein’s blog which I haven’t done in a long while. While being a lot at home, it gave me time to reflect on life and make a stand in my career in a more definite way. I gotta take care of myself, and my friends will take care of themselves.

After seeing my nex6 being underused in asia, I made the decision to get rid of it and never go back. I was tired of manual focus all the time and couldn’t give up the spontaneity of reliable autofocus. After having a long talk with my friend Eric of mirrorless journey, I purchased an Olympus EM10 (the camera would end up arriving in june) and started shopping for lenses on the system. In the meantime, I was looking to re-ignite my flame with my Nikon system or to find a way or reason to use it on a “portable” way. I unearthed my rusty D90 and borrowed a prime lens from a friend. I was really craving portable spontaneous snapshots.

I’ve sadly hit a wall of dissatisfaction around then. My image requirements were too demanding for that of an RX100, my Nikon system wouldn’t give me the much needed portability to follow my current practice and my Olympus EM10 was never coming. I did some shoots with my D600 but I was left unsatisfied by my aging yet reliable gear.

The initial EM10 kit : M.Zuiko 9-18 + 25 + 45 + 75 + 40-150 + Leica 15mm

It wasn’t until end of June that by a miracle of financial acrobatics, I was able to receive the EM10 system and all the lenses at the very same time. Safe to say, I spent the entire summer shooting the shit out of that system. I was truly what my lifestyle needed.

Summer of 2014 was perhaps one of my life’s best. I’ve met a lot of people which a lot became close very quickly, hung out with my visiting aunts from faraway and my close friends, advanced a lot of friendships, had a lot of beer talks, tried so many beers to fill up my life quota for that hobby, went to a lot of festivals, watched the world cup, produced a lot of images and ended it by going back to Korea in September to visit my girlfriend again.

Asia for the second time felt a lot more familiar, a lot nicer and smarter. I knew what I was getting myself into and it was amazing. Spending time with my other half is as close as to freezing it for its entire duration. Thanks to the amazing weather there, I managed to discover a lot more about the country and I got a lot closer to her family (I still miss them a lot today).

My other half of September was spend travelling around the lower east coast of the United States with my family going from a familiar New Jersey to a depressingly beautiful Atlantic City then driving from beach to beach down to meet up with our friends in gorgeous Cape May. Cape May was definitely the highlight of my trip, our friends were wonderful and the location was magically soulful. I want to go back so much.

We enter October. The most anxious month of all. Not only I had to figure out some financial gymnastics to jump from a Nikon dSLR and six lenses (selling them) to purchasing a new and better one with three, but I had to manage a large load of images accumulated all over the summer and figure out the planning upcoming gigs. I was going places for jobs and had to handle a lot of them. A very very busy month, I bought a Nikon D750 with a 58mm f/1.4 lens. I remember being mirrorlessly and geekily bullied over this but I never regretted my decision over it. Managed to get some last minute fall colors though. Happy.

November was my birthday month. I bought my very last Nikon lens in a while. Tried a bunch of other things (Sigma ART lenses, Sony A7s, A6000, Fuji XT1) just to see if I was right about my gear and always came back to it. I was also preparing for winter and its lack of daylight by exploring some flash photography with the Yongnuo system. The entire month was once again spent working on images. I believe I went into rediscovering the quality of japanese rolled sushi instead of any other alternatives: Sushi Yasu, I’m looking at you. It was also a month of whisky/scotch discovery.

December was where I hit a burnout of work. I therefore planned it so that I can take an absolute break for half the month and succeeded. Friends, parties, sleeping a lot, eating a lot, going skiing a lot, buying/reading some books and digging deeper into whisky were part of the game. I was a wonderful holiday.

I think 2014 was a superb one that begs for a bigger and better sequel. There were projects I started in 2014 that never made it and I believe they need to work in 2015. It won’t be easy and I have a lot more fears to kill this year. But I hope to spend more time here again. I’ve remade the layout for both site to mirror off each other’s awesomeness. I’ve also began updating the portfolios and adding new content to the website. Been writing a lot and there are still some lingering images of 2014 that require finishing. I hope that all will come together come the end of this month.

Here’s to a new year!

Yannick Khong5 Comments