Semi-Coming back to Blogging 2018?

•February 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment

From Celebration Star Wars 2017

Back on WordPress.  Sorry for the long hiatus on this site, but with my day job as well as photography slowing down, I had to take some time off.  I’m still technically on the lower-end of number of events compared to previous years like 2015, but I’m hoping to balance some blogs in the mean time.

Right now, I’m transitioning into Sony from Nikon, having purchased the Sony a6300, the Sony f1.8 35mm prime lens (APSC), and the Sony f4 18-105mm G Master lens. Let me know if you’re interested in helping me test this or hearing my thoughts on this.

Currently, I am debating getting some LED constant light panels for conventions as well as upgrading my software to Lightroom 6 (not the CC / Cloud plan as I do not have enough work to justify the cost of the software monthly).

That is all I have for now.

Let me know what you want me to talk about.  Anything above?  Any other topics?  Let me know in the comments sections.

Over and Out.



Get in Gear – Early 2018 Edition

•February 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Fun Acronym: G.A.S.


Every year, the major and the third-party companies come out with new bodies, lenses, accessories, computers, etc.  Of course, I’m no exception and have to stuff many of that into a purpose-built backpack and custom-made shoulder bag.  This has worked for me for years, but there is another inevitable truth about photographers: WE CARRY TOO MUCH S#!t.  So this year, I made my wallet cry and bought gear that’s “good enough” in most situations and saving the heavy-duty stuff for major events and photoshoots.  Starting in 2018, I have two sets of gear loadouts: the “Go-Bag” and “Heavy Duty” setups.

Reminder – Always On

These are the absolute must haves that every photographer needs to carry, regardless of the type of shoot.  These should be familiar as all of these are pretty much required for things outside of photography**:

  • Wallet and keys (You should know why by now)
  • Smartphone or Cellphone with a notepad and writing instrument.
  • Medication
  • Stainless steel water bottle.  (I prefer to have mine in a belt pouch)
  • Sweat towel (because sleeves are bad substitutes)

I keep these in my photography vest, but you can use whatever means to carry these items.  I personal prefer the vest because I prefer having specific pockets for ease of retrieval.  Fanny packs or extra room in your photography bags works too so chose what works best for your style and photography habits.

Old Hotness – “Heavy Duty”Heavy Duty

This was my do-everything loadout that I am known to carry to everything before 2018.  Everything I had and needed was in this complete loadout.  Outdoors during the day, I might use the flashes for fill-light.  At night, I could setup the lights, both LED and flash, to light the subject.  Indoors, I could use the LED lamp for minor fill but can also use light stands and flashes for a minor studio setup.  Combined with the heavy f2.8 24-70mm zoom lens, I was prepared for any situation, including equipment failures because I had a backup for everything, including the camera and lens.

  • Think Tank Streetwalker Hardrive Backpack (version 1.0) *

(+)          Dual, thick straps distribute the weight across both shoulders, making it easier to handle a full load.
(+)          Customizable dividers as well as compartments make it very adaptable for different gear combinations.
(-)           Expensive and bulky, but many lower end options are not padded.
(-)           User would have to take off the backpack to access any gear inside.

  • Nikon D750 (mid-range full frame camera)
    • Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Zoom Lens (non-VR for sharper image quality)
    • w/ 3rd party vertical grip (due to weight of camera, it’s more comfortable for portraits)
  • Nikon D7100 (formerly top-of-the-line Crop Sensor Camera. (Note: backup)
    • Nikon AF‑S Nikkor 35mm F/1.8G ED prime lens.
  • 3 x Nikon SB-700 Speedlite flashes
  • 2 x NEEWER CN-160 LED Lamps
  • Surface 3 or Surface 4 Pro (can place other 14’’ laptops)

Unfortunately this loadout can be considered overkill while “killing” me as well.  Many of the scales I’ve used approximate my gear weight to around 30 lb. and that strain adds up during a long convention like Fanime, Anime Expo, or especially Star Wars Celebration when there is lots of walking.  The overall bulk also made it difficult to get through tight spaces like a packed parking garage.  I will still use this loadout for large conventions and is my only choice for any situation that requires a flight.  For other events, there’s my Go-Bag loadout.

The New Model – “Go-Bag”0225181536

The goal of a Go-Bag is to have a light and simple loadout that is good for most common situations: outdoor locations and brighter indoor areas.  This system will have a greater reliance on ambient lighting conditions and using minimal lighting tools for fill-light only.  In order to lighten the overall package, the pack and camera choice had to be both smaller and lighter.  This is what I came up with:

  • Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW sling bag*

(+)          Sling strap means I can easily access the interior compartments without taking the entire pack off, though the clasps also make that easier to quickly take off as well.
(+)          Camera mounted in side compartment for ease of access while pack is strapped to user’s body.
(-)           Lower overall volume, less gear can be carried overall.
(-)           Strap only goes on right shoulder, cannot be swapped to the left shoulder.

  • Sony a6300 (primary choice)
    • Sony SELP18105G E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS zoom lens
    • Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 prime lens
    • Extra batteries for Alpha-series cameras
  • Nikon D750 (secondary choice) (see above for lens choice)
  • 2 x NEEWER CN-160 LED Lamps
  • (optional, attached on external cases and straps)
    • 2-3 x Nikon SB-700 Speedlite flashes (currently using the ones in Heavy Duty till replaced with Sony-compatible ones)
    • 1 x Manfrotto 5001B light stand (smaller size when collapsed and lighter)

The choice in pack is very important as it is the biggest limiting factor, especially when you do not wish to keep things in a car or hotel room.  The laptop and backup camera had to also be discarded since that’s the bulk of the “overkill” extra weight on my back.  As for why I chose a sling bag, my larger backpack would bump into people and objects frequently in tight spaces.  And while removing gear could easily be done, the massive amount of empty space inside the pack could cause items to scratch or damaged from the frequent movements that could happen.  The loss of my Surface tablet is regretful and I’m hoping to find a small replacement at a later date, but for now, my smartphone is still capable of handling most photoshoot needs.


I have tested the pack in two different situations so far: rough hikes and terrain as well as small event photography.  During the hike, the pack was very secure and very easy to both snap quick photos quickly and keeping the pack secured.  The small volume also makes it easier to transport during long travels on trains and buses where crowds can make it hard to both secure the gear as well as fit into tight spaces. With the usual Heavy Duty loadout, I would constantly bump into people and objects due to the increased bulk.  The pack has also allowed me to carry a smaller light stand externally via straps securely and without messing with my movements.  More testing is required for this setup, but I am highly encouraged of the success so far with this new loadout.



*Chargers and spare batteries unlisted.

**Possible Future Improvements to Go-Bag:

  • Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM zoom lens
    • (note: full frame lens) to replace / substitute for the 18-105mm
  • Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens for Sony E-Mount
  • Either
    • Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 prime lens
    • Sony 55mm F1.8 Sonnar T FE ZA Full Frame prime lens
  • Either
    • Thin HDMI screen (max 8 in.)
    • 8 in. tablet (Android preferred)

***Bonus Round:

  • Compact Mirror (because smartphones waste batteries and the black screen sometimes isn’t good enough)
  • Recommend – USB battery / extra battery that is compatible.
  • USB Adaptor (for when your model / friend doesn’t use the same ones you use for your battery bank).
  • Business Cards and a place to store received ones.
  • (for long-trips) – Backup camera bodies and lenses.

Vero – Well THAT Came Out of Nowhere.

•February 22, 2018 • Leave a Comment

A wild new social media app has appeared.
BlizzardTerrak uses Common Sense.
It failed….Miserably
BlizzardTerrak fainted.


Apologies for the Pokemon reference.  

Keeping up with all the new trends like filters, Patreon, and Snapchat is a full-time job.  I’ve always been slow to adopt anything new, but this comes from prior experiences in the tech world.  It’s easier for me to stick with the known quantities like Facebook and DeviantArt (the first platform I used to post and get recruited for photoshoots).  Social media has, admittedly, become very familiar with people and with the decreasing amount of organic reach in the algorithms and many companies like Facebook and Instagram (a subsidiary of Facebook, Inc.) becoming bezarely draconian when it comes to objectionable material (depending on your beliefs), a sudden challenger was inevitable.

On 2/21/18, the Vero- True Social by Vero Labs Inc. suddenly trended on my social media feed as many big-name cosplayers suddenly announced their profiles.  This app took a somewhat novel model in that instead of advertisements, the app will be entirely subscription based…except for the first 1 million users.  As a means of quick adoption, this was bold and seems to have paid off. Many have reported that the interface is very slick, though with many hiccups with the system due to the phone number requirement.  It does seem like the answer to our prayers for the cosplay (and photography) community.

However, I will not be adopting this platform as part of the first million.  This is partly due to my paranoia with new apps, which isn’t unfounded with the various Quiz and Filter Apps that…require a lot of data mining to use “for free”.  Part of me is wondering if this will be the next Facebook (or other large company)’s buyout and then we’re back to Facebook.  A large chunk of it is due to how many apps (not just Vero, Facebook and the established ones do this too) are able to sell off any piece of data one inputs into the system.  The current ones are under scrutiny by the EU and by many government agencies, but this one is so new, there is no way to figure out what they would do with the data.  Perhaps time will tell and I will give it time to mature or die as the market wills.

So what is my recommendation?

WAIT.  Give it about a year because like a Hard Drive or other electronic device, new apps tend to burn very quickly.  Plus, I would like for this new app to fix some of it’s Terms of Service (TOS) regarding their privacy and how they may or may not sell the data it gathers.

….and because there is no Desktop support at this time.

New Rule – 2 year Expiration on Raw files.

•February 21, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Despite storage costs dropping in the last few years, the fact is that I make no money from doing photography.  As a result I am imposing a maximum of 2-years where I keep RAW files safely.  After that, they are subject to deletion at my discretion.

The following criteria will be used to prioritize deletions:

  • Cosplayers / Models / Clients who have severed ties with me.
  • Hallshots
  • Unclaimed Photoshoots.
  • If they do not match current levels of quality.

Currently, I am aiming to get each Calendar year down to at least 24 GB so that they can fit onto Blu Ray disks.  As I don’t have a source of archival-grade discs, I will still have to continue to do deletions as the risk of data loss increases with age.

Note that this is effective immediately.  I will begin the deletion process after Fanime 2018 / During June 2018.

1st Half of 2017 – After Action Short

•July 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Upcoming Events I will be attending as of 7/10/2017:
SF Anime Fest in Japantown
SacAnime Summer
BlizzCon (ghost only)


I entered into 2017 with a rather low turnout for shoots.  SacAnime Winter was basically rained out and I couldn’t attend AoD.  As for NorCal Spring, I was suffering from food poisoning before the event so I was extremely sluggish.  But mostly…The first quarter of 2017 was rather boring and I’m only going to be posting a few from this time for my portfolio here.

Thankfully I had a very busy month in April.  I had a very successful (if warm) WonderCon and my inner fanboy was more than satisfied by going to the 40th Anniversary for Star Wars at Celebration Star Wars in Orlando (yay for another East Coast Con!).  Adding some good experimental shoots with gels for Silicon Valley Comic Con (2 days, only had planned 1), April 2017 was a very good high for me.

Sadly so far, this summer has been rather disappointing.  While Fanime had finally fixed their badge system with an extremely fast pre-reg ticket system, two major things derailed my experience:  a 2nd bout with food poisoning and my decision to not book shoots between 12 PM and 6 PM.  While this did not prevent me from getting some good photos, I was unable to find everyone I wanted to find.  Fanime was….ok, TBH.  More portfolio-worthy photos than 2016 had, but still not as high as it should have been.

I only wish I had a better experience at Anime Expo.  I will elaborate in my next report.


SacAnime Winter
Animation on Display (Sunday only)
NorCal Spring
WonderCon (good times~   )
Star Wars Celebration
Silicon Valley Comic Con
Hydra Comic Con
Anime Expo

Plans for 2018:
WonderCon (unconfirmed)
Fanime (unconfirmed)

Sony a6300 – First Impressions

•June 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Please Note:  This isn’t a full review as I’ve only had 2 days with the camera in question.  Think of this as more of a First Impressions.

On a whim I decided to rent the Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens for a local first-time convention: Hydra Comic Con in Santa Clara Convention Center.  It was a lot smaller and more compact than my current favorite, the Nikon D750 w/ f2.9 24-70mm lens and a lot of reviewers and people I know recommended it to me when asked.  When I first got it, the small size and weight was definitely a welcome change from my bruiser, but when I started fiddling with the controls I ran into a couple of problems.  Going back to a 1-mode dial system rather than the 2 dials I’m used to on DSLRs is a pain since I’ll have to also use the scroll wheel to have control of both the Shutter and Aperture settings in Manual Mode (I typically don’t use Auto, Shutter, or Aperture Priority). Thankfully most of the controls can be customized to perform different functions, but the missing mode dial will be sorely missed.

There are a couple of things that these Mirrorless cameras can do that DSLRs still cannot.  The Electronic View Finder (EVF) will actually display the same data as the rear LCD screen (if you elect to use it) so that you can see before taking the shot how it will look.  Also, because it is Mirrorless, the Autofocus can cover the entire image area.  Combined with Sony’s Eyeball tracking feature, it does make the Autofocus quicker and reduce the amount of guess-and-check, or “chimping”, the photographer has to do.   That being said, you’ll still have to do this with high-ISO (low light) photography without a flash as the Auto-ISO does default to having neutral lighting and colors.


Taken on a6300

Tytalis Cosplay


  • Small, light, and with E-Mount lens, very portable.
  • LCD and EVF doesn’t have the same lag as point and shoot cameras.
  • Can handle high-ISO shots similarly to a mid-range DSLR.
  • Fast AutoFocus w/ eyeball tracking that covers ~90% of the screen / image area.


  • Single Mode Dial – I still prefer to have both shutter and aperture to be easy to change while aiming.
  • Missing a Touch Screen to quickly place manual focus points / handle menus
  • Lens Choices – Sony E-Mounts don’t have as large of a selection as DSLR Nikon or Canon.
  • Video Record button in an odd place. – I don’t see how people won’t be starting with a shaky video.


D750: My current Primary

  • Battery Life – On paper, it can last about 400 shots and while it does seem to do that, 400 shots is still lower than most entry-level DSLRs.
  • No Smart Lens Adaptors exist for Nikon (Canon-type mounts seem to be fine)


The a6300 is a good camera body for people who need a fast, portable camera.  I still wouldn’t say it blows higher-end DSLRs out of the water aside from the fast and versatile autofocus, but they still have neither the endurance or the lens selection.  I have to keep in mind that this is a trade-off for having a Mirrorless camera.  If I had started with this camera system, I might be using this as my primary. Still, the ergonomics and lack of both physical controls and touch screen prevent me from using this as a primary camera….but maybe not as a Secondary or “side-arm” with the right lens?

(taken on a6300)

Tytalis Cosplay

Additional Quick Tests:


  • Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6
    • + : Compact while “off” + Cheap.
    • – : Disadvantage: Kit lens quality of sharpness. Also, the current version is electronic so prefer for some lag while zooming.
  • E-Mount Adaptors
    • AF-compatible – Canon lenses only, sadly no “smart-adaptors” exist for Nikon. E-mount OSS are still needed to have full functionality such as image stabilization.
    • Manual-only – The a6300 has extra features on the screen such as “focus metering” which gives a visual indication of what is in focus.

Things I saw in my research about video:

  • 4K Video, though I have heard that while the AF works extremely well, several have complained about overheating issues. Best solution is to use multiple batteries.

Similar Price (~$1000 body only):

  • Nikon D7000 / D7100: Access to Nikon / 3rd party DSLR lenses with larger battery and dual-SD card slots. Similar ISO performance (Sony makes their sensors) but no eyeball tracking AF and has a slower memory buffer (while shooting in RAW).
  • Sony A7: Full Frame Sensor and much better ergonomics at the cost of larger camera size and older, narrower AF system. Also uses the same battery so less shots-per-charge.

Cheaper Alternatives (~600 w/ kit lens):

  • Sony a6000: while about the same price as an entry level DSLR, it does have higher ISO and faster and wider range of AF points than cheap DSLRs. Compared to a6300, it has a slower screen refresh rate and the AF system is older. (Note, the hot shoe has black paint, which MIGHT interfere with 3rd party or non-Sony flashes and other hot shoe accessories).
  • Most entry-level DSLRs: Still has a wider selection of lenses (especially Canon and Nikon) and larger batteries, but larger and usually has less / worse AF than the a6300.

Taken on a6300

2016 – A Year in Review

•December 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Cosplayers: polarbearseatbabyseals + Garp Stavo Sauce Cosplay + Mee-Shell Ma Bell Cosplay

2016 – Year in Review

I know the running meme of #f***2016 is going around a lot due to the deaths of so many influential people (as well as the elections in at least two major Western Countries, including my own), but if I am to be totally honest, 2016 was actually pretty good to me.  Besides the usual of having a steady job with decent flexibility, I’ve also met a lot of people after being rather shut out from my local community in 2015.

The best way I can describe this year is this: You’re at Disneyland and managed to get to the front of the line for a lot of rides.  Some of them were closed, but some really fun ones weren’t.  There’s a lot of good food too.  Unfortunately you ate again right before a really fast roller coaster and now you’re vomiting on the ground and being asked to leave the park before watching the fireworks show.

Still…I can’t say I regret 2016.  Not by a long shot.


Ok, let’s get the bad out of the way:

2016 – Worst 3:

#3) AX Videographers

Many cons, especially Anime Expo, have had videographers doing Cosplay Music Videos (CMVs) for years and I have always tried to work around them and not get in the way of their work.  I know what it’s like for some <expletive> to ruin the shot. However, as the years continued, many of them have begun to exhibit elitist attitudes to photographers, including myself.  On Sunday night, a popular CMV Youtuber out right yelled at me for interrupting him despite the fact that he was clearly checking his footage at the time.  Up until that point, Anime Expo 2016 had been a very successful convention for me, so having it ruined by 1 person towards the end…

I’ve had many CMV makers out right yank a cosplayer from their scheduled shoots, including my own, to do 30 minutes of filming.  In the past, I have allowed it as I do not want to be “that jerk” they all talk about at drinking parties at night.  However after this year, I am enforcing a ZERO TOLLERANCE POLICY.  I’ve tried to be friendly, I’ve tried to be nice.  But years of bad behavior and I have finally hit my limit for all videographers.

#2) Fanime 2016

Excuse me, Fairmont San Jose?  Did you say I won’t have my hotel room?  I took the CalTrain and VTA over to the hotel and re-secured my hotel room the day before the con. Thankfully I managed to do this, but I know many people who cons / schedules were ruined because they had to transfer to one of the hotels near San Jose Airport.  I haven’t checked on the REASONING for this, but this is just plain inexcusable.  Especially with 0 refunds to the victims.

Besides hotel issues, between the heat and the heavily booked schedule (almost half of which canceled day-of or never showed up), the con was rather…meh.  That should not be Fanime, period.

#1) Yaoi-Con

I was told to get a room so that I could do shoots there, but then many of the people who agreed to do it cancelled and did not show up.  If I had known that would happen, I would either cancel before the deadline or not book the room.  That was money that could have been used to travel across the country for off-con shoots with people more than willing to help make it happen.  Definitely in my Top 5 Worst Experiences as BlizzardTerrak.


Ok, I would like to do a Top 3, but honestly I only need 2.  So hopefully that illustrates how good of a there were to eclipse the bad things above:

2016 – Best 2:


Cosplayers: ShellyNotShally + Jazikinn Cosplay

#2) New Friends / Clients on the East and West

I have made it clear how much I dislike that area due to the cost as well as the limited amount of spaces to shoot.  That said, I am thankful that many cosplayers who did shoot with me, both planned and unplanned.  And this year, I actually have convention photoshoot-quality photos from these events I can be proud of in the future.  Much of the credit goes to the cosplayers who did shoots with me.


Thank you!




#1) MAGFest 2016

I’ve had many photographers tell me to do more out-of-state conventions. After this con, I can see why.  As a photographer, it is important for photographers to seek out new conventions and new cosplayers.  And to boldly go where no NorCal Photographer has gone before *insert Star Trek: The Next Generation theme here*.


JK Cosplay

I thought it would be more stressful since I am in a new environment (and a new time zone), but the cosplayers and even photographers there were relaxed and chill.  I got to drop my guard and derp around with them despite it being my first day there. MAGFest 2016 will be a career highlight for me.  I am sad I won’t be able to attend the 2017 one due to work, but I do hope to visit and shoot in the East Coast again.  Just let me know which events to attend.

2016 was rough a good chunk of the time, but at least those of you who are still with me and those who take the time out of their con, event, or even their personal lives to shoot with me:

Thank you!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

You are the reason why I keep pushing forward.

And to the Undiscovered Country we see ourselves approaching in 2017….there really is only one phrase that we should all hold onto:



PinkProxy Cosplay


Hopefully before the end of the year, I hope to do a “Best In <CATEGORY>” Photoset that will be posted on the Facebook Page (and probably on Twitter / Instagram).  Many will or should be on my portfolio on DeviantArt and probably posted on a website someday.  Comment below as to what categories you want (please be reasonable with the categories and keep it positive).

Till next post.