Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

TramPalm Springs

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest rotating tramcar in the world. It takes 10 minutes to get to the Mountain Station (8,500+ft elevation) from the Valley Station (2,600+ft elevation). They say on a clear day, you can see the view of the Catalina Island and the light beam of Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas on a clear night. Too bad, the mountain was full of snow and they closed some of the trails. The mountain station offers a spectacular view of the Palm Springs valley. The weather in the mountain is about 30 degrees less than the valley.

If you want to get away and experience something new, head to Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and enjoy a day hike or book a dinner reservation and enjoy the view.

Product Photography #2

Dolce & Gabbana - The OneIssey Miyake - Euro Summer Edition

So last night I posted two pictures of Vuqo Premium Vodka but I also took pictures of a couple of colognes that I just purchased. I played around with black, white, and gray backgrounds but I liked white background better for these products. Again, I used two lighting setup for these shots on white background.

Product Photography


My brother came in town and we were supposed to do a photo shoot at this new location I found in Downtown L.A. but it got canceled due to the weather. We wanted to do a photo shoot with him in a nice European cut suit while smoking a cigar and holding a bottle of Vuqo Premium Vodka. So instead of going out in the rain, I stayed home and took pictures of the bottle and a few other items that I will post at a later time.

For those who who have not yet tried this vodka, please go out look for this fine vodka at a store near you. Some stores might not carry it at the moment but they will be soon! In the meantime, click at the following link to view a lists of stores that carry their product (Store listing)  Well, before you click the link, let me give you a brief history of Vuqo:

“The history of VuQo Premium Vodka dates back at least four centuries. VuQo Premium Vodka is based on an ancient technology practiced in the Philippines long before Spanish conquistadores set foot on its shores. It is the same technology that Filipino seafarers brought to Mexico through the Spanish Galleon trades to create the now popular tequila. Coconut vodka was the drink in those ancient times, on those far eastern shores. It was, in a manner of speaking, a tribal drink, one that sealed brotherhoods and with which the day’s bounty was enjoyed and shared. It is this spirit that VuQo Premium Vodka hopes to recreate and celebrate today.”

Try them for your next gathering and you will not be disappointed. This vodka is smooth and can taken straight or mixed. To try some of the Vuqo Mixes, click here

Here’s a couple of my shots from my gallery:

Camera 101 – What Lens to Get?

Camera Lenses

Image taken from:

If you thought choosing a camera was difficult, try lenses! Lenses are manufactured by the camera manufacturers or 3rd party manufacturers. When buying a lens, you always have to consider what it is that you are going to be shooting. Low light or plenty of light? Moving or still? What is the distance? Do you want to separate your subject from your background? These are just some of the questions that you need to ask yourself before buying your lens. Also, since you’re just getting started with DSLR photography, make sure that you stay away from using “Auto”. Use “P” mode instead, this is auto with smart features of your DSLR. I will talk about the modes on the next post.

What are you shooting?

People, Landscapes, Wildlife, Airplanes, flowers, etc. are just a few that I could think of, but there are plenty of other things to shoot. You might say “I want something that I can use for everything”. Okay, most likely, you purchased a camera with a lens kit and most kit comes with 18mm-55mm depending on which kit you bought. 18mm-55mm is a nice range when you’re starting and after shooting with that range for a while, you’ll start to want something and it is something that is missing from what you currently have. You might say “I like my shots, however they are not wide enough” or “I don’t have enough reach to get a close-up shot”.

Okay, if you’re looking for something wider, consider buying something lower than 18mm, the lower the number, the wider it gets.

If you want to get a closer/tighter shots, then consider buying a zoom lens that’s anything more than 55mm. Usually, it goes from 55mm-200mm or 70mm-300mm, depending on the manufacturer and the aperture (I will talk about this later).

These should get you started on what it is that you need.

Lighting Condition?

All of your shots depends on lighting. Avoid harsh shadows as much as possible such as direct sunlight or harsh lights produced by spot lights (unless you are going for that look). When shooting under direct sunlight, your images will have dark shadows. If you’re shooting a person, they will have “raccoon eyes” and the picture just won’t look good. There are ways to fill in those shadows and make your pictures look nicer if you really have to shoot under direct sunlight but I’ll talk about that some other time. I will focus on just the basics.

Plenty of light available

If you are shooting with plenty of available light, the type of lens you use doesn’t really matter (I know many of you will disagree with me but think like an amateur). With plenty of available light, your shots will most likely come out clear and crisp. However, low light condition is where the features of your camera will come into play. Your camera, your lens, your angles and everything else will come into play under this condition.

Low Light Condition

Under low light condition, your camera will try to adjust to get the best exposure and best shutter speed to get a clear and crisp shot. However, your camera is not perfect! You are still in control! There are a lot of things you can do to try to get your camera to take sharp pictures but that means that I have to get into technical terms. I want to answer your questions as simple as possible. So let’s try this, here are a few scenarios and what you can do to improve your shots.

You’re shooting in “P” mode and your picture is nicely exposed but it’s blurry (Let’s say you’re taking a picture of a person). What do you do?

– First, look at your screen and preview the picture that you just took, then click on the info button. This will provide you the aperture, ISO, Shutter speed, Exposure,etc.Look at ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Make a note of those and switch your mode from “P” to “M”. Some cameras automatically adjust the ISO but it needs to be enabled. Let’s say your camera doesn’t automatically adjust. What you need to do is increase your ISO and shutter speed and also adjust your aperture.

ISO – controls the camera’s sensitivity to light

Shutter speed – Freezes or blurs the picture

Aperture – Controls the amount of light

Now that you have some idea on what each feature does, let’s try to tackle the problem. Let’s say you looked at your image and the settings are: ISO: 200, Shutter Speed: 1/30s, Aperture: f/5.6. What this means is that you took the image at 200 ISO using 1/30 of a second and at aperture f/5.6 (f/5.6 on a kit lens usually means that you shot your pic at 55mm). Let’s do this step by step, but let’s start with the shutter speed:

– The rule of thumb is your shutter speed should be greater than or equal to your focal length. For example, if you’re shooting at 55mm, your shutter speed should be at least 1/55th of a second or higher to get a clear shot. So switch to manual mode and adjust your shutter speed to 1/50th and take another picture. Is the picture now sharper but it also became darker? The reason for that is because your camera didn’t allow enough time for the light to properly expose the picture. So let’s try another fix.

Let’s do this by now adjusting your aperture. Since you are using a variable aperture (meaning, your aperture changes every time you change the zoom length), try using the lowest/largest aperture your lens allow. In this case, your lens probably only allows as low as f/3.5, so you have to change your focal length to 18mm. So now you’re shooting at 18mm at f/3.5

Take another picture, your picture should now be a lot clearer and a little brighter but still not as bright as how you would want it to be. Try changing that shutter speed, you can go as low as 1/20th without being blurry. If that’s still dark, try increasing your ISO. If your camera allows you to increase your ISO by 50, try ISO 250, 300, 400, etc. Then keep increasing it until you get your picture to come out the way you want it. Please note that the higher the ISO, the more noise it introduces (your shots will be grainy)

That’s it for now and I hope you learned something new. I will have a dedicated Camera 101 page will links to different sites that talks about everything that I just mentioned.

Click on the links below to view 5 episodes about lenses on D-Town TV by Kelby Media Group:

Lenses – Part 1

Lenses – Part 2

Lenses – Part 3

Lenses – Part 4

Lenses – Part 5

Camera 101 – Which Camera to get?

CanonNikon PentaxOlympus

Which camera to get? This is the most questions that get asked all the time! Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus are just a few of the major consumer camera manufacturers out there. Leica? I’m not even going to talk about that! People who get that either has a lot of love for photography and has been into photography for a while or someone who has a lot of money and just wants to buy a very expensive camera. Since I can’t afford it, I wont talk about it. If you want to find out why, just google Leica Rangefinder and you’ll see why.

What Brand?

Now, which camera to get? I say get the camera that your friends own! So you can ask your friend on which lens, accessories to buy specific to your camera or even buy their used equipment. Most likely, your friend will upgrade his/her equipment and eventually sell it. Now that you’ve narrowed down the brand of the camera, another question is which one?

What Kind?

The question to ask really is “what is your budget”? You always have a number in your head that you are willing to spend on a camera. You might say, I’m just an amateur and I just want to take nice pictures. You can take nice pictures without spending a lot of money! Point and shoot camera will give you nice pictures, you just have to have an eye for it. If you don’t, spending on a more expensive camera will not give you a better picture, maybe a better quality but not a nice picture so save your money. Now, if you still insist on upgrading to a DSLR, then you need to find out how serious you are going to be in photography. Any entry level camera will do, it’s the lenses that you have to worry about. I’ll talk about lenses on my next update so this time, let’s just stick to cameras.

Pros and Cons of Entry Level Cameras: Pros: Cheaper Cons: It will not have the advanced features that most pro cameras have, but you’re just learning so it’s okay.

I use a Nikon and most entry level Nikon cameras do not have an Internal Focusing Motor(IMR). Having an IMR will allow you to autofocus on older lenses. Without IMR, you are going to have to manually focus to take shots. It’s really not that bad once you get used to it, but a lot of your shots will be blurry for the first…. let’s say, a thousand pictures! LOL.

So what kind of camera really depends on your budget. I say, spend less on camera and more on lenses and you’ll find out why once I start talking about lenses.
If you’re still undecided on what to do, watch the youtube videos below: “Pro Camera and Cheap Lens” Vs. “Cheap Camera and Pro Lens” & “Guide to DSLR”

Here is a Guide to Entry Level DSLR

Now What?

Now that you’ve decided which brand and what kind and your budget, you are now ready to start comparing the cameras that you’ve chosen. Luckily, I found a nice site that allows you to compare cameras side by side:


If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will try to answer your questions.

Watch out for my next post as I will talk about the lenses and camera features that you need to consider when buying a camera and lenses.


Finally! I am back! Those of you who followed my other blog (, I stopped updating it 7 months ago and 4 months prior to that. But that didn’t mean that I stopped taking pictures. In fact, I now have 14k + actuation on my camera! That’s right, after a year and 1 month of having my camera, I took that many pictures and I’m not even a pro!

Well, after 7 months hiatus, I have started a new website and a new blog. My site remain as JMEphotography; However, that domain name is taken and I didn’t want to purchase a .net domain. So before ending up with this name, I thought about JMEphotos, JMEFotos, JMEPhotographique, etc. But none of them sounded simple yet classy. When I hear the word classy, I think of James Bond and French this, French that! So, I sat down in front of my computer and went to Google translate and typed photography – Italian – Fotograpia, Spanish – Fotografía, Portuguese – Fotograpia, and finally, French – Photographie. I liked it! Headed to 1and1 webhosting and entered, – It’s available! I immediately registered to secure the name since I was afraid that I would have to pick another name. So now, I am done…. at least with the domain name and the blog.

I will be traveling again in the near future so keep coming back to this site for new photos.

In the meantime, click on the link below to view a slideshow of my favorite pictures. I hope these pictures help inspire you to also take pictures. First things first, do not take pictures when the sun is at it’s highest. Meaning, noon time! The best hours to take photos are during the “golden hours”. The golden hours are 1 hour before  and after sunrise and 1 hour before and after sunset. This gives you that nice golden color in your picture. That’s it for now.


Oregon Trip

“If you show somebody their future, they’ll have no future.
You take away the mystery, you take away hope.
Wow, it’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been really busy with other things that I didn’t get a chance to update my blog. I guess that only tells one thing… I spent less time in front of the computer and more  outdoors. That’s right!!! It’s summer! The sun doesn’t set until 8:30PM, I will take advantage of the sun as much as I can. Well, let me start talking about my trip to Oregon. If I were to describe Oregon in one word in the month of March, I would say….”FREEZING”. But I enjoyed it since I don’t really get to experience 12inches of snow and zero degrees temperature. 
I am not sure if I can remember every single detail that happened during the trip but I’ll try my best. The trip was scheduled from March 30 – April 3. The night of March 28th, I looked in the mirror and had the urge to shave my head. I stared in the mirror for a few minutes and finally opened the cabinet, grabbed the hair clipper, a mirror and began cutting my hair. But of course, something had to go wrong!!! I couldn’t line up the back of my head. Here’s the bad news, the bad news is that the time was around 10:30PM. The barbershops were all closed! The good news is… I just saved a bunch of money by switching over to Geico! LOL.. Here’s the real good news, my friend Jeff was still awake and he agreed to fix my hair! So I drove to his place so he could fix my hair. It looked really nice except I looked like a thug from the projects. Even I got scared! LOL. But that’s not the point of this blog, so I’ll stop talking about my hair and begin talking about my trip.
– The night of March 29, Richard and I drove up to San Francisco.. Okay, I’m not gonna lie, he drove! lol. 
– We left at midnight and arrive at his brother’s apartment around 7AM. We had a few stops.
– We rested for about an hour and got in the car and off to Oregon.
– The drive was about 7 hours but I slept most of the time.
– We got a little lost but after about 30 minutes, we finally found the place we were staying. I forgot the name but it’s something that ends with Creek. lol
– We started unloading and we decided to checkout the little restaurant across the street from the cabin. Their pies were amazing! Richard had Boysenberry pie (He got it because it started with Boy. LMAO)
– We checked out the creeks around the cabin. I felt at home! Lots and lots of trees! I like the great outdoors so I really feel relaxed when I’m outside surrounded by trees. 
– After about an hour, we decided to head back to our cabin. 
– Our cabin had no cellphone reception! No Internet! at least most of the time!
– The next day, we decided to go snowmobiling. I’ve never been on a snow mobile so this was really fun!
– At first, the guy renting out the snow mobiles didn’t want to rent it to us since it’s a bit dangerous. The weather was unpredictable and the snow was really thick and mostly powder. He was scared that we might end up in the lake. So he told us that the only way he’ll rent out the snowmobiles was that if we had a tour guide. So we all agreed since we were already there and wanted to get on a snowmobile. 
– Our tour was about 3 hours, I think. I can’t remember but I know it was pretty long! (that’s what she said!. lol)
– Our tour guide was really good! He allowed us to free play in the meadow for about 40 minutes. He also let us borrow his snowmobile. That thing hauls! I went all the way up to 50mph. I was scared to go any faster since it felt like I was going 100mph. The snowmobile can go up to 120mph.
Here are the pics of our snowmobiling adventure!

Oregon Snow Fun

This is getting pretty long so I’ll have a part 2 of this trip 🙂

Mt. Baldy Hike

While you are young,
While you have time,
While you have energy,
When you have the opportunity, try it!
even if it’s not for you,
the important thing is you are trying.
We planned this hike within a week and we really didn’t know what to expect but a 7 hour strenuous hike to the top of Mt. Baldy through a trail called “Devil’s Backbone”.  Anyway, we had a few drinks the night before and planned on going home early to get some rest and also get our stuff ready for the hike the next day. But did it happen? lol.. Nope, we ended up coming home around 1:30am. The first thing I did was emptied my Camelback and packed it with some warm clothing, first aid kit, knife, survival kit, warming blanket, and water proof matches. I also went online and searched for Topographical maps of the San Bernardino Mountains. The maps I found were a little bit blurry but it’s better than nothing right? haha. Then I looked at the clock and it was already 3:30am.. I needed to get up in a few hours. I setup my alarm at 6:30am so we can be on the road by 8am.
Sunday – April 18, 2010
– My alarm went off at 6:30am but just like any other day, I hit the snooze button. Finally got up around 7am.
– Called everyone to make sure they were awake and ready to go. Their phone rang a few times before they picked up. Except for Vera! WOW!!! 
– I took a shower and got ready within 15 minutes. It was around 7:30.
– I double checked my stuff and checked the weather report and said that it was going to be in the 30s and low 50s
– Around 7:40, I received a call from Richard asking if we had already left. If not, he will be joining us.
– First person to arrive was the last person I expected to show up… guess who?…. Vera! Wow… again.. haha… 
– A few minutes later, everyone arrived at my house and ready to go.
– We ate breakfast at Jack and the Box.. We wasted a good hour eating at this place I think.
– After that, we headed to 7eleven to get our snacks, water, etc.
– Finally on our way to the mountains. I think it was 50miles away from Burbank. 
– After 40 minutes of driving, we finally arrived at the Visitor’s center to purchase our mountain adventure pass. 
– Here’s where the bad news came… The ranger had informed us that we are not allowed to go up to the top of Mt. Baldy unless we have crampons and ice picks. The Devil’s Backbone trail is the size of a regular table and if it’s full if ice, it is going to be slippery and dangerous!!! Luckily, there were alternate routes we could take to get to the 2nd highest peak, which is the Ski lodge/restaurant. I think it was a 4 mile hike one way with an elevation gain of almost 2000 ft. from Mankers flat (the parking area).
– Since we were already there, we might as well make the best of it and go wherever we can go.
– We finally arrived at the parking lot at Mankers Flat.
– We grabbed our gears and started hiking towards San Antonio Falls
– After a few minutes of walking, we arrived at the falls and took pictures. My socks got wet but oh well, that’s expected going to places with water. 
– After taking a few pics, we started our journey to the top. There were snow patches on the trail but we were determined to get to the top.. haha. “If there’s a will, there’s a way!”
– After hiking up for 5 minutes, “some” of us needed to take a break since “some” of us are not used to hiking. lol. I’m not pointing fingers…i’m just saying. 
– I think we took close to 10 snack breaks before we reached the Ski lodge. (We could have taken the ski lift going up to the lodge but we were there for the exercise and the experience so why take it right?)
– After a couple of hours hiking up, we finally reached the top.. by this time, all of us had taken the extra layers of clothing we had earlier. I was wearing shorts and a tank top. 
– Here’s the funny part, we couldn’t find the exact trail to get to the lodge so we made our own trail. We ended up at the slopes where people were snowboarding, skiing, and tubing. Everyone of them were wearing jackets, gloves, ear muffs/beanie and we were wearing tank tops and shorts. hahaha.. Only in California!!!
– We finally sat down at the restaurant and ordered our food. The price of food was expensive!!! I think a can of coke was $3! and a burger was $12.. Oh well, we needed to fuel our body to go back down.
– We got there just in time to see the last few minutes of the Lakers game. They won! yey!
– Then we took our time eating and by the time we finished, it was already 4pm. So we decided to head back down. 
– We took a different trail on the way down. The trail was very steep and slippery but it saved us a lot of time. It must have saved us at least 30 minutes of walking. 
– After an hour and a half of walking (maybe more), we finally reached the bottom and headed home. 
The hike was definitely fun! It’s nice going with a bunch of people because it makes a difficult hike easier because everyone is having fun. My goal for 2010 is to hike as many mountains as possible. In June, we are going back to Yosemite but this time we are hiking the half-dome. No excuses!.. That hike should give us enough practice to hike Mt. Whitney in October. I also plan on doing a few local hikes in the San Gabriel Mountain within the next few weeks if my schedule permits.

Click the album below to see the rest of the pictures

Mt Baldy Hike

Crocker Club – Michelle’s Birthday Celebration

“When you were born, you were crying and everyone else around you was smiling. Live your life so that when you die, you’re smiling and everyone else is crying.”
The Crocker Club is located in the basement of the former Crocker Citizens National Bank building in the corner of Spring St. and 5th St. This place reminds me of those old gangster movies. 
I usually write a lot of stuff but I don’t feel like writing today. I just went through 400+ pics and edited 146. 
Most of the pictures were repeats and some of them were blurry! If there’s alcohol present, expect some of the pics to be a little bit blurry and if your friends get a hold of your camera, expect to see some photos that umm… yeah. haha. 
The Crocker Club definitely challenged me in getting the right camera settings. This place is dark!!!! But I am glad the pictures came out nicely and not over/under exposed. 
 Click on the album below to see the rest of the pictures in higher resolution:

Crocker Club – Michelle’s Bday

See What’s Coming!

“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered. “
– Tom Stoppard

I am finally back in town and let me tell you… I had an awesome trip! I thought I was going to get sick since I went from sunny Arizona to blistering cold Oregon. If you think that the panoramic picture of Crater Lake above is beautiful, imagine standing on the crater and looking at the view with the cold wind blowing on your face and a little bit of snow fall… and most of all, it is a very quiet place. Not so much when we were there though. haha. Snow shoeing was definitely fun! but that’s not the highlight of the trip. The best part was getting on the snow mobile and letting it loose and go as fast at 65mph. I will tell you the rest of the story when I upload those pics.

I have taken so many pictures and I really need to find time to edit those and share them with you. We also stopped by San Francisco for two nights and I had an opportunity to take pictures of the city and the Bay Bridge.

Here’s a picture of the city at night!

Check back in a few days! I should have the rest of the pictures uploaded!