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This is part of a new series of writings that I’m planning to do, which is to write my thoughts after reading a book. For books in Mandarin, I will write my thoughts in Mandarin. For books in English, I will write my thoughts in English. Apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Whenever you bought a new gear, when you first using it… you will most likely feel that “it’s so awesome!” or “oh my god everything is so great!”. I was the same too… I call it the “feel good” phase when you first using something new, it can be a new gadget, new car, new house, new furniture or even new shoes or new clothes. When you first use something new, you will probably feel good and everything about that new thing seems to be just perfect.
Fast forward few weeks or months later, as the “feel good” phase elapsed, things started to get a little… worse. You will probably started to notice the shortcomings of it, you will probably realized that actually it doesn’t really fit into your needs and style… and this will be the time when you faced reality, and worst case is you go out and buy something new to replace it and restart the whole “feel good” cycle.
Taking camera or phone review for example, most of the reviewers don’t even owned the device that long, but in order to crunch out reviews as early as possible, they will just briefly test it and gave their “review” anyway. That’s probably the reason why I don’t really like to watch those “review” videos as a lot of them simply don’t have much substance in it.
For me, I do fall into such “feel good” phase too. As much as I tried to stay conscious about it, sometimes I just can’t help but get carried away. However, I will not review an item or recommend it to people unless I have thoroughly tested it. Integrity is something I felt that is more important than being the first or being the spokesperson who said all the great things about what you are using.
Taking a recent example on my impression on the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphone, the first few days were “flawless” for me, but as I got my head down and feet on the ground, I started to notice and realized some of the quirks that I will need to live with and workaround. At the end of the day, one just need to be aware of this “feel good” phase and manage it accordingly. That should make you learn more about your gears and stuffs. Till then.
I bought the book “Magnum Contact Sheet” quite a while back but was not able to really to have time to sit down and read it through. Well, finally I did now. For those who enjoyed shooting streets or documentary style photography, this book can easily be the “bible” for one to own and keep. Of course there’re a lot more to offer in terms of content inside the book, which I believe is useful to all photographers out there.
The book shows contact sheets, which are series or sequence of photographs taken by the photographer for a particular event or moment. Looking through the contact sheets, you will be able to understand how the iconic pictures were made back then. The first thing that struck me was that there’s almost always more than one frame being captured in order to arrive at that one iconic shot. By looking through the contact sheets, you will get a sense of the photographers’ thought process in arriving at the final image.
Is it a decisive moment? Is it spray and pray? Is it staged? Is it cropped or post processed? I’ll leave it for you to explore and find out the answer on some of the iconic shots. You’ll be amazed. My key takeaway from this book is this: it doesn’t matter if you take multiple shots in order to get that one shot you want, it doesn’t really matter if you crop or post processed your picture, all that matter is the mind behind the camera. The thought process when moving from frame to frame, changing of composition, waiting for different subject, playing with the light and shadow… if there’s a thought being put in for each frame, you will eventually find the “one frame” that defines your thought.
This is indeed a good photography book for me to kickstart the year. Although there isn’t much plan for me on photography this year, reading books like this does keep my spirit and interest going. Highly recommended.
My work bag, which was a Samsonite laptop backpack, was deteriorating. In search of a replacement bag, I figured that it should serve not just as my work bag, but also my go-to daily bag. I have evaluated a few options from Timbuk2, The North Face, The Invisible Backpack and so on, but was ended up purchasing the Herschel Little America Backpack in the end as I managed to get a rather good deal.
I’ve been using the bag on daily basis for work and study, and here are my thoughts about this bag:
- It’s a good looking bag, but in terms of practicality, there’re still room for improvement.
- The front pocket is a little too small and couldn’t fit much stuff in it. If they can increase the size a little will be good.
- The bag as whole needs more pockets for organization purpose.
- Appreciate if they can have a quick access pocket near the back for wallets or passport. Also, add some slots for pen or other stuffs in the front pocket.
- To access your stuff, you will required to open the top flap all the time to go to your main compartment or laptop compartment. Suggest to have a zipper access from the side of bag to direct access the laptop compartment. Also, another small zipper on the side which allows quick access into the main compartment to reach for small items without the need to open the top flap all the time.
- The two stripes look good and offer functionality for adjustment on bag size. However, the stripes of the main compartment will get in your way when you try to open the front pocket. Some redesign is required here.
- Redesign the top flap of main cover to have better looking shape even when the bag is empty. Now the bag looks sloppy when it’s not being filled up with stuffs.
- Straps for the shoulder has dangling end which may get in the way at times. It would be great if they can find a way to hide the excess straps and tuck it away.
All in all, I still enjoy carrying this backpack, just need to get used to it and adjust some of my habit accordingly. If there’s a chance I’ll try to travel with this bag and see how well it fares. For those who are looking for this bag, if you can live with the downsides mentioned above, I would highly recommend you to get one. Till then.