Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How To Create A Sticky Blog

A few quick tips

Identify your audience. Write for your audience. Keep it fresh, keep it updated. Feed your beast!! Use attractive graphics and photos in your stories so they stand out from the crowd. Adding additional blog add-ons to make reading your blog a pleasurable experience so visitors stay on your blog longer. More on which blog features to add and the "How To's", go to: How To Create A Sticky Blog - Advice and Pitfalls. Here is the link

As for a couple of good books on this subject, here are two unconventional and entertaining books by the girls for the girls:

The IT Girl's Guide to Blogging with Moxie

No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog

And if you are still looking for more ideas, check out my complete lists of blogging and photography books

Happy blogging and I look forward to hearing your success stories!!

P.S Just published a travel story on Half Moon Bay Read it here

Looking for Guide Book on Great Surfing Spots in California, Surfer Magazine's Guide to Northern and Central California Surf Spots

Friday, December 26, 2008

Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass.....

Just came across this book and I am so excited:

The last few blog entries have been about food and good recipes and not much about photography. Well, it is that time of the year, the holiday is about getting together with friends and families to enjoy good times, good food. I was born on the island of Penang in Malaysia. Penang is the "Pearl of the Orient" and also "Gastronomie Capital" of South East Asia. Naturally my food and recipes have revolved around the many Asian spices and ingredients.

Green mangoes and Lemon grass, how can one go wrong with that!!!

Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass: Southeast Asia's Best Recipes from Bangkok to Bali

Amazon has it for $16.47 New. Not bad for a great recipe book with 100s of recipes from Bangkok to Bali.

Bali is a gem of a place, one of my favorite holiday destinations.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Simple Green Salad with Homemade Asian Dressing

I thought I share my recipe for a light green salad that is easy to make and original:

Simple green salad (young spinach, watercress, basil). Add thin red onion slices, mandarin oranges (canned Mandarin oranges will do, drain well), Trader Joes almond slices and cranberry pieces, tossed in my home made Asian dressing :)

Dressing: (mix well and toss in green salad mix above):
freshly squeezed lime juice
fish sauce (it is very salty so use sparingly)
a dash of crushed red peppers
freshly ground black pepper
dash of fine sugar
a little olive oil.

There you have it, a light green salad with a touch of Asia.

A good Asian Cookbook to have as reference is the Chinese and Asian Cookbook by Linda Doeser.

The Complete Step-by-Step Chinese & Asian Cookbook

by Linda Doeser

Also check out my two other recipes:

How To Make Mouth Watering Singaporean Fried Noodles

How to Steam Up Delicious Pot Stickers

Bon Appetit!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Book List

I love books and lots of them. Books are definitely my most precious possessions despite the internet revolution. I am not about to give up my right to hold a beautifully bound hardcover book in my hand and curl up with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on my couch in front of the fireplace. My evenings could not be more perfect. Nor am I ready to migrate my entire life to the web and do all my reading with my eyes peeled to the computer screen. I am old fashioned in that sense. I am convinced in a decade or so, real books are going to be in short supply and much sought after. I want to keep collecting these precious books and add to my library. In my utopia land, I am surrounded by books that span wall to wall and floor to ceiling and my wine cellar is just a stone's throw away.

Of my sea of books, I have many favorites. Since I am passionate about photography and colors and could spend my life in a little cabin on a vineyard, you can probably imagine what those books might be.

Here are a couple of my all time favorites:

1. Homestead (The World As Home) by Annick Smith.

I was very moved by the poignant story of her life journey and the time she spent living in Montana's beautiful countrywide. It is as if you are taking the journey with her from the time she was in Seattle to her move to Montana during the cold winter. The book also chronicles her friendship with Norman Maclean of the Big Blackfoot in A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition. Homesteadis a rivetting read and it is hard to put the book down. I had stumbled on the book in a little quaint bookstore on Third street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Another book by Annick Smith and William Kittredgethat I like is The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology "This collection of vivid and compelling literature ranges across Montana's literary landscape in descriptions of explorers' discoveries, stories from mining and agricultural frontiers, and powerful memoirs from Native Americans, as well as unforgettable images created by contemporary writers." well said by one of the readers.

2. If you are looking for another good story to read this holiday break: Vintage Feastng by Joy Sterling.

Vintage Feastng

A book of personal recipes in the wine country and tending to vineyards and the winery business. How despite having graduated from Yale and a long journalism career, Joy Sterling answered the call and returned to the family vineyard outside Sebastopol in Sonoma county, California and lives the life of a vintner. It is a wonderful book of great recipes, stories, landscapes and nature's garden.

3. A Phaidon photo book on Dorothea Langeby Mark Durden.
I am not much of a portrait photographer but Dorothea Lange's work reminds me of what humanity is and what photography is all about. You have seen her works in exhibits, especially "The Migrant Woman". Numerous books have been written about her and her photographs of the Great Depression. She is definitely the people's photographer extraordinaire holding all of us to very high standard!!

4. Fine Art Nature Photography by Tony Sweet.
On my To-Do List for 2009 is to learn more about fine art photography where advanced techniques such as multiple exposures on single frame is used to creative vibrant image capture. Tony Sweet's book on Fine Art Nature Photography offers insights on his mastery on the subject. It is definitely very Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse.

5. Mastering Black & White Photography by John Garrett.
If you wonder how one could take such beautiful black and white imagery and if you want to learn the master's techniques of traditional darkroom, John Garrett's book is a wonderful book full of ideas and inspiration that offers many "ah-ha" moments.

6. Finally, a book on Yoga. Hatha Yoga Breath by Breath by Godfrey Devereux.
I am a great believer of wellness and healthy living and am learning yoga. This book is a valuable reference for "anyone wanting to experience deep and lasting benefits of yoga practice" to borrow the words of the author. It has detailed step by step instructions and explanations on each pose from beginning to intermediate to advanced in addition to indepth write up on hatha yoga. It has been a great companion book for me. Unfortunately Hartha Yoga: Breath by Breath is no longer in print so look for a used copy. Alternatively, get the Dynamic Yoga: The Ultimate Workout that Chills Your Mind as it Charges Your Body also by Godfrey Devereux.

Happy reading this holiday season.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

While researching for a tablet to buy, I stumbled upon this YouTube video on Speed Painting by Nico Di Mattia. I was spellbound!!

LOST - John Locke - Speed Painting by Nico Di Mattia

As for the tablet, I decided on the Genius MousePen 8 x 6-Inch Graphic Tablet. I needed a larger drawing area and this one looks like it will do the job well and it costs much less than famous brand. See the picture below:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dorothea Lange, here is a book to add to your shelf

I love books, and they are definitely my most precious possessions despite the internet revolution. Nothing beats curling up on the couch in front of the fire place with your favorite book and coffee or wine and spend my evenings that way.

I am not much of a portrait photographer but Dorothea Lange's work reminds me what humanity is and what photography is all about. You have seen her works in exhibits, especially "the Migrant Woman". Numerous books have been written about her and her photographs of the Great Depression. She is definitely the people's photographer extraordinaire holding all of us to very high standard!!

American photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) was an overtly political photographer, who used her camera to capture an era of social change and struggle in America. Her iconic photographs document the intensity of human life and the power of human emotion. Lange's impact on photojournalism can still be felt today......

Tired of studio portraiture, Lange began working for the Farm Security Administration in 1935, where she created many of the photographs that define the Depression and Western migration of farming families in the popular imagination. Included in this collection of photographic essays is one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century--the Migrant Mother, also known as Migrant Madonna, taken in California in 1936.

DOROTHEA LANGE provides an elegantly produced introduction to the acclaimed social realist photographer, whose photographs continue to serve as a powerful testament to the trials and depths of humanity."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am so inspired!!

I am crazy about colors and all I can say is "WOW". The book is simply amazing, full of wonderful ideas if you like to explore Photoshop and tinkle with the many tools it offers like me. It looks like I have barely touched the surface...Top project to work on this holiday :)

Photoshop CS / CS2 Wow! Book

by Linnea Dayton

"Ever since Photoshop version 2.5, Photoshop CS / CS2 Wow! Book has enlightened and inspired graphic designers, illustrators, and photographers around the globe. This newest edition delivers the familiar award-winning mix of explanations and step-by-step tutorials for creating both commercial and fine-art images, with tips and beautiful galleries that distinguish this book as the most inspiring Photoshop resource around........ You’ll learn the most innovative techniques for creating and enhancing images, graphics, and type, including:

• How and when to use the new features in Photoshop CS and CS2, including the Spot Healing Brush, Lens Correction, Lens Blur, Vanishing Point, and Variables
• How to build your skill with familiar Photoshop features such as blend modes, adjustment layers, channels, and filters
• How to focus attention on the subject of a photo, retouch a portrait, tint an image, or convert a color image to black-and-white
• How to bring out your inner artist with Photoshop’s sophisticated brushes and vector-drawing tools
• How to create dazzling special effects for type and graphics—from custom textures and realistic materials to animation and rollover for the web
• How to build a striking layout or a seamless composite, including the little details that make a big difference in the art of creating illusions
• How to keep your creations organized with layers, layer set or groups, layer comps, and Smart Objects""

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The "Nifty Fifty" Camera Lens

If you are interested in low light photography and can't afford the fancier and more expensive lens, I would strongly recommend the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II (see link) and below is why. (Remember it is not the lens that give you a great photo, but rather your ability to see and imagine how the light falls on your subject and capture that poignant moment. Lens is just a tool)

50mm f/1.8 II, often called the "nifty fifty" by pros. It is the best value for money lens out there. 50mm is the normal focal length, so no distortion (as opposed to if you use a wide angle lens to shoot a large group photo). It is very inexpensive < $85 today, (mind you, I bought mine 2 1/2 years ago when it was selling for $65 on Amazon, so interestingly, same lens, but it has gotten more expensive). With an f stop of 1.8 (hence a fast lens), and if you use a tripod, you have all the tools you need to get very natural photos in available light. You could spend a whole lot more on fancier lens, but this will do the job for a fraction of the price. I have many other better lens, but this is the one I will always have in my bag, because it is very light, no problem with handheld, it will perform admirably where other lens can't (e.g. in low light).

Happy shooting.