Another year has passed already and only 7 posts from me haha, you know this has been a priority for me.
Well it's time again to look back at 2013 and see what it's been like for me, I have to admit 2012 was pretty good and a bit hard to top but I think 2013 was just that little bit better. So here's a quick review of 2013 for me.
Uni - I had my First Last-Day which actually turned out to be my last first-day. That's right, I've finished studying and will be graduating in May next year. Yea yea! I was close to not finishing though, I failed a core subject by 5 marks but I was fortunate enough to have a generous lecturer who allowed me to sit a supplementary exam in which I passed with flying colours and by flying colours I mean a pass, 50 on the dot. Hey! As they say 'Ps gets degrees'. It was a bit anti-climatic but I can't complain, not many people get a second chance and I managed to make mine work in my favour. Oh I did get a distinction this year too! My first and only distinction and it was for an elective, Photography 2. It says a lot doesn't it. Sometimes I wonder why I study science too. So this will probably be my last post about uni until graduation rolls around next year.
Kendo - What can I say? My highlights would be going to Hong Kong for the Asian Zone Kendo Championship, my first international competition and it is one of the best kendo experiences I've had. Great company! I made great friendships from that trip. Next would be getting my shodan, so I'm a little fish in a big pond now and starting from the bottom again. Finally it would be the greatest moment in my kendo career to date and I think it'll be hard to top for a very long time, the 2013 Australian Uni Games. My first competition as a dan grade and even though I lost in the individuals I did not drop a match at all in the teams event and was nicknamed the 'ippon machine' haha. The best kendo I've ever played thanks to the coaching team and Fukuda Sensei. No victory has tasted as sweet as 2013 Uni Games. It puts a smile on my face every time I think about it. I was also awarded UTS' sporting scholarship, the Elite Athlete Program for kendo in 2013 and was again a recipient of a Half-Blues award, so close to Full Blues!
What's next? I don't know, life is starting to get in the way so I don't have much time for training. I was started the National Squad training for the World Kendo Championships in 2015 but that didn't last long due to study commitments. So I'm hoping to maintain my present level and get my life under control and try for the 2018 WKC so that gives me a few years to get back into it seriously.
Cars - Kim and I own 3 CRXs between us now, my EF10VE is still going strong and believe it or not but I didn't attend one track day this year, how disappointing but my sacrifices paid off as I focused on studying as much as I could. Since I've finished uni and have started full time employment (more on that soon), I'm getting straight into it and will be boosting my CRX in 2014. The parts collection has started and a lot of time has been spent researching online. For Kim's CRX we'll be dropping in a freshly rebuilt B16A and hopefully I don't have to trade a JDM SiR front for it, I'm hoping to get this done sooner rather than later as her CRX is blowing a lot of smoke. I have already installed a set of coilovers but no paint job this year, maybe she'll get lucky in 2014. As for the 3rd CRX, it can't be registered but it has a lot of goodies, so I'm hoping to transfer all of the good bits over to Kim's CRX then scrap it, I did have the idea to keep it and build a track-only CRX but I think 2 CRXs will be enough for now. I've been getting the urge to buy an S13 lately so we'll see what happens.
Personal shit - well my personal project for 2013 fell through, but another one started up without the intention of it doing so. There's a lot of things happening behind the scenes lately and we're still growing but keep an eye out for Honda Historics in the near future. Two members took home trophies from JDM Yard's Honda Showoff meet earlier this month so we're doing okay for now. Also I've decided to start something else up, let's hope this project gets off the ground and 2014 will be the year for me.
Employment - This is a new one! After finishing my last exam (before the supplementary) I got all excited and applied for a few graduate positions, around 5-6 in total. Didn't hear anything for about a month, during which I started working full-time at another call centre to make some money, then I received a call for an interview. It was interesting, my first real interview to become a NATA Certified Quality Control Agent working for a road paint company based in Ingleburn, which would have been perfect for me. It was close to home, good pay and I would be using my degree that took 7 years to get. The interview went well but unfortunately it wasn't me, got told I was no.2 from about 60-70 applicants and the only reason the other guy got the job was because he had experience by doing work placement during his degree. Well that's 0 for 1, but at least it felt good to know I was second best on my first interview. I'll be starting to look for a proper job again soon, just going with the flow right now as my current job is quite flexible and pays quite well and the work is relatively straight forward.
November 15, 2013
July 05, 2013
Posted by Steven Le
This is what I submitted for my Photography 2 class. It was pretty much an honest piece on how I got into photography, my highs and lows and just my honest opinion on some photographers. I hope you guys take some time to have a read of it because I really enjoyed writing it, all the way to 3am as usual but it's one of the more enjoyable essays I've written for uni.
Growing up, I wasn’t fond of photographs and always thought taking photographs were a burden. Like any other kid, all I wanted to do was run around and play, but my parents were always making me pose with them for photos and taking away my play time. It didn’t get better at birthday parties or family gatherings as I was always forced to awkwardly take photos with relatives instead of playing with my cousins. At that age, I thought taking photographs were just a “thing” to do at parties and events. It wasn’t until I got older that I started to understand the importance of taking photos, the ability to capture a point in time and treasure it forever, but I still wasn’t fond of taking them, it was just such a chore.
When I finished high school my Dad brought home a Digital SLR and I thought nothing much of it until I decided to take it with me to a car show to get some photos of the cars. At that show I bumped into an old friend from school who also had a DSLR and we went around taking photos of cars together as he was showing me how to use my Dad’s DSLR. It was at that show that I learnt about shutter speeds and how I was able to capture a photo of a car in very low-light conditions just by slowing down the shutter speed. I also learnt another lesson that was just as important, I needed a tripod because my hands weren’t as steady as I thought they were with a lot of my shots being blurry that night.
Countless nights were then spent on the internet learning about aperture, shutter speeds, ISO and all of the different modes available on a DSLR. I would bring my Dad’s DSLR with me to every car show I went to and I made sure I got my hands on a tripod as well. My photos were then shared on car forums online and I would be getting feedback and I would keep trying to improve my photos at the next event. These events included track days, where cars would be racing around a racetrack and here I learnt how slow shutter speeds allowed me to show movement in my photos and how difficult it actually is to do panning shots.
On these car forums there were a mix of amateur, emerging and professional photographers and I looked up to all of them for inspiration, as their photos were of quality I would only see in high-end car magazines and I wanted to take photos just like theirs. I thought that if they could do it, so could I. From there I realized I was able to take decent photos of cars, whether they were static or racing around a racetrack and members of car forums started to notice my improvements as well.
Not long after a friend, who writes for an international car website, approached myself and asked if I wanted to provide media coverage of a popular race event for them and I was ecstatic as this opportunity. I was provided with a media pass that allowed me to have access to the media room and parts of the track that normal spectators aren’t allowed on. It was also the first time that I realized that it wasn’t all fun and games being a photographer, there was much more to it. Running from one end of the track to the other trying to get the right shot, frantically uploading all the shots in the media room, staying back late after the event finished and processing the photos so they can be uploaded immediately. Over the three days, I learnt that it was quite a tough job but I loved every moment of it, sitting in the media room with international automotive journalists and photographers, guys whose work I would only read about and see online or in car magazines. That is something I’d never forget. It was a great experience and it opened my eyes to what it actually takes to do their job – a lot of hard work.
It was at the same event that I made one of my biggest mistakes. As the three day even wrapped up I was packing away my camera gear as well as a couple of lenses I borrowed from a friend. Switching lenses between bodies and so forth, I put my friend’s lens, which is quite expensive, on my camera body and threw it over my shoulder and started walking out of the media room. As I stepped outside the lens fell from the camera and hit the hard concrete ground. I had forgotten to lock the lens in place. I frantically picked up the lens and tried putting it on to make sure it was still ok, hoping that it wasn’t damaged. Unfortunately the mounting ring was bent and I could hear broken glass inside the lens. It was a horrible end to what would have been a perfect weekend for me. Looking back it was still a good weekend overall as I managed to take away so much even if it did cost me a fair amount of money to replace my friend’s lens.
By this time, I thought I was quite competent with a camera but only if I were to photograph a car. I was clueless when it came to portrait or landscape shots. It was then I decided to take up Photography 1 so my eyes could be opened a bit more to world of photography, especially since the luxuries of digital technologies were taken away from me and I was forced to use black and white film and a camera in manual mode. Photography 1 put me back on square one and whatever advantages I thought I had were gone the moment class started and it felt nice to see things with a fresh eye as I went about completing that course.
Now moving onto Photography 2, it has opened my eyes even more as I’m taken back to a time of intellectual romance between the creative minds of photographers, writers and other artists of their time. The stories told in class of how one photographer used to spend a lot of time with other influential figures of their time just baffles me. I’ve never thought that all these creative minds would have crossed paths at one time or another let alone spend quite a bit of time with each other. I find that very intriguing and it fuels my curiosity into finding out more about these photographers and how they’re all connected.
Sally Mann produced a photo that I had embarrassingly thought was by Robert Frank, thanks to the mighty power of the internet. This photo was of a young girl holding a cigarette and just staring straight into the camera like she didn’t even care the photo was being taken. I was later informed that the photo belongs to Sally Mann and I did a bit of research on her. Although that portrait caught my attention, it was her landscape photos that tugged at my emotions. The eerie feeling in all of her landscape photos didn’t help me sleep at night at all, they were just so powerful even though it was usually just a pond, or some trees in the frame. There’s just this distinct feeling that I was right in the middle of a horror movie and something bad was about to happen. I can honestly say that I haven’t experienced those emotions with any other photographer’s work I’ve seen so far.
Naturally the next photographer I looked into was Robert Frank. Although there isn’t one photo that grabs my attention like Sally Mann’s one, his photos as a series were quite interesting, especially the ones from his book, The Americans. It’s astounding that he was able to paint a picture of America at the time through his photographs. It was so diverse and unique, from young children to grandparents, Caucasians and African Americans and everything in between at the time. It’s as though everyone he photographed had a different story to tell, they all had their ups and downs and this is where they currently are in their point of life, going about their daily business. His photos have a very natural feel to them, when looking at his photos I feel as though I’m transported right back in time and I’m just an observer. It was like he wasn’t even there taking the photos and people were just doing what they’d do any other day of the week. I feel it’s like he’s observing them from afar, like when we go to see animals in their natural habitats from a distance to make sure we have no affect on their behavior. It’s very honest what we’re seeing in his photographs.
The other photographer I studied was Edward Weston, firstly due to his connection with so many other creative minds as briefly mentioned earlier. What I really like about his photos is how he’s able to show the similarities between the human body and pieces of vegetables. Usually I just eat my vegetables and don’t give them a second thought but his photographs have actually got me thinking about how we’re just as natural as a piece of vegetable, at the end of the day we belong to nature as much as a piece of vegetable. I’m not sure if he had made that connection before the photo was taken or not but it’s very intriguing that the connection was made. But like I said, the main thing that attracted me to Edward Weston was his connection with other great minds of his time who have become very influential and successful people in their respective fields. It makes me wonder about the conversations between them. What did they talk about? What were their interests? Who did they look to for inspiration? How did they all become so influential and successful?
As this is my final year at university, I’m a bit disappointed to not be able to continue photography and take on Photography 3 but I’m very glad I took on Photography 2 as an elective. It’s been one of the most thought provoking subjects I’ve taken and it’s a much lighter on my head than my science subjects. It’s good to exercise the other half of my brain. Not only have I learnt about the pioneers of photography but also their stories and how they came to be who they are and usually the journey is more important than the destination. From here I would love to continue taking photographs, I want to try my hand at street photography as I’ve quite enjoyed just going for walks with my camera in hand. The allure of black and white film is quite enjoyable also, it takes things back to basics and I really enjoy that. No fancy new technology, just myself, my camera and the undiscovered streets I’m yet to walk.
July 03, 2013
Posted by Steven Le
Well it's about time I've gotten around to going through my photos from my last holiday, and this time it wasn't Japan haha, it was actually Malaysia and Thailand for a change. I know I've left this for a while but 6 months isn't actually too bad considering my record of late uploads. It was quite nice to go through these photos again, it jogged a lot of nice memories and it made me realised that I enjoyed Malaysia a lot more than I thought it would. All I can say was that I ate a lot of food, I mean A LOT of food. I also managed to meet up with Peter and Yan-Ying, who are my kendo buddies from my days with USYD Kendo and it was great to hang with them and thanks to them again for taking us around to see and eat all the amazing food Malaysia had to offer. The photo above is the view from their apartment in KL.
March 05, 2013
Posted by Steven Le
But my last first-day didn’t turn out any more spectacular than any other ordinary day.
I woke up, freshened up, threw on some clothes and the next thing I know I was at uni making my way to my first lecture. Managed to get lost too. How awesome is that?
Ended up in the right room and the first lecture slide pops up and it reads “Welcome to university”. Great, it’s a first-year subject – yes I chose this as my easy elective – so the room was full with keen first-year students. They’re all there, the hipsters, the wannabe hipsters, the nerdy ones, the over dressed, the under dressed. You name it and they’re there. Then there’s me.
I pull out my book hoping to get into the swing of things and make sure that today would be my last first-day and that I wouldn’t be here again next year. One hour passes and I’ve written nothing. Ok I lied, I wrote down the date and the lecturers name. But that was it. The whole time the lecturer was being an egotistical dick out the front trying to break the ice for all those first-year students. What a waste of time.
The lecture ended and I got out of there, grabbed some food and went to my second lecture. Checked my timetable and it was the same subject, again.
Great, more shit talking from my so-called lecturer. My thoughts wander off, I’m in my own little world. I was thinking about all sorts of things, things that didn’t really make sense now that I think about it. Suddenly the room bursts into laughter and I kick a little in my seat. Shit! I fell asleep. The lecture was done and the lecturer must have squeezed in one final joke before the class ended. What a great start to the semester and an awesome way to end my last first-day at uni.
January 25, 2013
Posted by Steven Le
If you're reading this then it means that you have also survived the apocalypse - actually I'm not even going to bother trying to come up with some more witty shit about surviving the apocalypse that never happened so moving on.
I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Years, for the past three years I've managed to not spend it with my family so I don't think it was the best Christmas and New Years for them but it was pretty damn good for me. On Christmas day I jumped on a plane (if you could call it that since I flew with Air Asia) and headed for Malaysia for a few days then to Thailand for New Years.
It was a pretty good trip, did some mad shit in Malaysia and ate heaps of great food thanks to my good friends Peter and Yan-Ying. Great memories were had thanks to them, if not I would have been stuck in a shopping centre for every day that I was in Malaysia.
Next I was off to Thailand, first stop was Phuket and holy shit it was an experience. Landed, got to the hotel, awkwardly tipped the bellboy then hit the streets while enjoying the music festival on the beach, across from our hotel.
The next night was NYE and shit got rowdy, let's see what I can remember... Buckets of long islands, dancing on the beach, running away from lady boys, laughing at white guys making out with said lady boys, checking out hotties, losing Kim's thongs, meeting Norwegian chicks, skulling my bucket, spying on people popping pills, meeting random Aussie/bogan guys, leaving the festival at 5am in the morning then haggling some lady for some fake haviana thongs on the way back to the hotel and crashing til 3pm. To sum it up, it was a pretty good night out but more on that shit later.
What I wanted to do was have a quick look back at 2012 and do what everyone else does and set goals and what not for 2013.
2012 for me was pretty good, actually it was probably one of the best years I've had. Let's see how shit turned out for some aspects of my life (I feel like I'm on one of those corny tv shows where they go through the lives of famous people).
Uni - believe it or not, but it was the first year I passed every subject I enrolled in and even scored some credits. Boom! How's that for a successful year at uni, now I have to carry that momentum onto this year and pass everything so I can get my two pieces of paper saying I finished uni and also a go kart that Kim promised to buy me when I graduate. I might even try for that Distinction.
Kendo - probably the highlight of my sporting career. Won quite a few medals, did some pretty intense training and the highest of highs would have to be winning the Green & Gold at Uni Games in Adelaide. But I have to admit I dropped off after that with having too many things going on at once. So this year I'm going to actually going to take it seriously and get some even better results and learn to prioritise shit better.
Car - No big dramas, my baby has survived 2012 without any hiccups and managed to run 1:15s at Wakefield but Rob from Zen Garage had to outdo me towards the end of the year with a 1:14 in his CRX which is nearly identical to mine. I have big plans for it this year and we'll see how that pans out, it all comes down to them dollars even though I'm only missing a few pieces of the puzzle, they're the expensive pieces.
Kim's CRX still has a few bits and pieces that are waiting to go in as well but we definitely need to get some coilovers and a respray this year, they are a must! Other than that it's just a few bolt on parts I've got lying around.
Personal projects - there's something in the works with a couple of good friends of mine and we'll see how that turns out. I can't say much about it now but I have a lot of faith in it and will do my best to get it up and running.
2012 was a pretty damn good year for me and it'll be hard to top it but I'm not going to settle for anything less. So here's to an even bigger and better year and hopefully some more mad shit happens this year.