Photo

Photographing Celebrities and Youth Athleticism

Michael Photo, Video, Yo&Yang September 12, 2020

I missed going to the US Open this year, watching the best tennis players practicing and battling while snapping some of my best action shots. I also missed spending time with family and friends there. Hope US Open 2021 will return to normal with lively crowds.

With COVID-19 wrecking the plans for the past and upcoming school years, parents have embraced the rescheduled Little League season with greater appreciation and enthusiasm. I also dug deeper into my photography gear box to film the entire season without missing a beat (well, I did miss a few minutes due to battery issues). Here below is a recap video of my older boy’s team, Rockets, at the Forest Hills Little League 2020 season (spoiler alert: two grand slams and an additional home run):

Charting the Carnage of Covid-19 (data via NYTimes)

Michael Data & Graphics, Interactive, Photo July 17, 2020

Total reported cases and deaths in the U.S. (and by states/counties)

As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo likes to say, we have climbed a monstrous mountain. Even though we are on the other side of it, and for quite a few weeks, there’s still no place for complacency and chance-taking.

Here below is just a chart where you could filter any states and/or counties of your interest and see how the pandemic has been wreaking the havoc. A big shout out to the New York Times COVID-19 data team, who have offered all the data for free here.

Bear Markets: S&P 500 in Historical Perspective

Michael Data & Graphics, Photo, Photo editing May 4, 2020

It’s quite a sight to witness the stock market dropping by 35% in 33 days (S&P 500) thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, beating the 1929 record in velocity with a drop of 45% in 58 days. See slide 6 and 12:

Notes:

  • The red bars indicate the S&P 500 peak and trough prices during the bear markets, background reading by James A. Kostohryz on seekingalpha.com
  • Top image from morningstar.com by Paul D. Kaplan [The chart shows that over this period of almost 150 years, $1 (in 1870 U.S. dollars) invested in a hypothetical U.S. stock market index in 1871 would have grown to $15,303 by the end of March 2020.]
  • Slide 12 might be a work in progress…

Live Appy, i.e. digitally happy and/or apps-enabled

Michael Photo August 3, 2019

The phone is something we cannot live without. And here are some of the apps that are indispensable, or at least you should try…

metroSmartRide: map of gas prices

The map of gas prices that comes right out of the metroSmartRide app, powered by Metro by T-Mobile. In my neighborhood there’s an almost $1/gallon difference between the best deals and the worst, as of July 2019
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Time Machine: Yoyo vs. Alex (Yangyang)

Michael Interactive, Photo, Yo&Yang March 23, 2019
Below is a looping video morphing between Yoyo (10 months) and Alex (9 mo.):
Below is the interactive slider version: hold-swipe away…
Now someone a little more famous: Roger Federer from 18 to 38 years of age (photos credits: Getty Images):

Same tool used in a project from previous life: Time Traveling Through Dramatic Urbanization in China Over Decades (ChinaFile)

Interactive version in the link above^

Frugal, Yet Fine Living

Michael Animation, Interactive, Photo July 23, 2018

Some handy projects* to elevate the city living while adding a bit of DIY fun:

  • Non-conventional AC installation:

    Imagining side panels generating little or zero drafts, we got customized, hand-crafted acrylic or poly-carbonate sheet glass panels, for all 3 air conditioners. Crisp clear view and double pane for winter-proofing! [Over 10 hours of labor though.]


Not sure about the foam’s life expectancy, as in a couple of weeks there’s already a strip of dip along the dripping line.

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A Cheat Sheet on Citywide Gifted & Talented Programs in NYC

Michael Interactive, Photo July 20, 2018

It’s been quite a journey for us to finally secure a seat at one of New York City’s Citywide Gifted & Talented programs. It’s a success that has taken both hard work and luck. We are very proud for Evan Yoyo to join NEST+m and we cannot wait to see him further grow and learn while enjoying chess and other things the school has to offer.

Here below is just a cheat sheet to get an idea of some overall considerations while choosing which ones you like, or not. But there’s just so much more to what this table can present, even though it’s a good start. [Commute times below are calculated based on a Forest Hills area home location.]

Our best one-sentence advice would be: start the prep work and research as early as possible. If you can get your child into the Kindergarten of a G&T program, you have an astronomically better chance of getting in than trying first grade.

Last but not least, education is so much more than what a school can provide for children, although a good school means a lot in the equation. We know that this will be a learning journey for the whole family, and those who we will be having a role along the way. After all, it takes a village.

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Now US Open Kids Day Is About the Game

Michael Photo, Photo editing, Video May 19, 2018

Now that Yoyo has become a real tennis fan, mostly of Roger Federer of course, the US Open Kids Day will be more about watching the game rather than just hanging out with family and picking up some goodies from sponsors. Here are some shots showing how serious he’s about the game:

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Photos That Make Skier Look Amazing

Michael Animation, Michael's touch, Photo January 17, 2018

This past weekend has been my 6-year-old son’s second time in his skiing career, if we can call it one. He started to like it. He’s not as remarkable as I have heard about other kids of his age. In my eye, and in particular through my lens, he is a pro already. Alright, I admit, he looks much greater in these photos than he really is. But hey, that’s what photos are for right?

Yoyo elegantly dodging a fallen skier on his way down

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Tech Review: Facetune 2 Putting Photoshop on the Phone

Michael Michael's touch, Photo January 14, 2018

I’ve recently tried quite a few iPhone photo editing apps and Facetune 2 is my favorite, here are real-life case studies:

Tricks applied above:

  • Defocus (the holy grail that the iPhone has been trying relentlessly to emulate after – the shallow depth of field)
    [You may try the auto feature but I find it hit or miss and the manual is definitely much better, if not perfect]
  • Vignette (an oval shaped spotlight effect, with a subtle dark frame around the person(s), on your chosen area of focus)

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Yoyo Scroll

Michael Photo December 3, 2017

A picture every three months or so, since January 2012.

An ever evolving documentary project.

What I learned so far: capturing the right moments matters the most to the quality of the picture, not whether you have a backdrop or lighting and all those things. But a good lens does help a great deal. Also available at yoyozhao.me


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Air Quality Action Day? Worry Not, NYers!

Michael Animation, Data & Graphics, Photo, Video July 22, 2017

If you have never heard of an air quality action day, you are most likely a perfectly typical resident in the U.S. who is also lucky, the latter of which you may have been taking for granted. Because a hazy day like July 20, 2017 in Manhattan almost never happens. (Hazy is not the same as “foggy.”)

Manhattan skyline July 20 vs 21, 2017 seen from Queens

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GIFs: California Reservoirs From Drought to Deluge

Michael Animation, Data & Graphics, Photo April 20, 2017

A five-year drought in California ended spectacularly this winter, with the state emerging from one of its driest periods on record by enduring one of its wettest. Reservoirs, lakes, and mountainsides are now brimming with water and snow, though scientists caution that the unseen reservoirs—underground aquifers—are a long way from having the same bounty that is visible on the land surface. [Full post on NASA Earth Observatory]

Trinity Lake, the third largest reservoir in the state (after Lake Oroville and Shasta Lake). The artificial lake in northern California connects to the Trinity River and is part of the Sacramento basin. On April 29, 2015, Trinity stood at 59 percent of its historical average level for that date; by April 2, 2017, it stood at 114 percent.

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