Turn Your TV Into a Photo Frame

I have been using Amazon FireStick TV’s on all of my TV’s around the house and have always enjoyed the slideshow feature when it was sitting idle. The options for selecting what photos or albums from the FireStick alone was very limited and cumbersome. I previously used my smartphone to upload specific photos to an Amazon Drive photos folder (which by the way is a completely different interface than Amazon Photos). I backup all of my personal and wedding photos onto Amazon Drive because we have unlimited storage. Looking through hundreds if not thousands of folder names through FireStick to find the one folder I want as a slideshow was almost an impossible task which is why I never bothered changing folders once I picked one.

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BMW Meetup at a Biergarten

It was exciting to revisit a taste of Germany at a biergarten in NJ that had a true Bavaria vibe. The latest BMW meetup was at Deutscher Club of Clark, NJ hosted by the New Jersey Chapter BMW Car Club of America. A row of M cars from almost every generation combined with delicious bier and bratwursts does a great night make.

Fall Drive 2020

It was an absolutely daunting task planning for our annual Fall drive which includes great scenic drives while making sure to capture as much footage as possible. I requested all the drivers to strap on their GoPros and help me film every angle possible so I could make an epic video after. The coolest and best footage from the drive was from the GoPro Fusion Max 360 camera. I loved just how fun and easy it is to reframe the shots in post processing, never missing a moment. While it takes extra time and patience after the fact to produce a final video with a 360 camera, the effort is totally worth the end result. I’d suggest a 360 camera for everyone! Please enjoy the video!

2020 Fall Foliage Drive

We have an annual tradition to take a group drive during peak Fall foliage season to enjoy the beautiful scenery and to discover new windy and twisty roads around New Jersey/New York. With all the bad news this year and isolation, it was great to finally be among our friends again outdoors and safely distance in our own cars for an epic drive. Olya and I spent days planning the route, taking test drives with our daily driver, and researching endless possible roads and stops on Google maps to make sure the experience was top notch for everyone.

One of my favorite things about living in Sussex county is the endless windy country roads any direction I drive, without any of the traffic or pot holes I battled with out East in Bergen or Passaic county. It’s a joy to drive every single time. I wanted to make sure our friends really experienced the fun we have living here.

As usual, we packed a trunk full of photo and video gear to document every aspect of the drive. We love getting rolling shots for each car so our friends can have a memorable keepsake of their ride whether they keep it for three years or ten. Not only do we make sure the drive is fun, but also enjoy all the stops along the way. From local farms to breweries, we have them all here! This was also the first year we’ve created a brochure special to our private group drive, hard to top this next year, but I’m already looking forward to it!

Stay tuned for the video!

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Adventures in Bavaria

We are hoping all of our friends, families, and lovely couples are having a safe and productive time staying at home, whether you’re catching up on favorite shows, finding new hobbies or learning new skills. We’ve been catching up on editing, especially our back log of travel videos from the past year.

We flew to Ukraine last year for a wedding, and with our points we were able to book a week stopover for free in Germany. We spent our week in Bavaria hopping from lake to lake, drinking radler and eating lots of wursts and pretzels. The water was an incredible turquoise blue situated in front of the magnificent snow capped Alps. It felt like we were always in front of a perfect landscape canvas. The country is truly as beautiful as the film. Every square meter of the country is practically manicured ready for photos or video.

If you ever get a chance to visit Germany, I highly recommend driving through Bavaria and dip your toes into all the amazing lakes from Neuschwanstein Castle to Salzburg, Austria.

Visit Ukraine

When I think of places around the world my friends need to visit, I often think of Ukraine. I would have never included Ukraine on my travel list before getting married, since it isn’t a popular destination spot nor do most Americans even know where Ukraine is! I’ve had the privilege of visiting my wife’s birth country with her family to get a real experience of a country that has such fascinating history as well as sharing such a similar story to that of Taiwan, my birth country.

The reason for being a highly recommended country to visit is because of the lack of tourism. You can visit the most famous cities of Kiev or Lviv, standing with centuries old architecture and old Soviet era cars, and never see another international tourist during your stay. Even with the extreme old world charm, there is still a lot of progress in the area of tourism that helps attract us back year after year.

If this video peaks your interest in visiting the beautiful country of Ukraine, we would be happy to be your personal guides!

SEASONS One Year Project

I have a lot of fun flying my drone around the world on my travels, but I thought it would be just as beautiful to film where I live. Thanks to the third-party app Litchi, I can pre-program waypoints for my DJI Mavic Pro, and have it repeatedly fly the same route over and over. I thought this would be a perfect way to get a change in seasons through out the year from different parts of my neighborhood. I setup a few locations where I would like to go back and film, somewhere convenient but still scenic. I was able to use a combination of Google Earth and Litchi Mission Hub to plan all my flights at home, then run test flights in the real world to make minor tweaks. Once I was happy with the flight plan after many attempts, while holding my thumb very closely to the controller’s pause button in case the path led me straight into a tree, I started showing up at all the locations and just hit the play button to let the Mavic do its thing. Long story short, after a year’s worth of footage, I was happy enough to start editing in Adobe Premiere Pro.

The most tedious task was the manually align all the footage to match. The GPS on the Mavic is good, but not perfect. A lot of the footage are misaligned due to inaccurate GPS coordinates by a few feet, and that could lead to very different footage when the objects are so close to the camera. Any minor changes cause a big difference in perspective when trying to align videos. Unfortunately my recordings were not high res enough that scaling clips up to match other clips led to soft parts in the video. This will be fixed in the next project with UHD 4K recording!

I’ve since moved to a new county, and with that comes new scenery and new flight plans. Please enjoy!

Our Budget Trip to LA

We travel a lot for photography work and we usually attach a mini vacation along with the trip, however this usually ends up being a struggle lugging all our gear along with personal luggage. I think it still surprises us that my gadgets always ends up taking more luggage than my wife’s clothing, makeup, and shoes combined. We decided this one time to try traveling as light as possible, a budget oriented vacay. My wife’s deal hunting skills got us round trip flights to Los Angeles for $133 each on Spirit Airlines, with a personal item only (no carry-on) – it was whatever we could fit under the seat. Challenge accepted! We had the luxury of staying at my brother’s beautiful home by View Park, LA and he graciously let us borrow his Tesla Model 3. With our personal bags packed and our TSA PreCheck and Priority Pass ready, we hit up Newark Airport like we owned the joint. The only camera gear I brought was the Olympus Mirrorless system, which allowed me to fit all my lens and body into the personal bag. I specifically wanted to try out the Lumix 7-14mm lens to see if it’s a useful lens when traveling. This came at a perfect time since the new iPhone 11 also announced their new super-wide lens which is exactly as wide as this Lumix. So is it worth bringing a similar lens if the cameraphone can get the same focal length? The short answer is, a tiny fingernail sized sensor will never compete with a larger sensor. It all boils down to how compact do you really need your camera versus quality. For most people, the new third lens on the smartphone will be sufficient.

This trip is also a brief review on a lens, car, and food. Just the way I like it.

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Vacation in the Bavarian Alps

Our latest adventure took us to Germany, for the main reason that we were going to Ukraine for a family wedding event. Ukraine is somewhere we go often, and I highly recommend visiting the large historic city of Lviv someday. So why Germany? United flights allow a free stop-over when booking your flight with points, so after careful consideration of which EU country to visit, we finally chose Munich. I’ve been there once in the past for an engagement session (and a few laps on the Nurburgring!), so a personal vacation there with my wife would be an extremely different experience and more memorable.

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Curacao

Our first family trip to the Caribbeans was Aruba. This time, we went for the “C” in the ABC islands, Curacao. It’s a slightly larger island, although you can still get from one end to the other and back in a car on the same day. We stayed at an Airbnb which meant we cooked most of our meals. The most exciting part of our trips are the snorkeling, and fishing. I am terrible with sea sickness, so the majority of the fishing trip I was knocked out. Good thing Olya took over the filming while I was unconscious! Just like Aruba, Curacao is extremely windy which is wonderful for keeping the bugs away. I was hesitant at first trying to fly my Mavic Pro in such windy conditions, but after a few test flights I felt confident enough that it could hold steady and not get dragged out to sea. I really enjoyed all the ocean shots, and none of the beach goers had any issues, and a bunch of locals came up to me out of curiosity and we held some interesting conversations. What a friendly and happy island. Next trip will be “B” for Bonaire!