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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
This was my wife and my first time at Disneyland! It was an awesome experience to save this trip for my fun and adorable wife who loves adventures and who allows me to be a kid on the inside and out. I think a trip to Disney World is in order. With all my new video gear like drone and heavy duty gimbal, I am leaning towards going back to a more personal perspective on video for our trips. Ultra smooth video feels high production and less like I’m actually there. I did handheld non-stabilized video with the Canon 5D Mark III on a Sigma 24mm f1.4 Art Lens in 1080p. Almost unheard of nowadays with newer video technology being so affordable. This may be one of my favorite videos so far!
Greece was the first international country we visited where I had a chance to fly my Mavic Pro. There was some nervousness when bringing a drone to a country where I wasn’t familiar with the culture or local laws, but as soon as we got into our rental car and drove around the city within the first hour I felt pretty comfortable. I don’t know if it’s the culture or the economic status, or a combination of both, but everything about the Greece felt laid back, it felt like I could do no wrong here as a tourist, especially during the low season in March.
We have plenty of photos in our previous blog posts Part 1 and Part 2. It was nice being able to film with minimal people in the shots and it also helps to start filming early in the day before the bus loads of tourists converge. There were no signs anywhere in the city of Athens that prohibited drone flying, even around the ancient ruins. I took off from outside the perimeter of the sites and made sure not to get too close. I definitely don’t want to be responsible for any damages or injuries. The only place in Greece I noticed “No drone” signs was in Santorini. I can only imagine how it would be a prime spot for all pilots to fly. Of course, I did fly mine too only because it was low season and I thought the impact to the handful of tourists would be negligible. I made sure to stay away from residences and hotels, just a few overhead shots over the water.
Some of my favorite shots were Olya driving the car while I chased us with the drone at full speed. It really shows how important our drives are during our vacations, being able to stop anywhere and see the sights that aren’t on the tour bus agendas. However, sometimes we would arrive at a spot only to be followed immediately by a bus full of Chinese tourists! This literally happens in every country.
Please like the video if you enjoyed it!
Probably one of my favorite movies of 2018 is Crazy Rich Asians for many reasons. One of the reasons is how much I loved Awkwafina’s character in the movie. Her personality doesn’t fit the stereotypical role of how one might expect an Asian woman to act – she is fiesty, loud, and absolutely hilariously uncensored. All the traits I would imagine my little Chai Latte if she were a hooman. Chai’s not your typical Shih Tzu, she’s got more energy and some might even call her a crazy dog, which is why we love her so much. It wasn’t hard to decide to choose Awkwafina’s character Peik Lin in the movie as Chai’s costume. Her cute bunny shirt was the centerpiece.
Earlier in 2018 we spent a lot of time traveling between multiple countries around the world. I was fortunate to be able to bring my DJI Mavic Pro everywhere with me and flew without any issues. With the array of topography and hemispheres, we drove through all 4 seasons within the 4 month travel period. When I finally arrived back home and found this awesome new song that I was inspired to make this video. The video includes scenes from back home in the U.S., Greece, Ukraine, and South Africa.
We were lucky to have such good friends who won VIP tickets for Universal Studios invite my wife and I. We loved our tour guide Kendall who made our experience very smooth and efficient navigating through a huge park and doing everything we were interested in within our two day trip. Now we can never go back without a VIP pass to a theme park. Thanks for spoiling us Gregg!
The whole trip was filmed with GoPro HERO5 on a Zhiyun Smooth-Q gimbal.
After the first half of our Greece trip going north, we headed south towards our next destination, Santorini! On our way down, we stopped by The Rhion Fortress with a great view of the Rion-Antirion Bridge, and thanks to Google, we found a little restaurant along the way called Fast Food Pitta Bomb. The drive there was slightly suspicious as the mini island town looked a little run down and empty. We have to remember it was low season so it didn’t feel like a popular destination, but the ratings were good so we gave it a go. At roughly $2 per gyro, it was one of the best we’ve had so far! Olya said she could’ve eaten two. With our tummies happy, we were ready to get back to Athens.
Our trip to Greece was made possible by my wife finding a great deal through The Points Guy. She purchased the tickets last year for our March trip, which is low season for Greece. We planned to stay on the mainland for most of the time, and a few nights on Santorini island. My initial hesitation came from not being too excited about Greek food or knowing what the sights would be like – I’m not much for archeology and manmade sights. I was excited, however, about flying my DJI Mavic Pro outside of the country for the first time after a few months of practice.
We did our research for flights to Santorini from Athens, and decided to purchase through Ryanair. They are one of the most popular budget commuter airlines in Europe, and everything goes smoothly as long as you do your due diligence reading the restrictions – or prepare to pay hefty fees. We learned the hard way with our first budget airline experience with WOW Air going to Iceland. Make sure your personal or carry-on meets the exact size requirements to the millimeter, and it’s worth paying extra for the priority boarding and carry-on bag. Boarding passes must also be printed out on your own – they charge extra for e-tickets issued on your mobile!
Our experience in Greece was not what we had expected, although we did not have much to expect at all. The first item on the itinerary on any trip is to pick up our rental car, a BMW 1 series diesel. Efficient and comfortable little guy with solid driving dynamics compared to the cheap econoboxes we usually get. We reserved this car for 4 days at a whopping $83 USD. That was the first clue that this trip could end up pretty inexpensive! Except for the hotels in Santorini that were pre-booked, we would book all of our accomodations in Greece last minute so we could drive and explore wherever my little drone would take us.
This is a shorter version of our 13 day foodie trip in Taiwan. Filmed with a GoPro Hero4 Black on Zhiyun Smooth Q gimbal. Please enjoy in full 2K (1440p) in the settings!
Part two of our Taiwan trip visits Hsinchu and Taichung. Hsinchu is my birthplace and where my grandma and relatives still live, so we visited them during our stay, not to mention they also know where some of the best places to eat are. Almost every morning we would go to my grandma’s favorite breakfast hole-in-the-wall where they start preparing food at 4am for lines of customers during breakfast. They are famous for the typical Taiwanese breakfast of soy milk, fried dough sticks, egg pancake, turnip cake and vegetable buns. All of them were absolutely delicious and perhaps some of the best in Taiwan.
This is the first of a two part blog post on our trip to Taiwan in January of 2018. We decided last minute to purchase flights because the tickets were under $500 per person round trip! Unlike our previous Taiwan adventure, we decided to rely on public transportation and not rent a car like we usually do. Using public transportation required staying within the city, and we really enjoyed using the High Speed Rail, Metro and U-Bike rentals. Instead of sightseeing on this trip, it would be centered around food exploration.
I had a lot of fun filming our road trip from San Jose to Yosemite National Park. I filmed with my iPhone 6s, GoPro Hero 4 Black, and the DJI Mavic Pro. Enjoy!