Urban Exploring with Smoke Bombs

I started to pick up a little love for Urban Exploring. Lately. There's just so many perspectives to view in New York City.

I made some homemade smoke bombs and went to explore the freedom tunnel with two friends.

I was honestly uncertain if the smoke bombs would even light off. Most of my homemade fuses didn't even work. What do you do when a shoot fails? Plan B. I stuffed tissue paper into the container, lit it, and the rest was history. 

Here's the outcome of the shoot. Would I do this again? 10/10.

Big thanks to Adonis "Crash" Boom and Jona for participating!


Shooting "Bartendez"

Today I had the pleasure of shooting Junior Turbo from the Team Inkredibles. He is a "Bartendez," which a person who specializes in a form of street workout. In a nutshell, this type of workout is a minimalistic, requiring only one's body weight, the floor, playground equipment, and a lot of creativity. Moving forward from simply a great way to buff, tone, and upgrade one's physique, the Bartendaz movement consists of creating new moves in conjunction to music. Today it is a freestyle artform which requires massive amounts of strength, flexibility, and creativity.

Here are a few shots of Junior Turbo in action.

Junior aka Turbo

Junior aka Turbo

Junior aka Turbo

Junior aka Turbo

Junior aka Turbo

Junior aka Turbo

20 Minute On-Location Shoot at IBE

Just landed back from the IBE 2014 festival in Heerlen, Netherlands. The festival basically takes over main downtown/shopping area of the city. There's so many events running simultaneously around the place. Basically, it means if you get lost, you'll run into a dope artwork or another venue where another event is taking place. How much more awesome can getting can it get? As always, the hospitality and the vibe of the event is unlike any other dance event in the world.

Unfortunately, for this year, the weather was a tad bit rainy. It still didn't stop the vibe though.

IBE Opening Festival

Because of the weather, I was only able to pull off one good on-location shoot over this weekend. I asked Tony T-Bags, winner of the Red Bull BC One Philadelphia Cypher 2014 to do a 5 minute shoot in a nearby alleyway between the event venues. When shoots work well, 5 minutes turn into a longer session. There's nothing iller than having both the photographer and the test model equally excited to collaborate.

As this was a last minute on-location shoot, I tend to pack much less (back pain can get bad). These were shot with Elinchrom Quadras and a Canon Rebel T2i. For my friends who keep asking, "what is the best camera to buy," keep in mind that this picture was shot with an entry level DSLR camera. I also did not bring light stands with me - you can still nab creative shots with less equipment. It's not about how expensive your arsenal is rather than how it is used as a whole.

Lighting Set Up

The first shot was taken with one fill light to the right of Tony. The second light was placed right behind his foot. It was used as a backlight to make sure he POPs out in the photography.

Tony T-Bags at IBE

Lighting Diagram

The second shot was taken with both lights evenly parallel to each other. Due to this angle, the contrast between the highly exposed light and the underexposed shadows become more emphasized.

Tony T-Bags at IBE Lighting Diagram

Still need to finish editing. Until next time!

How to Shoot Fire Breathers

It's pretty epic to capture the details of fire onto a camera. It is also not as difficult as it seems to be. In a short snippet, here's how to shoot fire breathers.

Kien Quan Bboy Breakdance Fire Breathing

 1/1000 sec at f/ 4.0, ISO 800


1. Safety First (most important step!!!!!)

First of all, make sure your fire breather knows what he is doing!

If he or she isn't a professional, I wouldn't recommend doing this at all. However, this is the Internet and people will definitely try it themselves if they are really curious. So if that is the case then at least learn the ropes. Instead of starting off with a fuel, start off with corn starch. It is non-flammable. It teaches you how to spit correctly so you don't burn your face. This isn't a tutorial to learn how to breath fire so you can definitely find more information through local fire performance groups.........or through YouTube (not recommended).


Second, make sure you have a fire extinguisher with you or a wet cloth to pat down anything caught on fire, whether it is yourself, your model, your fire breather, your assistant, your equipment, or the environment around you. Also, don't wear flammable clothing. 100% cotton is recommended. Polyester will melt into your skin.

Third, steer clear of flammable environments. A bad idea to do this is in the middle of a forest, or indoors, especially if the air is very dry. An exception to this is if it just rained outdoors. If things are covered by water, it is very difficult for anything to catch fire. However, passing pedestrians, patrol, or your neighbors might harass you. Personally, for me, I would only do this in urban environments.

Fourth, if possible, have fire performance insurance. A monthly fee of two hundred bucks can cover you if, worst case scenario, you burn down a million dollar property.


2. Judge where the wind is blowing.

DO NOT for any reason blow fire at the direction that the wind is hitting you. You want to blow it towards the same direction as the wind to send the projectile far away from contacting your face.

3. In regards to shooting, fire breathing requires safe combustibles with a high flash point (such as paraffin oil).

High flash point means that it gets REALLY bright. The iso and the f-stop can be adjusted. However, shutter speed has to be high. 1/200 is the absolute minimum.  The flames will be kind of blurry. If you want super sharp flames, aim for 1/1000 or faster if it is possible. The faster the shutter, the texture on the flame will be crisper. There is no magic number so experiment, experiment, experiment.

 4. Every split moment when the flame comes out requires different exposures.

As it travels out the mouth, the exposure quickly goes from extremely bright to dark. Wait a split moment for the flames to cure itself, exposing its awesome texture. Look at the difference in exposures from the ignition at his mouth to the outskirts of the flame.


Bones Nextlevelsquad fire breather blower

1/200 at f/ 4.5, ISO 800 (If I had a little higher shutter speed, that over exposed section wouldn't have happened)


5. It is okay for the photograph to be completely under exposed.

If the flame is overexposed, the detail will be lost. Underexposed photographs can be recovered extremely well these days. The dynamic range on most cameras, especially on raw files is extremely impressive.

6. If you want to add flashes to your photographs, throw on an orange CTO gel.

The white balance with the flash doesn't correlate with the color balance of the flame's light. If needed, layer the CTO gel one or twice.


Fire Breathing Bones the Machine Nextlevelsquad

1/200  at /f 3.5, ISO 800  - one external flash with double layered CTO gel is place to the left of the camera


The rest is up to you to experiment. Good luck!

I thank Benjamin Von Wong for throwing tips and pointers towards my direction. If you are curious, check out his work!


My Experience in Amsterdam and the Notorious IBE

untitled-9918 It's been a crazy summer with lots of anticipation and amazing success in the photography world as well as in my crew's dancing career. This summer, I haven't been shooting as frequently as I was in the springtime. Before, I was putting a massive amount of work out for portfolio building reasons. Now, my focus is less on quantity and more on an emphasis on how I feel. Unlike everyone's thoughts on how great it can be as a photographer in NYC, I just couldn't find inspiration to shoot great work there. Simply, I just needed a breath of fresh air. If my heart isn’t in my work, it will show. For that reason, my crew, 5 Crew Dynasty and I found ourselves flying out to Europe twice this summer. I needed a new environment to shoot amazing work. My crew wanted to experience the largest bboy festival in the world: the Notorious IBE.

First stop: Amsterdam. I found the whole city of Amsterdam to be a museum.

Royal Palace Dam Square Amsterdam HDR

Enjoying the city so much, I didn't take too many photographs. However, here is an amazing shot of the sun illuminating these sprinklers at this park. On a technical standpoint, this image is too heavily underexposed. For me, it isn't about the equipment - photography is just a medium to express your vision. Regardless, I think I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time to capture this moment.

Before Edit

Amsterdam Flip


After Edit

Bboy Aerial tricking

After a brief four days, we moved towards Heerlan, Netherlands to visit the Notorious IBE. If there is any event that a bboy should know about, it would be this one. They literally hosted this festival throughout the whole downtown section of Heerlan. With 59 different events going on in only 3 days, it is practically impossible to participate in every program.

IBE bboy Neguin red bull bc one allstar


bboy gravity 5 crew dynasty ibe-6Day 1 - Opening day. Originally, I was supposed to have a talk show about my perspectives as a dancer who recently moved towards the direction of a dance photographer. I was ready to share my story with the rest of the world. However, the schedule messed up due to a little confusion. Oh well. There are plenty of opportunities around. My crew member, Gravity tops the day off with a win in the concrete battle.






Bboy Wouter Chief RockaDay 2 – I spent most of my day going around and conversing with various European bboys as well as natives from the town. I honestly think my main motive for dance and photography is a great excuse to travel and learn about other cultures. I realized I never went to another foreign place without a mission such as a jam, a friend’s wedding, or any other large event. There were several main events for the night – it would be practically impossible to visit each one.


My crew and I entered the qualifier for the IBE crew battle with no thoughts in mind. We battled against a crew named Action Man from Russia. They are insanely good, combining clever uses of flexibility with their dancing. A lot of the times, by gut feeling, you know whether or not you passed through prelims by how people react to your movements. I think we got through.


As the night dawned, Gravity wins the 7 to Smoke.

bboy gravity 5 crew dynasty ibe 2-6


Day 3 – Now it starts to get serious as my crew starts to sharpen up our routines and solo rounds in preparation for the crew battle. With most of us starting our bboy paths in 2005, IBE is one of the events my whole crew aimed to visit. To create this huge of an impact is simply a plus.

I’m juggling between my duties as a dancer and my urges to create amazing art. I am happy for encountering a bboy by the name of Blonde from Korea / Australia. He is world famous for his insanely difficult combinations that combine powermoves with footwork, freezes, and toprock. I wanted to visually depict his signature “walking airflares.”

Raw Shots

How to blonde photoshop airflare sequence

After seven photographs and about six hours, bouncing between Lightroom and Photoshop, here is the final photograph.



Unfortunately, this year, IBE did not have its famous large-scale “country vs country” battle set up. It was replaced by a 7-to-Smoke Allstar battle with the previous 7 winners including Gravity from yesterday. Issei from Japan sweeps the competition.

bboy ronnie super crew red bull allstars jabbawockeez bboy justdoit niek ibe

bboy issei japan ibebboy gravity ibe 7 to smoke-3

Issei's reaction as he is declared winner of the IBE 7 to Smoke Allstars.

Issie ibe japan

The crew battle is a prelim for UK Championships. We ended up taking on, a Russian Bgirl Crew called Women Attack in the semi finals and Soul Mavericks for the finals. With such a short bracket, besides one routine, I didn’t exactly get much of a chance to go out and do my solo rounds. So I’m going to have to admit, my crew won this qualifier, I did the absolute minimum.

ibe afterparty

Trying to focus on two different talents is very difficult. I am an avid believer that jack-of-all-trades are masters at none. On this trip, instead of excelling at dance, I excelled in creating visual art through my photographs.

Lastly, check out the Notorious IBE Fanpage on Facebook!

Big thanks to Paul Van Dal, Tyrone Van Der Meer, and Thijn Van Der Linden for the hospitality.

Next article – my trip to the UK B-boy Championships.


Red Bull BC One: Philadelphia Cypher

As always, it's been a while since I've made another post. I've been busy working on a few new projects. Most of my updates have been done through my Facebook page due to convenience. I've covered and shot Red Bull BC One: Philadelphia Cypher a few weeks ago. I preplanned this trip in my head a little earlier. I considered the factors. Bad venue lighting is abundant in most dance events I attend - this is completely normal. For most dance events - they usually are not sponsored by companies so people have to cut costs and find a suitable venue for a low budget.

Red Bull usually addresses this problem by setting up strong theatre-like lighting. For this reason, I did not need to use any flash equipment - just a fast lens. I really like how the photos came out. The natural event lighting that was captured makes me feel as if I am in front of the action!

Taking good shots was not difficult for this event. This is one of those events where every timed click came out consistent and magnificent. So it was painful tough to cut my album down to the best photographs. Instead, I selected a bunch of shots I felt had difference approaches.

The rest of the album can be seen through these two links:

Red Bull BC One Philadelphia Cypher: Culture

Red Bull BC One Philadelphia Cypher: War


Portrait of Zebra

Portrait of Isaiah

DJ Skeme Richards Rocksteady RSC crew

Crazy Legs

Ronnie and Domkey



Richie Rich

Richie Rich


The Winner


Bboy Knuckles Red Bull BC One Philadelphia cypher


Stay tuned for the next blog post. I'm planning to release a few tutorials on how I capture certain shots.

Macro Food Shoot at Saverio's Stone Fire Bistro

Besides covering the usual portraits and events, I did a mac food shoot at Saverio's Stone Fire Bistro today. This was completely out of the norm so I want to write a short blog about it. I've shot macro shots of objects before for fun, so this assignment should be a simple breeze. Shooting objects is similars shooting any portrait: you want to bring the best out of it. You want to make those tomatoes POP. You want them to gleam. When people see the pieces, their mouths should water.

Big kudos to the chef, Nicola Bertolotti. He created some amazing Italian cuisines.

Here are some shots from today.

Nicola Bertolotti - the Chef himselfNicola Bertolotti


Proscuitto PizzaProscuitto Pizza


Pepperoni Pizza with Various Vegetables and CheesesPepperoni Pizza


Panini in the OvenPanini in Oven


Macro Shot of the SaladMacro Food Salad


Panini in Chef's HandNicola Bertolotti 3




I believe this is Manicotti with Vodka Sauce. I can't seem to remember. Manicotti


Spinach SaladItalian Salad 2


An up close shot of itItalian Salad


We decided to be creative and use the waterfall outside their store to make an amazing portrait of some of these dishes. Sometimes, using extra props give a unique personality to your pieces.Food Shots


Lastly, here's a shot of Nicola's favorite food....Nutella!Nicola Bertolotti 2


The restaurant is called Saverio's in Glendale Queens. 4.5 out of 5 stars - according to yelp. I would highly recommend this place from my visit. The food is spot-on amazing with bursts of flavor and texture. Click here to check out their site!




New Page Look and Video Projects on Harlem Shake

  Wow! It’s been a month or so since I’ve written anything. Life has been busy trying to juggle my dance world with the photography world. These two passions, which I deeply obsess over are inseparable.

Since the past month, lets see some cool things I’ve done…..

1. Revamped my web page - I felt like the previous page theme was too clunky and confusing. I like things simple.

2. Harlem Shake Flash Mob - First one was shot with my friends and dance crew members of 5 Crew Dynasty. We almost have 150,000 hits! Not bad.


Second one was shot for Hunter College as a favor in the following week. Although I don't go to that school anymore, I felt like giving back since I had such an awesome time there. Also I wanted to win the CUNY challenge. In the perspective of quality, concept, and popularity, I believe we topped the other colleges (this is just my opinion - not a fact!). We got about 30,000 hits. This beat our second place competitor, Queens College, who has about 20,000 hits. Regardless of competition, these videos strengthened college life together for every campus who participated. That is the most important thing and it made me feel good participating.


3. As a dancer, I felt in my heart that I should interview the original guys who started the Harlem Shake. The flash mob dance is funny and trendy. However, the original dancers should be voiced on YouTube. Here is the interview plus a couple of moves broken down. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4onDRA2GjTU

These three projects are the very first time I ever edited and shot videos. Suddenly I have a lof of people asking me to do video work. I might actually get more into videography in the near future. Who knows. For now, I would say these videos were just fun projects.

Lindsey Maynor

It was one of those days where the scenario was perfect for taking shots. Clear blue skies. 45 degree weather in January. So my fingers weren't about to fall off. Lindsey Maynor, a facebook social butterfly was the model for the day. This was pretty easy as I was able to translate his gritty sense of humor onto picture. Here's a few from the day. Lindsey Maynor Roots

Lindsey Maynor Chair Freeze Lindsey Maynor Airchair Lindsey Maynor Headshot Lindsey Maynor Southern

Review: Unpacking New Mini Business Cards from Moo.com

I always had a mind state for myself to differentiate myself from others. Why swim against the current when you can just take another route nobody else has? Applying this to buying new business cards, I checked out Moo.com for their mini business cards. Checking out their reviews online, it seemed that their product is of very high quality. So I ordered a test batch for myself. 400 cards, 68 dollars, it won’t break my bank. 7 days later, my new business cards just arrived in the mail from Moo.com. After unpacking the box and checking them out, I have to say out of all the companies I’ve ordered cards from, I am highly satisfied.

It was scheduled to arrive in ten days. About fives days to process the cards from the factory. Five more days to ship.  To my surprise, the whole process only took 7 days. +1 on shipping service.

The quality of the cards is also on point. With a matte finish, it seems to be a little thicker than most business cards. This means sitting on them won’t affect them too much in case you toss them in your back pocket. +1 for durability.

I also ordered a business card case. Made out of felt, it has a very personal touch to it.

Moo Card

One thing that moo has over other companies is that they can customize your cards to a very far extent. I ordered a batch of 400, every 100 cards is a different cover. I only uploaded 4, you can actually upload as many photos as you like. This kinds of reminds me of childhood. I remember when I wanted to collect every Pokemon card as a wee little kid. This is similar in a way where I have a whole collection pack to myself.

So from a consumer’s stasndpoint, if you want your business cards to stand out, especially if you are in a creative field, I would highly recommend Moo.com. <----This is a referral if you would like 10% off ordering.