About me

So who am I? Currently I’m a 3rd-year student at UC Berkeley studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).  Here’s a recent photo, taken by Kelley Cox, an accomplished sports photographer who works for Golden Bear Sports:

Portrait of myself, taken by kelleylcox

Portrait of myself, taken by Kelley Cox


I didn’t actually develop an interest in photography until relatively late – the first time I seriously picked up a camera and took on the photographer role was in the summer of 2005, when I spent 5 weeks touring Italy.  I shot that trip with my dad’s old trusty Olympus C2100-UZ, which was a somewhat revolutionary beast at its time.  After that summer I came back and immersed myself into consumer research of digital cameras, and also started learning about the science behind photographs and the mechanics that made those digital imaging devices tick.  I finally picked up the now-legendary Fuji F30 by the next summer, based on its phenomenal low-light abilities and because I wasn’t convinced I should take the plunge into the world of SLRs just yet.

That affair was actually a bit short-lived, as the camera died and had to be sent in for repair, and by the time I came back, I had already picked up my first ever SLR – a Canon 350D Rebel XT with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, for a sweet $550 used (at the time it was going for ~$750 usually, and the new price was still in the $900-$1000 range).  I still keep the old Fuji around, even though it’s been rarely used over the last 2+ years.  Despite going through SLRs like pairs of shoes on a pubsecent teen, the F30 (and all compacts, really) has a kind of timeless quality to it, that SLRs don’t have.  Every new SLR model is a superset of the capabilities of its predecessors, but for various size and cost contraints and market factors, the development of non-SLR compact cameras has been more patchwork.  To date, Fuji (nor anyone else) has come out with quite as good of a high-ISO performer as that original F30 (and the F31fd twin) – all the subsequent F40’s, F50’s, and F100’s crammed in the extra pixels and brought quality down to that of your average Sony CCD-equipped camera.

Since that point when I picked up the Rebel XT (in August 2006, just before I started college here at Berk), my equipment has grown exponentially (skills and knowledge too, I’d like to believe, but probably not as much).  I jumped to a 20D just a few months later, then back-and-forth to a Rebel XT and 20D again, and then finally took the full-frame plunge with the 5D in about August 2007, before wavering and coming back to the 40D and then going to a 1D Mark II and finally back to a 5D again.  For awhile I’ve been pretty content with my current setup, but with a number of recent developments over the past year, I’m getting the itch to upgrade, and in particular I keep longing to switch over to Nikon, which will probably be a recurring theme on this blog.

As of now, here’s the setup:

Canon 5D
Canon 20D
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS
Canon 50mm f/1.4
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro
Sigma EF-500 DG Super flash

Which far exceeds what I ever dreamed of owning when I started out.  But as anyone who’s been a serious photographer for at least a year or so will tell you, equipment lust is serious problem, and items that seemed excessive and wasteful quickly become sensible once you start learning about the capabilities and limitations of the technology at hand.

The sensible dream setup (not too far way from it right now, except some of it doesn’t exist):

Nikon D700 (with video)
Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 (with OS), or an updated Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 VR
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR
Sigma 50mm f/1.4
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro
Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR
A hat-ton of SB-600’s


As you might be able to tell, as an engineer I approach photography (and the digital camera market) from a technologist’s standpoint.  I’m all for evolving technology and eschewing old conventions when it comes to design, and I’m absolutely waiting for the big players to bring things like video, sensor-shift stabilization, mirror-less design, auto-ISO, and pop-up flashes as standard features for all cameras.

Oftentimes I like to imagine the purpose of this blog to act like the Bill James of photography, cutting down age-old “rules” and other misconceptions about photography, and explaining concepts and techniques that are backed up with cold, hard science and statistics.


I guess this is a photography blog, so I might as well share some of the end-results of all my digression on equipment and analysis and whatnot to come.

I’m not a “professional photographer” in any sense of the phrase.  Though I’ve shot a handful of gigs and shoot for The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s newspaper, I’m not making a living off of photographer and don’t really have any plans for that – I’m first and foremost an electrical engineer, and maybe if I fail at that I’ll be a software/web developer, and barring that I’ll be an economist, and then maybe a teacher.  For the most part, photography is a hobby, and mostly I’m just taking photos on travel, or shooting portraits with friends.  You can find a portfolio of my photos here:


And there’s also a more expansive gallery (that’s not very complete and seldom updated) at:


2 Responses to “About me”

  1. Eric Westling says:

    I noticed your comment on PetaPixel, “Saving JPEG’s” (last year).
    I am looking for a definitive source to back up my contention that…
    “Saving JPEGs at J12 does not re-compress” [using PS-E 2.0, it is FAST!]
    After the initial enhancement treatment, and saving, (my version “B”)
    I have loaded and saved 5 or 6 times (simulating many changes of mind?!)
    And have only been able to detect a very slight loss of luminance,
    which is easily restored with 2 or 3 points on the brightness slider.
    Does my (above) contention stand?
    Sources, references??

    Eric Westling
    Houston, TX

  2. Nathan Yan says:


    By definition, JPEG is a lossy compression scheme, meaning it decreases the file size by throwing away the data. This is as opposed to lossless compression schemes such as ZIP, which typically do something like reducing redundantly repeated data to shrink the file size. Because JPEG is going to throw away data whenever you save, it *will* decrease in quality (as measured by pixel value differences from the original). You’ve noticed in your own tests, since the brightness values in your subsequent images have changed from the original.

    For the most part, however, image degradation at Photoshop’s JPEG 12 setting is negligible – you could save over an image 20 times and you will still have something that more or less matches the original, certainly to the naked eye (as opposed to mathematically calculating the differences).

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