To Oakland, With Love

This is what Oakland sounds like:

Punjabi-Chinese-Vietnamese-Eritrean-Spanish-English conversations wafting through living room windows all on one street of many neighborhoods.  It is Lil Rob’s “Summer Nights” blasting out of someone’s clunky Impala lowrider, broken up by the woo woo whistle-tip muffler.  It’s catcalls from the boys hanging out at the liquor stores on the corner.  It’s loud and bustling like Saturday mornings in Chinatown when the Grandmas and Grandpas are haggling the prices for a pound of ginseng root.  It also sounds like the mixtape you just picked up from the dude outside the Lucky’s on East 18th remixed with powwows of 20 different Native American tribes.  It is vibrant and vivid, boisterous and sometimes cacophonous, even when it’s 1am on a Wednesday.  Oakland sounds like it is alive, always, and a little like your uncle when he drinks too many Mickey’s.  Oakland sounds like the Town that never quits hustling, never lets you forget it’s rough but also rich in diversity and culture, and Oakland sounds too much like something you can’t tune out, even with noise-cancelling headphones.

This is what Oakland tastes like:

Grit and sweat and blood and dirt and bubblegum.  It tastes like gentrified Asian-American fusion and reverent Jamaican jerk chicken.  It sometimes tastes like heavily salted air mixed with fumes from smog given off by chop-shops; while other times, it tastes like distilled water with a hint of iron, or blood.  It is days of rich, fatty broth cooked over low heat and seasoned with aromatic herbs.  Oakland tastes like the skunkiest of Indicas and the most savory of umami enriched bone marrow.  Oakland is a taste you won’t forget: something that sticks to your teeth and clings between your bicuspids and canines.  It is an undistinguishable complexity of sweet, sour, bitter, savory that your mouth will water for.  Oakland tastes original, and will forever provoke insatiable hunger.

Oakland is the Town, it is my Town, and I love it for all its grime and glamour, the vibrancy and coldness, and all the other disparities between good and bad.  I love it for all that it has given and all that its taken away; and I especially love it for all its eclectic micro-cultures that exist throughout.  I am forever tied to Oakland by the heartstrings, so I will always be loyal.

With so much love,


Ilford HP5 With Leica M2

For a brief moment (one and a half weeks) last year I owned a Leica M2.  I traded a Contax G2 kit for the M2 and a Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5.  These photos were made with that Leica kit.  There was a light leak somewhere but because I didn’t get these photos back until after I traded it - the Leica M2 kit for a Leica M7 - I didn’t know about the light leak and the person I traded the gear with never brought it up.  

Looking back on these photos, I really wished I still had this setup.  It made really great photos, but I remember the viewfinder being a little dim, so it took me a little longer to compose each shot.  This might have been an advantage rather than a disadvantage, as most of the photos in this roll were pretty decent - though I decided to bracket nearly every image because I was using the Sunny 16 method and wanted to ensure I got at least one usable image.  Leicas - though outrageously and offensively expensive - are always a pleasure to use, but more than that, the Voigtlander line of M-mount lenses are just exceptional.  I highly recommend all the Skopars, Noktons, and whatever else iterations of lenses they make.

A Walk Around Town

The only thing keeping me sane through COVID is getting together with friends (responsibly, and always with masks) to explore and shoot photos.  It goes without saying that this past year has been exhausting, stressful, and overall maddening.  Bad luck piled atop shitty government leadership piled on top of really terrible people finally showing their true colours was basically a year that never let up.  How’s the saying go? I get by with a little help from my friends.

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