Back to Basics – Shooting with Sai.Jung and a Little Update

Oh man oh man… I’ve really dropped the ball on this lately. What’s been going on?

It’s not that I haven’t had any content, I just haven’t had time (and maybe motivation) to post much on here. A lot of my time in the last several months has been spent really just working on JTooned stuff. I’ve been slammed with toons and I just can’t seem to keep up. It’s not a bad problem to have at all and I’m not complaining, but it’s just one of those things that eat away hours that prevent me from doing much of anything else.

I’ve shut down the store for a little bit – think of it as a hiatus – because of the same problem I mentioned above… I haven’t really had time to work on new merchandise or art for the store so I’d rather not have it sit stagnant. It could be a few months or even forever that it’s on hiatus LOL! One day when I think of something new, it’ll come back again!

Other than that, we’ve been busy getting ready for the new crib – perhaps I’ll make a separate post on that one day. Since we sold last year in August, we’ve been staying with my parents in the basement for the last 9ish months and we’ve got just a little over a month left until the house is completed and we are STOKED. Living at home is great and all – home cooked meals, the nice company and the kids love being spoiled, but at some point – you gotta get back into your own groove and live on your own again.

Now onto a little mini photoshoot! Sam had posted on his story on Friday asking if anyone wanted to shoot and I thought why not! I’ve been inspired by Sam and his shoots lately so I thought that maybe this was an opportunity for me to come out and give the ol’ college try again. I haven’t really shot anything seriously for a looooong time. The most I had done in the last year or so was go out and shoot my own car when the Mugen kit was on but it was just meh and mainly to show off the kit. I never put much thought into the location and it was always just close to home because that was as far as I was willing to travel to do a mini shoot LOL.

We met up and he found this really cool corner that gave off this Japanese/industrial vibe with the way the trees, wood and old tires were piled up. Looked pretty dope. The only challenge was that it was literally mid day with the harsh sun beaming down on us – the car is white, the wheels are dark bronze, it’s like everything that made it difficult to shoot that day was present.

One of the things that I’m all for lately is colour grading – you’ve seen it in my recent posts too and I’m still really digging it. Colour manipulation is a really cool thing but it’s also a really fine line – it’s easy to overdo it but really cool if you can get it right. I might be a little bit of both because I’m still the noob trying to find my way.

Just starting off here. No colour grading here – just gives you a sense of what the colours looked like that day.
Here is kind of where I started. I find when you’re in conditions that don’t really work out, colour grading helps to bring everything together again. In this case, the harsh light can make it tough to get your colours right. Colour grading and enhancing (or removing) certain elements can help. Lately, I’m really digging hue changing the greens and desaturating them giving them a little softer look versus the bright greens/yellows that are normally on display.
I like sharpness but sometimes softness is a good ally as well. Bright harsh sun can be combatted with the softness colours and bokeh can bring.
Here’s one where I left a little more saturation in the green and you can tell it’s a little more in your face but also a little more harsh. Just a tint more and it can change the picture pretty dramatically.
One of the things that I really love is some strong prime lens bokeh. This was one of the main reasons I chose to shoot with a 35mm f1.4. This is my only lens – it works perfect for shooting kids, family, cars, detail shots, etc. When you can get it right, the creamy 1.4 bokeh can really create a softness that you can’t achieve otherwise without artificially adding it. The back is soft and mellow, the desaturated green is calm and light and it really helps the car just be bold and stand out.
I particularly liked the shadows on the green being cast by the tree above.
Might have overdid this one LOL!
Lots of cool reflections here. Another thing that I’ve been playing around with is adding grain/noise to my photos. Not a whole bunch but just enough to kind of give it a retro look. Easy to see here if you look closely enough. Noise is one of those things that I tried to avoid in my early days – it felt like you were a bad photographer if you had noise either because your ISO was way up and you didn’t post process it out or cause it was just a shitty shot. It’s taken me a long time to just barely understand how to use noise to my advantage.
Here’s some with a little bit of a warmer edit.
Still love those FK8 lines…
Now if only we had cherry blossoms, this would’ve been perfect…
Here are two edits with different colour grades that I couldn’t decide on. This one was heavy on the blues and teals…
This one I removed a lot of the heavy blues/teals and brought in the oranges and yellows to make it warmer. The warmer shot really makes it feel like a champ white car basking in the sun while the cooler one is just kind of artificial looking.
Oh I also brought Aria with me because she wanted to tag along lol. She hasn’t been on a “photoshoot” before so she was really curious as to what was going on or what we were going to be doing. Asking if we were going to Sam’s house or where are we going to play. She ended up just playing with the stick and dirt most of the time LOL
God, I can’t get enough of that bokeh.
Harsh lighting…
She also chooses to wear socks with shoes that don’t need socks…
Last one to finish it off. The slope of the wall compliments the cars angle perfectly. I didn’t even notice it until I was editing hahaha

KodaCast Episode 4 – Guest Appearance: ME!

What up! Long time no blog.

Man, there’s been a lot happening lately but one of the coolest things is this Kodawari Collective podcast that I had the honour of being a part of a while back that just dropped today!

This was a super cool experience for me because they allowed me to talk about my past and all the things I’ve done up until this point and aside from this blog, I never really had an output anywhere else. That was really cool for me to talk aloud about it because it really makes you think about the past. It’s a long one – so if you’re bored or looking for some background noise to get you through an hour of your day – tune in!

Thanks again to the guys at Kodawari Collective for having me – these guys have been one of my biggest supporters from the very beginning and they’re doing really cool things for the car scene in many ways than just detailing. Check them out!

JTooned: Grind, grind, grind

GUYS. Let me start by saying holy shit I’ve been busy as hell. Who the hell woulda thought literally drawing and then opening up a small little shop would be so much damn work. I’m not complaining – I’m all for the grind – but DANG I haven’t had a second for much else. Depending on who you are, you might know the feeling of listening to someone who has been hustling 24/7 and are just putting in work but maybe you didn’t know how it actually felt because you haven’t found that one thing you decided you wanted to hustle for and that’s totally cool. Everyone’s thing comes at different times.

For a long time, I’ve been searching for that hustle – big or small – but I never found anything that I wanted to commit to enough to pour my heart into. I always called that my half-hearted endeavor. I liked it but never loved it and the amount of work I would put in would never create enough of a return. Anyway, here’s really quick story on how all of this transpired…

As you all know, I’ve been doing toons for a little while now – just something fun to do to pass time and provide cool things to cool people. Kelvin (of Tuner Decals) messaged me one day and said that he’d like to print a sticker for me of my car for free as a kind gesture. I told him I appreciated it but I wasn’t sure what I’d do of a sticker of my own car but I’d take a raincheck on his offer until I could think of something cooler to print instead. That was really the turning point for me because it inadvertently forced me to try and think of something to draw to get printed for free. (It’s funny how “free” makes you do weird things).

I ended up drawing a lot of things and then scrapping the ideas… Rinse and repeat. I didn’t want to just draw any random thing and make stickers of it and try to sell something shitty. My top priority was to create something really dope that people would love and share. I was never in it for money – I just needed to cover the costs of everything and that would make me happy.

Anyway, that’s where the idea of the rear peekers came to fruition and it kinda just went from there. Of course, I don’t do this alone – it would be selfish of me to think this was just all me. I often bounce ideas off of Diana and JC and get their input and they come up with a lot of ideas behind the scenes that eventually make their way to production and it might not be big things but it’s their involvement that really helps to make the stickers as perfect as can be. I really have to battle my OCD going through these designs until they’re perfect – so rest assured, you have the best product that I can personally design. 🙂

A lot of my “free time” (defined as time not drawing or doing my actual day job) is spent being inundated with ideas and new things to draw. Sometimes it’s exhausting because I’ll wake up in the middle of the night or I’m up at 3AM itching to draw so I don’t forget or lose the spark LOL!

Alas, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing. In between my breaks of tooning your cars, I’m trying to keep up with coming up with new ideas and keeping the store fresh. I would be less disappointed if I put out at least a few series of decals and then called it quits than if I released only the peekers only and then gave up… So I just need to keep the train moving! Diana and I are spending a lot of our nights printing and packing packages when the kids go to bed, so it’s been fun for sure.

Again, I want to thank everyone for all the support – every single one of you have played some sort of role in my success thus far and I really really appreciate it – you have no idea. All I do is draw and bring ideas to life which really is the easiest part. It’s true when you read those things about supporting friends – you don’t have to spend a single penny – follows, re-sharing, liking, anything – that’s worth a lot to me! I’m still crazy busy with tooning your cars and I apologize and also thank everyone for the wait and for their patience in getting you in! I don’t like to speed through them because people will just get shitty art and ain’t nobody likes shitty art. Please keep trying!

I’m currently gearing up for the next drop which I decided I’ll release all at once rather than in batches. It’s just easier for both of us – you don’t pay for shipping multiple times and we’re not packing a bunch of orders multiple times. Hopefully all will be up in the next week or so! Stay tooned! 🙂

I Had COVID-19: It Sucked

First of all – sorry for the clickbait-type title – it really isn’t meant to be that… I just had no other title to explain it LOL! This was also 3 months ago now – so it’s been a while but I’m only now having a chance to write this.

On March 16th – I wrote this post

And we’re coming up really close on a year to it now – time flies when you’re in isolation, right? Back then, we were really starting to get a taste of COVID-19 and it’s the fear of it that really fueled that post. Fear of illness, fear of racism, fear of a lot of things because we just didn’t know anything about it.

Fast forward to today and all we’ve really heard and talked about these last few months has been the number of cases each city has, how many deaths have occurred and where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I’m feel like I’m really going out on a limb to talk about this because it really has been pretty taboo to talk about. You really hope no one you know gets it and you certainly hope that you don’t get it and it’s taboo because unlike other illnesses, COVID-19 seems to carry around this negative stigma that doesn’t go away long after COVID-19 has and that sucks. We’ve been inundated with a lot of fear – political fear, health fear, fear of so many things that we just don’t understand… To the point where we’re all just kind of nervous little pack rats doing our best to avoid what we don’t know. And believe me, that’s totally fair and I totally get it.

I want to start by saying that I’m no anti-vaxxer or anti-masker or anti-anything. I stand on the side that believes that whatever needs to be done to make everyone and everything better is what needs to be done. There’s a lot of fueled debate about a lot of really ridiculous things but we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about what my life was like with COVID-19. By doing this, I open myself and my family up to criticism and I’m well aware of that. From day one, we have been as careful as we could be – masks all the time, hand sanitizer constantly and in every corner of every reachable space, staying home when we had to – every rule followed to the T and I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how careful and safe you are, you can still get it if you still need to go out. Let’s all agree that being holed up in your house for 9 months is impossible without going insane. Even if I were single and lived on my own with no one else to care for, I couldn’t imagine entertaining myself day in and day out while making sure every need of mine was also being taken care of.

Anyone who is still negative can probably say either A – they’ve been super careful and they’re never gonna get it or B – they’ve been lucky so far and hope they don’t get it. Different story if you just don’t believe in it at all… But that’s a debate for another day… Up until the day we tested positive, going through the routine of ensuring everything was clean and sanitized became a pretty natural habit. It was nice to feel safe and to feel like we were doing our part in staying germ and COVID-free. We’d go and get tested when we thought we might have been exposed and it was an anxious waiting game to get the results back and a relief when it came back negative.

One day, Diana woke up and said her body was feeling super sore and she just felt tired and fatigued. She took an Advil, felt better and brushed it off and we thought nothing of it. Maybe just an off day. I felt fine and the kids were still good and fever-free. The next day, Diana felt the same, took an Advil and she felt a bit better again but we just decided to get her tested just in case. It’s not until you start getting symptoms that you start to get a little more worried about your test results than when you just get tested just to make sure you don’t have it. You know when you look at mayoclinic for symptoms and find out you’re actually dying from your sore joints? It’s like that.

Fast forward. Diana is positive. The literal world felt like it was crumbling around us. What do we do? Are we going to die? Are the kids OK? Do they have it? Do I have it? We let it stew for a little bit and we come to the conclusion that “it is what it is” and there’s nothing more to do other than to just get through it. We just be careful with the kids and sanitize everything and ultimately at this point, there’s probably a good chance we all have it too. If you haven’t thought about this – here’s a little (obvious) food for thought: If you have COVID-19 and have symptoms and then get tested – there’s a good chance anyone who has been in contact with you prior to getting tested have it too if you share anything or live in any close contact unless they’re extremely lucky. The unfortunate thing about COVID-19 (or any illness for that matter) is that by the time you find out anything about it, you’ve probably given it to someone close to you. It is an unfortunate truth.

4 days later, I wake up and I feel like I just got hit by a bus. I do not want to wake up, I do not want to move and I feel like I just went through a full body workout circuit with Arnold Schwarzenegger after never training in my life and my head is pounding. That’s what day 1 feels like.  I take an Advil and it brings me to about 85% to get me through the day. At this point, I’m pretty confident I am positive and Diana confirms she felt the same way. The kids are still at level 10000% energy and now we’re just careful not to kiss or share anything with them. Another thing that seems mind-blowing to me is AHS tells you if a family member has it – isolate them in a room and disinfect everything for 14 days. In theory this makes perfect sense – keep the virus away from everyone but what do you do when the people that have it need to take care of their own kids? You keep taking care of the kids and accept the brutal fact that they might get it as well. We can’t not take care of our kids because of COVID. Life doesn’t work that way.

Day 2 – still sore. Head still pounding. Fatigue still very much there but no other symptoms exist. There was no fever, there was no sore throat or stuffy nose or cough. Take an Advil, get on with the day.

Day 3 – this is when things start to get a little better. The soreness starts to go away, the headache is gone but the fatigue just eats away at you. You just want to lay but the kids just don’t want to let you mother f***ing lay, so you don’t lay.

Day 4 – The only thing that’s sticking around now is fatigue. You just feel tired all the time and Advil is still the only thing getting you through the day. I learned really quickly that staying on top of Advil (or Tylenol) is the key to helping you survive, especially if you have things to do, like take care of kids that don’t want to let you lay.

Day 5 and onward – your taste goes away and your sense of smell goes away but you don’t have a stuffy/runny nose or anything that would usually accompany the two senses… It’s really the weirdest thing that I’ve never experienced before. Eating is really boring because you can’t taste anything and you can’t even smell it to half enjoy the food. A persistent cough came and it just kind of sticks around and the only thing that calms it down is lozenges or honey lemon tea. You don’t need Advil anymore because everything else is good.

After that, everything is on the up and up. I will say that COVID-19 is unlike anything that I’ve experienced before. It’s very similar to the flu like everyone says but I think we were lucky that we had the mild end of it all because of the lack of a fever and any respiratory issues. It hits your body hard on the first two days but after that, it just takes time and rest. I understand why it sucks because it’s not a cake walk like a simple cold is. We spent a lot of time at home just to make sure everyone got out their quarantine days and that’s the next real killer – literally doing nothing and touching nothing to make sure you don’t spread it anywhere else.

My final thoughts on it all – for what it’s worth – I’m unusually happy we got it and that it’s over. Don’t get me wrong, we were never trying to get it and we certainly didn’t want it either but going through it really helps put it into perspective in a lot of ways. As I mentioned at the beginning, fear fuels a lot of what COVID is and it certainly was scary to us. We’re thankful that we didn’t suffer from it and that we got through it together and we’re thankful that it’s over with nothing more than a little bit of inconvenience. We’re still totally all about wearing masks and sanitizing (even more so now) because we absolutely do not want to go through that shit again. I hope anyone that has had it doesn’t go through life thinking they’re all good now…

The stigma that’s attached to it is really the unfortunate thing about it all. We’re thankful for the people that trusted we did what needed to be done to make sure we kept everyone else safe. Altogether, we were in isolation for almost a month just to make sure everyone was all clear… It felt like a luxurious prison in the sense that we still roamed freely around the house with no metal bars and fear of dropping soap, but I’ll be damned if I have to go through that shit again.