Sho(r)t Stories #5 : Aran Modesto

Before we have a look at this picture taken in Seoul, South Korea by Aran Modesto, let me remind you that anybody is welcome to participate to this series by sending their own picture. Instructions to do so can be found at the end of this post.

Nikon D90 with Nikkor 35mm F1.8DG at F8.0, ISO200

What is the Sho(r)t Story?

In October 2011, I have an opportunity on my day off to finally do some street photography! I remember I couldn't sleep the night before, because i was so excited. I still woke up early, took a quick shower, pack my gear & snacks, then out the door. I was stationed in South Korea at the time, mostly doing training exercises at an Air Force base working side by side with Korean Air Force. My plan was to shoot the streets of Seoul with my camera perfectly snug in my hands. I left the base early morning walking towards the subway station. A peaceful morning. I can hear birds chirping as i walk the streets of Songtan (Outskirt of Seoul). People walking to work, crossing the street, uniformed high school students waiting for the bus to go to school, a man jogging with his dog, store owners opening for business, cars and taxi's passing by, as i near the subway station and of course while shooting street photography. I finally got to the subway station, bought a ticket to Seoul, went down to the tracks and sat at a bench waiting for the train to arrive. As i waited, i scanned the area for a good candid shot and noticed that there isn't much going on as it was still mid morning and there's only a few people waiting. One of the things i love about street photography is the second that you thought that there is no interesting subject to shoot, an opportunity pops up right in front of you. So as i waited i noticed two friends walking down the stairs chitchatting then stood just about 8 feet diagonally from where i sat. At first i thought it was one of those common candid shot, so i lowered my camera back down but didn't turn it off. Then a great opportunity pops up as the train arrives, slowly passing to a stop. As it passes in front of us, i quickly swung my camera to frame and snap the candid shot with the train still moving slowly to a stop (good thing i didn't turn off my camera, (whew)). I knew after i took the shot that it will be a great candid shot (well, at least that's what i thought). As i sat down inside the train, i took a look at my LCD screen and noticed an even more greater discovery, not only i caught the candid moment of the girl, i also caught her reflection through the window of the train passing by.

Why is this one of your favorite pictures ?

This is one of my favorite pictures because it surprised me when i saw the girls reflection on the train, as i wasn't really expecting it. I mean the photo was candid enough already, then to see that finishing touch, which i think made the photo more exciting to look at (if you looked hard enough). Plus the blurriness of the train in the photo, really made it look like it was still moving in the still photograph. I wondered as she looks at her reflection as the train pass by, is she thinking about her exam, or thinking about her future, or thinking about her boyfriend, because on the reflection, it almost seems like she was sad or worried. Or maybe she is just looking at her reflection to see how she looks as she flips her hair. So many questions, but we'll never really know. LOL. (One of the joys of street photography! hehe..)

Which equipment did you use, and any technical considerations?

I used my Nikon D90 with the AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G mounted on it. I turned to Aperture Priority mode for this one on f/8 and ISO 200 as it was pretty bright out with a few clouds on the almost clear sky. I usually shoot below f/8 so i can see more bokehlicious background, but at the time my Nikon D90 is having a back focusing problem, so i had to use f/8 to make almost everything in focus. Also one of the reason why i was going to Seoul to get my camera fix at a Official Nikon repair shop. Which was a success, they fixed everything including cleaning my lens in under 30 minutes. I used Corel Photoshop to make my photo a little more vibrant ( i just used the auto fix and adjusted the color scheme). I also cropped a little to make the framing just right. I'm not really a fan of doing photoshop as you already can tell, lol, but i am willing to try adobe lightroom (as we really do need post processing to enhance and to shape to your liking or what you picture in your head the end result of the photo will look like).

Tell us about you and your photography?

I am originally from Cavite, Philippines. Spent most of my childhood in the Philippines till i was 14 when we moved to the States. Went to High School in San Diego, California, then went to College in Las Vegas, Nevada. Joined the military when i was 21. Growing up I've always been interested and fascinated in many different kinds of art. As it shows i found a passion in photography. But i didn't really start doing photography till 2009 part of it is because this kind of hobby is an expensive one. So i bought my first DSLR, taught myself through the power of the internet, and got hooked right away. I started with Portrait photography, taking pictures of my friends when i got stationed in Guam, a perfect backdrop for Portrait (Beach Paradise). Then as i learned more about my camera and photography. I started to like street photography, even more so when i got stationed in Korea, which is one of the perfect places to do street photography, as you always see people in the streets doing different kinds of interesting things. Plus i like traveling and experiencing different types of culture and to see that on your photos is a treasured memory, that may last forever. Capturing life's moments and showing the world my art and what i can do with all the variation and conception of photography.

Links to my work :
If you would like to participate to this series, send me an email at with the following information :
– your name and location
– title of photograph (if any + equipment used)
– one of your favorite picture  (max width of 1280 pixels, you obviously retain all the pictures copyright)
– answers to the above questions .
– any links to your work (website, Flickr, Facebook, …)


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