Autumn Muses

As I peer through the rustic window back home in New York, I see leaves starting to change colour. The brisk zephyrs pass through trees with sombre sighs; the light is slowly growing melancholic and moody, signifying the beginning of my most favourite season—autumn. With ambient music playing in the background, I am sipping tea, deep in green with the essence of roasted rice, and musing upon my summer.

‘Elegance is not about being noticed, it’s about being remembered,’ articulates Giorgio Armani. And, the HP Spectre is an unforgettable one.

I never thought that I would fancy another laptop other than the one I owned for the past 4 years, but the Spectre provided me with a new perspective into my art, which allowed me to reinvent my creative vision.

This past summer, I aimed to nourish my adoration in travel to a foreign land far away from the metropolis as well as increase breadth in my travel work. Some were a bit surprised at my newest travel location, as it is the opposite from the hustle and bustle characteristic of the city that I gravitate towards. However, it is reminiscent of my work as a mere child, when my passions in photography blossomed, and I took special interest in capturing the beauty of a simple dandelion.

I typically do not bring my old laptop on travels because it is quite cumbersome, but the Spectre is so incredibly light, it was fitting to bring along with me everywhere I went. This laptop challenges the future of computers—the extreme thinness of the Spectre without the compromise of power is the feature that I found to be the most striking. As I admire the Spectre bathing in autumnal light on my windowsill, I can see just how unbelievably thin this laptop is.

Moreover, from the i7 Intel Core to the artisan craftsmanship with carbon fibre, aluminium, glass trackpad, and gorgeous keyboard—the attention to detail is stunning, making this gem elegant, yet solid.

Being an urban soul, as I have written in in my previous Journal entry, I predominantly captured the ephemeral, quiet moments in urban cities. But with my Spectre, I traversed the ocean to rural Iceland and my artistic expression has distinctly evolved, evident as my visual storytelling of my magical adventure slowly unravelled. My Spectre became the perfect summer companion and will continue to be in the future.

Escaping the city with my beloved Spectre was incredibly exhilarating—it was the highlight of my summer. My heart is full.

____________________

Partnership with HP


Spectre in Iceland

Little 1.5m me and my 13cm platform boots hiked across a mysterious post-apocalyptic planet through endless kilometres of rocks and black sand, and stumbled upon a mysterious plane wreckage peeking through thick fog. I stood on top of a mountain amongst the clouds, breathless, revelling in its mystifying allure. I am finally here—the land of fire and ice, Iceland. 

Iceland is a magical place that I have dreamed of visiting ever since I was a child, thumbing through old issues of National Geographic. I diverged from my comfort and familiarity in urban cities and ventured to a more remote land that breathes magic and wonderment through the untouched beauty of nature—my most adventurous escapade yet. 

Admittedly, I have always been a city person. My upbringing is deeply rooted in Brooklyn and I am studying at Columbia University, which is adjacent to Harlem. I grew up living most of my life in New York City. But, spending more and more time with my Spectre, I was struck with a delightful spark of new inspiration, which led me to reinvent my creative catharsis. 

My creative work encompasses city life—from the forgotten ruins and remnants of old cities around the world contrasting with the architecture of the 21st century to food and still life moments present in urban settings. However, because the Spectre is extremely feather-light, versatile, and powerful with a long-lasting battery, it provided me with confidence to venture with it outside of Reykjavík, the capital and largest city in Iceland.

I felt that I was not bound to the city. My creativity deepened as I lost myself in more landscapes—mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls, to places that I have never been to before. I even had the pleasure of seeing Aurora Borealis dance in person, the stunning Northern Lights. The Spectre allowed me to edit in the mountains and visualise my work on site, breathing in the crisp air, overlooking the water. 

I have become more attached to the Spectre since my previous Journal entry, as it is expanding my creativity into landscapes and nature. I am reinventing my obsession. 

____________________

Partnership with HP


New Obsession | HP Spectre

Although a bit camera-shy, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Perhaps you have been following my Twitter and saw little hints or seen me on the big screen in theatres across America as film pre-roll, but I am incredibly honoured to officially reveal that HP featured me in a cinematic short directed by the talented Tatia Pilieva, which documents bona fide reactions to the new Spectre. Weeks before filming, the production team was awfully mysterious and did not disclose any further details. I must say, it highly piqued my curiosity! Upon arrival at Siren Studios in Hollywood, I was quickly ushered through hair and makeup, and finally onto a full production set. Admittedly, I was quite hesitant at first as I have never been on a production set in Hollywood before, however, I was utterly impressed. 

The new Spectre is a stunner. There's thin and there's thinner—the Spectre is 10.4mm in thickness and weighs only 2.45lbs. As a travel photographer, I am obsessed with the smart Artisan craftsmanship and revolutionary feather-weight design without the sacrifice of power or battery life. The Spectre is the first HP laptop to integrate a hybrid battery with four polymer battery cells allocated throughout the device in order to maximise battery capacity, which enables me to work longer on a single charge no matter where I am in the world. As a scientist, I am immensely keen with HP's unique method to cooling. The laptop is so remarkably thin that it requires special progressive hyperbaric cooling technology that actively draws cool air in and directs it over the processor, rather than simply venting it out. 

The Spectre is the ultimate sensorial masterpiece as well—Bang & Olufsen audio (my favourite) and a full HD IPS display with exceptional sound clarity and crisp visuals guarantee that I never miss a detail, whether I am editing on the plane, watching a film, or conducting experiments at the lab, deep into data analysis. I will be taking my Spectre on my next adventure and I am excited to share my experience with you.

____________________

Partnership with HP


Skincare Favourites

Although I rarely use makeup, I am quite keen on skincare. Presented here are a few favourite moisturising products from the STELL that I employ on a daily basis and carry with me on my travels.


MULTI-USE OIL - NO. 2

This oil is a blend of forget-me-not, peach blossom, and mandarin green tea enriched with apricot, sweet almond oils, and Vitamin D, accented with beautifully preserved flowers. I use this oil to keep my bleached hair healthy and just one drop instantly restores moisture in my driest skin. 

SOUL SUNDAY BOUGIE LITE FACIAL OIL + RICE WATER

The facial oil was created from red raspberry seed and contains high levels of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, which replenish and soften skin. Squalane, a plant-based emollient, very similar to skin's natural lipids that decrease with age, helps create a balance of moisture and a light, protective barrier. Essential oils of geranium flower and sandalwood promote skin clarity and balance. The refreshing rice water was carefully combined with brightening Vitamin C, Bulgarian rose, and soothing cucumber; I typically use the rice water after I shower or to freshen up mid-day. 

BYREDO BLANCHE HAND CREAM

This is my favourite hand cream of all time. It travels with me everywhere I go, whether it is in my uni backpack or camera bag. It is deeply moisturising without a greasy residue. Top notes: aldehyde, pink pepper, white rose. Heart notes: neroli, peony, violet. Base notes: blonde woods, musk, sandalwood. 

GROWN ALCHEMIST SWEET ALMOND + SAGE HAND CREAM

This is another one of my essentials, which bears a unique hydrating and potent formula that consists of tyrosinase inhibitors from the rumex plant, phyto-peptides, sweet almond oil, Vitamins A, B1, B2, and B6, which visibly reduces sun damage pigmentation and redensifies thinning skin. As a scientist, I took great delight in this detail. 

GROWN ALCHEMIST CAMELIA + GERANIUM BLOSSOM HYDRA-REPAIR DAY CREAM

This is a non-greasy, nourishing facial moisturiser that contains camellia and rosehip essence with aloe vera and jojoba oil. I adore its scent and I use this cream on my face daily. It doubles as a rich body cream, and as you know already, I am highly pragmatic and love multi-functional products.

L:A BRUKET NO. 102 BERGAMOT + PATCHOULI HAND CREAM

This was my first product from the Norwegian natural skincare company based in Varberg, a coastal spa town in Sweden well-known for it's 200 year old traditions of bathing in saltwater and seaweed, and I was not disappointed. The essential oils in the cream have astringent, cleansing properties, and a slight antiseptic effect, which helps treat extremely dry skin. Meadowfoam is astringent, nourishing, and rich in Omega-6 and 9 fatty acids. Comfrey is also astringent, moisturising, and known to heal small scratches and sunburn as well.

AĒSOP REVERENCE AROMATIQUE HAND BALM

This balm contains bergamot rind, vetiver root, petitgrain botanicals, and skin-softening emollients that deliver rich hydration to the hands and cuticles. It is enhanced with skin-softening Potassium Lactate and Lactic Acid for sustained hydration. Its scent is a bit strong for me, so I typically use this balm for my feet and it works wonderfully.

____________________

thestell.com


UK Highlights

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” — Gustave Flaubert


LA x Gallery

I reckon it has been a while since my last post, but if you are familiar with university, autumn and winter seasons are quite involved, naturally dense with disquisitions, presentations, exams, and more specifically for me, conducting research at the laboratory—channelling my inner mad scientist! Nevertheless, even offline, I continue to compose and record floating thoughts on my old typewriter or in my leather-bound notebooks.

I was deeply humbled to have my photography work displayed on my own wall in the Eye for an Eye exhibit, hosted by Hands Down, alongside the masterpieces of National Geographic, Time, Getty Images, and numerous other brilliant contributors from around the globe. It was incredibly inspiring. It was my first time in LA and the first time I had my work framed 20x30” in a gallery. It was a true honour.

Besides flying across the country for the exhibit, I took the chance to explore LA a bit. Presented here are a few favourite memories cherished with my better half. I shall return to experience more of the city in the future.


Griffith Observatory: a facility resting on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood Griffith Park. It showcases a spectacular a view of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The observatory contains a stellar view of the Hollywood sign, and an extensive array of space and science-related displays. Since the observatory opened in 1935, admission has been free, in accordance with Griffith's will.

Stahl House (Case Study House #22): a modernist-styled house designed by architect Pierre Koenig in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, California. Photographic and anecdotal evidence suggests that the architect's client, Buck Stahl, may have provided an inspiration for the overall structure. In 2013 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1959 as part of the Case Study Houses program, the house is considered an iconic representation of modern architecture in Los Angeles during the twentieth century. It was made famous by a Julius Shulman photograph displaying two women leisurely sitting in a corner of the house with an eventide panoramic view of the city through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The house has been featured in numerous fashion shoots, films, and advertising campaigns.