The true meaning behind “award-winning” and one wildlife encounter that changed me

In this video, I explained what it really means by "award-winning" and the confusion of it. Then I talked about an encounter that changed me, especially from an email. Hope you enjoy it!


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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Okay. We are live. Hello everyone. Uh, Tin Man Lee here. Uh, just want to do a quick Facebook live today. Um, so how are you doing everybody? Uh, it's getting a little bit cold in Los Angeles. So I am wearing my sweater now. The weather just changes so quickly. So anyway, so today what I wanted to talk to you about is, um, Oh, I forgot to click on invite members. Okay. I just click it. So now I can see your comments. So please feel free to leave your comments here. Um, hello everyone. Um, so, um, this morning I received an email from someone, um, and he said he is not happy with me because he doesn't really like the term award winning, uh, that I often use in, uh, for example, in this Facebook group or, uh, some of my, uh, webinars. And, uh, I just want to talk about this, this topic and, uh, also tell you a story.
Speaker 1 (01:09):
So, the word, uh, the term, the phrase award winning can be misleading. And I want to clarify this. The reason I use award winning, uh, in this group or in those webinars is not because what we want to do is only to win awards. What I want to do is to create, create photo, uh, that is in a level that, uh, somebody can be proud to hang on their walls or maybe even in the Smithsonian or in any exhibits. And the most important thing is that the photo can make the photographer happy and also move as many people as possible. Uh, but this may be a little bit, um, abstract. So let me share with you a story that, uh, I still remember today. Okay. Um, so, uh, many, many years ago, um, I wanted to go to Colorado to photograph, uh, mountain goats and anybody here love mountain goats.
Speaker 1 (02:13):
So I loved them. I, I saw photos, uh, from the internet, like Googling them. And the parents, the adults, uh, looks majestic right with their long white fur and then the babiessuper adorable. So I have been dreaming to go there. So at the time, uh, I have my full-time job, um, only three weeks of vacation. So around, uh, generally early July, no, not late January, late June, early July, we have the, uh, we have the July 4th holiday, so I had a long weekend. So I decided to, um, I got off work, uh, probably was it on a Friday. Uh, and I flew a red eye and with the full-time job. That's the only thing that we can squeeze out every ounce of the time to travel. So once I finished work, I drove to the airport, flew red eyes to Colorado, to Denver, and then I rented a car and then just drove straight to Mount Evans, Colorado.
Speaker 1 (03:11):
And that was the first time I went there. And, uh, with the high altitude, 14,000 feet where you can actually drive up, which was pretty good, but at the same time, living for many years in Los Angeles in the, uh, uh, sea level is, uh, is quite a lot of adaptation for the high altitude. So I had really bad headache, uh, when I got there, which I should really advise you guys, if you go to those places, you should at least spend a few days or at least a day to, um, uh, like adapt to, to that high altitude. But anyways, so I went there and once I drove up in the morning, uh, looking for mountain goes, guess what I found? Uh, I realized that the place was not what I expected, uh, when I saw what, something like this, let me show you the photo right here.
Speaker 1 (03:56):
So, so this is the situation. Uh, so when I was driving way, so there is a small role where I can drive up all the way to the top of that 14,000 feet, um, Mount Evans. And, um, you, if you got lucky, you see some big horn sheep or mountain goats, and don't get confused about this. They are not from the same family here. This is a mountain go mother. And then his, uh, this is a bighorn sheep mother. This is a mountain goat, but they hang out together. So anyway, so immediately you see the problem right here, right? There's a role. Why, so for photography, we never want to have this man-made stuff in the, in the photo, because this is otherwise, this is a non photo, uh, is not gonna evoke any emotion because it's just too distracting way. So there's a big road here, you know, all these rocks and stuff, and then their vehicles always photo bombing you.
Speaker 1 (04:46):
So this is the situation right there. So I immediately had to think about what I can do with this, right? There are so many problems. Yeah, this is, there is not, we clear background. Let me show you another, let me show you another example. So this is another scene, right? So, you know, the light can be a pretty harsh, uh, after sunrise because it's pretty high, high out. And I don't know if this is related, at the high altitude you create more harsh lights, but you see that right. There are lots of these rocks that can create distractions on the background and also the, the, the road, the vehicle, the signs, and here, those are the things that I knew I have to, um, avoid getting into the frame, but this is just too much. It was very difficult there. Right? So I just, uh, so I spent three days there for the first two days.
Speaker 1 (05:35):
Uh, every photos that I got had like these rows and these signs in the back background is just so messy. Let me show you another, another photo right here. So this is the typical thing that you saw when you see the mountain goes, right? Uh, background, it's very close to the animal. So it is very difficult to get a good, a good separation of the background from the subject. And you see all these, uh, concrete and, uh, road and vehicles is just quite frustrating, is very nice to see them, but it is very difficult to get a decent photo. And let me show you another, another example. So even when you don't have the roads in the background, like these rocks, these boulders, right, it's just really distracting. And then the mountain goes, even though they are white, but they plan in pretty well into the, into the background.
Speaker 1 (06:23):
So it's very, very difficult to get a good photo. So after two days of thousands of photos that are complete, they were completely unusable. I got frustrated. So at, at, at, um, at that evening, when I got back to the hotel, I was thinking, huh, so this mountain goes, I can get decently close with them, but the problem is the background. How do I get that? So at the end, I remember that for that two days I spent, there was one spot. Then I realized that if these mountain goats, babies would go up to that rock and if I can shoot them, instead of the eye-level, I actually would shoot down a little bit. Then there is a clearing that I can see the mountain range in the background. And I don't know if that's the Rocky mountain mountain range or whatever mountain it was, but I saw this snow-capped mountain range.
Speaker 1 (07:14):
That is really beautiful. And so I was painting about this, this photo in my head, as some of you have, who have attended my last webinar, right? You have to have this deep brain in your mind thinking about a photo that you can get. So I was dreaming about a photo with this, um, babies on the rock. We have this mountain snow capped, mountain range in the background. And at the same time, uh, after two days of observation, keep improvising about their behavior. I realized that these mountain goat kids, right? That's, that's what they call KIDs that's that's, that's how they call the, the, the babies of mountain goats. So these kids are really playful. They love to jump from one rock to another, even though they were so, so young, I think they were just a few days. Oh. And they were, they would love to jump around.
Speaker 1 (07:59):
So in my mind, I had this photo of a mountain goat kid jumping, uh, with the, with those mountain in the background. Right? So, so knowing that I only have, uh, one more morning left, uh, in my trip, I only three days, right. That the most vacation that I had with my full-time job. And so in that last morning, instead of keep driving around and just spray and pray, and hopefully I can see a mountain goat, I just went in the dark right early morning before sunrise drove all the way up. And then I just hide behind that, that big rock. And I positioned myself really, uh, uh, really well, and then I just kept quiet and then that just kept waiting and waiting and waiting. And at the end, uh, I saw some of the mountain goes, uh, showed up. And, uh, this is the shot that I got, uh, uh, that, that morning.
Speaker 1 (08:52):
So that was, uh, after the sun just came out and the light was shining on the rock. And, uh, this one right here, some of you may have seen this photo, right? Um, so this photo, you know, actually you can still see a little bit of the road, but if I don't tell you, you may ignore that road right here. Or maybe I can probably a bit higher than you don't even see the road, but you see that, um, these three kids were playing like a really cute and hugging each other. And then this one was jumping, uh, to, to this Boulder. And in the background, this is the mountain range that I was talking about. So instead of going for a smooth background that most of the photographers, most of the professionals would tell you you, I use a shorter lens is 70 to 200, 2.8 lens.
Speaker 1 (09:37):
And I was setting at f/8 so that I can see some of the details in the background. And I sat like 1/500s or 1/800s to freeze the, uh, the action. And I was able to get ISO 800 for the shot. So, so that photo right here, I took it. I was so happy, uh, because you just realized what my dream was, right. So that I never thought about winning an award or anything, but that was what I meant by thinking previsualizing a photo and got it right. And actually it's better than, than what I thought at first. I thought I would just get one, a mountain goat jumping, but this one, you know, this one is hugging this guy. And this guy is like leaning the head towards this one, but this one had the courage to jump. Right. So what I didn't expect was that after I posted this photo, uh, on, on the internet, uh, uh, after a few weeks I received an email from someone, I didn't know. So let me show you that email. So I received an email. Um,
Speaker 2 (10:41):
I said this one, God, uh, Sorry. uh, uh, okay.
Speaker 1 (10:50):
Uh, so I received an email,
Speaker 2 (10:52):
Um, here is it?
Speaker 1 (10:55):
Yeah, this th this is the email. So a lady, um, uh, Lents. So she emailed me and tell me, Thea tin, man, this morning, me and my seven year old son, we're looking at nature photographs on the internet. We were very much enjoying ourselves. I'm happy to have discovered your wonderful work. All of a sudden, my son was moved to tears. This happened when he saw your photograph taken in 2012, presenting three playing mountain goats, I would like to ask you whether I can buy it from somewhere. This would make a great present for his eighth birthday. So, um, and then the lady also attached a photo of her with the, with her son. And I still remember her son was wearing a t-shirt and on the t-shirt, there was a photograph of a giraffe. I think it's a cartoon of a giraffe. So definitely they are nature lovers, but this line is what really moved me is she said, all of a sudden my son was moved to tears.
Speaker 1 (11:55):
And just, can you imagine when you just took photos for fun for just your own enjoyment and in the Netherlands, someone who you never met, uh, uh, looking at your photo and was moved to tears, and this is just a kid. And, uh, when you can think about that, your photo can make such a difference in people's lives, right. And that is really the ultimate satisfaction that I I can get to. And so, anyway, so I talked to this lady for, for a while, and it was just really, really good. And later the photo was published by, uh, outdoor photographer magazine. And, uh, so, uh, and then, uh, the same, uh, the same action, right? This is another photo of the same, uh, sequence there. And this photo was published by, um, uh, Rangers Rick jr. And they pay pretty good money. Actually. I think that that photo make it like a two page spread, and then they were paying me like 800 bucks or something, but that's not the important part.
Speaker 1 (12:56):
The important part is to know that you were able to turn something, something like this, um, into, um, and then you put in your own creativity, your problem solving skill. This is what, uh, uh, uh, one of my good friends told me that creative problem solving. I think that is the fun thing about that. You can actually turn this in the first day of the encounter into something that is like, uh, is like this or something like this one, right? It's just a little bit of movement (to the right spot), a little bit of thinking of that. And then you can turn something that is really, really crappy into something that makes people cry in happy tears. I hope. Um, and that is really what I meant by, um, the award winning term is, uh, to have that kind of level where you can move people to laughter and cry.
Speaker 1 (13:45):
And so that's why I want to share with you about, uh, this concept right here. And I hope that you guys don't get offended when I'm talking about what winning, but this is what I meant, how to unleash the creativity inside you so that you can move people. And anyway, so I, I spend a few more days next year going to the same place. And then I was starting to try out some different stuff, for example, uh, like this one, uh, backlit by of course, right? Because, uh, this, these mountain goats are really fluffy and we have back lit. They, they look so cool with the whole profile of that. Right. So, uh, I got something like that. And then, uh, after, after a while I got a photo of the mountain go, kids jumping and dancing in front of me. So that was pretty good too. And, um, so what else? Um,
Speaker 3 (14:35):
C okay.
Speaker 1 (14:36):
So, and I was the one who would say that after you observed them for awhile, this mountain goat babies, actually very curious, and sometimes they come close. So all you need is just to wait, still be patient and make sure that you don't do anything to, uh, uh, to scare them. And you just sit there and sit there, and eventually they actually would come close to you. And that is one thing about, uh, my love of wildlife photography is when you get accepted by wild animals and they come close, um, it is such a satisfaction. So, uh, uh, this mountain goat maybe come close to champion when I was, uh, behind a rock and I was using a wide angle lens. And so, you know, uh, this troops, this sibling babies, uh, we're looking at this leader and then they were all curious, and then they, they, they just came close to me.
Speaker 1 (15:24):
So anyway, so I hope that, uh, what I talk about this story will help you to really understand what I meant by, uh, this, uh, winning term that, uh, maybe may sound too cheesy, uh, or whatever. But, um, this is the real goal of, um, uh, of, of my, uh, why I created this group and also, um, my coaching program and everything like that. What I'm, I've been teaching in the, in the webinar. So, uh, um, uh, yes, yes, Derek. Yeah. Good point. Yeah. Um, yeah, get yourself into the, uh, the position. And, uh, don't just chase, don't just drive around and chase it. Just think about something in your mind and try to realize that that dream wait for that opportunity. Nothing may happen, but that is the fun of wildlife photography. It requires patience, right. But when something aligns with the nature gives you the gift of aligning, what you're dreaming of, that is the best feeling ever.
Speaker 1 (16:24):
And so, anyway, so I just wanted to let you guys know that, um, if you want to learn more about, uh, wildlife photography, uh, I've been talking about that for many, many times. I have a one hour, uh, training, uh, that is free and you can go sign up at, uh, this one, And I talk a lot about them, the myth about, uh, focusing speed and, uh, auto ISO. When do you use it when not to use it and why and stuff like that. So definitely check this out in And, um, in addition to that, I want to thank you guys for, uh, visiting my, uh, uh, gift, uh, not give to gear, give a gift to yourself, right? So I created, uh, the link, uh, And I saw that many of you actually went there. So I, I think I make like 80 bucks, but from the commission, you guys are awesome, because think about that when you buy something, for example, if you buy this jacket right here is about 200 bucks, right.
Speaker 1 (17:24):
They give me 1% commission. That is what, that is two bucks. So, uh, but somehow I made like $80 from, from that. So I, I wanted to thank you guys for your support, uh, this list, right? This is only three items. I think I have, uh, like 40 or 50 items. And I always use, uh, on all my photography trips, uh, in the hotel room, in the cold weather, in rainy weather, um, all the stuff that I learned from a lot of the massive photographers, uh, Chas Glazer, it gave me a lot of, uh, tips on like the Arcteryx rain gear and, uh, in the heat3 gloves and some other good friends who told me a lot of those, those things. So it's really a combination of the wisdom of a lot of people that can really save you. So a lot of the stuff there are not cheap at all.
Speaker 1 (18:10):
Like, like a jacket may cost you 500 bucks, but those are really the best in quantity. And they have like lifetime warranty and stuff. And, uh, when we are going into the wild, like such as when you are going to the Mount Mount Athens, right, 14,000 feet, we've crazy. We in life, 50 mile per hour, 60 mile per hour wind, and like sometimes no storm and everything you don't want to risk your life. You want to really have the safest, warmest gear, uh, that can, uh, the clothing and everything to make sure that you are safe while you are taking photos. Right? So I think one should never save when you're going out into the wilderness, because this is life and death sometimes. So I highly recommend, for example, the walkie talkie, uh, the, DeLorme thing. I forgot that the full name of that, that, uh, with the satellite signal where you can ask for help when you hike.
Speaker 1 (19:02):
So a lot of the time when we are driving in some back roads and remote area, that can cause us danger, especially when we are hiking. And we have something like that, even though it is like $60 or something a month for this, uh, for the service fee. But basically when you carry that thing, I don't have the link here. Uh, there's a button there as SOS button. When you click on that with the service fee, they will send a helicopter to rescue you, you, uh, basically, and with all the insurance covered and stuff like that. And I think, wow, that is really, really important too, to have the peace of mind. And then you can send your friends in Facebook or any international phone number, your GPS location, so that they can contact the locals or whatever to save you, to rescue you.
Speaker 1 (19:46):
So that is, those are very important. So the link here is G a R. And, and again, uh, definitely check it out, uh, especially, uh, um, the holidays are coming and also, uh, again, this is Uh, and you can watch that one hour free webinar about that. So, so hope you enjoy today's, uh, uh, stories and, uh, my clarification of the term. And if you have any experience about, uh, this kind of special and counter, where you took a photo and people were responding to you, uh, crying, loving, definitely share, share with me here. And, uh, and if you have any questions, definitely type in the comment here and I'll reply to you, or shoot me an email at And I'll try to answer you. And sometimes I do get quite a lot of emails, or I may have, uh, some, uh, delay, but I'll try to answer you. So, all right. Hey, Hey Melissa. Hey, Derek. So yeah, so good to see you guys, and I'll see you next time.

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