Lee Sie Talks
About His Work
How do you feel about being able to exhibit your work at the airport?
I was elated! When I first saw that it was going to be at the commuter terminal, I was thinking that’s one of the best options because it’s not as busy as the other terminals where people just tend to go by the artwork. People are going to be able to look at it and see and observe it more because it’s less of a high-pace area.
But when I was there and saw how professionally done it was, I was amazed. It was like a museum gallery. I was floored when I saw the results. They even had the title and my name up there. It was definitely something I can’t even describe—the feeling of seeing my work displayed like that.
Can you describe your process when you take a photo?
For all of my photography, I use tripods. Usually, the photographer will be out there at the right moment at the right time. Sometimes that doesn’t always happen, so what I try and do is I’ve developed a newer technique. I try and grab several of the elements all at once.
For instance, on some of my images, I’ll take a time lapse of several images. Some of them, two images at a half hour apart and I’ll combine them together. So, like a sunset will be in one shot and I’ll take a shot again when there’s either birds flying by or the moon is now in the shot. And I’ll take that shot and I’ll merge them together using Photoshop to get both or all the elements in the image together in one.
I do a technique called blending and masking in Photoshop to combine those elements. I also do saturation increasing and make the vibrance increase also. I try and find the dominant colors and give those emphasis to make them stand out.
Do you have any favorite spots to take your photographs?
I started liking the area around Sunset Cliffs. As you walk down the beach to the very end, it’s very desolate.
A lot of places have really low, negative tides and are only accessible certain times of the day. People are always asking me where photos are taken. Some places are usually underwater—at these really low, negative tides, that’s when I like to come out.
It’s rare—it’s only certain times of the day that that happens. Sometimes because it shifts every six hours, you can only access them in the day on certain days. I keep an eye on the tides a lot. When it’s a negative tide, I try and get out there and see what I find. There’s always something new out there.
How did you choose which works were displayed?
They wanted something that was geared toward the iconic spots of San Diego but with a different perspective. I picked ten scenes of different iconic locations, like Balboa Park, La Jolla and different places that were kinda well known, but from a different angle.
My emphasis was on color, so each scene had a primary color that was a dominant feature for the image. We narrowed it down for the wall space. We picked five images, which is really difficult because they were all ones that were my favorite, so we had to figure out which ones best represented the theme.
How do you choose which places to take your photographs?
I’m always looking on Google Maps to trying to find new places. I started off in La Jolla and that’s, of course, where all photographers like to go. I try and find something different, so I’ve been searching new places to go and different areas.
I don’t like to go to the cliché spots that are popular with photographers. I try to make my spots a little different that doesn’t show the typical scene that you would see regularly.
Is photography your main profession?
I don’t like to say I’m a professional photographer because then, people always want me to do their weddings or portrait shots, which I don’t like to do. So I just consider myself an artist. It started off as hobby, part-time.
Now, it’s slowly taking more and more of my time, so I’m going more full-time doing this. I still have another full-time job that I do.
What kind of message do you want convey to anyone who comes across your photos?
It’s almost like, when I go out to the beach and you like looking at the grounds, the tide pools and all the final details, I like to combine everything all together that I see out there. From small details up close to the colors and the sky in the background. And nature and birds and all the elements of nature—I’d like to combine as much as I can into one shot.
Sometimes, it can look like a simple scene but it can get pretty complex with all the details and elements I get in the shot. I’d like to create more than just the average scene of a nice, beautiful sunset. I like to include something else in there to make it just a little different [and] more interesting. I like to also point out the sun and the moon as a big theme, big icon that I’d like to include in my shots. Whenever there’s a crescent moon out, I’d like to photograph it and incorporate it into the shot that day. That’s a running theme throughout my photography.