Nikki Foong (@nikkifeng) takes the spotlight this week here at Mextures headquarters. We've long enjoyed the diversity of his feed and his knack for capturing subjects from beautifully peculiar angles. He has always used Mextures in a phenomenal manner - highlighting and shadowing photographs with a delicate and lovely touch. We were fortunate enough to spend a bit of time with Nikki recently. We learned about his life, his hopes and his passion for photography. We hope you will enjoy this sit-down as much as we did! Let me introduce myself. I'm Nikki - currently living in the sunny state of Florida. I come from an equally sunny part of the world, albeit the opposite side - a tiny island named Singapore. It's a young and beautiful urban country! I'm currently on a training detachment attending US Navy flight school.
So, photography - I started off about two years ago using my GoPro to film flights as well as capturing some fun moments as I love traveling and adventure. About a year ago I switched from Blackberry to an iPhone and some of my friends encouraged me to check out Instagram (thanks friends!). They encouraged me to share some of my initial photos and it didn’t take me long to get hooked!
Ever since I've gotten involved with Instagram it has been a trip. I began learning a lot just by observing the wide range of photographers and their styles. My eyes began seeing things that I wouldn't have taken a second look at. And my love for capturing special moments grew.
I would say my style is still highly experimental and I'm happy to run around in circles for the time being. I'm hoping to get a sweet camera and hone my craft in the near future. I currently shoot from my GoPro 3 Black, iPhone 5s, and Nikon Coolpix A compact cam.
I love the outdoors. I would climb every mountain and take a dip in every lake or ocean in the world! My work preoccupies a lot of my time unfortunately. I've come to love exploring the wonder and beauty of nature as I believe it reflects the splendor of God and his creation.
Fun fact: when other young children were watching cartoons I was watching the National Geographic channel.
I have a great passion for sports. I used to sprint competitively as well as compete in some other fun stuff. Other than that, I spend my time playing guitar (and what I think could pass off as singing). I studied music and audio engineering and it's still a big part of me.
One big dream of mine is to spend some time as a missionary and share my faith with people in remote parts of the world. I also have some serious thoughts of setting up a really fun coffee house when I finish my military career. Not to forget photography! If there's an open door to venture into a professional area I would definitely consider it.
Do you get to travel much being in the military?
As part of the aviation side of the military I've been to a few cool places. In Singapore, we have limited airspace so we do a lot of training overseas.
My initial flight school started in Tamworth, NSW, where the Australian students train. It was a small town with valleys as far as the eye can see. When we weren't flying, we spent time skating down the long country-side roads next to the cows.
I also went to Brunei for jungle survival training. The weather there was harsh and the place was unforgiving but I learned more than a few things there.
Now I'm in Florida and it's a great experience for me because I’ve been a city kid most of my life. I do miss the high rise every now and then, but really the sunsets and sand are just better here.
I'm thankful for these opportunities especially since I love traveling! Whenever I've been allowed a break I've traveled to many parts of Southeast Asia. Its a lovely part of the world. I'm thankful for any opportunity to travel!
What's next for your adventuring and photography?
I've only started getting serious about photography since I moved here to Florida. I can't wait to return to Singapore and capture my home with a different eye. It's an urban landscape so I would think I'll definitely lean towards shooting street style photography when I return home!
Of course, I'll be visiting the the West Coast within the next few months so I'm definitely looking forward to the magical mountains out there!
Your feed tends to be fairly diverse. From portraits to landscapes to cityscapes and even some macros. What does your editing process typically look like?
I like to tinker around until l I get what I want. I would say I'm a pretty non-technical photographer. For photos taken on my point and shoot, the usual route would be straight to Lightroom where I mostly just move sliders until I get what I like (Things I mostly learned from YouTube).
For my iPhone shots I mostly use Mextures and this would be my workflow: I start with Adjustments where I usually add in a film Preset (Diana is my favorite for cloud work). From there I move on to highlights, shadows and fade to get a little bit more of the tones I like. Next I'll almost always add a 120mm from the Grit and Grain pack. After that I would head over to Landscape Enhancements to get a general color and I think the new X-Film overlays are great! I add Light Leaks as required, but I try to avoid adding too many of these.
Other apps I like to use are VSCO if I desire a cleaner look and Snapseed - usually to sharpen the image a tiny bit.
I don't really chase accuracy in my photos, rather I edit them to get as close to the mood I was in at that specific time or place.
And always with music playing!
What are your favorite editing tunes?
Of late I've been editing to a lot of chillwave music. Tycho, Teeel, even Diplo and other artists along those lines. My favorite genre to listen while editing to would be folk/indie music. Bon Iver, James Vincent McMorrow, Ben Howard and Damien Rice to name a few. I love the emotion in their music and sometimes it translates to my edits.
Would you mind sharing a few of your formulas with the Mextures crowd?
I have a handful!
Beach - NNANYTX - I use this to add warm hues and bits of purple as well as to adjust the tones for sunset shots!
Misty Mountains - KEGDUZM - This is used mainly for shots with fog, giving it a mystical look by de-saturating as well as giving it a softer look. It’s great for vast scenery like mountains or plains!
Halfa - JNCSWXI - This one adds a really cool, space-like feel to some night shots. There's a nice blue and red leak added to the sky and it makes for a really unique photo. This one doesn't work with most photos but when it does I love the way it turns out!
Top Burn - JCNUMET - This is one I use specifically for waterfalls! It basically adds a slight blue tint to the water in the lower half of the shot and the top half has a slight red tint so that there's a nice contrast between them. It also adds textures and clarity. It’s by far my favorite formula but it's not suitable for most photos. You'll know what I mean when you see it!
Do you feel like Mextures offers anything unique to your editing process?
I think Mextures is an extremely versatile app! There are just so many styles you can emulate with it.
I'd say my favorite aspects of the app are the Grit and Grain, Grunge and Emulsion packs. They give you textures that are out of this world! No other mobile apps I've come across have this ability.
Also, the ability to add Light Leaks and gradients to specific parts of photos allow for tailored and unique applications for each photo you edit.
Those are the standout qualities of Mextures to me!
What has been your favorite moment to photograph so far?
My favorite photographs so far are the portraits I take of my friends when we are on holiday. Of all the things in this world, I feel that people are the most simple, yet the most intricate and certainly the most beautiful of things to capture. It's kind of sentimental but those are definitely my favorite.
Who are some of the people that have inspired your photography?
There are so many but here are a few:
@j.osh - Josh is a friend of mine in real life and takes photos in Singapore. He has an amazing outlook on life and it spills into his simplistic style of photography.
@ownthelight - This dude is full of life. I've been following his Instagram and Snapchat and it's such an inspiration to me. Just keeping it real and having fun taking awesome photographs.
@clo.photo - Chloe is probably the cutest girl on Instagram. Haha! Her photos of Canadian mountains, lakes and beyond just give me the goosebumps!
See more of Nikki’s fantastic photography here!