Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

This image I think is not bad but appears quiche.  Kind of reminds me of the pop  B&W book covers in the late 60s when colored covers were very expensive.  Possibly one that Rod McKuen would have used (did I just hear "yuck"?).  If you don't know his highly sentimentalized works, you are probably too young or too stoned back then to remember.  He was one of the forgotten heroes on my generation.  Wrote poems and songs.  People either liked him or hated him because of his anti-intellectual ambivalence.

Presuming you've read this far, this commentary will not be one of those inspirational musings that you may have received at the end of the year.  No, it is what it is... because I choose to -- being a rebel and a free spirit that I am.  So I'm throwing away all the profound sayings in the bath water... at least for now. They seem self-aggrandizing, and doesn't serve any other purpose.

So why this image?  If it's not inspiring, so what?  I chose this image to be my last post for the year partly because I don't want to undermine the mundane uneventful events of the year, which I believe we ought to be thankful for.  They were uneventful for some good reasons.  Consider the alternative; it could have been worse, huh?  I hope I could get that message across at the pain of disappointing you about my art.  (I refuse to accept that art is only about the beauty of things.)  Perhaps for now I am without shame about sharing the other side of being an artist -- one of the many mere mortals easily susceptible to failures.  But to paraphrase Nietzsche, "that which did not kill me only made me stronger."  So I raise my glass... cheers to 2011, the good and the bad... cheers to 2012.

Have a great weekend and a safe New Year.  I'm moving on, so should you.  Cheers. - R

Editor's note:  My inscrutable penchant -- I was using the word "quiche" to mean cheesy.  McKuen is forgotten for A Boy Named Charlie Brown and the theme from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (a classic movie I think but would not be understood by today's generation).  McKuen's poems were popular among bourgeois college girls in the Philippines when I was growing up.
  • "January did not open differently.
                   It just continued." Unpublished Rod McKuen

Techie Notes:  My first roll from the Hasselblad came out botched.  I think I may have agitated the chemical erratically during developing because ghost-like cloud stains appeared on the top left area of every shots, and I know I didn't shoot any clouds.  Some shots had more conspicuous stains than others.

On the more noticeable ones, I was able to remove those stains by burning that area during post processing.  To make the burned area look natural, I have to apply a bit of burning on other areas to even it out.  I ended up with a high key look -- such as this one.  I've lost most of the highlights on the left tree but I was still able to retain some on the grass.  I have another roll waiting to be developed from the Hasselblad.  I hope I'll get it right the next time around.  Then I could write about the heady days of Manson (the actress -- not the singer).

Featured Comment: 

aU writes:

  • ~r:

    here's wishing you all the 'party favors' that the new year has to offer...

    enjoyed immensely the little time and space of life's journey as chronicled through a thought-provoking and a few times whimsical interpretation stemming from your discerning eye to the many technical variations of camera shots.

    overall, just like the English would say, i absolutely had a wicked time this year, 2011.  it would not be fair if i decide not to mention that your pictures coupled by affecting analysis elevated the jovial to wicked.  much obliged, my friend.

    cheers.. do not drink too much, a few shots of asbach uralt will do... san miguel beer will do the trick, as well.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cold weather is hot again

On to a salubrious winter solstice.  Did it come later than usual this year?

Somewhere in the Masonic part of the world, sub-cultural groups of Wiccans and sun worshippers are still engaged in Macarena dancing as part of the celebratory ritual associated with the solstice.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, the Stepford wives have systematically invaded their houses so they can replace their children with their own kind.  Their androgynous husbands have planted Heavenly Bamboos such as the one on the picture -- but really each one is inserted with a cleverly disguised antenna so their children could effectively report everything that is happening inside the house.

Okay, Rob…. You’ve gone too far in the deep end.  Right.  That’s because it’s Happy Thursday (my fave day of the work week- remember?).

Hope you are enjoying this day.

Happy New Year: feliz año Nuevo, manigong bagong taon, ein gutes neues Jahr, akemashite omedetô, selamat tahun baru, xin nian hao, 새해 복 많이 받으세요 and yo' git yer sucka out da closet!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kind of Blue

Hope your day is going well.

Blue seems to be the color of the season.  Reds are still in.  I see quite a few people in their Holiday Reds.  Green seems to have taken a recess.  Even I who likes green have tepid feelings for it lately.  Yellow... I don't know - I haven't really seen much of yellow except for some teeth flashing from the neighbors' dogs.  I've noticed some people try to combine colors but I tend to get thrown off by their bold choices (you know what I mean.)  I'm sticking to blue for now.  Not because I'm blue.  But just because I like blue.  As in Blue Cheese, Blue Moon, and Blue Jeans.  Yay for blue.  Hope you like it too.  Cheers - R

P.S. for the techies:  The image is a recent capture.  It's one of the trees at the District parking lot.  It may look surreal, and that is because the camera I used only captures the Infra Red light.  The colors are what comes out from the camera.  A bit of saturation and contrast were tweaked in post processing.  That's all.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Greetings from the Castro Household

Dear Family & Friends,

Greetings from the Castro household!  Rob recently had this preoccupation with clocks, old towns, and time.  Those pictures Rob took of clocks in various places and times reminded us of the significant moments we had this year:

For Kamilah, it was a time to go back to Johns Hopkins University after studying abroad at Sydney, Australia and traveling around various Asian countries; a time to graduate from college, do a job search and finding one at USC Department of Immunology.  It was also a time to learn and understand cell structure, proteins, bacteria, Rubicon, Korean English and pippetting; a time to be independent and living in an apartment.   Most of all, it was a time to recognize God's generous provisions and loving-kindness, and a time to pray for wisdom in choosing the right path amidst the opportunities that He has opened up.

For Rob, it was a time to adjust to a new position at work, deal with difficult people and learning oil and gas and "environmental justice" whatever that is; a time to pick up and play guitar to some old tunes with some old folks and reminisce about old times; a time to study, learn and teach Sunday School (what a blessing that was!).  It was also a time to see the world with a new eye, taking pictures using view finder cameras, SLRs, film, digital, black and white, colored, infra-red; sharing pictures with friends and making friends through pictures.  It was a time to see the world with its beauty and appreciating the Creator who made such handiwork; a time to recognize the darkness and the ugliness caused by man, and the dilemma of capturing such darkness and integrate into it the promise of hope through redemption, a time to ask for God's blessings to convey this message effectively.
For Rose, it was a time to celebrate for being freed and healed from a frozen shoulder, a time to appreciate regaining the strength of ones arms and putting it to good use.  It was also a time to handle stress and pressures at work through music ( hint: listen to Orff's Carmina Burana but using ones own words especially the things that bother you.  For Rose it was AECD, OBD, DPF, PIP, de-SOx, de-NOx, etc.), humor and by hanging on to Psalm 73:26.  It was a time to visit family in the Philippines, a time to realize age and ones finiteness, a time to consider retirement from work, a time to pray for discernment on future activities to pursue.

Then we have the two special members of our household, Jerry Mew and Mimi.  They don't have any concept of time, only streams of consciousness consisting of daily food, clean litter, combing, daily walks, treats, attention and care.  Without them, they grow berserk -- Jerry gets bulimic by throwing up hairballs all over the place and Mimi gets wild, reverting back to being a stray dog, getting lost for hours before it comes home.  They remind us of our daily needs and we are thankful that we are well provided for by our heavenly father.  He gives us our daily bread and His loving hand is upon us so we won't stray away from Him.  He loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that through Him we are saved.

May the blessings of Christmas be yours today and the years to come.

Love In Christ,

Rob, Rose and Kamilah      

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Howdy Buddy (Looking for Love)

Today, my friend Buddy called to tell me that he spotted eight old maids milking on Wall Street as symbol of protest against the Ten Lords of the Corporate Kingdom.

My friend Buddy is my go-to model.  Every time that I test a new photography equipment he is always around to pose for me.  This portrait head shot was taken using my newly converted Infra Red camera.  Natural ambient light courtesy of the soft California sun.  Hat by Armani.  Make up by Revlon.

Incidentally, Buddy is a single straight guy currently looking for a relationship.  He speaks different languages, such as High Mongolian, Low Mongolian and Middle of the Road Mongolian.  He likes listening to the music of Men at Work, Midnight Oil and all those Australian have-beens from the 80s.  (He has been to all the Choachella concerts.)  He loves to cook his favorite Spam using only organically grown ingredients.  I was wondering if you know somebody who would be a perfect match for Buddy.

Lotsa Cheers. - R

Featured Comments:

 Given Buddy's construction, I'd have thought Buddy would enjoy the "Hard Rock" music of The Stones more. Nice pic.

Martha:  I've got a friend for Buddy. She's a real picnic. Enjoys the outdoors and doesn't mind ants. Thrives throughout Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. She lives underneath a palm leaf, weighs about 40 pounds and is made of stone. She's a turtle with a hard shell and a soft heart. Her name is Tur-Dee.

p.s. (she digs spam tacos) ... Happy first day of Winter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Red and White Conflated (an environmental-friendly alternative to Christmas decor)

Back from a few days off - Rose and I helped Kamilah moved in to her new apartment over the weekend.  I put up some of my art photos to decorate her place.  What it now needs is Christmas spirit - so I'm thinking maybe assemble that old plastic tree from some years ago and embellish it with ornaments.  Since I couldn't find enough decors, I'm thinking that I'll use the red shallots and white garlic that I found at the local farmer's market.  After all, we are suppose to promote environment-friendly alternatives.  Do you think that would work?

Extra Holiday Cheers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chum Bubbly

And this cute little chum makes my day.  He reminds me that in a few days I'll probably get that new 256 megapixel DLSR camera that I've always dreamed of having - except that camera has not been invented yet.  Oh well.  Still, who could resist this cute gazebo bear?  Just look at that GQ red bow tie -- stylish.  Hair styling by Supercuts -- gorgeous.  Robert De Niro grin -- suave.  Kung Fu Panda pose -- priceless.  Ki-ya!!!

Taken some time ago with the Original LensBaby when I started to shoot seriously. Reprocessed recently.  Hope you enjoy his company.  Holiday Cheers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In·glo·ri·ous Remnants

The good folks in Culasi like their beer – especially if someone else is paying for the drink.  For them, beer after all is considered a rich man’s brew, which is reserved for times requiring mandatory celebrations.  On normative nights the choice could be a mixed of local concoction that guarantees even the professional drinker an Excedrin hangover.  Contrast that to special occasions – like when the house rooster lost in a cock fight, or that time the neighbor’s piglet found its way to their backyard – these are sure to provide the impetus for breaking out a case or two of the best San Miguel brew.  Cheers!

Featured Comments:

Glenn:  All empty. How sad.

Juzno:  Well we can't let that happen... time to break out another case of brew -- it's 530 somewhere.

Glenn:  When people would say "it's 5:30 somewhere", I'd sometimes think about being at the North or South poles, where all the time zones converge.  Take a step East, and it's midnight; West, and it's noon.  The poles are where there is always a good time to break out a case of brew, which of course explains the jolly man in the red suit.

Martha:  Well what do you know, a trio of singing bottles.  Tra-la-la-la-la, la-la-la... laaaaa!

Juzno:  And Ringo on sideline playing the castanets. The girls just can't contain themselves.  "With a love like that you know it can't be bad... whooo!"

Joyce:  You come up with some unusual subjects.....I prefer Dos Equis amber (dark)......Prost...... I like how the bottles show up red -- can I assume they were brown?

Juzno:  Yea they were brown but after several rounds they turned red from singing.  The jolly old man in the red suit made sure everyone had their share.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Day on the Boardwalk

Hope your day is going well.

Rained a lot yesterday.  The dog didn't want to go out.  The wind blew the fence down.  The cat demands that his litter box be changed.  But I couldn't do much because I was under the weather -- so to speak.  And it does look gloomy outside.  But sometimes a gloomy weather can be cool.  Outside can still look dark even though it really isn't.  It's what one sees with the heart.  Sometimes it may be sunny outside but  it feels gloomy.  No, rainy days and Mondays never let me down.  I welcome them.

Hope you enjoy. - R

Featured Comment:

Martha:  Yesterday, I stepped out in full blown color. Harley boots, favorite jeans, Santa t-shirt, long fuzzy scarf, over-sized wool coat, two tasseled knit cap. Rain gives me a green light and makes my heart happy. Best of all, I got to use my Neiman Marcus hand-made in Italy wooden handle umbrella I purchased for $2.99 at the Goodwill Store.

If I owned a yacht, I'd name it "La Gurumina."

Juzno:  Cheers to great fashion finds.  Now... Baby, you can drive my car.

Martha:  I wanna be famous, a star of the screen. Beep beep'm beep beep yeah!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Is there life on Mars?

Is there life on Mars?  You betcha.  I have the photo to prove it.  Their highway system is complex that it surpasses even the best freeways in SoCal.  They even have a Holiday Inn close to the freeway - very convenient for tired transients who have been on the road for so long.  Wait a minute?  Isn't that the 60 Freeway?  Heh.

I shot this test image yesterday at high noon to see how my converted Infrared (IR) camera would perform.  What you see here is what came out of the camera unprocessed except for some contrast tweaking.  The colors are the result of the IR camera.

My crappy Canon EOS 350d was crapping out so I converted it to shoot IR exclusively.  Basically, the digital sensor on all DLSR have a filter to block the IR light so the colors of the pictures come out looking normal.  Remove the filter and it will let the IR in - which produces surreal colors.  It would be difficult to do this in Photoshop.   I didn't do the conversion myself as I would have probably killed the camera.  There are places where you can take your camera and they'll gladly do it for a fee.

Hope you enjoy.  Have a great day.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Real men are not afraid to wear pink shirts (or any similar colors)

Happy Thursday.

This is my fave day of the work week so I guess I can post one of my fave shots, which doesn't usually translate to what is popular.  For one thing, the colors are weird.  And the horizon is skewed --maybe so the lady at the store can tip the scale.  Heh.  If I have shown this to a photography instructor, I would immediately get an F.

Taken late last year when I traveled back to the Philippines.  It was on a crowded market place.  With my normal lens, I must have been standing about 10 feet in front of the old man when I took his picture.  No flash, just outside light.  I love this shot because the  man appeared to be looking past me.  It's as though at that moment I was invisible to him.  Maybe I was.  My theory is you keep doing street photography and eventually even while wearing a Walrus costume you'll be inconspicuous like the vegetables in this image.  Koo-koo-koo-chew.

I recall the market that day was a trip.  Walking around with a DLSR camera hanging on my neck was sure to get attention at this small rural town.  Every time I pointed the camera to shoot at someone, other people would try to warn my subject, "hey you're going to be on Facebook!"  I love it.

Hope you enjoy.

The Egg man says, "Cheers!"

Featured Comments:

Glenn:  Hey, isn't that Raman, and what's he doing in the Philippines?

Juzno:  Raman was following Lady Gaga on her worldwide tour but all he got was a Seattle's Best T-Shirt.

Glenn:  Okay, that explains his expression.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Brown Shoes Don't Make It

This pair is for my business attire.

Hope your day is starting out well.

It's the first day of the work week although it's already Tuesday.  Usually, I try to dress up on Tuesday and dress down on Friday.  This system of dress code really works well for me as I have only two pair of shoes.  So I have one pair for dressing up and another for casual Friday.

Old sneakers never die.

I've always wanted to do product shots so here are images from my wardrobe.  So if I show these to Macy, do you think they will hire me to do their catalogs?  (Heh)

Have a good one.  Cheers. - R

Monday, December 05, 2011

Juzno Unplugged

Old Man Geezer

Today, I've made one of the biggest decisions in my life.  I've decided to post my picture un-retouched -- with wrinkles, eye bugs and gray hair.  I don't really know what has gotten inside me but the the the the closest analogy I could think of is when KISS decided to perform without their make-ups.  Maybe because my own make-up artist didn't show up today.  And the coffee was cold.  And my hair dresser came in late and spilled her latte on my Persian rug.  My pom ate my diamond ring.  And the bill from Ritz Carlton just arrived.  And I found out that my Rolex is fake.  Maybe I just don't care anymore.  Maybe I'm just tired of hiding behind the veneer of superficial mystery.  I came to believe that is just BS.  I'm tired acting out the part.  Juzno is just an ordinary man.  He is old and gray.  But he lives for the moment.

It is only Monday.  Who knows what I'll do next tomorrow or the following day.  Cheers.

P.s. I've decided that my future lies beyond the Yellow Brick Road.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Clock the Grove

Hasselblad 500CM, Kodak Tri-x 400, f8

Oh, no. not another photo of a clock!  I know. I know.  But seems like any ole town I go to there is always an interesting token of a clock in the middle of some frenzy.  I asked myself if this observation is coincidental.  What if some highly evolved aliens from a different time have planted these clocks in strategic places so that when they return from the future they will know what time it is?  Or maybe a devilish imp left these clocks so that we as humanity would be slaves to time?  What if?

Taken at the Grove on Miracle Mile.  This was a test shot using a Hasselblad 500CM.  A real nice medium format camera.  The camera is more than 20 years old but it still performs well.  It's hard not to like the look and smell of this film camera.

If you are ever in the neighborhood, check out the Farmer's Market.  Lotsa food shops with great eats. I recommend Monsieur Marcel Restaurant & Wine Bar.  While there, another photo enthusiast visited me at our table after learning I was shooting with my Hasselblad.  He quickly showed me his vintage Rolleiflex, and asked if he could take a picture of my camera with his.  Aww... we quickly felt like two excited parents comparing notes about our children -- except we were talking about our cameras.  Hah.

Have a great weekend.

Cheers. - R

Featured Comment:

Martha: I'm involved with a playful love affair with time. I ask it to hurry up, slow down and don't be cruel to me. All I get back is... tic-toc-tic-toc...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Great Mr Jerry Mew

"You look good in blue... did I tell you that?"
They say that the easiest way to win a photo contest is to send a picture of your pet.  After all, who can ignore these lovable creatures?  I've never won a photo contest in my life.  Maybe because I don't follow this advice.

But now Mr Jerry Mew would like your undivided attention.  His dazzling emerald eyes and great charm are hard to resist.  How could you not?  He is kind of big for a cat.  He weighs nearly twice as much than our dog.  He traces his heritage back to the days of Beowulf of the Middle Earth.  Although of noble birth, he is an all-American feline, born on the fourth of July.  Really... well, we thought he was -- so we decided we would celebrate his birthday every Independence Day.  And Mr Jerry Mew is a skilled hunter and a relentless outdoorsman.  Knowing him, he'll probably bring home a turkey tonight -- alive.  Heh.

Have a pleasant Thanksgiving.  Cheers - R

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Harvest and Happy Thanksgiving to You All

Wild thing, you make my heart sing.
It looks like it's ready for harvest.  Except you can't really harvest these.  At least not for human consumption.  They're wild grass.  I'm sure they're good for something.  Maybe wild animals could feed on them?  I'm attracted to the color here.  These wild plants are probably the only gold left here in California. That's probably why we can still claim that this is the Golden State.

Not sure if I've posted this before.  If I did, I'm sorry.  Reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's speech to a university crowd.  He said that the first thing they teach you in public speaking is not to say you're sorry.  After which, he shouted "Sorry!  I'm sorry for this stupid rule!"  I thought that was funny.  If you didn't get the joke, that's okay - no need to say you're sorry. Hah!

Hope you enjoy.  Happy thanksgiving to all!  - R

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Minimalist Reflection of Tea Leaves and I'm Turning Japanese (I really think so)

Maybe it was the water that I just drank but I'm seeing Japanese.
I can still remember how I took this image.  It was a yellow drenched afternoon and the tea leaves were turning Japanese.  It felt like everything was at a stand-still.  I kept on rotating the camera until I got the right composition.  At that moment, I pressed the shutter. The sound of it reminded me of Jackie Chan's kung fu moves -- swift and crisp.  I was in love with my camera and the tea tree.

I shot this image using the Lensbaby.  This was back in 2008 when I started to take photography seriously.  I already had a digital SLR that I got around 2005 but I was only taking pictures of my daughter and our two cats.  What got me interested in shooting other things was when I discovered the Lensbaby.  It's a dopey little lens that can be manipulated to blur out a desired area anywhere in the frame.

With the Lensbaby, the camera had to be operated in manual mode.  It was all low tech, which I also love.  It taught me how to shoot without training wheels.  Back then, I bought the Lensbaby for around $60.  Nowadays, they go for almost $400.  I guess the folks at Lensbaby got greedy.

Yes, that lo-fi lens put the mojo on me to get serious into art photography.  One of these days I'll have to take the original Lensbaby out for a spin again.  In the meantime, here's an oldie that I hope you may enjoy.  Cheers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pressing Forward and Just messing With Your Mind

And off they go...
Baba La Teengah kept pressing forward.  He had to win this race.  Losing was not an option.  He knew in his heart that he didn't want to go back.  Except for the taste of the hot humid wind, his numb face couldn't feel the hard blast of stream  in front of him.  His legs were melting just like the rest of the runners.  He knows he can't stop now...

At times, I'll get into an artsy mood and see potential for making art.  For instance, I see a botched shot that I just made.   Then I'll add texture to it to make it look like a painting.  After I'm done, I'll call it Art.  There is really nothing to it.  The hardest part is to convince your audience it's Art.

Now seriously, what makes this image in my estimation universal is that the runners representing different ethnicities all have one goal -- to win the race.  You can spiritualize on that.  Some view ourselves in some kind of race -- whether material or philosophical.  It doesn't matter.  All of us are in it for something.  What is there at the finish line?

This is how I see this image.  What are they thinking in order to win?  It's hard to get into what they are going through.   I like it that it's takes quite an effort to make out the faces of the runners - leaving the viewer to imagine how it's like.  Are they grimacing?  Or are they stoic-like?  Their combined structure forms a directional pattern - we see that as all the runners are going in the same direction -- but it is not fluid, which I think suggest to the viewer that the running competition is edgy.

In reality, most of us will not notice this edginess at that very moment.  It is just too fast for the untrained eyes.  So what we see is what we just see in our mind, and not what is really happening.  Our brain tricks us into thinking based on what we have previously experienced and been taught through years of indoctrination.  Such is our predisposition.  Really.

No, not really -- I’m pulling your leg. Heh. Hope you enjoy.

Featured Comments:

Annie:  Maybe it's just me but they look like zombies on the way to the point of no return.

Juzno:  Annie, you're beginning to think a lot like me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Question to Juzno: I really need to learn to take pictures in the dark

Blue Moon... uh woooo

Rachael:  I really need to learn to take pictures in the dark.  All of my pictures are in the dark at a cemetery, but I can't seem to get them right.

Juzno:  First of all, you're weird.  I don't know of any person who shoots exclusively at the cemetery.

Looking at the lighting condition of your pictures at the cemetery, that is to be expected.  (We shall spare Rachael the embarrassment so we won't publish her pictures here.)

Photography, whether night or day shots, is all about capturing the light.  Obviously at night, you don't have enough light.  Once you understand that this is what you are dealing with, it gets easier to get around this hurdle.

There are at least two ways to get the decent image at nights: [1] increase the exposure time, or [2] use supplemental light.
The first option is you're basically allowing more time to capture light.  Think of a water faucet that gives off a few drops per second.  Well, it you want to fill a bucket, it's going to take a longer time to fill it as compared if you want to fill a shot glass.

The second option is you're supplementing light to where there aren't much to begin with.  This gets tricky because you need to know where to supplement the light.  Otherwise your subject could be getting too much light but your background may not.  Or vice-versa, your background could be getting the supplemental light and your subject is not getting much.

I would usually increase the exposure time if I'm shooting in this environment.  How much time?  It's trial and error.  Sometimes, I'll start with 5 seconds.  Then depending on what I get and see the result on the LCD screen, I readjust up or down.  When you shoot in this mode, everything that moves will either be blurry or it won't appear in your final image.  You would benefit from using a tripod or setting the camera on a stable spot.  Holding a camera for 5 seconds even with the most stable hands will guarantee a blurry image.

The second option is to use supplemental light, which is what most people do.  That could mean using your flash or bringing in an additional light source (like professional do).

You can also increase your ISO and shoot at an EV of +2 or higher.  But this usually makes the image noticeably grainy.  (I noticed that your camera is set at ISO 3200, which is already tops.  So I don't think you can further increase the ISO.)

Creating Background Motion by Jay P. Morgan

ISO 1200 Magazine | Photography Video blog for photographers: Creating Background Motion: A new Lighting Lesson ...: In this Slanted Lens lesson we are going to show you how to create background motion by moving the camera and subject together on somet...

Great use of snoot from Bryan Peterson

ISO 1200 Magazine | Photography Video blog for photographers: Learn to use a snoot with a flash by Bryan Peterso...: AdoramaTV Presents You Keep Shooting with Bryan Peterson. This week, join Bryan in Seattle to learn about using a snoot with a flash. ...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tangled up in Green

Sometimes, there are days like these.
I started my day on the wrong foot again.  Rose took my regular car today so I have to drive Kamilah's car -except I didn't have the car key and both of them left for work.  Against my better judgment, I ended up driving Rose's car, which has been giving her problems.  Driving is probably not the right word here because I felt like I was trying to ride a bull high on crystal meth or something.  After a few yards, the car stalled.  It would not start right away but when it did it sounded like it was trying to imitate the sound of my neighbor's lawn mower.  With much fear and trepidation, I tried to steer it back home but it seemed to have a mind of its own.  It was not a beautiful mind.  Finally I was able to bring the car back to our driveway.
By this time, my mind is messed up and I'm thinking if I should even go to work.  I chilled out while waiting for Rose to bring back the car key to the other one.

I think this image is how my mind looks like right now.  Isolated, in the dark, a bit blurry and some tangles all around.
Techie Notes:  Taken with the Lensbaby mounted on a film camera Canon Rebel 2000.  I think I must have used Kodak Gold film ISO 400.  It's grainy but I like it.

Featured Comments:

Annie:  What is that purple thing underneath?  Looks like a butterfly.

Juzno:  Nah, I think it's a discarded bubble gum wrapper with the Lakers logo on it.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Fish for Art Sake (It doesn't have to make sense)

Please help and donate for the cause of the Fish.  Send in your check payable to National Aquatic Commune Host and Oceanography (NACHO).
Hope you like fish. 

Not too long ago, I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and observed the absurdity of post-modern arts. I came to the conclusion that the objective of post-modern art is to kill the arts including its own. An interesting concept, I suppose. I'm posting this image as my reaction to what I've seen.

     Fish Vendor:  Will it be da fiskh or da fiskh?

     Customer:  I hate fish. Do you have anything else?

     Fish Vendor:  Sorry, only fiskh.

Still in the mode of celebrating my Point and Shoot here. The neat thing about it is you can take it almost anywhere without being conspicuous. I snuck it one time at an ethnic grocery store and took a picture of their fish product. They usually don’t want you to do that as some competitors have been known to steal their marketing ideas. But I don’t care about their market gimmick. I just want to shoot the fish. They look like they’re in need of help. Just look at the ice shavings on top of some of them. This inhumane treatment ought not to be tolerated. The red eyed guppy in the middle is their spokefish. She complained to me that they have obviously been subjected to harsh and cruel condition.

     Customer:  Can I have a Coke?

     Fish Vendor:  No, only Pepsi.


Featured Comments:

El: This looks like a painting. So these are the fish at the market? Did you use your lightroom editing. The colors looks like they are painted on a canvas. I love it.

Juzno: Yea usually I import all my files in Lightroom. I globally tweak the curves a bit where I could see everything, apply some noise reduction (Lightroom has probably the best I've seen) and then I export it to PS. In PS, I can selectively dodge and burn using the curve layers -- which I find real neat because the adjustments don't have to be applied globally. For this image, I also applied the color saturation layer and selective tweak the colors, e.g. blues are applied only on certain areas and not on the entire image. So, in a sense, it's like painting.

Rate-cha: Sorry, right of the bat, and I don't like bats, but I also don't like this picture. I went into a Hong Kong grocery store and they had barrels of fish squirming on top of each other, apparently, still alive. That is cruelty!

Juzno: So... will that be "eat in" or "take out?"

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

ISO 1200 Magazine | Avoiding Flash Reflections in Eyeglasses

ISO 1200 Magazine Photography Video blog for photographers: Avoiding Flash Reflections in Eyeglasses by Adoram...: AdoramaTV Presents Digital Photography One on One. In this episode Mark shows us how to adjust the angle of your light source to avoid f...

Red River

In hindsight, I must have been crazy to even try to take this shot the way I did.  It just rained so the rocks were slippery.  Right behind me, just a few feet away was a ten foot drop.  I'm not going to do that again.

Hope your day is going well.

Taken last year at Sebaste, Antique, Philippines with my Point and Shoot. This image was the last thing my camera saw before it plunged into the raging river. I was still able to retrieve the camera and after I let it out to dry for three days it seems to still work. Lately, I have noticed that the image quality I get has been degrading. But that's probably because I’ve used it immensely. I've probably shot about a thousand images with this camera. So the sensor is probably not as responsive as it used to be. The camera has served me well. I sense that it may well be on its last leg. I would like to remember it as providing me with great images that I will always have pleasure to share.

Hope you enjoy. Cheers.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

aLone (again)

"Wanna dance?"
She came as the headless fashionista, and she was a blast at the Halloween party.  They loved her.  But I think she may have partied too much.  She was by herself alone when everybody left.  Left in the dark, she is still waiting for a taxi to get home. 

Featured Comments:

S:  She's sad because she has no head - maybe you should've given her a pumpkin head, Rob!

L:  She partied so hard that she lost her head.  Freaky!

Annie:  Very nice shadows. Where did you find a mannequin with no head like that? It looks like a photo fit for a fashion magazine.

Juzno:  Found her at the mall. She kept me company while my wife was trying out new clothes.

Rach: Wow a husband that takes his wife shopping; can't find many of those.

Juzno:  Well it gave me opportunity to flirt with the mannequins.

Martha:  He brought her headless body to the party on piggy-back. Her jealous troll boyfriend refused to see her smile and hear her laughter. He returned to his spot under the bridge and cradled her head.  He's destined to remain ugly muddy and cold. She was not sad and alone for long. The taxi man picked her up. She now decorates his shower. Water is life and her clavicles make excellent soap dishes.

Juzno:  Was that why her jeans shrunk?  She was decorating in the shower.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Crawl

“I’m sick of people who don’t appreciate their blessings… " (John, Saw 2004)
I have a dark side I must confess. Maybe all of us do.

The image is one from a series of images I worked on some time ago. I think that this kind of art is not for everybody. But being close to Halloween, I may be able to get a pass here.

Have a safe Halloween. Cheers.

Techie notes: Canon EOS 5d, EF 24mm, Model by KC.

Featured Comments:

Martha: This witch has slipped on salt. Is she being preserved or is she dissolving? Is she a he? 'Tis the season of the witch.

Looking forward to this worked-on-some-time ago series. Keep the camera near, you never know when a ghost or goblin may appear.

Swil: Please explain how you got the "exposure" like that ... I guess I'm a novice on your techie stuff!

Juzno: Sure no prob.

As you can see, this was an indoor shot.  The lighting source was all from the ambient and whatever incandescent light was available at that time. No flash.  I used a wide angle lens to get that semi-distorted perspective.  I put a neutral density filter (probably a 4x or a 6x) in front of the lens, and I'll explain why: I wanted to expose at the longest time possible so I can create a motion blur. The camera was on a tripod so the stationary elements on this shot would not be blurry. (Only the moving elements would be blurry.)  I think the aperture was on f22 or something. I wanted to get the longest exposure I can get. Next, I set the bulb setting on manual.   When I was ready to shoot, I asked the model (in this case my daughter) to do push-ups on the floor. I probably exposed at about 10 seconds or more -- to get that motion blur. Since her hands were relatively on the same spots as she was doing her push-ups, they came out relatively sharp compared with the rest of the body.

In post processing, I converted the image to BW with a bit of brown tone and just adjusted the contrast to get that film-noir look. I added vignette on the corners to up the creepiness factor.

Hope this makes sense.

Swil:  Yes it does make sense ... I'll keep my day job too as I'd have never figured that one out! Your secrets are safe with me by the way!

Juzno: Whoops.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Anxiously Waiting, Life with Dignity

I need a new provider.
I was sitting on a bench during a graduation ceremony when he stood in front of my view point. So I shot him… I mean with my camera.

One of the images I like to capture has to do with street photography. While technically, this may not be considered street photography but more in the category of photojournalism. I caught this man at a moment that I thought looked cool. What was he doing? Was he on a phone? Or maybe he was just scratching his left ear? (That would be really weird.) Was he a secret agent? Who was this person? I don’t really know. He looked like Shaft to me. Or maybe Seal, the artist-singer.

You might say, well what’s the point of taking his picture? Actually, there are at least two points. The first point I think is life with dignity. Created in the image of his Creator. Life with dignity even though he may be just a lonely man who is in the middle of something, who just don’t seem to understand [*]. The second point is I just like to take pictures of things and of people that nobody else would. This image is just another facet of what I like to shoot, which doesn’t always appeal to most people.

I remember in the days of film, people would chastise me for wasting my film on trees and cats and little ditties and people I didn’t know. The rubric was that film being expensive was best used on people you actually know. I never paid attention to them. I just shoot whatever I wanted. With the advent of digital, taking different pictures on different genres made it more accessible.

Talking about techies: The first thing I love about this picture is the pose. Taken at a moment when the person appears anxious… waiting for something that will never be visible to us. One could just imagine. I also love the contrast and the shadows and the depth of field. This image works for me.

[*] Apologies to Sir Paul McCartney.

Featured Comments:

"That is an odd way to hold a phone. I think he was scratching his ear."

"I have to disagree - this man clearly is a head body guard to someone famous who's there to see a relative graduate. He's checking out the scene, letting his men know everything's secure - it's OK for them to come in. There was a little kid screaming on his right so he switched sides to try and hear a little better, hence the disgruntled look on his face."

"Too bad nobody told this man that he could have used a blue tooth wireless. He also probably need to switch provider."

"You see... the capped gent is informing the undercover half brother that the gray haired dude, is a fake. Just like his papers, Ray Bans and the baby in the buggy... Reporting from a graduation ceremony under threatening clouds and wearing flats, I'm Edeluvina dela Whoo-Yah."

"I believe that the gray haired dude's hair is also fake.  It's really a wig that he borrowed from the Salvation Army."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

When Roses Bleed

Canon EOS 5d, Lensbaby 3G
A good drizzly morning to you. Ever since I could remember, Thursday has always been my favorite day of the week. Thursdays tend to make me moody. Strange as that may sound I sometimes welcome being in a moody spirit. It makes me reflect on things. Re-evaluate things. I have to make a confession here. I’m such a sucker for sentimentality. The image here evokes quaint emotion for me. It’s like somebody left the scene and then there is just silence. A soft voice whispers, “why did you leave me?” Sorry. Somebody pass me a Kleenex. I’m really old fashion hiding behind the Harry Potter glasses and the fake goatee. Don’t mind my ramblings. Hope you enjoy the image. Cheers – R

Techie notes: Taken with the Lensbaby mounted on a Canon EOS 5D. I think this was shot at f2.8. Very long exposure. Newspaper courtesy of the Daily Bulletin. I don’t really read it but I always find one at the porch every Saturday. Must be from my neighbor. I finally made good use of it. Hahza…

Featured Comments:

P: Love the shot. And isn't this weather fantastic! I love the fall. Fridays were always my favorite day, I always felt like such a free spirit on those days, lots of anticipation for the coming days. I get the moody thing. I guess I just see it as reflective and thoughtful. Better that than blind to the world and others in it. I get "moody" on a daily basis. I keep looking for a little enlightenment each day. Trying to keep the vision of the glass half full, sometimes it's difficult when I look at the state of the world. Humanity definitely needs to go back to school and learn a few things. When I saw your picture I thought of two people at the end of a glorious night of making love and sharing coffee and the paper. Interesting, huh? Haha Don't give up your "moodiness" it makes you what you are which is a very thoughtful fully engaged human.

Rachel: Beautiful as usual! I love the emotion of the shot. Maybe it was your commentary, but I did get the sense that the wilted roses were looking for their long lost owner and wonder why they had been abandoned on a newspaper. Or perhaps they were getting ready to be wrapped up and sent off for delivery. Nah, they were too worn to be fresh and new. Kinda saw myself in those roses...ok, I digress. (Fake goatee, huh? I was wondering...j/k).

Martha:  Above the blurry and clear verbiage of the Daily Bulletin lays my confidant of 41 years and myself. She lives in Vegas. She's the crispy brown edged rose. I'm the veiny rose.  Tito, hold the tissue. We laugh at our too-pooped-to-pop moments.  Cheers to moods and ramblings.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Loners

Canon EOS 60d, Carl Zeiss 50mm
Good day. Here’s another oldie image. Nothing fancy. Maybe even mundane. The flowers appear to me as if they were almost hesitant to get their picture taken. Even with their fiery red color, they seem to want to shrink back into the dark. For me the photo is a bit conflicting -- on one hand the flowers seem to beg for attention but on the other hand they want to be left alone. I suppose one can say the shot is about wall flowers. Growing up I knew what it was like to be one. Maybe that is why I can relate to this image. (I heard that Bruce Springsteen was once in a band called Wallflowers but now I’m totally digressing.) There is really nothing witty about it but I happen to like it. Hope you’ll like it too.

For the camera techie: Taken using Canon EOS 60d at iso 100 using a tripod with a Carl Zeiss 50mm lens at f/16 aperture. I also attached an extension tube so I can get real close to the flowers. The shot was my early attempt with off-camera flash photography. “Off-camera” simply means that the flash is not sitting on the camera shoe but somewhere else. [Why would a camera have a shoe? I am not really sure quite honestly. ] To get this shot, a black cardboard was placed behind the vase as background. The flash was set at the back of the cardboard. The flash merely provided enough rim light so the vase would be discretely illuminated. In other words, the light is really coming from behind.

Veronica: I can feel the shyness, yet beauty still shines, no matter how much it tries to hide in the dark.

Annie: I like the shot of the vase, it is like you said discreetly illuminated so that only parts can be seen in the picture. I like the black background. It makes such nice contrast to the red lily. I wouldn't call it wallflower. It is too beautiful to be a wallflower. To me the flower is screaming "I am beautiful."

P: Pure beauty, elegance, standing together...... Funny how things can seem so different between people. I love this one. And I too was somewhat of a wall flower myself, in a way. I was actually quite shy until I was about 12, then all hell broke loose! Haha Thanks for sharing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rose Strawberry Ice Cream Forever

Canon EOS 5D.  35mm Carl Zeiss
Hope your weekend was good. Mine was productive. Seems like my diligence in laboring on my Sunday school materials is paying off. My last two classes had good turn outs. Yay. Still don’t have much time to do new photo post processing. But I dug up this one from the archive. This was the same faded rose that I’ve posted before but taken on a different day. I believe it was on a Saturday morning just after it rained. What you see are actual rain drops and not from the sprinklers. (I actually only use drip irrigation on my backyard.)  This photo has been reprocessed to show more details.  I think of strawberry ice cream and icy droplets. Yummy. Hope you enjoy. Cheers.

Rach:  Truthfully, can't tell what it is and it looks like warts on the bottom right. But I guess it's just the mood I am in. Love the colors, except for the ones on the right.

Juzno:  Ouch! Warts on colors you love? For this you have just won the Most Brutally Frank Comment of the Day. LOL. Well, I hope your mood improves.

Anne:  Rach, you are funny. I would think of chicken pox, but not warts...LOL... Actually, I usually read Rob's comments before I see the picture. This one looks like a painting, you can see the brush strokes on the petals. The drops of water adds to the painting, like accessories to a dress.

L:  Beautiful coloring. I’m thinking strawberry parfait. The water droplets came out so clear. I like the flow of color; how it comes in strong and almost fades into a nice light orange sherbet.

Juzno:  Sherbet!

J:  Nice - Very Nice - are you sure you didn't spit on the rose? Tee hee. Thanks for sharing - you know that I love close-ups of flowers, mushrooms etc etc...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blue Contentment on a Wack-o Friday

Bahia Bay, San Diego, Canon EOS 5d
Before you tweak your monitor or clean your eyeglasses, let me just say that you probably don't have to. Towards the end of the week, my eyes start to play trick on me. And this is one representation of how I sometimes see things. It's an indication that I want to be in another place. Maybe another world.

Taken at San Diego. It was getting late that day when I saw the contented ducks swirling around the water. You could also see a hint of smog across the skyline. Oh yea, even San Diego gets smog.

Now I know I have posted this image on this blog before but I thnk that's okay.  Also, it's wack-o Friday so it's probably okay to be wack-o.

Andee:  Happy Friday!  Thanks for the pic, very unique! Did you use a special kind of lens?

Juzno:  No special slens... I just used the bottom of an old coke bottle.  Hahzahh.

Epson:  I know what you mean.  Sometimes you just wanted to be away from it all.  No worries, No pain, No anxieties, but only peace and harmony. I guess the lively ducks connote that we must move forward though and do the best we could do to make our daily lives meaningful. Good shot.  I always enjoy your pics as they always have some stories to tell one way or the other.  Have a nice weekend to you all and God Bless!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Look to the west and you might just find gold (Revisited)

The title could have been "If everything fails, convert to Black and White". Except I'm not at that stage yet. Well, almost. I've belabored on the first image for so long that I think the Black and White nuclear option is the next step.

Last Monday I had a bit of time to do some post production photography. I was initially excited to see the results on this image of the golden hill (see left insert). It was taken a week earlier at my usual hangout -- on top of the office roof top. Yet the next day as I review the picture somehow that excitement had dwindled. I felt that the color was too pale for my taste – a huge departure from my usual style. I seem to want to darken the shadows and enhance the color of the clouds in the sky. I kept it the way it was thinking that my impression would change. I've also asked for comments from other people. After hearing what they said, I ended up revising it. Hence, the second image below. I think it's an improvement but now I think I've lost the grand composition of the first one in favor of a more cropped and saturated image on the second. I mean personally, I like them both but I felt I wasn't confident enough to share them. Anyway, here they are. I’m giving them a chance. If you have an opportunity, let me know what you think. (Be nice.)

Diamond Bar, California, Canon EOS 60D, 100mm Carl Zeiss Makro

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Last Apple Standing and Raindrops Keep Falling

Tribute to Steve Jobs
I think it was a combination of several events that led me to create this.  Yesterday, it rained.  A few people asked me if I have gone out and taken a picture of the rain and what was out there.  I took that as a neat opportunity and challenge to try to do something related to the rain.  Someone suggested maybe some raindrops.  But raindrops by themselves are not that interesting.  I needed a background or something that would go with it.  Then I turned on the news: a fountainhead visionary just kicked the bucket.  We knew that Steve Jobs was on his premature twilight days but his passing was (at least for me) still a bit hard to accept.  He will be missed for sure.  This is my twisted way of paying tribute.  The battle scarred apple is still standing.  And raindrops will keep falling  (but that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red... Cryin's not for me... Nothin's worryin' me.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Ham and Egg Landscape: Not quite there

Diamon Bar, California, Canon EOS 60d, Carl Zeiss 100mm Makro
In the contrived solace of my mythic refuge
sheltered from breathing the foul ozone of the outdoor air,
and withdrawn from the searing heat the day has gained,
my gadfly priggishness incessantly resounds its sullen voice.

Now intoxicated by caffeine, I begin to settle on a lazy chair.
My perception is obscured as I wathced the streams of tiny metal boxes flow along the brambly circuits of parched cement.
Framed unto a glass window, eclectic images are conveyed from the odious urban landscape,
an ugly bearing of the immanet reality of the burgeoning post-modernization.

These stark reflections of patterns trek in contant flux,
yet inchoate, ever becoming but never being.
Wherever they are going,they are apparently
not quite there.
by Rob Castro (c) 1998-2011

Hope you're keeping dry. Yesterday, while everyone rushed out of the office building, I decided to pursue my photo walk at my one favorite hang outs: the district roof top. I don't know if it was because I wanted to get home quick and I was hungry but the skyline looked like ham and eggs to me. The sunset in the Southland is arguably one of most peculiar ones around. I think this is one example. I like it when the sun is hiding behind the clouds. The light spills looked like melted egg yolk squeezing out under a smoke ham. I think I have a weird imagination.

This was taken using the Canon DLSR 60d and the 100mm Carl Zeiss Makro. On a small monitor, I think there is not much quality difference with that produced from my Point and Shoot. Does that mean I overpaid for my DLSR and Carl Zeiss lens?

Featured Comments:

SWIL: The pic is better quality than the P&S ... I think the quality lens was worth it. As far as your imagination ... very creative indeed.

Glenn: Looks like the eggs were sunny side up!

Anna: Now I'm hungry! Great shot.

Lisa: Cool but.... I don't see the ham and eggs. That must have been your stomach thinking for you.

R: I wonder sometimes, if I overpaid for my camera. I might be able to take better photos with a point and shoot. This was a beautiful shot you took! I saw the beautiful sunset, I wanted to go home and grab my camera, but as quickly as the sun was setting behind the clouds the moon shown through the white misty clouds. The perfect scene for Dracula or the Wolfman.

Juzno: Hey R... I was merely being facetious when I commented about my pricy camera. As for me, I don’t have regrets for the stuff I own and use. I don’t think you can find a camera that’s a one size fits all. I still like my DLSRs for the image quality and reliability. My P&S works well when I want to carry a bang up camera not fearing that it will be stolen or banged up. I still like my film cameras because it gives me a different thrill when I take pictures with them. And yes, I still like my homemade pinhole camera that’s all taped up and falling apart. I love the blurry lo-fi quality it gives me. So, no I don’t think you would be better off with a P&S. I think you just need to use your camera more often.

BTW, the night image shot with the P&S that I sent you yesterday took a long time to set up, and I have to spend hours in post processing to get it to look the way it did. The image today only took minutes to set up and there was not much post processing. So, there really is no comparison. Sorry, if my comment made you second guess yourself. Just keep working at it. My one repeated suggestion: Bring your camera every day. Use it. Don’t worry if the images are all botched as you can erase them later.

S: OK – I’m not quite getting the Ham and Eggs feeling on this one but beautiful picture! The busy freeway against the calm of the sunset – they complement each other. Hey, I think that’s my car down there - I’m leaning out the window taking a picture of you on the roof...!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Purple haze on the last Friday in September (or Green Eggs and Ham Landscape)

Diamond Bar, California, Panasonic DMC-LX3
Last Friday was exceptional because of dramatic cloud formation on the west. I used the old Point and Shoot on this image. Set it on manual mode and exposed it for about 15 seconds. If you’re wondering how I was able to hold the camera steady for that long, I didn’t. I placed the camera on top of a wall, and set it to two-second timer delay so I could avoid any shaking while the shutter releases. I made sure that the image stabilizer on the camera was turned off. (The IS will actually ruin your image if the camera is set on a tripod or something solid.) I think it must have been around 7 in the evening when I took this shot.  

What I like about this image: I love how the purple blends with the grayish smog on the horizon. The vibrant green provides a nice contrast to the skyline and the dark trees. I also like how the twinkle from the street lights add a nice to the overall scene. Try getting that from your P&S.

For this image, the tone and colors were enhanced. I post processed it using Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5. I played with the curves, desaturate some colors and added some vibrance.

What I least like about the image: I wished that there were less of the trees on the right hand side but that would mean either cropping a good portion of the image, or moving from a different location -- but I would lose some of the nice elements like the street lights and the light streaks. Oh, well.

What I wished I would have captured: I wished that alien warships would emerged from the sky. Man, that would really be cool.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Big Apple in the West

"I'll take a bite of that."
Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed that one morning, or I was still dreaming. But several minutes later through our morning beach walk, the wind temperature started to drop, the sand began to turn into snow and suddenly a big apple appeared from nowhere. Maybe it was a sign – trying to tell us something. Who knows.

Well, okay... it's Friday afternoon so maybe this will help you get through the day. Have a great weekend.

Featured Comment:

SWIL:  I'll have what you had to drink for lunch.

kamileepants:  Haha -- very surreal. Reminds me of Magritte.

As Dennis Frates pursues the big picture, he never forgets the details

As Dennis Frates pursues the big picture, he never forgets the details

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Fruit Framed

Photo of last year to document the first fruit.
Our Golden Delicious Apple tree has been more productive this year. They are not as big as the ones you normally see in groceries and they don't look as appealing. But they are very sweet.

Last year, we only had a few, and there was only one that we have the benefit of enjoying. I thought since it was the first fruit that I should frame it. (Well, they do that with the first dollar you've earned, so why not with the first fruit?)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Integrity: Maybe a Hepburn

Chino Hills, California
I dug this up the other day while going through my archive. I’ve been reworking on my older photos with newfound knowledge of luminosity technique. I think I might have used the nifty-fifty lens on this one. It’s a great 50mm normal lens. (By normal, I mean it gives a normal perspective on a full frame format. As opposed to say a wide angle lens, which does make the images appear “abnormal”.) I got the lens years ago for less than $100. I think it still sells around that price range. For this image,  magnification was achieved by threading a cheap diopter on the 55mm lens so it looked like it was shot using a macro.

As you can see, the color of poor old rose had began to fade. It used to be pink. Very pink. The middle part had also aged a bit. Yet, it still stands with integrity. If she was a woman, she would be of strong character. She probably could be one of those who have aged gracefully. I’m thinking maybe a Hepburn. Or maybe a Joni Mitchell. Whatever happened to them?

Hope you enjoy. Cheers.

ISO 1200 Magazine | Photography Video blog for photographers: Post Pro with Kevin Kubota: Week 2

ISO 1200 Magazine | Photography Video blog for photographers: Post Pro with Kevin Kubota: Week 2: Internationally known and award winning Top Ten Wedding Photographer, Kevin Kubota , is widely known for his post processing knowledge and...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Barbie After Dark

St George St in Sydney where the vamps hang out
"It has that sense of a doll being child-like; or innocent -- and what lies beneath it or out there in the world is sinister and gloomy,"  said one photographer about this image.

Some people are already gearing up for Halloween. Well, I don’t have any Halloween photos for you (not yet though… I’m not really on the hunt for pumpkins). Perhaps, I could indulge you on a haunted house. It’s not really haunted but somebody suggested that it appeared like it was – maybe it’s the eerie image of the doll (dolls can be creepy). Maybe it’s the image of the person on the window. Maybe it’s the blue monochrome that makes the clouds look more ominous than they are. Then again, maybe not.

Shot in Jpeg through a store window somewhere in St George, Sydney.  The doll is inside the store while the building and the clouds are reflections on the window.  No digital manipulation here except for converting the image to monochrome, and some dodging and burning.  What you see is for the most part what came out from the camera.

Hope you have a good day. Cheers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Which planet are you from?
Hope your day is going well. I haven’t done much post processing so I’m scrapping the bottom of the barrel here. This one was taken recently on one of my morning walks with Rose and Mimi (the pom). (It’s getting less and less frequent for me but that’s another story.) I couldn’t think of anything fancy or witty to say about this image. No existential reflection. No deep rumination. It’s a picture of leaves with droplets from the morning sprinklers. What else can be deep about it?

I set out to take pictures of droplets on leaves that day. This one came out the strongest. I used my beat up Point and Shoot because it was crying out to be used. My other cameras don’t complain much because they get their regular exercise. Although there is nothing really special about this image, I’m pretty satisfied with it considering the kind of camera I used. With P&S, it’s not easy to get the background blurry even at wide aperture. Perhaps, it was the challenge that gave me satisfaction. Looking at it, it does yearn to be seen. Just like my P&S, it yearns to catch moments in time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reflecting on the Absent

Channel Island, California
I speculate that the moral police will have some problems with this image. It is what it is. Two men holding hands along the Pacific Ocean. Friends? I would say hardly. I think they are more than friends. I'm not going to be judgmental. The reality is this is the world we live in. People do the things they do for whatever rationale they have. Beyond that, I see emptiness. Not because of their sexuality. This would have been true regardless.

I've mentioned to a good friend that in my art I try to convey the darkness and the light -- the curse and the redemption. That is not easy. On this one, it is ambivalent. It's hard to see redemption in this picture. The subjects are reflecting on something -- whatever that may be. But it's all senseless to the viewer unless one fills in the blanks. Hence, the title "Reflecting on the Absent". There really isn't anything out there. Is there redemption in this scene? Hardly at face value. Yet I would hope there is. Again, one has to fill in the blanks to get to that conclusion.

Like I said, it is what it is.

Addendum (Updated September 21,2011): Shot taken at Channel Island the day before the 10th year of 9/11. I used my Point and Shoot on this one. This was actually one of the many test shots, which I used as basis for composing and setting up my old Mamiya 6 medium format film camera. Out of 24 shots there were only a few that came out okay. This beach scene wasn’t one of them. Good thing I still had my faithful P&S.

Featured Comments:

sista' moonshine: Did you shoot this in black and white or converted it after? What time of the day was it shot? It’s a very intimate photo. The beach looks entirely empty except for their set up at the far end. I like the use of rules of third in this photo. I sort of wish that boat in the distance wasn’t in the photo. Is that a boat or a bird or a plane? Even though it’s small, it sort of disturbs the intimate moment. Beautiful. I love black and white.

Juzno: This was shot original in RAW and converted to BW in post processing. It was late in the afternoon when I shot this image. The clouds were originally not that dark but I burned some parts using curve layer technique in PS. There was a bird on the sky that I removed. The boat is really an ant that crept into my lens :-) No, I think it is a boat. I may try to remove it now that you pointed that out. Good idea. Cheers.

sista' moonshine:  You named it “reflecting on the absent”.  What does that mean?

Juzno: It could mean anything.  Maybe remembering a loved one lost in 911.  Personally, I would like to think they are reflecting on what is not there -- whatever or whoever that may be.  But I think that may not be the case for the two people.

sista' moonshine:  That's a good meaning -- you can read a lot into your photo; especially with the title. There are two people looking out into the distance...there is nothing there that we see. (well except for that boat) -- but we can understand that they too maybe remember what is lost; what is gone; what was once there and is not there. And yes it could connect to the anniversary of 9/11.

Two people alone having their time remembering what once was there or what they once had before 9/11.

Excellent Rob! Feel free to copy and paste our comments to your web page. I think your responses about your photo are very insightful.

Rachel:  Your photos always convey a sense of humanness or earthliness that is conveyed through your art. I always welcome the shots.

A great shot. I like the dark shadowing of the sky. It really gives a lot of depth to the sky, which could be overpowered by the emotion of the people.

Rachael:  Beautiful!   Makes me want to touch the sand.  If I didn't know if was just before the celebration of 9/11, it wouldn't make me feel so sad.