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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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

Yearning

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.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

101 at LAX

LAX, Canon Rebel XT, Lensbaby Composer, view large at Juzno ofthe Day
Hope you're keeping cool. Sorry, I haven't shared any photos in a while. Just too hot to be working in the studio. Plus by the time I get home I am already enervated from the searing heat. Just part of getting old. Really, if you think about it, photography is a young person's sport: hauling the camera, tripod and various lenses, and hiking several miles to get to the desired location. One needs to be mentally alert to be able to set the appropriate camera settings. Also one must be on a lookout for those magic moments. Mentally composing as part of the whole process. Then post-processing: developing the film (oh yea occasionally I would still use film), Photoshop, and other embellishments - not to mention shameless self-promotion ramblings (like this one). All these just to capture that one elusive image. Not many people know what it takes because no one really cares about the process. And that's fine. All I'm sayin' ...


The above image is an old one. Meaning I've shot it within the last couple of years or so. I was striving to get that pseudo-impressarsio impressionist style painting. I remember blogging about this image some time ago. I had been waiting at LAX and it must have been 101 degrees. It felt that way. The humidity was so high that people were literally melting. Heh. So I thought the blurry rendition was appropriate for this one. I shot this with my Lensbaby, which allowed me to create artistic blurs. The Lensbaby is great for creeative renditions, and if someone comments, "your picture is out of focus", I take that as an opportunity to evangelize on the merits of using a great expensive lens that will actually make your photos look like they were shot by a two-year old using a disposable camera. "It's art... so it's suppose to be blurry." Then I tell them that I actually printed this on a very special paper (used napkin) and let it get wet out in the park while all those green icing flowing down. Meanwhile, someone left the cake out in the rain so I don't think that I could take it 'cause it took so long to bake it and I'll never have that recipe again (I mean the one for the picture). But again, no one cares about the process.

More shameless self-promotion: See my Lensbaby Gallery

Friday, September 02, 2011

My Bad


I was awakened by a text message on my cell phone. It read: U11illeDx

It was a sloppy code for “you killed the wrong guy.” My initial reaction was this was some sort of a joke. When I verified the sender’s phone number, I couldn’t believe what I had just been sent.

This was a first. I usually make sure I’ve covered everything up to the minute details. I’ve rehearsed the plot in my head so many times that I knew it would be a cinch to complete the job. What could have gone wrong? I remember arriving at the scene a little after seven. There was still enough ambient light to counter the steady darkening of the sky. I don’t like this time of the day. Twilight is the worst time to see things clearly. But it’s the best time to be covert. It works both ways. This is the window of time that our eyes are the least effective. So for doing a job where there is a potential witness, this is a good compromise. If I can help it, I always work in the dark. But this seems to be the only time that would work. I was nearing the end of my deadline. So I have to do it quickly.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

This time I was furious

This time I was so furious.  I have vested interest in this gig.  For a while now, I have been rehearsing in my mind how I would do my job.  I have all the details worked out.  Usually, I don't have to think much about it.  Killing somebody is something that I have become proficient in doing.  I have done it so many times that it's in my nature -- embedded into my skin and core.

There are at least a couple of ways I employ in my work, both of them confrontational.  I don't like striking the victim from behind.  That style has never really appealed to me.  I want my victims to see my face... I want them to see how I would respond to their reactions.  And similarly I want to see their response.  There is that dark satisfaction in seeing the victim's face turn from surprise to anger and eventually to fear.  I never get tired seeing this even if I've done the gig so many times.  Hey, I take a lot pride in what I do.

The first method I use is to stick to 'em.  Get really contentious.  It's usually not that hard to offend and rile up people.  I seem to have a knack for it.  Then I wait for the victim to fire back.  I usually give them a chance just for kicks.  Their false sense of hope will rapidly disappear as soon as I aim for the jugular and make the kill.  You'll see this on the victim's eyes -- the disappointment turning into terror.  The second technique is similar to the first but more subtle.   This takes more planning and requires a longer time to employ.  The intent here is to make it look like the victim has the upper hand.  I usually want it that it looks like the confrontation was initiated by the victim.  I won't give away details here... hey, there are trade secrets in this game but this I'll say:  It's all orchestrated to look like the victim had it coming.

I don't need to document my work once I'm done but sometimes the client wants evidence that I have delivered up to spec.  The requirements run through the gamut, e.g. piece of private belonging, or at times pictures.  Oh yea, there are some sickos who want me to take pictures of the crime scene.  In fact, this kind of requirement has been in great demand that I decided to learn photography.  In the past, my mentors would use the Minox -- you know, that pocket camera that James Bond used.  Nowadays, a camera phone would do the trick.  But the problem with that is it leaves a foot print.  The cops will be able to tell where it all came from if the jpeg image got leaked.  Of course, I could always erase the Exif data but some college hack could always figure out something to retrieve the erased data.  That is why I have been using film cameras.  All I do is after I finish the roll of film, I just ship it to the client.  This way it ensures that integrity of the work.  Definitely no digital manipulation occurred when everything is all on unprocessed film.  Sometimes, I wonder if they ever even bother to get the film developed.  I don't want to risk sending a fake roll.  Man, that would ruin my credibility.  I got a reputation to protect here.