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.