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

Friday, November 18, 2011

The time the end started or Ruminating on Black White Photography

Need a camera to tell the time?  No Problem.
Happy Friday.

How could you not like BW?  There is something about Black and White photography that I think either people really like it or just don't care.  If you belong to the latter group, I forgive you.

I am one of those who really like it.  There is a sense of timelessness about BW.  I think I can make a case out of this image.  At first glance, one could think that this was shot decades ago.  The truth is that the picture was taken a few months ago at Old Town Santa Barbara.

Metaphysical Alert:  This image kind of reminds me of that Chaplin movie Modern Times. In the movie, dehumanized humanity is depicted as passively going through the motion.  The powers-to-be have fooled the laboring people that this was the pursuit of happiness.  I think that it some ways we have been led to believe that this ought to be the way of life.  Our society becomes so obsessed with the mandate of time that ironically we become slaves to it.  I reject this rubric.

Techie Notes: Shot on medium format film using the vintage Mamiya-Six.  The last time I reported on this camera I was having problems with its sticking leaf shutter.   I decided to revive it - thinking that I was able to fix the sticking shutter.  As it turned out the shutter was still sticking.  I've gone through two rolls of medium format film.  After developing them, everything was all black, which meant the shutter never opened --  except for only two decent pictures.  This is one of them.  The other one is also on the same subject but with a slight difference in angle.  I chose to post this one as the composition is a bit more balanced.

This is definitely old school.  The camera did not have any light meter.  Fortunately, the sun was cooperating so I was able to use the Sunny f/16 Rule.  It's really easy.  Set the aperture at f16 and the speed at whatever film ISO you're using.  In this case, the film was rated  at ISO 400.  So I just have to set my shutter speed at 1/400.

But wait -- apparently my camera only goes to 1/250.  It suppose to go higher but it seemed to stop at 1/250.  Not to worry -- I should be able to extrapolate the setting to where I thought the right exposure would be.  Kind of hard when your brain froze a few days ago, so I'm guessing  f/22 at 1/250.  With 1/250 sec being slower than 1/400 sec, I needed a narrower aperture like f/22 so less light can get in.  Did I guess right?

As you can see, the exposure on this image is perfect.  Thank you very much!

But I can't take all the credit.  Apparently too, I didn't mention my other secret - film is very forgiving.  You can overexpose or underexpose your shot and still be able to push or pull the image during developing.  On this one I cut down my developing time to 5 minutes (usually it's 7-1/2 minutes) so the final cut comes out tasting like a juicy  medium rare.  Yeah!

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.

Cheers.

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.