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 Unpublished Rod McKuen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...