Thursday, July 31, 2014

Where is my Chick-a-dee? (reworked)

Dear Juzno,

It has come to our attention that you have just retired from your regular job.  Congratulations. 

For a limited time, we are offering jobs to retirees who may want to make extra money on the side.  While money may not be a concern to you right now, in a few years your hard earned pension may no longer be sufficient to allow you to continue with your lifestyle.  We are offering a hefty monetary package and fringe benefit.  I am quite sure that you will not be disappointed by what we have to offer. 

We are a small firm that specializes in quick money.  Please call me at your earliest convenience so we can talk more about our company and the exciting job that awaits you here. 

Sincerely yours,

Bernard “Bernie” Madoff

Dear Mr Madoff,

Thank you for your letter.  I am almost positive that I heard your name before but couldn’t quite pinpoint it.  Your offer is very attractive.  However, at this time, I am quite busy chasing chickens on my backyard, which does require full time attention.  Don’t get me wrong, I could use the extra bread.  Yet the idea of going back to work seems to be a regression of the worst sort.  Hence, at this moment, I would have to respectfully decline on your generous offer.

Please do not attempt to respond to this letter.  My lawyer has advised me that further persuasion from such a prominent company as yours could result in a restraining order.  I am confident that this legal action would be unnecessary.  Yet it is best to mention it just the same.

Yours truly,


Monday, July 28, 2014

Peter and Rita

Full House

They are cold but seems like they are having fun. Happiness is a warm blanket or two. Taken during a storm hit at Anilao, Iloilo, Philippines. When we left the place, our feet were all soaked in mud from crossing the paddies.

© 2013 Rob Castro

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Door Keeper

© 2014 Rob Castro

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

(Psalm 84:10)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why bother?

© 2014 Rob Castro 

Am I just posting my photo to score some points? Or is there a message that I want to share? I hope that I'm always striving for the latter. After all I think that is the whole point of art - that is to communicate. Even if the message may not always be what people want to see or hear. Hence, for me there is always that internal struggle: Why the heck am I doing this? 

Rita ... a bride to be

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fabian at Grand Central Market (revised)

Revised July 22, 2014
Art and words © 2014 Rob Castro

Fabian:  I'm shopping for a jewelry for my wife.

Juzno:  What does your wife want?

Fabian:  She wants Pearls but I would rather give her a washing machine.

Juzno:   A washing machine doesn't seem romantic.

Fabian:  Why not?  If she gives me a tool set I could use I think that would be romantic.

Addendum:  On revising Fabian -  The original had blue color cast coming from the available lights. That I was able to see. I auditioned several degrees of warming filter and settled on this one. I still wanted the blue cast on the right side background so I feathered that to show some shades of blue. I felt that the combination of blue and yellow on the overall image would create a nice harmony. I think some people would disagree. I can't really argue with that. I'm partially colored blind after all - which makes color rendition very difficult for me. It usually takes me 10 times as much work compared to doing B&W. Oftentimes, I go through many revisions before settling on one I like. Even then, I still second guess myself.


Ghost was sauntering at the Grand Central Market when I saw him. He told me that people are scared of him because his face is as white as a ghost.

Monday, July 21, 2014

More Muted Colors (and how I did it)

I started posting in Cambridge and Colour and made a comment on one of the posts.  Majority of the comments were not receptive to the muted colors (see her photo below) but I thought it was cool.  In fact, I sensed that the photographer hesitated in going mute all the way so I suggested that it needed to be more muted.  [Actually I had meant to say, "more cowbells." Don't know why I said otherwise.]  One of the rubrics I follow is if you're going to do something different, make sure it is different all the way.  Hence, I was challenged to provide my own rendition of the image.  A rather bold challenge - considering that I am partially colored blind.  I blame me and my big mouth for getting into this pickle.  The above is a "quick and dirty" version of what would have been my vision.

The original post.  Not mine.
Addendum:  Some folks have asked me how I reprocessed the image.  In my mind, there are three important things to consider: [1] Will cropping help? [2] Where is the light coming from? [3] What tools do I use given the answers in question [1] and [2].

[1] Will cropping help?

I'm a big fan of  the rule of thirds.  It seems that the original image already is framed this way.  However, I felt that there are some areas in the picture that does not provide essential information that may add or enhance it.  I went for a more intimate look by cropping the image.  I'm still following the rule of thirds here - albeit not as strict as some may adhere to.

[2] Where is the light coming from?

It helps to know where light is coming from to make the processing look natural.  I see that the light is coming from the right upper corner.  This gives me a starting point on where I could dodge and burn.

[3] What tools do I use given the answers in question [1] and [2].

A lot of the heavy lifting was done in Photoshop CC6 using Viveza Nik Sofware as shown below:

The rests were selectively desaturating the reds, slight desaturation on the master, applying a yellow photo filter using the layers provided by CC6.  I also used Nik software Color Efex 4 for further lens vignette (which I may have been heavy handed - but that's me...) and some vignette blur to my taste.

The whole process is "quick and dirty".  I'm glad I'm not getting paid to process this image.  Otherwise I would have spend more time fine tuning it.  Besides, it was done at 3 in the morning because I could no longer go back to sleep.

Hope this helps.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


© 2014 Rob Castro

Juzno:  How much nicotine does that bag packs?

Red:  Bzzzzzzzzz.

Juzno:  It doesn't smoke much.  Wonder what kind of process they used to eliminate the smoke.  Does it work on batteries?

Red:  Bzzzzzzzzz.

Juzno:  Or do you just plug it to your wall socket?

Red:  Bzzzzzzzzz.

Juzno:  You don't talk much, do you?


© 2014 Rob Castro

Rose was in hurry to make breakfast that she ended up with a new style of cooking fried eggs.  It's called Impatience.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Joaquin and the value of good labor

© 2014 Rob Castro

Joaquin: I really don't need to work but my father wants me to learn the value of good labor.

Juzno: What does your father do?

Joaquin: He sells Italian Leather.

Juzno: Who is your father?

Joaquin: Rodolfo Gucci.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Farmers Selling Produce (repost)

Juzno:  This was shot at the market in a small town of Antique, Philippines.  Most of the people are poor but they are beautiful.  I feel blessed to have been able to capture their images and somehow in a small way be able to share the photo to others.

aU: Brought me back to the little, insignificant town in Pangasinan where I was born, grew up, and a fifth of my life.  Market day was the main event of the sleepy hollow community.  At puberty age, my cousins and I made sure we were there prancing around - 'to see and be seen'...  I wouldn't exchange that innocent glimpse for anything.  Although, of course, we all dreamed of the land of milk and honey.  And so my cousins and I - at senile age, here we are in the land of milk and honey, doing the jig - never knowing where it leads us, but shuffle we do, anyway. 

How about you - how is your jitter-bug????

Juzno: My chronically achy left knee forbids me to do the jitter-bug :(

aU: Where can I buy this photo? 


Satisfaction (repost)

Crunch!  Jonathan implements a great idea to deal with summer.  Hope you are keeping cool.

[Pixel Peeping:  Shot up close with the Fujifilm X-pro 1, 35mm lens while waiting for the tour bus somewhere in Budapest, Hungary.  I swore that the Budapest Ice Cream is one of the best.]

aU: Satisfaction guaranteed.  Mmmmm I could hear the humming of the Blue Danube, I could see the birds flying over it, perhaps searching for a meandering fish somewhere..... 

Somewhere on Castle Hills, a pensive Juzno reflects over the Danube River as he sips Palinka while the wife readies her retro style Holga camera.  Juzno smiles back but returns to his introspection because it looks manlier and cooler that way in photos.  He remember reading F. Scott Fitzgerald not to smile.  At that moment, she clicks on the shutter.  Perfect.  Juzno's wrinkled skin and fly away gray hair are forever immortalized.  The photo will be lost.  But in about 50 years, a young historian uncovers the photo.  She somehow recognized the man in the photo.  She contacts the Smithsonian for some funding to research on the life of Juzno, an artist nobody remembers.  She publishes a book "Juzno: The Reluctant Photographer".  Immediately, Juzno's art works began fetching in Sotheby's for an indecent sum of money.  The Au Schneider Foundation donates half of Juzno's work to the d'Orsay.  The rest is mostly random history.
Budapest, Hungary
Fujifilm X-Pro 1
© 2013 Rob Castro

Friday, July 04, 2014

Miko Color Corrected

Before color correction on the feet.  Notice the magenta cast on the feet.  Looks like the model had poor blood circulation.

After color correction using Hue/Saturation layers to remove the color cast.  Applied a photo filter to balance the yellow with the rest of the skin.

© 2014 Rob Castro

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Rosy has her thorn

© 2014 Rob Castro

Juzno:  What makes you tick?

Rosy:  I have a soft side ...

Juzno: Yes.

Rosy: But I also have a thorny side.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Dong got his mojo back

 © 2014 Rob Castro

Dong:  Nang Dilis, this food will increase your life by 5 more years.

Nang Dilis: Really?  Can I put those years in a bank?

Dong:  Why would you do that?

Nang Dilis: Maybe with interest, I could make it increase to 6 years.

Merry Christmas in July

© 2014 Rob Castro

Juzno:  How do you like my latest photo?

Rob:  I think I need new eye glasses.

Juzno:  Relax, dude.  It's supposed to look blurry.

Rob:  Why?

Juzno:  It's art.

Rob:  I see.  I think.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Evaluating the Bunnahabhian 25

Opened up the Bunnahabhian 25 years old last night.  The aroma was top notch.  And the taste... immense.  Even Rose who doesn't drink whiskey thought it was awesome.  It made my mediocre Cuban cigar bloom.  Coupled with the middle of the road Sterling 2011 Chardonay, the wine began to taste better.  Rose suggested that I should document this occasion.  But there really wasn't any occasion.  Besides, I was too comfortable enjoying my time but okay ... So here it is, a still life shot of what I was consuming.

Life is good.