Saturday, November 29, 2014

So what if the sun refused to shine?

For some time I’ve been staring at the walls, old magazines, old photos, my toenails that need clipping, my backyard that needs cleaning, some dead batteries and wondering how I will get rid of them, and the dark sky above me in the hope that some esoteric thoughts will jump out of my head. Ah but to no avail. I seem to have lost my way for the moment. I’m not sorry. Yet I am trying to find words of wisdom, something exalted that will transcend the melancholy. The world is full of angst, uncertainty, despair, and ugliness.

The year is almost over, and so I ask myself what have I accomplished and what have I learned.  In few short time since my retirement I have produced some decent art work - decent in a sense that they are acceptable to me but likely not marketable.  Do I care?  Of course I do.  I take it personally.  So I question myself what is the point if I know my work will be futile.  My left brain tells me that I should spend my time in something more profitable but my right brain says otherwise.  What is profitable?  I need to define the word first.

I've given some art pieces to this owner of a bar at the next city and he has not contacted me since - so I'm thinking that he has put my work in storage.  Probably right next to the bleach and cleaning materials, which he uses to sanitize his place.  You see I was hoping that an avid art collector might see one of my art peices and buy it for whatever that person may think it is worth.  One thing will lead to another.  My work is seen by other collectors because this person is very famous and influential.  Other people try to buy my work from him but he realizes how much more it is worth. Overnight, I become a famous artist.  My phone is ringing every second.  People want to get hold of my other work.  I get hounded by the press requesting for interviews.  The media is interested in what jeans I wear and whether I wear boxer shorts or briefs.  A cereal company wants me to endorse their bran flakes.  A bunch of activists wants me to be their voice for promoting wind energy.  Al Gore wants to have dinner with me.  I get all freaked out that I try to escape the media and everybody else. I keep resisting.  Eventually, I dwell into bad craziness so I contemplate on suicide.  I sign my suicide note as Faust - fully convinced that I have sold my soul for a meaningless life. 

As usual, I am giving in to the melancholy.  An expensive indulgence if I may.  

Perhaps, next time I'll write something more positive.

#smoke #opium #woman #asian #smoking #conceptual #blur #pipe #textured 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In their own worlds (Repost)

Originally posted on July 20, 2013

Selma: Oh, they are having a sale on prunes. Must cut this coupon.

Britney: Oh, oh ... he's taking a picture of me. I hope my lipstick is not all smeared from this Waldorf Salad. Do I have walnut between my teeth?

Susie singing along in her headphones: 她買了天國的階梯

Woman No. 4: Where is the nearest rest room?

Old Town Pasadena, California

Copyright 2014 Rob Castro

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lighting Set Up for Never Alone

Camera: Canon EOS 60D
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm L f4 focal length 70mm
Flashes: Two- Canon 580ex ii, Two- Canon 430ex ii TTL mode
Light Modifiers: 12" Beauty Dish, 24" Beauty Dish, Theatrical Blue Gels
Iso 800,  f10, 1/250
White Balance: Daylight

There were two flashes covered with blue gels. One was place below the pipe and the other was behind her head. Then I put a small beauty dish above her head and covered it with a more transparent blue plastic - just enough to add some more blue on the hair but not on the face. There was a bigger beauty dish pointed to her nose. No blue gel here as I wanted her face to look normal. The light spills from the blue gels of the other light sources add a bit of hue to her face and I thought that was okay. I set the white balance on Daylight to make her face a bit warmer.

For the smoke, we just have to keep shooting until we got the result that we desired. I asked the model to practice smoking the pipe a few days before so I think that helped. By the time we were done, while I needed a smoke, my poor model told me that she was done smoking for the day.

#smoke #opium #woman #asian #smoking #conceptual #techniques #pipe

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Heavenlies (Repost)

Originally posted January 29, 2014

Dear Rob,

Yes, it's me.  I know I have not touched base for a long time.  So this may come as a surprise.

I have so many gloomy thoughts lately.  Everybody wants to give me spiritual advice so that I may weather my dark thoughts.  They are fine things but most of the advice are of idiotic priestly qualities that sum up why I am feeling the way I am: they are telling me I have low self-esteem.  Perhaps.

At the present moment, I have lost my taste for the current state of the visual art.  Every time I go to websites like Flickr and Facebook, all I see are mediocrities of utter proportions.  I look at these photos that are supposed to stimulate me and all I could think about is "So what?"  There is nothing compelling to see.  The street photography that I highly look up to has devalued into shades and blurs of mundane events - if you can even call them events - that does nothing to satisfy the soul.  I have tried to go back to nature photography.  Even that is pathetic.  Most of the ones I've seen have been shown before.  I think I can understand this deadly apathy for there is nothing new under the sun. 

Even the photo shots I attempted to make.

At least there is music.  I am still contemplating my response to Mr Mojo Rising as he shook my imagined reality into bits and fragments of made up illusions.  I now have taken refuge to listening to the classics: Berlioz, Brahms and the likes.  Their music is not classical in the real sense but my ignorance in classical music allows me to find that excuse in my music appreciation.  They say that music appreciation is subjective.  A rather profound statement if I may think so.  Because if appreciation is subjective, what is the basis for its subjectivity?  Shouldn't there be an objective standard to say that one is subjective?  If one can say, "that is subjective" then can that statement also be based on subjectivity?  "Well then, your statement is just as subjective as mine."  If all else - then everything is subjective.  Such a grim thought it seems to me.  Which means everything in this world is subjective.  For now, I shall table this problem when my thoughts are not as clouded.

Please excuse this silly banter as I have nothing better to write about.  Please drop me a line when you have a chance.  Until then,

Yours forever,


P.S.  I am attaching a photo of what I recently took while I still have the strength to take pictures of nature.  I feel that strength is waning.  Oh well.  Maybe you can look at it from a different perspective and let me know how it is.  Cheerio.


Somehow Juzno's letter fell into the hands of "M":

Dear Juzno, It’s me.   Well, lookie here… it’s Novela descending from heaven only this time, focused. I avoid giving and taking advice. But one thing’s for sure. I observe.Last week as I was on my way to blowing this pop shop, I looked to the west and saw an incredible sunset.I thought about you my friend and hoped that  you’d tuned in. What a drag if every sunset was exactly the same. Change is awesome and you look good in blue.

At this time, Juzno finds time to have the time to respond to Ms "M":

Dear "M",

Your genuine warmth and splendor has brought daylight into my melancholic moments.  Alas, I have been awaken from a momentary lapse of vitality.  Life is indeed good.  By the way, do I really look good in blue?  It may interest you to know that last night after reading your letter I have ordered on-line a dozen suits with matching ties and socks - all in Indigo Blue.  Why a dozen, you may ask. Well, I needed a least seven for each day of the week.  And then I wanted to have back-ups.  And back-ups of the back-ups.  And so on.  One cannot be too complacent nowadays.

I also see a glimmer of hope in the market.  The Dow slumped by almost 200 points at present.  That is good according to my broker.  He has given me wise advice to buy more stocks while they are cheap. I cannot question his wisdom for I am such a financial illiterate.  But I trust that all will be well.  He advised me to invest in blue colored corn.  That is why I thought your observation about me in blue was an epiphany.  I now own 0.00000000000000001% of Monsanto's genetically modified corn stocks.  I am hoping that by the end the year, my investment would reap its harvest.  That is assuming that the Republicans lose the House, and the Russians lift the ban on gays.

I will keep you posted on how my blue colored corn is doing.  Until then, I remain,

Verily yours,


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Stand By Me

I find it interesting that at times one has to resort to social media to get the exposure one needs to stand out.  I read somewhere that Picasso was very good at that.  He befriended the French Resistance while sipping wine with the Nazis.  The alternative is one dies and hopefully gets discovered after decades like what happened to Van Gogh and Vivian Maier.

What does this have to do with this picture?  Actually, nothing.

But the last few days, I've found myself hysterically campaigning to get my photo entry noticed that I've lose sight of the trees from the forest (or was that the other way around?)  In one of my previous post, I quoted Magnum founder Henri Cartier-Bresson, "You want to give something to know that somebody will accept it. In fact, when you love somebody, somebody will not turn you down, your love is accepted. And this is communication to me. To give something which is..."  At the end of the day, art should be about communicating.  That is sobering to me.  It is not about scoring points and receiving accolades - although that in itself is not bad.  But when that becomes the end, the pursuit of art becomes vain and empty.

I still think that the brilliant minds were able to convey their messages effectively through their art... perhaps they got their art published through some social connection but that's the way it is for most competing endeavors.  Social networking it seems is neither good nor bad -- but when it becomes quid-pro-quo then honest art is compromised.  At least, that's what I think.  But I would also like to think that my heroes in art never gave in to just be popular.  True art is about being true to oneself.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Are we afraid that heaven is a bribe?

Photo © 2014 Rob Castro

You may think that there is another reason for our silence about heaven - namely, that we do not really desire it . . .  It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. - C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Food Selfie Antithesis

With the ubiquity of cell phone cameras, most people can't resist taking pictures of the food they are about to eat.  I choose to do the opposite.  The photo above is what was left over from the seafood lunch that we just ate.  Hence, the poor viewer has no choice but to imagine what the food was like.  Some will think that is kind of cruel of me but I insist that it was out of mercy that I did it.

My sister-in-law celebrated her birthday at Gladstone in Malibu.  Her husband had ordered a seafood plate appetizer that was so huge it occupied our entire table.  Poor old husband had to leave to pick up his nephew at the airport so he didn't really enjoy his appetizer.  While he was gone, she, Rose and I all ordered two-pound lobster each.  At first glance, on the menu I thought it was $38 for the lobster.  Well it was -  except that it was $38 per pound.  Two Chardonnays, two ice teas, two cappuccinos and a shot of Macallan 18 year old whiskey later, our bill came to the neighborhood of $550.  All that was left was a few chips on the basket.  And her husband hasn't returned yet.  I thought that he at least deserved to know that we were very happy with our food and show proof that the only ones left were the chips.  After all, it was his credit card that my sister-in-law used to pay for our bill.

#food #macro #chips #CloseUp #NaturalLight #FoodSelfie #humor