Wednesday, June 28, 2017
"I used to be a king. And everything around me turned to gold." - Graham Nash
Well, he is not really a king. Maybe a king of his castle in Sydney. I met Chris years ago in Northern Italy. I think I took this portrait in Lake Garda while we were having dinner. I like how he turned his head and looked away. His hair cut reminded me of a Roman Ceasar. He had the perfect profile for it. Italian nose. A bit of stubble. Years of wrinkles. Sad eyes. What was on his mind? Yea, maybe he used to be a king.
I shot this with my 24-70 mm EF lens on a Canon 5D mk ii. Why is this significant? Because that would be the last time I would haul this camera on travels. It got so heavy for me that it led to my sciata attack. This I will not forget.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Chris: Never been to Barcelona, but everyone I know who went enjoyed themselves. From what I’ve heard the people are pretty friendly. Hope you had a great time. When you have caught up on your sleep, I’m curious to know what you found to be the highlight of your time in Spain?
Juno: Cheers, Chris. If I were to choose the only one highlight in Northern Spain, I would have to say the abundance of wine. Wine is cheaper than water or soda. And the Northern Spanish wines are excellent. My favorite is the Albarino, a white wine from Galicia. Drank cold is best for the hot Spanish climate. It was in the 100s when we were there. Thinking it would be cooler, I only brought one pair of shorts. I ended up buying another one. I suppose that would be the next highlight.
Kidding aside. The visit to the Neo-caves of Altamira in Santillana made an impression to me. I suppose being an artist I was struck at how technically advanced the dwellers of the cave painted their ceilings. Paintings of horses, bisons, boars and deers that date back 40,000 years ago. Surprisingly, the images were not flat at all but appeared three dimensional. Why the dwellers painted them - who knows? My guess is that they were probably used as teaching tools.
"Look, Ocham. This is a picture of a deer. Good food."
"This is a picture of a bison. Watch out."
Or it might just be plain decorative. Maybe a village interior decorator goes house to house - in this case cave to cave, and painted the ceilings per the client's request.
"Hey, Vyrmyr. I see how you decorated my neighbor's ceiling. I want the same on mine."
"Sure, but I have to put you in que. I'm doing the mayor's next Wednesday."
We were not supposed to take photos so I bought a set of coasters that show the images of the paintings. I'm posting it here so that you can have an idea of what I'm talking about.
Friday, June 23, 2017
|The arena in La Monumental, Barcelona.|
Back in California. My body clock is still on European time so I couldn't go back to sleep. I ended up editing these two images. The arena located in Barcelona has been converted to a shopping mall since bull fighting was banned in the city. Carlos Santana and Paco de Lucia have performed here before its conversion. Definitely our first significant stop in Northern Spain as we have our first dinner at the roof top. Ole!
|The object on the right is some type of crane to carry humans to the roof top. Otherwise known as an elevator.|
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Friday, June 16, 2017
|Need a camera to tell the time? No Problem.|
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 not too long 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.
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, June 15, 2017
I think it was a year ago when I was with Rose, and we were just chilling out at this bar close to the Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles. And when I glanced to my side, right next to me was Gustavo Dudamel, the director and conductor of the LA Philharmonic. Dude, I told myself, I need to get a selfie with this guy. "Mr. Gustavo ... can I call you that? You are my greatest fan. I mean ... sorry... I just had three double shots of Glenlivet neat, and I can't contain myself." None of that actually happened. Rose told me to leave him alone as we were minutes before the performance where Dudamel would be conducting the LA Phil. But, but ... Oh well.
Hope your day is going well.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
The image will be on the new cover of the novel The Dying Game by Asa Avdic - soon to be released in August 2017. The story is set in year 2037. The Soviet Union never fell, and much of Europe has been consolidated under the totalitarian Union of Friendship. On the tiny island of Isola, seven people have been selected to compete in a forty-eight-hour test for a top-secret intelligence position.
The photo was taken in 2010 with a Panasonic DMC LX3 Point and Shoot. The camera only had 10 mp. The worst part was I dropped it on a raging river. I let it dry for 3 days and re-used it on this landscape. Obviously, the camera still worked. Maybe the water that got inside the camera gave it special powers. Who knows?
The calm fish pond is owned by Rose's sister-in-law. For years, she was in a legal battle to claim its ownership. Finally, the court settled that she has rightful ownership. It was battle worth pursuing, I think.
Monday, June 12, 2017
I asked these two girls what they think is the meaning of life. They told me unequivocally that life is like a lollipop. It is hard. It is sweet from start to finish. When you're done with it, you can nibble on the stick, which gets real old.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Goldie challenges herself.
Five Pounds of Smeared Revlon Mascaras
Box of Margaux Hemingway Red Lipsticks
Chlorox Bleach for Pure Platinum Hair Dye
Signed Trayvon Martin hoodie
Spare Village People Cruising Cap
Cheap Knockoff Ray-Bans
Borrowed Spanish Fan from Mike Tyson
Burma Gold Paint Any Brand from Home Depot
Not shown here is her fake Louis Vuitton Handbag.
Swil: Ooooh ... she's HOT!
Juzno: I think she's also fire retardant.
Swil: I can still envision Vincent Price's "House of Wax" ... I'd hate to see her melt!
Fujifilm X-pro 1, 35mm
Los Feliz, California
© 2013 Rob Castro
What she looked like a few years before she got famous:
Compare Post "I think this is Art".
Friday, June 09, 2017
Juzno: What is your secret to good life?
Pancho: I only eat what mi esposa do all the cooking.
Juzno: What does she cook for you?
Pancho: Mi favorito es refried beans topped with Texan filet minion.
Juzno: How do you like your steak?
Pancho: With cerveza. Lots and lots.
Street musician relaxing at Olvera Street, which is is in the oldest part of Downtown Los Angeles, California, USA, and is part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.
Thursday, June 08, 2017
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
|Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech|
We see here Spunky H completing her graffiti art on this wall. She has been known to single handedly cover an entire wall with her signature graffiti in less than two hours. Rumor has it that England-based graffiti artist Banksy is considering a collaboration project with Ms H. Sadly, on November 18, 2014, some students calling themselves Prague Service painted over the famous John Lennon wall and erased Ms H's artwork.
Story link here.
Tuesday, June 06, 2017
|Inspired (meaning stolen) from German Expressionism|
Canon EOS 5D, 20mm Voigtlander, iso1600, f5.6, 1/30
How many triangles can you spot on this image?
If I were to pick a winner in Surrealistic Photography, I think it would be one of the photographers from the German Expressionism Movement. The picture above is my paltry attempt to copy the style of that period. I think I don't come close. Most of the artists probably were experiencing angst and produced remarkable works that expressed their feelings. Not too long ago, I've noticed that there has been a resurgence of artists from eastern Europe who have similar sense of art work. My guess is that most of these artists experienced repression and are now coming out of the woodwork. A lot of dark themes.
. . .
Friday, June 02, 2017
Thursday, June 01, 2017
aU: I'm having a Testosterone Overload.
Juzno: I don't have first hand experience associating with Testosterone Overload as I grew up in the company of women for most of my life. In truth, most of my friends are women. When Rose was pregnant with Kamilah, I was glad that we would be raising up a daughter because I feared that I would not be able to raise a son in a normal way. I was not into sports, and all those boy activities. It worked out all right I suppose.
aU: What does your image have to do with Testosterone Overload?
Juzno: The Babylonians fed their soldiers with lots of onions before they go to war because they believe the onion was the source of Testosterone.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
The Ring of Kerry is perhaps the most visited place in Ireland. Lots of things to see. The weather changes so fast that I was blessed by the Good Lord who created the heavens and the earth to allow me to take a photo of the sheep grazing on the green. Initially, they were sort of bundled together. Then I think one sheep saw us so it decided to check us out. True to sheepish behavior, the rest followed. The formation makes for a great photo op. Serendipity, perhaps. Providential, indeed.
Suggested music to go with the image: Bach, Where Sheep May Safely Graze
Hope your day is going well.
#SimplyTrafalgar #TrafalgarInsider #Nature #sheep #Outdoor
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
According to local legend, Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, two sons of Remus and thus nephews of Romulus, after whom Rome was named. Supposedly after their father's murder by Romulus, they fled Rome, taking with them the statue of the she-wolf suckling the infants (Capitoline Wolf), thus appropriating that symbol for the town.
To keep the twins cool while being nursed, the she-wolf fanned them with her tail. Thereby inventing the phrase… breaking wind.
To keep the twins cool while being nursed, the she-wolf fanned them with her tail. Thereby inventing the phrase… breaking wind.
Monday, May 29, 2017
The Brunello is a must-try in my opinion. It is a wine produced in the Tuscany Wine Country. Many ages ago, a deadly pestilence wiped out most of the grapevines in Tuscany so they have to import vines from the New World, which would include California. So the next time you want to impress a date, order a Chianti, and tell your date that the wine's origin is from California.
The Punk IPA is all right. I still prefer the San Diego Brews like the Stone and the Ballast Point. There was no IPA on tap at the airport so I had to settle for the bottle.
Friday, May 26, 2017
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Why iPhone 7 plus
I'm finding myself more and more using the iPhone 7 plus than my other cameras because it so so convenient to carry around. My iPhone 7 plus can hold up to 124 GB. The top of the line holds up to 256 GB. That's like having 10 SD cards. I also bought extra 200 GB on my iCloud in case I need more space. I pay less than $3/month for it.
My iPhone photos sync with my iMac automatically using Lightroom Mobile. It's a smartphone version of the regular Lightroom- essentially the same as Camera Raw. I could pre-process my images on my smartphone and when I open Lightroom on my iMac the pre-edited images (as well as the un-edited ones) are already there. I would move the files to an external drive for storage and future editing.
For simple easy editing, I will just use Snapseed app on my iPhone. It can process RAW files but the edited version can only be saved as jpg, which is fine if I just want to share or post on the web.
It's a nice workflow for me. Very convenient for a lazy old guy like me. I discovered the benefits of the iPhone after my sciatica flared up during our trip to Northern Italy years ago. Hauling my 5D and several lenses pretty much crippled me. So I investigated the Apple iPhone. I used the iPhone 6 on our Great Britain trip. But the 6 only shoots in jpg and the image files are only 8 megapixels. Then the 7 plus came out with 12 mp and RAW capability. That is why I got it. It has two lenses. Approximately a 24 mm and a 50 mm. I could always get an external lens like close-up or tele or super wide. But so far the two lenses fill my need.
Cortex Camera App
I recently downloaded the Cortex Camera App for my iPhone 7 plus, and have been very impressed with the results.
Cortex Camera has been around for years, but on current generation phones the image-stacking application is what makes this App powerful and user-friendly.
Here’s a glance at what you get:
- Images stacking anywhere from 10-99 frames. You can choose manually or set to auto for the app to decide for you.
- Shoots JPEG or TIFF
- Records raw data (select supporting devices)
- Supports front facing camera and telephoto lens on iPhone 7 Plus and can toggle quickly between all lenses.
- Motion compensation for better results when hand—holding during longer shots
- ‘Enhance Shadow’ option to expose darker areas without looking unnatural
- Shutter timer
- Grid overlay.
The above example image was shot with 30 frames, which is the default value for this App. Since the final image is a composite of several shots, the file size is huge. I shot the image above in Tiff with a file size of about 90 mB. This can be problem if the storage capacity of ones iPhone is small. Hence, the App probably should be used prudently. As not all images will require photo stacking, this may not be an issue. Also it is best to use a suitable tripod as always in any photo stacking process. I happen to just prop my iPhone on a table for this shot, and I was fortunate to get a decent result.
Overall, I think the Cortex Camera App rocks. At $2.99, it's chump change compared to what it can do.
|Using the Portrait Lens of the Cortex Camera.|
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Boy Peters was one of the first images I shot back in 2011 that caught the attention of Getty Images. I never thought of freelancing for Getty so when they asked me to be a contributor of course I was honored.
I look at this picture and I still like the expression of this young boy. He is much bigger now. Not as cute as then. A bit more demure perhaps. Why do children become more conscious of themselves when they get older?
Monday, May 22, 2017
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Siena, like other Tuscan hill towns, was first settled in the time of the Etruscans (c. 900–400 BC) when it was inhabited by a tribe called the Saina.
The service in Italy's restaurants are generally slow. (The same can be said of Spain in my experience.) Being on a tight schedule, Rose and I would at times buy some food to-go and just eat it in the public square. The nice thing in Italy is one can order a bottle of wine to-go and drink it outside. Interestingly, almost everyone drinks in Italy, and yet there seems to be no problem with alcoholism.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
The Calasole is another wine from Tuscany. Not as great as the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which is produced in the hill town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. (Sorry but I don't have an image of the Vernaccia as Rose and I ended drinking it right away.)
Still, the Calasole is not that bad. Plus it makes a great photo subject while waiting at the airport.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Sometimes a mundane chore turns out to be an opportunity for weird creativity. I was in the process of washing the dishes when I realized that the dirty utensils and stuff on the kitchen sink were assembled in a way that pleased my eyes. I pulled out iPhone 7 plus and snapped a couple of images. For this one, I used the camera on the Lightroom Mobile App, which allowed me to capture the image in RAW format. The photos in the App automatically syncs to my Lightroom on my iMac. With a few tweeks, I was able to get the result that I had envisioned in my head when I first saw what was on the kitchen sink. Here is the original unprocessed image:
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Rose brought home some flowers last week and placed them on the kitchen top. The piece stood there for days until today I decided I would practice my iphoneological skill once again. Here is how it came out using the Portrait Mode of the iPhone 7 plus:
It's decent but not very exciting. I do like the Depth of Field feature on the iPhone 7 plus. But it needs a bit more snap. So I processed it using Snapseed. It's a nifty App from Google that can be downloaded for free. The App was originally made by Niksoftware, which Google bought. I tell people that Snapped is the best thing since slice bread. Google continues to expand Snapseed's features. The latest is the App can now process RAW files. A big plus I think for photographers who shoots in RAW format. It's my go-to in case I want to quickly process photos that I took with the smartphone.
Hope your day is going well.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Friday, May 12, 2017
Statues inside the Basilica S Maria degli Angeli e Dei Martiri in Rome. The church was a few blocks away from our hotel so we decided to check it on our first day in Rome. It is not as popular as the Basilica of St Peter or the Sistene Chapel but it has some works by Michaelangelo. A rare find of hidden treasures if I may say so. These statues are some of his contributions to this church.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Rome may not be the art capital of the world but with some imagination it can be. Taken on our first day in Rome. I was more interested in the culture and the urban decay of the city. I did shoot images of the churches like the Basilica of St Peter and the Sistine Chapel and so forth but most of all I love taking photos of bicycles. Especially ones against an interesting background.
Hope your day is going well.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Somewhere in Benelux
Dear Ms Real Estate Person,
I saw this great real estate for rent in Amsterdam. It's in a small village called Kinderdijk. It only cost 400 EU per month to rent. Running water is abundant. And the building is three-story high. No central air conditioning though. But I figured I can fire up the wood stove. I've never used one before but there are a lot of dead grass around the area so I should be good for ample supply of fuel. The only caveat - which may not be a real big issue - is I have to maintain the windmill. How hard can that be? Just turn on the thingamajig lever and the flags start spinning. Easy as 1, 2, 3. I wonder about the running water in this area. The locals tell me that the entire area could get flooded if I don't operate the windmill every day. I find this hard to believe. How can a teeny bit of water rise up so rapidly? Anyways, I wanted to request you to look into this building more in depth because I think I want to buy it. Yes, I'm quite serious. I want to move to The Netherlands. I've been practicing on drinking Dutch Beer and have been able to tap dance well on wooden clogs - and this I can do after a couple of rounds of beer. A group of women are a delight to see. They stand around and you can see them through the windows as they beckon you to come in their house. It's proof that no central heating is required as one could not help but notice the summer clothes they are wearing. I do find their taste for summer clothing a bit too revealing. Never mind. I am really more interested in fixing up the old windmill. That should keep me busy for a while. Please let me know as soon as possible what you find out.
Originally posted April 22, 2015
Tuesday, May 09, 2017
Monday, May 08, 2017
Juzno: Can I make a request?
Earl: I don't do request. Can't you see that I'm a hip old jazz artist portrayed in classic film-noir black and white?
Juzno: How did you get those streaks behind you?
Earl: I don't know but every time I play the sax they seem to follow me.
Juzno: You really are a hip old jazz artist. Are you portrayed in colored?
Earl: Never. Colored is a bad word.
Saturday, May 06, 2017
“An artist is a man who tries to express the inexpressible. He struggles and suffers knowing that he can never realise his most perfect ideal.” – Alvin Langdon Coburn, 1916
I think that Coburn was right to some degree. Without stating the obvious, he implies that the artist will never be content with his art. What I disagree about Coburn’s statement is that his reason for discontent is based on his assumption that man’s intelligence will continue to expand in the light of more perfect knowledge of himself and the universe. I think that it is precisely this expansion of man’s knowledge that he talks about that will drive man to despair and anxiety. As I look at myself and as soon as I’m past my physiology, and if I am truly honest with my assessment, the more I learn about my condition and the environment I am in, the more things don’t make sense. The more I strive to achieve the perfect art form, the more I realize that such pursuit will likely result in vain.
Originally posted April 19, 2012
Friday, May 05, 2017
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Jojo was a man with tweed polyester slack and 70's disco era polyvinyl shirt. We called him the Walking Plastic Show, and everybody loved him. Once he showed up in our neighborhood with a junk harmonica he traded with a Traveling Shaman. He played all kinds of weird notes and told us that they were called blues notes. We have never heard of the blues before but we called the sound Chinese Rock and Roll. The notes never made sense to us. But the sound was magical. It made us forget who we were.
The last time I saw Jojo, he was married to Sweet Loretta Mollie who thought she was a woman but she was another man. Jojo told me that he was leaving his wife to sail to Xianggang Guangzhou to become a monk. I have never heard from Jojo again. I would like to think that he is still playing his magic harmonica with those weird notes to the place where he had found peace. Selah.
Originally posted March 30, 2015, February 13, 2016
Tuesday, May 02, 2017
Monday, May 01, 2017
|Canal along Wyndham Hotel, Amsterdam. Shot with Fujifilm Xpro-1, 35mm.|
Somewhere in Amsterdam
Dear Lonely Hearts Editor,
It's been a few weeks since I last wrote to you about my prospect of moving in with Joe of Oregon. It turned out that he was not what he claimed to be. He has a wife with six children. The oldest is 24 years old and still lives at home. His youngest child is a paragon of nuisance. I believe that the character Dennis the Menace was inspired by him. One time while we were having dinner at Joe's house, without my knowing it the kid tied my feet to the chair. I then realized that he tried to light a couple of matches that were stuck on my sandals. Good grief. I have since left Joe as it was obvious to me that this kind of arrangement would not work out. I needed some space to clear my head so I decided to flee to Europe. Right now, I am somewhere in Amsterdam. I am currently writing this missive as the sun is about to rise. It is a gorgeous sight to see. The canal is clean. The locals tell me that the water is potable. That is good to know. I think I will stick it out here for a while. In the meantime, I would like to renew my subscription to the Lonely Hearts Magazine. Alas, I am again a proud owner of the Lonely Heart. Please send it to the address above. As I may be in different places in the next few months, I will advise you on my new address.
© 2015 Rob Castro
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Buddy was my first model when I began to get serious into photography. He has always been my most reliable and faithful model of all. He is always there when I need to test my equipment. He never complained and did everything I told him. He was and still is the best of them all. Here's to you, dear Buddy. Cheers!
Friday, April 28, 2017
|1 John 2:15-17|
"Faced with the knowledge that nothing we say, no matter how trivial or silly, will ever be completely erased, we find it hard to take the risks that togetherness entails. " - Olivia Laing’s book on loneliness, The Lonely City