Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A book about Hope: Angela's Ashes



"The master says it's a glorious thing to die for the Faith and Dad says it's a glorious thing to die for Ireland and I wonder if there's anybody in the world who would like us to live." - Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes, p 138


The book is not so much about Angela, the Irish mother of Frankie McCourt, but more about the author's own story growing up in Limerick during World War II.  I really enjoyed reading this book.  Found it years ago at our local library.  It was being sold for 25 cents.  It took about two years for me to pick it up to read, and realized what a gem was gathering dust on my book case.

"Mam says, Wait a minute sir.  Can you tell me who cleans this lavatory?

"Cleans?  Ah, Jasus, that's a good one.  Cleans, she says.  Is it joking you are?  These houses were built in the time of Queen Victoria herself and if this lavatory was ever cleaned it must have been done in the middle of the night when no one was looking. " - p112



I've never seen the movie, which the book was based on.  But I heard the movie was depressing.  I never got that impression from reading the book.  And so I highly recommend reading it instead.   It is brilliant and funny.  As a young lad, Frankie was already displaying wit amidst innocence.  I've read some of the book reviews, and most of them say that it's about a painful Catholic childhood in Ireland.  I think that would be an aspect of it.  But pains depicted in the book always seem to resolve providentially.  If anything, I would call this a book on Hope, Resilience and Optimism. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Just to keep the blog alive

Manwich in the City of LA

I really don't care anymore.  I have not shot images lately  because I am so discouraged.  I feel that there is no point in continuing with photography.  In the meantime, I will try to continue on with this blog using old image materials.  Just to keep the blog alive.  Maybe then my mojo will come back again.  Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Finding Charlie

Bust of Charlie Chaplin at the Bradbury Building, an architectural landmark located at 304 South Broadway at West 3rd Street in downtown Los Angeles, California. 
Without a doubt, the best model is the one who never complains.  The best choice would either be a mannequin or a statue.  The latter is a bit hard to get a close up shot unless one is using a zoom lens.  I usually don’t like to carry a zoom because it draws attention during street photo walk.  

On one of my photo walks, I found Charlie inside the Bradbury building in Downtown Los Angeles. Bradbury was used as a set in filming the sci-fi movie Blade Runner.  Charlie didn’t seem to be auditioning for that film.  Although his bowler hat and walking cane would have added a certain twist to the futuristic movie.  He was content sitting on a bench.  Not sure who he was waiting for.  But I got to come close to him to get this shot.  He didn’t seem to mind.

You’re a good ole chap, Charlie.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

All I had was you


Melancholy music finds its way where the sun refused to shine.  Yet all it is and will ever be -  a momentary distraction blurred in the background.  I find no comfort.  Life is meaningless.  Wine can no longer make my heart glad.  What is the use?  My soul is impotent.  My heart has lost its strength. I am solitary as always.  Forsaken not by the world, which could not hurt me.  But by my own creation.  Everything that I did and loved are all but dust now.  My memories are continually being swallowed up by the background music.  One time, happiness beckoned me. I stretched out my arm to its warm embrace. Where is he now?  He was all that I had. And now I couldn't even remember his face.

#Flickr #portrait #blackandwhite #BW #woman #oldwoman #textured #grainy #gritty #square #SquareFormat #NightTime #conceptual #melancholy #desolation #Loneliness #Time #Age #window #LookingThroughWindow #Story #fujifim #xpro-1

Originally posted December 4, 2014

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Street Smart



"You really think I look like George Clooney?"



"Absolutely, sir.  Now may I take your photo please."



Grand Central Market, Los Angeles

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Charm of Guadalupe



“Hoy, mijo! You wanna try da green enchilada? I make you yum yum.” 

“Por favor, senora. Can you make that doble yum yum y extra verde?”

Grand Central Market, Los Angeles

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sometimes My Best Shot is a Photo of a Photo



Growing up, Taxi Driver was one of my favorite films.  I think I was only 14 years old - maybe a bit older.  But I love the character whom Di Niro portrayed.  Travis Bickle, a young honorably discharged U.S. Marine, lonely, depressed and living on his own in New York City. He takes a job as a taxi driver, driving passengers every night around the city's boroughs. When he is not working, he spends time in porn theaters and keeps a diary in which he consciously attempts to include aphorisms, such as "You're only as healthy as you feel."  Well, I was too young to go to porn theaters but I thought I needed to remind myself of my self-esteem.  I definitely identified with Travis.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Books, books and more books


I think this was at the Last Bookstore in Los Angeles.   Shot some time ago when I was doing street photography in the area of Grand Central Market.  My usual preferred lens/camera for street is the 35mm/Fujifilm X-Pro1 but with this I used the 14mm/Xe-1.  I think I wanted to capture the width and breadth of the book shelf.  Anyway, I am quite pleased with the edited image.  I am quite please that I am back to editing again.  So much for being tangled up in stuff.  What stuff?  Just stuff.

In a few hours, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving here in the States.  This image reminds me that I thank the Lord that Rose and I both love to read books.

Hope your day goes well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Don't Bother Me



Since she's been gone
I want no one
To talk to me
It's not the same
But I'm to blame
It's plain to see

So go away and leave me alone

Don't bother me

- Don't bother me, George Harrison

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Barista of Grand Central Market


“Was that a Coconut Milk Pumpkin Macchiato with three cubes of ice with coffee or without?”

“Yes.”

Monday, November 20, 2017

Contented Cook


Akiro San:  Will that be egg over easy or easy going egg?

Juzno:  Neither. I want my egg hard to get.

Monday, November 13, 2017

jUsT aNoThER daY

St Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland
Is it true?

What?

That it’s true?

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Guanyin



Guanyin, Bodhisattva of Inifinite Compassion. Qianlong Emperor (1736-1796).  Statue is made of wood from the Qing Dynasty.  Displayed in the Vatican Ethnological Museum.

We were fortunate to be invited to dine at the Vatican Museum.  I shot this statue just before dinner.  I dig how it was on a pedestal so I don't have to kneel down to get a low angle view.  I also like the way the backlighting worked.  The one great thing about taking photos of statues is that they don't complain, and don't demand a model release.

Taken with the iPhone 7 plus.

Mr Smith leaves everything behind


Downtown Los Angeles

 Is he walking away from his old life? Or walking towards a new life?  Or maybe the world is passing by like a flat airport escalator and he is still on the same place.


Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Dewi Sri and Garuda


Dewi Sri.  She's considered the protective rice goddess of the people of Bali, Indonesia.  Behind her is Garuda, an avian deity.  The statues are made of wood dating back from late 19th century to early 20th century.  Both statues are displayed in the museum at the Vatican.

"Excuse me. Can you please stand by the fire hydrant? Thank you."




 my fickled reasoning, random emotion bubbled up ... 

....if only I


The day the reformed witch of the west turned the streets of Los Angeles Toy District into a land of milk and honey.  The fire hydrant is there just for props.


Toy District, Los Angeles, California
Fujifilm XE-1, 14 mm lens
Copyright 2013 Rob Castro

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Cat Who Ate My Sister Sally



Binan, Laguna, Luzon

Socrates:  Are you taking my picture?

Juzno:  You have a problem with that?

Socrates:  Well, are you taking a picture of the copy of my form?  You know, the real me is somewhere in the Realm of Ideas.  You might have to run that by The Demiurge.

Juzno:  You mean you are not the real you?

Socrates:  What you are seeing is an illusion.  In fact, in my former self I was not a cat but a controversial Greek gadfly who was made to drink hemlock by the authorities for my radical teachings.

Juzno:  How did the hemlock taste like?

Socrates:  It needed more ice.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Strange Days Indeed


Poor henpecked Mr Di Niro.  He is trying to hide from his wife after she learned that he didn't buy the lotto ticket that she told him to buy that just won five million dollars.

My tribute to the Yeshiva Mat-124 G.  The poor man's Rolleiflex.  One can still buy this vintage camera.  Last I checked at Amazon it was selling for $300.  I got mine years ago and I think I might have paid the same.  Couldn't afford the Rolleiflex.  But it was the closest I could get.  Built like a tank.  Hefty and an attention getter - especially for old blokes like me.  It's a joy to hold and quite stealth in street photography.  Since the view finder is waist level, you have to look down on the camera to compose your image - people think that you are shooting something else instead of them.  This was the way the late Vivian Maier shot her beautiful street images.  She may have been my influence in acquiring this camera.  It has a built in light meter, which uses an obscure battery.  Don't bother getting one because the meter doesn't work.  At least on mine, and it's in excellent shape apart from the meter.  I've heard people complained about the lagging shutter.  This should not be a big issue for most use since film is very forgiving.  You can either just push or pull during the developing process.  

Specifications:
  • 6x6 Twin Lens Reflex, Medium format film camera
  • Viewing lens -  80mm f/2.8 tessar
  • Taking lens -  80mm f/3.5 yashinon tessar
  • F-stop range -  f/3.5 – f/32
  • Shutter Speed range - 1 second – 1/500th & bulb
  • Shots per roll - 120 = 12, 220 = 24




Saturday, November 04, 2017

reADY f0r tHe w0rLd


Freedom - the fatuous inkling of our civilization.  But those who are deprived of it has the barest inkling of what reality is. - Anonymous

Friday, November 03, 2017

On the Way to See the Mariinsky Orchestra



On the way to see the performance of Mariinsky Orchestra, I saw a poster of this dude outside the Walt Disney Concert Hall Theater.  I don't even know him but I thought the poster was cool so I took a shot of it.  This is an interpretation of what I saw.  So in essence, it is not a true copy of the original but an artistic appropriation.  Richard Prince made himself rich by doing that.  Basically, stealing other people's work and rephotographing, copying, scanning, and manipulating them to call them his own.  What has this image got to do with the Mariinsky Orchestra?  Nothing, really.  I just wanted to post it because it made a lasting impression on me before going the concert.

Notes on the concert performance:

Shostakovich.  Symphony No. 9 in E-flat major Op 70.  Yeah, not too bad.  I think the composer was high when he wrote this.  I can tell because I had a few drinks myself before the concert.  I dig the highs and lows of the movements.  
  
Prokofiev.  Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor Op 16.  Denis Matsuev playing the piano.  He could have been a kung fu artist as his razor blade chops were cutting through like slicing an onion.  Wu-zaa! Sorry if I offend Asians but I can't be a racist because I'm also part Asian.  The best part was the Tambourine guy sneaking in  some parts of the movements.  It looked like he didn't have to work that hard compared to the other musicians but he probably got paid the same. After all the Mariinsky Orchestra is employed by a Communist country.

Scriabin.  Symphony No 3 in C minor Op 43.   A great introduction, majestic and pleasurable to the ear in the beginning.  Then I was lost in the next 55 minutes.  This piece is long.  No breaks.  I felt I was being tormented.  The Russian composers are a cruel people.

Encore:  An excerpt from The Swan Lake.  Thank you!  Finally something I can relate to.

Oh, and the conductor.  Valery Gergiev.  Dapper!




Thursday, November 02, 2017

Dionysian Blues


No poem was ever written by a drinker of water. - Homer (8th century Greek poet)


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Thoughts on Babes, Cake and Candies


The two girls are focusing on something other than the M&Ms -- that is a bit of a mystery because it is out of the frame. What was it?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Unbearable Lightness of Non-being


My apologies to Milan Kundera.  I think I read the book once.  I may still have it in my library.  Yes, I have a library.  A real library with real books.  The ones that are made from paper.
SaveSave

Monday, October 30, 2017

k0Dak 35

The Kodak 35 is arguably the ugliest camera ever made. I own one. It is not only ugly physically but functionally the beast is cursed. It ate two rolls of my 35mm films. No it just didn't eat them. It devoured them and spit them out or whatever were left of them like fishbones. I never made any single decent shot out of this camera.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Holgas and Diana (Icons Behind the Lens Series)




My tribute to toy cameras.  I have a few of them, couple of Holgas and a Diana, which I cherished and made remarkable photos.  They say that post-modern art is about the process.  Yeah, the ones I've taken with these toy cameras may look crappy but the process resulted in very interesting experience and stories to tell.  The photo on the middle was shot by Sergio Larrain in 1957 at Valparaiso, Chile.  The original photo must have been taken with a professional medium format camera or maybe a Leica. (Somebody please tell me if you have this information.)  But what would it looked like if it had been taken with one of the toy cameras?  Hence my interpretation of Larrain's iconic shot.  I think it still looks good.  Personally, I think it even looks better.  Anybody wants to trade their Leica or Hasselblad with my Holga?  I'll trade two Holgas for either one.

Hope your day is going well.



Friday, October 27, 2017

Hannah in a Hurry


Hannah is in a hurry.  She knows that the end of the world is near.

Hope you enjoy the rest of the day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Love Forever


They've been together for a long time. They were still young lovers when they fought Sauron and his cohorts in the days of old. They've witnessed the destruction of Mordor and the crowning of Aragorn as King Elessar. They have been lovers for a very long time. Now retired from service, they enjoy each other's company by doing daily walks and window shopping. Love is forever.

Street Photography Tip No. 1: Anticipate. Keep your eyes open. Be ready.

Rose actually saw them approaching and pointed them to me. I just stood where I was. Made sure all my camera settings are there. F11 and high shutter speed so I make sure I capture them. Camera mode set to continuous burst. Pretend I'm shooting the building. When they came close. I just fired away three shots. This was the best of the three.


And then I use my imagination to create a fantasy story. (This one is optional.)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Tapas bars in Madrid


Spaniards love their own schedules.  Most establishments close between 2pm to 5pm for siestas.  Restaurants don't open until 10 at night.  But Tapas Bars offer happy hours before then.  Wine and beers are the choice drinks.  Tapas are at times free.  Those ones are old recycled food sprinkled with lots of salt to make the customer thirsty for more drinks.  Ole!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Chilling on a Fine Evening


Red wine.  Read the Commentary to the Gospel of John.  Playing with the iPhone camera.  Creating art.  Just chilling.

Cheers.




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

nEVeR mInD



The title came to me as I thought about what was London famous for:  Big Ben, Phone Booths, the Union Jack, and then I thought Sex Pistols.  But of course.  I never like their music but I was fascinated with their style and attitude.   The title to their album was suited for the Polaroid format, and the typewriter font, and the grime and all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Devil Wears Prada



This image is not associated with Prada S.p.A. -  an Italian luxury fashion house, specializing in leather handbags, travel accessories, shoes, ready-to-wear, perfumes and other fashion accessories, founded in 1913 by Mario Prada.  But maybe, they would notice it and ask me to do commission work.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Let's dance the last dance tonight


Where:  Seville, Spain

When:  March 2014

What:  Couple dancing to the music of Donna Summer's Last Dance

Why:  They get paid to do so

How:  The Spanish way, Ole!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Story Behind "Performance Is ..."


Even back in those days - before my retirement - I always tried to make my office as homey as possible for me.  Hence, I surround myself with artworks.  The image above is a collage/composite of some sorts that I created and displayed on my wall.  I knew that later on I would have to abandon the artwork when I retire.  I could probably bring it home but I decided that I would do the lazy thing.  I captured it with my camera.  This was 2010.  At that time, I had the Canon a590IS Point and Shoot.  It was cheap, and the only one I had at that time. 8 crappy megapixels.  Even then, I think the camera produced a decent photo.  But then I filed the image file and forgot about it.  Until now.  I looked at it and it brings back memories.  Nice ones.  I would sit in front of the computer all stressed out, and all I needed to do was glance at this artwork and I knew everything would be all right.  I said to myself, I am just passing through.  Sooner or later, I will pursue what I love to do.  Create.


Friday, October 13, 2017

2013 Rioja



This is what one may see after their second bottle of red wine.  Wonderful world of colors, blurs and bokeh.  I must say the 2013 Rioja is not that impressive.  But that was the best I could find at the bar in Limerick, Ireland.  (The Irish are not into wine.)  Anyone in the market for wine should try to find the 2010, which was a great year across the board.  Prior to harvesting, it rained quite a bit and the summer was super hot - an ideal condition for growing grapes.  I still see some great finds at Trader Joe's and Costco.  Almost everyone in the wine making business made great wine.  Anyone who made inferior wine from the 2010 grape harvest should not be in the business of wine.  The other year to watch is the 2015.  Not as great as the 2010 but decent.

Shot with the iPhone 6.

May you enjoy this Friday the 13th.

Cheers.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Random Thoughts of Mrs Wright


Mrs Wright felt that the winter would never end.  Hardly any sign of spring on the horizon.  I better get me another cup of hot tea, she thought.  Why does the tea get cold right away?  I'll have to talk to Doctor Leete about my sleep.  The system of socialism is utter nonsense.  I recall in 2078 - yes that was a memorable year - when the Boston Underground played a concert for 36 hours straight.  We were wild and running free.  That was then.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

This Was ... Polaroids

Processed on the Polaroid FX.


Versus




I've been having fun with the Polaroid FX app and the Instant Mobile App.  I believe both apps are made by Polaroid.  Both apps re-create the classic instant film look associated with the Polaroid.

Which one is better?  It really depends on your taste and aspect ratio format.  I tend to use the Polaroid FX when I prefer to maintain a 4x5 aspect ratio.  The Instant Mobile is limited to square format.  So if your image is not square, then it will force it to be one.  At times, this can look cool.  But not always.

The Polaroid FX has a variety of simulated films but very limited textures compared to the Instant Mobile, which I prefer as far as customizing the texture.  One can apply random dirt and fingermarks, as well as increasing or decreasing the amount of crease damage.  Very cool.  But it has only one film format.

Another thing I don't like is that the Instant Mobile takes a longer time to process.  Like a regular Polaroid photo, one has to wait a minute or so before the image appears.  The app even tells you to shake or to blow on the image to make it faster - just like the way Polaroids work.  I think it is just a gimmick.  It doesn't make it faster in my opinion although I haven't done a scientific test to back it up.  On my iPhone, the light goes up the whole time while I'm working on the app.  This is irritating, and decreases my battery level.  Not sure why it was designed this way.

Both of the apps offer a variety of pre-set filters.  I find that some of the filters do not mimic the Polaroid look so for me there are only a few that are useable.

The apps are relatively inexpensive.  It's cheaper than buying the real deal.  The 10 pack Impossible Project is at least $20.  The Fujifilm is a little over $10.  Plus one has to scan the image if it were to be shared on-line.  Using Polaroid FX and the Instant Mobile would be the faster way to go in my opinion.  I know.  Purists will hate me for saying this.

Cheers.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More ways than one


Our hero found out that there are more ways than one in the street of New York City.  And he's going on the wrong way.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Why won't you give me love?




What do think?  I suppose it depends on the experiential value one can get from it.  Others think it's snobbishly capricious.   Some people believe so.  Is it worth it? And yet there is something tactile about images shot on film.  You know what I mean.  And so on.  Plus the final image has to be scanned and digitized if it were to be shared electronically.  And you need a Polaroid camera or a medium format camera with a Polaroid back.  Each shot costs about $2.  There are always instant film from Fujifilm and the Impossible Project but they are prohibitively expensive.  The process of getting the final result is arduous though.  That's analog as opposed to digital if you're a millennial.  Lately, I am rediscovering the beauty of film.  

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Spiral Tap - Sistine Chapel's Secret Staircase v.2

Sistine Chapel's Secret Staircase.
It so happens that my memory escapes me more often nowadays.  It's called old age.  Now I can't remember where I shot this but I know it is in Rome.  I think it could have been part of the interior inside the Sistine Chapel.  I do remember having a nice dinner inside the Vatican.  Yes, we were privileged to dine privately inside what people would call the most holy place in the world.   Not sure how our Tour Director pulled it off.  The best part of the dinner was the wine and roasted pig, which is one of the things they make you eat to test if you are not a Jew or Muslim.  Not an issue  for me -  they can throw in shellfish and all creeping things prohibited in the Old Testament,  I'll eat them.

I usually don't take photos of interiors as the lighting is usually bad.  In this case, it was different.  With the help of technology, I managed to get some nice bokeh and blurs to enhance the shot.  Shot with the iPhone 7 plus.  I dig its camera.

Addendum:  Rose reminded me that this was the modern double helix staircase designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932, and was inspired by the original Bramante Staircase. This staircase, like the original, is a double helix, having two staircases allowing people to ascend without meeting people descending; as with the original the main purpose being to allow uninterrupted traffic in each direction. Kind of like driving in the Los Angeles Freeway.

Cheers.  

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Not Peace, but a Sword



 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." - Matthew 10:34

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Secret Agent Man


Sam: Yo, I’ve arrived.

Chief: What do you see that’s unusual?

Sam: Fake buildings, security alert, and white old dude pushing a stroller.

Chief: Where the ($@#^*} are you?!!!!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Prayerful thoughts on the Victims in Las Vegas


May you find peace in Christ.

Cruel to Be Kind



A friend shared this the other day:





And then I thought about ...

What does it mean to find peace?
What is true joy?
What does it mean to have calmness in ones life?  
What is important?
Is family what matters the most? 
Does one sincerely think that this could be an encouragement to the widows, the orphans, the destitute, the homeless?