Saturday, September 30, 2017

St Peter's Basilica

I had begun to go over my images from Italy, and finding a lot of garbage and some gems.  The RAW image of this one kind of stuck out so I decided to process it today.

Apparently, there are statues missing in the church because some of the saints have walked away.  Could it be that they became Protestants?

The Papal Basilica of St Peter in the Vatican is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome.  It is one the most renowned works of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world. Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of St Peter, one of Jesus's Apostles and also the first Pope.

Can you pick out which one is St Peter?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Summer wants to stay in California

We were having an unusual summer weather here in Cali.  For the most part, the humidity is higher than New York.  Right now, we are experiencing more than 50% humidity and the temperature is still up in the 90s.  That's Fahrenheit.  So that's high 30s for non-Americans.  I think we are the only ones using the English system.  Everybody else has switched to Metric.  Even the English uses Metric.  Anybody going out should be carrying umbrellas.  But we Californians never do.  Never had any need for it.  Rain or shine.

Hope your day is going well.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Three's Company

Shot from the hip.   It takes some practice.  The 20mm Voillander lens captures a wide range so it's one of the best lens for this kind of application in my opinion.  No autofocus; so it's a bit of challenge to use it in action scenes.   I'm spoiled by current technology.  But if the Magnum Photographers have done it, then there should't be much of an excuse.

The Voigtländer 20mm f/3.5 is a manual-focus lens, and has an on-board computer to work with the meters and electronics.  The Canon version, which I use, has CPU contacts for what should be complete compatibility with metering and exposure automation on any of the Canon EOS 35mm and digital cameras made from 1987 through today.  It's really old school.  Dig it!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Then Came the Solar Eclipse

Well, the last Solar Eclipse experience for us was uninteresting.  We were in New York, got out of the house, and nothing seemed to change.  Perhaps, the environment dimmed a bit but nothing significant.  So, here I decided I would create a Manhattan cityscape of what the eclipse would have made the environment looked like.

Hope your day is going  well.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Anxiously Waiting

Stress rans like a plague in New York City.  New Yorkers walk around like zombies on high octane caffeine.  Everyone appears to be stressed.  I wonder if they see it too every morning in the mirror.     I see them everywhere but the place to observe is in the subway trains.  Interesting stoic faces.  Paradoxically, I found the New Yorkers quite helpful when you ask for help in getting directions.  They want their own space but most are willing to help.  

Meanwhile, it started to rain, and she didn’t bring an umbrella.  She’s afraid her groceries will get wet.  Moreover, she worried about her eye shadow make-up getting messed up. 

So do you think this one is real?

Juno:  There is a worldview that claims there are no realities.  There are only views of reality.  Only perceptions.  All collective anxieties condense into conspiracy theories.

Rob:  Was that from Frank Underwood of Netflix Original House of Cards?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

To Live and Die in LA.

Los Angeles weather is great.  But the traffic is the worst.  The provisions are plentiful.  You can get anything you want.  Anything.  But at a price.  There is limited freedom.  Only if you think and talk a certain way.  People are tolerant.  If you believe in what they believe.  The air is unclean.  But it makes for a great sunset.    Etc.  Oh, to live and die in LA.

Hoe your day is going well.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Performance Art is ...

No barriers.  Music.  Painting. Words.  Visuals.  Ideas.  Transcendence.  Immanence.  Above.  Beneath. North.  South.  East.  West.  Performance.  Recorded.  Documented.  Historical.  Fiction.  Love.  Hate.  Nothing in between.  Spit what is lukewarm.  Embrace what is cold.  Taste what is hot.  Extreme.  Ethnicity.  Race.  Genders.  Ages.  Languages.  Dialects.  Homeless.  Suburbs.  Urban.  Rural.  Slums.  Trash.  Garbage.  Junk.  Warhol.  Rembrandt.  Bach.  Beck.  Light.  Dark.  Saturated.  Black and White.  Toned.  Monochrome.  Blurred.  Focused.  Analog.  Digital.  Paper.  Paperless.  Mac.  PC.  iPhone.  Android.  Consequences.  Inactions.  Liberty.  Slavery.  Fast.  Slow.  Peace.  More love.  Unity.  Division.  Tolerance.  Intolerance.  More ideas.  

All of the above.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Waiting for Tapas

She's wondering when she'll find Paradise.  Or maybe when her just-ordered tapas will arrive.  Nelson Mandela is amused.  Maybe because he just finished his Yambal juice.

Stealth shot in Madrid courtesy of the now replaceable iPhone 7 plus.

Hope your day is going well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When East Meets West

So I decided to do something artsy tonight.  A double exposure of my friend and the poster I took in Seattle (or at least that's where I remember I took it - well, it doesn't matter).  I like the play of the different blue tones on this image and the geometrical pattern produced by the double exposure.  It reminds me of something I once heard not too long ago:  "There are no realities.  There are only views of reality.  Only perceptions.  All collective anxieties condense into conspiracy theories."  Where did I hear that?  Must have been from House of Cards or some Netflix original.

Hope your day is going well.

Monday, September 18, 2017

NYC at a Glance

A good day to be alive this morning in New York City.  My photo of my friend is now displayed as a poster on Columbus Center or somewhere close by.  Doesn't matter because it's fake.  The poster is made up.  The sky is fake.  Not all is real.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Throwback 2009 ... She was turning Japanese.

Artsy Rose taken in 2009 with a Canon Point and Shoot.  The Powershot A590 IS to be exact.  Low tech Image Stabilizer.  8 crappy megapixels.  And AA two batteries to power the camera.  I still have the camera somewhere.  It still works.  I think.  I tried to give it to somebody else but it was too antiquated for her.  Why lug a bulky P & S when one can use the smart phone?

Even at this time, I was being creative.  I think one doesn't need fancy equipment and software to do decent artwork.   I must have edited this on an early version Photoshop Elements.  Most it was just playing around with layers and modes.  No pro editing like dodge and burn and curves.  I didn't know how to do those at that time.  But I think the edit is still pretty decent.

Somewhere in a Japanese restaurant.  What was the occasion?  Don't recall.  I suppose Rose and I just wanted to live our lives.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Trees along the Streams of Blarney

I couldn't get back to sleep this morning because Mimi wanted to have her breakfast already.  That was at 4:30 in the morning.  So I fed her and gave her the medicines she always take in the morning.  Then I decided to do what I like to do.  Edit pictures.

Some people will remember the word "blarney".  It has come to mean "clever, flattering, or coaxing talk".  According to legend, kissing the stone at the Blarney Castle endows the kisser with the gift of gab.

While folks in our tour group went up to the top of the castle to kiss the stone (Rose included), I was more interested in what surrounded the castle.  Such is the stream close by.

I have a love and hate relationship with this image.  Maybe that is why I never bothered to edit it until now.  I have taken this photo on November of 2016 while standing on a bridge.  

On one hand, I love how the water starts to flow peacefully from its vanishing point, and gradually becomes more vigorous as it reaches the foreground.  On the other hand, the tree that branches out on the left side of the image rubs me the wrong way.  Well, sometimes it does.  But that's nature.  I tried to clone it out in poor-production but it only made it look fake.

Taken with the 14mm lens on the Fujifilm xe-1.  Image cropped a bit to show some intimacy (or is that the word I'm thinking?)

Hope your day goes well.

Friday, September 15, 2017

My X100F

Does the environment look like a messy home of an artist?  I could say that I am really fortunate that Rose rarely calls me on my mess.  Unless we have visitors coming.  This is why the closet  was invented.  

I thought I would write something about my current go-to camera.  Years ago, I gave the original X100 to Rose, and I would occasionally use it. It was a great camera but with some quirks.  The focusing was slow.  Lightroom didn't support its native format.  Still, it was better than other cameras I have.  

Seven years later, I bought the X100F for myself.  I dig this camera.  It has twice the sensor capacity of the original X100.  And now too, Lightroom supports the image format.  The raw conversion is no longer crappy like it was before.  Focusing is slightly better.  But most importantly, the coolness factor is still there.  Timeless.

I opted for the silver X100F.  I have seen portraits of H C Bresson holding a Leica, which looks like the X100.  With its retro aluminum lens hood,  I have been stopped by people on the street to inquire if my camera is a Leica.  I tell them it's a poor man's Leica.  $1200 vs $9000.

It doesn't have an interchangeable lens but the 35mm equivalent 23mm at f/2 is powerful and useable for the photos I take.  It has an in-camera tele that I have played around with and the results are acceptable.  Though I am not planning to use that feature regularly,  it's good to have it.  What I also like about it is a built-in ND filter so I can shoot wide open when the sun is very bright.

I have an old wide angle lens that can adapt to the X100F.  It converts the lens to 28mm equivalent.  But it makes the entire camera bulky, which defeats the purpose I bought it - for travel.  I used that on Rose's original X100, which I got in 2010.

At times I regretted buying a camera or a lens, and have experienced buyer's remorse afterwards.  This is not one of them.
Taken with the iPhone 7 plus.  

Tell me about your go-to camera.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tex-Mex-Thai Food at Rainey Street

It's been a while.  I am quite sure this was in Austin.  But not sure if it was at Salt Licks or somewhere else.  Maybe it was at some Thai place.  Or more likely at the Container Bar at Rainey Street.  All I can remember was having a great time.  

Although, I would like to think that this was at Rainey Street.  Renovated houses turned into bungalow bars reign supreme on this increasingly popular tucked-away street. Day or night, one can find relaxed bar-goers strolling from bar to food trailer to bar again, often with their dogs in tow looking for a kicked back sip and a bite.  Eh-yaw.

Hope your day is going well.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Two Ways are Better Than One

How to give directions in Manhattan:

  1. Make a left.
  2. Make another left.
  3. And another.
  4. Pretty soon, you'll arrive at your destination

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Courage (part ii)

He lost his wife.  His health is failing him.  What is there for me, he thought.  Yet I must go on.

Taken with window lighting.  Not quite a Rembrandt lighting but the subject is Dutch so maybe that gives me extra points.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The World According to Juzno

If you're a short guy like me, this is probably how you see the world.  Always looking up.  Well, I mean metaphorically.  For some they don't want them around.  As Randy Newman once sang, "They wear platform shoes on their nasty little feet."  Which is by the way true for me, I do wear clogs when it rains.  Maybe that's why I like the rain.  Rain makes me feel taller.  

We were getting ourselves lost in Manhattan, which is quite a feat because nobody gets lost there.  All the streets are properly aligned and numbered.  For example, Fourth Avenue is not the same as Fourth Street.  Although both are in Manhattan.  Sounds confusing?  I know.  The most basic thing to remember is that avenues run north and south while streets run east and west.  Most streets and avenues only accommodate one-way traffic.  So it's easy to give directions.  Just tell the inquiring person to keep making a right and he'll get to his destination.  Eventually.  

I shot this image with the Fujifilm X100F using the Classic Chrome film simulation, my favorite in-camera preset nowadays.  It renders the image rich in varying tones and a bit of low contrast, which I really prefer because I like boosting the contrast in post-production.  

It's supposed to be a solemn day of remembrance in New York City because of 9/11.  The day is still young, and there are still lots of things to do.


After 911

iPhone 7 plus, Manhattan, New York.

A Solemn Remembrance Day.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Thoughts on Art and Two Little Girls shot on a cool Polaroid

Why do people buy Andy Warhol's Polaroids and not mine?

The great late Ray Manzarek of The Doors once said that the purpose of art is to blow minds.  So how come I'm equivocating on my thoughts about this image?  Perhaps, I question if this is even art.  It may seem artsy because it doesn't look like the conventional high dynamic range images that are sold for a dime a piece nowadays.  But is it art just because I purposely refused to go along with the flow?  Maybe art is what one makes it in their head.  If I think it's art, then it must be.  As Descartes may have said, "I am therefore I think."  Something along that line.  Or maybe it's just an attitude of being ambiguous.   Kind of like when a reporter asked Bob Dylan what he meant about his songs - to this Dylan replied, "Do you, Mr Jones?"  

I suppose it's not unusual for me to feel this way.  As my style continues to evolve, it makes me unsure of what I do or plan to do.  These may be times that my self-esteem is hiding inside the Neo-caves of Altamira.  Lately I don't have much confidence.  Maybe that's part of getting old.  Oh well.  Enough of this silly banter.  Hope you enjoy this image.  My wife Rose did.

Hope you have a great week.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Folding Cameras (Icons Behind the lens Series)

Somehow this fell into the crack. I started the Icons Behind the Lens Series some time ago and I thought I have posted all the images for the series. This one never made it. It's a bit of a dark horse so maybe it was meant to be unnoticed. Until now. 

These are my folding cameras. One of them is a Kodak Jiffy, a real gem that came out in the 30s. Sorry, but I can't remember which one is it now. They all still work. Somewhat. Depends of what work means. It's operable but has to be used with some compensation. For instance, the leaf shutter is slow. Which means that if I metered at 1/60, I probably have to set the camera at 1/125 to compensate for the shutter delay. Fortunately, film is very forgiving. Especially, if one uses professional films like Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5. Both are my go-to films.

The image on the left was taken by Edward Weston. Quite a bit of material has been written about Weston so I am going to skip him and go to Juzno, who captured a self-portrait on the right. Not much I think is known about him. Juzno was an Alien living in Mars in 1950s. When he came to the US, his eye for the bizarre in cosmopolitan Out-of-this-worldly prepared him to capture the odd, the morbid and the freakish as he examined the culture of that day. 

Original text posted July 21, 2015.

Images made by Edward Weston and John Gutmann behind vintage folding cameras

John Gutmann, who captured a self-portrait on the right.  Not much I think is known about him.  Gutmann was a Jew living in Germany in 1930s.  When he came to the US, his eye for the bizarre in cosmopolitan Berlin prepared him to capture the odd, the morbid and the freakish as he examined the culture of that day.

Rediscovering Film ... Does it feel right?

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

Friday, September 08, 2017

Summertime in Madrid

Wasn't sure whether to call this Summertime in Madrid or Madrid in the Summertime.  Grammar wasn't my strong subject at school.  I did everything by whatever sounded good to my ear.  Darn it, I'm an artist not a writer.

Taken with the iPhone 7 plus.  It was almost nighttime but the sun was still up.  A great time to indulge in Tapas and Cava wine, which Spaniards drink before a meal.  Well, maybe except breakfast.  But I wouldn't count on it.

Hope your day goes well.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Still Life with Strawberry Guava (Again)

A Frankenstein mutant - the fruit is a cross breed of Guava and Strawberry. Its seeds have many health benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties in addition to a high amount of Vitamin C. The powers-to-be consider this fruit as the panacea for PTSD, Menstrual Cycle Syndrome, and Middle Age Life Syndrome. I tried it, and I don't have Menstrual Cycle anymore. (Hazah!). Now I just need to get Botox on some parts of my face, and my Mid-Life crisis will be cured.

Monday, September 04, 2017

A Dutch Farmer

His father migrated here from Holland.  He has a few dollars on his pocket so he worked hard to save up some money to buy a cow farm.  First there was one cow.  And then two.  In a few years, he had possessed hundreds.  When he turned over his farm to his son, they have accumulated thousands. Like his father, this second generation farmer knows what hard life is.  He was trained to wake up at three in morning to milk the cows.  Day never seemed to end until darkness would come.  Then it was time for family devotion.  His father would open up the Bible and read from where they left yesterday.  Then his father would talk about how the good Lord has been gracious to all of them.  He learned all this from his father.  For that, he is forever grateful.  Selah.

Original Text posted September 14, 2016

Saturday, September 02, 2017

The Secret Life of a Superhero (reworked)

Man in Brass House, Austin, Texas caught with Fujifilm X-pro1 35mm

Scene 1:  Somewhere in an existential bar in Austin.  Loud blues band wailing on the background.  Other than that, only two people and the bartender are there.

Chuck:  Can I tell you a secret?

Juzno:  Sure thing.

Chuck:  I'm Superman.

Juzno:  Wow.  Can I have your autograph?

Chuck:  No, it's a secret.  Remember?

Juzno:  Aha.

Original text posted May 20, 2015

Friday, September 01, 2017

Fear and Loathing (The Impossible Version)

I am a black man living in a so-called post-racial America.  My ancestors were slaves.  People have decided my fate.  My life would become a failure.  This is all by design.  I am fearful.  I am angry.  I am a problem.  What are you going to do about it?  

Original text posted January 27, 2015.