Visit

It’s time to visit my grandmother who’s been bedridden for a while now. She’s 85 yrs old and is having memory problems. I bless her hand and all she says to me is “Who are you?” around 8 times on repeat. It’s heart wrenching.

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Grandma (GM) to Mother(M) : You take care of your sister after i’m gone, okay?

M: Yes. But don’t say those things.

GM: I want to be cremated the day after I pass.

M: ….

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I left for a while at this point then returned to barely hear the last of the conversation.

GM: But what if I don’t die yet? What will I do? What’s taking so long?..

Then she mumbled for a while and fell asleep.

Another reminder of mortality. I’m just grateful to see her again.

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The only thing constant is CHANGE

Funny how life works. Yesterday I was reflecting that everything will change. How our body is ever changing. growth then decay. How technology is zooming ever faster.

Today as I was on my stroll with my CLE and composing for a shot. I realized the shutter it’s giving me is way slow even it’s sunny. I had a cold sweat break then. I continued my walk fiddling with it hoping it’ll come back alive. First I sold every other film camera I had so I had no back up camera. What can I do this was made during 1980, it’s a 35 years old camera.

Life is really full of ups and downs. So if you’re shooting with a film camera always cherish it while you can.

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Life is Terminal.

Nothing’s constant but change.

You were born, grew from child to man then decayed to old age and death.

We all have a terminal disease and it’s called LIFE. The prognosis is grave you will die. Just imagine a sleep that you’ll never wake up from. But you can’t really imagine it we’re wired to not think about our mortality. It’s in our gene. Tusol

But the moment you think and reflect about your mortality gives you a chance to savor and somehow enjoy the remaining time you have. Like the last bite of this man’s bananaQ. Everything ends. The food your eating disappears in 15mins and you already forgot about it in 20. The movie your watching even it’s the 3hr Blade Runner 2049, everything eventually ends. I’ll share to you something I have read recently:

The story I’m about to tell you, originally told by the Buddha in a sutra, concerns a Zen Master who, while out walking one day, is confronted by a ferocious, man-eating tiger. He slowly backs away from the animal, only to find that he is trapped at the edge of a high cliff; the tiger snarls with hunger, and pursues the Master. His only hope of escape is to suspend himself over the abyss by holding onto a vine that grows at its edge. As the Master dangles from the cliff, two mice – one white and one black – begin to gnaw on the vine he is clutching on. If he climbs back up, the tiger will surely devour him, if he stays then there is the certain death of a long fall onto the jagged rocks. The slender vine begins to give way, and death is imminent. Just then the precariously suspended Zen Master notices a lovely ripe wild strawberry growing along the cliff’s edge. He plucks the succulent berry and pops it into his mouth. He is heard to say: “This lovely strawberry, how sweet it tastes.”

It sometimes takes a life and death situation to make you realize how slippery our life really is. That it isn’t really in our control. Best we can do is enjoy every bite and every moment we can get from life. Enjoy every kiss and savor it a little longer. Every hug and even every breathe. I know this is hard I have been working on it for a while and I wrote this mainly as a reminder for me.bata2

So stop searching and start living.

As always. Thank you for reading!

On Shortness of Life

Life is short. We just had a family member that passed away. It made me realize about our mortality. We will all pass away. Nobody is exempted, rich or poor we will all cease to exist in this plane of life. As I come to realize this I looked to my side. To my mom. I’m not ready for death. For change.

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“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”- SENECA

This is what I fear most. That I have wasted my time here to binge watch that new series on Netflix while I neglect the people important to my life. I have spent time doing what I love (Photography and reading) and I have enjoyed every minute of it but I took for granted my parents thinking that they’ll always be there. Which they won’t, time will get us all. Now I try to go wherever they go when I’m free and make the most of the time with them. Ma

Thank you for reading!

Pray to the muse

I have been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and it was a revelation. All art is a pain to create (to start) when a blank canvass or a black page is only staring at you and you can’t seem to start anything. I have been like this for awhile now. The camera is always in my hand but I can’t seem to start taking photos of anything and the day goes by with out a single shutter fired.

Two things seems to stick with me after reading the book:

  1. Fight the Resistance- This just means to push thru the start. If you want to write start writing anything. For me I start my day taking a picture immediately when I hit the street. Good or bad subject I just start by taking that 1 picture! It always seems to put me in that flow state which lets me see more and capture more.CLE_Tri-X_00
  2. Praying to the Muse- I don’t always remember to do this but I try to. It’s pavlov’s me to think okay time to shoot. And somehow, the muse seems to always present something wonderful to me.                                                                                           “Muses, I praise thee.
    Grant me the vision to craft words of power that sear into the mind’s eye.
    Let my ears hear words that are true and pure.
    Let my inspiration be a mighty steed that carries me forward.
    I pledge to you that I shall fight Resistance and strive to bring glory to the tales you would have me tell.
    Let the work begin.” 
  3. Boy-2

If you want to fight thru the resistance in any creative process do read: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Thank you for Reading!

 

Minolta CLE

I’m not gonna bore you with the technicality of this camera or it’s disputed parentage, being a bastard and all that. But a tale on how and why this little heathen became my everyday carry.

My first film camera is a battered Nikon F3, brassing all over but full of character. I fell in love with it all the little knobs, sleek design and that shutter cock action and sound. Then I saw a bargain for a F3/T champagne which I bought in a heart beat. A little lighter but still heavy that’s the only down side for me with the F3 is it’s size and weight. Aperture priority, meter is great (haven’t miss a shot with it) the only thing i’d change is the meter display. Then came another opportunity trade the F3/T to the Minolta CLE with the 40mm M-Rokkor. Still having my first F3 I went for it.

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BROTHER FROM ANOTHER MOTHER

When I got the CLE I was pleasantly surprise to feel very familiar with it. Aperture priority, electric shutter, battery dependency and being a no fuss camera it’s like the little brother of the F3, smaller and being rangefinder. The only thing that’s missing is an AE lock. They have a lot in common in this aspects even thought it’s a different brand and system.

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THE BAD

  • No AE – A function I have grown used to from the F3 but sorely missing on the CLE. The roundabout way on this is meter on what to expose ( highlight, shadow or the middle ground) then set the shutter speed manually.
  • No meter in manual mode- This is obvious, I don’t know why they didn’t put this option. I would love to have the meter reading in manual mode.
  • Weird precaution in the manual (Yes i’m that geek. I read every manual for every camera I use) that says not to leave the shutter cock overnight. Some people say that this is nonsense and they have left there’s always cock had never had a problem but other says the opposite. Well I like to be on the safe side and changed my way of shooting, from cocking the shutter after every shot to being a pre shutter cock before taking a photo (Believe me I feel like a freak because of this and miss some shots)

THE OTHERS DEEM BAD BUT DOESN’T AFFECT ME

  • Shorter rangefinder baselength– only becomes a problem with longer focal length. I mainly shoot 40mm and maybe 28mm in the future. So it’s meh.
  • Battery dependency- I just bring an extra set of battery with me all the time. Problem solved.
  • Weird framelines- Some people just doesn’t like the 28/40 framelines or focal length and prefers the 35/50. Luckily for me 40mm is my go to focal length.

THE GREAT

  • FORM (size, weight and color)- It’s form is perfect for street photography. It small and black which makes it discreet and ninja like. It weighs like a feather which is a boon when you walk around for hours on end believe me you’ll even forget that you have it around your neck.
  • FUNCTION- Just set it to aperture priority and shoot. It’s meter display is simple but very effective I’m amaze why other camera system didn’t copy this. With the F3 the meter display sucks let’s be honest. I liked the needle styled display but is difficult when it get’s dark. This one works wonders being an LED red dot that act like a needle.
  • METER- OTF meter like the OM-2 which is reliable.
  • MAGIC TOUCH- HA! I don’t know what they called it. But it’s the magic when you touch the shutter button it activates and gives you a meter reading. It’s battery friendly. It take some time to get used too but I have grown fond of it.
  • Bright viewfinder

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*All the control you’ll ever need (Aperture, Shutter speed, iso, shutter cock and shutter button)

I’m biased so take everything I said with a grain of salt. But if you’re looking for a perfect companion on the street try the Minolta CLE it’s great. Form and function wise it’s just a joy to shoot. Ergonomics is great. I love the feel of it in my hand. Shutter speed, iso, shutter lever, film back opening are well thought out. I can can the shutter speed with one hand. The CLE for me solves most of the problems that I have with other cameras, size and weight being one, it’s no nonsense camera and it packs a punch above it’s weight.

 

If you have any questions about the CLE just comment below.

Thank you for reading!

Minimize. Minimize.

I feel like I have improved in my photography. I know this is rather subjective but lately I have been please that they were decent. No more photos where there’s just no subject. Let me give you an example:

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Leading line to nowhere. Or leading line to the back of his head. This was taken a year ago. Mind you I’m not saying that I’m good it’s just that lately I’ve been more conscious of what I shoot. I now notice patterns and shadows compare to before where I just shot random things. Another example:

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Really down the drains! (forgive the pun)

GAS and the ever changing technology makes us change gear faster than Taylor Sw…… Okay I won’t finish that joke. This constant changing prevents us from mastering a specific gear. Koudelka roamed for months on end with a single camera, 2 lenses and rolls of film. Maybe we should to.

For four months I did an experiment. I sticked with 1 camera (Minolta CLE), 1 lens (M-rokkor 40mm) and 1 kind of film ( Kodak Tri-X) and brought it with me daily.

MINIMIZE SIZE

A light and compact camera is a big factor. With my Nikon F3 I tend to get shoulder, neck and various other pains due to it’s weight but with the CLE I got it strap with a peak design cuff and it’s in my hand every time I’m out no hassle at all. Being able to carry a camera at all time is a boon. As life happens all the time you should be prepared.

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MINIMIZE GEAR

By shooting one camera, lens and film combo you then start to learn it’s capabilities quick. Focusing gets faster. Zone focusing gets practiced. Exposure gets spot on ( My CLE tends to expose for the highlight. Knowing that I can now compensate). This seems rather small advantages but adding them all helps to nail a shot. Getting to know a camera deeply was hard for me, with the price of film cameras being down it was easy to sell it then buy another that would be the “one”. There’s no perfect camera I now know that you just have to master whatever camera you have. Remember older camera had made photos that are great. Koudelka used Exakta for his Prague Invasion book and holy hell the photos there was great.

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Thankfully with the CLE it’s easy to be acquainted with it. Just set your desired aperture mainly F8 and zone focus for normal street stuff. Rangefinder focus for portraits and other slow moving subject or inanimate subject. I can handheld at 1/30. 40mm is just right. That’s all set. Now that you don’t have to think about that anymore you can focus, be mindful, really see and watch your surroundings. Light, patterns, people, you are free to compose.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

– Bruce Lee

If the philosophy is good with Bruce Lee it’s good with me. So do challenge yourself. Pick a camera, lens and film and shoot it for a few months straight. You’d be surprise how you’ll love that setup once you get used to it and the photo you’ll be taking by after a few months.

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Try it. What’s the worse that can happen? you’ll even be able to save a few buck!

I’m now dying to inject a little color to my photos. I’m planing to shoot a single roll of Portra and then get back to my Tri-X to continue this experiment. What? I’m just a human. I’m even drooling for the Zeiss 28mm ZM that’ll be perfect with the CLE!

Thank you for reading!

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

How to be happy in life?

Easy. Wake up every day and expect the worst.

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own- not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.”

– Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

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It’s easier to face the day knowing it’s not all candies and roses. It’s easier to expect that shit will happen. A client will get mad. Someone will shout at you. Be prepared. They don’t know you personally, so don’t take it personally. It’s just someone blowing steam at you because.. because they had a bad day? maybe a family member died. We don’t know but we know better than to get mad at them as it won’t solve the problem.

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If you read only one book this year make it Meditations by Marcus Aurelius you won’t regret it.

*All photos taken with Minolta CLE with 40mm M-rokkor. Kodak Tri-X @400

Thanks for reading!

Jeepneys

The cheapest and most common mode of transportation here in Manila. I use it almost daily to get around. Cheap! the main reason I like it.

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Just check where the jeep in going which is easily seen on the front. This one’s going to Kalaw, SM city hall and etc. Ride, pay then say “para” for it to stop. Easy.

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You can even ride for free at the cost of your safety.

The worst that can happen is when the driver wants the jeep to be full before leaving. Full is really full. When it’s a 9seater per side they’ll say it’s a 10 seater so they can have the most profit.

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That guy is only sitting on a sliver of the seat.

If you ever visit here. Ride one.

Thanks for reading!