On Contrast

Contrast– the state of being strikingly different from something else, typically something in juxtaposition or close association.

For the past 2 or 3 months I have been mainly shooting black and white as a challenge for myself to improve my photographic eye. Sadly my improvement is minimal and I still suck at it. One of my crutch is contrast. Black and white photos makes you see in tones which makes most of my shot plain and boring.
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So boring that even the subject fell asleep.
Being mindful and applying a little contrast improved some my shot.
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Bright colored shirt against dark background. Dark colored shirt against white background. It won’t make your photo great as you can see be it helps a lot with separation.
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Contrast also help with mood and horror.
Thinking of contrast made me realize a lot of other things. I live in the Philippines where you’ll find a lot of mini paradise, pristine beaches to mountain views to die for.
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On the other end of the spectrum is the filthy city of Manila. Most of the people doesn’t care about there surrounding, they throw most of their trash in the street, spittle and phlegm. Construction abounds everywhere cause most of the street is substandard due to corruption.
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But the contrast which breaks my heart is the living conditions of some of the children here. Street children which don’t have any place to call home, parents who shout, curse and hit them at the slightest slights. Food is variable, sometimes they eat but most of the times they feel a pang of hunger. Most of the education they’ll receive is mainly the rules of the dog eat dog world in the streets. Parental guidance of violence and impatience would be passed on to them and the cycle would begin again ad infinitum.
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Breakfast in bed. Yes that’s his bed.
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Good food and a loving family.
In contrast with us. With me. I got everything I wanted when I was a child. A room, food on our table, clothe, security and I even got a pet scorpion after making a scene in the pet shop, still i’m wanting more. We should take a breath and be thankful for the home, the food and every luxury we take for granted. In contrast to the ones who have it way worse my problems seems trivial.
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The other I realize most (around 80%) of the rich people I meet are miserable and the happiest are kids weather they are in a good or bad situation. I guess this is due to the power of play and being mindful, being in the now.
Wow. Talk about being of tangent but let’s see this through. I don’t have an answer to solve our poverty issue here but I want to share it with you. So we can be grateful and not take what we have for granted. Lastly I’ll leave you guys a quote which really freed me up from GAS.
“People value highest what they don’t have access to.”
 
Thank you for reading!
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How to enjoy Film photography

This is my opinion base on my experience as a hobbyist.

Film photography is a great medium to learn and make photographs. It makes you “mindful” of what you take. The cost per shot is evident, you only have 36 shots. I see a cat licking his bum and I raise my camera to compose then think “is this shot gonna be worth my 10php?” usually the answer would be no. That would raise my keepers from 1 per roll to at least 6 per roll. Which is good by my standards (very low standards!). Shooting is a bliss. I have no expectation on myself. I just have to walk and observe. Observe the light, the shadows, patterns, frames, human faces, gestures, emotions and all the other factors. You’re in the “flow” you are mindful, all your worries are gone. You see how the world is beautiful even in the dirty streets of Manila you’ll be amazed of the depth of beauty.

CLE at 1600-1

TIBI CORDI TUO IMMACULATO CONCREDIMUS NOS AC CONSECRAMUS”.

 Translated to. “To thy Immaculate Heart, entrust us and consecrate us”

Minolta CLE + M-Rokkor 40mm f2+ Kodak Tri-x @1600

Film cameras are cheap compared to the latest cameras today. This is a double edge sword for me. It’s great to try and shoot with a different camera but I usually fall to victim to HEDONIC ADAPTATION. I know deep down that I’ll only be using a single camera and I was content with it. I have been using my Nikon F3 for a year and never wanted more. But when I saw a bargain (Olympus XA2, Canonet QL17, Nikon L35AF and a Olympus trip 35 for a 100usd), I pulled the trigger on it. I have been reading extensively on film cameras to know that all of them are great cameras. They arrived the next day and all of them are in great condition. I quickly loaded the Oly XA2 shot a roll (still haven’t develop this) and sold it for a profit. I did the same with the other 3, I shot with them for awhile, get bored, complaint about this or that, and then sold it. I did make a little bit of money and I did enjoy shooting and tinkering with a new camera but this started an unhealthy habit. I would always check sites for various reviews be update for new reviews on sleeper cameras ( selling cheap now and prices would usually go up after the review), with the perfect excuse of I’m investing on them and could sell them easily. Various cameras would go thru my hands from Om-1, Om2n, to a Rollei 35 SE but would always return to the Minolta CLE, for me it’s a lighter Nikon F3 ( Black, aperture priority and dependable). I know that this is all I need and more but what the heck am I looking, reading a review and fantasizing about a Leica M? Which I can’t afford. GAS ( Gear Acquisition Syndrome) again, I thought I have dealt with it before. But making a little money gives you a leeway, an excuse to start GASing all over again. So why am I bitching about it, if I enjoy shooting different cameras and make a little money in the end. What’s wrong with that? Because it’s making me unhappy. I check ebay and other sites on a regular basis ( Every chance a get, might be every 5mins or every 30mins). I have this fear of missing out (FOMO), That I might miss out on a great deal/camera. I black canon 7 for 100 bucks? a black Contax G1 with a 45mm? I NEED THOSE! I was in constant state of fear and desire that I was checking the internet more often than shooting.

  1. Sell every camera I don’t use. ( They’re posted for sale right now)
  2. Never visit or read a review about a camera. Don’t add fuel to fire.
  3. Never visit the sales pages, ebay or where ever I get them.
  4. Make myself accountable. (Thus here I am bitching to you guys)

I am still wanting and lusting for that Leica M, Contax G1, G2 or T2 but when I catch myself wanting. I just tell myself that 1. You cannot afford them 2. You got all that you need to create a great photo and to enjoy taking pictures.

Thank you for hearing me rant.

CLE at 1600-3

Minolta CLE + M-Rokkor 40mm f2+ Kodak Tri-x @1600.

Review: Olympus Om2n

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First impression:

Very light! Weights only 750 grams thats the body, lens (Om 50mm f1.8), neck strap, the film and battery. That’s already the weight of the Nikon F3 body only! It also has a great feel to it, just like the Nikon F3. It has this feeling of rugged elegance that seduces you to carry it every time you go out. This is a huge factor for me as I tend to forget the cameras with a plasticky feeling. Caressing, having the feel of it, cocking the shutter and firing it. It’s shutter noise is less audible compared to the F3 but it’s still audible. Cocking the shutter is not as buttery smooth as the F3, well it’s not a big deal. I’m a simple man, all I need in a camera are aperture priority, good glass and the a “good feel/ build” to it. Time for a test roll.

Om2n with 24mm f2.8 (HP5 @ 400)

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Om2n with 24mm f2.8 (Ultramax)

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Om 50mm f1.8

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The Olympus Om2n is a great everyday carry. It’s so light you’ll forget you’re even carrying it. The view finder is large and bright! Makes it easy and fast to focus. The meter reads the same as my F3 which is spot on. I love the om2ns’ meter! In aperture priority you’ll see the shutter speed with a needle for the exposure giving you information how much lee way you still have. And in manual exposure it’s gonna give you a different “graph?” which shows you how much you’re underexpose or overexposed. The only thing missing was exposure lock but can easily be corrected with the exposure compensation. The Om glasses are impressive! It’s like a featherweight packing a punch several times above it’s class. Image quality, ergonomics, size and weight you can’t go wrong with these lenses.

Om 24mm f2.8 – Love having the perspective of an wide angle lens. This is my first wide angle and I have been enjoying it. I just have to be conscious of the light source as I think my copy is single coated.

Om 50mm f1.8 – Looking thru the view finder with this lens attached makes you feel like you’re inside the frame (weird as that might sound). Maybe it’s the large view finder and the shallow depth of field which has a very 3 dimensional feel when moving the focus.

Pros:

  • Light and Small
  • Large and bright Viewfinder
  • Meter is reliable
  • Battery is easy to find
  • Small and relatively cheap lenses ( except for the 50mm f1.2)
  • Easy exposure compensation

Cons:

  • No exposure lock
  • Mirror lock up (would be a great addition for long exposure)
  • When the electronics is fried the camera is dead

If you want or see a Olympus Om2n buy it! It is usually the cheapest compared to the Om1, Om4 (Om4ti) and Om3t. And prices are going up.

Still want to see more photos from the Olympus Om2n? Go here for some amazing portraiture:

https://www.instagram.com/fabiofilmphotography/

http://www.fabiosabatiniphotography.com/

And another review of the Om2n:

http://www.fogdog-photography.com/fogdog-blog/2016/8/23/olympus-om2n

 

Bangkok in Film: Kodak Ektar 100

Perfect weather for a roll of Ektar.

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Entrance to the Grand Palace. The security is tight! Look at all those guns.

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The Garuda and Naga. Garugas are like harpies, half man and half bird but of the opposite sex. He’s the steed of Lord Vishnu or something like that. The snake he’s ripping apart is the “Naga”.  I don’t know which of them started this family fued as they’re “cousins” but it’s always ends with  the Garuda winning. (kinda like the eagle eating the snake)

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We enjoyed this fountain at first because the pigeons have been “pavloved” not be scared of humans and see them as vending machine of corns. Then a man gave us small packets of corn.

“How much?” we ask.

“It’s okay. It’s okay.” He said. Woah. This place is really great, people are very friendly and giving you free stuff. If only Philippines can step up it’s game then maybe the tourism would increase. Blah blah..

So we continued to play and feed the pigeons. After depleting our corn supply we decided to leave.

“Thank you for the corn.” I said or something like that.

“300 bhat. 100 bhat each packet. YOU PAY.” Kinda lost my temper here. We conceded to pay 100 bhat and decided to leave him. So please learn from our mistake. Visit but be wary of this kind of trick.

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Elephant statue at the entrance of the Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat.

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Thotsakhirithon (Yaksha) is a kind of nature spirit that protects and guard treasures. It’s no wonder they’re placed in the entrance of the Wat Phra Kaew. It’s amazing to see the parallel between Thailand and Japan due to their culture and religion . Yasha in Japanese.

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I think she’ll kill me if she sees this. Candid for her devouring a delicious local banana crepe.

This is the last of the Bangkok in Film. I really miss this place already. I miss the laid back atmosphere where most of the people don’t seem to be in a hurry. The people are very polite and would do everything to help you. Can’t wait to be back.

Thank you for reading!

3 Tips on How to stop GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)

Well I have recently been “G.A.Sing” hard. I have been browsing the net looking for reviews, photos taken with the camera (Om4 Ti) and just plain day dreaming of the shots I’ll take with it, for the better part of a week!

We humans are unhappy because we’re insatiable. An ultra-marathoner of the “Hedonic treadmill”. We get what we desire let’s say (in my case) the Olympus Om2n with a 24mm 2.8 and less than a week you adapt to them and the dissatisfaction returns. Maybe this time it’s a Om 50mm f1.2 lens that would do the trick or the Om4 ti. Let’s not stop there maybe the harder to find Om3 would get my itch scratched.

Enough is enough. When lusting for a piece of equipment is taking more time than the actual creation, it becomes unhealthy for me. I can read a review plenty of times and still read it some more (http://www.35mmc.com/12/09/2016/olympus-om4ti/ and http://camerajunky.net/2012/06/19/olympus-om-4-ti-black/).

My go to cure for G.A.S:

  1. Negative visualization– Imagine how you’ll feel if you lost your go to camera now. Vividly imagine that your camera got stolen on that shady street you were walking by. This is very effective for me, reminds me how much I wanted my camera before I had it and how much  I’ll miss it if I lose it. Then I find myself stroking the old beater camera with care and looking at it with love.
  2. 1 Month rule- I use this one with almost every possible buy. The rule is simple if I want to buy something that’s gonna cost more than 1,000 php or around 20 usd I write it on my notebook with the starting date (ex. Om4ti- Feb26, 2017). So if after 30days I still want to buy the Om4ti I’ll pull the trigger on it (which is good cause usually in 30 days time someone already bought it first!).
  3. Reread the reviews of your camera- Luckily for me Nikon F3 has a ton of great review in the web. This somehow makes me feel that the camera i’m already using is more than enough. If I want to create a better photo It’s me who’s got to improve and not the equipment.

These 3 steps helped me solve my G.A.S for a while i’m sure it’ll pop out sooner or later. I always say to myself that great photos have been taken with less (older cameras), so it’s not the equipment that make a photo but the one behind the camera.

If you’re still G.A.Sing after doing this 3 steps. I suggest you go here: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2012/03/04/10-tips-on-how-to-cure-yourself-of-gas-gear-acquisition-syndrome/

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Nikon F3 50mm 1.4/ Kodak Portra 400

As always thank you for reading and I hope this helps!

Roll#6 Ektar

If any of you guys ever drift here to the Philippines. I strongly suggest you go here.

Nagsasa Cove, Zambales

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It’s usually visited by hikers and they spend the night camping here. The beach is pristine and clear. Very peaceful, and an absolute must for those need a time out to visit. All the photos are taken with Kodak Ektar. I love how this film captured the essences of the place.  Blue, azure blue, green, Brown and the almost white sand. Enjoy!

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The keepers hut. Guess who’s living the dream, huh. I really like the colors of Ektar here.roll6-ektar-12

Ektar overexposed. Dreamy feel.

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Got to get those hands dirty to get to the peak.

Tact sharp! I hope they won’t discontinue this film.

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I’m sexy and I know it. Joke.

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Both long exposures. But the last one took more than a minute. I don’t exactly know how long, but i’m surprise to get this one.

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Path to Happiness. My favorite of the roll. 🙂

I really love this F3. It’s been the only camera I lugged around everywhere. Aperture priority is just perfect for me and metering is always spot on. The viewfinder is large and clear. It make you focus and just think about the moment your gonna capture and after you snapped it you continue to enjoy the moment, no chimping, no bitching that you didn’t get the photo you like. Film really teaches you to be patient. So please all of you who are GAS’ing for the new Leica M10 (God know I did for a while) or that new lens, remember great photos have been made with an older and not that awesome camera, it’s about you enjoying and learning the craft. I still use my worse for wear D7000 but film photography helped me to minimize chimping and be conscious what to waste my film on and the composition of it. This is more of me telling myself not to GAS.

See you guys next week!

Feel free to Email me : danjazz31@gmail.com