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.

Bangkok in Film: Ilford HP5 @1600

I found this roll a while back not knowing what’s in it, what camera did I shoot with it and importantly what iso I used. Took me a few week to decide that having it developed a little longer would be the safest.

So welcome back to Bangkok! And welcome to Chao Mae Tuptim shrine A.K.A the Penis Shrine.

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The caretaker told us that they just removed half of the penises in the shrine as they were getting a bit crowded. People having fertility issue would leave behind a phallic candle or idol to make their wish come true. It is said that if you touched the phallus it would bring good luck and fertility. I did touched some of the phallus (no homo) hoping it would bring us luck. You can find elephant figures, creepy doll dresses ( I don’t know what they are for) and crammed to every crook and cranny are penises!

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See what I mean by creepy. This just gives me the heebeegeebees!

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This is my favorite shot I got from the shrine. I haven’t read yet “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson” But this reminds me of that book. I like how the penis is just proudly standing there.

What I love most in Thailand is the ambience of calm and unrushedness of the people. Look at him just chilling by the fountain even removing the shoes to be comfortable. Also Bangkok feels more spacious than Manila which is very very crowded.

Up next is the Banyan Tree sky bar. Being on a tight budget and just wanting to sightsee we just ordered drinks thankfully there’s free nuts. And what a great view it offered. I’m really regretting only bringing my 50mm to this trip.

Do me a favor and be smarter than me when you visit this place. See those railings? A great place to mount a gorrila pod and bring a wide angle lens or maybe a fish eye. Time it just right for sunset shots then order a few more drinks til it’s dark and the night light are on and get a great night shot of Bangkok. And not a plain boring shot like I did:HP5-1

I think this is the phallus’s making. When the waiter brought our drinks he accidentally spilled one of the glass on our table. Lucky none of us got wet with it. As compensation they gave us another round for free and waived our bill. I hope that doesn’t come out of our waiters salary. Thank you Penis shrine I know that was because of you.

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This would be the face of someone spending the last night in Bangkok eating like crazy Due to the saved money from Banyan Tree we had enough for a buffet. Thus the evil palm rubbing.

Thank you for all the memories and the good time Bangkok! Maybe Chang Mai next time.

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Nothing brings you back to Manila more than someone in a diaper playing ball on a busy road. HP5-3-4

Just hold on. We can slowly work together for a better future. By starting with ourselves. Let’s be the best possible version of ourself. And as always love and take the most meaningful photos to you.

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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#7 Tri-x @1600

Welcome to the nitty and grainy life here in the Philippines.Enjoy!

Manila is a wondrous place. Full of life. Literally full of people. Most are nice and some are a little desperate but the one who have it the worse are the children, the street children. Children who never had a home. They aren’t exactly orphans as they do have parents. Some of the parents are good people but are really having it hard. Some the bad parents who use their children to make money. Make money? but how you might ask. There a lot of ways actually from manual labor, as a street vendors, begging for food and money to the bad one like stealing smart phones, moneys and etc. You see being a child makes them immune to going to prison so the bad parent use them to steal thing and if they get caught, being a minor ( sometimes as young as 5years old) get away scot-free. roll7-6

Having to grow up in this environment they become hard and the cycle is never broken. Most of these kids will be parents before they reach 20years old. So the cycle continues…

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The problem they always face is hunger. True hunger the way we will never ever experience. It’ll be there constant friend from waking to sleeping. And when you see a kid with a empty plastic inflating and deflating around the nose ( Like what asthma patient do with paper bag) you might wonder what they’re doing. The plastic bag is actually laced with Rugby (a type of contact cement), the solvent is used to alleviate their hunger.

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Now that you got your fix. We need a place to crash. Well? anywhere is game as long as you won’t disturb the people passing by and the authorities won’t care. Grab the box fold it and voilà! bed fit for a king. Be it in the side walk, under the tree, up the tree and anywhere in between.

By now I’m sure you’re asking “What are you trying to say Dan?”.

That this is a reminder for me (and it could be a reminder for you also if you want to) to appreciate what I have (what you have). Appreciate the childhood I got, the education, my parents, and even the fact that I have a bed and I have food to eat when I’m hungry. So what if my caramel macchiato double shot espresso upside down wasn’t upside down. So what if I’m using a 30 year old camera and not the bestest and latest. So what if someone rudely cut you in the road. Please don’t let the little things destroy the gift you’re given. Enjoy the present. For young and old, we all have the same to lose.

Appreciate and be present to your family and love ones. Really listen to them.

The ones I love.

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She hated this photo. But I loved it cause it captures the playfulness in her eyes.roll7-3

Kawo. Thankfully he’s okay now. 🙂

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Thank you for listening to my rant. And remember “Always Forward!”

Roll#1 Hp5 @400

Hope you guys are having a better day than I am. But being a self proclaimed stoic that I am, The obstacle is the way. So push thru we must.

This is the first time I got my hands on Hp5. I can’t tell you how excited I am to shoot with it, after many hours looking at flickr and salivating like a rabid dog by how contrasty and punchy most of the picture even on iso 400.

After a few days I finished the roll and had it developed immediately. This is it! My masterpiece. Opened the envelop. What a let down, like the Titanic sank again but this time Jack didn’t met Rose. The film I think was underdeveloped. Im not sure thou. And the scanned file was low res around 1mb.

Here it is.

000018Chess puzzle. Hp5@400. f8/500

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Portable Home. Hp5@400. f5.6/60

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Transaction. Hp5@400. f11/60

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Home sweet home. Hp5@400.f4/250

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Statute.Hp5@400. f5.6/125

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One more minute. Hp5@400. f2.8/60

Lesson of the roll: Develop my own black and white.

Thanks