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!

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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!

 

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!

On fear and discomfort

I am struggling to improve my “photographic eye”.

I want to compose better and take more relevant photos but looking back, most of what I shot was shit. I decided on several things so I can improve it. First was to double down on my camera. No more GASing and wasting money and my most precious resource (TIME) on reviews and online auction and other sites. The extra time would be devoted to learning, reading and really studying the photos of the masters. The money was devoted to film and chemicals.

After spending weeks to months and several rolls of film I still feel that i’m still in the same place as I was before. Most of my shot looked “Lifeless” to me. Printing-21

Read all this about composition and rules. Ah the never ending rules: rule of thirds, rule of odds, the golden spiral, frames with the frames, much much more. Yes, this rule help with making a stable, balanced and even powerful photo. But if we all use them doesn’t that mean that most of all our shot would be same? Most likely not but in my case. Most of my shot looked the same cause I have really tried to change it. Until I challenge myself again. I took up with my friend (albeit it’s one sided) Robert Capa.

If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough. ”- Robert Capa
This is hard for me. Shooting in your face here in the Philippines got me shouted at and collar grab at before. But as fate would have it this would be the same day I was reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss (Great Book!), It was his interview with Brene Brown, She said ” Give vulnerability a shot. Give discomfort its due. Because I think he or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest, but rises the fastest.”
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I really like this one. For me it’s one of my few shots that’s got a soul. Corny as that sounds. So give discomfort a shot. Even if you won’t get a great photo you’ll still feel great knowing you can do something that scares you.

Scanning film at home: Portra 160

I have always been having my films developed and scanned at a local lab. The service they provide have always been impeccable but it takes awhile before I get my films and scans usually about 2weeks. Cost wise it’s also a bit expensive and more so if you like pushing your film. My cost for a Kodak tri-x @ 1600 with scans is around 16usd! These pushed me to develop and scan my own films. I’ll talk about the developing part on the next post. Scanning first as I have scanned this roll of portra before I started developing my black and white.

http://www.japancamerahunter.com/2016/02/scanning-film-digital-camera/

Ever since I read the article above from Japancamerahunter I have been toying with the idea of scanning my own negatives at home but never really have the impulse to push thru with it, until now. I just followed the template and work flow of Adrien Saint-Pierre (author of the article)

Equipment:

  1. Nikon D7000 (my old dslr before starting film photography)
  2. Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/3.5 ai (20usd)
  3. Generic extension tube (12usd)
  4. Tripod (hand me down from my brother)
  5. Film holder? cut out from an archival sleeves.
  6. Asahi light panel 15watts (10usd) A decent light source is a must. I have tried using Ipad for it but the pixels shows.

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The light panel with the archival sleeves tightly bound by gaffer tape to the negative will lay flat (cheapo way) but is prone to dust. I did all the same with the article.

Minotla cle with 40mm M-rokkor, Developed at the local lab. Scanned with a DSLR.

You can already tell I am having problem with colors. First they aren’t consistent even with me using the same setting and post on them and second they don’t have the Portra 160 feel. If you have a solution for me don’t be shy to comment I would appreciate it deeply. CLE(PORTRA)-9

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Pros of scanning wtih a Dslr

  1. You control the output ( can sometimes be a con like the color problem of mine)
  2. Faster scanning than from the labs
  3. Cheaper long term
  4. High resolution? Most of the image are around 20mbp

Cons

  1. More work on your side
  2. Dusts if you don’t have the proper environment like me. Had to spot heal most of the photos alot.

It’s cheap if you already have a DSLR and a tripod you won’t lose anything by trying to scan at home using a Dslr. If you end up hating it at least you got a macro lens to play with! win-win.

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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

 

Pet Portrait# 3

Meet Hershey Zafra, a cute and playful puppy. But he lost half of his left ear due to an infected wound on the left pinna which was left untreated for weeks because the owner didn’t notice it due to Hershey long coat. So please check your pets daily while petting and caressing them, it could prevent some serious problem. ( Or atleast half an ear)