The Legendary Nikon F2

It always blows me away when I hold my classic Nikon F2 film SLR coupled with the rare Nikon DA-1 Action Finder. Colleagues tell me that the viewfinder is on steroids heh heh heh! I’m tempted to use this tank on my cousins wedding-coming soon. Because of it’s hefty weight I carry only my ultra-wide and macro lens with it. Everything about this Nikon F2 is purely manual and opto-mechanical.

Sir Jorge Strong at 70 Years Young

The honorable and charismatic Jorge Banal of the Makati Distric celebrated his 70th birthday with family and friends in high places at the posh Makati Polo Club. Gilbert Obispo was my 2nd photog and Shierdan Pamintuan did the video. A true public servant all his life, Mr. Banal vigorously refuses to be called a "traditional politician” (or "tra-po" in the vernacular-meaning "dirty rag" literally). What a great man indeed and his many works show it!

The 2nd Philippine Starball Competition

Thank you Carlo Villongco for the job as one of your dance photographer for the 2009 Philippine Starball held at the posh Makati Shangri-la Hotel in Makati city. Great dancers from around the world graced the floor! What a night to remember again. Watch the delayed telecast on March 8 on ABS-CBN channel 2 at 10PM.

UP Fine Arts Week 2009

Many thanks to Mr. Joey Tanedo (in beige shirt) of the UP College of Fine Arts (CFA) for inviting me again to do a demonstration of Lighting Patterns for studio photogrtaphy during Fine Arts Week (Feb. 16 to 21). There was Mr. Tommy Gacad (in blue shirt) of AFP giving insightful tips on extreme photo-journalism. I learn much from Tommy's stint in the Iraq war as an "embedded" photo-journalist. BTW Tommy is also an alumni of the CFA. Beside moi is fine arts photographer Marc San Valentin (in black shirt). Marc did share to me some artistic tips in alternative, conventional film developing techniques. "Iron sharpens iron" indeed during that day!

An Invitation From My Prof. Reynoso

Cruise Ship Workshop This March

Cruise Ship Photography Workshop is now ready to sail, to embark on a 3-day seminar on March 3, 4 & 5, 2009. It will be held at the FPPF offices at the FEMII Bldg. in Intramuros, Manila. The workshop includes practical shooting during embarkation, on the gangway, and how to get the proper table shots during events on the ship. Please get in touch with the FPPF (Tel: 524-7576) to catch the boat to professional training in Cruise Ship Photography! [Details]
(Photo by Custer Cano)

GEAR TALK: Spoiled by the Nikon D60

I try to keep my gear “lean yet mean” when I cover special events. After a year using my tiny Nikon D60 DSLR your physical body (especially arms) treats your cam as an appendage-an extension of your body. A tiny body enables me to move around more ably for photo variety. Then picking-up a top, pro (read: heavy) body like the D2x or Canon 1Ds MKIII with an “L” lense and flash attached can initially irritate moi (this is how I feel when I do ad photography with Shutterbug studio). It takes me a good 15 minutes to adjust from a tiny body to a tank heh heh heh! The image quality (IQ) of the D60 is dependent on the lense of choice plus in-camera adjustments (like shooting in RAW format). Never before has a tiny DLSR delivered IQ this good. And don’t be fooled with the tiny size, this D60 can be rugged enough for mass production photography (like weddings). I thought my old D70 was okay but the D60 just spoiled me. Maybe the next upgrade will surprise moi.

Angel and Joan Civil Wedding

Congratulations to Angel and Joan on your civil wedding! You have been very generous and hospitable to my team. May your tribe increase! Here's looking forward to your December 2009 church wedding-cheers!

Marathon Ad Photography With Shutterbug

When it rains, it pours. Such is the story when it comes shooting for Shutterbug studio in Makati city-especially if you have a major account like the SM Department Store. The 2009 Ladieswear summer printad campaign, for example, requires three studio setups just to contract several days of shooting talents and voliminous merchandise related with ladies wear.

The agency handeling Ladies Wear is Adfolio. Adefolio CEO Laura is very hands-on with the shoot doing steam-ironing, styling, art direction and inventory. Whew! Rotating shifts during the shoot involves photogs like moi, Bug, Edwin, Monching and Jonmar.
But that’s just the Ladieswear Summer campaign. With SM you have other departments like Men’s Wear, Baby Company, Children’s Wear, Girl’s Teens Wear, Boy’s Teens Wear, Home World, etcetera with separate summer campaigns with different ad agencies. And that’s just the summer campaign (come-pain?). Then there’s the Back to School campaign next for SM.
Recently done was the Valentines campaign. And then there are other Shutterbug accounts (with other ad agencies) that need to be shot the next day (like PLDT). It’s stressful, marathon ad shooting. Rare studios are lucky to have this kind of good “problem” in times of economic challenges. And it gives me a profitable job to do.

Look Who’s Back in Ad Photography!

My UP Fine Arts batchmate Edwin Bautista is now a lensman again. But he still runs his Bahay Ni Juan retaurant in Pasig City at night. Edwin and I had a summer practicum stint in the now-defunct Shadow Visual Design Group-a design studio with a top advertising photography studio in Makati city in the late 1980s. Photogs of stature like Niel Oshima, Raymund Isaac, Joe Chua peopled Shadows. Edwin and I now work for BVW and Shutterbug studios. I remember assisting in a lot of SM Department Store talent, product and location shooting with Shadows using Nikons, Hassies and Sinars. Shutterbug is still the official photo studio of SM Department Store including of ACE Hardware, Toy Kingdom, Home World, Watsons, et al for almost a decade now. Hmm…we’ve come full-circle in this regard.

Jhun Wins Climate Change Grand Prize

Before I totally forget: Belated congratulations to my artisan photographer Gregorio “Jhun” Dantes Jr. who captured the top prize of Climate Change Photo Essay Contest of 2008. He bested 899 entries and the European judges were shocked that he just used a Nikon FM2 film camera. Jhun had to literally whip-out his negatives infront of their wide eyes as evidence! His entry chronicles a vendors route in selling fish on the raft among the residents of an underwater community in Malabon. His secret: Keep it simple sweetheart” (KISS)!
(Photo by Jhun Dantes Jr.)

Photography Day at the UPCFA

Febuary 11 was Photography Day at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (UPCFA) and yours truly was invited to talk about careers in the world of Philippine photography to students. I was just surprised to see one of my St. Benilde student amongst the UP participants-I thought he cross-enrolled.

GEAR TALK: My Nikon D60 "P" DSLR

Here is how to convert your DSLR into a pinhole camera and use it handheld:
1. Drill a 1 cm hole in the middle of your body cap
2. Overlay the hole with a 2cm x 2cm aluminum foil using electrical tape
3. Find a fine pin and puncture the foil with a hole (approx. 0.4mm)
4. Set your ISO to 1600 at 1/15 shutter speed for sunlit subjects
5. Adjust other settings according to taste

I also tried using flash for some of my pinhole photographs for kicks! Yes you have permission to be creative (read: crazy)! Have fun!

Columbia Digital and SDA Partnership

It was very heroic of CEO Andy Tan (in white polo, above) of Columbia Digital (the official distributor of Nikon cameras in the Philippines) to offer partnership with the School of Design and Arts (SDA) under the Photography degree program. Chairperson Leo Santos (in blue polo) welcomes this gracious offer in times of global recession. Columbia’s VP for marketing JR Bonifacio (in dark blue polo) was instrumental in making this meeting possible. Right now the students of the SDA use Nikon film SLRs as their foundation in photography and videography. Only Nikon produces manual film SLRs (but please email me if any competition does). Muchas gracias and more power to you all! (Photo by Joan Mazo)