Photo Contest Judging In The Fort

As FPPF faculty, yours truly is sometimes tasked to judge the photo contest of both the basic and advance photography class. Unlike other workshops locally, these students have the luxury of shooting immediately after lectures on the sprawling Fort Santiago park-which houses three FPPF chambers (photo, above) where most workshops are conducted. At the end of the day, particpants can just hang around the open-air cafe and listen to their teachers' sundry stories and alternative techniques not covered in the syllabus. Truly a photographer's haven! (Photo by Chris Malinao)

Post-PhotoWorld Asia 2010 Dinner Buffet

It was food, fun and fellowship with the Federartion of Philippine Photographers Foundation’s (FPPF) staff, faculty and volunteers. A grateful supplier of this past PhotoWorld Asia treated us buffet dinner at the Astoria Plaza in Ortigas. It always behooves me to witness how a handful of FPPF staff plus an army of camera clubs’ volunteers are able to pull-off the greatest photography festival in the Philippines year after year. Kudos to FPPF Chairperson Ms. Edi Huang and Project Director Mr. Pablo Beltran! And a round of applause to the selfless, noble and inspiring volunteers! They’re all simply amazing to watch!

Fasten Your Seatbelts: Canon vs Nikon

Nightmares of all photographers’ nightmares: how would you like to be invited and represent Nikon in a seminar daringly entitled: “Canon vs. Nikon”?! This was a first-ever: De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila has always been a stronghold of Canon, so I felt like walking into a photographic ambush as the first speaker. Armed with knowledge, sincerity and personal works...I came, I saw and I conquered! I believe that any presenter’s portfolio (coupled with product testimony) will always outperform any hard-sell presentation. It helps a lot to “walk the walk-not just talk the talk”. But kudos to Antonni Cuesta (a DLSU alumni!) of Canon Philippines for being gracious in speach and comprehensive in presentation (with top gears to demo and free sensor cleaning OTS). Thanks Ad Create Society, Moo Media and Ms. Belle Gutierrez for this “epic” invitation that opened the floodgates to more showdowns with other brand names-soon. Muchas gracias to Mr. Joey Alvero (Canon user) who assisted me with my gears and presentation. We all had a blast learning from one another!

Optimizing 6MP Photos For 8' Wall Graphics

I have no ax to grind against any 40+MP digital backs. In fact I welcome any improvements in technology. With that out of the way, I accidentally found some old digital files that was used for an in-store wall graphics for Styletto shoes. Their Makati boutique's wall measured 8 feet high, hence, these images had to be stretched from floor to ceiling. The images were shot by Bug Nieva, and your truly did the RAW conversion, masking and final layout for CMYK printing (circa 2005?). The Fujifinepix S2 Pro was the best 6MP DSLR then when it came to interpolating images to 12MP. I used Fred Miranda's Staire action script to stretch evenmore. Upon visiting their boutique, let me say that the images were good! "Pixellation" is hidden when viewed 3 feet and beyond from the wall! And nobody complained about all our commercial, advertising work with the S2 back then. Today, any 12MP DSLR should out-resolve any old S2 images. But does anyone care? We all should. Occassionally I must remind myself that I ought to shoot and print more often and "pixel-peep" less so we can truly enjoy our passion: photography! Let's not wait till we can afford the next giga-pixelled cam (or FX DSLR, or f2.8 zoom, etcetera). Enjoy it now or never folks.

GEARTALK: Nikkor 35mm f1.8G DX Lens

Finally! The new Nikkor normal lens for APS-C (DX) sized sensors: the Nikkor 35mm f1.8G is out in Manila. Forget about Nikon producing anymore old AF-D srew driven auto focus lenses in the future. In fact, your better off selling anymore AF-D lenses you may have while they are "relevant". The new Silent Wave Motor (SWM) in-lens focusing motor is the defacto technology for new Nikkors. SWM are technically faster and more accurate in focusing. This focal length is equivalent to a 50mm on a full-frame SLR. I used this glass when I shot the Philippine Starball competition-which I will post next month. The image quality of this cheap lens is superb! BTW you may prefer the new, but expensive Nikkor 35mm f1.8G Macro. DX sensors are here to stay. Kudos Nikon!

Teen Basic Photography Workshop In Cavite

Here is moi with my teen photogs in Taal Volcano lake in Tagaytay, Cavite. We did some landscape photography on the beautiful grounds of the Taal Vista Hotel. The entrance fee is P10 per head for the hotel entrance. Lucky for us the weather was sunny with clear blue skies. We had lunch at the Yellow Cab pizza nearby. I require my pupils to have their own camera and a laptop. Just keep on shootin' guys and don't forget to have fun!

IMHO: Is Formal Posing Finally Dead Yet?

Far from it! But first, here are a few raw photos of Reach International School's prom night at the exclusive Manila Polo Club in Makati city. No photo booth snapshot can match (yet?) the traditional studio setup managed by a pro portrait photographer. I know 'coz I've recently compared prints.

Whenever clients refuse formal posing by saying "it's stiff"-they always refer to their folks' prehistoric snaps. Egad, even most photogs disdain formal posing! But it's the learned photographer's duty to inform client that formal posing is the logical, practical and progression in posing, so optional shots can be done later on, of course. I call formals the "warm-up" session.

A sign of a competent portrait photog is the repertoire of formal poses he can demonstrate for the sitter to imitate. I always instruct my students in wedding photography to execute a few formal shots before they explore other poses, as a matter of principle.

Alas, a vast majority of photogs are untrained to do formal posing. It shows-they eschew it without even having tried it or learned it. This client-photographer revulsion reflects artistic myopia-a crisis of the imagination: they claim it's too "cookie-cutter". But even past and present masters of the fine arts sometimes refer to a formal, working template or formula (but that's for another article). Because it takes a gifted photog to visually "feel" the balanced lines in formal posing with his unique vision and pull away with a gripping image, fully aware that the subjects' emotional expression as the crucial key in effective formal poses.

I personally knew of a couple in 1999 who hired a known wedding photog. The groom specifically instructed the photog that no formal poses-ever: strictly photojournalistic. After a few years married, the now-husband searches for any wedding photo with just him and his bride together, for which he intends to enlarged in print. But there was formals were done. Lesson: the market is not infallible. Remember McLean hamberger, New Coke, etcetera? These were top wish-lists of U.S. consumers in marketing research. But where are they now? And what about formal poses? Like, is the current Philippine president's formal portrait in Malacañang Palace obsolete? Not yet-I hope! LOL

Yours truly was fortunate to have learned formals from a pro photog in Ms. Janet Martin, (Miami, FL based). For as long as humans haven't drastically mutated with another arm, eye or head, traditional formal posing is here to stay, along with the others. Clients "dressed to kill" deserve at least a formal pose as "safe" starter, comprendo?

Personally, I find wacky shots ("fun shots" to our foreign market) effortless and require less discipline. Yes, there's a sweet science to fun shots too, bebe (another article)-thanks much Janet! Okay everyone-wacky shot now!!! XD

GEARTALK: Sigma 10-22mm f3.5 EX DC HSM

Here is an ultra-wide (UW) lens you may want on your APS-C sized camera: the chunky Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 EX DC HSM. It will work on any entry-level Nikon DSLRs. It's Php 30,000-plus price tag is half of what branded models sell for. The 10mm is like 15mm on full-frame SLRs and the view is sprawling. Wide open at f3.5 the far corners are soft, so I use f8 to improve the overall image quality. The photos below are interior shots of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati city for their new brochure. It's good enough for hi-res commercial advertising work and available light shooting.

In the last photo (above) I shot this outdoor event at 10mm f3.5. Central sharpness is very good but forget about the extreme corners. But if you can afford the Nikkor equivalent, then go for it. In photoghraphy-as in life in general-you get what you pay for.

German Jazz Festival At The Ayala Museum

For you jazz-ers out there here is a poster you may want to checkout. Just click the image above for details. Thanks again for this Leo!

IMHO: Launch of In My Humble Opinion Section

Introducing my editorial section entitled: In My Humble Opinion or IMHO. Here, yours truly will express personal opinions on sundry matters affecting my photography and life in general. So sit back and relax as you will be treated to some of Joe-isms heh, heh, heh! But haven't I been writing about that in this blog already? In the above-mentioned section, I intend to be more intense in an attempt to arrive at a truth by typing on my keyboard. Happy reading folks!

Freebies: Cultural Cinema For You At The SDA

Looking for something different? Something fresh and free? The School of Design and Arts (SDA) has free movies for the public. Checkout this poster emailed to me by Leo Santos, my boss-thanks sir! Let's not forget to appreciate the cinematography in all the movies we watch. Even though some movie scripts may suck, chances are that they've got composition, lighting and transitions head on! As for moi all movies help my photography and lighting a lot. So let's not look down on free movies-of which we can pickup a few cinematography techniques. Truly, some of the best things in life are free.

GEARTALK: Nikon D5000 (Ahem!)

Some online camera reviewers fail to extol mightily the pivoting LCD of the Nikon D5000. Perhaps they should shoot for a year with this DSLR for a living so as to appreciate this feature. But for a wedding photographer like moi I find this addition (along with live-view) absolutely useful for those difficult camera angles. Moreover, I can use old MF lenses like my Nikkor 55mm f2.8 Micro (photo above). The superiority of Nikon's live-view enables moi to focus MF Nikkors and fine tune focus via zoom-in capable! If I nit-pick again: full-HD, 5.1 audio out, VGA LCD, manual hybrid sensor shutter, video focus tracking, lower price tag, yadda, yadda...

St. Scholastica Food Photography Demo

The Federation Of Philippine Photographers Foundation invited me to demo food photography shooting to the students of St. Scholastica College in Manila. The Olympus marketing team was our sponsor so they demonstrated some Oly cams like the Pen and a shock-proof and water-proof P&S. What frazzled me was the shot list of all the five chocolate and pastries the students prepared for me to shoot within less than 45 minutes! Whew! That was the fastest food photography I ever did! I prefer to avoid being hyper-stressed. LOL

19th IWFF At The UP Film Institute

The 19th International Women's Film Festival was celebrated at the University of the Philippines' Film Institute in Diliman, Quezon city this month. The movie "Courting Justice" was featured by the South African Embassy and local artists like Gina Pareño and Olivia Lamasan were awarded the Diwata awards. And recently the Oscars of Hollywood awarded the first-ever female film director. Women's creativity have come a long way bebe! The cocktails were excellent and fruit juices from South Africa were served along with the best spirits. 'Twas a pleasure shooting this event. Cheers ladies!

Rhean At Sweet 16 And Sweeter

Here's the lovely Rhean Share at 16 years young. She is considered "one-of-the-boys" but her statuesque beauty is sweetly projected everytime she talks and moves. She has no boyfriends...yet. Her birthday was celebrated at the Corinthian Garden's elegant club house in Pasig-Ortigas. The evening was filled with food, fun and friends discovering their new-found alcoholic limits heh, heh heh! Happy sweet sixteen Rhean! Just watch out for suitors Rhean, eh.

Teaching and Judging at the FPPF

As some of you know, I spend some of my time teaching photography at the FPPF in Intramuros and judge participants' hundreds of photographs in several categories. The five judges in assessment are (top photo, L-R): Prof. Joey Tanedo (UP Fine Arts) George Cabig (premier landscape photog), moi, Ed Santiago (veteran photojournalist) and Dean Lito De Guzman (FEU Fine Arts). Sometimes top commercial photographer John Chua (bottom photo) would pop in one of my lecture sessions to showcase his latest portfolio. Here he breaks the news that ShoeMart (SM) has agreed to sponsor a nationwide photography event for the disabled under the auspices of the FPPF. Among his advocacies, John passionately promotes autism awareness. Keep up the good work John! (Photos by Cris Malinao)