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of nudes and snakes...

Posted by Au Lim On Monday, July 28, 2008 2 comments
last week, i encountered a post about an upcoming nude photography seminar: SPPP Nudes--The Artist's Way. hmmmm...title pa lang, sounds interesting already. especially to one like myself who has been scouting around for a nudes photo opportunity ever since I saw OWG's very first Nude seminar which i missed by a few days. problem was, that week was so busy at work and i wasn't sure if i'd be available on the Saturday that the SPPP seminar was scheduled.

however, i knew i wouldn't sleep well if i let this by. i just had to go. especially since it costs so little. i thought the P1000.00 fee was just too cheap to let it pass. so just a day before, i decided that i would have to go. i managed to reshuffle schedules and there i was at 9am on Saturday at the Philippine Columbian. it was being taught by another distinguished photographer, Mr. Ibarra Deri who teaches a similar course for P7,000 at PCCI. i knew i would kick myself if i missed it.

me, trying the snake on for size... hehehe...i wasn't really afraid of them but i was quite wary...and they tickle!

the day started out with some light lecture, some samples of Mr. Deri's amazing work and demos from Ynzal and Digiprint. i couldn't help but feel it was a promotional stint. but hey, what can one expect from such a low price. besides, even their promotions were informational. just before lunch, the models arrived: 1 male (yey! finally!) 2 ladies and 3 snakes! woohooo! super exciting. but apparently, not for the 2 lady models. they were deathly scared of their reptilian counterparts! well,at least, at first. Mr. Boy S., president of SPPP, had funny magician antics that eventually put them at ease. it seems he has more than photography talents under his sleeve! "wag ka mag-alala" he'd say, "di naman ito totoong snake, may batteries ito e." he'd also squeeze the snake's body gently and an unseen squeaky toy sounds off in unison! how he does it is a mystery to me. but it was totally hilarious.

we had lunch, a choice between a fish or a chicken dish. and it was a complete meal at that, it started with soup, the main meal, and there was a sweetened fruit dessert. again, not shabby at all for a P1000K tuition. the photoshoot was set to start after lunch. there was chatting for a while as we waited for the models make-up job to complete. the first model to pose for the eager photogs was Ivan, the male model. i would have to say he was my favorite among the 3 models (not including the snakes). he was very professional and had poses that would truly inspire any photographer. even his shaved head adds to the drama!

"A Cryin' Shame"
this is my favorite among my shots. i liked it so much i finally had the guts to enter it at JPG Mag so if you have time to click, i would appreciate a vote here:

the 2 lady models followed but i think they were too distracted with the snakes to really cultivate their full potential. but nonetheless, i think the shots still came out pretty good and they still truly inspired the male photographers :-D

also one of my favorite captures! i really don't think any of the photogs there had any fantasies for the lovely, sexy model in all her naked glory beyond getting their f-stops and the shutter speeds right for the ideal shot! :-D

all in all, it was an absolutely exciting photography day. too bad for me i had to go back home early since i had to get ready for a good friend's party. i knew i'd be skinned alive if i missed it or came too late for it so i missed the on-the-spot photo contest where some nice prizes were at stake too. i didn't feel bad at all for leaving early, though, because i got what i came for in the first place: the chance to see if i had the guts to shoot bare-naked models and to add some of fine art nude photos to my portfolio. truly a day (and P1K) very well spent!

"Primal Vision"


i shot in RAW this time just to try it so it takes longer for me to process. will upload them on my Multiply and Flickr sites as soon as i sort and process them.

below are some more photos from my totally cool "nude and snakes" day:

the lecturer, Mr. Deri, manhandling the model :-D

Ivan, our talented male model, in the make-up process

fellow photographer Dennis, hangin' with the snake...

another kooky fellow photographer posing with our reptilian model.
don't know which is scarier, him or the snake :-D
thanks for posing, Winston :-D you're a great sport!

the micky nikky!

Posted by Au Lim On Thursday, July 24, 2008 1 comments
it's here! finally, just today! it was such a long 15 days waiting for my Ebay purchase to arrive at the local post office... i kept checking the post office for it, i even beat the notice's arrival at my door. as soon as i heard it has landed, i was there in less than an hour.

so it's here now and i couldn't be happier with my new toy. it's a preowned, circa late-1970's 55mm Micro Nikkor f3.5 AI! looks like it's in pretty good condition for it's age, too. yey! my first REAL macro lens ever! i opted to get this baby for 2 reasons: firstly, i cannot afford the macro lens on my wishlist yet (which is the Micro Nikkor 105mm f2.8 VR). secondly, this is one of the lenses that, they say, has a reputation for making the Nikon brand legendary. i can see why already. i love the color and the contrast it produces. and most of all, it's tack sharp. i actually think it's even sharper than my nifty fifty (the cute nickname they call the 50mm prime, which are actually pretty sharp glass). there is an f2.8 version of it but it is the f3.5 that has the rep for sharpness so it was the one i put my bids on. i guess it IS good because it even has it's own group on Flickr.

this is the first test shot i took off the lens. just my messy desk (ok, perhaps i should have aimed elsewhere.) but check out how sharp it is and how saturated the colors are. no post prod here. click to enlarge and see the details better.

then i reaimed and refocused and took a macro of the 50mm on the desk. still decently sharp despite being handheld at shutter speed of 1/25... and i don't have steady hands. bet it would be sharper on a tripod.

this is a photo my other lens--the 50mm f1.8. this shot was taken with the newly arrived 55mm micro. compare it with the photo of the micky nikky above, taken with this 50mm prime. which is sharper?

lucky for me, i won this at a low price too! USD$77 (+ $40 for the shipping to here). most of those that closed at Ebay at the time i was bidding were closing at around $100 already. i actually tried sniffing around at Hidalgo first but wasn't lucky enough to find a copy of it, although M20 there says they do occasionally have one of these for sale. it think it's really a great deal for lenses with such superior optics. of course, that is if one doesn't mind the totally manual controls--no autofocusing, no metering, and i was surprised that even the aperture can only be controlled via the aperture ring. but of course, since what i have is a D40, it could also be that a better cam like a D200 (or my dream D300) will at least meter with it.

how can i complain though. i was only too happy to have stumbled upon the info that this is THE alternative for someone with no budget for the more expensive macro. and even if i eventually get one, i'll probably still keep this just for the nostalgia.

already positioning for the next purchase: cheap extension tubes (P880 bucks!) to increase my focal length. hoping to capture a portrait of some fly or bug next up :-D

oh where, oh where...

Posted by Au Lim On Wednesday, July 23, 2008 2 comments
is that little cat now... oh where, oh where can she be?...

took this photo a few weeks back. now, i miss her when i see it.

the nursery rhyme is playing over in my head. although the subject was originally a dog, it is one of our pusa-kals that is missing. i've never really minded our pusa-kals (i.e. pusang kalye or street cat :-)) comings and goings. we've had several over the years and it seems, they drift in and out, often going missing for days on end (especially the males) presumably looking for...uhmmm...primal calls, or a better kitchen. they usually come back after days or weeks, sometimes never but i do not really mind. they are free. however, i have grown attached to Isidra. she's been with us since she was a kitten and she's special because among all our cats, she is the most docile and has a sweet little voice. she has resigned herself to being either my hubby's stress toy (he likes mushing her up quite a bit) and Tashi's squeeze toy. Tashi is our shih tzu. he likes playing around with Isidra, giving her lovebites on her backside but she almost never runs away. just sort of gives a token squeak. she actually enjoys it like a massage because if she chose to run away, the dog will never catch up to her. Tashi, on the other hand, just enjoys their play because it probably makes him feel alpha-ish.

however, Isidra has not been seen for the past 4 days and i am getting worried. she almost never goes missing for days. she likes Tashi's dog food too much to stay away for this long. i hope she's okay and would come back soon. i miss her.


yesterday afternoon, i stood up from the computer to look out the window. i noticed the light streaming in from the sunset which was very orange. i love orangey sunsets so i grabbed my camera and went to our small balcony. however, once there, my other 2 cats wanted to play with me. i ended up taking photos of them instead. or, at least, i attempted to. this one is of Ashley, our 8-year old Persian. no photos of Purrkins (the other Persian) because he was so into playing he just kept rubbing on to me and the lens! and so i have come to the conclusion (yet again!) that pets are subjects that are sooooooo hard to get photos of. tried it with Tashi some time ago... posing them is out of the question!

meeting mr. hendra

Posted by Au Lim On Wednesday, July 09, 2008 2 comments
Friday evening last week, i went to my first PCP (Photographers' Club Philippines) meeting at the OWG Workshop in Makati. when i arrived, i was a bit late, way past 7pm, but was in time to catch the talk being given by Mr. Hendra Lauw, an Indonesian-Singaporean photographer who is currently in the Philippines. i listened intently but my eyes can't help but be drawn to the beautiful portraits and landscape shots on the wall which were actually part of the ongoing exhibit of photos by Mr. Hendra at the OWG Gallery.

he gave wonderful tips on capturing portraits. it was right on the money for me because i am a fan of portraiture. as a matter of fact, the latest book i just purchased was Beyond Portraiture by Bryan Peterson (another of my favorite authors) because i was hoping to learn more on doing people shots. as the talk progressed, he touched on the subject of post processing. of course, i grabbed the opportunity to ask some Q's. as per my memory, these are some of the questions i managed to ask him. the answers may not be verbatim, but i put the gist as much as i can translate from my memory.

1. do you think doing digital post processing (photoshop) is okay?
his answer: if Ansel Adams is okay with darkroom processing, such a dodging and burning, i don't see why photoshop will not be okay. it's just the same as the darkroom in film, only in digital. (see! my thoughts exactly :-D)

2. do you do this on your photos?
his answer: yes i do some burning and dodging... actually more of burning than dodging. i like it because it helps emphasize some details in the photo. he then proceeds to give us some tips on adjusting levels, saturation and sharpening. he even shows us where some adjustments were done on his own photos that were displayed at the gallery.

3. how much photoshop do you consider ok?
his answer: yes post processing is ok for as long as it is not over done. sometimes it is even needed because different cameras have different makes and settings. he then gave an example of how most digital cameras have an anti-alias filter and photos will come out softer than you would expect from one brand to another. "it's not your fault" he says. but even with photoshop, the photos should still look like how you would see it in reality. maybe within 80%-100% of reality is good. it's also another matter when you remove or add elements to a photo already because you have altered how it would be in reality.

Sir Ross interjects that photoshop should not be too much such that it may still be called Photography. otherwise, a lot of post processing done to a photo (if done well, methinks) perhaps even to the point of distorting reality, should not be called photography anymore. Rather, it is Digital Art already. (i think digital art is cool, too!) as a matter of fact Sir Ross, being an artist/painter as well as photographer, does a lot of these digital art also. see here. i guess the fine line then is drawn on whether a picture should be classified Photography or Digital Art. so i say, i'd love to do both! art is art. no matter how you classify it.

here are some quotations i think i shall post by my desk:

" There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs." ---Ansel Adams

"Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships." ---Ansel Adams

"The only things in my life that compatibly exists with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit." ---Ansel Adams

i'd give ole Ansel a high five for saying those, if i could. but he's probably busy telling God where the tonal mistakes are now.

and oh yeah, i also think Mr. Hendra Lauw had got himself a new fan. see his fab gallery here.

here are other photos from the PCP meeting last Friday. i was so engrossed with Mr. Lauw's talk, i forgot to take a photo of him :-D:

pizza and wine after the talk

members choosing the photo of the month

and the winner is...!

shuffling for a group shot, mr. hendra is fourth from the left


Posted by Au Lim On Friday, July 04, 2008 0 comments
just a few days ago, i was pleased to encounter a friend i haven't seen in a long time. i was even more pleased to find out he is just as crazy as photography as i am pala... even crazier perhaps since he was a photographer even before digital. "Talaga," i said. "i bet Nikon user ka..." and indeed, he is. we now have a new found camaraderie.

predictably, we chattered for a long time on the phone that day and several more times after that. at first, he was just asking me about how i watermark my photos. i taught him how i do it with Photoshop. consequently, our conversation drifted to other Photoshop talk. after i told to him some of my PS tricks, he jivingly accused me..."aha! photo-shop-grapher ka no?!"...well...YEAH!...i guess you can say that...

i find this kinda funny though, since he said it like i should feel guilty. this is reaction is not new to me since i've encountered photography purists (those who disdain photomanipulation of any kind) before. i have to agree with them, when it comes to photography--strictly speaking--most of the work should be done before the actual shoot takes place. this determines the skill of the photographer, technically and artistically. Sir Ross of OWG, once showed us a video of how David LaChapelle works and it is amazing to see him set up a concept shoot.

however, in the real world--or at least, in MY real world--i do not always have the means, the timing, or the opportunity to do a full scale concept shoot with all the bells and whistles of a pro like La Chappelle. and being a newbie, i do not have all the technical knowhow yet as well. but there is one tool i do have that i am not shying away from: Photoshop.

see, sometimes, i encounter moments that are just not clicker perfect. take for example the photo below. i shot it practically on the sly, when i do not have time to set the optimum camera settings for the light conditions at that time and place. i barely had 3 seconds to take an angle, steady my position and squeeze the trigger. then i had to move away.

unfortunately, i was coming from one location where i had set the white balance for flourescent lighting and moved to where i should have placed it to maybe shade or auto instead. 3 seconds was not enough to do it. after seeing i bummed out the white balance and that is was softer than i would have preferred, should i have just deleted it forever from my SD card? but, i love the subject on the photo i just took! so what's a photocrazy girl supposed to do? photoshop it, of course. the resulting photo was practically how i saw it originally too. (okay, maybe with a bit more saturation in there also...:-D)

should i feel guilty that i had to photomanipulate it? hey, even film photographers have their darkroom techniques. what's wrong with using the digital equivalent of one?

so, if and whenever, i want the challenge of no post-processing--which i know is good for honing straight photography skills--all i have to do is just that: don't post-process. i can simply try to get my settings right from the get go. but there are no rules that says i should NOT post-process (unless they are contest rules!) specially during times when it is needed. also, when i need a bit of artsy effects in my boring life (haha!), i love to create my own reality with photoshop!

i seriously think doing PS manipulation is an art by itself. and this is why i try to learn more and practice it. i would love to be as good as the some of the artists whose photos i see on Flickr. perhaps the key is knowing HOW to use it well and WHEN to use it and not use it as a crutch all the time. i also think employing PS with photography is akin to adding cream to your coffee. it just adds to it a different flavor and dimension. of course, one person may prefer to take their coffee black, maybe even grow the right coffee bean for that cup of java and consider that the art of it, too. i also agree. however, i'm also the Starbucks afficionado. i like to take my coffee every which way. sometimes, straight up and sometimes...with all the frills.

blue circa 1950's Buick at the Transport Show
other than the watermark and minor cropping,
NO post-processing

{btw, speaking of Starbucks, my current favorite is the frappucino variety, dark choco mocha with bits of chocolate and a double helping of whipped cream. just in case you wanna buy me a grande...hehehe...}

Photo Essay