Monday, May 4, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #34

This week's theme: ASKALS

Before I go on my 3 week vacation (with my kids), I want to leave you with one last set of photos...
When you walk on the streets of Metro-Manila you will surely come across an Askal (short for Asong Kalye: street dog or native mongrel). Often maligned and maltreated (sometimes even butchered as a delicacy), our native 'Dingos' are none the less considered to be the quintessential local symbol for the 'bad-ass' outsider or rebel. Our National Football Team proudly carries their name. So next time you meet one, throw him a bone, because you just came across a proud 'Pinoy!'  

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"Scraps Of Light"
"Hungry Like A Wolf"

--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #33

This week's theme: OVERHEAD SHOT 2 (Color)

Part 2 of last week's theme. I find the "Bird's Eye-View" of the world refreshing. It gives us a detached 'godlike' view of humanity from above, where we can observe ourselves more objectively. Here are a few some colored examples... 

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"Follow The Leader"
"Wi-Fi Central"

--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #32

This week's theme: OVERHEAD SHOT

I love taking pictures from above to punctuate my shooting routine. Viewing my subject overhead automatically refreshes my point of view and affords me a momentary pause to reassess my perspective on most photo projects I do. Here are a few examples in Black & White...   
(Click on Photos for better viewing)

"Human Ant Farm"

--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Friday, April 10, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #31

This week's theme: EASTER SUNDAY

Easter Sunday is a big day of celebration for Filipino families. Most traditional (elderly) Filipino Catholics literally believe that Jesus gets "reborn in spirit" each year on Easter, a spiritual regeneration parallel to the physical cycle of death and rebirth we find in nature.
I remember my grandfather being a member of a select group of initiates performing sentry duty in the church at midnight on Holy Saturdays to guard the corpse of Jesus (a life sized statue wrapped in a shroud) against theft, then proclaiming its disappearance before its eventual magical reappearance on the altar on Easter morning--testifying to the whole community on the miracle that just occurred!

Easter party time!
Easter Sunday in the Philippines is not all Catholic ritual. For more than a hundred years, after being colonized by the Americans, Easter Sunday has also been about bunnies and Easter Eggs-- the celebration of 'Spring,' ironically in a land that only has two seasons. After going to Easter Sunday mass, we traditionally party with our families.

After a period of sacrifice, fasting and abstaining, it's time to celebrate 'Life' once more... to the fullest... with the people we love!      

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"The Risen Christ"
"Easter Eggs and Cellphones"

--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #30

This week's theme: HOLY WEEK

Aside from Christmas, Holy Week is the most important period in this country's yearly Religious Calendar.  Being the third largest Catholic country in the world (after Brazil and Mexico), with more than 80% of the population baptized within the Faith, the whole country comes into a stand-still from Holy Wednesday until Easter Sunday. Everyone is on holiday-- most malls and restaurants are closed and everyone is expected to be in church.

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"Veneration of the Cross"

"Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam"

"Stations of the Cross"

--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Friday, March 27, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #29

This week's theme: STORE MANNEQUINS

I find mannequins to be wonderful objects to juxtapose in photographs. They give a surrealistic touch to what would otherwise be everyday scenes. Here are some examples. 

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"Wrong Way"

"Live Mannequin"
--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #28

This week's theme: COMMUTER BLUES

Commuting by public transportation in Metro-Manila has its own distinct flavor. Aside from the locally customized vehicles you will only find in this country, like the Jeepney and the Tricycle, we also have the normal ones like taxis, buses and trains. But no matter what type of vehicle you prefer, we do not necessarily follow strict passenger capacity or safety guidelines in this country... Speed and load limit are dictated only by the imagination:)) 
(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"Standing Room Only"

"One Too Many"

"The EDSA Drag Race"

--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Monday, March 16, 2015

The "Girl With A Pink Pony"

I would like to apologize for being remiss on blogging for the last few weeks. I've had back to back deadlines and I've also been busy with my kids.

In this part of the world, summer comes in March and both my kids had their end of the year tests in the last two weeks. Anne and I make it a point to tutor them personally, particularly our younger child. So between the test reviews and the horrendous traffic to and from their schools everyday, we almost had no free time to waste.
Apart from that and my regular work,  it was again submission time for most of the major indie film festivals in this region, so I was also busy with the applications-- writing and collating the requirements for my entries.

Lately, I have been ranting about the poverty that I personally encounter whenever I go out shooting on the streets of Metro-Manila-- how we, as Filipino street photographers, should not turn a blind eye on this graphic reality; to be unashamed to show the world the poverty that surrounds us, in our streets and in our neighborhoods. I believe that there is a pressing need to bring as much attention to this crisis, so that something can be actively done about it. So, aside from documenting this tragedy in my photography, I decided to write a screenplay on this topic too.

"Girl with A Pink Pony"

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My 2015 Oscar Predictions

Over the past several years, I have sporadically posted my pre-Oscar picks particularly when I believe that the year had a good selection of films in competition.
This year was an exceptional year for the movies, maybe because only the best non-blockbuster scripts gets funding beyond the slew of franchised animation, remakes, sequels, prequels, bestseller and comic book adaptations that come out from Hollywood these days.
Anyway, here are my picks for each of the major categories for the Academy Awards. I usually get 50% of them right. Let's see how I do tomorrow night:)
Postscript: The winners are out (my guess in red, actual winner in yellow). I got 8 out of the 14 categories I included here in this blog-- a 57% hit! I am getting better every year...
For some reason, I seem to be always in the money for Best Director and Best Cinematographer. I guess it just shows that I am really familiar with my chosen crafts ;)
American Sniper
Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Boyhood - winner
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Alejandro G. Inarritu - winner *
Richard Linklater
Bennett Miller
Wes Anderson
Morten Tyldum
Steve Carell
Bradley Cooper
Benedict Cumberbatch
Micheal Keaton - winner
Eddie Redmayne
Marion Cotillard
Felicity Jones
Julianne Moore - winner *
Rosamund Pike
Reese Witherspoon
Robert Duvall
Ethan Hawke
Edward Norton
Mark Ruffalo
J.K. Simmons - winner *
Patricia Arquette
Laura Dern
Keira Knightley - winner
Emma Stone
Meryl Streep
Emmanuel Lubezki - winner *
Robert Yeoman
Lukasz Zai/Ryszard Lenczewski
Dick Pope
Roger Deakins

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Photo Mural Commission - Part 3

"Trinity" an original photo-triptych by Atom Magadia

"To see a World in a grain of sand
and Heaven in a wild FLOWER
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
and Eternity in an hour..."
William Blake
"There is Nothing you can see
that is not a FLOWER..."
Matsuo Basho
"No more words
In the Name of this Place
we drink in with our breathing
Stay quiet like a FLOWER
so the Nightbirds will start singing..."
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

Beside the actual artwork

Friday, February 6, 2015

Canon's New High Resolution 5DS & 5DS R

My long wait is finally over! Canon just came out with cameras I actually want... and need.

The new Canon EOS 5DS R and its twin 5DS

As a commercial studio and fine-art photographer, image resolution is critical to my work. The last time I was this excited about a camera was 13 years ago when the Canon EOS-1Ds first came out; arguably the 1st successful full-frame DSLR, after the pioneering Contax N Digital failed. Its successor, the 1Ds Mark II, has been giving me wonderful high quality images for my magazine and newspaper assignments ever since.  But I still have to rent digital backs for my Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID and my Sinar P2 whenever I have high-resolution (Billboard Advertising, Wall Mural) projects. Not any more... 
The Canon 5Ds and 5DS R are 50.6 Megapixel, full-frame DSLRs!
The two new high-resolution models are exactly alike, except for the absence of the Low-pass filter on the 5DS R model. Both are equipped with a newly designed 50.6 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with dual Digic-6 processors; a 61 point High Density Reticular Auto Focus; full HD (1920 x 1080) 30p video with time-lapse function; continuous shooting up to 5 fps; dual card slots (1 CF + 1 SD); an intelligent viewfinder with 100% coverage; a 3.2 inch Clear View II LCD monitor (170 degree viewing angle, 1,040,000 dot VGA); and a magnesium-alloy body. Additional features include an EOS Scene Detection System with a 150,000 pixel RGB+IR Metering Sensor for more accurate exposures; an advanced mirror control mechanism and selectable shutter release time lag that helps suppress camera vibration for added image clarity; an Anti-flicker function to compensate for flickering light sources and assist in acquiring consistent exposure and color; and user selectable 1.3x and 1.6x crop capabilities for added flexibility. The normal ISO range for both cameras is 100-6400, with expanded speeds up to 12800-- pretty decent for studio applications.
The absence of the Low-pass filter on the 5DS R is an option reserved for specialized applications that need extra-crisp focus, like high-resolution advertising, landscape and fine art photos. There have been a lot of Canon users in the past couple of years who have experimented with removing the LPF from their stock 5D and have claimed an improvement on their camera's sharpness and overall resolution. Canon is now offering that option in the 5DS R.
To everyone familiar with my blog, you all know that I just recently acquired my fourth complete digital camera system (Fuji X) for my everyday "Street" and travel work so I do not have the budget this year for this camera. But I am dusting my Canon Lenses in anticipation... 
I am also anxiously awaiting the launch of the 5D Mark IV, the successors to the 1Dx and 1Dc models, as well as the "mystery Canon camera" that has been rumoured (3D?). But for my current needs, these two models are already sufficient. Thank you Canon!!!!

Here is a video by the Canon Digital Learning Center on the 5DS and the 5DS R:

--Images and video taken from Canon, USA    

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekly Street Photos #27

This week's theme: MANILA'S HOMELESS - 2

Photographs of the "homeless" (Manila's Homeless, Manila's Urban Aetas), can be offensive to some people. But ever since I started shooting on the actual streets of Metro-Manila, my camera refuses to turn away from a reality that readily greets me anywhere I look.
In the Philippines, a third-world country, you would have to be blind not to notice the reality of poverty everywhere you go-- particularly in the urban areas. There are a lot of people in this country who look negatively at photographers and filmmakers who highlight these scenes of desperation, citing that we propagate the negative image our country is getting internationally. But try as I might, I can never turn my eye away from this problem,  which constantly assaults not only my conscience but also my very humanity.
When the Pope visited the Philippines two weeks ago, I was appalled to learn that the government's Department of Social Welfare and Development deliberately evacuated homeless families from the city streets, in an effort to rid Manila of its unsightly vagrants. The DSWD spent P4.3 million to accommodate 490 homeless families in an expensive beach resort for 6 days (until the Pope left)-- using valuable funds to sweep the problem under the rug, instead of using it to actively help these people get more decent dwellings. It's scandalous!

So I am now posting more photos to make it clear to everyone out there, that thousands of these homeless souls live in our city streets. It is seldom shown or acknowledged, but no real "Manila-based Street Photographer" should ever deny this.   

(Click on Photos for better viewing)
"Central Living And Customized Lifestyle"

"Dumura Dito (Spit Here)"
"Light And Shadow In Yellow"

--All Photos are the exclusive property of Atom Magadia

Friday, January 23, 2015

Photo Mural Commission - Part 2

After shooting flowers in my studio last week, I tweaked and converted my RAW shots in Adobe Lightroom, then proceeded to edit the images in Adobe Photoshop to create the mural's abstract collage files.
Anne (my wife/business partner) and I spent the whole week gathering proposals and bids from a dozen of the Manila's premier digital printers. But we still ended up using our regular large format contractor Pixografx, because no one else was able to match their quality, reliability and professionalism (a rare virtue in these parts), specifically when it involves dimensions of this size-- 4 x 6.5 feet.
We met with them yesterday, to proof and finalize the print...      
Discussing the nuances of the art-piece with imaging expert Rain Lacson...

When I was asked to do this mural and was told to come up with the art, I originally proposed doing nudes (w/ one or two models) in a surreal composition. But it was flatly rejected. The clients countered that the commissioned artwork will be prominently displayed in their dining room, so they would prefer a less controversial piece-- preferably something less upsetting to their gastronomic sensibilities.

Test printing on different papers to get the right texture and ink clarity.
During one of our meetings, the clients mentioned admiring my "Butterfly" series, which features flowers and insects. Unfortunately, most of those images were shot ten years ago with a low-resolution camera and would not work with the size of the proposed mural. So I suggested shooting new high-resolution floral images for the project without the butterflies (w/c would require field work and more time), and they happily agreed.
Anne helping me  proof for printing...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Photo Mural Commission

I have been locked up in my studio doing flower photography, so I do not have much to show in terms of "Street" work this week.
Pope Francis arrived yesterday for an official visit and Metro-Manila is on holiday for several days (in anticipation of traffic), which gave me unexpected time-off to begin work on a mural project. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic nation and the presence of  the Vicar of Christ in our country has been known to cause wide-spread hysteria, coupled with mass public congregations.
"Look Mom, It's Pope Francis!"
I recently received a commission to do a fine-art photo mural for a private residence (4 feet by 6.5 feet), so I am experimenting with some flower photography because the client expressed a fondness for floral art. I still have to figure out what to do in the final collage-- which I will eventually assemble in Photoshop (possibly with other elements), so there is nothing definite yet. But here is a sampling of some of the raw shots that came out from the shoot...