Sunday, December 11, 2011

Grounded 1: Meditations On The Terra Firma

Ribbon-cutting for "Grounded 1" last Dec. 7

I have been a practicing Photographer for more than thirty-three years.  Photography started out as a hobby at the age of eleven, and it has been a constant presence in my life ever since.

When I turned professional five years ago, I decided to keep a part of my photography personal and experimental.  “Grounded: Meditations on the Terra Firma” is my first Series dedicated to the original impulse I had when I received my first camera -- to explore the medium of Photography and to use it to see our world in a different way.

I decided to start this personal (experimental) photographic journey at its core.  Light, shadow, texture, line, shape, color and composition comprise the most basic elements of the visual arts -- the fundamental building blocks of Photography.  “Grounded: Meditations on the Terra Firma” is pure photography, concentrated on the most essential elements of the Art.  All the photographs in this Series were shot as is, without photo manipulation.*

Beside the "Grounded" Exhibit poster in Ayala Museum

I opted to use a simple camera from the onset, devoid of any controls, to force myself to focus on these crucial elements.  I ended up using an IPhone, instead of my Holga or my Polaroid cameras, because my cellphone is always with me.  It is the modern day counterpart of the Polaroid and the Instamatic camera, and everyone is familiar with it (very few remember what Polaroids are).  After all the camera, no matter how simple or complex, is just a gadget that captures images.  It is our ability to ‘See’ and delight in what we see that dictates what we photograph.

“Grounded: Meditations on the Terra Firma” is also my initial foray into Abstract Photography.  Inspired by the avant garde work of Aaron Siskind, I wanted to retrace the possibilities of  Abstract Expressionism in Photography.  Siskind deliberately obscured his subject matter by concentrating on form, texture and simple visual elements to push Photography into the realm of abstraction; Simple and direct, without employing elaborate tricks and gadgets.  Upon discovering the possibilities of abstraction Siskind exclaimed, “For the first time in my life subject matter as such, has ceased to be of primary importance.  Instead I found myself involved in the relationships of these objects, so much so that the pictures turned out to be deeply moving and personal experiences.”

Preparing the Prints for the exhibit

I was walking down Hollywood Blvd. one afternoon, when it dawned on me that the pavements on this street are probably the most photographed side-walks in the whole world -- Pavements normally ignored, but have transcended the mundane by virtue of the names and hand/footprints of the media celebrities imprinted on them.  Why not photograph regular pavements and celebrate them in the same manner?  Aaron Siskind had a series of photographs of ‘tar-marked asphalt roads (his last Series 1986-88),’ which he elevated into Abstract Art -- because they contain interesting calligraphic-like elements that most people overlook.  Since Siskind’s photos were mostly in Black & White, I became excited by the thought of doing mine in color -- a small but significant variable that can heighten visual impact.

“Grounded No. 1” was born.  Seventeen different Los Angeles Cities ‘abstracted’ in a quatrain of photographs like the stanza of a poem ...distilled from the most basic visual elements of the ground we work and play on.  Gravity grounds us to the earth and nothing is more constant in our lives than the firmament beneath us.  Art exists around us, if we just took the time to ‘Look and See.’  “Grounded” is my photographic meditation on the Terra  Firma, the terrain we live and walk on.

*Technical Notes - I used an IPhone App. called ‘Camera Bag’ in the ‘Lolo’ setting to heighten saturation -- a digital approximation of Medium Format Color Reversal Film (square format). But the pictures remain as they were originally shot (no tweaking in Photoshop), with color gradations reflecting the natural daylight color temperature shifts during the time of the day they were captured. No special lenses or attachments were used.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My 1st Solo Exhibit: "Grounded in the Old Manila International Airport"

My new Fine Art Photo Series - "Grounded," will finally be shown to the public.  This first installment of an ongoing Series, is a collection of 18 Art Prints featuring photographs of Los Angeles County streets assembled in a quartet.  Inspired by the avant garde photography of Aaron Siskind, "Grounded" revisits the possibilities of Abstract Expressionism in photography, using the most elemental ingredients of light, shadow, color and texture.

The Prints will be on display from December 4 (Aaron Siskind's bday) to January 6 in the Filipinas Heritage Library, the historic 1930s Manila International Airport in the heart of Makati (the Philippines' central financial district).  The venue was the country's first international airport and served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army Airforce during World War II.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Ultimate Camera - RED Scarlet X

When I found out about this... I couldn't wait to blog about it too!

RED Digital Cinema has finally unveiled its long promised "ultimate camera," the RED Scarlet X, immediately after Canon annouced its new EOS C300.  The Scarlet has been hinted about for more than 3 years, but has not been formally launched until a few days ago.  In the wake of Canon's reveal, RED immediately responded with the Scarlet X to douse the excitement building around the EOS C300 -- The Scarlet X will be retailing at half the price (9K + to the C300's 20K) and will be available by December (the C300 will be available Jan. 2012).  These are exciting times indeed!

I call the Scarlet X the ultimate camera, because it can be used for both professional still photography and cinematic videography -- like the new generation DSLRs, but for high-resolution (4K) pro-cinema grade applications.  The other professional grade digital cinema cameras currently in the market (including the new C300) are all dedicated motion picture cameras.

The RED Scarlet X looks really good on paper, capturing 5K stills (Redcode RAW) up to 12 fps and 4K motion resolution to 30fps.  The camera is modular and is adaptable to any shooting scenario, be it still or motion, and can be fitted with an array of gadgets and accessories including multiple lens mounts (the camera comes standard with either a Canon EF or PL mounts). 

The RED Scarlet X configures both as a still or motion picture camera

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Canon Enters Pro-Cinema - EOS C300

When I found out about this, I couldn't wait to blog about it!

As a hybrid photographer/cinematographer I was somewhat personally disappointed by the new Canon 1DX that came out a couple of weeks ago.  It is impressive for what it can do (perfect for wildlife, photojournalism and sports), but I felt that it somehow stood in the middle of nowhere... The fastest still Pro at this point, yes, but it is neither the fattest DSLR for high-end still photography nor the most capable Digital Cinematography camera out there.  I am heavily invested in Canon lenses, so I've been watching Canon camera (both still and video) development closely.

Enter the new Canon EOS C300, with a Super 35mm CMOS sensor.  It uses a new DIGIC DV III Image Processor and 50Mbps 4:2:2 codec. Compact, modular and compatible with all existing EF and the new EF-Cinema lenses.  A PL-mount version is also available, the EOS C300 PL. 

Modeled after the Super 35mm 3-perf motion picture film, the C300's CMOS has an active image size of 24.4 x 13.5mm, smaller than the 5D Mark II (and the 1DX), but slightly bigger than the 7D (and the 60D).  6.4 x 6.4 micrometer photosites (photodiodes), with individual lenses, efficiently gather light.  Proprietary technologies embedded in each photosite simultaneously lower the image sensor's noise floor, while enhancing the photon capacity of the photodiode resulting in an impressive dynamic range.  

The sensor also employs an innovative readout technique that delivers full bandwidth individual RGB video components without debayering algorithms.  Each of these components has a 1920 (H) x 1080 (V) sampling structure at up to 60 frames. From the original video component, a 1080-line 60i format or a 1280 (H) x 720 (V) at 60P HD format are selectively derived.

The EOS C300 CMOS is the first Canon CMOS sensor designed for high frame-rate motion picture applications.  With its large Super 35mm sized sensor and the DIGIC DV III Processor this camera has a remarkably high signal to noise ratio, capable of delivering cinema quality images with superb detail and high dynamic range even with minimal light.

The camera also has a special Canon Log mode within the DIGIC III RGB video processing system, which enables the Cinematographer to manually set exposure values to fine-tune his or her footage for post-production purposes similar to the current DI process.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Aaron Siskind - Abstract Expressionist

Aaron Siskind was a photographer with a Graphic Artist's "Eye."  Best known for his Abstract Expressionist photographs, he was associated with the Abstract Expressionist School of New York (art movement) in the 1940s and 50s -- which included close friends Franz Kline, Barrett Newman, Adolph Gottlieb, and Mark Rothko.

He worked as a high-school english teacher, before receiving his first camera as a honeymoon gift -- igniting a life-long passion for Photography .  He started his photographic career as a documentarian in the New York Photo League, creating photo-essays of political importance including Harlem Document, Dead End: The Bowery, Portrait of a Tenement, and St. Joseph's House: The Catholic Worker Movement. In the early 1940s, his work shifted to the abstract and metaphoric.  During a trip to Martha's Vineyard, Siskind began approaching still objects from a very intimate range, framing them up-close so as to underscore the formal qualities of their lines, colors, and textures. This newer, more abstracted work was well received, and he was invited to show his work at the Charles Egan Gallery, in the company of many Abstract Expressionist painters.

With Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Andre Kertesz 

Siskind joined fellow photographer and friend Harry Callahan in the Institute of Design in Chicago, where he became the Head of the Photography Program when Callahan left.  He help found the Society for Photographic Education in 1963, then reunited with Callahan at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he continued to teach until his retirement in 1976.
Aaron Siskind's Abstract Expressionist Photographs (particularly his "The Road" series) have influenced me greatly.  As a whole, I believe they represented the next logical shift of Photography as a fine art during the analog era.  Deliberately obscuring his subject matter by simply concentrating on form, texture and simple visual elements, Siskind was able to push photography into the realm of abstraction-- Simple and direct, without employing elaborate tricks and gadgets.  In this era of digital excess, we can learn a lot from this photographic master and genius.  All you really need is your imagination and vision (your innate ability to "See") to create stunning works of Art.

Here are some examples of his work:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Canon DSLR Flagship: 1DX

Canon, Inc. just introduced its newest "flagship" professional DSLR model, the EOS 1DX. It succeeds both the 1Ds and the 1D lines, combining the best of both worlds -- high-quality image with high-speed capture. The "X" in 1DX designates the cross-over or the merging of Canon's two pro digital lines; "X" also represents the 10th generation of professional DSLRs from Canon; and finally, "X" stands for X-treme.

The new camera uses not just 2, but 3 separate processors (2 DIGIC 5) to deliver full-resolution RAW or RAW+JPEG images at 12 fps, with a high speed choice of 14 fps at JPEG mode.  One sensor (DIGIC 4) is dedicated to the new 61 point high-density Reticular Auto Focus (41 cross-type points) and the 100,000 pixel ambient/flash RGB metering sensor, which gives the 1DX lightning speed focus and exposure accuracy capable of tackling the most demanding action and motion shots.

The new full-frame 18 megapixel (5184 x 3456 pixels) sensor features gapless microlenses and larger individual pixels (1.25 microns larger than the 1D Mk IV and .55 larger than the 5D Mk II). This gives the 1DX an ISO range of 100-51200, with an extended range of a low 50 and 2 high option -- to a maximum of 204,800.  This camera guarantees sharp low-noise images even in the most dimmest conditions.

The video capabilities of the camera have also been upgraded.  It is capable of 1080/30p/25p/24p HD video capture, with options for 720/60p/50p as well.  Downsampling errors as well as moire have also been reduced.  The 4GB file system limit has been improved with an automatic file splitting function, giving the camera almost 30 minutes of continuous video capture.  It also supports both intraframe (ALL-i) and interframe (IPB) compression, to aid post-production and editing workflows.  The camera supports two SMPTE-compliant timecode embedding (Rec Run and Free Run) to ease syncing multiple cameras in post.  It also supports manual audio control, with an option for external stereo microphone.

Canon also redesigned the shutter mechanism with lighter carbon fiber blades, making it more faster and more durable.  It is rated at 400,000 cycles.

For more information on the other new and improved features this camera has, please go to   

Here is a video of the New EOS 1DX:

--Photos from  Video from by BryanMumble.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs Dies at 56

Steve Jobs - computer icon, media innovator and Apple Computer co-founder, died early today at age 56 after battling pancreatic cancer for several years.  He stepped down last August after handing the reins of the company to current Apple CEO, Tim Cook.  A Beatles fan, Steve named the computer company he co-founded with Steve Wozniak after the Rock group's Apple Records label. 

An innovator, more than an inventor, Steve changed the media landscape forever with masterful products like the Apple II - the first commercially successful personal computer, the Macintosh - the first commercially viable graphical user interface PC, the iMac and the Powerbook - which changed how computers are packaged, the iPod - which transformed digital music players, iTunes which revolutionized how music is sold, the iPhone - that defined the next generation of smart phones and finally the iPad - which has created a new and growing segment in the PC industry.  Aside from these, he was also the founder and CEO of Pixar Animation Studios (sold to Disney in 2006), which led the digital animation Features revolution we are currently enjoying.

An uncompromising perfectionist, Steve orchestrated his products from the development and design phase, all the way to its packaging and marketing strategy.  His pursuit for aesthetic perfection bordered on the extreme.  He is famous for his "insanely great" aesthetics in product design and packaging; his Apple Stores are some of the most striking retail outlets anywhere in the world; he even insists on beautifying the insides of his computers.  Infamous for immersing himself into the smallest details, his meticulously planned onstage product unveils are legendary.

Steve Jobs was an iconoclast of the 1st degree, comparable only to Edison and Disney.  Like most legends, he was able to accomplish so much at such a short time.  He will be missed, and we can only speculate about the many other wonders he could have achieved given more time.  But his legacy continues on through his company (including Pixar), through his products and through his example - of a life lived to the fullest.  He truely exemplified what he preached, " Think Different."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

iPhone 4S

Apple just introduced the new iPhone 4S, the newly updated version of its popular smart phone.  As a photographer who uses the iPhone regularly as a camera (I've used all 4 previous models), I am happy to announce an upgrade on the camera of our favorite pocket/everyday phone-camera.

The camera on the iPhone 4S was upgraded to 8 megapixels from the 5 megapixels of the iPhone 4 (rear/main camera).  The lens was also improved to provide sharper and crisper images, with a slightly faster aperture of f/2.4 from the previous f/2.8.  The video capability was also increased from 30 fps 720p HD to 30 fps 1080p HD.

The other notable upgrades are the faster processor, new OS 5, better antenna (reception), higher capacity (new 64 GB model) and Apple's new talking voice activated task software, called Siri.

The iPhone 4S will be available in the US, Canada, Japan and most of Western Europe by October 14 and to 22 other countries by the end of October.

--photo taken from

Monday, September 26, 2011

Like Father Like Son

(photo by Anne Prado-Magadia)


My son, Ari (Renato III), turned 7 today.  We had a big party for him last Saturday in my parent's home.  Most of his classmates and friends attended, and everybody had great fun (one fell into the pool, another ran naked in the garden and a couple of them wrestled in the mud).

I am proud of my son, who is not only bright and artistic, but is also very popular.  He is funny and full of life.  He is also beginning to show some interest in photography, using his Nintendo DS to shoot and edit, and I am excited about it.

My son clowning around in my studio

I wanted to get him a real camera for his birthday, but decided to delay it for another year or two (to see if he really wants it).  I gave my daughter her own camera when she turned 6, but she hardly uses it.  Unfortunately it was in Pink, so my son would not touch it with a ten foot pole.  I do not want to force photography on him, anymore than I want to determine what he wants to be or to eventually do with his life.  But I am struggling hard to restrain my fatherly instincts to make him like what I like.  I guess it is just natural for any father... 

Instead of a card this year, I am also giving my son a 'birthday comicbook,' like what I gave my daughter a month ago ("10 Years Ago Today").  As a storyteller, I find it more natural and fun to say what I am feeling by telling a story (plus I really love this iPhone App. - I highly recommend it).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Spencer Tunick's Naked Art

A thousand plus naked volunteers flock to the Dead Sea

Last Saturday, September 17, one thousand two hundred people (men and women aged 20 to 60 years old) flocked to the Dead Sea in Israel to get their photos taken in the 'buff.'

Most Photographers are happy to have a camera and a nude model, but 44 year old Spencer Tunick likes his pictures populated by hundreds, if not thousands of naked and willing volunteers.  Referred to as "installations" by the artist, these epic nude photographs often feature an immense number of participants shot on scenic locations.

Photographer/Artist Spencer Tunick

A New York native, Spencer Tunick began photographing nudes in public locations in 1992.  Since then, he has taken his 'installations' all over the world.  According to him, "The body is always beautiful... It is a living entity...  It represents life, freedom, sensuality and it is a mechanism to carry our thoughts..."  His work has been documented in three HBO specials, "Naked States," "Naked World" and "Positively Naked."

Spencer directing his cast of thousands.

The Dead Sea shoot was Spencer's first 'installation' in the Middle-East and probably the only one ever.  The organizers timed the shoot to coincide with the voting of the Seven Natural Wonders of Nature contest, hoping to draw extra attention to the Dead Sea's declining water level.  According to them, the pictures will also give the world a different perspective of Israel, instead the images of war, tanks and terrorism regularly seen on the news.

Tunick directed his models with a megaphone.  There were four predetermined sets:  Models standing on the sea bed, models floating on the buoyant salt water, models waving to the camera and models standing on the shoreline to show how much the water has receeded in recent years.  The shoot took place from 6am to 8am, since the permit was only granted for that length of time.  

Orthodox Jews objected to the project from the beginning on moral grounds, especially since the chosen location is very close the known site of the ancient city of Sodom and Gomorrah.  So the organizers timed the shoot early Saturday morning, since most orthodox Jews will not take motorized transport from Friday night to Saturday Night.  Most of the models were ecstatic to be given a chance to be a part of history and Art -- the only compensation for their effort is a limited edition photograph of the experience.

Here are some examples of Spencer Tunick's "installations" in different cities throughout the years.  Please be aware that there are some graphically explicit images here.  Anyone under 18 should not click through.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy 172nd Anniversary to Photography

The Fathers of Photography: Louis Daguerre and William H. Fox Talbot

Happy World Photography Day to all my fellow photographers, photo enthusiasts, and shutterbugs!

Today marks the one hundredth and seventy second year since the invention of Photography.  172 years ago, Louis Daguerre and William H. Fox Talbot gave the world the ability to capture images.  We have come a long way technically (from chemical processes, we now capture light digitally), but the basic premise of Photography has remained the same -- "fragments of life (light) captured for our contemplation."

Even though we now work with digital sensors and are far removed from the primitive Calotype and Daguerrotype, we must never forget the genius of our predecessors who formulated the original "key" to unlock the mysteries of "light" and the magic of the photographic process.  Daguerre and Talbot's legacy to mankind is truly immeasurable (specially to Art and Science) and is "Wizardry" of the highest order.

Can you imagine a world without photographs (it will have devastating consequences for Science, not to mention Art)?  So it is just fitting for us to remember the origins of our Art today, August 19 and whenever we click our cameras (and our cellphones) to capture an image... for it is a precious gift that was presented to us 172 years ago, but continues to be relevant in our lives today, and into the future.

Monday, August 8, 2011

10 Years Ago Today

Ten Years Ago...        I became a father.  It was a defining moment for me.

Today, my daughter turned 10, so I decided to give her something different.  Instead of the traditional card, I decided to give her a "Birthday Comicbook," chronicling her first ten years of life (through my eyes of course) and to celebrate a decade of fatherhood.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interview: Esy Casey + "Jeepney"

Esy with "Thing With No Name" director and Co-Producer Sarah Friedland

Esy Casey is a 30 year-old Filipino-American filmmaker who has been making waves in the Indie film circle in the last 4 years.  A visual artist who also does graphics, illustration and photography, Esy loves telling stories and is genuinely interested in the lives and cultures of people from all over the world.

The daughter of a Filipina from Zambales and an Irish-American from Detroit (they met at the University of Chicago), she says that the "Jeepney" is the perfect metaphor for her (half Filipino, half American).  She was born in LA, but has lived in different cities growing up because of her parents' research work.

Esy is currently raising funds for her new film project, "Jeepney" - a feature-length documentary that chronicles the development of the Jeepney from a military relic to a "hotrod" mass transit vehicle.  The film will also contain vignettes of conversations and stories from drivers, passengers and policy makers to chart the iconic vehicle's uncertain future.

I interviewed Esy to give you a broader picture of the artist/filmmaker behind the "Jeepney" movie.

What made you become a filmmaker?

I fell into it in my mid-twenties, when my filmmaking partner Sarah asked me to shoot her film in South Africa (THING WITH NO NAME, 2008).

Did you make films when you were younger?

I've drawn since I can remember, and have been a photographer since my teens, but I'd never held a video camera before that first film.

I understand that you are also a graphic/visual artist. How has this influence your filmmaking?

Both share the same principles of composition, color theory, gesture and expression; it's all about subtle faces, emotions, visual cues that speak a thousand words, and catching them before they slip away.

Esy at work

Please discuss your photographic background.

My dad let me use his nice, heavy Nikon FE camera from the 70s since I was a teenager, and I loved understanding the mechanics of it, the winding and clicking and developing. It was a very material pleasure, something I wasn't sure would fulfill me with the moving picture. But I've always been attracted most to a sense of motion and rhythm in still photos and print design, and that was how I fell in love with cinematography. It tells a story, and can share a lifetime of someone else's experience in a matter of minutes, which is very exciting and can change your outlook on a certain area of the world, and in your own world.

What equipment do you use to shoot your films?

I use a Canon 7D, and sometimes a LitePanels Micro, but usually available light.

I read somewhere that you won an award?

I was nominated for the Wexler cinematography award for THING WITH NO NAME, and won a Book Design Gold Award with a group of fellow designers for the book SHOW ME HOW.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Last Space Shuttle + IPhone 4

The Space Shuttle Program's last flight blasted off yesterday in Florida for a 12 day mission to the International Space Station.  The lift-off of Space Shuttle Atlantis marks the end of America's 30 year old Space Shuttle program.  It has been a fruitful 30 years of labor, highlighted by the Hubble and the International space station, and I salute all the astronauts, engineers, scientists and support crews of NASA for a job well done!  Your work will benefit us all.

Here is brief video of that historical launch:

Here is a tribute video with Hi Def images of various shuttle launches:

Nothing combines photography and technology more perfectly than "space photography" -- the final frontier.  I happen to be an avid fan of both.

Speaking of technology, Space Shuttle Atlantis is carrying two IPhone 4s aboard its last mission loaded with the new SpaceLab App for iOS. The App is designed to utilize IPhone 4's cutting-edge capabilities including the 3-axis-gyro, accelerometer, retina display, cameras and A4 processor.

The IPhones will be used to conduct 4 experiments:
- An experiment will measure the distance and exact location of the iPhone in relation to the Earth’s center.
- Calibration of the three-axis gyro and accelerometer to make subsequent measurements more accurate.
- Calculation the longitude and latitude of the spacecraft multiple times to predict the spacecraft’s path of orbit.
- To monitor and categorize how radiation affects the iPhone.

The goal of the SpaceLab App is to gather as much data as possible now to aid in developing more advanced mobile applications in the future.

Here is a gallery of my favorite photographs from 30 years of Space Shuttle missions.  Enjoy!:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Big Canon (humorous email)

My big Canon

When it comes to Photography, my father and I hardly see "eye to eye."  He considers Photography the hobby that has taken over my life.  But he sent me this email today that had me in stitches.  For the first time ever, we connected (about photography) and I thought it was worth blogging about.

WARNING - subject matter might be offensive to some people.

Monday, June 6, 2011

iCloud and Photography

It is Apple Computer WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) time again and the tech world is abuzz with the latest Apple tech news. This is the annual event most IPhone and Mac lovers wait for, since it has been the traditional venue where the newest version of their favorite gadget is unveiled.  But this year, the company decided to delay the unveiling of their latest hardware to give centerstage to their newest platform dubbed "the iCloud."

In yesterday's keynote address, delivered by Apple chairman Steve Jobs, Apple announced a new free service called the "iCloud" (in obvious response to the recent "cloud" music services launched by Amazon and Google).  Like other "cloud" services or 3rd party online storage services, iCloud will synch user content from their device/s to servers in Apple's data centers, where it can be readily available and distributed to all the user's other devices.  But unlike similar online storage services, which just backup and centralizes data, "iCloud's" smart system offers some added features like: purchases from iTunes (Apps, music, media) will be mirrored on all your other devices (IPhone, IPad, IPod and computer), documents created and updated on any device will be automatically stored in iCloud and updated on all your other devices and photos (and videos) taken by an apple device or uploaded on a computer will automatically be available in your other devices for a short period of time via "Photo Stream."    

This is great news for photographers and photo enthusiasts worldwide. Aside from the obvious storage space service (5 GB is free not counting music, photos, apps and books), photos taken by Apple devices or photos downloaded from your digital camera to your computer (including PCs) can be instantaneously available to all of your devices, and will be stored in "iCloud" for 30 days.  This automatic feature will save us the hassle of manually backing up and uploading our photo files to our online servers or to our individual devices constantly.  As soon as I found out about this, my mind started to think of the different ways I can use "iCloud" for my own photography.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Winners of the 64th Festival de Cannes

The Jury headed by Robert De Niro

The controversy filled 2011 Cannes Film Festival ended yesterday with a Palme d'Or for Terrence Malick's  much talked about "The Tree of Life."  The eleven day (May 11 -22) festival of World Cinema also saw Jodie Foster's bizarre "The Beaver" starring Mel Gibson, Michel Hazanavicius' surprising black & white silent movie "The Artist," Lynne Ramsay's dark drama "We Need to Talk About Kevin," as well as "18 Days," 10 short films about the Egyptian revolution (that just happened 3 months ago), which resulted in the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.  But the biggest controversy involved a formal statement by the board of directors of the Festival declaring Lars von Tier persona non grata at Cannes, after the director openly declared (in a press conference) that he was a Nazi and was glad that he was not of Jewish heritage.

Here is a list of the 2011 Awardees:

Palme d'Or - "The Tree of Life" by Terence Malick

Grand Prix - "Once Upon A Time in Anatolia" by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, "The Kid with a Bike" by Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Best Director -  Nicolas Winding Refn for "Drive"

Jury Prize - "Poliss" by Maiwenn

Best Actor - Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"

Best Actress - Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia"

Best Screenplay - Joseph Cedar for "Footnote"

Palme d'Or for Short Film - "Las Acacias by Pablo Giogelli

Jury Prize - "Badpakje 46" by Wannes Destroop

Camera d'Or - "Las Acacias"

--Picture courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.  Trailer from

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rock Photographer Jim Marshall

The master at work

Influences to our own photography comes from a wide variety of sources depending on our inclinations.  I count Jim Marshall as one of my main influences, not only because of my interest in 'Rock/Music Photography' as a specific specialization, but also because he was such a terrific master Portraitist.  Like the best portrait painters (and photographers), he captured the essence of his subjects superficially as well as subliminally.  His iconic portraits of 'Rock' legends graced album covers and the covers of music magazines, and are now highly prized as collectibles by music fans worldwide.

Inconspicuously present with his Leicas, shooting in 'available light,' he created a trademark look that are at once candid and vulnerable.  My favorite photos are the unguarded moments-- onstage, backstage and offstage, when Jim revealed the larger-than-life existence of these musical legends.  Intimacy was the key ingredient to his Art.

Jim with his Leicas

Jim Marshall was born in Chicago on February 3, 1936, but he grew up in San Francisco.  He had a Kodak Brownie camera when he was a kid, but only became serious with photography in Junior High.  He was working as an Insurance Claims Adjuster in 1960 when John Coltrane (Jazz icon) approached him in Berkeley by chance and asked him for some directions to a club.  Jim offered him a ride in exchange for a picture.

Chuck Berry rockin and rollin

Jim Marshall's photographs are some of the most wide known portraits of legendary Rock, Jazz and Blues superstars. Two of his most famous ones are the photos of Jimi Hendrix with his guitar aflame from the Monterey International Pop Festival in1967 and Janis Joplin lying on a couch backstage nursing a bottle of Southern Comfort Bourbon.

Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar on stage

Friday, April 22, 2011

2 Top Photojournalists Killed in Libya

Chris Hondros on Assignment

Tim Hetherington in the War Zone

Last Wednesday, two top photojournalists were killed in the rebel-held city of Misrata in western Libya.  Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi had intensified his weeklong assault on Libya's third largest city.  The photojournalists were traveling with some rebel fighters to cover an incident in Tripoli street, where some of the most intense fighting had occured in recent weeks.  During a skirmish, Hetherington was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, while Hondros died from severe brain trauma from a shrapnel.

I admire photojournalists not only for their courage and commitment, but also for their invaluable service to humanity and history in general.  These dedicated chroniclers of our collective experience, gives us windows into the human experience, both good and evil.  I tend to concentrate on the good side of life, but I never forget the darker side of humanity -- thanks to the courage and dedication of fellow photographers who cover conflicts, wars and devastation of every type.  The News photographer/photojournalist is a special breed, half artist/half warrior.  Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington were the best of this breed.  They went in harms way to give us a glimpse of the horror around us, through their uncompromising artistic eye.

One of Hondros's award winning images

Monday, April 4, 2011

Singapore Vacation

My wife and I took our family to Singapore for a minivacation last week with my mom. The kids have been working hard in school and we all needed a break from our regular routine.  Singapore turned out to be the perfect destination for all of us -- it was just three hours away and it had a lot of new attractions we have not yet seen.

I have been to Singapore several times, but my last trip was more than 10 years ago.  The city has grown considerably and is now one of the top Asian tour destinations in Southeast Asia.   We just stayed for a week, but we enjoyed every minute of it.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel/Casino and Mall complex

One of its newest attractions is the Marina Bay Sands complex.  A bustling city within a city, which boasts of a one of a kind hotel/casino building with a ship-sized structure on top (worlds largest cantilevered platform) that houses restaurants, infinity pools and a spa with a 360 degree view of the city.

The "lotus like" Art & Science Museum of Singapore

The complex also has a beautiful mall (the Shoppes Mall) that houses luxury shops like Cartier and Louis Vuitton as well as 7 celebrity Chefs restaurants and a skating rink.  It is also home to Singapore's new state of the art Art & Science Museum as well as two world-class performing arts theatres and a huge convention center.

Shooting butterflies (shot by Anne)

Less picturesque but just as spectacular (occupying 121 acres), is Resorts World Sentosa which hosts Universal Studios Singapore.  The resort is still in varying stages of construction, but it will eventually be the home of 6 world-class hotels, a water park, a marine park and a maritime museum.  This certainly is not the same Singapore I visited 10 years ago.

Aside from these two grand resort developments we spent a lot of time in Underwaterworld Singapore, the Singapore Zoo and the Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom.  Aside from the kids, I had a lot of fun photographing the different species of animals and insects for my own print series.  I came back with hundreds of photographs.  A lot of which, won't been seen publicly for years...

--Shot with a Canon 7D with various lenses.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More on Douglas Kirkland

Douglas Kirkland Shooting Marilyn Monroe

This entry is a follow up to my article last Feb.13 on Douglas Kirkland. Although I have written about Douglas even before then (Sept. 12, 2009), I find it hard to condense everything I would like to convey about this talented Artist in a few short commentaries.  So I am adding a short interview and a brief video that might give you a rounder portrait of Douglas as a photographer.

The American Society of Cinematographers interviewed Douglas Kirkland last October 25 after announcing their decision to award him the ASC Presidents Award this year.  In this interview he shares his earlier days -- his first picture, his first camera, his first photo job, appreticeship etc. A great read for any Kirkland fan.

Here is a great clip on Douglas and his work. It was taken two years ago at the Calumet Photo (NY) Exhibit: Freeze Frame - 5 Decades of Photographs from the Entertainment Industry.

--Video from courtesy of calumetphotonews.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Picasso And Matisse With Their Muse

The rivalry and friendship between Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse has facinated me for years.  These titans of 20th century art have influenced and inspired each other to push the bounderies of painting to its limits... and brought their art to its inevitable conclusion -- Abstraction.  "You've got to be able to picture side by side everything Matisse and I were doing at the time," Picasso said toward the end of his life. "No one has looked at Matisse's paintings more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than him."

Picasso's "Nude, Greenleaves and Bust"

These two artists have been in the headlines lately, side by side, as usual.

Picasso's painting, "Nude, Greenleaves and Bust," became the most expensive art work ever sold at auction last May, when it fetched $106.5 million at Christie's in New York.  It is currently on display at the new Pablo Picasso room on the third floor of the Tate Modern (gallery) in London.

It was announced about a month ago that Al Pacino has signed on to play the role of Henri Matisse, in the upcoming movie titled "Masterpiece" by Canadian director Deepa Mehta, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2006.  The bio-pic will be centered on Matisse's relationship with his nurse and muse, Monique Bourgeois.

In 1941, a 21 year-old nursing student named Monique Bourgeois responded to an ad placed by Henri Matisse for a “young and pretty night nurse.”  Matisse, then in his early 70's, was recovering from an intestinal cancer operation. He made a few drawing and paintings of her, and even taught her perspective after discovering that she was an amateur artist.  But war separated them for a few years.

They were reunited after the war.  But by that time, Monique already took her vows as a Dominican Nun.  Their friendship would culminate in what Matisse considers his greatest life achievement, the Chapel of the Rosary in Vense.

Matisse inside the Chapel of the Rosary