Wednesday, February 27, 2008

About Me

I am Farl, born, raised and still living in Cebu. A chemist by trade, I travel frequently on business so photography became an easy fit. Like most people, I started with a point and shoot and until 2005, I preferred the ultracompact Canon Powershot S40 that is small enough to fit inside my pocket.

In May 2005, I joined flickr and got hooked in photography quickly and irrevocably. I learned the basics of photography on my own. Voraciously, I studied pictures in flickr (especially those which have EXIF data), browsed to-do threads in flick pools like Technique and asked tips from hobbyist friends in meetups in our Cebu-Sugbo flickr group.

I was not planning to make the jump to dSLR until my p&s unexpectedly quit on me a week before a trip to Africa in November 2005. So I relented and bought a Canon Rebel XT 350D which I still use up to now. I never looked back. Today, I have 3 lenses: the kit lens 18-55mm, a telephoto 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 II USM and a prime 50mm f/1.8.

Visual arts, particularly classical painting, influence me heavily in my photographic compositions. I don’t have any book in photography nor do I consciously follow someone else’s style. Sometimes, I felt that I get afflicted by the postcard photography syndrome so I try to push myself and veer out of the stock photo style. Easier said than done.

I am keenly interested in landscapes, photojournalistic portraiture, culture and traditions. I’m still trying to learn how to use my Speedlite flash properly and wish that someday I can study artificial studio lighting. Onwards, I also hope that I find the time to study photoshop as I believe that post-processing is an entirely different monster necessary to advance oneself photographically. (Meantime, I use free software like picasa2.)

Occasionally I get stumped and endure weeks wherein I don’t touch my camera. This definitely means I may never be a professional photographer. However, photography will never get old for me as there is always something to learn. My best photos are still yet to come.

Here are some pics of me in flickr

FLB and Mommy 091001 on WTC Tower1
me and my Mom at the WTC, September 10, 2001, a day before 911, taken by my sister Lall

celebrating at the southernmost tip of Africa (the mainland, at least)
me at Capepoint, South Africa, 2001, taken by a fellow tourist

me at Arc d’Triomphe, Paris, 2004, taken by my former boss

me and my wife, April 23, 2007, taken by my good friend Salvador

... and some unposted pics from the archives.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/3200s, f/5.6, 300mm, ISO 100, +2/3 EV, (uncropped)
This shot that I took at Tibubeneng, Bali, Indonesia makes me wistful. Too bad that it is almost impossible to make a self portrait like this for me, my wife and my daughter.

Nefertiti Bali
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/60s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 400, +1/3 EV
The profile and upswept hair reminds me of Nefertiti. I had a hard time angling the shot to get a complete sideview profile but I know that I have to try. The lighting conditions were perfect especially that her sweat, as if choreographed, were gracefully cascading down her face.

Ulu Watu
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 6.0s, f/22, 18mm, ISO 100
I admit that I am a sunrise and sunset hound. Photographically, the light is perfect in exposing the colors and nuances of the landscape.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, February 23, 2008

the Cacing Diaries #3

day 10

Was it my wife’s imagination but did Cacing giggle? My wife was giddy when Cacing laughed for a few seconds. Too bad, we are not videocam fanatics. It does not really matter, Cacing hasn’t had any giggling episode since. She does smile, often when we were in our most harrassed state just after an episode of changing nappies. Cacing knows how to ration her smile rather wisely.

day 16

My wife and I needed to go to the bank to transfer funds. We still have no nanny so we had no choice but to bring Cacing with us. Third time for her to see the world. (Or is it to be shown off?)

It was decided that this was one short trip for we do not want to face the ordeal of cleaning her up inside the mall! The first hour was glorious. We breezed through the bank transaction and an aborted trip in the supermarket (my wife had a mistimed uterine contraction just when we were picking up detergents). Cacing acted as the perfect baby, no cries, no squirms, just the angelic sleepy self that we wished her to be on trips.

Not for long. In a stop at a Chinese restaurant to pick up some dinner takeout, Cacing peed in her diaper and my wife struggled inside the fully airconditioned but cramped car in changing her. When I got back, they already were a happy pair. Drama averted. Another quick stop at a fruit stand, no event. This is getting to be too perfect.

One last stop. My wife needed a haircut badly. There is one salon half a kilometer from our home so we decided that she can get a trim while Cacing and I would wait inside the cool confines of the car. Overextended karma. Cacing crapped! Big time. I was your typical harrassed father. My arms were long so everything was in reach. The ordeal was graphic. Portent perhaps of more to come? After all, it still is day 16.

day 17

Tired from her trauma yesterday, she slept like an angel last night. Today, Cacing is back to her sweet beguiling self. All is forgotten. And do I smell another photoshoot? :-)

more outtakes of Cacing’s modeling in day 11


Bombay dreams
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/50s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100
I call this Bombay Dreams. The photo celebrates the luxury of oversaturated colors and the lushness of heavenly textures.

golden foot
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/40s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100
A cherub’s foot in a bed of gold. Baby’s feet are so soft and pink…

strike a pose
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/30s, f/2.2, 50mm, ISO 100, -1/3EV
As I’ve said before, Cacing responded beautifully when wrapped in this pink scarf. She emoted like a supermodel.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/200s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800, -1/3eV
This is my take of the half-covered face shots popular all throughout flickr. Too bad I don’t know photoshop so that I could fix the texture around her face and add glisten to that chinky eye. Perhaps someday.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/30s, f/5.6, 50mm, ISO 100
I hovered over my baby, draping a read sarong over my head and the camera. With the electric fan nearby, the fabric created this soft blurry cage-like frame. Too bad she did not look at me. Babies get bored quickly.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/200s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800, -1/3eV
This time Cacing obliged me with a smile. However, I was not ready and the sarong was the one which came out sharp and in focus. The soft focus still gives sweet justice to her smile though.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, February 18, 2008

the Cacing Diaries #2

day 3

We were able to check out of the hospital. I think that was fast for a C-section. Unfortunately, we still have no nanny nor was it possible for our respective mothers to stay with us to provide primary care. The decision was obvious. We hired a midwife to stay with us for the first 4 days. As this was made through the hospital, it was expensive – about P900 (or $22) for 12 hours in a day – but we wanted to learn the basics, the right way, and fast.

Exhilirating, enervating, frustrating. Sleepless nights were never this good. Either that or I already have selective amnesia to forget all the pains and remember all the gains.

day 4

Sunday. It was her first trip outside our home. Our midwife was hesitant. She subscribes to the old superstitious belief dictates that an innocent infant cannot leave the house unless baptized. We have to make the trip though as my we need to visit my mom. For the lunch date, we had her wear her pink Polo minidress, a gift from my sister in NY, and her cute pink headband. Cacing generally slept throughout the visit, oblivious! What can you expect from a four day old?!

Polo girl
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/50s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100
A yawning Cacing gets dolled up for her first foray out of the house to visit my mother. Just 4 days old, she has the makings of a lady!

day 6

I had to attend a work-related conference. I cannot get out of it, after all I was the host and we had guests from all over the country and from Norway and the US too. I tried my best to keep my mind on the business at hand. The discussions actually became dreadfully toxic but nothing cures you fast than the sight of your beautiful child when you get home. That, and maybe the attendant feeding, cleaning up and lullaby-singing!

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/125s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800
a sleeping Cacing. At home, she now occupies our big sofa which temporarily serves as her crib.

day 9

For the second time, we took Cacing out of the house. We had Friday afternoon appointments with my wife’s obstetritian and my daughter’s pediatrician. It seems like we were geared up for war. Our diaper bag was armed with everything we needed. And I had my wife and daughter stay in the backseat for safety reasons, leaving the front seat empty. I literally was a glorified driver.

Later on, back home, I decided to play with my sleeping daughter. Unaware, she became a hand model with her mom’s ring. I could slide two fingers through the ring easily. I promised myself that I will do better with my photographs Sunday.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/8s, f/5.6, 50mm, ISO 400, -1/3EV
Diamond is a girl’s best friend. That’s my wife’s ring which I daintily placed on Cacing’s fingers. It will be hers someday.

day 11

Sunday, the big photography day. After hearing mass, we settled Cacing on the sofa. It was lunchtime but my wife was tired so she took a nap, a rather long one. So I was left to attend to our daughter. Soon enough, my daughter got into playful mood overdrive – it must have been the sound and crowd at church which overstimulated her – and she was exuberant.

Before anything else, I would like to stress that playing with infants needs extra attention. Fabrics can easily smother or harm babies so in no time should your eyes be off your child when playing. Safety stays supreme. All the time, she was on her bed, awake. An eleven day old infant cannot in anyway fathom any instruction so I was swift, careful and most of all, gentle.

First, I brought out a sarong I got from Bali. Flaming red will look good on anyone. Cacing even obliged me with a wave!

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/100s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 800
Cacing loves batik!

Next in line was a flimsy diaphanous pink scarf. She had most fun with this one. The material was soft, light and to her liking. This picture says it all.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/30s, f/5.6, 50mm, ISO 800
Her favorite piece I think was the pink scarf. She has no problem emoting for the camera.

In a few minutes, it seemed her energy was spent. It was sleeping time. Quickly, I shifted to another red scarf and draped her softly just as her eyelids were about to drop close. I had trouble focusing but when your subject is as cute as Cacing – okay, so I really am biased – even a softly focused shot can be divine.

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/25s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100
Cacing, just when she was about to take her nap.

Sleep came fast and her stint as a model came to a halt. There is always another time. Say, this coming weekend perhaps?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, February 15, 2008

the Cacing Diaries #1


I received the sweetest gift on the morning of February 6 when my wife gave birth to Francesca Dyan. At, 7lbs 11oz and 51cm, she is long and feisty. We call her Cacing, pronounced Cha-Ching, just like they do in Indonesia.

Her nickname means worms in Indonesia, not those which weave silk, nor those which munch veggies, but those which inhabit the stomach. When my wife missed period in June, she took a pregnancy kit test and got a negative result. Since her period is a regular 28 day cycle, we just joked around that maybe that the hormonal changes she felt were false demand characteristic. Naturally, we were disappointed and made light of her ‘symptoms” like malaise, full tummy and nausea, dismissing them that maybe she had worms instead of a baby. Worms, in Indonesian, are Cacing so every day past her duedate, we joked that her worms must be growing well. Ten days later, her period still did not come so she took another test. Positive! We could not be any happier.

I’ve always wanted to name our child after my late father Francisco- Francis if he’d be a boy, Francesca if she’d be a girl. Later we found out by ultrasound that our baby will be a “Francesca” and the monicker Cacing is a nice fit.

Later in life, in school perhaps, we will allow our daughter to decide for herself what nickname she will adapt but for now she is our little Cacing.

Fastforward to February 5. Just before dinner, at 7:30, my wife suddenly felt a more pronounced series of painful contractions. The night before, we had a false alarm and were turned away from the hospital as her bloody show and contractions were too mild. This time she knew this was it. The contractions were unbearable.

We were calm but harried. Easy to say now but looking back, driving in traffic when your wife beside you was already wincing in pain was hard. We both were hoping for a normal delivery so we were glad when her cervical dilation progressed from 3 cm to 4-5cm in two hours. Then it stopped.

For some more eight hours, she labored and medical inducement did not help. Finally, on February 6, the doctor decided on a C-section and on 8:46, Cacing came into our lives.

Here are a few pics of our treasure, taken from day 1 to day 3.

day 1
Cacing (pronounced Chaching)
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 0.013s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 100, flash fired, red-eye reduction
Cacing, yawning, as her doctor first showed her to me inside the nursery, a couple of hours after her birth

Cacing shown off
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/15s, f/4.5, 28mm, ISO 1600, +1/3EV
the nurse showing off the newly born Cacing, all bundled up

Cacing care
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/10s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 1600, +1/3EV
a quick shot of Cacing being placed on the crib. this was taken through the glass at the nursery viewing area.

Cacing milk
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/15s, f/4.5, 50mm, ISO 800, +1/3EV
too much milk for Cacing!

day 2

Cacing breastfeeding
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 0.013s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 100, Flash fired, red-eye reduction
Cacing, being breastfed by my wife

Cacing and her mom's bandaged hand
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/60s, f/2.0, 50mm, ISO 1600
The IV line can be seen dangling out of Dia's hand here. It was difficult for her to be mobile.

day 3

Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/20s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 1600
Cacing loves to squeeze my finger. She already feels the world with her fingers, which like mine, are wrinkly and "candle-like" long.

she's an angel!
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/50s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 1600
One day in December we chanced upon this cute headband at Rustan's. It is about P56 pesos or something but hey, I know she looks angelic wearing it. Besides, she needs to be fashionable when she comes home.

Cacing is tall (or long)
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/40s, f/4.5, 33mm, ISO 1600, +4/3 EV
Cacing, all 51cm long, is tall and lanky

hands up!
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/10s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 1600, +1EV
Cacing jerks occasionally when asleep. I had to wait and time this shot to catch her in the act.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, February 1, 2008

Surviving Sinulog 2008, 5th and last part

continued from part 4

Sunday, January 20, and the big day has arrived! I know all photography enthusiasts in Cebu were itching for the grand parade. No other day is more awaited. I heard that a record 647 photographers registered in the photo contest alone.

I suppose the ultimate goal is to win. Mine is to calibrate my skills against the renowned local photographers whose names always appear in the winning column year by year, some photojournalists, some pros. This year was the third year I joined the photo contest and needless to say, I still have not won, hahaha! (I just saw the winning 53 entries yesterday at SM Cebu Mall and I have to say, the compositions and timing of the winning photos were topnotch.)

There is another overriding reason why one must register in the photo contest. Doing so gives you an official-looking ID which allows you to cross rope cordons guarded zealously by volunteer students, weave through the contingents on the streets without getting accosted by security, and well, getting 10 free submissions for the contest. (I hear others would boost their chances by sending in more than 100 entries and pay the sums of money as an additional entry is P20-25/photo).

Canon EOS 350D, 1/160s, f/8, 55mm, ISO 100
Students manning the streets at the Osmena Boulevard, Cebu City, Sinulog 2006, Cebu, the Philippines

I have two problems. One, I cannot stay away from home the whole day as I cannot leave my very pregnant wife alone. Two, I had lumbar sprain several weeks ago, so I cannot sit or stand for prolonged periods without significant pain. For the life of me, bending or stooping is next to impossible. But photographic enthusiasm never wanes. With dispensation from my wife that she’d be all right, I took to the streets.

Although I could only stay for 5 ½ hours – the parade ran for almost 9 hours – I still managed to photograph half of the 51 contingents. Not bad at all. I also made the best of my soft, cheap but beloved 75-300mm USM telephoto lens as my bad back precludes any contortion on my part.

In the end, I ended up with an inventory of nearly 550 pictures. I dare say I like my pics this year than last year, hence the deluge of my flickr posts. They may still be not good enough to win but I immensely enjoyed what one can get to enjoy one day of the year. Besides I can always count on visiting my chiropractor to heal my spine. That and a Nuga bed, which definitely is another story.

Pit Senyor!

Here is the final batch of pictures of the Sinulog 2008 grand parade.

Le Dionaldo
Canon EOS 350D, 1/400s, f/8, 75mm, ISO 800
Le Dionaldo, lead dancer of the contingent of the Hambabalud Festival of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental, doing their presentation at the Sinulog grand parade, Cebu City, the Philippines
The municipality of the Jimalalud in Negros Oriental honors the hambabalud tree by naming its festival after it. Their contingent showcases the enchantment offered by a forest guarded by the mountain nymph, Diwata.

Canon EOS 350D, 1/40s, f/5.0, 18mm, ISO 100
the Tribu Cabadbaran of Agusan del Norte, at the Sinulog 2008 Grand Parade, Cebu City, the Philippines
Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte became city last July 2007. What better way to herald its arrival than joining Sinulog, considered the most prestigious streetdancing contest in the country?

Canon EOS 350D, 1/1600s, f/5.0, 190mm, ISO 800
the contingent of Pajo Elementary School of Lapu-Lapu City, at the Sinulog 2008 Grand Parade, Cebu City, the Philippines
I lived in the barangay Pajo of Lapu-Lapu City most of my life so it pleases me to see a contingent from my neighborhood. I’m glad they found a corporate sponsor this year as their costumes are quite attractive. Now, I wonder if I knew some of these kids!

Canon EOS 350D, 1/250s, f/9.0, 250mm, ISO 200
Micah Amor, lead dancer of the contingent from the Municipality of Carmen, at the Sinulog 2008 Grand Parade, Cebu City, the Philippines
The contingent from Carmen was one of eight groups which derived inspiration from the Yakan tribe of Basilan who sports distinctive face painting. They won big: 2nd in the Free Interpretation Category, Best in Costume (Free Interpretation) and third in the Streetdancing Category.

phototip Unusual patterns, like the way the dancers lock their hands, can be interesting subjects.
Canon EOS 350D, 1/500s, f/4.0, 75mm, ISO 100
the Lumad Basakanon of San Nicolas, Cebu City, at the Sinulog 2008 Grand Parade, Cebu City, the Philippines
For the nth time, the Lumad Basakanon grabbed 1st prize in the Free Interpretation Category. Costumes are expensive so in the past 3 years, they recycle their body suits and accessories and just add some new flourish like the quiver tube on their back. They are known for their frenetic fast movements that others try to imitate but cannot duplicate.

Balangay Pardo
phototip: Midday sun often gives flat images. Make the best of ambient shade to allow more depth in the photo.
Canon EOS 350D, 1/30s, f/5.6, 37mm, ISO 100
the contingent from Tribu Kinaiyahan of Barangay San Nicolas Cebu City, at the Sinulog 2008 Grand Parade, Cebu City, the Philippines
This tribe was wearing a hodge-podge of costumes. I recognize the the headresses which resemble the Ivatan-inspired rain gears called vacul. In the “Free Interpretation” category, anything goes!

Stumble Upon Toolbar