Photo: the full moon

The full moon on a sunset plane ride. The Philippines, July 21, 2016.

 When one looks really hard, and is patient enough, one sees colors and light in the way one wants to see it.

I took this photo while in the plane to a city a couple of hours away from where I live in order to attend the conference. Traveling alone, I was able to enjoy my precious few hours of silence and not being bothered by anyone for conversation. (I love my solitude when I want it.)

What I love about this picture is the ethereal quality of the vivid pinkish hues in the sky, in stark contrast to the dark blues and blacks of the ground and the sea below, punctuated by a silvery white full coin of a moon.

Ah, but it was love!

~ S.

 

On Writing (and paper and pens)

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Hello.

For someone who doesn’t really love self-help books or instruction manuals (most of the time anyway), I do get interested in reading things about writing. Things like, “How to write a short story”, or “writing a narrative” or “Why we write” or “The Elements of Style” have a considerably large space in my bookshelves.

I suppose I have always loved writing…but lately, I’ve been finding more reason to “absorb” what other people have written or said on the art of writing itself. It is a soothing balm to my soul, that stops and starts ever so frequently, when it comes to writing.

(There are times when we just lose perspective, or get lazy, or just plain feel less passionate than usual.)

I can’t NOT write…and whenever I leave for long periods, I always feel out of focus. I am not in touch with myself. Be it here on the blog, or on my private journal, I always find the activity something that grounds me.

My usual outlet is a notebook, which I use as a journal, and use only black ink. There is no special reason, but I just like plenty of white space and black script…it is very minimalist and clean. And simple. And tidy. And makes me feel like I’ve sorted my thoughts out enough.

The paper is tricky, because it has to be thick enough, but not too thick, and of a substance that is in the middle of “slippery” and grainy (if you know what I mean). 🙂 I like the pen to glide on the paper, with the ink flowing smoothly from within the chamber, sans blots and splashes.

Most of shopping time has been devoted to window-shopping in pen stores and finding that “perfect” pen for writing. I have spent countless hours trying out and discovering which pens work for me.

For example: Cheap ballpoint: Faber Castell, Mid-range ballpoint: Parker, nibs from speedball, and most recently, I bought a fountain pen that is turning out the be “The One” for me. I bought it very recently at Scribe, which is a store in Cebu City, one that I would usually troop miles (and brave heavy traffic) for, whenever I get the chance to, in Manila.

It is a combination of all the elements of writing; passion, paper and pen…that gets the juices flowing. 🙂

(What’s your writing story/habit?)

~ S.

 

 

 

 

 

The Ladies in White

The white house near the Bian Yek in Dumaguete has always held a mysterious air.

When I was in grade school, someone told me that there were “White Ladies” who lived there, and that they were really old and frail.

I remember one time late one after whilst riding a pedicab, and looking up, I saw them, three ladies sitting out in the terrace… The deep set eyes looked menacing to me, the bones of their face were so high and prominent and they made their features appear hook-like and menacing, and their hair was white and buffeted by the breeze.All this made them look more menacing… Than they should have been. And although I mustered up the courage to stare, I couldn’t…and I had to turn away and avert my eyes.

(I did that every time I passed that place…which was almost every day.)

Nowadays, I’m not sure if it is occupied by anyone, but the childhood memory of the elderly ladies and an overactive imagination had me pegging those elderly ladies unfairly as scary beings, when in fact they were just elderly women being cared for by their caregivers.

The rains have come

The rains have come

August 21, 2016.

It’s been raining all over the Philippines these past few weeks, but my hometown has only had its share (and it has been quote continuous). It let up a few hours ago, so I was able to test my new GoPro Hero 4 (Silver) outside.

I had won it in a raffle, and although my first reaction was one of…calm, because I had my biases against it. You see, most of the people I know who’ve used it, use it for selfies, or for group shots… I’ve never really seen people use it for anything else. Also, it didn’t have a lot of information with regards to my favorite genre of Street Photography.

However, because things happen to me for a reason, I decided to shut my mouth (effectively) and try to explore what it could offer. I’m definitely glad I did.

The GoPro Hero 4 Silver is one powerful little camera stored in a hard, almost indestructible case (ok, I exaggerate, but there is a reason why people use it for underwater shots and extreme sports…it IS that durable.)

I know that most people would mount it on a monopod (or selfie stick. :-)) and take pictures with it while viewing photos on their phone. I didn’t want to do that, of course. It just wasn’t…ergonomic for me.

Boy and Girl on the motorcycle. August 2016.

What I did instead was to take it out of its kit mount and put a cord through the remaining holes and put it around my neck. I did that because it made it much easier for me to keep my hands free and to “shoot from the hip”. 🙂

The pictures on this post are some examples. I’m not all that good yet, but I think that the GoPro’s compact size, powerful capabilities and adaptable settings give it a considerable edge for a photographer, when it comes to those shots were you have to do some quick thinking and carpe diem. 🙂

(Also, I shot using the 7MP medium format. It lessened lens distortions and allowed me to tweak considerably during post-processing.)

Middle-aged couple holding hands.

 

Waiting for a “pedicab” after the rain. August 2016


 

  Sunset after Mass. August 2016. 

 

 

Self-portrait.

Self-Portrait. Binondo, Chinatown. June 2016.

I have always been drawn to lovers and people in love. Or couples, in different shapes, forms, sizes…facial expressions notwithstanding. I think it is an inherent character of mine to be fascinated by “the dance” of relationships.

One of my pastimes is to observe people (and observe life, in that same breath). To just be a silent spectator was a privilege. My fascination has been with people who are doing their own thing, in their own way. My friends have asked me if I have ever gotten in trouble for doing so, but I keep telling them, I haven’t. When I take pictures of people, I usually want to highlight what is good in them, and hopefully make them look great.

(Actually, I make it so in a way that if ever they would come across their picture online or wherever they photo will be placed, they won’t be able to complain, because in the first place, the photo highlights their great features.)


In this particular photo, I was with my friends going around Binondo, Chinatown. They went into a curio shop, and in it I saw an assortment of gems and plants and figurines. What caught my eye in particular was this shelf full of  happily married figurine old couples.

I find lovers fascinating, and this shelf of them was just really cute.

Me and a shelf full of “lovers”… instant self-portrait.

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Cupid wants his arrow back

When I listen to a  song with this cadence, there is a tendency for me to just sit still and stare off into space.

“Lost Stars” is such,and  it  happens to be one of my favorite tracks on the movie, Begin Again. I watched this movie, with a former significant other a year (or two) ago, and I wanted to watch it because of the low-key setting, the simple story line, and the music. Mostly for the music…it was what drew me to watch it in another city.

It starred Keira Knightley, Adam Levine (already a big pop star) and Mark Ruffalo (fresh from his Hulk stint). It was a love story, yes, about how people change and how you eventually have to be true to yourself in the end.

It was a very creative endeavor, and they made music that was unconventional. They made use of great songwriting, acoustic elements, and recorded around New York City. It was my kind of music-making and artistic expression.

In the movie, Keira’s character wrote this song,  Lost Stars as a gift to her boyfriend. She sang it quietly, as a ballad. It was vulnerable and very honest. He took it, but he made it into something that “the audiences loved” and reveled in the way they lost themselves when he used his falsetto.

It was actually the turning point, and the end of what she had always thought. He had promised her that he would perform it as it was meant to be performed in that tender, gentle tone. However, at the end, he forgot himself…and changed it for other people. After that, she was able to finally say goodbye.

I listened to this while I was riding in a public vehicle. This is always best for me, thinking amidst the chaos, being able to detach just so. In that state of semi-detachment, I am able to discern and think about the things that have happened to me recently. In this state, I am neither angry, nor sad, nor frustrated.

I am merely listening to the story, and making it my own.

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