Archive for April, 2012

Industrial Photography

The schedule of my work requires me to be on site for 28 consecutive days on 12 hour shifts with no weekends and then 28 days vacation to even it out. It will probably sound like a good deal at first but I say the 28 days off might not even be fair enough. You will definitely be amazed how 28 days working straight can totally mess up your mind and drive you almost to the point of insanity.

That is why when I’m at work, I am bound to do work whether I like it or not. I think of myself as a bird flying away from the great forest and going straight into a cage every time my 28 days of work begins.

There are days when all you want to do is survive and get one day over with so you’re one day nearer to returning home. For me, most of the days are like that though. One positive thing about it is that when I am at work, I sleep early…way too early unlike when I am at home in the Philippines, I just can’t get enough of one day and I feel like I can’t give it up yet just to sleep.

That reflects my point of view about sleeping which I don’t see as a mere necessity for my body. For me, sleeping involves a profound connection to life. For me, sleeping is our personal surrender that a day is concluded. One day was like a play held successfully on the stage, with all the chorus and highlights, laughter and sadness. The curtains cannot go down unless the applause is made.

Not quite the same thing here. Because of the unforgiving monotony, I can no longer tell where one day ended and the other day started. My body feels the same and no matter how many hours of sleep I get, I will wake up still tired and dazed. What used to be my reality is reduced to a dream.

I make it a point to bring my camera with me on my 28-day roster. Although I know there is little chance of putting it to any significant use, my camera keeps me hoping that something better will show up. Some evenings, I try to shoot with my camera but I end up dissatisfied with what I come up with and just give up. I feel all creativity in me is snuffed out. Sometimes I feel bothered what if I can’t recover my creativity back. Fortunately that has not happened YET.

All being said and after a long, bleak but personally necessary introduction, here’s the deal.

I was given an odd assignment 3 days ago by my boss. He said he wanted to frame some photos of our Refinery and put them throughout the office. It sounded like a good idea but if you think about it, do you really want to see more pictures of the Refinery when there is obviously nothing else to see outside of the office besides the Refinery!

But anyway, I found my boss’s request a humbling compliment and of course a challenge. Right there I knew it will take a miracle for me to turn ON my creativity when I turned it OFF the moment I left Philippines. Trying to breathe some enthusiasm to my predicament, I told myself that this could be something that I can add on to my blog. After all, I haven’t seen anybody blog about an Oil Refinery better yet make it a Photography subject.

Among the things a photographer will find interesting in an Oil Refinery is the unlimited instances of repetitions and patterns. The first photo I have here is one example of repetition. Despite the complete lack of creativity and aesthetic value of the subject, this photo is admirable from an Engineering point of view because of stuff like commonality of equipment, inter-changeability of parts, maintainability etc.

Now, a lot of people love to take photos of repeating subjects. Sadly, it is used so often especially by beginners because it is one of the simplest compositions to make and due to our inherent bias towards appreciating patterns the results always turn out to be pleasing. But of course there are some that do not show any thing of interest anymore because they have been done a lot of times already. Think about clothespins on wires, crayons, pencils – familiar right?

It is debatable and probably depending on one’s taste how to take photos of repetitions. Do you use a shallow Depth of Field or do you go full blast at F11? I know I might get tied to the cross for this but I find it absurd to use a shallow depth of field on repetitions because you will end up blurring out the rest of the items not in the Focus Point hence making the entire repetition scene useless. If you ask me, I use a shallow depth of field when I want to isolate a subject.

The next photo I have here is a view taken from one of the Heat Exchanger platforms showing an excellent view of the process columns as well as the storage tanks. Nothing of particular interest here but It is a best effort of combining the hefty portions of the subject and some bits of the surrounding environment (vegetation, weather and topography). My curves and exposure seem off at this point but I had to compromise because I wanted more attention to the details of the piping, columns, stacks and all the boring stuff . I felt that an HDR is not necessary as the photos will be viewed more by Engineers anyway.

This next photo is intended to strike a sense of dimension emphasizing to the viewer the height of the subject and the relative distances they are between each other. A good level of detail was called for in this shot because the leading lines created by the Wide-angle lens have a tendency to draw the viewer’s eyes all the way through the top. Actually, I veer towards a liking on photos that draw attention and have that power to manipulate the eyes of the viewer.

This last one is an off angle shot I included in the mix to give a dynamic sense to the place. All the straight vertical and horizontal lines tends to convey that boxed-up emotion so adding a little angle gives that extra kick and puts some energy. I’ve done this in lots of occasions and it works well on group shots of people. It works wonders too because when your subject sees you tilting your camera they will start to loosen up which makes the whole process more natural and spontaneous.

Right now I’m looking forward to what my boss chooses to print out. How about you? Which one would you choose?

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Photography and Me (so far)

I’m far from the likes of Ben Stirton or Joe McNally but I thought I’ve progressed significantly enough from where I was before. Photography has become my passion and if my memory serves me right, I’ve never experienced anything so gratifying like Photography long enough to even call it a hobby.

Fortunately the fateful day came when the Shutterbug crawled up on me a gave me a good bite. For years, part of my work had to deal with me having to take pictures for the sake of describing stuff to bosses and colleagues but was never meant for appreciation but a mere tool. The photos I took then were far from anything you might associate with creative photography. There was simply nothing creative about it.

At the time when everyone seem to be eyeing DSLRs I was content to just asking how much they were and learning about how much they cost made me more comfortable that I’m never going to afford to jump on the same wagon. Eventually a fortunate windfall came my way and I had a chance to buy my own camera.

My first camera was a Lumix FZ40. The circumstances why I ended up buying that instead of a DSLR was because of some smart-talking vendor in Hongkong that brainwashed me into believing that a Bridge Camera was better than a DSLR. The Lumix by the way cost me more than a Nikon D3000 that I was eye-ing at the time. I bought the camera in Hongkong by the way, the excitement of going through Disneyland and Ocean Park with no camera justified my urge that it is time for me to venture out into this field.

That was one of my first snaps with the Lumix. There was definitely no clear subject and the technical aspect of using the camera was definitely off. Of course, nothing against the Lumix as I realized that it is by itself a very capable camera and it is indeed true that the person taking the photo makes the most difference and not the camera.

The Hongkong trip was just the start, soon I found myself bringing the camera along whenever I had the chance and eventually as most Photography hobbyists are guilty of, the camera became the reason why I had to go out and we were inseparable. I never was so engrossed in Phtography like anything else before. I was reading a lot of material learning at the same time experimenting. I was Figuring out stuff like Aperture, Shutter Speed, Depth of Field, Composition, Framing and the rest of the lot. It didn’t take me long enough to outgrow the Lumix and I finally bought my first DSLR.

The photo above was taken the day after I bought my first DSLR. It was a Canon EOS 550D which was a widely appreciated DSLR for beginners. That camera did a lot to further stimulate my development. As you can see, I learned to look for my subject, I knew how color or the absence of it can do a lot in isolating interest and most importantly to look for the right opportunity. There still was a lot of room for improvement.

Then there comes a phase when every Photographer feels that he need another lens. Sad to say that is also the bane of getting into Photography as it really is one the expensive hobbies out there. Lens, filters, off-camera flash, tripods and more filters. The list can go on and after you tire out of one addition you will find another reason why you need some more.

Eventually I ended up with a Nikon D7000 and it has been my camera ever since. The reason why I enjoyed the camera more than the previous ones was because it was so easy to use and all the settings you need to make can done on the go. I remember when I was using my EOS550D, my wife which was my girlfriend back then often suffered from facial cramps having to smile for extended periods as I fiddle out how to change settings in my camera. This always ended up as a hilarious scene for both of us as I get mocked for being the hobbyist that I was and then I get even by coming up with a photo of my wife with a smirk far from the optimistic smile she began with.

My D7000 was with me all the time and it felt like I couldn’t care less for other things beside taking photos which makes me wonder if it was a normal thing that photographers go through or it was just me.

A few more trips followed and I was really getting the hang of it and I was starting to get some admiration from others already. I thought that was it but then I somehow reached the point when I started to feel stress which was not supposed to be. I soon realized that all the beautiful places I’ve been  to despite sucessfully getting good photos left me empty. My satisfying my Photography but I wasn’t enjoying my travels. I had to strike a balance in enjoying what was around me and my Photography because sooner or later I will burn myself out.

One good example is when you go on a vacation and you see different people all with cameras varying from point and shoots to pro level DSLRs and you wonder, who had fun the most? Was it the person with the fancy camera or the one who was just content snapping away with his cellphone’s camera. It’s hard to tell just as it is but for sure the person who will enjoy it most will be the one who was able to look around to see the clouds and notice how the trees swayed with the wind, how the children laughed and played, how the barbecue was cooking and how it reminds you of the place afterwards.

I have a long way to go and I’m not worried how long it takes. I am content that I am having fun and I have my camera right where it should be…just beside me and not in front of me.


Our Wedding

Our Love Story

The hands of destiny brought us in each other’s arms in the month of March 2004 when we were both hired in PNOC-EDC. We never knew that the friendship that kindled on the very first day that we met will grow into something that is very special. I never have thought that we’ll be romantically involved, since he unceasingly tease me with just anything that he can think of (which he does until now, haha!). Then suddenly, everything changed, he started to be friendly and have shown concern to how I was.

To make the long story short, we started to be a couple after a year of friendship, on February 18, 2005.

Our Wedding Preparations

We always have dreamt of a grand wedding.

One day, while we were strolling in the mall, we were given free entrance tickets to a Bridal Fare (September 2011). It was this time that things started happening and everything just seem to fall into place 

The Church and Venue

We decided to set the location somewhere south since we are both comfortable with the area (we are both residents from the south). We started inquiring in King James, Alabang Village. We were fortunate that February 25 has an available slot; however the reception venue that we are eyeing (Fernbrook) is not available on that day. We decided that if the Fernbrook reception venue and its chapel will be available any day in February, we’ll go for it. We were relieved to know that the evening slot of February 26 is available. We then booked the evening slot of February 26 right away (luckily, the bridal fare promos still apply even if the booking was not done in the bridal fare).

We then proceeded to the bridal fare to look for other suppliers.

It was then I realized that we have less than 6 months for the preparations… I feel so ecstatic and so excited!!

On our wedding day, I was surprised! The venue is so elegant and fairy tale like!

Thank you Fernbrooks!

The Invitations

The package that we availed for in Fernbrook is an All-In Package, where we get to choose two out of 8 freebies. We were looking on invitations, bridal car or photo booth. We compared prices, and decided to go for bridal car and photo booth. On our search for invitations, my husband wanted something elegant while I go for something formal and something within budget. We searched for an invitation that would suit both our wants, and settled on a beautiful red (my favourite color!) invitation. The cover has an intricate lace design, with our names in gold letters. It was pricey but very much worth it!

Thank you Global Invitations!

The Wedding Rings

It was a long search for wedding rings, we wanted rings that are heavy (as he says that this is the ring that we will be wearing for the rest of our lives) and with a simple design. I would have wanted a ring with diamonds, but realized that in the long run the diamonds may one by one be detached from the ring. We settled for a gold ring with a silver matt finish, we both love the design!

Thank you Zuniga Jewellery!

The Bridal Gowns, Grooms Apparel and Entourage Gowns

We admired the gowns in my sister-in-law’s wedding (we were both part of the entourage). The designer, Ms Evelyn, is very creative and her dressmakers are very experienced, there were no major adjustments in my first fit, only the gown length (which actually will also depend on the height of the heels that you will be wearing) – this is given that measurements were taken by them also.

I have two designs in mind, one design that my husband wanted my gown to be and another design that I wanted my gown to be. I showed both designs to Ms Evelyn. She combined the design and the result was spectacular! As wedding gowns are typically all white, I chose my gown to have a touch of our motif, which is wine red.

The Grooms Apparel has a similar design as with Oyo Boy’s apparel. I was definite I will have a hard time to convince my husband to agree on his apparel (he was away then when we were discussing the designs :-p). The design was suggested by our designer, to which then I thought was a good idea so he will stand out, then thought that the rest of the entourage shall wear barong.

Eventually he gets to appreciate his apparel and was all the more happy when he saw our wedding photos 
The designs of the gowns of our mothers and the entourage (secondary sponsors and bridesmaids) were done on the spot (while their measurements were taken). The secondary sponsors have different designs while the bridesmaids have similar gown designs. My mom’s and my mother-in-law’s gown were elegant!

Thank you Tita Evelyn of Creative Fashion!

The Make-Up Artists

We first met our make-up artists during my sister-in-law’s wedding The package comprises the bride and groom, the mother of the bride and groom and the rest of the entourage. I was impressed with the outcome of my make-up in my sister-in-law’s wedding! It was then that I am sure that they are my make-up artists in our wedding.

The package includes make-up during the pre-nuptial pictorial and during our wedding day. It was a “sulit” package since both my husband and I were applied with air-brush make-up. I was surprised when my husband was so proud of the result of his make-up that he didn’t take it off after our pre-nup shoot. We strolled in the mall after our pre-nup shoot, with our make-ups on, haha!

On our wedding day, since our entourage will also be made up by our make-up artists, we requested our make-up artists to be in the hotel at 10am. We made a make-up schedule for the entourage to ensure that everything is in order and everybody is all set when the photographer arrives (expected to arrive at 2pm).

I am so delighted that I have a supportive entourage! Everybody cooperated and as I have wanted, they were part of my pictures during the preparation in the hotel!

I have heard compliments that our make-up is superb and was happy to hear people saying that I have a beautiful entourage!

Thanks Alex and Alvin of Destiny 88!

The Photographers

Ariel Javelosa already has made a name in the industry. We have heard of him a couple of times in the past, and we expected that his package would be expensive. On a separate bridal fare, they were the first supplier that welcomed me when I entered. I checked on the inclusions in their package, made comparisons to other suppliers in the fare, and to my surprise, they have the best package! I love their albums, the freebies and their payment terms is an advantage! Our freebies include the coffee table album, AVP and on-site video 

We first met our photographer, Ben, during our pre-nuptial pictorial. My husband and I were never used to posing to pictures; it was during this pictorial that we learned a lot of poses. Our photographer helped us a lot on taking a pose (he actually demonstrates the pose!). We were very comfortable with Ben that posing for the rest of the pictorial came out naturally haha!

On our wedding day, Ben, the other photographers and the videographers were very creative and exerted great effort to get the best shots. I love the result of the AVP and the on-site video! I actually saved the on-site video in my phone and watch our video every now and then; it brings me back to the wonderful feeling during our wedding day 

We are now on the process of selecting the pictures for our album, I am so excited on what our album will be!

Thank you Ariel Javelosa c/o Ben and Company!

The Caterer

Based on comments that we have heard, Josiah’s seem to have received most of the compliments from clients. We then decided to book to Josiah’s. I love the way they handle their clients. And the package that we have availed for along with the freebies that they have given is a great deal!

They have arranged the venue elegantly and their services during our wedding day and the food was excellent! Our guests enjoyed the food and were surprised with how good it was, they especially mentioned that the noodle station and mongolian station are fantastic!

Thank you Josiah’s (c/o Ms Onie)!

The Florist

I always have thought that choosing the flowers is a minor detail in our wedding. Well it turned out that it was hard to choose the flowers! Since the colors should be coordinated with the entourage gown and as well as the church flowers. We were lucky to have 15-58 as our florist for both the church and the entourage. I love the flowers. The bouquets, which include my bouquet, our mothers, the bride’s maid and our principal sponsors’ bouquet was very nice! The secondary sponsor’s flowers are pinned in a ball with a handle, this is to give them a free hand to light the candles, to pin the veil and to lay the cords on us. All the men in our entourage were provided with boutonnieres! The church flowers were amazing (please see the photos above, under “The Venue and Church”.

Thank you 15-58!

The Coordinator and Emcee
(Coming soon!)

The Supplier of Souvenirs
(Coming soon!)

The Hotel
(Coming soon!)

The Photobooth
(Coming soon!)

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Cooking 101

The joy that comes with food doesn’t end with eating.  The preparation and anticipation also has its fair share in the whole experience because I find cooking very liberating.  What I find enjoyable in cooking is that you get to be in full command.  Unlike photography for example where you could be limited by with what you have in front of you and the best you can do is make the most of it.  It is true that in Photography the opportunities are infinite but if there were varying degrees of infinity Cooking is on a larger horizon than Photography.

Hopefully this doesn’t spark a violent reaction to some but a mere push for a meaningful discussion will do.

So how do I cook? 

Not being a natural kitchen rat.  I honestly have a limited repertoire of cuisine under my belt.  Part of it is because of my poor memory and part because of the fact that I have only began appreciating cooking recently.

So how do I cook then?

Hormones or maybe some chemical reaction in my brain would swerve my thoughts on a particular dish.  For example the trusty “Laing”Laing is a dish consisting of Gabi Leaves slow-cooked in Coconut Milk.  This dish being popular in the Bicol Region of the Philippines is usually flavored hot although this dish when served in Manila tends to be more forgiving in the hot-ness category.

On this occassion, I had my mind set on making the Laing.  Mind you, I have never cooked Laing before but this is usually the case for most of the dishes I make.  Except for the staple Monggo, Baguio Beans and Kangkong dishes which I have done countless of times, the Laing will be the first for me.

So there I was buying the ingredients from the Supermarket and then realizing I missed something else and end up buying again this time at the “Talipapa” (roadside market).  I am to some degree a neat-freak so I normally slice up and wash up everything before I start heating up the pan.  I find it more enjoyable when everything is ready to drop so I can just focus on getting the taste right.

Unfortunately, the Gabi leaves were bought a week before I actually got to cook Laing and at the same time I bought some Tofu together with other stuff intended for another dish.  I love Tofu by the way and I prefer to cook my Tofu deep-fried in oil with some salt and cook it until crispy.  Not golden brown or well done but Crispy.

Back to the Laing.  So I was preparing the ingredients and I find the Gabi Leaves frozen.  Thinking that my goal was compromised, I tried to thaw the leaves under the 11am sun.  Eventually they broke free and what I ended up was a sort of soggy bunch of leaves which as I can recall is not the ideal way for Gabi Leaves to be unless it was anything else but Laing.

Sniffing the leaves here and there hoping that I don’t come across a funky smell that will spell the end of the Gabi Leaves, I was fortunate that they seemed okay.  So what I did was wash the leaves very very well just to be sure and squeeze them dry so they still have space in them to absorb the Coconut Milk.

As for the Coconut Milk, I am guilty of going for the shortcut and I bought the dehydrated type that you see often now in the Supermarkets.  These instant sauces vary from Coconut Milk to Sweet and Sour Sauce to anything you can think of.  I even find instant versions of Tom Yam which I hope to try in the near future.

Putting everything together was pretty basic.  What goes on after is the part I enjoyed most.  Being at the helm of the flavor.  One way or the other, I had the impression that “Bagoong” (fermented shrimp-lings) is an ingredient of the Laing and so I put them in.  Amazingly, the aroma of the base and the Bagoong was so inviting that my wife who was busy Facebooking or maybe doing some Office stuff got interested and took a peak.

“What did you do?” She asked.

“I added Bagoong, smells good right?”

“YES. Makes me hungry already!”

The reassuring words from my ever supportive wife somehow told me I was on the right path.  Enough for another curious experiment to sneak in.  Remember the Tofu I bought, usually, Tofu doesn’t have a long shelf life or fridge life for some.  So I thought, I could slice them and make them a part of the dish.  I have by the way some nice slices of Pork Belly in the mix which I toasted before adding Bagoong.

And so I did.  Pork Belly, Bagoong and Tofu in the mix.  Probably anybody who was looking wouldn’t have guessed that it was Laing that I was trying to cook but then when I finally poured in the Coconut Milk and sprinkled the Gabi Leaves evenly all over it became apparent that it will have to be Laing one way or the other!

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And there it was! Laing finally.  Me and my wife enjoyed it and got ourselves so full that afternoon.  I told her to watch out maybe for a few hours because if the Gabi Leaves have gone rogue we will be running for the toilet.

But the Gabi Leaves were behaved and we merrily kept what was left for the dish to bring back to Mama and brag! 🙂


Hello World – This is It!!

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I was still studying computer programming the first time I came across that rather stimulating phrase.  Back then my impression was that computer programmers were indeed the nerdy, aloof-type and I wasn’t surprised that all they could come up with for an introduction is a mere 2-worded phrase that sounded more like a cheap spinoff of the famous Japanese feline.  Little would I know that moving forward several years (ok, a few more several years) my golden time will come that I will suffer the same fate and croak up my own version of – Hello World.

People will be surprised to find out that Arianne is now blogging.  I recall when I was younger we used to have these formal theme writing routine in school.  Being the hyperactive child that I am, I never saw the relevance for it and sad to say I found it a pain. Getting my formal themes done was such an ordeal as I struggle to come up with ideas and there ever were… figure out how to make them cohesive. The whole routine was more of a forced exercise rather than the rewarding and enjoying experience. Nothing against it though as now I believe our teachers had the best intentions its just that in my case I wasn’t ready for it yet.

Who would have known that someday I will be scouring the internet searching how to make my own blog.  What happened? I ask myself now.  One important thing, I realized  is that our life experiences are more relevant for ourselves and in varying degrees to everybody else but no matter what, we have the strongest urge to share and keep. What makes it different now from before is that I find myself more focused and I have learned that experiences are best enjoyed by Appreciating. Unlike when I was younger, I was guilty of overlooking life because I was caught in the blurry of Wanting.

So what is this blog all about folks, this is about me and my wife as we go through experiencing life trying our best to relish their memories and share them.  We’ll talk about stuff we love to do and probably anything under the sun. What should make our page different is that everything here comes out from the heart without the unnecessary serving of glamour because we want you to see life that way we do.

And so the first page has been set and I now invite you to come and join us as we embark on this adventure called LIFE!