Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Professional Expatriate

Alex T. Atienza calls himself a "professional expatriate". Almost ten (10) years ago, his job beckoned him away from Manila; and he is now based in Doha, Qatar.

Alex as a photographer is very serious about his craft, one who believes that sharing his knowledge and experience with others is a win-win situation. His friends see him as a picture-perfect (no pun intended) photojournalist and a promising writer because of his very informative articles which can be found in the FPC Blogspot and his personal blog entitled Little Adventures.

I'm a "professional expatriate." Architecture is what I do for a living. Photography is what I do for fun. I travel occasionally to see the rest of the world and explore the local culture and cuisine. At the moment, Doha is my home and I plan to eventually return to Manila - but not yet.

E-Interview of Alex T. Atienza

FPC: Please tell us your flickr screen name.
alexdpx: I am known in flickr as ‘alexdpx’.

FPC: Your initials is ATA. What does "dpx" in your screen name mean?
alexdpx: dpx = digital pix

FPC: What is your current occupation?
alexdpx: I’m a Senior Architect for an international consulting firm.

FPC: You said that you are a Senior Architect for an international firm. Doesn't that use up all your time to be able to make photography as your hobby?
alexdpx I will admit that it’s a very demanding job. At times, I’m even requested to visit construction sites even on weekends and holidays. But there are times when work is a bit more relaxed that I can even afford to go home early or come to work late. Besides, "if there’s a will, there’s a way."

FPC: How do you feel being the 1st Photographer to be featured in the FPC Blog.
alexdpx: Flattered. Out of the many and more talented members, you guys chose me. And then that new Mercedes Benz ad campaign (in Europe and here in the Middle East. Not sure if it’s the same there) ran into my head: "There are a thousand lists we make as an attempt to organize our lives. But every list has one thing in common; there is always a first." So now, I kind of feel like a Mercedes Benz – hehehe.

FPC: Tell us briefly how you got into photography. When did you start?
alexdpx: I’ve always loved taking pictures for as long as I can remember but I think getting into it more seriously started in 3rd year high school when I finally managed to convince my parents to buy me my own camera for my birthday gift in 1983. I would usually make regular visits to National Bookstore or Goodwill Bookstore and flick through the pages of photography books in the shelves.

Timeless Redux

FPC: When did you join Flickers Photo Club? Who invited you?
alexdpx: I would say I’ve been with FPC long before it was known as FPC. I was in the very first model photo shoot in April 2006 along with Hocchuan, ronrag, Stitch, Boso, Ed’s, Code 1700 and Dboy. I was also in the Manila Bay sunset shoot in the same month. When this group was officially made into a separate flickr group, I was sent an invitation to which I joined immediately and without second thought.

FPC: Do you remember your very first camera?
alexdpx: Ricoh KR10 rangefinder. It was a camera-el-cheapo with plastic everything. But it did taught me some good lessons, especially on the fundamentals of shutter speed / aperture relationship, and manual focusing by judging the subject’s distance. It has no AF at all.

FPC: What is your current gear? (camera body/bodies, lenses and flash guns only)
alexdpx: Canon EOS 20D with Canon EF 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and a Canon Speedlite 420EX.
Lately I’ve been finding my Sony Ericsson K800i Cyber-shot camera phone dependable in some situations.

FPC: Any Plans on upgrading your gear soon?
alexdpx: One of my favorite mottos, "If it’s not broken, don’t fix it." So the answer is NO. I would like to have a couple of fast lenses but they’re not exactly cheap. I’ve learned to work around the limitations of my current lenses so I’m trying to find a very compelling reason to buy those expensive lenses.

FPC: What’s your favorite photographic subject or subjects?
alexdpx: Travel, Candid Portraits and Sports. But I also love to shoot anything when opportunity presents itself.

FPC: It appears that the portrait of the girl is post-processed to perfection, meaning she could be someone close to you?


alexdpx: It's post processed, yes, but to how I have preconceived it when I clicked the shutter. I could have used a film SLR with black & white film, a 50mm f/1.4 lens with a green filter and a soft-focus filter on top of it. But I don't have those. All I have is a DSLR and Photoshop CS2 yet I achieved the same effect. So the end justifies the means. To answer the question, yes she is someone close. She's a friend's daughter. But close or not if the photo is nice, it's nice.

FPC: I visit your flickr photostream regularly and I admire all your high speed and sports photo shoots very much. Don't you plan to get into sports photography?
alexdpx: The thing is I shoot for my own pleasure. I wouldn’t mind doing something like the "Live Extreme" that you guys did a while back but I don’t think I would want a career in sports photography. Architecture is what I do for a living; photography is what I do for fun. I have not been able to shoot sports since March of this year so my hopes are high when the Asian Games comes to town this December.

Fast 2

FPC: Martina Hingis is a very popular international tennis star. How did it feel being able to personally take her picture in action?

Martina Hingis 8

alexdpx: Just the same way you feel about photographing a celebrity from a distance. This one's shot from the upper box of the grand stand.

FPC: How does your family feel about your expensive hobby?
alexdpx: My parents think I’m wasting my money. My wife understands it to a certain point, but frowns whenever I insinuate on buying a new gear or gear accessory.

FPC: Any favorite photographer in particular?
alexdpx: Steve McCurry, the famous National Geographic photographer responsible for the portrait of the Afghan girl. I believe that portrait is now the most recognizable photo in the world. Second favorite would be Gary Gladstone. He's the corporate photographer of some of the top 1000 corporations in the world

FPC: The world is dying and everybody wants to know... is it Boxers or Briefs???
alexdpx: And this question is related to photography because . . .? Okay, hahaha, seriously, I tried boxers before – comfortable but not very supportive so I went back to briefs.

FPC: What’s your dream photo shoot?
alexdpx: There was this rock star contestant named Storm Large. I’d love the chance to do my versions of her portrait. Another one would be the Chittagong Ship breaking Yard in Bangladesh. Photographically speaking, it’s reputedly the most forbidden place anywhere in the world. A third dream would be the Forbidden City in China.

FPC: Tell us about your dream gear.
alexdpx: I believe that the future of digital photography is full-frame sensor. Therefore, I’d like to get my hands on 2 Canon EOS IDsMkII bodies or their successors. Plus a few fast ‘L’ lenses.

FPC: What’s your photographic ambition?
alexdpx: To travel to as many places, photograph them and their people and eventually be able to publish and sell my own photo book.

It Was A Hard Day

FPC: "Its not the Arrow that Matters, It’s the Indian" Can you share us some of your personal insights regarding this old saying?
alexdpx: I've learned about that line from one of ronrag's comments to one of the discussion threads. And I agree with that. I mean, there are people who believe that "nothing less than an 'L' lens will do" to produce top-notch, commendable photography. But let's not forget, that camera gears are just tools. While it is often times necessary to use the right tools for certain jobs, to me, it's more on how you make use of the available tools at hand. Case in point - Wasaby's winning photo in the recent Fireworks shoot contest.

FPC: What would be your final message to your fellow FPC members?
alexdpx: To fellow FPC members. This is the most active group I've ever joined-in in flickr with the friendliest administrators who never seem to run out of ideas for gimmicks and activities - all for the benefit of the members. You guys and girls made the right decision on joining this group.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Low-Cost DigiMate II-Plus for FPC members

digimate II plus
Originally uploaded by erxkulotz.
FPC buddies, are you longing for a release from your burdensome laptop when you go out on an extended location shoot, when you expect that your available memory cards will not afford you enough space for all the great photos you plan to capture? Maybe you are in want of a gadget that will accommodate Gigabytes of pixels from whatever type of memory card? At a cost that’s not too “carcinogenic” for your pockets? Fret no more! Digimate™ is here to solve your problem.

Long popular among a small number of FPC members, Digimate™ is a small portable storage device that could house a 2.5 inch Hard Disk (bought separately), similar to the ones being used on Laptops regardless of capacity. You can Copy/Backup your digital files direct from your memory cards (CF, SD, XD, Memory Stick/Pro, MMC and SMC) to the hard disk, without the use of a Laptop or a PC.

Please read all about it on the previous post of our fellow FPC member, Neiltot. A review about the Digimate™ II-Plus. You can find the review here:

If you are planning to buy one, then another GOOD NEWS! All FPC members will be able to get this convenient item at a lower cost, thanks to the help of our FPC Member, Shutterglass, who mentioned: “I know a few here have gotten this cool on-the-go device for instant storage, and a lot more would follow on track as this is one invaluable storage device.”

FPC member, feeling like it’s your lucky day after reading this, then contact our friend Shutterglass through his flickr mail for more information on how to get hold of this irresistible deal. :)

Monday, October 16, 2006


In the beginning, a Flickers Photo Club (FPC) member, Square Tan, invited other Club members via the discussion threads to drop by the Mall of Asia to check out fireworks every Friday and Saturday evening at 7pm. And last week, the invitation has been accepted!

The Club setup a photoshoot meet for the members to be able to experience how to shoot fireworks. Eventually the group decided to make this photoshoot into a Fun Photo Contest of Fireworks Photos with some of the members contributing small token prices for the top three (3) photos to spice things up: Celina_D contributed 3 gift certificates of massage treatment from Ceragem Philippines, and Joel, a.k.a., From the inside looking out, offered to give the 1st price winner a flickr “pro” account.

On the heels of the just-recently concluded membership party of the Flickers Photo Club (FPC), the Club conducted this first formal photo contest last October 7, 2006 at the Mall of Asia where the fireworks display team from Starmaker regularly fire up the bay with colorful explosions of light. Nine (9) FPC members met that night before the spectacle, with an FPC Admin registering in the members who arrived. After which, the members took their preferred positions to shoot the fireworks display—some at the Music Hall, some at the walkway and some at the breakwater along the Manila Bay. All held their breath at the announcement of the last 5 minutes before the display; and each FPC member check their final setup—camera, tripod and all.

At 7 PM, Starmaker hit the “fire” button and within 5 minutes, the FPC members scrambled to shoot, chimp to see how the camera captured the fireworks, adjust settings accordingly and repeat the whole process again! Then there was silence in the sky as the smoke from the last explosions diffused, and each FPC member hugged the camera to check the LCD displays of what they captured. The realization that Fireworks Photography is quite a challenging field hit the members as soon as they see some of the shots. Nonetheless, in the next five days, entries trickled in.

These are the 9 entries to the photo contest and the FPC member submitting them:

by: Ed's
The photos above are only the other 6 entries that FPC Admins have received, and all of them did a great job! A congratulations to all joiners for a job well done is in order. But there has to be a winner, so these photos were forwarded to the 7 waiting judges. The judges, who burned candles and eyebrows determining the winners of the photo contest, are all FPC members also, most of them are based overseas.
The criteria with which these judges chose the winning entries are:
30% technical quality, 30% artistic merit, 20% originality and 20% x-factor.
And finally, here are the top 3 winners of the FPC's Fun Photo Contest – Fireworks Category:
3rd Place Winner
"best timing. The stem of the starburst made the deal. Plus the scale of the fireworks was highlighted by the discreet yet effective inclusion of the background." - Farl
"An original shot with care on the quality, it is sharp and well highlighted. gives an impression of a rain of fire on a selected area." - Mushroom & gadgets

"I like the way this photo shows the fireworks from launch to explosion and the way the small elements on the ground was used as a point of reference of height. It gives the picture a feeling of movement and scale by leading the eyes from the ground to the three distinguishable explosion of colors that simply sparkle in the darkness of the evening sky. " - Alexdpx
2nd Place Winner
"technically superior and one of the cleanest shot of the entries. A close second." - Farl
"I like the way this was composed. The blue and red half radial on top left and the yellow colored sparklers both work together. Because of the beautiful composition, it shines above the other straight forward shot into the sky type. " - Alexdpx
"very nice crop and composition. the different colored lightstreaks works well in the blend with the main colors *gold*. good work" - Bert671
"Wow! Beautiful streaks & bold colors!" - merlysunflower
"I like mood of lights, they seems to be giant golden ferns while the patterns of the above sparkling lights seems to make a reflection." - Ayeona
1st Place Winner
by: wasaby

"nice colors. nice composition, the spread helps the colors strength. very pleasing to the eyes the mix of colors." - Bert671

"Fantastic shot! Great varieties of colors to light up the skies!" - merlysunflower
Read about the whole experience of the 1st Place winner wasaby at her blogsite article entitled "FPC @ MOA Ok!
Congratulations to all the winner!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

film-like digital black and white

My previous techniques in black and white conversion is not at all simple and easy as I have previously discussed. And as time goes by, we discover ways of improving our photoshop skills and I just discovered another photoshop way of approximating the film-like contrast of a black and white print from a black and white film where the blacks and the greys seem to be sharper.
The simplest way is not always the best way but if we can simplify our work flow with the least steps and at the same time achieving a desired effect, then, it is an effective way! Black and White conversion using the Channel Mixer is a very tedious trial and error of mixing and sliding the red, green and blue channel. An improvement which susbequently caught my attention is by using the Highlight/Shadow Adjustment Layer after the desaturation step but still, it didn't get the desired film-like effect, much more the simplicity i've been looking for.
I found a new b&w conversion technique in the CMYK Color Mode with the least complications thus far. Open your image, go to CMYK Color Mode, desaturate your image, then create a curve adjustment layer where you only have to push up the Black curve to increase the contrast and darken the grays into blacks!! as simple as that!! You can also add a tint of color by tinkering with the individual Cyan, Magenta and Yellow curves. Adding some film grain will further enhance your black and white images but for now, i'm satisfied with my new found conversion technique.

Many thanks to Jorgette for the modelling efforts...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

What "FPC" Is for FPC

If you are a teen, or even 30-, 40-, or even 50-een, you probably have spent countless hours on the internet pouring over photos of your “Friends”-ters. And you might also have “EB”ed with your chatmates or YM pals. Therefore, the letters F, P, and C -- for “Friends”, “Photos”, and “Chat” could represent a world of pleasure for you within the cybersphere. But if you really love Photography, I suppose you have also visited, the online photo storing, sorting, sharing and searching website of choice for many photographers like me.

Being social creatures, we Filipino photographers are drawn into online “groups” within One of these has just morphed itself into a formal club. The founding members named it “Flickers Photo Club.” Only five months old, it has already conducted over 10 photo events. Do you like portrait and glamour photos, like you ones you see on cheeky glossy fad magazines? Well, we share the same passion and therefore, in our photostreams you will find abundant photos of beautiful women—and occasionally, men—in simple to acrobatic, creative to not infrequently, err…overstretched poses.

Perhaps you love to socialize with a drink in hand. Well, we FPC members do too! But we party with a twist—a drink in one hand, and a camera on the other! And probably, the greatest accomplishment we have to our credit this year is the membership party dubbed “The Unveiling of FPC.” We just recently pulled this one off last September 14, 2006 at the Nirai Japanese restaurant at the Greenhills Shopping Complex, San Juan, Metro Manila.

Just recently, last September 16 to be exact, we just covered the La Salle Live Extreme at the PICC Forum. We also got some of our works published in some magazines too, like the one you see at the right. The one page on this Fudge magazine displays the moments we captured during one of our stints capturing photos at the Tiananmen Bar fashion event last September 19, 2006. It includes a photo of us Admins of the FPC online group with bottles of San Mig Lights on our hands! That should signal that we are also a friendly bunch who likes to have the leisure beside the business, too!

Many more events are planned and the future of the Club is being crystallized. Perhaps, you would like to join a pleasantly different bandwagon of "Friends, Photos, and Chat."

Welcome aboard FPC! -- Shutterbugrer

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monster Lenses

The longest focal length in my collection of 3 lenses is 300mm. At that length, the slightest vibration, mirror slap or movement of any kind becomes easily recognizable in pictures if you are not careful enough with your settings and handling.

Lenses that are 400mm and beyond are usually referred to as super-telephotos. They are "the holy grail of optical design and the enemy of your bank account".

Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 4/1700

The monster of all monster lenses fitted to a Hasselblad 6 x 6 medium format camera, the owner's camera of choice.

To those who are not familiar with Zeiss labelling convention, 4/1700 means 1700mm f/4.

Announced by Zeiss in this years Photokina in Germany, there is only one in existence at the moment and is the property of a mystery owner. This lens was developed by Carl Zeiss for a customer with very high demands and special interest in long distance wildlife photography. This lens is now the largest telephoto lens for non-military use - anywhere in the world.

It weighs at a staggering 256 kg (564 lbs). I guess this lens will have to be permanently mounted on a Hummer H2-T.

Top view of the T* 4/1700.

The owner, as previously mentioned was not disclosed but the photos released by Carl Zeiss indicates some clues. Notice the Arabic markings and the 'State of Qatar' emblem next to it. My goodness - this Qatari is unbelievably rich!

The price? Not disclosed. But the lens blanks used to to cast the lens elements were valued at a cost more than a luxury sedan. Producing the final lens elements added even more to their value. You do the math.

More details on this lens at and

Other Monster Lenses:

Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM

Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6 L USM. There are belived to be only 12 in existence.

Before the T* 4/1700, this was the longest, most exclusive and perhaps the most expensive photographic lens in the world

Introduced by Canon in 1993, and discontinued in 2005. (Although the EF 1200mm is still included in Canon's EF lenses catalogue so I suppose you can still order one for yourself.) The initial price for this lens was US$89,579. It weighs more than 36 pounds (16 kg), comes with its own heavy-duty tripod and case, and was built only by request. There are believed to be around a dozen of the EF 1200 mm lenses in existence. Sports Illustrated magazine owns two of them, as does Canon Professional Services and James Jannard, the billionaire founder of Oakley.

Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 EX

The Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 EX fondly called "the Sigmonster" by Filipino birds photographer Romy Ocon.

The smallest in this group but not small by any means. At US$ 6,200 this is the most affordable super-telephoto lens. (I mean compared to the first two.)

First announced at Photokina 2002 it is 21.4 inches in length and 12.7 lbs in weight. Front element is 6 inches wide.

Comparison test between this lens and the Canon Ef 500mm f/4 L IS made by Filipino birds photographer Romy Ocon here:

So, got a few extra thousandsssss and don't know what to do with them?



Photos have been sourced out from various internet websites. Copyright remains the property of their owners.