Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hobbyist from California

Remedy "usclabdog" Medina and his lovely wife.

Flickr name: usclabdog
Real name: Remedy Medina
Lives in: Glendale, California
Day Job: Clinical Lab Scientist, LA County-University of Southern California Hospital.Current Gear: Canon EOS 20D, Canon Ixus 50, 10-22mm, 17-85 IS USM, 70-300 IS USM, 100mm macro, 85mm f/1.2 L, 420EX flash

Our FPC Featured Photographer today considers himself a hobbyist but his photo stream reveals a very creative person whose work could easily be mistaken for a serious amateur and perhaps, that of a seasoned professional. Not very long ago, his photo entitled "coastal view from point reyes" was featured in Manila Bulletin's Picture Perfect section. Hobbyist? Yeah . . . right!

His real name is Remedy Medina but he is known in flickr, and in Flickers Photo Club (FPC), as “usclabdog”. He is a clinical lab scientist based in Glendale, California. Although majority of the members are Philippine based, his active participation in the discussion threads is testament to the fact that you do not have to be physically there to make your presence felt. His photo stream features beautiful landscapes of California but more importantly, his family.


"doppelganger" by usclabdog

FPC: Why "usclabdog" for screen name? It sounds a little far from Rem, your real name.

uusclabdog: USC stands for University of Southern California, which is where I work. I am one of the staff of the Core Lab, and during the time that I was creating my account in flickr, I was working like a dog there because a lot of old timers retired and it took us a long while to get some people aboard and be trained.

Actually my real name is Remedy, it was the bright idea of my father, he derived it from his name, Renato Medina, as most Filipinos do when they name their offspring. He thought that I was the remedy for their sadness and loneliness during the time that it took them awhile to have a baby. Kinda cheesy but that’s really the whole story.

FPC: What does your wife think about your hobby?

usclabdog: My wife thought that I was insane when I bought the canon 20D two years ago. She couldn’t fathom that a camera would cost that much. Initially she wouldn’t smile at the camera and most of the capture I have of her was that uneasy scowl on her face that was a cross between a smirk and a pout if one can imagine it.

And since this was before flickr, when I have totally no idea of what or how a full featured SLR or DSLR works. Prior to the 20D, I have a Canon G2 black which was always set in P mode and before that was the Kodak instamatic camera, didn’t know anything about shutter or, aperture priority for that matter.

There was this time when we went back to the Philippines for our vacation and my wife had this high school reunion in PUP and I brought the 20D during that party and it was indoor, I probably took more than 40 pictures, and out of it, 36 were blurred. And finally my wife said to me that line, that up to now, still reverberates very clear in my eardrums, "All that crappy pictures from that expensive camera?" I didn’t know the steep learning curve attached to it.

From then on I tried to read books and google stuffs about photography. Man, I was like a boxer on a comeback trail, like Rocky Balboa preparing to fight Dolph Lundgren (from the movie "Rocky IV"). And I think, I'm way better now than before, still a lot of flubs in lowlight situations but at least now I know how it happened, unlike before when I was totally clueless.

Nowadays she’s ok with this hobby, she’s actually impressed with some of the pictures that she would suspect that it wasn’t me who took it,... oh well =)

FPC: Do you have kids? Do you want your kids to be hook up with photography as well like you?

usclabdog: I have a 5 year old boy and a 10 year old daughter, both adorable and smart kids; I wouldn’t mind them making it as a hobby. Photography I think is also another medium for self expression and it is something that one can give as well as receive in terms of visual enjoyment.

FPC: How do you divide your time with your family and photography?

usclabdog: My family is with me every time I bring my camera with me. The drawback with that is the fact that kids doesn’t enjoy sceneries like adults, they get bored easily. Most of my pictures are taken during our family vacations and my wife does a good job of making them pre occupied while I try to shoot my pictures.

FPC: At the moment, photography is a hobby for you. Do you have plans on doing some professional work someday?

usclabdog: I would like to keep it a hobby. But if I’m going to do some professional photography, it would be by the way of photojournalism.

"carmel sunset" by usclabdog

FPC: Other than photojournalism, what’s your favorite photographic subject or subjects?

usclabdog: Landscapes, people/ street photography and now I'm beginning to like portraitures.

FPC: Do you have any other photographic ambition?

usclabdog: Although I like to take landscapes and sceneries, I'm always moved by images of people. I'm always inspired by those images that show determination, sacrifice, love, heroism, compassion, etc. It may not be realistic, but it is a dream of mine to do a photo-essay or photo documentary that will convey those messages.

FPC: Do you have any favorite photographer in particular?

usclabdog: I'm not gonna go far on this and I'm gonna go local, I am a total novice when I joined flickr and right away, it is Farl's images and photo tips that helped me learn exposures and most importantly, how to see things creatively, I'm almost always surprised at how he can come up with those stunning images from simple objects and make dramatic composition of those places that he has been too. On the other hand, since time and life magazines were the ones that gave me the first impressions about photography, I can say that the works of those photojournalists, especially James Nacthwey are my favorites.

FPC: Tell us about your dream gear.

usclabdog: A full frame sensor, 24-70 f/2.8L, 16-35 f/2.8L, 50 f/1.2L, 24-70 f/2.8L, 70-200 f/2.8L, Epson 80G picture viewer, Wacom Intuous, Mac pro.

FPC: How did you know about flickr? And how did you get "addicted" to it?

usclabdog: I learned about Flickr from mboogiedown, I stumbled on her Myspace webpage and I saw her pictures there, at that time I dont know much about photography and I asked her about where she learned to shoot pictures like that. She gave me the link to her photo stream in flickr and I was amazed at how good she is. Once I saw some of those awe inspiring work and creation of her and of those people here in flickr, I got hooked right away.

FPC: How did you know about FPC? Did another member invite you to join?

usclabdog: I remember being there in that thread that JE created for the planning and the initial push to create this group. He is also the one who invited me here.

FPC: What was your initial impression of FPC?

usclabdog: I know right away that this isn’t going to be just another pinoy group here in flickr. I know those guys who created the group are driven and are really motivated to prove that this is going to work.

FPC: What do you think about it now?

usclabdog: I'm not surprised at all, at how fast and how strong FPC have come along. It is poised to do a lot of great things and I'm really excited at the possibilities. Its one thing to be a progressive group in Flickr but it’s really a great accomplishment to be able to establish an identity, outside of this cyber community.
This photo was feature in Manila Bulletin's Picture Perfect not very long ago.

FPC: Your photo "coastal view from point reyes" has been previously featured in Manila Bulletin's Picture Perfect section. So how did it feel?

usclabdog: That’s a proud moment, I told my wife right away =). I’m not sure if it was the first picture selected on Manila Bulletin's Picture Perfect section, but at least here in Flickr I know it is the first one. I was really surprised that it got selected, not bad for a picture that I tried to snatch away from that day's fading light.

FPC: How long have you been living away from the Philippines? Nag-balikbayan ka na ba?

usclabdog: I was 22 when I started working abroad, spent almost 7 years in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, I get to go home every year when I was there, but when I finally decided to immigrate here in the U.S. it took me almost nine years before we were able to go back last august of 2005. Bitin na bitin yung one month to make up for those nine years, kaya were really looking forward to the next one.

FPC: There's an ongoing Nikon vs. Canon "asaran" in the group's discussion threads. Since you don't seem to be taking part on those threads, we'd like to ask what's your take on this? Do you believe that one brand is really better than the other?

usclabdog: There's a lot to learn from those guys, honestly I don’t know how Nikon cameras perform, I've never used one. But with the 20D that I’m using, I wasn’t happy with the dull colors that it produce, that’s why I played with the parameters and created the setting that I use now. On the other hand, a coworker of mine who bought the d200 complained about her blurred pictures of birds, which she later found out was not really blurred, she later learned from one of the photography forums, that the d200 has the tendency to soft focus, so she also changed the setting to make it sharper. It's the camera's strengths and weaknesses that I think we should learn to take advantage of, or be able to work around with.

Knowing how your camera performs and its limitation is more important I guess. Add to it is ones ability to see things creatively, compose and visualize the final image, and then if it’s really a good picture, Nikon or canon? Who cares, right?

FPC: Any word on anyone who wants to go into this hobby? Photography, I mean.

usclabdog: To those who want to go into this hobby, just read and study other people's work. Blurred pictures are fine...... as long as you don’t keep on making them. hehe. I mean, practice and learn how your gears work, and if it’s a recurring problem, please call technical support; maybe it's an OE problem which is more likely the cause..... (Operator Error!!!) and that’s something they cant help you with.... In that case you have the option of returning the camera to the store or try to learn and read anything out there about how the damn camera works. That's based on my own personal experience. LOL.

FPC: Any message to fellow FPC members?

usclabdog: Sa mga kapwa ko FPC members...Ang masasabi ko lang ay ito;Ikaw......ako.......tayong lahat.......magkakakapatid. .....bwehehe!! Where else will you find such a different cast of characters? I mean it in a good way hehehe guys are the best!

FPC: And before we forget . . . the ever-popular question - boxers or briefs?

usclabdog: oh yah, I use both. Boxer during summer, para well ventilated. Briefs during winter to avoid shrinkage hehe.


Anonymous said...

This is one interview that is revealing (obviously, interview nga eh!), engrossing, and hilarious at the same time! :D

Hey Rem! Your wife still got the scowl on her face! Hehe Joke joke! Lovely spouse! :D

Cheers! -- Robert

JC said...

so proud to have known sir rem... one of the best prides of FPC. congratulations sir... c",)

usclabdog said...

@robert, i showed the article to my wife, kurot inabot ko hehehe!please extend my appreciation to everybody.

@jc, salamat! your the new king of the hill for me, pagdating sa fashion photgraphy, ang lulupit nang mga recent postings mo bro.