Wednesday, April 25, 2007

PoW! 26th Week

That's a different sun over the sea right there!
In what planet this was shot, I definitely wonder.

Scream when you sing but not at the microphone.
What angst on that face and his locks fully grown!

Red downs black! Huddling in jubilation in victory!
But in defeat there is no shame, only short agony.

Here are this week's FPC's PoW!s, in no order of preference: almost empty sunset beach...
"... an almost empty sunset beach..."
by: cxAlena
Canon EOS 300D Digital, 1/400, f/14, 30mm, ISO100

Editor's Comment: A very nice silhouette shot of a beach. What amazed me is the shape that came out from the sun that looks like a star. Very nice shot.

by: redsago
Canon EOS 30D, 1/200, f2.8, 85mm, ISO640

Editor's Comment: This is a beautifully executed shot by any means. Technically excellent, sharp where it shoud be, concert lights, the expression, composition, exposure. Pure energy!!

by: richie_laz
No Exifs Available

Editor's Comment: The photog says on the description: "You can guess which team won." And yes we can. The greatest captures are those that tell a story, as we know. This one by Richie Lazaro captures a whole drama depicting victory and defeat. But it also narrates that in defeat there is consolation, among team members. There must really be "agony" in defeat, but there is no shame in it when you play fair and with all you've got.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

FPC March Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the FPC March Monthly Contest - "My Passion for Gadgets" Theme.

We would also like to to congratulate all the people who have submitted their entries. All of you are winners.

March Theme - Gadgets
"The Entries"

Here are the top 3 Winners:

3rd Placer

9 Music is Mine
"Music is Mine"
by: Igorms

2nd Placer

6 Techie Baby
"Techie Baby"
by: Squareroot

1st Placer

Me and My Toys
"Me and My Toys"
by: Hocchuan


Monday, April 23, 2007

A day With the Heroes

I always wanted to go to tourist spots or places around Manila and take photos. Believe it or not, I haven’t been to Manila zoo. I searched places around Makati and became so interested with the Manila American Cemetery. The description of the place in the internet fascinated me. It is considered as largest cemetery in the country and imagine, in this cemetery almost 17,200 military people who died in World War II were buried.

I gathered information on how to go there and if permits were needed before posting this in FPC. When I posted the invite to have the shoot on December 23, I got positive responses and many signed up. Kuya Robert a.k.a. Shutterbugrer organized the meeting time and place.

We met at around 1 PM at Market Market. Fifteen people joined the activity.

When we got to Manila American Cemetery, I was amazed by the place. It was so clean and a lot of spots to shoot. They have the so-called "Headstones" where the names of Filipino and American Heroes were written.

We took pictures of models emoting so well and feeling the grief, pattern shots in the graveyard, landscape, candid moments, and of course...jump shot. We stayed there until 5 PM because the cemetery closed at 5.

After the shoot, we went to Market Market and took dinner while JC, Lee, and the models went to Libis for a photo shoot.

The excitement didn't stop. There were fireworks display in Market Market. We took some shots and then went home.

Really, Manila American Cemetery was a place to be! I really recommend this place not only for photographers but for travellers.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

PoW!: 25th Week, by Members

Several weeks ago, we decided to let FPC members choose the Photos of the Week! And we asked for volunteers as we wanted the choosing to be a "labor of love" on the part of the picker. Today we bring you the debut issue of "Member's PoW!" It's your PoW!

Member's PoW! from hereon appears in alternate week with the "Editor's PoW!". Thus, the next issue will be on May 02, 2007, hopefully with a new batch of volunteers to pick the great photos we might have missed.

Here are this week's FPC's PoW!, in no order of preference:

table view of cockle bay

"Table View of Cockle Bay"
Essential exif: Nikon D80; 1.3 sec (13/10); f/4 @ 17 mm; ISO400

Photog's Comments: In between drinks and chat, I left my d80 on the table, and I inadvertedly snapped a frame.

Member-Picker's Comments: This is one of the most serendipitous images I have ever seen. You dont care about the out of focus motion blur junk on the sides of the table, the image at the far end came out spectacular.

ID Please by Rey Nocum

"ID Please"
by: Rey Nocum
No exif available

Photog's Comments: My macro shots are always at the minimum aperture or at f22 and shutter speed at 1/200 secs, seldomly using a monopod or tripod. For life size or higher magnification, I simply use an ordinary 50mm lens with extension tube attached. Greater magnification is achieved by attaching a diopter which I took from the teleconverter of my old P&S camera (inlcuding a 1.4X teleconverter). For lights, I use the camera's built in flash.

Member-Picker's Comments: Kuya Rey's macro shots are indeed sharp and eye-catching. Showing a clear and different side of our minute neighbors. This is one side of photography wherein we are given a "MAGNIFICENT" and "MAGNIFIED" view of nature's hidden beauty!

Bamboo by Doctian

Essential exif: Sony DSLR-A100; 0.005 sec (1/200); f/4.5 @ 180 mm;

Member-Picker's Comment: "Bamboo" is a creation out of simplicity. Emanating beauty through the superb DOF , artistic framing and vivid colors. A minimalist shot conveying beauty in simplicity.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

PoW! 24th Week

Here are this week's FPC's PoW!s, in no order of preference:

sayawan (SINULOG 2007)
"sayawan (SINULOG 2007)"
by: Victor Bautista
No Exifs Available

Editor's Comment: The moment I saw this photo. All I was able to say was WoW. The movement effects sorrounding the subject is just amazing. with the subject very sharp. Not to mention her smile, you can just feel that they are all having lots of fun celebrating. Just Wonderful.

book of love_05
"Book of Love"
by: BT Niko
Nikon D200, 1/1600, f/6.3, 105mm, ISO100

Editor's Comment: There's nothing more solemn than shooting a wedding ring with the Bible to exemplify sanctity of the God-initiated arrangement of marriage. Although this one may not be out of a wedding engagement and the book is a dictionary and not the Bible, the first thing that comes to mind when you look at the photo is marriage, and your bias will dictate that the book is the Bible at first glance.

In this photo, you can see both the words "love" from the appropriate page of the dictionary and the shadow of the ring cast on the inner part of the rib of the book, between the pages, forms a heart. I'd say that it is an imaginative concept, and is pretty inspiring for other photogs to "whip something out of the air."

Kristo 4
by: myklmabalay
No Exifs Available

Editor's Comment: It's a very well-crafted piece of photograph. I have nothing but praises for this photo. The facial expression, the blood and sweat on his face - they all work together to create a very powerful image.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Travel Special: Photograpy in Egypt

Photographing the Nile River from the balcony of our hotel room with my Canon EOS 20D.

Egypt is a photographer's paradise, I think. I said that maybe because I've never been here before and the subjects seem endless to me. Apart from the more obvious ruins of the Pharaonic era, the country offers plenty of interesting photographic subjects. The people, the streets, downtown Cairo, the colorful crafts and souvenirs, the overall landscape . . . It's definitely a place worth exploring.

Modern Cairo. My wife and I stood here for a good 30 minutes shooting people, buildings and interesting cars passing by. Some looked at us with curiousity but none, not even the police made an attempt to stop us.

I like the Egyptians general attitude towards photography. Not just the government but the people themselves. Most will smile for a photo and at no time did I encounter anyone who reacted offensively for having a camera pointed at them. As for the policies of the tourist spots, photography is virtually unrestricted. Maybe this is the general policy of the Egyptian government.

A tourism & antiquities police on a camel in the Giza plateau. Protecting visitors and at the same time, Egypt's treasures.

There's plenty of police presence everywhere. In the hotels, in every tourist sites and in almost every street. Before the tour guide takes us out for a trip, an authority asks the driver, where we are going which company they represent, how many tourists do they have with them and what nationalities. Whenever we arrive at any site, the same procedure occurs but they never bother the tourists.

An old Lada, Russian-made car. A lot of these cars are still in use as taxi cabs in Cairo.

While seeing the sites, hawkers and souvenir sellers will approach and try to be very persistent to an extent but would leave us alone when they sense that we're starting to get irritated. I guess they don't want anybody complaining to the police. I appreciated that. It simply shows that the police presence is there to do what they are supposed to do - and that is to protect the tourists (and the general public of course) and let them have a good time; NOT TO BECOME PARANOID ABOUT TOURISTS AND THEIR CAMERAS.

A security guard in traditional dress gladly smiled for a photo. He asked for a tip afterwards which is okay because I would have given him voluntarily.

The only place where I was stopped from taking pictures was in one portion of that walk along the Nile River in front of the Russian Embassy so I think the restriction was reasonable. The policeman, who was at some distance gestured politely and smiled. I understood what he was trying to say and so I smiled, gestured my apology, placed my camera in the bag and walked away.

Rowers at the Nile River.

One place where cameras are totally banned is inside the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. This is where they put on public display the complete collection of Tutankhamen’s treasures and the mummy of Ramses II. With the number of counterfeiters and thieves out there, the restriction is a well justified measure. Photography, however, is allowed at the front garden of the museum. But before, you go inside the building, you are required to deposit whatever camera you may have to the guards by the gate.

A demonstration on how papyrus paper is made. These papers last for thousands of years.

When I was already face to face with the 11Kg solid gold mask of Tutankhamen, I remembered that I still had my SE K800i in my pocket and right then, I felt the strong temptation to sneak a photo. But an angel kind of whispered into my ear not to and so I resisted it. A few moments later an Arab kid, did just that with his Nokia but before he could shoot, a guard in civilian clothes was quick enough to shout "No photos!" and stopped the kid from shooting. I could just imagine how embarrassing it might have been had that been me.

Painting on papyrus paper.

Cameras are also not allowed inside the Great Pyramids of Giza. I'm not sure why not considering there's absolutely nothing inside - just empty narrow corridors and an empty tomb. I guess the purpose was to prevent people from staying inside too long while taking souvenir snaps. Without photos, people move constantly in and out.

Tourists posing for a souvenir photo at the Pyramid of Cheops.

Other than the places mentioned above, photography is open in Egypt. Local people in traditional costumes will even be willing to pose for tourists with a camera. Be prepared to give a tip though. It doesn't matter whether you give him 1 or 100 Egyptian Pounds or any currency, as long as you give him some kind of a tip.

Sheesha bottles being sold as souvenirs at Al-Khalili Bazaar. We bought nothing but the shops welcomed visitors who just want to take pictures.

Tourism is Egypt's main industry and source of income. I admire the fact that the people here are not photophobic. Thousands and thousands come and go in this country on a daily basis from all over the world - Europe, Americas, and recently according to our tour guide, a lot from main land China. Have you ever wondered what makes these people come here? I have one good guess - it's the millions of pictures taken by other people who have been here before them.

Next: The Giza Plateau and the Great Pyramids



Related Articles:

Egypt, Land of the Pharaohs

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

PoW! 23rd Week

Here are this week's FPC's PoW!s, in no order of preference:

There's hope,.. right there.. somewhere.
"There's Hope... right there... Somewhere... "
by: Kamalayan
Canon Powershot S3 IS, 1/1250, f3.5, 56.8mm

An FPC Member's Comment: The photo is full of expression.. the photog captured innocence & hope in the eyes of his subjects

Editor's Comment: The Photographer wanted to send a message from this photo. And I felt that message. This photo was taken by Kamalayan during the FPC @ Paco Park charity event with the help of Child Hope Asia. Check their website. They have quoted the following message...

“Here we are, take a look at us.
Here we are, can you see us at all
All alone and unsure.
Can you feel our fears?
Let us share them all with you..”

--excerpts from the “Song on the Rights of the Child”

FPC @ the Park: tatoo
"FPC @ the Park: Tatoo"
by: Tipoy
No Exifs Available

Editor's Comment: The "FPC @ the Park Charity Event", I'm sure was an event full of laughter and exciting activities. Yet amids the frenzy, tipoy managed to look at the finer details within the event. This is a really good one. Well composed and well crafted.

Sunset - Kids at Play
"Sunset - Kids at Play"
by: jeridaking
No Exifs Available

An FPC Member's Comment: At first glance, this photo shows the qualities of exhibit display. Very well captured moment, both the background and the subject. Composition wise this follows the rule of thirds, likewise giving space towards the direction of the subjects path.
Silhouette to give impact to backgrounds' color, not to mentioned dynamic subjects. Overall, this photo tells a STORY.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Travel Special: Egypt, Land of the Pharaohs

The Great Sphinx standing guard in front of the pyramid of Chefren. On the background is the pyramid of Cheops.

Our "Little Adventures" just got a lot bigger this time. No local restaurant, no little anecdotes, or simple stories to share. This time we packed our bags and flew to Cairo, Egypt for a 4-days holiday. Let me share our "big" adventure with you.

How do I sum up Egypt? It is perhaps one of the most exotic, if not the most exotic place on the face of this planet. There are just not enough words to describe the whole experience. Culture, history, the people, the warmth . . . I think there's something for everyone.

Lighting effects on the Sphinx during the lights and sounds show at night.

The single most important reason why my wife and I decided to visit this beautiful place is to see the Pyramids of Giza and the pharaonic ruins and antiquities. We have studied these in school during our elementary and high school days. And then for me and my wife, in college while we were completing our studies in architecture.

Laser illustrations and dramatic lighting during the lights and sounds show.

For this reason, I've decided not to bore you with the details and history of the sites we've visited. There are already enough documentaries in Discovery Channel and National Geographic, plus the hundreds (or maybe thousands) of books written about them, and then there are also information that you can find in Wikipedia and other Internet sites, and then add to that what you have already learned from school. This article, then, will be about how it was like for us to travel to this land. I will be sharing here what went wrong, what went right and what went great - touristically and photographically speaking.


The Nile River as viewed from the balcony of our Sheraton Cairo hotel room.

We went to Egypt by availing of one of Qatar Airways Holiday packages. It is true that we have many Egyptian colleagues and friends who could simply give us advise (which many of them did) and give us some kind of a tour plan. Photography is, of course, the other main reason for going there. I wanted a trouble free trip, where I can concentrate on enjoying the sites and taking lots of pictures, so I decided to have everything organized and bought a holiday package.

The pyramid of Chefren, the only pyramid that retained the smooth limestone finish at its apex.

The holiday package we got included airport-hotel transfer and vise versa, a bed-and-breakfast Nile-view room at the Cairo Sheraton, and guided tours to the Pyramids of Giza, Memphis and Saqqara plus the light and sounds show at the pyramids at night. Aside from the light show, all guided tours were scheduled in the morning. It was strange that the Qatar Airways personnel who made our bookings said to us that guided tours are available only on mornings, none in the afternoon. Now, past experiences taught me that airport transport provided by the travel agent is usually late so made sure that I have the local travel agent's contact number on the Egyptian end. It happened to us in Singapore and then again in Orlando - and these people are supposed to be efficient.


Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. This is where I "met" Ramses II face to face. It's a shame that cameras are not allowed inside, otherwise I'd have a souvenir photo to show.

Anyway, we landed in Cairo International Airport with that expectation, but then, on our way to passport control, I saw this tall dark man holding a placard with my name, "ATIENZA", spelled correctly. I mentioned this because, for some reason, Arabs have difficulty spelling my name correctly. But he got it right. He was on time and gladly assisted us with changing our Qatari Riyals (QR) to Egyptian Pounds (LE). He introduced himself as Mahmoud from Thomas Cook.

The fallen colossus of Ramses II in Memphis. Memphis was the capital of Egypt during the period of the old kingdom.

On the way to the hotel, he briefed us on how the tour will go, what time we will meet with the tour guide and then gave us his personal cellphone number so we can call him anytime we need anything during our tour. He also assisted us with the hotel check-in and left us only after we got the key to our hotel room.

The Step Pyramid in Saqqara. This was the first pyramid ever built in Egypt. It is basically 6 mastabas built on top of each other. Unlike the Giza pyramids, the lime stones used here are much smaller.

In all the tours we did (all private tours), the tour guide was always on time and sometimes even early. We felt ourselves trusting the people around us - driver and tour guide. Often times, we had to leave some of our items in the van we were using as transport because they were inconvenient to carry around and we felt confident that it will not be lost, stolen or something. We felt safe. I guess that's the difference between a reputable travel agent and a so so agent.

View of Cairo from the Citadel of Saladin.

Our tour guide was very good and was able to explain the sites we visited very professionally. On a couple of occasions, we offered to pay for both the driver and the tour guide's lunch but they refused. The tour guide said that they're lunch is already included in the fees that we paid. I liked that. On another occasion, he took us to a buffet restaurant and again, we did not have to pay for his lunch, because tour guides are entitled for a free lunch in that restaurant. Very professional, I have to say.

View of the Alabaster Mosque inside the Citadel of Saladin. Those who have seen the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" would remember Saladin as the Muslim leader and nemesis of the Crusaders.

The original program that we paid for only included tours in the morning so our afternoons were pretty much vacant. I decided to inquire from the tour guide if it would be possible for him to take us to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in the afternoon and to The Citadel of Saladin the next afternoon. He said yes and with that, he called his office to inquire how much for those tours. After informing us, (and we agreed on the price), we proceeded without any paper works, or advance payment. How nice it is to do away with red tape.

When it was time to go, again, our transport was in the hotel earlier than scheduled which is a good thing because on our way to the airport we got caught in a huge traffic jam. No worries since we have some time to spare. In the airport, Mahmoud even assisted us with checking in so my wife and I just had to sit comfortably and wait instead of standing and waiting in line. Mahmoud did that for us.

Overall, my wife and I enjoyed our trip and would actually consider it as one of the very best trips we've ever had. And the oppotunity to stand right next to the ancient monuments of human achievements is very humbling and quite an experience that is definitely like no other.

Next: Photography in Egypt