Category Archives: Photography

Twenty six and who’s counting?

Canoes at the Hammerman Area Beach of Gunpowder Falls State Park.

Canoes at the Hammerman Area Beach of Gunpowder Falls State Park.

I turned 26 yesterday and I’m not skipping a beat with my life. A little under two weeks ago I got an Olympus E-500 and I have been photographing like crazy. I have new pictures on flickr.

A friend and I went to Gunpowder Falls State Park, and went to the beach there for some great pictures. Above is one, there will be more in the coming days.

“Accidents out on the highway to somewhere…”

A truck going the wrong way on a highway in Florida. Yeah, right.

A truck going the wrong way on a highway in Florida. Yeah, right.

I need to write about this because I want to know if I what I have been going through is typical or not. For some reason, my listening repertoire has been stuck on Yellowcard’s Lights and Sounds for the past three months.

It’s on my mp3 player. It’s on my computer. I tend to carry a burned disc of the album with me wherever I go. No matter what I do, even with a couple thousand songs in my collection, I can not seem to veer away from this particular album.

I don’t intend to review every song the album carries, all I can say is that it contains a song for every particular mood that I experience, and somehow, there is a song from that album that is playing in my head. For almost any event that I go through in my daily routine there is a song that seems appropriate for the moment at hand.

To be honest, it creeps me out just a little bit. While I have a tendency to listen to a certain song on repeat for hours on end, this whole album has got me hooked. I can’t explain it beyond saying that “it’s my current favorite, and among the many favorites that I have had in the past, this one actually has lasted more than a week.”

Is there anyone else out there who experiences this?

Been a while

Sunset on SR-814, Atlantic Blvd, Pompano Beach, Florida

Sunset on SR-814, Atlantic Blvd, Pompano Beach, Florida

Last night I fell asleep writing into my paper journal (which by the way has had most of my attention the past few weeks as well). It was about the scales of time with which we perceive our lives.

Note that historians can reduce centuries into mere bullet points, not just because there may not be enough on record (we all know the 19th century has enough record-keeping to go abotu) but also because so much can happen even in the space of three weeks in one person’s life that the sheer totality of human events, when taken into perspective can both be intimidating and trite at the same time.

In three weeks I came back from a week’s vacation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, got hired somewhere else, quit the previous job two days before I started with the new one, started work at the new job, started making new friends, keeping in touch with the ones I made from my old job…

It’s been a long ride, and when I look back I don’t even realize that it’s been less than a month since my vacation.

“Fine” would be the understatement of the year in describing how I feel these days.

My well-travelled shoes are ready to travel again

My well-travelled shoes: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

My well-travelled shoes: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Some people go on vacation to recharge themselves and let them continue with the work from which they took a break. Other people go on vacation to see what more the world has to offer beyond the narrow tunnel around them that their work has become. I think the group under which I fall is an obvious one.

I have returned from my vacation in Florida with a few changes in my life in mind.


A student sits with his head down, avoiding the bright light of that day.

A student sits with his head down, avoiding the bright light of that day.

Wouldn’t it have been easier for him to sit in the shade, than to spend several minutes on this sunny bench twisting and turning his head to keep it out of the glare?

Was this some ill-planned rendezvous with someone?

We may never know; all I know is that before I pulled my camera out and long after I put it back in my pocket this guy was doing his best to avoid the sun in his eyes while sitting on that bench.

UMCP Chapel, Post-snowfall

The UMCP Memorial Chapel After Snow

The UMCP Memorial Chapel, after last week’s snowfall.

Less than a week after the last snowfall of more than eight inches in College Park, MD, not much is left of the snow. A couple of warm days this week took most of it from the ground. I snapped this picture the day after, on a hike up to campus.

Two smokers

Two smoking students

Two students smoke close to the doors of McKeldin Library, despite the act being proscribed within fifteen feet of any building entance on campus.

If there is one single rationale for the rash of voyeuristic photos that I have recently posted, it’s that this is my first venture in actually photographing people and making them look good in the pictures I have taken. I have been taking pictures with a digital camera for almost four years now, but this is about the only time that I’ve started to take good pictures of people.

In this photo I capture a moment shared by two friends (or lovers, maybe?) as they smoke outside the library. It is ill-composed in a way: they should have had at least their feet and, for good measure, some ground to give them full form. However this was taken on the spur of the moment. Creatively cropped it could be good too, but I have resisted the urge for that in lieu of being able to compose a picture (and crop using the zoom) with a mind set towards taking a good frame. That way I can practice my shooting without relying heavily on post-processing techniques (which I would use in a professional setting anyway).

The phone call

A student sits, immersed in a phone call.

A student sits, immersed in a phone call.

There are many things I like about this photo of a student sitting in front of the Library. The perspective of his figure against the door may be a bit off (depends on your taste, really) but it holds its own strange charm to my eye.

Studying alone under the sun

A student studies under the sun on a crisp February morning outside McKeldin Library.

A student studies under the sun on a crisp February morning outside McKeldin Library.

I spent last Monday morning walking around campus. I got bored with taking pictures of the usual stuff (there are only so many angles of a building one can take without getting sick of it) that I decided to take candid shots of people. My camera has an additional lens assembly both telephoto and wide angle shots so I can point the camera in someone’s general direction and in a way that doesn’t look too imposing.

Here a student sits at the steps in front of McKeldin Library; it was pretty windy but the sun was really bright, perfect seasonal weather, I must say.

Something esoteric

A blue lightbulb over the USS Intrepid.

A blue lightbulb over the USS Intrepid.

I’ve taken my time getting back to writing about apolitical things as I am finishing up on a long-overdue project of mine that simply needs to get done. With the schedule I hold, it’s almost impossible to write anything of great length on my site.

In a way, this is what I want to start the year with, though. I want to detox my site, even by a little bit. I am still up to date on my current events and I still visit the blogs on my reading list whenever I can get to it, but nowadays I just don’t feel like reacting to much of what I read anymore.

The truth is, there’s just so much that I want to write about, including all the wine I have had over the past two months, the food, the TV shows, the goodies I’ve bought…

Just as the photo above of a blue lightbulb threaded on a wire over the USS Intrepid counts as one of the more esoteric of my work, I will be moving towards something a bit more esoteric writing-wise, at least relative to what I have focused on in the past and what a lot of my political blogging peers have been busy over.

NYC: The lovers in Central Park

Against a backdrop of the bright NYC skyline, a couple takes a picture of themselves.

Against a backdrop of the bright NYC skyline, a couple takes a picture of themselves.

Looking through the pictures I have taken in my trip to New York, I realized that my voyeuristic photography didn’t start at the USS Intrepid, but in Central Park, where I took this most candid and most spontaneous of shots. The timing of the photo—as the autofocus light on their camera illuminated their faces—was serendipity given life.

On a technical level this may not even be a good photo, but the more I have looked at it the more it has grown to be one of my favorites.

NYC: Weird photographic fetish

A tourist prepares for a shot of the city in front of a Blackbird.

A tourist prepares for a shot of the city in front of a Blackbird.

On New Year’s day itself, we went to the USS Intrepid museum; it was one of the places my friend absolutely had to go to, and I like going to military exhibits.

I have been to plenty of museums in my life and the one offputting thing I find about them is that they can be quite sterile. Military exhibits are no different, but the lifelike displays of people help soften the edges a bit. It was while we were perusing the exhibits (and slowly getting over a minor camera equipment hullaballo that totally pissed me off for the better part of half an hour) that I discovered a near-perverse fascination with other photographers: almost all of the shots I took at the USS Intrepid involved people photographing the exhibits or each other. Above is one, I’ll be posting more soon.

NYC: Emotional Chiaroscuro

The NYC skyline as seen from Central Park.

The NYC skyline as seen from Central Park.

I had no intention of blogging while I spent the New Year’s weekend in NYC; with what little time we had, there was no time to blog. Coming out of the Port Authority I was flooded with a sensation both alien and familiar. It was like being back in the most urban of places in the Philippines, only on a scale whose enormity was overwhelming.

It is this setting that makes the kindness of strangers in seemingly mundane circumstances transfigure into little miracles. The anthology of little New York Miracles would seem almost banal (and I say this without trying to detract from the genuine kindness in both cases) should they have happened anywhere else.

The contrast between the grinding gears of the city and the brightest moments of humanity are a living chiaroscuro: framed by the darkness, the light seems only ever brighter. I have seen this before, and if there is one thing that I will forever take with me from my first visit to NYC it is the reacquantaince with that feeling and perspective, finally unearthed after four years of suburban living.

Zoo day highlights

Out of the many, many pictures from my day at the zoo, these three pictures caught my eye the most and I’m giving them a post of their own:

Gray seal.

This gray seal takes a break on its rock platform.

Pelican perched on rocks.

I got this shot of a pelican on the rocks holding still long enough to be caught on camera without causing motion blur.

Greay seal.

The sun sets behind Du Pont Circle, setting the buildings aglow with golden light.

See these pictures on Flickr: Seal, Pelican, Sunset over Du Pont Circle

A day at the zoo

I’m tired of politicking, and the break that I took this Labor Day weekend was a welcome refuge from Hurricane Katrina blamefests, demands for heads to roll, and other nasty stuff.

As beautiful days go, Monday was rare: bright light, a partly cloudy sky with no hazy cover, and a huge drop in humidity all got together for a day that says “get the heck out of the hoose!”

UMCP Memorial ChapelIt all starts at UMCP, for lunch. Here’s the Memorial Chapel. This one has been a sort of Holy Grail of photography for me; until recently I’ve had only a one “perfect” picture of the damned thing, and that was a 5-second night exposure. This one, though, captures the day perfectly.

Looking up theescalator at the Adams Morgan Metro Station. After lunch, it was off to the National Zoo, an easy Metro ride through to the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan stop. This stop, coupled with that of DuPont Circle’s is one of the highest and steepest I’ve had to go on. I have some problems with vertigo, and while the rushing wind doesn’t help, it wasn’t as bad after a few deep breaths.

Some local color at Starbucks: a lady with an Afghan hound and her coffee mate. Outside Starbucks, we run across some local color: a lady with an Afghan hound was enjoying the weather with her friend.

Exotic dog, dressed up middle aged woman at a Starbucks outside an expensive apartment building: this is as close to the upper crust local color at Washington as you can get without engaging K Street’s cockroaches.

Cheetah cubs. First stop in the zoo itself was for some young, exotic pussy: cheetah cubs.

I’m probably equally guilty as the next guy when it comes to anthropomorphising these beasts. Yes, the cheetah cubs are cute and they act like kittens. They’re not cute enough for me to want one, unlike the next animal…

Scimitar-horned oryx. Extinct in the wild. These scimitar-horned oryx are said to be extinct in the wild. My friend and I wondered how the wild would take them back.