On March in 2009, prior to me owning the high-power zooming ultra compact Lumix ZS3 and a Canon EOS 550D, I brought my trusty Nokia N82 camera phone to Davao City in time for the now annual Davao Food Appreciation Tour (DFAT) through the efforts and graciousness (not of the local DOT as you might think but) of local bloggers to show us visitors a different story to the city otherwise famous for its durian and suha. Think about it: taking upon a daunting task of getting select local restaurants’ buy-in to feed a group of hungry travelers from Manila for free is no easy task. But it’s happened AND it will again this year, this coming weekend, on its third straight year in a row. This “food tourism” project is the initiative of Davao City bloggers Ria, Drew, Blogie, and Chattee.
Looking back, let me re-count with words and a few food pron photographs how much of a swell time I had with good friends and great company. We did spend for our own airfare and accommodation, yes, but going to Davao with no other intention but to grub (and enjoy the city on the side) was IMHO a three-day travel-adventure worth saving up for.
During Lunch of the first day, we were sat inside the quaint Tadakuma Japanese Restaurant at Damosa where we were served one flavorful Japanese dish after another: Atuyaki Tofu, Sukiyaki, Yakisoba, Gomoku Chahan, and Gyoza. Of the lot, I’ll never forget their Sukiyaki, priced at a low P380.00 last year. Although I don’t have a photo of it here, I fondly recall its sheer magnificence (so not kidding) when I day dream inside meh Japanese fast food restos in Makati. Quite comparable to the Sukiyaki from the Jap resto along Pasay Rd and near Pasong Tamo (I’m not saying which, exactly LOL).
From this point, onwards, please hover on the images for descriptions. Thank you.
At dinner, we went to Aileen and Ria’s (the birthday girl 04.28 yay!) favorite restaurant, Lachi’s, where they served Cream Dory in Thai Sauce (limited release and “coming soon” back then), Breaded Tofu in Teriyaki Sauce, Laing Pasta (see how creative they are?), Pork Belly in red Bean Curd Sauce (also a limited release food item), Pork Marinara (pasta, Aileen’s favorite), Unforgettable Ribs (my ultimate favorite), and Ube Panna Cotta and Crème Brûlée for dessert. Lachi’s is famous for their Sans Rival, for those not in the know. I always make it a point to drop by this resto when I’m in Davao (Drew and Ria seem more than happy to oblige and take me there). Lachi’s, I overheard, makes cakes for several other restaurants in Davao City. Goes to show how good they really are in pampering a sweet tooth.
After dinner, we capped the night off with coffee (and stories) over at Kangaroo, a local coffee shop famous for their Alamid/Manos (cat poo LOL) coffee. Our group signed their guestbook like the self proclaimed stars that we are. I also bought mint chocolate chip cookies from the cafe as pasalubong for my boss (bribe for letting me take a leave that time).
On the second day, we went Zip-lining at Asia’s longest zip, The Xcelerator, first before lunch was served at a cozy restaurant called Pepper & Peppers. The most memorable dish they served was the Iberian Chicken: baked to perfection and glazed with spices that will make your mind spin in euphoria, despite it soaking in what appears to be heart-attack-inducing oil but is, in fact, zero-cholesterol-and-zero-trans-fat olive oil. I think you’ll have to call the store and order the Iberian Chicken in advance because it takes quite a while to prepare. It’s that special!
More city touring followed and at dinner, we went to Mamu’s where they served the best soup I had during my stay. It is here that I got to first eat salmon sashimi. First. You read that right. Contrary to the aura I project, I never got the hang of Japanese food from since I was little. To my joy and delight, my first salmon sashimi experience was ab-so-lutely fuckentastic! Mamu’s owner showed us around the hotel rooms of the adjoining Anisabel Suites. Had I known of this from before, I would have booked my stay at Anisabel, instead. Their Suite Room’s T&B has see-through showers with only a curtain dividing it from the bedroom. Perfect for the “first” during honeymoon night! OMG, an epiphany a year too late! Hahaha!
On our third and last day, we had lunch at Cafe Andessa, home to the Bicol Express Pasta. A MUST TRY! On my notes, I scribbled down “Iced Tea FTMFW! (woot) (rock) (panic),” just so I could remember how fantastic their iced tea is. Now I want one. Bummer. For dessert, we had Suman Latik and Turon a la mode. Looking at my year-old photos is making me hallucinate. Not good.
This coming weekend, DFAT shall happen on its third year. For first time joiners, you’re in for a wild ride, I assure you. To Drew, Chattee, and Ria, you guys are amazing. Every city needs a clone of each of you and collectively, you and your clones will take food tourism to greater heights all over the country. To the DOT, learn from these guys. To the guys I went with, you are the best company ever! To the rest of the participants this weekend, please take better photos than what I got with my camphone. That’s a dare ;)Continue reading...
And they say nobody does them anymore like they used to.
So tonight, we got an exclusive invite for an adidas End of Season Sale at the Podium where some Stella McCartney and adidas Originals items were sold at up to 80% off the price tag. We stormed the store gates 30 minutes before closing time thinking of buying nothing in particular. I should have been cognizant of the fact that “thinking of buying nothing in particular” would most likely spell danger, yes? No. When Rico bought a pair of shoes, I took to trying on several pairs and in 5 minutes tops, I was already fishing my wallet in front of the cashier.
That’s just half of the story.
When I got home, I Googled “adidas Superstar Vin” and found something extraordinary about the pair I got:
“This latest Superstar offering is a replica of the shoe first introduced back in 1969 in its original colourway. The shoe weighs in at a hefty £85 but for your wonga you get the original colour scheme and silhouette, a premium leather upper, brushed suede stripes and heel tab, a goldleaf side panel print and the classic shell toe. The shoe is currently on pre order right now so if your feeling flush track a seller down and get your name on the list!“ – Freeride Junkie for Sole Power (March 9, 2009)
Wait a minute! I now have something of that caliber for 60% off the list price? Get out! I only paid close to P2,000 is why. And it was on sale five months after it was out in the market? w00t! Somebody’s lucky! Here’s another writeup for Superstar Vintage:
“Publicly released in 1970, the Superstar was the first low top basketball shoe to feature an all leather upper and the world famous rubber shell toe. By the mid 70′s, three quarter of all NBA players were wearing them. This vintage version features outsole-pattern laser engraved linings and a special foam padded sockliner. The use of supersoft leather upper makes this the most comfortable Superstar ever.” - hanon shop
They do feel like the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. More comfortable than the Sambas which are my favorite porma shoes of all time! Will test its durability by touring the streets of Bangkok, Thailand in two weeks time. Superstars, do me proud. Thanks Quincy and adidas for extending to us the exclusive invite.Continue reading...
Brownouts in Makati at this day and age? SERIOUSLY, Meralco?! And they chose to do it last night at around 10PM! That and there’s no 3G signal anywhere within a kilometer radius from the house! No frikken way! I was so thankful that water supply isn’t too dependent on electricity or I would have checked in a hotel just so I can take a shower before going to bed.
So I was in my livingroom lit with 4 candles. I was sitting idly on the couch, sweating like a pig, and listening to the iPod when an idea hit me.
(Please click on the images below for a full 800×600 view)
I got my 21-LED caving light, had all of its 21 bulbs lit, and had its light reflect on the melted portion of the candle opposite the camera. Looking at the images afterwards made me feel really productive, talented, and relevant (as a self-proclamed camphone paparazzi extraordinaire) even if I was sweating like a pig (yes, that’s info is so worth a second mention). I only used the Nokia N82′s camera to take these. Like a pro photographer with expensive equipment, I have noted down the settings for you, like you cared. (You know how those guys in flickr would flaunt their strobists and manual settings only to give you crappy or images you can easily replicate with a camphone? The settings below are actually for those types, handed to them on a silver platter with a “f*ck you” note signed by me. With love.)
Scene Mode: Close-Up (or Macro)
Flash Mode: Off
Color Tone: Normal
White Balance: Automatic
Exposure Compensation: -.5
Contrast: (three levels down)
That’s about how manual a N82′s settings can get. I have observed that when the bluish-white light of the LED hit the camera’s lens, the flame would seem more yellow. Without the LED, the flame would look dull so I figured, the camera adjusts to the light source to compliment/enhance the image output. Now, how cool is that?!
I know I should be over the N82′s camera already since I could use more intelligent camera functions, the optical zoom, and more than 5 megapixels of resolution. I’m getting there. I’ve been thinking of getting the Lumix ZS3 (reading reviews, comments, and user observations about it, on and offline) for about three weeks now. If all goes well, these could well be the last images that I’ll shoot with the N82 who has greatly served me this past year and a half.
People asked me if these images are SOOC (Straight Out Of Cam) and the answer is “no.” I had to darken the midtones and black colors and tone down the digital noise. I also did a crop for one and an image inversion for the other. Other than those very minor and morally acceptable (duh!) modifications, SOOC.
By the way, these images have titles. The first one is “Bulb” (I like the symmetry on this shot), the second is “Aura” (notice how “wicked” the LED’s reflection got warped at the end of the wick), and the third is “Flora” (the red core of the wick remind me of a blow-up doll’s mouth. Please don’t judge me).
Until next time, and wish me luck on the ZS3. I could hopefully make it more popular than the N82 (yeah, I just took all the credit for its popularity, LMAO!)Continue reading...
The World Press Photo is an annual contest open to all press photographers and media outfits. For 2009, the Grand Prize went to Anthony Suau of the USA (Time). From what I gathered, the piece that won did not even make it on the printed magazine but was however shown on Time’s website. His entry covered the mortgage foreclosure of late that affected residents in Cleaveland, Ohio. This and the rest of the photos besting 96,268 hopefuls from 5,208 photographers of 124 different nationalities are currently on exhibit at the Atrium of the SM Mall of Asia from August 17-23, 2009.
The shots that will follow were taken during the opening of the third and final stop of the Philippine leg of the World Press Photo 2009 exhibit held on August 17. (please be patient while waiting for the photographs to load, thanks!)
I’m a huge fan of journalism, believing that most human interest stories are conveyed more effectively, thus becoming more relevant, when they get published with compellingly vivid photographs on print. Visually “raw” images encourage empathy, at times even moreso than the long article.
Of all the photos on exhibit, Gleb Garanich’s set taken during the bombardment of a neighborhood in Georgia, Ukraine made me realize that I can never accept the kind of assignment he did. I got to thinking that if I’m to take those shots, I may be violating the privacy of the people who are victims of a very unwelcomed catastrophe. “The least I can do is give them space,” is what I’d think and most probably do. That said, I’m not cut for the gutsy job they do day in and out and I admire their kind, the ones who are focused and driven for the greater purpose of creating awareness.
On a related note, hear’s a good read. It’s an article published by Photo District News on Anthony Suau’s winning the grand prize. It is, by itself, also very much worthy to be classified as something of true “human interest.” Spare a few minutes to read the comment exchange made by phographers, freelance or otherwise, after the main article.
12:03 People were already in Ayala waiting for her to pass.
12:52 The advance party carried the color of a dear departed.
13:13 Yellow Pages. No other confetti material can be this appropriate.
13:14 After more than an hour of soaking under the sun, she finally went by. One last time.
SEO is set aside for this post as a gesture of respect. Farewell, our beloved departed. You have done well.
[ The rest of the photos after the jump ]Continue reading...
Instead of just shooting the new toys the “usual, boring way,” (i.e. with them in the box, out of the box, and propped on a shelf or on the table) I picked my brain for a comp to make this photo set more dramatic and edgy. I wanted to make do a concert scene but all I have is my caving light and I won’t be arsed to create a makeshift concert stage from scratch. And then, after a glass of ice cold Coke, a brilliant idea it hit me!
Since the caving lights (a 21 LED contraption running on 3 AAA batteries) can already serve as a spot light, all I had to do was find backdrops. I searched my photo archives for concert shots (some of the stuff I used I got from the net, tee hee), had the images brightened/saturated then blurred to achieve a depth of field vibe, ran the images on a slide show using MS PowerPoint, had the Gorillaz statuettes stand in front of my LCD monitor, experimented with the LED by lighting up the toys from different angles, and VOILA, I can haz a concert scene in the comfort of my own home!
Try this technique out yourself! Experiment with an outdoorsy background or the beach, the bedroom, a dungeon, anything to serve your purpose if you need to take photos of small objects like toys but you want your shots to look extraordinary. The possibilities are endless!
The shitty thing, however, is I had no choice but to do post processing since the quality of the photos (read, digital noise all over) took a toll from the low and selectively focused lighting.
Here they are, the Gorillaz during a “concert” here at home. Snooty, huh?! LOL Click on the images for a larger view and hover your mouse on them for the caption.
More photos after the jump. (more…)Continue reading...