Drinking from the half-empty glass

"Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself. Although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson, Why? Why do you persist?"

"Because I choose to."

 When the optimist has lost all hope, fuel the pessimist with spite.


Homage (Pic of the day: 2012/03/26)

Paying tribute to predecessors, this post is dedicated to my dad's retired second-hand Canon AE-1, a camera from the late 70's/early 80's. It's two generations older than the currently existing EOS system, and the damn thing is older than I am.

There's a little mold on the lens and the rubber eyecup's feeling all stiff now. Those things aside, it could still pull off a few decent photos, but the lack of 35mm film and LR44 batteries keeps me from giving it a shot.

This pic, of course, was taken using my own EOS 600D.


Note to self: use Visine

Short-sighted, partially color blind, and with the tendency of giving headaches to their current owner besides occasionally shooting laserbeams and seeing dead people.

This post is dedicated to my first set of optical equipment.

Equipment used:
EF-S 18-135mm 3.5-5.6
EF 50mm 1.8 + reversing ring (hands-down, the cheapest option for macro)
Canon EOS 600D (shooting this without a flip screen would have been a fuckin' nightmare)


Pic of the day: 2012/03/20

And here's Up Dharma Down performing at an event last year, 2011/08/05. Props to Gil for letting me borrow his Canon IXUS 300 HS (a.k.a. IXY 30S) to take this shot.

I also borrowed Gail's camera in an attempt to take a better shot a few minutes later, but I returned it after 5 seconds when I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to operate a dSLR. Back then, all I've ever handled were point and shoot cameras. Needless to say, all those buttons and dials were intimidating.


sunset time-lapse, minus the sun itself (2012/03/18)

First video on YouTube. Whoop-dee-doo.

camera: EOS 600D
lens: EF-S 18-135mm 3.5-5.6 IS
firmware mods: Magic Lantern firmware (for the intervalometer, free)
OS: Ubuntu 10.4 (free)
photo managment program: Digikam 1.9.0 (for resizing, free)
video editor: Cinelerra (free)



Adding another topic to my growing list of interests, I realize that it's almost like a sick joke to be placed in such a fascinating world and be given the thirst for knowledge  but not enough time to sate it.

To make matters worse, I actually find it funny.


Sakaki syndrome

National exercise: pull-ups

In conjunction with the "It's more fun in the Philippines" campaign, an old friend from highschool recently brought up the topic of Filipino pride. Out of my habit for finding alternative interpretations (blame literature classes), this got me wondering if Filipino pride (or perhaps patriotism in general) is indeed as noble as people claim it to be.

Whenever Paquiao wins a fight, the nation celebrates. When The accomplishments of Lydia de Vega and Lea Salonga from past decades are mentioned, our countrymen claim that they are proud to be Filipinos. Hell, some of us still insist on giving credit to figures such as Agapito Flores and Lapu-Lapu even though more sober historians concede that this may be undeserved.

However, I must ask: What gives us the right to brag about the accomplishments of a few individuals whom we have no direct relation with? Do their feats really say something about the country they supposedly represent? Are we simply pretending that our cheers, prayers, purchased tickets, and bets on the matches somehow contributed to their performance? Are we that desperate for a bit of glory that we latch on like blood-sucking ticks to titans who just happen to be of the same citizenship? Just so that we could brag, "Look! We have the same blood running through our veins!"?

In short: Could it be that our so-called pride is merely a manifestation of crab mentality's mirror image? Hindi ba parang mga sabit lang tayo sa karangalan ng iilan?

Just a random thought from a guy who has never understood the popularity of the UAAP games.


How shallow can you get? — Messing around with lenses

Just before midnight, I took a look at my bed and tried to figure out whether I should blame entropy or Murphy's Law for the current state it was in. It then struck me that this mess was suitable for demonstrating several properties of camera lenses.

So I upped the geekiness in the room by a notch and brought a few figurines out of their boxes to experiment with varying focal lengths, levels of magnification, and degrees boke.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
18mm, f/3.5

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
48mm, f/4.5

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
135mm, f/5.6

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
50mm, f/1.8

Although prime lenses are nowhere near as convenient as zoom lenses when it comes to framing subjects, they're still irreplaceable when it comes to capturing boke. Having a larger maximum aperture means that a shallower depth of field is possible, allowing better isolation of subjects in the photograph by blurring out unnecessary/distracting details in the background or immediate foreground. Here, the lowly EF 50mm f/1.8 easily outperforms the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 which was set to 48mm.

For those who insist on using zoom lenses with relatively smaller maximum apertures, the only option available for forcing boke of noticeable quality would be to back away from the subject and using the longer telephoto end of the lens. As demonstrated by the first 3 photos, the background gets blurrier as the focal length of the lens is increased from 18mm to 135mm.

Lensbaby Sweet 35 optic on the Composer Pro
35mm, f/2.5

Lensbaby Sweet 35 optic on the Composer Pro
35mm, f/8

Lensbaby Sweet 35 optic on the Composer Pro
35mm, f/22

Conversely, switching to a smaller aperture (ex. from f/2.5 to f/22) will result in having more objects in focus.

Here, even the Lensbaby, which is specialized for producing blur, can have sharp details in the background and immediate foreground if the smallest aperture is used.

Lensbaby Fisheye optic on the Muse
12mm, f/4

Lensbaby Fisheye optic on the Muse
12mm, f/8

Lensbaby Fisheye optic on the Muse
12mm, f/22


Switching to a wide angle lens such as the fisheye makes capturing boke difficult, if not impossible. This can be a blessing for casual camera users who have no intention of dealing with the complications of focusing.

Lensbaby Fisheye optic on the Muse
12mm, f/4, minimum focusing distance

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 on reversing ring
50mm, f/1.8

(1.1) explains the inherent limitations of using a reversing ring. Although it is, hands down, the cheapest option for macro photography, most of the cheap setups do not allow manual or automatic adjustment of the aperture. As such, cheapskates such as myself are stuck at maximum aperture of the lens (f/5.6 in this case), and the resulting depth of field is razor thin. Simply put, moving the subject by a few millimeters is enough to throw it out of focus.

Besides the closer minimum focusing distance, another feature that sets dedicated macro lenses from other lenses is the minimum aperture size. Whereas most lenses could be stepped down to f/22, macro lenses could go all the way up to f/64. This means that more of the subject could be kept in focus even at the closest focusing distance.


Pic of the day: 2012/03/01

A picture of my sister and her fiancé, shot in god-knows-where, California, taken on 2012/01/16.

They actually took me to the river docks for landscape pictures, but it turns out that my favorite shot for that day featured them instead. The lovebirds were playing around like kids, and I was lucky enough to be facing their direction at that moment for this candid photograph.

I wish this could have been composed a little better; maybe zoomed in a bit for tighter framing and pointed a bit lower to omit some of the blue sky instead of his feet. Still, it's not bad for a stolen shot... except it looks too much like a friggin' car ad.

Incidentally, they're done servicing my camera and I am to pick it up this Saturday just in time for an opportunity for more practice. Everything's still covered by the 3-year warranty, so I don't have to pay squat. It would have been nice if they could have done it faster though. If only CPS requirements weren't so high...