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Ako si Mr. Kodaker December 19, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, maniniyot.
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4 comments

This is an ongoing series delving into a new-found interest in photography. The author is a novice photographer who bought his first digital SLR camera on September of 2007. Prior to that, he was a long time campus journalist who occasionally dabbled in photojournalism using a point-and-pray, eerrrr, an analog P350 point-and-click film camera. To pay for his new-found expensive hobby, the author took a day job that involves suing people, kissing ass, and drinking copious amounts of cheap instant coffee. Someday, the author will find it: the rainbow connection… the lovers, the dreamers and me.

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To be honest, I’ve never planned to get into photography.

My best friend Johndi has been persuading me since our elementary years to take up the hobby together with him, and although I listened intently when he explained the whole deal to me, I’ve always declined the offer to join him in photography. Unlike Johndi, I didn’t have a father that collected SLR cameras and lenses (a Leica, a Nikon, a Canon, and some obscure Russian brand, to cite some items in his collection), and unlike Johndi, I didn’t have an allowance that could afford to buy rolls and rolls of film for taking pictures of fish, ducks, and ugly dogs. In fact, prior to my SLR, I’ve only owned two other cameras in my life, both of them the cheap kind powered by ordinary AA batteries. Hence, his offer was met with a meandering half-grin that meant I’d rather spend my meager allowance on comic books, video games and women who will just end up dumping me for being such a fugly geek.

A decade after Johndi’s repeated and rebuffed offers of entering into the nifty world of photography, my sister bought herself an almost-SLR camera and toted it around with her when she came home to Cebu for a visit. Again, she offered to let me try out her gear, but again, I wasn’t interested. In fact, I was amused when she ended up taking pictures of almost anything and everything that she could find. Food, street merchandise, funny-looking people… you name it, she probably has a picture of it locked up somewhere in her hard drive.

My reasons for NOT going into photography were numerous: it is an expensive hobby; cameras are delicate equipment; the whole process looks boring; photographers are geeks yadda yadda yadda. I just didn’t find photography worth my time and money.

And yet, for some bizarre reason, I made a split-second decision on September of this year to take up photography. It all started when my friend Danny was telling me that he wanted to buy his own SLR camera and take pictures of Batanes. Coincidentally, I happened to have a cousin who was also named Danny who had previously won a photo contest, so I volunteered to learn more about photography from my cousin and share the information with my friend. So when the opportunity arose to talk to my cousin (which was unfortunately during the wake of our aunt), I tried to glean as much as I could about the subject from the learned and experienced.

Up to now, I still don’t know why I decided to take up photography after finding out more about it from my photographer cousins.

Maybe it was from the realization that photography looked like fun. When my cousins Danny, chito, and Terry started talking about glory days of running around the streets of Cebu for the Sinulog photography contest, I started getting the sense of the adventure behind the hobby. When they discussed gears and lenses, the geek in me was challenged by the promise of science and obscure gadgets. But I think it was when they mentioned taking pictures of scantily-clad women in a relative’s beach resort in Bantayan Island, I was swayed by the promise of my own private pornographic collection taken by my very own camera.

I think THAT was the tipping point for me. Photography. Pornography. DING! A light bulb lit up in my head. Hey! The words rhyme!

Two weeks after, I started hauling a Nikon D40 all around Cebu, taking pictures of anything and everything. Doors, my neighbors, stones, flowers, trees, and animals. You name it, I have an overexposed and blurry picture of it lying somewhere in my hard-drive, right beside my precious Barely Legal collection Volumes 1 to 192. Homaygas! Mothers lock your daughters! Janjan Perez is now wielding a 6-megapixel digital camera and has a DSL connection in his house!

My life has then changed in major ways.

Not all the changes have been good, however. So far, I have summoned all the willpower I had in my system to resist the photographer’s conceit…. I have successfully avoided placing a headshot of myself looking through the viewfinder of a camera in my Multiply, Friendster, Orkut, Myspace and Facebook profiles. However, the urge to look oh so sophisticated in all my photographerish glory is growing stronger and stronger everyday. I am holding out until I can get a lens hood for my 18-55mm Nikkor… maybe it can disguise the fact that I only own the basic set.

I have also developed the photographer’s version of penis envy…. I feel inadequate holding my rinky-dinky Nikon D40 with its oh so cute kit lens right beside someone carrying a Canon Mark II with a white L-series ultraelectromagnetic super zoom lens of DOOM! To compensate, I bought myself a sturdy and long black monopod. If ever the envy is too strong to hold, I can always hit that Canonian at the back of his expensive head with the monopod and run away laughing with my practiced evil genius cackle. MOOOHOOOHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (with matching lightning and thunder booming in the background)

And gear lust. Let us not even get into gear lust. It is taking everything in my soul to hold myself back from splurging on an 18-200mm Nikkor VR lens.

But I guess the good things outweigh the bad. All things considered, life has been a lot more interesting when seen through the viewfinder of my Nikon D40.

I’ve discovered that I enjoy capturing special moments with my DSLR. I’ve taken pictures of a child’s first birthday, capturing the pride and joy in his parents’ faces, and the mirth and excitement of children crowding around a clown handing special prizes. I covered the baptism of my best friend’s daughter, and preserved for posterity the joy glowing from the grandparents of the beautiful new Christian. I’ve captured the golden sunset upon the tide and dark sands of Dipolog’s Boulevard, the whir of mechanical gears from a cigarette factory in Pasig City, the concern and worry of the faces of police officers from ground zero of the Glorietta 2 blast site, the love permeating between a young couple watching their reflection on the man-made lake in D’ Family Park of Cebu.

And now my blog entries in Multiply, WordPress and Friendster can be peppered with my very own thousand-words-in-one-image, lending veracity and color to the written story.

But I guess the best thing for me about taking up photography is that there is now a common link binding me to certain friends and relatives, photography enthusiasts, and picture onlookers. I can enjoy discussing the merits of spot metering vs. matrix metering with Johndi, who is ecstatic that I’ve finally taken up his long-time hobby. I can look forward to a Sinulog running alongside my Ybanez cousins taking shots for the contest in Cebu. I can share my sister’s excitement in saving up to buy a Canon 5D. I can deliberate with Danny (the friend, not the cousin) on which layering technique would work best for a certain image.

The best adventures are those that are unexpected, and that has been what photography has been for me. Yes, it is an expensive hobby, but the instant gratification I feel when I capture the perfect shot is something that money cannot buy. Priceless.

For everything else, there’s Mastercard.

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Unused Blogging Muscles December 15, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Seriously now….
1 comment so far

I knew it was going to happen someday.

I would finally want to sit down and update my blog, but there is nothing that is worthy of writing about. So I just sit here, enumerating mundane points-of-time vignettes about my relatively dull life which are only of importance to myself.

So SHOO!…. you can stop reading now. I might bore you to tears.

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What, you’re still here?

You’re a lot more bored than I thought you would be. Well okay then, here are snapshots of my so-called life, as it is at the moment:

1) Christmas Party season

December is here and Christmas Parties about all over Cebu. I’ve so far been invited to two Christmas parties. The first Christmas party was supposed to be last November 30. It was to be an island hopping event with an overnight stay at a small beach resort. Well… it pushed through except for one thing: the office manager of the company (who was the one who invited me) conveniently forgot to pick me up on the day that we were to leave for the beach, which she said she would do. She called me up on the following working day, explaining that she had so many things to take care of that she only remembered forgetting to pick me up when she got to the beach herself.

Yeah right.

Oh well… I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, so I just let it slide. I don’t know what the deal was with her, so I just let her be. *shrug* I was kinda disappointed though because I was looking forward to taking pictures of our island-hopping trip, as well as night shots of the moon-lit beach.

Last night, I attended another client’s Christmas Party, which was a masquerade ball held in Fort San Pedro. That one was very interesting. I bought myself one of those cheap 9-peso plastic masks sold in the local department store, expecting my client and his employees to do the same, but to my surprise, they came with elaborate masks that they fashioned themselves, very much like those found in Venetian gala parties in the Victorian era. Well, what would you expect from a company that exports furniture accessories? They’re bound to have very creative craftsmen. I was made to be one of the judges in all their contests for the night, witnessing their hidden talents, such as singing, dancing, and creativity in certain games. And, as concluded by their very own bosses, it was remarked, “Some talents should remain hidden.”

They had very interesting games which I’ve never seen before, such as “Dress Up Your Santa Contest” where each team was given red crepe paper, a roll of scotch tape, and a whole bag-full of foam-cotton, the objective being to convert one of their members into the closest parody of Santa Claus, front and back. We had to disqualify one team because they dressed up their member as Mrs. Claus.

Another interesting game was the “Gift Wrapping Contest.” This was interesting because it comprised of two members from each team, each pairs’ right and left hand tied together while their untied hands had to work in tandem to wrap a Christmas present.

I have a feeling that I will be invited to three other clients’ Christmas parties within the month. Our firm’s own party is coming up on Friday, and already there is this really gigantic box under the office Christmas tree with my name on it. I hope it’s not a stripper in hiding. I only plan on opening that box on Friday. She might starve.

2) Christmas Gifts

I’ve done my Christmas shopping early and bought gifts for all my inaanaks and some pamangkins, as well as some gifts for the people in the firm. I’ve gotten some gifts in advance as well. A client sent me a cake from La Marea, and another sent me that gigantic box which I previously mentioned. My parents gave me my Christmas gift in advance, a handsome and lightweight black jacket with reflector stripes. Also, last November, I got a stack of books from my sister.

The only people I haven’t bought a gift for yet are for those close to my heart: some friends (the special children), my sister (Nips, timbon na lang when you get home), and my parents. It is impossible to buy gifts in advance for my folks, especially for my dad, who is picky about the things you give him. So for Christmas, I will have to take them both to the mall to do our shopping.

3) Simbang Gabi –

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is coming up tomorrow, the Simbang Gabi. I’ve been going to the Simbang Gabi all my life, accompanying my mom, lola, tita, sister and cousins for this annual tradition, but it has only been for the last 5 or 6 years that I’ve made a habit of completing the attendance of all 9 days of the Simbang Gabi.

My family attends the Simbang Gabi of Redemptorist Church, which is held on 5am, starting tomorrow. The nice thing about going to Redemptorist Church is that they have immediately after the mass, as certain charitable churchgoers sell foodstuff the capital AND proceeds of which go directly to the Church fund, which has benefitted many scholars and calamity victims over the past few years. Plus, some of the pama-init stall vendors include Cafe Laguna which sells their well-reknown bibingka.

Since tomorrow is the first day of the Simbang Gabi, and a Sunday to boot, expect very large crowds.

4) Balikbayan in town –

One of my oldest and closest friends arrived in town yesterday night, flying over from New Jersey in the United States. This friend is Dr. John David Seno, a Board topnotcher twice over (once in the Philippines and the other time in the US, where he scored 99 in the recent exam… the highest score ever achieved in the State of New York).

This guy has been my bestfriend since the 5th Grade. If you think that I’m one of the screwiest and most green-minded persons, you’ve ever met, well let me reveal to you that my corrupting influence is this guy, Johndi. This is the same guy who introduced me to the wonderful world of pornography and hard partying, for which I am eternally grateful for.

Johndi was into photography even way back in our teens, so I hope to take Johndi out down South later this month for a photoshoot with me in one of the Churches. Plus, I wanna see how it feels like to use a Nikon D80, which is the SLR being used by Johndi.

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And that is my life, so far.

And whoah! I’m blogging again.

Science, Progress and Restlessness December 1, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Seriously now….
7 comments

In basic general science, we’ve learned that a body at rest does not launch into motion unless propelled by a force of energy sufficient to overcome the pull of gravity upon its stationary mass.In my case, I am a body at rest and in lieu of gravity, the forces which have frozen me into inaction (and sometimes stupification), are the mind-numbing paralyses of stagnation and ennui.

The fact is that I just don’t want to move.

I just want to crawl under a rock like a dung beetle and bide my time away while I make sense of my bearings and understand where True North lies for this mangy, flea-bitten wolf.

Unfortunately, Time won’t stand still with me. It moves in tides and ebbs with the threat of prescriptive periods, deadlines, and deliverables. While I remain as a practitioner of law, I cannot afford the steep price of killing time to get to know myself better.

My responsibilities to the law firm and its clients is paramount over my own selfish self-interest. These are without mention of my heavier duties to my family, as one of its breadwinners.

I am an object in motion whose critical mass of stagnation and discontent demands that I shut down and store potential energy. Unfortunately, the strong winds of duty, necessity and survival prod me along unwillingly towards a stumbling vector of resistant movement.

In truth, I do not wish to be made to move against my will. I want to act of my own volition, towards the first quadrant of the vector, where the passion of my spirit increases in proportion to the distance covered by my movement. Rather than be made to move against its intent, this object that desires to be at rest wishes to find the energy within itself to move and run by bounds and leaps.

And what is this inner energy that I seek? Some men have named it as Inspiration, Passion and Purpose.

But of those, I have none.

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And with this, I apologize to my regular readers (if I have any left) from my long absence and erratic pause-gaps in blogging. I just don’t have it in me to summon the arrogance and project the sublime bastardry of the Magnificent Atty. Perez. Right now, I’m just Janjan, a tired and overworked new lawyer.