this morning omar and i drove a couple of blocks to ate uding's apartment to pick up this goto (rice porridge with entrails) that she made. she's basically been cooking filipino food the past few days, always very good. the other day she made pochero. saging na saba and all.
and as if that isn't enough, the goto came with sweetened saging na saba (very similar to plantain) wrapped in spring roll pastry then deep-fried. it's usually called turon in the philippines, but where i came from we call it sagimes.
as i'm sure you know by now, i'm back. and what time to be here, this place is just full of happenings. on international scale there's the u.s. open (isn't del potro just so cute?), on a more local level there's broadway-on-broadway, and of course there's fashion week in bryant park.
i was difficult to miss the massive tents in the park when i came out of the 7 subway station so i checked it out. at the entrance was a crowd of fashion fans and wannabe's and photographers. i climbed and stood on a podium on the side, but i didn't even bother taking out my own camera as there didn't seem to be anything interesting happening. what did catch my eye was an old man in a blue jacket who was just taking pictures in the perimeter of the crowd, generally ignored. i watched him for a while and saw how smoothly he navigated the crowd, his quick scan of everything around him, taking pictures of what seemed to be nothing in particular (he was in general looking below eye level, so it was obvious he was not interested in taking photos of faces). when i saw him load and reload his camera with an old-fashioned film roll, i took out my camera, took photos of him (circled, above) climbed down the podium, and followed him :)
it was just amazing how fast he looked at things, decisively taking pictures of the few things that interested him, but quickly dismissing everything else. it was clear that the man has been doing this forever. i pictured myself doing the same when i get older :) there's this man who clearly could be someplace comfortable taking it easy and yet his passion brought him here.
the more i followed him tho, it became clear that "becoming like him" is something one can only dream of. the man went up the stairs, was greeted and waved through by the event guards, and entered the tents. without showing an i.d., or badge, or an invitation that was required of everybody else. when he came out it was with people who seemed to be v.i.p.'s of the event (points to you if you can identify whom he's being chummy with in the photo above).
having taken numerous photos of him, i asked one of the guards who he is, and was told that he's a new york times photographer who regularly does a fashion feature. when i got back to jane's here in jackson heights the first thing i did was google him.
take 2 - i don't know what happened this time, the photo got posted but not the text that i wrote with it.
we met up with the jonescheits tonight and it was the cutest thing that they showed up clothes coordinated - jeans and white shirt and khaki jacket and summer coat. zoë also had a hairpin on her barely-there hair :) the photo, again was taken by the iphone. i'd have taken a proper photo too, only it was already getting dark when we met up that i didn't even bother bringing a proper camera.
i decided to eat whatever's on the shelves and in the fridge - i find that often i buy things and they end up expired and uneaten. this is food storage purge week. two days ago i had nacho chips for breakfast. and two boiled corn cobs for lunch. also, as the idea is to not go to the grocery to buy stuff while there's plenty of edible stuff at home, i've also been munching on kellogs honey nut cereal without milk (soya milk usually), for dinner. cantuccini and marinated herring for lunch.
the champ tho has been the miniwini's. they're just so lovely and uncomplicated. they're right up there with cheez whiz and spam. they're tiny wieners basically (hence the name), extra crunchy skin, and can be eaten straight from the jar.
this is a stillframe from one of the videos that i've been working on, taken last tuesday, in the dining room that i made up to look like an office space. it's supposed to be friday afternoon happy hour at work, of course - and anyway the beer i gave them is alcohol-free.
i managed to upload a few of them already, but they won't get inspected until after about a month.
i did a shoot today with joel and (mostly) a friend of his, dan (photo, above), a language teacher from L.A. so far i've been lucky this summer to work with nice guys. and so far they all fit in my clothes that no expensive purchase of wardrobe for the shoots has been necessary.
today's shoot was also a challenge. i've pretty much covered the dress-up kind (for now) so i thought i'd do something more stocky. guys at work, working and doing other stuff. that's not the challenging part tho, they both did well and were very professional - it's the dressing up of the set that killed me. it's a short-notice shoot, so there was no time to scout for a real office location (and it's not like i can afford to rent one right now), so i made one up at home. the home office we have is kinda all over the place and not very photogenic (because it's a real working office - ha!) so i decided to dress up the dining area to make it look like an office. it took me all day yesterday, until the wee hours of the morning, to redress the space and i think it did look like a genuine office in the end. i haven't got the energy anymore to put it back to how it was after the shoot, so i'm spending all day tomorrow to do just that (sooo not looking forward to it).
is it worth it? that i saw it was possible (i knew it was possible, of course - just had to actually see it) was good. photography/stock wise probably not. i spent way too much time arranging the set that by the time it was time to shoot i was exhausted and with very little sleep. i ended up shooting only a small variety of set-ups, and in most cases my eyes were too tired to be sharply focusing on what i was doing. i think i'm too old to be doing the one-man-kick-all (to borrow a chinese expression) kind of thing. i don't really have any choice tho. it's not like i'm getting enough from stock photography to afford hiring a team. i did that a few months ago in miami and, well, my projection based on my average sales for those photos is that it's gonna take me at least a year to recover the money i spent on the shoots - hopefully they'll get downloaded beyond their first year so i can get something for my time and effort. it's always been comforting to think that i'm enjoying the challenge and getting whatever fun i get out of it, but to think of it in practical terms (as stock photographers were advised, soundly, at one point - to think of it as a business decision) - it really is downright depressing.
more photo of Joel. i didn't really have anything in mind for the kind of photos to take of him, but he seemed determined to do a shoot, his drive kinda infectious. besides it's not like i'm busy doing much else.
yesterday i finally got enough of the same drive to travel all the way across the street to the doctor's office. mati's been constantly reminding me that i have to go get some vaccinations, can't remember what kind, it's all written in the yellow card that all germans keep with them, and i've since been issued one from autumn last year when i got myself a flu vaccination. anyway, doctor said i don't need anything right now, and to come back after september, when it's time to get another flu shot. not to waste the energy i spent getting out of the apartment, crossing the street, and going up the elevator to his clinic, i asked him if i could use his office as a photoshoot background, to which he said he doesn't mind, but not now. come back after september. what is it with this doctor and after september? downstairs from the doctor's clinic is a drugstore. well i was already there so i thought i might as well ask them about using their place of business as a photoshoot set, too. the owner was reluctant (she seemed shy, if anything) so i left her my card and asked that she think about it.
today's dinner: potato salad with mixed mushrooms, sage, pepperoni, white wine, parsley and shaved parmesan cheese. i did the traditional german potato salad the other day (one with ham and gherkin) so i thought i'd try something else tonight.
today's shoot went fairly smoothly, to the point that it was also a bit boring. same seamless paper background as the other day, and lotsa clothes changes. that he wears exactly the same clothes size as me (at least when i bought the clothes) was a big plus. model louis is a skaterboy whose facial features look so delicate. summer holiday for german students started this week, so he was able to do this shoot.
i rushed some photos from yesterday's shoot because i haven't uploaded anything for a week, and i was able to do 4, here's one of them. another shoot tomorrow (if the model shows up). good thing josephine came in today and ironed the clothes for the shoot tomorrow, else i would've had to do it myself.
i finally decided to get one of them seamless background hanger, just so i won't have anymore excuse not to do studio-type shoots. it was delivered this morning. just in time for a photoshoot using a seamless paper background! today's model is Joel, who's swiss and who's just come back to europe from one year of music studies in the lala land.
Any photographer who has ever done a shoot with models would have been asked this question at one point. It's easy enough to remember that your point of view will be exactly the same as that of the people who will see your photo. The answers:
"Look at the lens."
-(keyworded and disambiguated as "Looking at Camera (composition)")
Easiest and direct, this is where the photographer makes the most connection with the model. There is instantaneous feedback between the two, and both are immediately satisfied. Ads that use this kind of photos are direct and confrontational - hard sell. It says to the viewer, "You! Look here, you want this. Trust me." Needless to say, for this kind of images to work, you need trustworthy-looking models, or at least ones whom a viewer will not feel threatened by. Exception is when you deliberately want your message to be threatening.
"Look away from the lens"
- (keywords: Looking Away / Sideways Glance) Probably the most popular stock pose. The viewer is totally comfortable looking at the photo because he knows he is not being addressed, yet if the body of the model is still mostly facing the camera, there's still some sort of connection between the the subject and the observer. Like safely watching someone - there's a chance of direct contact but at that particular moment that the photo was shot, the viewer is within the comfort of anonymity. Add a hint of a smile and the ambiguity of connection between subject and viewer is enhanced. If the model's body is also turned away from the lens, the dynamics is lost and the viewer really is just an outside observer - even with an interesting expression, the subject is perceived to be reacting from a third person in or out of the frame.
- (keywords: Looking Away / Looking Up / Candid) The subject is mostly reacting to his/her own thoughts and feelings, or carefree and unaware of his/her body language, usually on the positive side.
- (keywords: Looking Away / Looking Down) Introverted and shy. It could be someone who's very personal or very sly. It also suggests that the subject is completely aware of being observed.
"I don't know, anywhere."
- The photographer is either very inexperienced that he doesn't know what to do, or he's very confident that he kows he can make it work whatever the model does.
"Let's try a few varations."
- The photographer has been making stock photos for sometime.
i had my hair cut today. i wanted to have it really really short, but chika decided to cut it little by little while asking if i really wanted it shorter. as always, she did a great job. the short length made my gray hairs more visible, which is fine. it's perfect for the summer.
photo above is of their poster in the hackescher markt s-bahn station, close to where their shop is.
i made this last sunday. basically chicken breast filled with basil-butter, then wrapped in bacon, then baked with potatoes and cherry tomatoes, and capers. that leafy thingy in the photo is of course rosemary. the recipe was from some charity thingy back when we were still in london.
i bought this one last weekend, made by LaCIE, because i can imagine the effort that the designer must have gone through. ha!. it also comes with a usb lamp and propeller at the end of those stiff cables. seems to work, if a bit difficult to set up. i can return it within two weeks if it turns out it doesn't do its job, so i thought I'd show you now, just in case. ah who am i kidding, i'll prolly keep it.
I so wanted to like this restaurant. It's so nicely located in Potsdamer Platz, and convenient after watching a movie because it's right by Sony Center. It's even recommended by a friend. The decor is decent and yet friendly. The staff is nice.
The concept is also interesting. It's basically self-service. Upon entering, you are given some sort of a credit card that you present to the staff who makes the food, then when you go out you give back the card and they'll see how much you've eaten. Inside, you grab a menu, take your pick, and give it to someone behind a counter who'd cook the dish right in front of you. Okay, that's kinda pretentious in a it's-so-fresh-and-you-know-exactly-what-goes-in-your-food kind because let's face it, everything is ready-made and portioned just-throw-'em-in-the-pan ready, but at least it's different. In Berlin if it's different enough people are bound to at least try it. So try we did. So hmmm... maybe self-service and waiting on the counter for your food may not be the best idea after all, especially when you can be sitting instead of standing and waiting in front of the cook watching him throw everything in the pan. But wait, the serving actually looks pretty! So hey, this can't be too bad, right?
Then of course time to sit (communal sitting downstairs, didn't bother to check out the sitting upstairs) and do away with the food. And this is where it all falls apart. For a restaurant that serves mainly pasta and pizza, and boasts of having their pasta always freshly made, their pasta is just plain yukky. It would've done them better if they bought the usual boil-em in a big pot ready-made pasta, any kind, because any kind would've been better. Theirs managed to be both soggy and gummy at the same time (I tried two kinds, just to be sure). No bite whatsoever and the thing sticks in your gums! Hahahaha! It's just horrible. You know how when you bake bread or anything with a dough and some part of the dough doesn't get cooked, so it's all like sticky and ewwwy? Well, soak that part in some water and you'll pretty much get the consistency of their pasta. It's so bad that I wasn't able to finish my small bowl of pizza dish. I can't remember when's the last time (must be years) I didn't finish my plate because I always eat a lot, so this gives you an idea of how bad it was.
The peonies we bought last weekend are officially dead. It's kinda disappointing because I was expecting them all to open up. I love fully open peonies. When we bought these two big bunches from the farmer's market we were told by the man selling it that we should put it in very hot water, almost boiling, so the stems won't go limp (who knew?), so in hot water it went, and the stems remained relatively stiff, unfortunately the flowers didn't bloom any further either. Ah well.
On a recent Air Berlin flight I saw this magazine advertising a man's bracelet using a photo I took of David. Always nice to discover my work used in such a way. Oddly though, I cannot find any web presence for the company advertised - "Rhino".
i thought i'd try what sort of quality direct video upload in blogger.com gives, because i recently uploaded videos to youtube and the quality degenerated so bad (a 1080 vid shrunk to about a quarter of the size, so the uploaded version was crisp, but the resulting video from youtube's processing looked like it was taken by an old video phone), so i decided to remove them again. after checking youtube's Q&A forums it turns out that they introduced some new quality (or lack thereof) settings recently.
as you can see from above, it's not worth uploading videos here either.
Did you know that in moviehouses in Germany (in the commercials part of the screening in the beginning), the last ad would always be for an ice cream, immediately after which all the lights would be turned on, and from some corner, an usher would yell, "anybody want some ice cream?" (in, German of course), carrying with him a box of the goodies for sale?
i'm drobotomized! finally got to buy this data storage/protection system. i can't really afford it, but since i find myself buying external hard drives more and more, i'm hoping this will be the ultimate solution. i bought the standard 4-slot thingy, together with 2 of 2-tb hard drives. the thing's been absorbing my data since this afternoon, so i don't know yet how good it is. will report later.
i don't know why but i cook almost everyday but rarely take photos of the food i make. maybe i should always set up the camera even before i started cooking, i think usually by the time i'm done in the kitchen i always just want to eat it quickly.
today's food is home-made potato gnocchi and braised oxtail. i made the gnocchi earlier in the day (i'm kinda messy, as you can see), the oxtail a few days ago (always better reheated), i decided to take out the bones and just serve the meat and sauce. would've been better if instead of the basil i used fresh sage fried to a crisp, but i don't have any sage today. ah well, next time.
Back in London. Wil and I went to Putney to look at the house that he's buying. It's a lovely semi-detached in a quiet neighborhood. We did the measurements, which wasn't very easy because the old woman who owns the house is still there - together with all her stuff - most of which are breakable.
First thing that I thought of, since it's obvious that Wil loves having friends around, and everybody invariably gravitates toward the kitchen/dining room anyway, is to suggest to convert this garage, next to the kitchen, to an informal dining room. He's currently enrolled in a car-sharing program and has no immediate plan to buy a car, and visitors can always park in the driveway.
Photo above is Wil talking with the current owner (not shown). At first glance she's the typical old lady, nice and gentle and proper, but when you talk to her it becomes obvious that she's always calculating and that she's rather cunning. All the time that we were there, she kept offering Wil stuff that she won't be taking with her (usually junk) and her effort in making everything sound appealing was just admirable, albeit ineffective. Wil was fuming when we left because she insisted to extend her stay in the house by a few days, at Wil's expense (he'll have to rent a place to stay those extra few days), and brushes Wil off with "Oh I'm sure you got friends who'll accommodate you! If not I've got friends who'll put you up." Shrewd, if not cunning.