sunset at red bank battlefield park

sunset at red bank battelfield park

ISO 200 F/18 1/250 second (click picture for gallery)

This past week has been troublesome for most of us if not for all. Last week we had an earthquake, magnitude 5.9 on the richter scale, that has an epicenter somewhere in Virginia. The east coast shook for a good half minute and caught the easterners off guard because this has never happened or it did but not experienced by this generation. No major damage has occurred which we thank God for that.

Then, hurricane Irene came and left the east coast battered with casualties. It was very irresponsible for some to belittle the hurricane because for others it left with so much more like loss of life and properties. We should be thankful that it was not as strong or devastating as forecasted.

Before all these events happened, I picked up my son at Philadelphia International Airport from his two week trip for the World Youth Day in Madrid. I was glad that he and his companion arrived safely with a lot of stories to tell, pictures and videos from his trip will be posted on a later date (after I do some minor edits). The first thing my son asked was a burger from Bobby’s Burger Palace in University City. On our drive home I received a call from Eugene and invited us to go to Red Bank Battlefield Park and to shoot some sunsets. I only used one strobe with shoot through umbrella on a light stand. I was just beginning to warm up when we were told by the park ranger that the park is closing, bummer.



ISO 500 F/2.8 1/200 second (click picture for gallery)

Last Sunday I was asked to be a godfather to wonderful baby boy, Ezekiel, who was born from a good and kind parents (not because they are friends of mine but they really are one). Little that a lot of people asked to be a godparent knows that it is not an easy task. It is not about attending the celebration and giving gifts on special occasion but it is something more. As a godparent, the parents of the baby is trusting you to be the proxy parent when time comes. The godparent acts as a responsible model  like parents to the baby.

In the Philippines, where I came from, there are several sets of godparents, I honestly do not know why but just speculate. I have one set, however, my son and daughter have several sets. Our reason being is that I have my own choice as well as my wife as well as our parents. I am not saying that it is good or bad but I guess if you look at it this way, you have several backup for the backup parents. Kidding aside, it has been a Catholic tradition in the Philippines to get several sets of godparents that are close to your family.

Here in the United States, only one set of godparent is needed and acknowledged by the church. However, for Filipino Catholic families there are others who are asked to be godparent, though not listed but by principle they are. I guess one cannot do away with tradition that you have grown up and gotten accustomed to for a long time.

It is fine to have this tradition and all but let us understand the origins of baptism. Different religions have different views and practices but I can only talk about the Catholic baptism. It was first read in the new testament when Saint John the Baptist was baptising people in the Jordan River. Christ was also baptised by Saint John in the river even though he said that he was the one who needs it. Baptism is a Catholic sacrament that initiates a person. It also purifies the individual from the original sin from Adam and Eve. It is also where a person is given a name. Baptism is given at any age for individuals seeking it, however, for babies they call it Christening which is basically the same thing.

Baptism uses water as a symbolism of washing away the original sins that separates us from God. Individuals are submerged in the water either full immersion or half, but the most common is just pouring of water three times on the head of the candidate. The priests also baptises in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

In the Philippines or Filipinos here in the United States, baptism is a big celebration, it is a feast. In deed it should be not only by serving food but a spiritual celebration for the individual getting closer to God and uniting with Him.

Since I was one of the godparent in this celebration I was not able to take much pictures except the ones in the gallery. I took all the shots using the available light in the church and no fill flash.

one light and bounce


ISO 200 F/8 1/200 second (click picture for gallery)

This 3rd Wednesday of the month photo enthusiasts meet at Gloucester County College for one light and bounce shoot. I arrived a few minutes late and they have already setup the room with one generic strobe fitted with a 24 inch soft box and a couple of reflectors (gold and white). Our model, Beth, was already warming up with a couple of shooters doing exposure test. Other shooters are getting ready for the shoot while sharing information their shoot experiences or just catching up on things.

After the exposure has been set, it was shared to other shooter to get a baseline for their camera setup. It was not only sharing what ISO, aperture and shutter speed for the camera but why and how these parameter combinations affect the exposure. ISO determines the sensitivity of the sensor, the higher the value the more sensitive it becomes. Aperture is the opening in the lens that controls how much light gets in to the camera’s sensor (the lower the value the bigger the opening). Shutter speed controls how long the sensor is exposed to the light.

Digital cameras have different native ISO values, as an example Sony DSLR Alpha 850 has 200 and has extended values with the minimum of 100 and the highest value of 6400. The higher the value the more sensitive the sensor becomes but the draw back is noise, however, some cameras can handle better high ISO compared to others. Let us say you have a night shot and at ISO 200 you will need a shutter speed of 1/15 second and aperture of let’s say F/4, if you are hand holding this shot you may have a blurry shot due to hand movement but if you dial your ISO to say 800 you can then use a shutter speed of 1/60 second and still the same aperture at F/4. Your shot has a better chance of not getting blurry but it may introduce a little bit of noise which you can take out later by using noise reduction software. The change from ISO 200 to 800 is an equivalent of 2 stops increase and the increase of shutter speed from 1/15 to 1/60 is an equivalent of 2 stops decrease. The change of ISO and shutter speed offset each other, hence, you are still getting the same exposure as the original.

Using the above scenario, if you don’t want to increase your ISO and you have a faster lens than F/4 to say F/1.4 then you can change the aperture to F/1.4 and the shutter speed to 1/60 second. Here, the ISO remains the same and the only thing you changes are the aperture from F/4 to F/1.4 as well as the shutter from 1/15 to 1/60 second. This will also give you the same exposure as that of ISO 200, F/4 and 1/15 shutter speed. The change of aperture from F/4 to F/1.4 gives you an increase of 2 stops while shutter speed gives you a decrease of 2 stops from 1/15 to 1/60 second. However, the exposure may be the same the composition or the outcome of the shot may be totally different because changing the aperture changes the depth of field. The depth of field is the range of focus in your picture (it shows you a range where it clear/sharp), the larger the aperture the greater the depth of field. Say F/2.8 may have a depth of field of 1 foot in front of the focus point and up to 3 feet behind the fcous point, whereas, F/8 may give you 10 feet in front of the focus point and up to 30 feet behind the focus point. This means that anything in the range are in focus or sharp and all the rest are blurred. Aperture is just one factor affecting the depth of field there are also the lens and its focal length.

Shutter speed on the other hand is motion. If you want to show motion, you need to dial a lower shutter speed like 1/2 second if you want movement captured in your shot. This shot will introduce blur on a moving subject. A higher shutter speed of say 1/500 can freeze a moving subject.

These are the three basic parameters that affect your exposure as well as composition of you shot. The values written here are just for comparison purposes only and does not reflect actual values.



salt and pepper

ISO 200 F/9 1/250 second

Did you ever see one without the other? If you see salt, you will definitely see pepper or the other way around. It is really a kitchen marvel! Wherever kitchen or restaurant you go to, you will always see salt and pepper.

Why can’t couples be like them, inseparable. We have seen our share of marriages falling apart because of several reasons: financial; unfaithfulness; children; grown tired; incompatibility to mention a few. But why do they fall apart? Didn’t they start being apart and becoming inseparable at some point in time, why chose to be together then just decided to be apart. A lot like salt and pepper, they were apart but once they were put together they became inseparable. I could be wrong in this analogy, but hey, this is my blog. You can either go to other sites or just give it a few and write some comment to stir up the pot.

Our marriage is not that smooth sailing from the get go neither our journey to our 19th years of being together. We have our shares of bickering, share of ugly fights and lovely times together. Most of our trouble stems from financial issues and plainly misunderstanding. Our fights are countless and neither one of us bothered to keep tabs. But why are we still together, compared it to most marriages out there, theirs will be over in just two or three?

I always think of it as salt and pepper, they are different and yet they complement each other. My wife has her own opinion and I have my own. Our opinions might not be always in line but that is the beauty of it, they don’t need to be the same. Just like salt and pepper, you don’t dump the whole thing in your food but rather just a dash at a time. Balance. There is no point in putting both at the same time, and have you seen anybody using salt and pepper  at the same time? Opinions need to be used in the same manner one at a time and then check, you know what I mean.

Acceptance, it has been accepted that salt and pepper are the basic seasoning there is and it is a lot like marriage. If either one cannot accept then why join in the first place. We marry for different reasons and most if not all ended before it even started. If all marriages begin like salt and pepper, I guess separation and divorce will not even be in the vocabulary because of the basic thing, acceptance and the basic seasoning there is LOVE. True love endures. When you get in to fights and when you feel down and out with your spouse, just think what is the reason you marry in the first place and try to think of the happiest moment together.

I guess it is now time for me to talk about this picture. I shot this at work during my lunch break. There is this set of salt and pepper on the glass coffee table lit by two windows on a sunny day. I went to my car and grabbed my light stand and mounted LumoPro 160 at 1/32 power. I also used a Blackwrap to make a snoot to contain the light. I killed the ambient by using the maximum sync speed of my camera which is 1/250 second. Since I cannot make my shutter faster, I have to dial down my aperture to F/9 using ISO 200. I like to somewhat use another light to make a cross lighting effect to separate the salt and pepper from the background but when I saw how it looked from my camera’s LCD I was satisfied and much more break is over.

intervale, NJ

lake intervale

ISO 200 F/2.8 1/400 second (click picture for gallery)

My wife made a plan last June with her friend, Rosemarie, to meet at her sister’s house in Intervale, NJ. It was close to Parsippany and it was about two hour drive from our house. Thank you GPS, without this handy gadget that made the drive easier. The area was close to a lake and the neighborhood seems quiet and nice. We did not stroll the area yet because the boys need to drive somewhere to play war games using BB’s, like paint ball without the mess.

Gino, a BB gun afictionado, drove us to the site about 30 minute drive towards Pennsylvania. When we arrived at the place I could not believe that there are whole lot of BB enthusiast. They have military get-up and the equipment used was as real as the guns. Some are battery powered while others are gas and the cost varies from just below a hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars. The more expensive your gun, the more accurate and the more powerful. My son and I were not dressed for that and we just borrowed an entry level gun. We had a blast playing in the woods with a made up structures to use as cover.

Well, as for the girls they went to go shopping.

When we were done playing, we went back to Gino’s house. They were great people who prepared food for us before we head back home. However, Bong and I thought that we do some shooting (photography) before going home. He’s a Nikon shooter and he showed me his gear and in just a short time in photography he has had acquired cool gears. Rosemarie was a very supportive and understanding wife, well I hope I could say the same thing with my wife. Bong showed me his new Pocket Wizard Flex TTL for Nikon and it was awesome, I just wished Sony will make something similar or support other vendors to make one. I was able to try out his gear and did a several shots. While Bong was geared with flash, I did some shots using just available lights (the shots I did are showed in the gallery).

Thank you to Bong and Rosemarie and the host, Gino and family.

jamie haack


ISO 200 F/8 1/160 second (click picture for gallery)

The Gloucester County College Photography Club meets every third Wednesday of the month and last June we had a dancer who modeled for us, Her name is Jamie Haack. She has a very flexible body and the poses she did were incredible. We setup a continuous paper and did a cross lighting, both lights used a 36″ softbox. I forgot the power dialed on both lights, but I think we metered it at F8.

There are several shooters and each has to take turn to shoot the subject. Since the lighting is pretty much set, the only thing you need to work on is how to direct the model and how to compose your shot. What I did was play on the aperture by closing and opening it thereby giving me different feel in my shots. However, I think I chose 1/160 second in most of my shots because it gave me what I like.

Going back to the shoot, I was using a Sony A850 and I had my favorite lens attached, Sony 100 mm F/2.8. I like this lens so much that it’s my go to lens for portraiture. Though, in that shoot it was difficult to use because of the space. I cannot move farther because I will have immovable objects in my shot and I don’t want to deal with it in the post process. I like to get it right in the camera the first time and less post process later.

Hope I did our dancer/model justice with these shots.


something yellow

ISO 200 F/4 1/1600 sec

My job at times take me to go to our nursing home locations we manage. The picture shown here was taken when I visited The Health Center at Galloway in Absecon, NJ. I did setup a computer in this facility and attended to other computer needs of some employees as well. When done, I saw these yellow flowers  near the parking lot and I decided to try out my macro lens, Sony 100 mm F/2.8 lens. Since I don’t want to get caught on traffic I only did take a few shots of the yellow flower. The picture here I thought was the best shot I took.

afternoon walk

how's my profile

F4 1/200 sec ISO 200 100 mm (click picture for gallery)

Yesterday, it is technically yesterday because it’s passed midnight (eastern time), I was alone at home since my wife had to work and my son is in Madrid for World Youth Day 2011 and my daughter is in Dover for a healing mass. I woke up around 9 AM and grabbed a quick breakfast before I did the chores my wife asked me to do. After the  chores, I grabbed lunch at Arby’s and ate it at James Atkinson Park in Washington Township.

I was in the car listening to the Raw Dog Comedy Channel in Sirius while eating my lunch. Grabbed my gear and started to walk along the path in the park leisurely with the intent to look for interesting things I can take pictures of. Damn I did not take a lot because I was selective as well as treating my camera as if it was film before I pushed the shutter. I have only six pictures to post out of  a dozen I took. I processed the pictures using Lightroom 3.

Well I could have posted this just before midnight, however, I was trying to add some Facebook Plugin in my page. I also added a flash plugin for a picture slideshow which I still need to figure out.





It was a fine day yesterday, the sun is out, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you…dear prudence. Ooops! that’s an excerpt from Beatle’s song DEAR PRUDENCE. Talking about the beatles, they were my favorite band growing up and to this date they are still the best band ever. Well that is a subjective opinion and I don’t want to get any heat for writing that. And John Lennon is the best Beatle, though he may not have been as big as Paul was but nevertheless to me all his works were so amazing and full of meaning.

I can talk about The Beatles for hours but that is not the intention of this current posting. As I was saying, yesterday at work finished eating my oatmeal with chocolate chips and I was called to assist a computer problem in our adjacent building. I noticed how blue the sky was and for no reason at all I walked  towards the space in between the buildings, looked up and saw this pine tree as tall as our second storey building with dead brown needles. I thought to myself this may be a good shot with the green and brownish red colors with a deep blue backdrop. Of course, I finished assisting one of my user and came back to my office and grabbed my trusty Sony Alpha 850 with the 100 mm F/2.8 lens.

Walked back and took a couple of shots because I think I got the exposure spot on: F/8 at 1/800 second, ISO 200 without any filters. With minor tweaks in Lightroom 3, the picture is shown on the right.

rain drops

rain drops


A couple of weeks ago there was a thunderstorm moving across Cherry Hill. It was so strong that it caused power failure as well as downed tree in other townships.  It was a good thing that it happened before the end of the work day. I went to my car and sat for a little while and saw droplets all over my car, I decided to take a snap of the driver’s side mirror using my 100 mm f/2.8 Sony Macro Lens. My setting on this shot was F/4 at 1/100 sec and ISO is 200. I took a couple of shots and I tried shooting just a droplet with the intention of just focusing on the reflection on the droplet, however, I was not successful because my hands were too shaky at the time and the depth of field on this lens is so narrow, with a subtle movement throws the focus way off. Well I could have just done rapid fire and hoped for focused shot in the process but opted not to. It will rain again some other time and hopefully I will have something to show for the next time.