Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Atheist Bus Campaign

Whilst the contenders for the leader of "the Free World" promote their alligence to their particular brand of the All Mighty and denigrate those who support a different brand accross the pond the whole question is up for grabs.

The godless move in mysterious ways: The Atheist Bus Campaign

According to The Guardian a fund raising campaign to advertise this quassi sacreligious message on the side of London buses raised nine times the amount required in 24 hours.


Seems the Republican VP candidate in the American election has put the out come in God's hands "I'm going to know, at the end of the day, putting this in God's hands, that the right thing for America will be done," The Australian Broadcasting Corporation says. If the Brits are on to something here she is up the proverbial creek in a barbed wire canoe paddling with a pitch fork.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

American Election

It's kinda unavoidable really, that big race for 11/4 even here in the Pearl of the Orient.

From a Tennessee front yard. Can't help but wonder if this shouldn't be filed in the "You don't have to be dumb, but it helps" category?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gob Smacked

A few weeks ago there was an internet kerfuffle about Jill Greenberg's unflattering pics of Senator McCain taken for the Atlantic Monthly. Well she didn't stand a change compared to what the good senator can do all on his ownsome.

When I first saw it I thought it must be another manipulated shot, but it seems it is legit, I mean what was he thinking? The only thing I can think of that could be worse would be a shot of him sucking his thumb. It's a worry.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Series

“The Sign Says” is a new series I have started working on, the results of which will be shown here over the coming weeks and months. Apart from a lot of signs fitting within my preferred presentation format I am intrigued by the graphic/semantic relationship of the streets, the nouns that guide us in our daily meanderings. When they are deconstructed how do they inform the choices they offer?

Fast Food II

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mark Velasquez - as dreams go by

Mark Velasquez received his BFA from Cornish College in Seattle in 2000. Since then he has been through Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, and more than enough of the continental United States spreading his unique sense of humor and creative energy where needed. Today he can be found anywhere on the West Coast, camera in hand, mind reeling.

To see more of Marks work click here

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another Roadside Attraction

These images are from David Franck's on-going series of road trips documenting America's disappearing commercial landscape from the mid 20th century. They capture a time when free enterprise was more innocent and the 'American Dream' was fully alive. Mom and pop motels, restaurants and liquor stores peppered the old highways and byways, before major interstates were built bypassing small town America. Their fading beauty resides in crumbling, once bustling neighborhoods which time has forgotten. The proud motels that once beckoned weary travelers have become mostly run-down rent by the week establishments, or even worse, by the hour flop houses. Uniform, generic establishments have replaced the majestic restaurants of yesteryear.

Franck's has been shown in New York, Boston, the Midwest, California, and the Southwest. His work is included in numerous private collections, distributed nationally through galleries and stores, as well as being reprinted in various publications.
To see more of David's work click here

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

To Do a Bishop Proud

First published in The Expat Travel & Lifestyle Magazine September 2008

The history of the Church of Rome is littered with artistic indulgencies that not only reflect upon the glory of God but also upon His patrons. They who commissioned the brightest and the best to create a back drop of awe to inspire the flock. Among the best known is Pope Julius II who employed Michelangelo to create the masterpiece that is the Sistine Chapel's scenes from Genesis including the world famous "Creation of Adam".

Artist Rafael del Casal

Although not Michelangelo, Rafael del Casal is a very fine portraitist of the realist school which coupled with an early training in theatrical stage design make him well qualified for the job in hand. That being the transformation of the down at heel, 1950's Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception into a Cathedral of sufficient grandeur to under score a bishop's pastoral message.

In 2003 the archdiocese of Manila was at bursting point. With 12 million parishioners the job of overseeing their pastoral needs had moved far beyond the resources of a single archbishop. Consequently, the hierarchy of the Church created six dioceses from the one archdiocese. And on the 28th of August of the same year the Diocese of Cubao with bishop Honesto Ongtioco at its helm came into being.

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco

The good bishop, who had spent over a decade in Rome cutting his administrative teeth at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino, concurred that the restoration of an existing church rather than building from scratch would suffice for his and the new diocese's Cathedral. The centrally located Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception had received the nod primarily for its ease of accessibility for the faithful.

When the call went out that the Church of the Immaculate Conception was to be restored befitting its new role as a cathedral, Rafeal del Casal's response was cool to non-existent.
Several months earlier he had visited the church as a newly arrived resident of Cubao. Neglect and the ravages of a tropical climate had seen the Immaculate Conception degraded to the extent that its assault upon his aesthetic sensibilities ensured an alternative was found for his devotions. "She had good bones but her complexion was mortified beyond words," he recalls thinking after his first visit.

The dramatic grandeur of the baroque that energizes so much of Filipino art predominated in the first design for the altar of the soon to be renovated Immaculate Conception. Although requested, the submitted design didn't sit well the Construction committee responsible for the restoration.

Long term Cubao resident and committee member Dr Raffy Lopez was aware that Del Casal, whom he had commissioned to produce designs for other projects, had moved into the parish. Lopez had also seen the designs Del Casal had produced for the Sto. Domingo Church's annual La Naval de Manila procession. He, consequently, cajoled the reluctant Del Casal to attend a Construction committee meeting and cast an eye over the disquieting design. Del Casal recognized at once that the opulent baroque design was in conflict with the neo-classical lines of the church's basic structure. Within a week Del Casal had produced a simplified design which found immediate acceptance with the committee. The chair of the committee, the former parish priest, Msgr. Dan Sta. Maria was so impressed with Del Casal's work that he recommended him to the bishop for the over all design responsibility of the renovation.

interior of the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Five years later, with the restoration half completed, Del Casal heads a team of artists, artisans and architects, including sculptor Primitivo Lauderis, architect Tony De Jesus, The Bakas Painting Group, metal artist Elmero Azares, furniture maker Mona Lisa San Juan and the House of Kraut for the stained glass windows. Working together they are overcoming the forces of nature and neglect. From the initial altar design, the project has grown to include not only the interior of the church but a redesign of the Church Grotto with its 2 funeral chapels and a marriage between the existing and new tombs, the landscaping of the surrounding grounds and a new rectory with a chapel for daily devotions.

old and new tombs in the grotto

Del Casal's early training at the Cultural Centre of the Philippines in stage design has held him in good stead for the design of these many and varied projects. His expertise as a portraitist has also been called into play for the painting of the 4 evangelists, St Mark, St Mathew, St Luke and St John on the transit ceiling in front of the main altar. Inspired by the Renaissance artists Correggio and Michelangelo, Del Casal's next hands on part of the project is the painting of the 12 apostles for the walls of the cathedral.

the landscaped gardens

With only a quarter of the stained glass widows having been replaced, the choir loft, the entrance, the side aisle ceilings, the outside facade and the portico untouched there is a considerable amount of work still to be done. And in the stop, start nature of a project like this, dependent upon fund raising for its continuance, it will be several more years before the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Cubao will be seen in all its glory.

the new rectory

When pushed for a time line for completion Rafael Del Casal refers to the words attributed to Michelangelo in the MGM film, The Agony and the Ecstasy about the completion of that famous ceiling in Rome. "It will be finished, when it is finished."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mushroom Magic

Crawling around on wet forest floors with the leeches for company isn't everybody's idea of fun, but Steve Axford can't think of anywhere he rather be during the Autumn and Winter months. That's because wet forest floors are where you find the greatest variety of beautiful fungi and Steve has a passion for photographing fungi. He is amazed how most people can walk through a forest and never notice what is right under their feet. Steve's photography allows us a glimpse into that hidden world of fungi, with some as small as a few millimeters across and barely visible from a meter away.

Steve doesn't only take fungi photos, though it is probably his favourite subject. He also loves macro photography of spiders and insects, wildlife, landscapes and street photography of people. He has a passion for travel, and has travelled and photographed extensively in Asia and South America most recently with a focus on active volcanoes, which he likes to climb and to photograph of course.

More of Steve's work can be seen here

Sunday, October 05, 2008

New Work

At an Exhibition IV
For the last few days, hence the hiatus in posts, my ISP and I have not been on speaking terms, but all is resolved and the internet is flowing into the house again. During this "free" time I looked into and played with the archives and the above came to light. Made just a couple of days ago from a photograph taken back in May.

Making Photographs II

"There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs" Ansell Adams

In Making Photographs I I discussed the need for developing your visual literacy. It is an ongoing process which once undertaken will continue for the rest of your life. In this essay I will discuss some hints for taking snap shots that will have the potential to be made into photographs and a couple of tips to make the process a bit easier.

1. Walk, don't ride. Whenever you can walk, apart from being great exercise you will see so much more. A leisurely stroll around your neighbourhood, once your visual literacy has starting to kick in, will reveal hundreds of opportunities to take pictures that can be made into photographs. If you must ride, as at times we all must, try to be the passenger and make note of those visually interesting scenes you pass for a return visit in the future.

2. Hold your camera. Whenever you are out and about with your camera, hold it in your hand, don't sling round your neck. It is much quicker to bring it too your eye if it is already in your hand than if you have to crab it and then bring into play. I wrap my camera strap around my wrist and have my camera turned on and in my hand whenever it and I are out and about.

3. Take lots of shots. Why settle for 1 shot when you can take 6? This will increase your chances of getting that shot that can be made into a great photograph. Small changes made by your subject can make big differences in the photograph.

4. Move about. Don't be static whilst taking your shots, move in a little closer, step back, crouch down, move to the left, move to the right, as with subject changes so to different angles can make for big changes in the photographs. Don't worry overtly about the composition, as your visual literacy grows so your subconscious will compose your shots for you, trust in yourself. Concentrate on the scene you're trying to capture, try and become one with it. The tilted horizons etc can be corrected in the editing program if indeed they need to be.

5. Shoot RAW. If your camera will let you shoot in RAW mode. It adds another suite of tools to your editing program that allows you fine tune your photographs. Although they can be fine tuned within the editing program, and if you're restricted to shooting in jpeg this is the way you will have to go, it is just easier in RAW to play with exposure, white balance etc.

6. Don't rush home. It is a great temptation to get the results of a shoot up for viewing as soon as possible. Resist this and let your shots rest for at least a day or 2 before viewing. Your critical facilities will be less influenced by the excitement of the shoot and consequently more accurate. Street Photographer Garry Winogrand is reputed to have left his exposed films for a year before developing to get this distance. Also hang on to shots that don't make it through the first cut, come back to them in 6 months time, there may well be un-noticed gems in amongst the dross. Some of the photographs that have pleased me the most are ones I found when trolling through the also rans.

7. Flip the pic. While you are working on your photographs from time to time flip them through 180 degrees, either horizontal or vertical, it will enable you to see the picture with fresh eyes. Painters often turn their works upside down whilst working on them to see how the abstract elements are working within the picture frame, photographers can employ the same trick.

8. Play. Modern editing software offers a dazzling array of tools you can use on your photographs. Experiment, what happens if I push the exposure to its limits? What happens if I change the white balance? What happens if I push the contrast? Let your imagination jump outside the box.

And most importantly have fun; remember bored photographers make boring photographs.