My Photography Journey; Knowing my Subject

I have just read an online article about photographers being generalists or specialists. I am no expert, but I think there’s nothing wrong with being either.

I say this, because, I am now aware that I have started as a generalist. I’ve had the desire to photograph almost anything and everything; from the golden and blue hour subjects to moving objects or derelict buildings. But in so doing, I have learnt a lot.

Until I realised what definitely interests me.

Every time I sat still on a corner in a public place, my attention got drawn to how humans interacted with one another and with their surroundings. I was usually at a distance and could not hear anything. So, their facial expressions and gesticulations left me guessing. I found these fascinating and decided to capture the enigma with my camera.

My niche was born. Street Photography. I’ve got a lot to learn about this genre. Is this the path to becoming a specialist?

It is surely where my interest is heightened. For now.

We shall wait and see.

Every Snapshot has a Story

seemingly quiet…

En route to a popular coastal destination…

I could not help but stop driving to take a snapshot of this idyllic scenery….or so it seemed.

I thought I was lucky to have captured this moment only to realize that I am one of the many drivers on this road who broke the aura of tranquility this vista exudes.

What I See


I sit and eat and
through the glass wall
I watch and see
all creatures, you and me.

Cheerful ones sprint
jump and run
Mothers and infants
twinned by prams

Slow and fast-paced,
some swift and rushed
All of them today
Apace on their way

Each with a purpose
come what may
Those steps and gaits
intent on a final end

All creatures, you and me
I watch and see.
through the glass wall
I sit and eat.

Inspired by observing people one fine day.


Summer in and around Llandudno, North Wales

The Promenade and The Pier

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the view of the pier from the promenade

It was on a whim and a last-minute family decision to travel to North Wales and explore Llandudno which then turned out to be a pleasant discovery of an old-fashioned coastal town in a first-world country.

After an exhausting but uneventful six-hour drive from the South of England, we arrived at our hotel that was conveniently situated on the seafront and just a few steps away from the scenic Llandudno Promenade. The whole vista was indeed a welcome sight to behold!

It got my expectations of the town all hyped-up.

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main entrance of the hotel

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seafront and beyond

Determined to make the most of our short stay, we were at the promenade just as soon as we have unpacked. Our leisurely walk along the pebbled shore was accompanied by the intermittent squawking of flying seagulls. They seemed to be everywhere and spontaneously appearing out of nowhere! Well, that was an inevitability we have had to accept. These seabirds were bound to be visible in their natural habitat and territory.

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seagulls were everywhere and they squawked a lot!

We then came across a sandy part of the beach when we realised we’ve reached the mouth of Llandudno Pier. A waft of freshly baked donuts filled the air. They were a temptation one couldn’t say no to.

We gobbled up our donuts with gusto as we made our way towards the end of the pier. Noticeably audible as we plodded on was the familiar sound of country music. Hmmm. Definitely American. And so, there it was; a stall selling music CDs of just that! (yes, CDs. I did say ‘old-fashioned, right?)

I would say that it is rather a rarity in England to hear this music genre.

Before settling abroad,  I lived in a place in the Philippines listening to the likes of Johnny Cash and George Strait. To have been able to listen to them again in a pier in far-away Llandudno brought wonderful memories of home.

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Llandudno pier, the longest in Wales

Midway into the pier was a mini kiddie fair where families with young children got fascinated with the rides and games on offer. Llandudno is also a definite if you are looking for a family-friendly summer retreat.

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The panoramic view of the Llandudno coast from the longest pier in Wales was worth the trip. A glimpse of old hotel buildings lined up along the seaside is quite a landmark. No wonder Llandudno attracts a lot of visitors, old and young alike.

The same can be said about the view from a reasonably-priced boat ride that we took the next day.

Regrettably, the famous cable cars were not operational due to the windy weather.

A summer night stroll has revealed that Elvis Presley is a common favourite in Llandudno. Many hotels that we have passed by featured a nightly entertainment of an Elvis impersonation…his music, his moves, attire and all.

And guess what? Our hotel did, too.

Our room was above the entertainment hall and as it was an old building, we could actually hear the reverberating sound of ‘Jailhouse Rock’ as we slept and looked forward to another summer day in Llandudno.

‘Of The Sea’

There were four

That became two

‘Of the sea’

Just  you and me.

When the world shook

An arm kept me safe

‘Of the sea’

Did it for me.

 

Kept apart by miles and years

The flow of blood, fervent

That bridge between prevails

Unbroken, forever unburnt.

My love, respect and awe

Never lost, be in the know

I miss the big bro

Of the sea, so I speak.

To blog or not to blog

My daily routine of heading to work has been put on hold for sometime now. This has given me the opportunity to re-ignite hobbies of old: reading and writing. With more time to spare, I was able to read those paperbacks gathering dust on the shelf. I’ve unwrapped and read subscriptions of unopened journals and magazines.

Coincidentally, I have had this longing to write about my own culture the moment I realized its slow demise and how much I have actually taken it for granted.

To blog:  As I browsed through some old photos of my hometown, my ‘creative juices’ kicked off. I took courage and started writing(again). I heard about ‘blogging’ and decided to learn how to do it.

But first, I had to come up with a name.

This site, Opinions Matter, came to life.

Finally, my first attempt to blog about my roots, Hometown Fortress came to fruition.

As I continue to form my blog site, I knew I wanted to write more than about my culture.

I saw a window of opportunity to share my opinions from my heart’s point of view.

Over the weeks, not only have I discovered that blogging is an avenue for self-expression but also a way of knowing the eccentricities and convictions of other people. Blogging has indeed widened my writing horizon.

To blog more: My determination to share my culture in writing has not waned, therefore, a separate site, www.benguetsite.wordpress.com has been created.

I hope that through this specific site, I will be able to relay the significance of not just knowing but also remembering one’s culture and traditions. Hence, passing a priceless heritage to generations still to come.

You may click on Benguet Blogs in Menu to read about my life as a Kankanaey Igorota.

Otherwise, stay tuned to more of my opinionated blogs about a lot of things under the sun.

One Day. Two Stories.’Kevi and Santa’

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A quiet stream


The weather
may be muggy today, but it’s tempting not to stay indoors. So I decided to drive around and take photos of the town where I’ve lived for the last 13 years. Then I met Kevi and Santa. Here is the other story.  

I took a stroll into the woods and stopped by a quiet stream to cool down. A dog was already there doing the same.  Its kind lady owner allowed me to take a photograph of her dog having fun.
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As I took the shot, my attention got diverted onto a couple at the shallow end of the stream. Their backs were turned to me and both were busy getting something from among the overgrown bushes in the water. This scene felt familiar. It took me back to a river in a town where I grew up. What I needed to do now was to verify a wild guess!

The woman noticed me and signaled that I follow a narrow path leading to where she was standing.

Whoah! I was right! The couple was gathering fresh and (oh, well, call it organic) watercress! I knew it!

Watercress is called tungsoy in my Ilocano dialect.

Here’s a flashback to my neighbourhood in La Trinidad, Benguet Philippines. Many residents plant watercress in a river for free! Then it was sold fresh and in bundles. By the way, for those who grew up in the same neighbourhood, they would know exactly what river I was referring to.

Back to the present: Where I currently live, watercress is packed and sold for making vegetable salads. Some people are not aware that it can either be sauteed or steamed.

The couple from Nepal spoke broken English but I was able to get their names; Kevi and Santa. They generously gave me a bagful of freshly picked watercress! From a stream where you’d never expect was teeming with such nutritious green.

Not unless you have the slightest idea, then you’d never know.

img_2688Thank you, Kevi and Santa. Watercress happened to be one of my favourites. I hope we’ll meet again.

 

Here is the first story in one day.






One Day. Two Stories. ‘Bernie’

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someone else’s lucky day


The weather may be muggy today but it’s tempting not to stay indoors. So I decided to drive around and take photos of the town where I’ve lived for the last 13 years. Then I met Bernie. This is his story.

My stopover was in a park with a large pond near my home. It must have been my lucky day! I just spotted a pair of swans frolicking in the water. What a good photo that would make!

Then I noticed that it was also someone else’s lucky day. He was not only clicking away with a camera slung around his neck but seemed to be chatting with the swans, too. Interesting!

 

As I approached nearer, I found the man feeding the swans and their cygnets with grass. Sensing my curiosity he explained, “They do eat grass but not any kind. They must be hand-cut and I’ve just given them dandelions. Try feeding them with that (pointing to the grass on the ground) and they will only spit it out.”

Here’s more: he must have read my mind. “The colour of the beak of the male is dark orange. The female beak is also orange but lighter.

They used to have nine cygnets. One of them died and the other got injured so it  was taken away.”

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Suddenly, the female swan (now I know) came closer to him. “Okay, you’re still hungry. Here’s some bread.”

I thought, “Oh wow, carbs and veg, good for you swan.”

“I come here everyday”, he continued. I guess my face looks familiar to them. But I would not mess with them during the mating season. The male, especially, can become aggressive. “He hit my hand with his wing once and it put me out of action for four days!”

He then pointed to a heron perched on the concrete in the middle of the pond.

heron ready for take-off

He got amused with the coots trying to grab their share of the bread. He threw in some more. I thought, “carbs and veg, good for you, ducks!”

Finally, I found the chance to ask him his name. ‘Bernie’.

Bernie is an amiable old man. (Even the wild swans took to him, right?) The lines on his face reflect a happy human being.

Not only did he impart valuable ‘swan wisdom’ but also taught me how to identify the variety of birds residing in the pond. More importantly, Bernie gave my photos more meaning.

I have been to this pond several times but today was a chance encounter with a man who has a genuinely good heart. Indeed this was a lucky day!  I know I will see Bernie again one of these days. I drove away with a smile.

Here is The second story in one day.

In My Arms (A daughter’s wish)

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holding my mother’s hand

In my arms

I wish she’d be

I reach out

Only a shadow I see

I am not void of rue

I ache to hold you

Steady and safe

Never out of sight

Time must turn back!

That I may cease to pine

For one who was mine

Her love eternal and pure.

As night faded away

So did she

In her frailty

She let go

In her arms,

I breathed my first

In my arms

She breathed her last.