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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hotshots - We Were "Bagets" A Long Time Ago

. . .more than a movie to me - it is about who we were a long time ago.

I bought a Video CD copy of this movie which was first released in Philippine cinema's in January of 1985. Two months later, I graduated from High School. "Bagets" was a term that became a part of my generation's lingo derived from the Tagalog word 'bagito' or newbie or unexperienced, in English. In other words, teenagers. There was also a Filipino movie with the same title which was released earlier and has spawned a long line of teen-oriented movies, including the one pictured above - Hotshots. My real targets when I went to Music One in Greenbelt, Makati, Philippines last April 2006 was to find DVD's of movies I failed to see here in Qatar. To my surprise, they sell old Filipino movies as well. I bought Hotshots because this movie brings back memories when I was young and the characters illustrate how we, the "bagets" once were. The punk, the famous singer, the nerd trying hard to be cool with the ladies, and the goody boy next door. It was great to see this movie again. The feeling was like being in a reunion where you meet old friends and reminisce the good old times and then learn how we are now. The actors in the picture above have also evolved just like we have. Aga Muhlach is now one of the Philippines' most succesful movie actor; Gary Valenciano is the country's most succesful recording artist; Herbert Bautista has, since then, become a very succesful politician; and Raymond Lauchengco enjoyed some level of success in the recording industry. Like these actors, me and my classmates have moved on and has evolved to who they are now. Some have become doctors, engineers, nurses, IT consultants, etc... Hotshots is more than a movie to me - it is about who we were a long time ago. This article is lovingly dedicated to my high school batchmates - Far Eastern University, Class of 1985-85. Hello guys! It with much regret that I can't make it to our reunion in August. Cheers, alexdpx

Saturday, July 29, 2006

This Made Me Smile Today

I was about to go home and for the day and have just stepped out of my site office when I saw this scene at the gate. A small flock of wild pigeons visited out construction site. While one of the construction workers gave them some rice, I took a few pictures of them. It may mean nothing to most but this did made me smile. Cheers, alexdpx

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Cameraphone vs. Digicam - 3.2 Megapixels Shootout (Part 2)

Here are the photos that both gadgets turned in. Iwill repeat that these photos are as they are and no sharpness, contrast, brightness or whatever adjustments were made. Resizing, however is necessary for practical purposes of posting them over the internet. However, 450 x 338 pixels crop of each larger photos were taken and shown here (please click on the respective photos to view the larger or actual size.) so you can see and decide for yourself whether the K800i has the S30 beaten. I'm sure everyone will have their own opinion and preference. That will largely depend on how much image importance one gives to image quality or how much image quality will one give up to gain a little convenience.

Detail crops at 100% resolution. Set 2: Old Truck

Detail crops at 100% resolution

Detail crops at 100% resolution.

Set 3: Close-ups

Detail crops at 100% resolution.

Detail crops at 100% resolution.

The results are very close with the S30 showing better ability to resolve teeny tiny details in the pictures shown. I also prefer the more vibrant colors and more contrasty pictures from the S30. However, the K800i performed better under bright sunlight. It metered the lighting condition more accurately. The S30's are a little bit overexposed as shown in Sets 1 and 2. Cheers,


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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cameraphone vs. Digicam - 3.2 Megapixels Shootout

3.2 Megapixels Shootout: Is the cameraphone ready to retire the compact digicam?
Cameraphones are now capable of producing 3 Mp pictures. The fact that that is good enough to produce quality 4 x 6 prints cannot be denied but just what does that mean, really? Are camera phones ready to retire the compact digicam?
I happen to have a 3.2 Mp Canon Powershot S30 which I bought in 2002. Back then, this was a pretty high-end compact with only the S40 and the G1 prosumer above it. Now, 4 years old, it's starting to show its age compared to todays current breed of compacts. However, the image quality is so good that it can still give contemporary models a run for their money. Like most Canon compacts, this is feature-packed with scene modes, and creative manual controls. It's even got manual focusing! (A noble attempt by Canon but otherwise useless here.) This was my main camera before I upgraded to an EOS 20D DSLR.
My 4 years old Canon Powershot S30. This has been my work horse and main camera until I upgraded to an EOS DSLR. It still looks good despite the battle scars. (Notice the dent on the upper corner, near the shutter button side.) Representing the compact digicams.
July 2006, the Sony Ericsson K800i Cyber-shot camera phone was introduced to the cellphone market boasting a 3.2 Mp integrated camera with autofocus and a xenon flash, similar to those fitted into compact digicams. Of course, cell phone manufacturers have already sold 3 Mp cameraphones ahead of Sony Ericsson - but - what grabs ones attention to the K800i is that it's carrying the badge of a major player in the compact digicam arena - Sony's Cyber-shot brand. It sends a message that this is no ordinary cameraphone and presents a challenge. It simply begs the question, "Is it really that good to deserve the Cyber-shot label?"
I bought one without the intention of replacing the Powershot. Like most people who cannot survive without a cellphone, I will die if I don't have a camera in my pocket. The nature of my job requires the need to have a camera everytime. The Powershot is not exactly pocket sized and the quality of pictures I get from my previous camera phones are not that much usable. The other reason is for the photo requirements I have for this blog. Carrying a DSLR, or even a digicam, anytime, anywhere is not always that practical. It just so happen that the K800i sports the same resolution as my old digicam - nothing more than a coincidence.

My barely 2 weeks old Sony Ericsson K800i Cyber-shot cameraphone. It belongs to the new breed of cameraphones sporting 3 Megapixels of resolution. Small, compact, pocket-sized and can do a thousand other things a digicam cannot. Representing the cameraphones.

And now, since I have both of them available, comparing them should not come as a surprise. Most people would compare them, although maybe few will bother to write about it and share it with everyone. Well, I did, basically to answer two questions that has been lingering in my mind:

  1. Is my compact digicam really that old and ready to retire?
There is probably no point of trying to find out which one has more features and better ergonomics or which one offers better value because one is an apple and the other is an orange. These are two different gadgets. The S30 is a full-blooded digital camera built for the single purpose of taking digital pictures. The K800i is an all-in-one gadget, primarily a cell phone, which happens to have a very good camera function. While it can do a thousand other tricks that the S30 cannot, as a camera, it cannot beat the S30's user-interface, optical zoom, ISO settings, and creative manual controls.
So, on that note, I decided to restrict the comparison to image quality. For a fair comparison, I had the S30 to adapt to the K800i's limitations.

Testing Methods and Procedures

  • Both cameras have approximately the same 28mm (35mm equivalent) wide-angle lens. Since the K800i has no optical zoom, all shots where taken using both's widest focal length.
  • Both gadgets have scene modes but for practical reasons, I had them both shooting in Auto mode.
  • Various scenes were shot handheld for both gadgets from the same location, same spot, approximately the same angle and with the same lighting condition.
  • Resulting photos are posted as they are. No sharpness, contrast or brightness adjustments made.
  • No scientific methods and measurement kind of things applied here. Just plain practical shootout.

I think you'll find the results interesting. I will have them featured side by side in my next post. Until then.



Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I've Been Published

I've Been Published, originally uploaded by alexdpx.

I've been told a few times by friends, "You should publish a photobook." Yeah, right. Like that's cheap. Also, I don't think anybody would be interested to buy them so it's just gonna be an expensive worthless exercise. But I do wonder how my photos would look like printed on premium publication type paper as in magazines and books. QOOP has an affordable solution. It provides printing services to flickr users (and other photosharing websites as well) in various formats. Posters, minibook, photobook, calendar, branding merchandise (t-shirts, caps) or just simply professional quality prints. Well, here's my chance so I ordered for a photobook on-line. The Process is step-by-step easy and offers a few options. Of course you need a flickr account (free account will do) and authorize access for them to organize your photobook.

Here are the order details: Perfect Bound Book (2-sided) = US$ 12.99 (QR 47.41/PHP 663.79) Minimum 20 Pages US$ 0.40 (QR 1.46 / PHP 20.44) each additional page. Total no. of pages = 50 Cost = US$ 24.99 (QR 91.21 / PHP 1,276.99) Shipping (USPS Int'l 1st Class Mail) = US$ 10.71 (QR 39.09 / PHP 547.28) Total Cost = US$ 35.70 (QR 130.30 / PHP 1,824.27) Order Date: 30 June 2006 Shipping Date: 5 July 2006 Delivery Date: 23 July 2006 (23 days from order date, 18 days from shipment date) I'm happy with the quality of prints. Brilliant! They matched perfectly with the colors as I see them on my computer monitor. I ordered for a 6-photos per page layout to keep the number of pages to an even 50. There is also a 20-photos per page layout but my photos would be really small. That would also mean too few pages which I think defeats the purpose of printing a book. I would have preferred a 4 or 2-photos per page layout but that would mean more pages and more cost to pay. It is expensive. However, seeing my photos in a book (although it's a personal book) feels very rewarding. Will I order again? Oh yes - next year for my 2nd year with flickr. If I do decide to publish a book for distribution, this is definitely not the service I would go to. I'll have to look elsewhere.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Personal Favorites - My 1st Year with Flickr.

These are flickr users from the Philippines who have been either contacts of mine or members of the flickr group "Philippines" and "Flickrs Photo Club". We just had a photoshoot of Manila Bay sunset from Baywalk in Roxas Boulevard, Manila. From on-line friends to real friends.
I believe, that by now, flickr ( )is no longer one of the internet's best kept secrets. Many have been written about it's cool features. If you don't know about it yet, I suggest you visit their home page by clicking on the link above and view the quick tour.
I think it can explain better what flickr is all about. It has been a wonderful first year! I met a lot of people, mostly from the Philippines. Many became friends on-line while, I had the privilege of meeting some in person and they became friends for real.
To celebrate my first year, I ordered this.
This is the photobook I ordered late last month from QOOP. It contains 50 pages, 300 of my peronal favorites out of more than 500 from my photostream. I'll probably include more next time. It was delivered to my office today via United States Postal Service.
I ordered this 50 page coffee table book featuring my favorite 300 photos posted in flickr from QOOP, another company providing services for flickr users. The photos featured in this book are in my flickr photostream set called "My Personal Favorites". I will write about the QOOP service next time.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Authentic Shawarma

Chicken shawarma at Diwani Al-Bukhari at City Center Food Court.
If you want the best dimsum, you go to China. If you want real pizza , then Italy is the place to go. For an authentic taste of shawarma, well, nobody does it better than the Arabians.
In combination with a tin can of Pepsi, a shawarma meal costs QR 6.
Here in Qatar, my favorite chicken shawarma is made by Diwani Al-Bukhari restaurant, a small food stall at the 3rd Floor of City Center Doha Food Court near the cinemas. One shawarma sandwich costs QR 4. It's perhaps the cheapest lunch available in town depending on how much you eat in one meal. One piece will do me just fine.

One skewer grilles chicken meat while the other on the left grilles beef.

Note: I think it's worth noting that all photos featured here wer taken using a Sony Ericsson K800i Cyber-shot camera phone.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Few Minutes With The Camels

Out of curiousity, this camel came to us so close it almost licked my camera.

My wife and I were driving by the municipality of Rayyan, west of Doha, when we passed by this camel ranch. I have seen some camels before because of the nature of my job where I spend a lot of time on the road. However, this was a first for my wife. We stopped the car somewhere near the fence and walked towards the camels on foot. We did not enter the paddocks, of course. Just by the fence. My previous encounter with camels was not very pleasant because they stink. The smell is like urine. These camels don't smell.

My wife enjoyed looking at them from the fence. At first, they were all in the center of the paddocks but the flash firing from our camera (a Canon Powershot S30) called the attention of some. Usually, animals would become more elusive but some of the camels went to us really close - perhaps they think we have food or just out of curiousity towards the flash. One almost actually licked my camera. They were quite friendly. Most probably because these camels are well taken cared of. They all looked healthy. I think these are racing camels. Yes, Qatari's race camels here like horses. I've never watched one but it is part of their culture, I think.
At this time, one of the caretakers saw us and started talking to us. Problem was he can't speak a word of English. By reading his facial expressions and gestures, I figured he was asking what we were doing so I showed my camera and with a few gestures I said we were just taking pictures. He smiled so I figured he didn't mind. He talked some more in Arabic; I understood a few words. He was asking us if we would like to have a ride. He was also asking for some money. My wife was not up to the challenge at the time so we declined the offer. The other reason was that we could barely understand what he was talking about so I thought negotiations would be very difficult.
So we took a few more pictures and left. It was only a few minutes but the happiness I saw in my wife's eyes are precious and priceless.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sony Ericsson K800i: So What's The Image Quality Like?

The images featured here are the original photos straight out from my SE K800i. Except for the addition of watermarks and copyright notice, no other adjustments to the images have been made. Please click on the individual photos to view them in full size - all 3.2 Megapixels of them.
Color rendition is accurate and vibrant especially when shooting with available light. This is the door of our refrigerator with diffused natural light shining from the kitchen window.

The camera has Macro mode and is capable of focusing from a distance of about 50mm (not an accurate measurement). The K800i handled the details quite well.

The camera has a "Document" scene mode in addition to the usual portrait, landscape, night scene, etc. Like the mode name implies, it's for photographing letters and other printed documents. I chose to test it with this drawing that has some really fine lines. The result looks easily readable to me.

It's got a 16x digital zoom (no optical zoom) and it's quite different from what I expected. The digital zoom that I know simply crops the picture resulting in smaller pictures. This one does the same but afterwards, the picture is interpolated and is enlarged back to 3.2 Megapixel size again. Of course the image quality degrades as a result.

The dreaded shutter lag spoiled what could have been a beautiful candid shot. This colleague of mine has got a beautiful smile and her eyes were wide open when I pressed the button. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the K800i has what Sony calls a BestPic mode and this is perhaps the mode you should be using when doing shots like this. In BestPic mode, the camera takes 9 successive shots in a burst within one second and then it prompts you to select the best image of your choice. Afterwards, the rest are discarded.

The images are not as silky smooth as I expected them to be. I don't know, maybe I'm just used to the high quality of images I get out of my EOS camera. The results look to me like its processor uses some kind of an in-camera noise reduction software.

A couple of items I wish this cameraphone has - at least a 3x optical zoom and a Carl Zeiss lens. Those features will make this camera phone even more of a killer. Too much to ask you say? I don't think so because Nokia's soon to be released N93 has them.

Generally, I still think that this is a very good gadget for what it is. It's more than adequate for my site inspection and documentation purposes and will be quite handy for party snaps. I have absolutely no doubt that it will produce some good quality 4 x 6 prints. However, I still don't think that this camera phone is qualified enough to take over the job of a dedicated compact digicam. I still would not entrust important events and "Kodak moments" with this camera phone.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

King of Camera Phones

Disclaimer: This is not an official product review. The comments and descriptions mentioned in this article are my personal impressions and opinion based on an item I purchased myself.
The K800i. The first Cyber-shot branded Sony Ericsson Phone. Well built and its black color and elegant finishes looks very professional.
Sure, it's not unique - Nokia's N80 also sports a 3 Mp camera. But the Sony puts into the Sony Ericsson K800i its expertise in digital imaging and branding made it the first Cybershot branded SE phone. It's predecessor, the K750i is well lauded for it's excellent 2 Mp camera (I never had one. My knowledge of it is by its reputation only.) and so much is expected of the K800i's 3.2 Mp camera.
I bought one because of the camera. It's not a secret that I'm into photography and camera's arouse my curiousity. However, I did not buy this one for that reason. Since its announcement I've been reading it's specifications and pre-production reviews. The reviews were very good so I said this has got to be my next phone. Other than a serious serious hobby, I have about a hundred other uses for a camera that I need to have one with me all the time. My DSLR is big and heavy, my compact digicam is not pocket size and even if it is, it would be another item in my pocket. A 3.2 Mp cameraphone appears to be the best solution. Before this one, I had 3 other cameraphones but the quality of pictures they produce not good enough other applications other than sharing them over the internet. I need pictures that I can share, print and keep.
Its a 3G phone capable of video calls. The tiny video camera is incorporated with the phone speaker. Brushed anodized black aluminum face plate is quite elegant. The LCD screen is bright and a pleasure to the eyes.
Personally, I like the candy bar design. It's simple and does not have the complicated hinges of the clam shell, slide, or swivel. Simple to use and affords one-handed operation. The only thing is that your key board is always exposed and prone to accidental pushes. But that can always be solved with automatic keypad lock.
Previous Sony Ericssons have colorful designs making them look youthful and fun. The K800i is black and sleek and simple. Boring you say? Business like and elegant is how I would describe it. I'm a professional and this phone looks very professional. It suits my personality. The front face plate is brushed anodized black aluminum. The rest is plastic with a satin feel finish similar to the W550i Walkman phone. Only this one is colored black. The silver line that runs and curves around the phones edges is an elegant touch.
Its 3.2 Mp camera and Cyber-shot branding is what this phone really is all about. It sports a real xenon flash much like those found in compact digicams providing real flash power. The flash has 3 modes - auto, off and red eye reduction. There is no function to make the flash fire everytime. As a camera, the user interface is really good. You could use it without having to go thru the menu system. The sliding lens cover acts as the camera switch. Just slide it open and you're ready to shoot. Slide it close and the phone goes to home screen or in standby mode. In camera mode, the keypad functions as dedicated buttons for various camera controls. Just press "0" to reveal the button functions. You'll need some time to familiarize with the buttons in order to use it intuitively. But once you are familiar, the camera becomes a real camera - not just a phone feature.
There is nothing revolutionary about the phone functions. Most of the features can be found in other SE phones, except for the direct blogging function. I haven't tried it along with its other internet functions because I use a prepaid account. At the moment, GPRS in Qatar is a premium reserved for post paid accounts only. The price of gas may be very low here but telecommunications and other services are not. Yes it has the standard organizer functions like alarms (there are 5), calendar, calculator, notepad, etc.
Candy bar design fits perfectly in my hand.
Media Player
It plays MP3 music as well just like SE's Walkman phones. But this is being marketed more as a Cyber-shot phone so it does not sport the Walkman badge and comes with a standard earphone set and only 64Mb of internal memory. But it doesn't matter, I prefer the convenience of an external memory card.
Memory Stick Micro. You should be careful when handling one of these because losing it is quite easy - microscopic indeed. Inset, that's the gigantic Secure Digital (SD) card.
Memory Stick Micro
Yes, it's another version of the Memory Stick and that's what I do not like about Sony. It seems everytime they introduce a new gadget, it always come with a new media format that is not compatible to use with other gadgets and usually don't last for very long. Remember the Betamax, the MiniDisc, the MicroMV and it looks like the original Memory Stick is on its way to being scrapped in favor of the smaller Memory Stick versions. It defeats the purpose of reusability because when your gadget's lifetime has expired, your media format expires with it. And it is, of course, additional expense to consumers like me. I prefer the idea that Canon (although not a mobile phone manufacturer by any means) has stuck to the Compact Flash (CF) and Secure Digital (SD) card formats. I have a CF card from my old Minolta Dimage digicam which I bought in 2001 that I can still use today with my Canon Powershot and EOS cameras.
Going back the MS Micro, it is ubelievably small and one should be very careful with handling it because it is not difficult to lose it. It is, however, amazing how much memory can fit into such a microscopic card. I bought a 512 Mb card although 1 Gb cards are available. That suits my needs just fine. I just hope Sony sticks to this format long enough so I can use it again when the time comes for this phone to be replaced.
My fascination with camera phones. Clockwise from top left: iMate JAM (O2 Xda Mini), Sony Ericsson W550i, Samsung SGH-V2000 and my new Sony Ericsson K800i.
What I Don't Like About It
1. The keypad is too small for my thumb. It is a little bit of a struggle to compose text messages at the speed I am used to. Even when dialling for a call, I had to look at the screen and make sure I keyed in the correct number.
2. So are the multi-function keys. I often use my pinky nail to press the shortcut key on the right side of the multifunction keys.
3. The multi-directional joystick in the middle is very soft and not precise. When you press it down to enter your selection, it sometimes moves the cursor into different directions and vise versa.
4. Because it now uses a xenon flash instead of LED, it looses the very useful function of a torch when doing inspections in areas where I need a flashlight.
5. The flash does not fire on demand. Which means you don't get the benefit of fill-flash when you need one to soften harsh shadows.
6. The camera exhibits a considerable amount of shutter lag. I tried once to take a candid picture of a colleague and I'm sure she was smiling with eyes opened wide when I pressed the shutter button. But I ended up with a picture of her eyes closed - she has already blinked when the shutter fired.
7. Although autofocus is a welcome function for a cameraphone, it is rather slow and tend to search most of the time - even in bright lighting.
8. No manual camera controls but I guess that's too much to ask for a camera phone. The scene modes are good enough to handle general photography uses.
It's not perfect but it's probably the best phone of it's kind I've heard that Nokia's N80 is also an excellent phone but it's 3 Mp camera is not something to be desired. Overall, I think the K800i is a very good first attempt to incorporate the Cyber-shot brand to the Sony Ericsson phone. There's plenty of room for improvement (like the items mentioned above) and Sony only needs to listen to its customers.
So what's the image quality like? Well, you'll have to read my next post. While I will be describing my impressions, I will also post sample photos viewable in their full 3.2 Mp resolution so you can judge for yourself.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A teaser . . .

A teaser . . ., originally uploaded by alexdpx.

. . . to those who know what it is and want it. :-) hehehe. This is my new toy. I will write about it here soon. At the moment, I'm still customizing it and learning what it can really do. See you then.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Second Car: Necessity, Not Luxury

“Give me the luxuries of life and I will gladly do without the necessities.”
Honda City 1.5 Liters VTEC. We like the sleek sporty shape and the 15" alloy wheels.
To expatriates like us working in a place where public transport is either almost non-existent or not very good, owning a car is a necessity. Not because we can afford it but because we need it. Whether you have a brand new car or a used car or even one that's just about ready to fall apart, having one for your own is always better than waiting under the sun hoping that a taxi would pass by or the bus is not too crowded. For people like us, a car is a necessity but to have two may be considered a luxury by many. Not true in our case.

Looks nice from the back as it does from the front.

My wife and I are both working professionals. Although we work for the same company, our workplace are miles apart. Hers is in the main Doha office while mine is in different job sites. I used to work in the main office as well so having just one car adequate for us. When I moved to site work, it has become more complicated but we can still manage. Now the entire main office is moving to another place which is much farther from our flat - and from my job sites for that matter. Sending her there in the morning then rushing to site and then picking her up in the afternoon is just not going to work. I'd be late all the time and I'll be very tired by the time I arrive at work.

Initially we thought of moving to another flat - somewhere closer to the new main office. However, the price of apartment rental in Doha is rising uncontrollably and it appears that the rent of a flat about the same size as what we have now would cost twice per month. A colleague subconsciously commented, "You could already buy a car with the extra amount you will pay for the new flat."
Chrome and false wood finish brighten up the interiors, giving it a more classy feel.
I did not took it as a joke and actually considered it. My wife agreed that buying another car, smaller than the X-trail we have, is a better option than moving to a new apartment. Not only is it cheaper monthly but it's also more convenient for both of us. I can go straight home, or wherever it is that I still have to go to, and so can she. It offers freedom for both of us to do our individual activities. We like doing things together but we just have our own individual activities. So after a few days of looking for a suitable car, we decided on the Honda City VTEC. It fits within the budget and during the time we bought one, the dealer is running a promotion - discounted price, free insurance, free registration and free maintenance service for up to 3 years or 30,000 kms, whichever comes first.
The sparky 1.5 Liter VTEC engine.
Instead of going for the base model, which is cheaper, we went for the top of the line model with the 1.5 Liters VTEC engine. It's a beautiful car. Light and nimble, CD player comes standard, tiptronic-like 7 speed mode automatic transmission and the interior finish is a notch up better than its competitors. Very good value for money. The wood trim is obviously not real but it looks nice just the same.
My wife looking very happy on the driver's seat of her new car.
If it's because of necessity, why did we go for fully-loaded model? Three reasons. One, the monthly installment isn't really significant. Two, we believe in getting the best value out of our money. And three, because we can. Call it a luxury if you may but for me and my wife, it's a necessity.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


A week ago, I was doing a routine site inspection at my current project assignment - Doha International Airport Departure Hall Expansion - when my celfone rang that musical ringtone. It was my boss - I wondered for a moment what could he possibly want from me this time. He asked me if I was busy and when could I drop by his office. He said he wanted me to take pictures of some of the company's construction sites. So I told him I was busy at the moment but would be able to see him after lunch time. I suspected that he wanted something special out of the pictures. Each construction project normally keeps weekly progress records including progress photographs. He could just simply ask for a copy of those from the respective project managers. But anyway, it was an opportunity for me to do something I love to do so I did not complained.

This will be a hotel when completed. I took the shot from the rooftop of a villa and used a wide-angle lens to include as much of the site in the frame. Showing the vast area that this project covers effectively illustrates "construction at a grand scale."
When I did met with him at around 2:00 p.m. that day, he gave me a briefing of the task at hand. Apparently, our company's Middle East Operating Center Manager (OCM - he oversees the company's Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Cairo offices) will be travelling next week to visit our corporate headquarters in Sydney, Australia and he wants to do a presentation of our ongoing projects here in Doha. The purpose is to show the current status of the projects but more importantly, he wants to show that we provide consultancy and construction supervision services at grand scales. Of course, the Directors know what kind of projects we do here but he wants to show, visually, how big they are. His objective is to impress the directors, show that the Middle East is a highly profitable market and gain more of their support so that they may allow us for more budget to sustain our operations and eventually be able to hire more qualified professionals to work for us. Of course, the photos will also be used for something else like company brochures, annual reports, newsletter, website and capability reports to name a few. But the presentation is their more immediate purpose. "So shoot as many as you can.", he told me.
Construction as far as the eyes can see. That is the message I am trying to relay in this picture - that the Middle East is a highly profitable market.
The requirements are pictures that would show the overall conditions on site, the company staff while doing their work on site and some interior shots for those that are nearly completed. My boss then proceeded with giving some suggestions on how I might approach the photoshoots. I remember doing a personal construction photoshoot late last year and posting them in flickr and so, using his office internet access, I showed him that set and asked him if those are the kind of pictures the OCM might be looking for. I felt proud of my set when I saw that look of amazement in my boss's face. He was stunned and really loved my work. He said, "Outstanding! Yes, these are the kind of pictures I want you to produce. Go ahead - you have absolute creative control to interpret the pictures." He then gave me a list of the job sites to visit including the contact person in each. There are, in all 15 construction sites at various stages on the list. All of them to be photographed in three days (the remaining days for post-processing works, the OCM's review and selection and preparation of Powerpoint presentation). A rather tight schedule.
This photo shows a diverse range of people working for the company. A well seasoned Project Manager, a veteran engineer, a female professional and a younger engineer on the job.
Nevertheless, I was thrilled at the realization of what I was given a chance to do here - it's an opportunity to enter the realm of Corporate Photography. So what exactly is a corporate photographer? The corporate photographer takes pictures to illustrate a story about a company's products and performance and to sell a specific corporate image to shareholders and customers. The corporate shooter should not be confused with the industrial photographer, who is usually responsible for producing photos for in-house uses such as newsletters, presentations, and engineering documentations. The corporate shooter works in a specialty that sometimes resembles advertising and sometimes editorial photography. Like the editorial photographer, the corporate shooter goes to a site and shoots whatever is there as creatively as possible. The subject is predetermined by the client, but the photographer has considerable freedom to interpret it. In contrast, the advertising photographer must work under the close supervision of an art director and produce images that are precisely determined before shooting begins. Corporate photography comes closest to advertising when the photos to be produced are of the client's customers (or staff) using the company's products in real life situations. Although using models for a shoot is always an option, for this shoot, actual company staff of engineers and professionals posed while on the job. Like I said, the schedule I was given was tight - 5 sites a day. I would have preferred doing 2 sites per day at the most - one in the morning and another one in the afternoon. That would have given me more time to explore every angle and possibilities. But a tight schedule is part of the corporate photographer's job.
In a drainage project, other than excavation works, there are only these GRP drain pipes to work with. Photographing them with the engineer wearing a safety hat gave some meaning to the picture.
The job assignment was rigorous. Working on 15 sites in 3 days involves a lot walking (since the sites are all huge!) under the sun, ladder climbing and putting up with dust and dirt, and of course, site safey issues. The whole time, the sky was rather hazy due to a mild sand storm and so the sky appeared white. There's plenty to complain about but the experience was both fun and a learning one. Many of the engineers wanted to postpone the shoot because of the weather but I said there's no more time. My schedule was absolute and cannot be changed. I knew from the start that whatever problems I encounter, I have to make solutions for them. The objective is to deliver on time. Overall, I am happy with the solutions I came up with. If I am to have a career in photography, I think this is the area I would like to shoot. What's not to like? Travel, creative freedom, meet people . . . I hope our OCM makes a succesful presentation to the board of directors. Then he would be happy. If I may say, the company I'm working with is one of the largest consultancy firm in the world. We have offices all around Australia, in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, South and North America and soon, in Europe. Just imagine what a happy executive can do for you. (Dream, dream, dream)

How's Everybody!!??

Hey, I'm back! 'Just finished my assignment during the past week. Man, it was awesome - photoshoot to the max! I've been assigned to photograph 15 of our construction sites for our company's publications and marketing materials. But initially, they will be used for a presentation to the board of directors to our corporate HQ in Sydney, Australia. So how have you been? 'Will start blogging again very soon.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Possibly for A Week . . .

My office has just given me an assignment with a very tight schedule. Because of this, I'd probably have my hands off the internet for about a week. Please continue to visit my blog and feel free to read the other articles you haven't read yet c",) I would very much appreciate if you could leave a comment or two. See you all after a week!

My Peter Pan Syndrome

Ultra Electro-Magnetic Robot Voltes V
I would assume here that everyone knows Peter Pan. The fairy tale character; the boy who refuse to grow old - or grow up. I first heard about the Peter Pan Syndrome from a friend who has a doctorate degree in psychology from Kensington University in the US so it's either the syndrome is a fact or he's just pulling my leg. Basically, it's the inner child in everyone of us - that part of our childhood that we hold on to and just won't let go.

Mine is the Voltes V toy. I've been fascinated with Voltes V during the height of it's popularity in the late 70's when I was still a little boy in elementary school. I remember vividly my Friday afternoon's in the Philippines at 5:00 p.m. watching the cartoon series on GMA 7. I also remember having notebooks, school bag, pencil box, stickers, posters, coloring books, t-shirts, and a vinyl record of the theme song. But the one thing I've always wanted very badly but never ever had was the die-cast metal Voltes V toy made exclusively in Japan (not sure who's the manufacturer). At the price of PHP 1,000.00 (US$ 19.23 / QR 71.43) back then, it was simply a luxury my parents could not afford. I tried to understand; I never made a vow to buy one for myself someday but I watched with great envy as my more affluent classmates brought their toys in school and played with them during break time. There was nothing I can do but accept it as one of those things you just can't have. As I grew up, I learned to forget about it. Reaching adolescense, the fascination with girls helped a lot to forget about my childhood heartbreak.

25 years later, I have achieved a considerable level of success with my career and I believe that I can now afford to buy a Voltes V toy. When the cartoon series regained some popularity in the early years of this century, it was good timing that I happened to be on vacation in the Philippines as well. I searched from toy shop to toy shop but none existed. All they have are those locally made plastic copycats that do not transform. (At one time I did found a used one being auctioned at ebay but I didn't considered it because the bids are getting too high and I'm just not willing to pay that much for an old toy with a few missing accessories.) It was okay. I did not expect to find one anyway. At least I was able to buy a VCD copy of the entire series - all 40 episodes.

A Polaroid shot of Marco with his new toy.

Marco playing with his new toy - a gift from her loving wife, Gracinha.

And then I saw these picture in Atari, Gracinha & Marco's flickr photostream. They are a Filipino family based in Tokyo, Japan and I have come to know them only thru this photosharing site. It turned out that this same toy was also one of Marco's childhood fascination. Anyway, the feeling I had upon seeing these pictures can be likened to finding an old flame and knowing that she's available and I'm available - my heart just started beating faster at the thought of the possibilities.

Bandai Soul of Chogokin GX-31 Voltes V DX - The Voltes V toy that fascinates me to this day.

Knowing that the Voltes V toy exists and available in the market (in Japan) reawakened my childhood desires - and effectively, my Peter Pan Syndrome. Now I get sleepless nights contemplating. I mean, just look at it - this is the child in me that refuses to grow up.

It is still a very expensive action figure. As I was informed by the lovely family from Japan, it costs around Y 14,000 (US$ 140 / QR 511 / PHP 7,154). Only today, I found one at the website of greattoys and they're selling it for PHP 8,500. That's both good news and bad news to me. 25 years sure is a long time and the toy's price is now 8 times more expensive than it used to be. Should I buy one? On the other hand, this is now within my reach. All it takes now is just a few clicks of the mouse and keyboard and I've got me one.

It's expensive, it's not practical but . . . ahhh . . . what's a big-little boy to do? ( -- acting like a teenager trying to figure out how to ask a girl to go out with me on a date -- )

- I watched with great envy as my more affluent classmates brought their toys in school -

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