In the land of "Make Believe"

Life is a tangled circus in Hollywood, the land of make believe, and it’s our kids’ debut to the real world Because of Hollywood’s pervasive influence, humans have been made to believe:

• To act like a star when the camera rolls

• There were persons that have been stars

• The starstruck believe certain mortals are stars and wait for hours to see these stars

• Beauty, through cosmetics such as Botox,  can be skin-deep

• That drugs, like marijuana, can cure  various physical and mental illnesses

• Religion’s distinction from science stopped

To view Hollywood, families drive a labyrinth of roads for the city walk to see commercial art purveyed by movie studios and businesses. All the while, non-commercial art is hardly visible as it is consigned to garbage alleys. Non-commercial artist, on the other hand, purvey their “make believe” nether world.

See my photos of the land of Make Believe at  http://vimeo.com/23053171 and at www.bacosastudios.com

Taking Wedding Photos

I love the journalistic approach of taking photos of a bride and her groom.

The kiss in the park

IMG_1712

The mother preparing the bride

IMG_2044

Getting hooked

IMG_2066

The bride preparing the groomsman

IMG_2104

Ready Bride

IMG_2084

The Bride Posing for a Souvenir

IMG_2095

The Bride’s Arrival

IMG_2140

Go On My Dear

IMG_2152

The Loving Smile

IMG_2249

Signing the Vows

IMG_2256

Just Married

IMG_2332

THE SOUL AND SPIRIT OF THE FRATERNITY BALL

The Stage:

The Ball Room:

Brothers and guests arrive......

Welcome, prayer and anthem 

The guest of honor

The fraternity chapter's officers

The awardee

The guests

The fraternity chapter's president

Brothers re-entering the ball room for the candle light ceremony

Let there be light

And lights flashed

As brothers discussed

Rock and roll

The chapter president and his lady dance

Brothers dance, dance, dance

Dance and love

Until the last brother left, standing

By the Los Angeles River

Down by the river, I saw:

  • Wild geese marching off like cars on the freeway in the early morning  
  • A teenage girl biker entering the gates to the river’s  pathways
  • Doves on the powerlines
  • A dove among the rods on the concrete floodway
  • Horsemen coming through from their tunnel under the I-5 freeway

  • Geese flying above an equestrian riding back to her stables
  • Serious and not-so-serious joggers
  • The creepy shadow of a palm tree growing on a concrete wall
  • A photographer’s shadow on the graffiti
  • Homeless wanderers resting
  • Bikers in all shapes
  • Guys fishing
  • White herons fishing
  • A man who must be stopped from feeding wild fowls  

I have posted photos of what I saw by the river at my website www.bacosastudios.com.

Peculiar Memories of the Philippines

Driving up Martinez Avenue in the City of Mandaluyong (http://www.mandaluyong.gov.ph/shared/cityMap.aspx) both sides of the road are framed by several concrete walls each one containing about fifty to a hundred electric meter readers with tentacles of electricity wires feeding power to thousands of poor households. Both sides of Martinez Avenue have about four feet high iron fences that separate the sidewalk from the street. Foolhardy children play with their friends while sitting on top of the fences unfettered; their back against the busy traffic.

From Martinez Avenue going to Makati as one turns left at the corner of San Francisco St. and J.P. Rizal is a building with a pink color and where a security guard chatted with this other macho man.

Across the Pasig River, viewed from the Power Plant Mall at J.P. Rizal Avenue, is Noah’s abandoned sugar refinery (perhaps it can still withstand another flood).

In Makati City, tens of street corners have altars for the Blessed Virgin Mary. I was amused seeing one altar framed by the roof of a store with a rum billboard.  As I was taking its photo, a boy eagerly requested me to include him in the picture. I obliged and took a photo only to realize that the boy’s eagerness contrasted with the indifference of an old man seated at the store’s front.

In the town of Paete, Laguna, a statue of the Virgin Mary holds a wanted sales lady announcement.

A pizza delivery man hurries to  transport a customer’s order as he parks his motorcycle in slow down corner in front of a building that has been in construction (since 2005) for more than five years.

Pizza companies post their advertisements on the walls of some houses (perhaps to openly avoid paying the government billboard fees).

As I walked the streets back in Makati, I saw this anxious old lady sitting in front of a rundown pink-colored apartment with an advertisement for a luxury condominium.

Pink seems to be a favorite color of a lot of Metropolitan Manila’s ubiquitous neighborhood stores where one can buy prepaid phone cards.

The poorest of the poor could not care less about painting their houses.  I noticed this boy in Angono, Rizal who was peering at the roof of his outhouse (or was it his house?).

In Cardona by the Laguna Lake, a trio of boys inspected a sunken boat on top of which a small banca was stuck.

In my hometown, a nipa hut that has no stairs stands sadly abandoned at the seashore mangrove swamp.

In the Mountain Province, children walk for miles each weekday; climbing up and then down the pathways of lush green rice terraces to go to school and back home.

See www.bacosastudios.com for photos

A Husband’s Parachute Jump

We fell to the earth at about 120 miles per hour; roughly twice faster than the typical speed on a freeway. We plunged from 13,000 feet up in the sky and dived to an elevation of 8,000 feet in less than 50 seconds. That instant must have been what it feels like to be in a plane crash. From there on my tandem skydiver and I parachuted to the ground and in about five minutes it was over. Being up there, however, seemed like forever; it was surreal and it was a crazy thrill. Weeks before, my wife, Barbie, accepted her officemate’s invitation to parachute jump. Only four of the fifty people invited said yes. She and I initially thought she’d do it first and then we’d do it together if the experience was worth it. The high risk was a low factor in our decision.   

There is no liability insurance coverage for parachute jumping. Its consequences include the risks of sprains, broken bones, serious injury and death. Parachutes may not always work the way they are intended or expected. A jumper signs a legal contract and release of liability that explicitly says so.

Two hours before arriving at the airport skydive area, my wife’s resoluteness convinced me that it would be better if I join her during her first sky jump. I wanted to be with and by her come what may. Never did I dream that I would sky dive but I had to do what I got to do.

I signed the tandem parachute jumper contract and release of liability agreement right after watching a three minute video on how to skydive. I emptied my pocket and detached my false tooth.  Except for the holy rosary hidden in my jacket’s secret pocket, I left all my things, whether potentially dangerous or not, in my car.  Then for over an hour, my group mind-numbingly waited for our turn to jump.

Our turn came. A parachute operator put a harness on each one of us and briefed us once again on how to dive. Nick, my tandem parachute operator, introduced himself to me; got a wrist video cam; and picked up our parachute. We walked from the hangar towards the Cessna plane that would be taking us thirteen thousand feet up. “Bernie, how are we doing today”, he asked. “Great”, I answered (while my inner voice countered to me, “Crazy”).

I got my seat on the airplane with Nick at my back. He fastened to the four corners of my harness the parachute he had at his back.   There were two rows of skydivers facing the plane’s back door.  Each tandem pair sat behind another on a foot high bench. My wife was on the row to my right. She was excited but calm. I was apprehensive. I glued my left hand to the metal railing by the side of the airplane.

Hold it. I am afraid of heights. I avoid looking out the windows of high rise buildings. I never sit by the windows of airplanes. Yet there I was about to skydive. I zipped out my fear of heights by telling myself that what I was seeing were only aerial photographs. 

I made faces at the video cam fastened at Nick’s left wrist. How the hell was I supposed to face this jump? I have dealt with dangerous situations before. Being a short guy, a lot of taller guys have bullied me. Either way they lose the fight they have with me. Here’s why: if they lick me, they are branded as bullies and if I beat them, they’re branded as wimps. So, I have taken bullies head on. Was this another street fight? Against who or what, I had no time to distinguish.

Yeeeeeeehaaaa! All of a sudden it was time to jump. “Here it comes; son of a _____ (Expletive in the Filipino language not verbalized)”, I silently said to myself. The first pair jumped. Every ten seconds more or less another pair jumped. I was the fourth to jump. My wife was the fifth.

Following the procedure taught at the hangar, I held on to my harness. I leaned my head backwards to Nick’s shoulder. We jumped. For a few seconds my eyes were closed. I opened them just a bit and the blue flashing skies glinted to my eyes. Nick tapped my right shoulder twice to signal me that I can now let go of the harness. I raised both of my hands and shouted. Wooooooohhhhhhhhh!!!! Give me five; he gestured. I slapped his right palm.  We dived.

Nick set off the parachute. It opened. (That it did was entirely an act of God.) “Wooooooohhh!!! Haaahhhh!! That was cool man.” I exclaimed. 

On the way down, Nick, told me to hold the left and right levers of the parachute. “Pull down the right lever”, he said. I did and our parachute turned to the right. “Now pull down the left lever”. I did and we turned to the left. “Now we are going to turn 360 degrees.” Nick pulled down the right lever and kept it down.  Wooooooohhhhhhhhh!!!! (In my mind, the Guns and Roses sang “Welcome to the Jungle” and then the Red Hot Chili Peppers played “Can’t Stop”.)

The view below was exhilarating. Strips of green, dark gray lines and tiny square blocks morphed into farm lands, trees, streets, a dry river, houses,  the airport and the parachutist landing area.

Nick and I landed. Wooh! I was speechless. I shadow boxed, pumped my chest with my fists and high-fived Nick.

Peace. I felt  that the fear which was the real bully lurking in my psyche has fallen.

I saw Barbie and her tandem skydiver landing. I rushed to her and embraced her tighter than her harnessed parachute.

Here I am looking to the future. If and when this experience happens again, I would from the start let go and unchain my hand from those railings. Unfettered, I can and will instantly turn fully wide open all my six senses (with my sixth bolted to God), joyfully shout out, have no fear, and take on every millisecond of the experience; conscious that God will decide on opening the parachute for me as well as for my Barbie.

(Due to the limitations in the nature of  my wordpress account, I cannot insert a video about this parachute jump. You may want to watch the video  at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ri6Jqs5IIdw, my youtube account)

Impressionist Photos of Yosemite

The first time I visited America’s finest national park, Yosemite, I took photos of its magnificent views with the world renowned Ansel Adam’s Yosemite photographs as my inspiration. See www.anseladams.com. But I think most of the 3.5 million persons who visit Yosemite National Park each year, point and shoot at the same photo subjects that Adams superbly worked on during the many years he lived in Yosemite. So when I visited the Park during the third week of May, 2010, I tried not to use “cut and dried” techniques in taking photos of Yosemite and yet still capture this valley’s timeless grandeur.

The first photo below and almost half of the Yosemite photos in my website (www.bacosastudios.com ) were taken through the use of a non-conventional photography technique called swiping. It is done through using a short exposure (say 1/8 second, 1/4 second, etc.) under the shutter priority mode and swiping the camera downwards while its shutters are still open. Those said steps are done through trial and error until the desired impressionist image is achieved. After executing this technique, I did not perform any post-camera photo software layer or blend adjustments on my Yosemite impressionist photos.

IMG_1349_sgnHalf of my Yosemite photos, however, are faithful and unswiped renderings of (to quote what Ansel Adams said of Yosemite)    “the very heart of the earth speaking to us”.

IMG_0241_sgn

Impressionist Photo Alternatives for Gorman Hills

Let me share with you these photos I took of Gorman Hills in California. There are two versions: a sharp one and an impressionist one. Gorman Hills Image 7253  Sharp Version

Gorman Hills Image 7253 Impressionist Version

You may view my other Gorman Hills photos with two versions at my website www.bacosastudios.com  .  If you like any of  these  Gorman Hills photos, you may want to have the chance to receive one free printed photo of your choice as a present from me.  Just send me your answer to the single question on which type of photos you like (the sharp ones, the impressionist ones or both). Click on  this link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VT9JBLR to give your response.  This question and/or this instance of expression will cease to exist  by the 30th of  June, 2010 so  please send me your response before that date.                                           

Two lucky persons who answer the question through the link above will each receive a free 8.5" x 10" printed Gorman photo from me. My wife and my cat will choose ten possible recipients. I will spin a wine bottle (after I empty its contents) to point to the two lucky recipients and I will  then get in touch with them by the 1st week of July, 2010.  Recipients can obtain their printed photo gift either from my representative's  office in the U.S. or from my Makati, Philippines address (please refer to my website to know these addresses).  Based on  standards in the photography industry, the recipient of a photo, who can be from anywhere,  has to be willing to answer for the cost of shipping the printed copy.  To preserve proprietary rights and to ensure professional quality standards, I cannot provide print quality electronic copies of my photos. 

Cheers!

Bernie B

Joshua Tree Rocks

I have nothing against travelogues; I am just not inclined to largely have a documentation of my trip and the features of a place. What I have been aiming for is to present a divine perspective, aura or drama in a place. That aim takes me back again and again to places like the Joshua Tree National Park in California. No matter how I plan my trip, however, I find myself facing unexpected situations. The weather forecast may say  my destination will be partly cloudy but actually its sky may be drab and sunny. Disappointment slightly sneaks in as the pre-visualized dramatic images that I would like to take are not feasible.

The turnaround: although prepared for the forecast, I tackle the unexpected.

No beautiful cloudy skies; so I zero in on the rocks and grounds for the center of interest and/or the background.

Behold, unexpected rock climbers. I asked this adventurous couple if I could take their photos while they were climbing Joshua Tree’s rock walls.

This I learned indeed: forecast and prepare for the expected but readily, creatively, and effectively tackle the unexpected.

See other Joshua Tree photos at www.bacosastudios.com

Must See Big Sur Destinations

In the span of 3 years, my wife and I have camped 5 times in Big Sur, California.  We immensely enjoy the beautiful scenery and irresistible stopovers in Big Sur’s 90 miles (145 km) Highway One coastline from Ragged Point to Carmel. See http://jrabold.net/bigsur/ There are more or less 15 camping grounds (with a total of over a hundred campsites) to choose from in Big Sur. There are also about 15 resort lodges or inns in the area. See http://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/.

These are our favorite stopovers thus far from north to south:

  • Bixby Bridge - 18 miles south of Carmel stands one of the world's highest single-span concrete arch bridges. Over 260 feet high and over 700 feet long, this structure is said to be the most photographed object along the coastal route.

           

  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – The Park is 37 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1. Don't confuse the Julia Pfeiffer-Burns State Park with the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park which is 12 miles or so north. The must-see in this park is McWay Falls,   an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean.  Aside from the falls, the park also has trails, picnic areas and environmental campsites on the west side of Highway 1. There are other trails of on the east side of the Highway  and for  an update about their condition please see  http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=578

  • Pfeifer Big State Beach - Going south, turn right at mile marker 45.64 of Highway 1. There is a sign for Pfeiffer Beach once you turn right off the unmarked downhill one-lane road. Follow this windy Sycamore canyon road 2 miles down to where it ends at the sands and rugged rocks of Pfeiffer Beach.

  • The Camaldoli Hermitage – This monastery is located at Lucia, about 25 miles south of Big Sur village, about 50 miles south of Carmel, and 85 miles north of San Luis Obispo. (See http://www.contemplation.com/Hermitage/home.html.)  Go up the two-mile road going to this hermitage perhaps not because you may want to become a monk, to have a catholic religious retreat or to hear mass but to enjoy  wonderful vistas, have a picnic and finally to go the site’s bookstore. Be introduced to the paintings of Father Arthur Poulin (see http://www.iwolkgallery.com/artists/Father_Arthur_Poulin/index.html, browse the bookstore’s interdenominational collection of spiritual books and CDs, religious icons from various countries  and try the store’s yummy fruitcakes.

  • Kirk Creek Campground area – 53 miles north of Carmel (3 miles from Lucia) is the Kirk Creek Campground. Forbes magazine and Sunset magazine put Kirk Creek as one of the top ten best campgrounds in America. Aside from having a scenic coastal camping area, it has trails going up the Los Padres National Forest and one trail adjacent a creek going down to the rocky beach.

  • The Ragged Point Inn vicinity –This is the place to stopover to see a beautiful garden and Big Sur's rocky coastline at no cost especially if you do not want to travel all the way up north. Lodging, meals, and gasoline here are of course not free.

Additional must-see:

Before going back home south or north, you may want to take a road less traveled: Take Highway 46 West and go east towards Paso Robles. Enjoy rolling hills filled with vineyards, and majestic oaks  and hop from one winery to another for a wine tasting trip. See www.paso46westwineries.com. (Let me dwell more on this next time.)

Check out www.bacosastudios.com