Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back to Photography Basics and Strange Filipino Humor

Yesterday I came across an article posted by some of the helpful folks over at PhotoTakers.com. It got me back to thinking about the art of photography and the elements and skill involved that have nothing to do with the kind of camera you have or the technical details of shutter speeds, F-stops and light meteting. So inspired, I grabbed the Canon and headed out an hour before I was to meet Kendra at the MSE to help her carry home a boatload of small pillows she had bought from a co-worker who was selling them for a cause. We might keep a few, but most we'll give most to the girls at APB.

So, I walked around the streets a bit, trying to find a new photographic perspective on things (even in a foreign country your surroundings tend to fade into disinteresting normalcy after a time). I ended up in the Ayala Triangle Park, where some trees had been dropping these delicate, bright red leaves all over the stone paths, benches and other vegetation. It wasn't the best light (slightly overcast late afternoon), but I tried to capture the color as best I could.

I had a good time and came away with a few cool shots and a renewed energy to keep it real with my pictures and not be bogged down by technology-induced lunacy.

Here's a link to the article, plus a list of the other great stuff this guy has written. I recommend for anyone owning a camera.

In other news, the painting we bought from the old guy in Tai-O fishing village outside of Hong Kong just came back from the framers (FramePlus in Park Square One in Makati). It looks great...well constructed, cool non-reflective glass, white matte with black frame and came with it's own bubble-wrap! We can't wait to put it on the wall in Philly.

And, finally, drop this one in the Chalk It Up To Cultural Differences file....

On the front page of today's Philippine Star newspaper is a short story about a bizarre accident where a taxi driver dozes off at the wheel and crashes into a hearse which is parked on the shoulder of the road for repairs. The force of the impact propels the corpse from the vehicle, where it is run over by the out-of-control taxi.

An odd story to say the least- and this would certainly make the papers in the U.S.. What wouldn't is the cartoon next to the article, picturing a body flying out a car, with the words "Good thing I'm already dead!" next to him! What kind of sick, dark humor do these people have? And on the front page of a national publication? Somebody explain!

15 minutes later....I found it. Here's somewhat of an explanation:

"In the Philippines, laughter is the way Filipinos cope with natural catastrophes, overcome the burdens of everyday life and cushion the impact of events over which they feel they no longer can control.

"The ability to reduce a situation to absurdity is, however, not to trivialize it. Filipinos are not oblivious of despair. Their history is a lament of the struggle against colonization, the atrocities of war, political anarchy and poverty. More than just comic relief from these harsh realities, Filipinos have found in humor a reservoir of psychic energy from which they draw a positive outlook in life. If they can laugh at a situation, Filipinos argue, they can rise above it.

"This attitude may lead outsiders to conclude that Filipinos are passive to their fate. But what may appear as passivity to the casual observer is in fact an active social mechanism deeply rooted in the Filipino's "collective consciousness."

Of course, some may say passivity is exactly what makes up the underlying collective consciousness here and is the root cause of alot of social problems.
Read more of this explanation.

Researching this also reminds me of another thing I noticed recently. Both Kendra and I are Discovery Channel and History Channel junkies (it's about all we watch), and I've seen a ton of the Seconds To Disaster episodes, where they analyze crashes, wrecks, explosions, and other dramatic accidents. In one, a Philippine Airline plane was hijacked, but eventually made it to the ground. The three Filipino pilots (see- more overstaffing!) were the primary interviewees, and throughout the whole description of this tense and horrific ordeal, the three couldn't stop laughing about it- how they were all pulling on the manual controls with all their might and were thinking of ther kids, etc...all while laughing and smiling. I thought it very odd and very disturbing at the time. I see now they were just "rising above their situation." Good for them! It's cheaper than a therapist!!!


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