Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Striking Gold: Jewelry Photography

I think I've found my niche. (Note: 'think'). No, no, I'm not talking about finding out that I like wearing jewelry. I'm talking about taking pictures of products. In this case, jewelry.

When my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to help her by taking some pictures of jewelry for her family business, I jumped at the chance. I soon found myself strapped in on a bus bound for the mountains with a crap load of gear enough to fill a mini studio.

This was by far the best experience I've ever had doing product photography. I am happy to say that I applied a lot of what I learned from my Food Photography workshop with Mark Floro at PICC to these photos.  (It's all about controlling light!) I had a ton of fun shooting this set from the backroom of the shop where I set up a little guerrilla studio. The 'studio' consisted of a desk, two table lamps, a black felt background, pringles cans, adhesive putty and padded silver paper. What are the pringles cans, padded silver paper and adhesive putty for? (Well you'll just have to take the Food Photography work shop with Mark Floro @ PICC to find out ;) )

Something everyone should know is that a good product shot is brought about by the cooperation between the photographer and the product stylist. I'm happy to say that it was great working with people who are both jewelers and budding product stylists. The people at my girlfriend's shop were extremely knowledgeable about the type of jewelry they were working with as well as what to focus on to really bring out the beauty of a gem.

I found it very challenging as well as rewarding working with different gem stones and precious metals. The amount of colors you get are amazing. From aquamarine to emerald and from diamond to opal the range is wide and invites the photographer to go wild and literally play around with the product. I also liked creating stories with my photographs by finding different accessories and props that would tell a more complete story about the item that I was going to capture.

I can't wait to strike more gold as I dig deeper into the extremely interesting world of still life and product photography.

Photographed by: Andreo Bongco
Product Styling by: Gia M., Ralph Lopez & Angeli

Disclaimer: Unless otherwise noted, all of the material on this web site is Copyright © 2011-2013 by Andreo Bongco. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be reproduced, published, distributed, displayed, performed, copied or stored for public or private use in any information retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process, including electronically or digitally on the Internet or World Wide Web, or over any network, or local area network, without written permission of the author.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I'm a war freak. While most of you may think of that sentence under a negative light, allow me to explain, I like wars. Not fighting a war mind you, but studying and appreciating the history of it. I enjoy discovering how life was lived during the troubled times when a war was waged, I like dissecting the different tactics that generals used to out smart their enemies and I like appreciating how peaceful it is no that there are no wars. Sounds like I'm a hypocrite doesn't it? Ah well..

Appreciating history is something that runs in the family. When my adventurous aunt invited me to visit 'The Rock', as Corregidor is fondly known, I couldn't resist. So on a not so sunny Thursday, my aunt, our friend and I set out to Manila Bay to join the Sun Cruises Corregidor Tour. Since this is a pretty long post, I'll go through the events which transpired chronologically.

We got to the port at 7:30 AM for check in. We boarded a tiny ferry that would take us to the island of Corregidor which was around one and a half hour away. We embarked at 8:00 AM and arrived on the island at 9:00 AM. Our tour guide explained that the island was a dead volcano. Therefore she told us to expect the temperature to be pretty hot. She was right. It was hot and humid but thankfully the breeze from Manila Bay cooled us down a bit.

First up on the tour was a visit to the Guns of Corregidor. The guns were installed in groups called batteries. This one below is Battery Smith if I'm not mistaken. Fun fact: According to our guide, These guns were meant for naval bombardment only. They were installed by the Americans prior to WW1 and were pretty much useless during WW2 due to a treaty preventing Americans from fortifying Pacific island garrisons with updated weaponry. In other words, come World War II, the Japs bombed the hell out of them from the air.

These guns held a strategic location due to Corregidor being in the entry point of Manila Bay. Had any ships attempted to assail Manila during WW2, I'm sure these guns would've put a stop to them.

They had a lot of batteries on the island. I forgot how many guns. Before Corregidor surrendered, the Americans made sure to disable all their remainin operational guns so that the Japs wouldn't be able to use them.

Next on our agenda were the Mile Long Barracks. These pictured below were the officer's quarters. They had billiard halls, swimming pools, libraries and recreational halls. A paradise for American officers. Whats sad is that these ruins will no longer be standing in 7 years time. They had a land surveyor take a look at the ruins and they found out that the place is rapidly deteriorating. They particularly get the hell beaten out of them everytime a storm comes in.

Pictured below is the Spanish Lighthouse. This was a reconstructed building of what it looked like before the Americans came. The name Corregidor actually came from the Spanish word for 'Corrector' since ships entering Manila Bay would have to line up at the island to have their papers 'corrected' by Spanish authorities.

In case you're wondering how we got around the island, we shuffled around in these little train vias. Reminiscent of the old transportation system of Manila.

One of the beaches of Corregidor which used to be a private rest house of the Romualdez's.

Neighbor island of Corregidor. The name escapes me. Used by the USA & Filipino Armed Forces for the Balikatan exercises. No one is allowed on the island unless they have a special pass. Secret stuff goes on here.

Shrine to the Filipino Heroes during WW2. Most notably the Filipino guerillas.

The infamous Malinta Tunnel. Too bad we didn't take pictures in there. This was a huge tunnel where they could store aircraft and ammunition. To my estimate, you could fit 10 football fields inside. This was the safest place you could be during a artillery bombardment.

Here's where we stayed. Corregidor Inn. Nice little hotel (the only on the island) operated by Sun Cruises. The overnight package costs 2,500 if I'm not mistaken.

Great view of the Pacific Sea from the dining area of Corregidor Inn. The tour only includes a lunch buffet on day 1. The rest of the food you have to buy from the hotel or the small cafes around the island. Food is a bit pricey but plentiful and satisfying.

Visited the Corregidor Island Hospital next. This was one of the first buildings to be bombed by the Japs. They transferred operations to the Malinta tunnel afterwards. This was also the site of the Jabidah massacre. Pretty creepy stuff.

Next morning, we had a supposed sunrise viewing at the Pacific War Memorial. Beautiful monument to the brave men and women who gave their life during WW2. Serene and well maintained grounds. Very humbling and saddening to walk through these quiet halls.

Beautiful inscription on the altar of the memorial. You can see the eternal flame of the monument in the background.

This monument below shows a US soldier helping his injured Filipino counterpart. Whats cool is that in the US, they have the same monument erected except its a Filipino soldier helping a wounded American counterpart.

Spent the rest of the day just exploring the island on our own without the pesky crowds of other tourists. You can arrange a pick up and drop off car from the hotel for just 500 pesos. Be warned though its hot work slogging from one attraction to the next. It is extremely fun though since you can go at your own pace and take in the energy of the historical places in a better manner.

The trip was amazing. On my next to do list is to buy a book about Corregidor and learn more and then finally take my younger brother (who is a war freak like me) there. Can't wait to head back to The Rock!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Sky Ranch at Tagaytay

The Sky Ranch at Tagaytay

A new amusement park now calls Tagaytay City home. The Sky Ranch now offers visitors a plethora of new activities whenever they visit the so-called 'Country's Second Summer Capitol'. This festive park also hold a claim to fame for having the Philippine's tallest ferris wheel called the 'Sky Eye'.

So apparently Tagaytay now has the country's tallest ferris wheel.

Here are some shots I took of the newly opened Sky Ranch in Tagaytay City. As we were driving along the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, we spied this little amusement park during our effort to find a good vantage point to shoot the Taal Volcano yesterday. No luck there because of the rain and clouds. But I guess good things do happen for a reason. We had a lot of fun trying the few but worthwhile rides around the park.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Feast for the Eyes

I have a new found respect for fast food restaurants. I'm not talking about respect for the high calorie, fat infused, but extremely tasty meals that they serve, I'm talking about the kind of food photos they commission photographers to take. I'm sure we've all spotted a poster with a fast food joint's newest and juiciest burger plastered all over the place. And I'm sure our stomachs have involuntarily churned and grumbled at us enough for us to head on over to the counter and buy the damn burger.

That my friends is the power of food photography. The ability to make people salivate from where they stand without even smelling, touching or tasting food.

I really really wanted to learn the art of salivation so I joined the 'Feast for the Eyes' Food Photography Workshop in PCCI under Mark Floro. (I guess I'll get around to writing a little review about the different courses I took at PCCI soon.)

In the mean time, here are some of the shots that I took during the short course on food photography. I hope that I was able to make you guys even a little hungry as you went through some of my pictures.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Roxas Blvd.

Well, it's definitely been awhile... but, I've finally decided to get off my bum and update this little refinery of mine.

Most recent update: I've finally enrolled in formal photography classes! Some of you don't know that I've never taken a single photography class in my entire life. Ever. Comes like a surprise to most of you I bet? But yeah, that's me. Classic photography barbarian who's been studying aperture and shutter speed through the internet since time in memoriam. But not anymore baby.

I iz legits now. Lawls. Legits noobs.

Anyway, I'm taking classes at the Philippine Center for Creative Imaging (PCCI)  . In case you haven't heard about them, they're this pretty good place that offers short courses on photography from respected professionals in the industry. They're located nearby at Chino Roces Ext., Makati.

To be specific, I decided to once and for all pat down my photography fundamentals with the Basic Photography Course. (http://photography.pcci.com.ph/courses/basic-photography/)

It's a 3 day short course that covers all the technical details of photography. You'll learn the answers to questions like: "which part of the lens do I point to people with?" or "Is it alright if I depress the shutter button with my thumb instead of my pinky finger?". I KID.

All in all, it's a good short course for the basics. I'll probably due a review on that course soon... if I don't get too lazy...and if I don't get too hungry... or if my cat doesn't coax me into playing with her first (nyar) ;)

Any the wayz, hurr is one of the excursions of our little class. Roxas Boulevard. I haven't really taken the chance to drop by here and shoot. What intimidated me was the fact that I never had someone to back me up if a street kid tried to rob me of my gear. Thank the heavens shooting in a pack deters most snatchers like a fat kid hates jogging. Hello fat kids, laugh at my ill-placed sizist joke here. 

Enough of talking to myself. Please affix your eyes to the aforementioned photos. Noted with thanks. Regards, Shooblayahgars.

Saw these kids fishing along the boulevard. They tied a piece of line to a water bottle that served as their rod and were throwing an empty hook without bait into the sea and reeling it in. How that can catch fish: I don't know.

Ladies and gents, Dalyn's Store. Your one stop mobile convenience store along Roxas.

Malate Church. Too bad it was closed. Me wants my interior shotz please.

Raja Sulayman monument in the Rajah Sulayman park just outside Malate Church. Thought this dude was Lapu Lapu. Did you know he was the last king of Manila? Me neither. Thanks Wikipedia. You the bestest!