Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fujifilm X20


Before I begin, let me state that this camera is not mine. It's my father's. But damn, do I want it! My mother gave this camera to my dad as their anniversary gift and ever since he unboxed it, I am green with envy. From the design to it's handling, I am in love with it. What I like about it best though are its aesthetic qualities. The retro feel is reminiscent of the film range finder cameras of days gone by.

Being the vintage looking beauty that it was, I decided to practice my product photography on this little baby. These are the results of that happy experiment. For the shot above, I wanted to group together things which look classic, elegant and tasteful. So I gathered a bunch of photography books (you've definitely got to included an Ansel Adams one in there!), the antique brass pocket watch from India that my girlfriend gave me :) , a Parker pen that was mostly monochromatic, a few foreign coins and of course my grandfather's old trusty Ronson lighter located at the bottom right of the picture. I'm quite happy with what I was able to capture.

Now, for a little bit more about the star of this photograph, the Fujifilm X20. Fujifilm has been staging a comeback as of late with the introduction of their "X" series of cameras. These Fujifilm X-Series cameras are mirror-less compact digital cameras that are catered towards the high end crowd who don't want the hustle and bustle of bringing around a bulky DSLR with too many buttons & functions. Although small and compact, these little cameras are surprisingly capable and produce a high quality image.

One of these days, I'll probably do a review about the X20, but let me just tell you that I was damn well surprised when this little baby gave me dreamy 'bokeh' (blur) shots with no problem at all. (Note to self: post pictures taken with the X20)

In the absence of a formal review of this X20, let me jot down some quick details of what's under the hood.. err.. image sensor. The X20 was launched in January 7, 2013 and is the entry level 'X' series camera. It retails at around Php 36,000.00 at all local camera shops (since there is already a Fujifilm distributor here in the Philippines, they regulate their prices well. So you won't see price ranges that differ greatly from shop to shop Also, the photography black market hasn't been able to smuggle in Fujifilms at a discounted price yet. Well, at least to the extent of my knowledge, they haven't.) (Oh and in case you're wondering, this was bought in Camera Haus, Robinsons Bacolod.

The X20 is aimed at what Fujifilm calls 'enthusiasts'. These 'enthusiasts' according to Fuji are people who already have a DSLR but yet want a small portable camera that can keep up with the quality output of a DSLR. In that aspect, the Fujifilm does not disappoint. It packs a 12 megapixel 2/3 type CMOS sensor (don't mind the jargon. Basta, mirrorless), and the lens on it is a built in, un-attachable zoom lens (specifics: 28-112mm f/2.0 - f/2.8). This means that unlike a DLSR where you can change your lenses to fit your needs, the X20's lens stays fixed. Much like that of your normal compact digital camera.

Lets run down the other things that caught my eye: it can capture images in RAW format (meaning the largest size available as well as the format used by professionals), it can record videos in full HD at 1080/60p. (Basta, very good!), it has built in editing programs that can give your photos the 'Instagram' effect whenever you want.... and.. and.. and.. it's freaking sexy! (I'll really come up with a review sometime. So many good things to write about this little gem).

So until next time, here are more pictures to make you salivate over this beautiful piece of image capturing hardware.






Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Here's to Days Gone By!


This year has definitely been an amazing adventure for me. Thankfully, there have been more ups than there have been downs. There have been more friends made, than lost (if there are any at all) and there certainly has been a lot more learning than well.. err.. being stupid? lol the point is, this year has taught me a lot and I'll sure be sad to see it go. But then again, I think to myself, if this year has been awesome, what more the next? It's up to us to make our year amazing! But let's not forget where we've been and what we've experienced so we can make next year even better :)

Looking back at days gone by, I've compiled a little picture collage of a few places that I've been to that have somehow made an impact on my 2013. Here's to not forgetting some of the good old days :) Hope you like 'em!

January 2013 - Bacolod

January 2013, I was still working for McCann, but I was able to get a long break for the holidays which I happily spent at my hometown of Bacolod (like I always do every year). The fields are especially beautiful and breezy during January, so I decided to take my dad's pride and glory out for a ride when I was home.

You can find more pictures from that here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/02/my-fathers-pride.html


February 2013 - Laiya, Batangas

Towards the end of February 2013, we took a short but meaningful trip to a beautiful beach on the Batangas Coast. Laiya was a welcome respite from work. This has got to be my favorite shot from 2013

You can read more about this here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/03/laiya.html


March 2013 - San Fernando, Pampanga

March 2013 found me with a group of officemates (one of which is sorely missed) on our way to Pampanga for the San Pedro Cutud Lenten rights. This holy week celebration was a real eye opener for me since it showed me how some people choose to interpret their faith. I can still hear the screams. They don't really bother me that much actually haha


April 2013 - Bonifacio Global City, "Makati"

April 2013 was a busy month for me at work. I didn't get to shoot a lot of photos since I was mostly confined to the hustling streets of Bonifacio Global City, but it was during those long nights at work that I realized that we had to be thankful for the little breaks in between.

This here is a shot of a building crane operating late at night. I was doing Over Time and I needed a break so I climbed up our building's roof to get this.


May 2013 - Ambuklao Dam, Benguet

May 2013 saw me going up to Baguio for the first time this year. Had a lot of fun exploring the city and especially the outlying towns more. Here's a sun set shot of the mountain range seen from the Ambuklao Dam. We chased this sunset for quite a while but it was worth it. It was as if the mountains were on fire.


May 2013 - Singapore

May 2013 also saw our family take our first out of the country trip together. Since it was my second time in the Lion City, I had fun showing them around. I especially remember when me and my two brothers left the hotel in the middle of the night and trekked out to see the Merlion at Marina Bay. No gangs of tourist. Perfect.

You can check out more pictures of Singapore here:http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-lion-city-singapore.html


June 2013 - Taal City, Batangas

June 2013 saw me and my girlfriend visiting the tiny town of Taal in Batangas. It literally feels like time forgot this sleepy little town beside the Taal Volcano and lake. Old Spanish houses lined the cobblestone streets and we were also able to see the largest Catholic church in Asia, the 'St. Martin of Tours' Basilica.


July 2013 - Sky Ranch, Tagaytay City

July 2013 had a lot in store for me. It was my last month in McCann before I quit. One of the promises I made myself after I resigned was to travel a lot more.

Here's one of those promises come to life in the form of a Ferris Wheel. My aunt, a friend and I traveled up to Tagaytay in search of a sunset over Taal lake but instead, we found an amusement park. Here's the Tagaytay Sky Ranch Ferris Wheel which is the tallest ferris wheel in the Philippines.

You can check out more shots here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/07/tagaytay-sky-ranch.html


July 2013 - Corregidor Island

July 2013 also saw me visiting a place steeped in history with my aunt and a friend. We visited Corregidor Island in the mouth of Manila Bay. Since I love history, it was a real treat for me being able to see the ruins of this proud American fort and the last vestiges of resistance in the Philippines before the Japanese took over.

Here's a shot of the Mile-long Barracks in Corregidor. For more pictures, you can check out: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/07/corregidor.html


July 2013 - Mine's View Park, Baguio City

July 2013 was when we headed up to Baguio for the second time this year. It was time well spent taking pictures of jewelry, flowers and hotel rooms for my girlfriend's family.

Here's a shot of a band of Baguio's iconic Everlasting Flowers at Mines View Park.

For more pictures of Baguio in Bloom, you can check out: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/08/baguio-in-bloom.html


August 2013 - San Juan, La Union


August 2013 saw me visiting San Juan, in La Union for the second time. It was a short but exciting trip that was filled with sunsets, walks along the beach and meeting new people.

For more pictures, you can check out: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/08/sunsets-on-beach-in-la-union.html


September 2013 - Siliman University, Dumaguete City 

September 2013 found me on my way home to Bacolod to start work for my family. It was a big leap leaving Manila behind, but it was a decision I both had to and wanted to make. Coming home was refreshing for me in the sense that I was able to re-connect with my family after being away in Manila for 5 years or so.

Here's a shot of a vacation we took to Dumaguete City as soon as I got home. Seen here is Siliman University.

You can check out more pictures here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/09/uni-town-dumaguete.html


October 2013 - The Ruins, Talisay City

October 2013 found some officemates visiting Bacolod for the Masskara festival. It was nice having them over and reliving old times at work. We toured around Bacolod to see what my hometown had to offer them.

Here's a shot of one place which every visitor must see when he goes to Bacolod. The Ruins in Talisay City.


November 2013 - Sipalay City 

November 2013 was when my girlfriend and a close friend visited Bacolod. They wanted to head to a beach so I took them to the best beach that our province had to offer.

Seen here is the virgin beach of Sipalay at sunset. We were lucky enough to have been there when it was at the zenith of it's beauty. Soft white sand, gentle tides and fiery sunsets.

You can check out more pictures here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/11/sipalay.html


December 2013 - Session Road, Baguio City

December 2013 found me once again at Baguio City for the holidays. Experiencing the rhythm of the city during the yuletide season was a totally different thing with the joy of Christmas present every where you turned. It was a great way to end a year of travel and taking photos.

Seen here is Session Road's huge Christmas Tree. You can check out more pictures here: http://myrefinery.blogspot.com/2013/12/baguio-in-december.html

Well, that is more or less my year in photos. Thank you 2013! You've been wonderful. Come on over 2014! I'm ready for you!