Top Heavy

At Seabridge Park

Below the Old Ficus Tree | Darkr, Snapseed, iPhone 6S

Framing & composition. That’s what this is all about. I really wanted to include more of the sea, and the entirety of the boats’ reflections. Problem was it was a low tide and anything below the bottom frame was … sand. I was thinking, the relatively placid water might have provided some balance to the chaotic but beautiful texture created by the foliage. Maybe. In the end, I had to make do what was available to me.

Print wise: blown-out highlights. I took the photo close to midday and though the sun does not hang straight up vertically during the winters, it was high enough to cause harsh shadows. Darkr’s camera shutter speeds do not include half-stops or anything in between (I wish it does). And underexposing the image one more stop greatly thwarted the shadows. And so, once again, I had to work around limitations.

To darken the cloudless sky a bit, I used a yellow filter. That’s it. What do you think?

Sick-fulfilling Prophecy

Dear Diary,

Self-fulfilling prophecy? I may have just experienced one. And it happened rather expeditiously. You see, I was supposed to work three nights in a row from Christmas Eve to the night of the 26th. A co-worker however asked me if I could switch shifts with her. She proposed to work on the 26th and I on the 28th. Now I find switching schedules a nuisance and normally I shun or simply reject all those that seek this form of exchange, but as she had a very valid excuse — her sister’s wedding — I agreed to her plea. I know deep inside I planned on calling in on the 28th, paving a clear path from the 26th through the 2nd of the New Year when I am again to return to work.

Working night shift is tricky. You always need that extra day to pay off your sleep debt and frankly, that amount of time is never enough. Even two days do not suffice, but currently there really is no practical solution to it other than switching to day shift.

A few of my co-workers asked me about my schedule for no apparent reason and in reply, I plainly told them this with a little humor added:

“Yeah, I work on the Eve and Day of Christmas and because I switched schedule with someone, I am back on the 28th. I would’ve had the 27th through the 2nd off, but you know what, I’m going to be sick on the 28th. Yeah dude, I’ll be sick on the 28th.”

I laughed. They laughed, knowing exactly what I had purposed to do.

The 28th came. I called in sick.

Unquestionably sick. ❧

Darkr Snaps!

The Old Lady Two Years Ago

Of late, I’ve been enjoying a camera app called Darkr. It has been my app of choice whenever I encounter something I feel lends well to black and white. As this entry is not an app review, I will refrain from going into the details of the app’s features; its summary in the IOS store should be enough. Nevertheless, it’s worth the price and I highly recommend it! This is coming from someone who took a semester in basic b/w photography … well, that is if you are able to stoop low enough and take such endorsement.

Below is a photo of the Old County Hospital here in Los Angeles that I took two years ago which I recently converted into b/w using the app. I’d say it turned out pretty well and I am personally satisfied.

But it wasn’t that Darkr did all the work; it had help in the form of another app. Having decided on the film, exposure, and contrast combinations, I loaded the image into Snapseed. There, little moves in Curves adjustments and little tweaks in Tonal Range were made. I might have added a vignette and possibly minute sharpening to top it off. Voilà, there it is; a very menacing and sinister version of its color counterpart! Haha.

The Old Lady in 2018

I took the photo below a few days ago. Unlike the image above where it started off as a color photo taken with the iPhone 6S native camera, this one was done entirely using Darkr. Yes, it has a camera function. In fact, it has three formats: a pocket camera (4×3?), a medium format (square), and a large format (4×5). As I did not want the outcome to be in a square frame, I used the large format. The challenge of using this is that everything is reversed on the screen! What is up appears down, left is right, and so on. It’s very disorienting, but with time it becomes fourth nature.

The early morning was overcast. Clouds mostly covered the sky and so I used a filter (akin to lens color filter) to create some separation between the two. The red filter created a very stark contrast and so I opted for the yellow one.

As expected the image lacked contrast, and so I dodged (lightened) the main focal part of it. What would be more appropriate than the front (actually rear) part of the hospital? I made the adjustment slightly so as not to appear unnatural under this lighting context. Edits in Snapseed brought home the final product.

Very gritty. Remember, this was shot using the iPhone 6S camera capability (not the camera app, as I mentioned). I wonder how this would turn out had I used the newer iPhone versions. I would have to spend money to get one, but that is out of the question. I am vain, but not that vain. 🙂


In the life of every man there are sudden transitions of feeling, which seem almost miraculous. At once, as if some magician had touched the heavens and the earth, the dark clouds melt into the air, the wind falls, and serenity succeeds the storm. The causes which produce these changes may have been long at work within us, but the changes themselves are instantaneous, and apparently without sufficient cause. ~ Longfellow


ANGER that has no limit causes terror, and unseasonable kindness does away with respect. Be not so severe as to cause disgust, nor so lenient as to make people presume.

Taken from “Book of Wise Sayings”