Random photos

Since selling my compact digital camera several months ago, I’ve been relying on my trusty Sony Ericsson k800i to capture everyday snaps that usually end up as blog posts here. However, most of them never get downloaded (I’m lazy that way) or are forgotten altogether. I’ve just gone through my phone’s memory card and here’s the current batch just sitting there to be blogged about. What I didn’t realise is that a lot of them are about food. What can I say, we do love to eat!

We’re trying to change our diet and introduce more vegetables and cut back on meat. This stir-fry is one of the first experiments in our kitchen and although I like the way the mix of colours go together, it was just so-so in the taste department. I’ve forgotten which recipe this was and it didn’t feature in our dining table again.

My previous blog post was about the incredible canned chorizo from Purefoods. A couple of friends have pointed out since that the canned sausage shouldn’t be eaten on its own and would probably go well with other ingredients in a pancit (noodles) or fried rice recipe. Be that as it may, I still don’t think I’d go for the sausage packed in lard. We’ve discovered this fresh Continental chorizo from the chilled food section of the local grocery and we’ve already used it for a stew and Jambalaya. Delicious, albeit still a bit fatty! Colours in the photo are a bit off but can’t be bothered to edit.

Hubby bought several packs of Graham crackers about a month ago, intending to eat it with ice cream but never got around to it. It reminded me of cheesecakes made by aunts and my mom while I was young so I thought of making one. This is my first attempt at it. I’d like to make a healthier version of the traditional cheesecake so I opted to use yogurt instead of cream cheese. I was also intending to serve it to guests but I wasn’t impressed by it when I tasted a slice so the guests never even found out that we have this in the fridge. A couple of days passed and we were having this regularly for a snack. I guess you can say that it has aged well! The original recipe didn’t have an accompanying photo and a submitted this photo. I believe a photo helps in making other cooks try a recipe, don’t you?

Bananas here are affordable again (after prices went through the roof after a terrible storm) and we always get some when we do our grocery shopping. Trouble is, we always forget about them and we end up with spotty, overriped bananas. I have enjoyed adding them to soy milk to make smoothies (200 ml soy milk plus one banana blended together makes a great smoothie) but I was ready for something new. I also had some french vanilla yogurt left over from making the cheesecake and so searched for both ingredients in Allrecipes.com to see what I could make out of these two ingredients. I found a highly rated muffin recipe and tried it. It was fantastic! I’ve now made this twice in two weeks and here’s the latest batch! Yum…

While baking those muffins last weekend, I noticed that my lone muffin pan is starting to show signs of rust. Thus, I took advantage of Myer’s current stocktake sale and went out to get these. We wanted a silicone pan this time and these pink ones were the cheapest. I don’t care for the colour much but it won’t affect the muffins and hubby and I are the only ones who’ll get to see them in use anyway. I also got some custard cups for another kitchen experiment I am planning to do soon. Hmmm… if you tell my parents I’ve been out shopping for kitchenware and been busily searching for recipes and trying them, I’m quite sure they won’t believe you. I’m not sure I believe it either! Ah, let’s just say it’s a lesson in self-sufficiency.

Now that winter is here, my hands and feet are perpetually cold. Doesn’t matter if I swath them in layers of clothing or socks, it takes awhile for them to heat up and quickly gets cold again. Hubby’s arms and feet are warm enough so I usually press my hands or feet against his to quickly get them warm again. Trouble is, he complains about it saying my hands or feet are too cold. His solution was to get me this wheat pack which is basically just a bag of wheat which can be heated up in the microwave and retains its warmth for about 30 minutes. Now we could both be happily warm and cosy. The downside to this is that the bag naturally smells of wheat when heated up and makes me think of oatmeal and how much of a waste it is that the wheat inside my heat pack isn’t filling up someone else’s belly. On the other hand, hubby reminds me of the water and energy we are saving since we aren’t using a water bag instead.

Then there was the time when I’ve signed us up for publisher Simon & Schuster’s mailing list about a fortnight ago and as a thank-you gift, we each get a free book. We don’t exactly get a choice as to what specific book we would receive but we got to choose the category of book we would be receiving. I chose Mystery and Thriller and got A Thousand Bones by P.J. Parrish while hubby got Sacred Bones by Michael Brynes for choosing Action and Adventure. I’m not sure if they give out the same books to everyone who chose the same category or if it’s totally random. However, I’m quite happy with the book I got and hubby said that the subject of his book is something he’s interested although not quite sure about its plot. We both intend to read the book we got, the only thing is finding the time to do so.

Lastly, this is the latest photo in my mobile phone – our dinner tonight! We had Zucchini Corn Fritters, which goes well with Ranch Sauce. I’ve made this several times now and although it doesn’t look too pretty, it’s a favourite in our house.

See what I mean when I say that the bulk of my photos are of food?

Published in: on June 11, 2008 at 11:41 pm  Comments (3)  

Me, myself and I


I got inspired by a multiple self-portrait I saw in a magazine recently and I’ve always wanted to do one so here it is. Had a bit of trouble blending some parts but had a little help from hubby who’s better at Photoshop than I am. Overall, I had quite a bit of fun making this and I know it’s not entirely accurate but I still like the stylized look.

Published in: on April 25, 2008 at 12:11 pm  Comments (2)  

Photoshop newbie

I used to think that Photoshop is a dirty word mainly because I believed that photographs should be representative of reality as much as possible with little alternation. I’m also wary of photographers who seem to be cavalier about their shooting technique only because they could fudge it in Photoshop later. Besides, what photographer would rather sit in front of a computer editing a photo when that time could be used shooting more photographs.

I’ve changed my stance however when I realised that a good photo could be improved greatly by a little editing in Photoshop. Besides, sometimes weather conditions just does not cooperate or there are times when a good photo could be ruined by wrong settings.

So after much to and fro-ing, I finally picked up some books on Photoshop and tried my hand on some photo editing. The first photo is the original picture while the one in the middle is the edited one. My favourite though is the last one, which reminds me of the A-ha’s Take on Me video way back when.

Published in: on March 26, 2008 at 10:03 pm  Comments (2)  

Fairytales and Fables

We’ve been planning to see the latest sand sculpture exhibit for some time now and the long weekend provided us with the opportunity to finally haul ourselves to Frankston. Frankston is a suburb about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from us so we had to plan the trip. The drive was uneventful and although the day was hot, it wasn’t exactly the sunny, clear day I had hoped it to be. Thus, some of the skies in our photos came out flat, with its lifeless white background. We were a bit disappointed that the castle shown in the brochures and other promotional material about the exhibit could not be found in the exhibit itself. However, we still enjoyed ourselves and had fun trying to identify fairy tale characters depicted in the sculptures.

Published in: on March 10, 2008 at 11:32 pm  Comments (3)  

Metropolis Magazine

Sometime last December, hubby received an email from someone who saw my Melbourne Alley photos in my old photo blog asking how she could contact me. I got in touch with the sender and she said that she is the photo editor of an architecture and urban design magazine in the US called Metropolis Magazine. She requested I submit bigger sizes of the photos she saw on my blog and said that they would be interested in using some of my images.

I was a bit skeptical at first but everything seems to check out so I sent her the images plus some new ones that I’ve reshot because I couldn’t find the originals of the other photos in the blog (D’oh, I should really think about archiving my photos!) I didn’t hear from her again until mid-January when I received an agreement document she wanted me to sign, giving them permission to use the images. I filled out the form and sent it back. A month and a half after and hadn’t heard a peep from her. Hmm… I guess they were just pulling my leg when they said I would get paid for the images. Regular visits to their website also didn’t yield much since they were still featuring the January issue up until early March. My images were supposed to be used in an article in the February issue.

During a lull at work, I checked their website last week and the featured magazine has changed to the February one. I quickly scanned the articles shown in the website and found the one I’ve been looking for. It was an article about alleyways around the world coming to life and becoming part of the urban landscape. The photo was attributed to me but had my internet handle as my surname. I quickly fired off an email to the photo editor asking for a correction and also enquiring on the whereabouts of the commission.

Surprisingly, I got an email back. The photo editor said that as the printed version has already ran, they could no longer correct it. She did change my surname on the website though. She also said that she never got the release form back and that they’d need it to forward my details to accounting. I thought that odd but resent the document anyway. She acknowledged receipt of the document this time but as of today, there’s no further word on the matter. I expect it’ll be a long time before I hear anything, if ever.

Oh well, at least I got to see my photos used somewhere and I’ve at least been credited. It’s not a spectacular result but it’s a start.

Published in: on March 6, 2008 at 1:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Venturing out of Auto


I’ve just started reading Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson and the first exercise in the book is to take a portrait. Although the book specified taking the photo in Manual mode, f/5.6 is indicated as the aperture and the shutter speed is to be adjusted based on what the camera deems to be the correct one for the optimal exposure. So in effect, it’s just aperture priority but hey, I’m taking my first steps out of the Auto mode of my camera.

The first time I attempted taking portraits, it was all in Auto mode which produced a somewhat dark exposure. I like the results of my second attempt better. Hubby was game as acting as my model although he did get a bit bored. Here are the best shots from this weekend’s practice session.

Published in: on February 24, 2008 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fun with my camera

I’ve been reading some photography books borrowed from the library and as always, most advocate practice and learning more about the camera. Sad to say though that I’m still not out of the Auto mode but I’m trying my hand on composition and some portraits. Here are my favourite shots from last week.

Gabriel in front of the glass water wall in front of the National Gallery of Victoria in St. Kilda. We originally wanted to see the Modern Britain exhibition for which we have free tickets for but was told that the gallery would be closing in 45 minutes and that there won’t be enough time to view the entire exhibit.
I’ve been lurking around Flickr.com and was intrigued by some self-portraits featured there. Here’s my first try on the old photographing the mirror trick. I almost deleted this photo because it wasn’t sharp enough but it quickly become my favourite among the lot later.
Gabriel posing in front of the tallest building in Melbourne – Eureka Tower. We were initially attracted by the giant golden bugs decorating the building but what I like most about this photo is that gorgeous blue sky.

Published in: on February 9, 2008 at 9:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Trip to Tasmania

We just returned from a six-day vacation in Tasmania earlier this week. I honestly thought that it was going to be a bit ho-hum over there but, as it turned out, I actually liked the time we spent there. I usually hate driving long distances but driving all around Tasmania’s highways didn’t bother me one bit. I love the scenery there and the quaintness of it all. If I wasn’t working in IT, I can imagine myself living there and loving it.

Anyway, enough words. Here are the photos grouped by locations, sorted in chronological order.

Launceston

Sheffield

Cradle Mountain

Bicheno

Freycinet

Swansea

Richmond

Hobart

Published in: on January 31, 2008 at 11:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Puffing Billy

First of all, a very Happy New Year to everyone! Now that’s out of the way…

One of the tourist attractions I wanted to go to when we moved to Melbourne was the Puffing Billy steam trains at Belgrave. But what is Puffing Billy? Here’s the answer as quoted from their website:

Puffing Billy is a genuine relic of our more leisurely days. An historic steam train still running regularly in the mountain district it was built to serve at the turn of the century.

The Railway is the sole survivor of four experimental lines used to develop rural areas in the early 1900’s. Puffing Billy is now a major tourist attraction, its operation depending on hundreds of dedicated volunteers.

Puffing Billy runs every day of the year, except Christmas day, so why not take yourself and your family or friends on a sentimental journey along this 24.5 km operating museum. Enjoy the mountain scenery and panoramic views which pass by your carriage window. At Lakeside, the intermediate terminus of the railway is inside the beautiful Emerald Lake Park. You may stop over for a few pleasant hours bushwalking, swimming or just relaxing in the peaceful country setting. The terminus of the line at Gembrook is a delightful country town with much to offer the visitor.

I’ve forgotten about Puffing Billy for a while until an officemate told me about their family trip to the Dandenongs last week. He also mentioned Puffing Billy in passing as it was in the general area. He told me that he had gone there a few times before. Since I was curious about the place/ride to begin with, I asked him about his experience. That got me more interested to go.

So, on my birthday, Raquel and I drove to Belgrave to get on the Puffing Billy steam train. It was great. I wanted to see an actual fully-operational steam engine locomotive up close. What I didn’t realise about these old trains was the amount of polution it generates though. I certainly didn’t expect the large specs of coal falling on our skin and into our hair. Some even fell on my lips and teeth!

Still, I sort of loved it as I felt like I was transported back to the old West. It felt like I was riding a rural steam train into the wildernes back in the late 1800’s.

We were lucky that we have a buy-one-take-one ticket voucher and the ticket prices were cheap that day. So we paid like a quarter of what we would’ve actually paid if we had paid full price without the voucher. I thought it was well worth the drive to Belgrave and the money we spent on the train ride.

We stopped at the half-way point though which was about an hour from Belgrave. We felt that it wasn’t worth going all the way to Gembrook. I was just really after the train ride. We can always just drive to Gembrook in the future if we want and it will probably be faster than taking the train. After all, it was an old train and it didn’t really go that fast.

So, if you havan’t had the chance to ride the Puffing Billy train, I recommend that you give it a go. I think kids will specially love it.

Published in: on January 3, 2008 at 12:58 am  Comments (1)  

Christmas in Melbourne

Merry Christmas everybody! It’s Christmas eve as I’m typing this. This is just the second Christmas we’ll be spending in Melbourne. All I can say is that it’s pretty different from what I’m used to in the Philippines.

I still miss how most houses, the roads, the churches and the trees were all decorated with colourful fairy lights (Christmas lights) and parols (local Christmas lanterns). Here, there isn’t a lot of that going on. Well, the fact that the sun sets after 9 pm during the Christmas summer here was probably a major reason why.

Anyway, we went to the city after dark to take some photos of Melbourne at night with its Christmas decors aglow. To those of you who aren’t here and are curious as to what Christmas night is like, here are the photos:

Published in: on December 24, 2007 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment