I forgot the brand and specifications of our first camera. It has a silver color and one of those models where you have to peek down the viewfinder to take a picture. It was a gift from my Dad’s American friend. Abet and Eric’s photo in the banauang in front of Amang Lakay’s house in Almaguer is our sole remembrance of it. The camera was given to me when it broke down and I have happy memories of being the neighborhood kids’ “photographer”.
Later, I dabbled with an old black camera during my college days that was given as a gift to the campus paper by the university president. It was, however, pawned by one of the staff writers before I can fully enjoy it.
I consider these my early flings with photography. What might be first love happened when I am already working with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement and with an inky black Cannon that looks like those hand held movie cameras which everybody seem to have now. The surviving photos I took with this camera are now posted in my flickr account and include a trek to Battad in Banaue, Ifugao for a friend’s alternative stag party; photos of Boracay Island in Aklan and El Nido in Palawan where we have two of our company’s multi-day (and boring) workshops; and those of Baguio City during a conference. My affair ended when the camera disappeared from our office.
What followed were a series of “one-night stands” with various cameras: Egay Paraguison’s Instamatic in Bangkok 1, Bohol, Singapore and Jakarta; and a company camera with a manually adjustable lens that I borrowed for Bangkok 2 and 3). Then I started going to churches and decided to finally get hitched.
My Olympus Camedia digital camera is not actually mine but our company’s. I bought it in 2004 for around P19,000.00 at the Villman branch in West Avenue, Quezon City. I really have to convince my boss for that camera who finally relented when I proposed that the cost be taken from my operations fund and that it will be used in documenting company activities.
And so it was that I embarked on a visita iglesia (with the original intention of breaking the monotony of my constant travels) with my Olympus Camedia with its 4,000,000 effective pixels, 5.8 mm to 17.4 mm lens, ½ to 1/1000 second shutter speed (2 seconds for night scene mode), and an effective memory of 16-256 MB. I actually didn’t care on the specs because frankly, I don’t know what these mean. I’m fine as long as the camera worked. It will be 2 years later before I finally read the user’s manual and got introduced to the camera’s shooting modes and other features.
In the Christmas season of 2005, I redeemed the points I earned in my “Laking National” loyalty card and bought myself Michael Busselle’s “100 Ways to Take Better Photographs”. I consider the book as my first training in photography. Poet-cum-techie Jun Lisondra also guided me through the intricate technicalities of photography by enlightening me on pixels and introducing the wonders of Picasa.
In my 37th year, I gifted myself with a flickr pro account after being inspired by Maestro Oyet’s prodding to start a group on simbahans and pansit. Instead, I joined several groups whose outstanding photography exposed the engot in me. For a moment, I was ready to quit but then Abet told me, “This like college, man. You will learn and you will survive”. I do hope so.
For me, my flickr pro account is an advance course in photography and I will be thankful for viewers of this blog who can share tips in improving my photos. It is also a tribute to my Olympus Camedia who never failed me, and a way of sharing my passion for Philippine colonial churches (and other places of deity worship) however blurred, dark or tilted the photos may be.
So far, my Olympus Camedia has taken more or less 4,000 photos. It has traveled with me across the Philippines and to Cambodia, Pakistan and Japan. It is a witness to both the happy and sad moments of my family, the many meetings/workshops/conferences/trainings related to my work, and the secrets that goes with life.
Early this year, I went camera hunting with some friends in Quiapo’s Hidalgo Street. I fell in love with a Nikon D40 which Mang Ramon offered for P26,500. I was taking out my ATM card from the bag when I came across my Olympus Camedia, the markings erased with age, its silver coat pale with use, the lens barrier now loose, and evidently gurang compared with the sleek new models. It seemed to tell me, “One more year, boss”. Yes, one more year…
(Photo above taken in an art gallery in Yufuin, Oita City, Japan)