The Park’s Finest

Nikon D600 with AF Nikkor 80-200mm 1:2.8 @1/80th, F/4.5, & available light.

After so many failed attempt to go try The Park’s Finest, a Filipino barbecue fusion restaurant located at the heart of the historic Filipino Town in W. Temple Street, Los Angeles I finally did and what a gastronomic experience that I never expected.

I ordered Mama Leah’s Coconut Beefchuck roll, smoked, cubed, and stewed in a coconut cream with just the right amount of spiciness that smells and taste like Bicol Express but with a twist due to the pronounced smoke flavor of the meat.

My son Allen ordered Beef Tri-Tip, tender season-crusted sirloin beef, cut deli thin and paired with home made horseradish sauce easily became our favorite. So tender that it almost melt in your mouth dipped into their homemade horse radish that is mild with a drop or two of the Sawsawan a vinegar based sauce doubled the eating pleasure.

We almost missed trying Ann’s Cornbread Bibingka, thanks to the recommendation our server Obet we would not have given it a try. This one they described as their special take on cornbread (cornmeal is combined with rice flour, baked on a banana leaf bringing elements of a traditional filipino dessert) was truly special and with corn kernels plus the sweetness of the bibingka makes it a special desert.

I would have taken a picture but we were so pleased with food that we gobbled it up thus would not do justice if I took a picture of it. Anyway, thanks to Obet our server who gave us a complimentary BBQ sauce, at least that was intact and taking the picture will not be a problem.

SantaCruzan Tradition continues in Glendale, California

May is the month when Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) is celebrated by the Catholics and Aglipays (Independent Catholic sect) in the Philippines. A yearly festival of religious pageant called Santacruzan in honor of Helena of Constantinople (Reyna Elena) and Constantine the Great finding the cross in Jerusalem

Santacruzan is a colorful festival that is celebrated nationwide down to smallest barangay with movie personalities, prominent, and beautiful women in the communities dressed up in elaborate gowns representing the Queen Helena or Reyna Elena with the rest of her entourage.

Its a festival that Filipinos look forward to, a colorful procession of beautiful women complete with brass band playing to the music of Dios Te Salve or Hail Mary. The Philippines is quite a long way from the west coast of the US and with a growing number of Filipino-Americans in Southern California keeping the tradition alive is a welcome addition to the diversity of cultures in Glendale. The procession started at the Holy Family Catholic Church on Lomita Street in Glendale to the Americana at Brand back to the church.

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Umbrellas at the Cambodian New Year Parade

Umbrella used in cultural parades like this one held in Long Beach, California at the Cambodian new year parade truly makes their colorful costumes pop even more.


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As the parade winds down at McArthur Park we again see the elegance of a centuries old diverse culture of the Cambodian people.

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn folding her umbrella marking the end of the parade.



Shooting Weddings

I never shoot weddings anymore because I try to avoid the pressure of shooting subjects that maybe too emotionally involved which is expected since that’s a lifetime commitment they are embarking on.

As they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is something that I dread dealing with because if its not up to their concept of beauty it is not easy or next to impossible to recreate this once in a lifetime ceremony (well, for most people at least, LOL).

So what do you do when you attend a wedding where you are expected to pick up the slack? The problem is you bring with you only minimal equipment. Face with the situation one has to make do with whatever is available to you, be it the existing light and whatever space that is appropriate or something easily changed digitally. At least nowadays images are easily altered unlike in the film days you really have to deal with what you have available to you and are stuck at limited availability of the space.


Clean lines and plain colors makes for an instant digital studio setting which was kind of difficult to do in the film days but easily manipulated in less than 20 minutes while some can do it for less than that.


Since I am not shooting as the official photographer, meaning no assistants to hold the flash, sliding doors is a good alternative to create a soft image.



Shooting a couple makes me wonder if I should go back to shooting weddings but then again I would rather shoot portraits and open photo booths that I set up for events…….


Street food find, Neri’s Curbside Cravings

I have never thought Neri’s Curbside Cravings a food truck I saw in mid-Wilshire offers gastronomic awesomeness in the form of Tapa (Filipino marinated meat) Burger.
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To say I was impressed was an understatement. It was surprisingly messy but oozing with goodness because that’s how burgers are supposed to be, moist.

Their version though is extra moister because it was topped with an egg cooked rare with runny yolk, cilantro, and sliced tomato on a bed of mango-bell pepper slaw slathered with garlic aioli in a pandesal bun.

Its a shame I never took a photo of the Tapa Burger because honestly I never thought I would be impressed and the point was just to satisfy my hunger since its like 3:00 PM way past my lunch time. Rest assured the presentation was yummy and the first bite oozes with delight and goodness. Now, I will have to hunt them down to satisfy my curbside cravings……

Beautiful Karens

On a recent visit to Chang Mai in Thailand the first thing that attracted me was the long necked Karen tribe. These are beautiful gentle people but of course Thai people are generally warm and gentle too but what attracted me was that these are a tribe of persecuted refugees.20140107-cm-127Its just unthinkable that other people can even think of harming them but then again this is real world where cruelty exist and not the ideal one that we have imagined.20140107-cm-126

I just wishedI had more time to spend with them but somehow there’s that feeling that I am exploiting them as if these are some spectacle to be photographed. On the other hand they are beautiful willing subjects in exchange for buying their handicrafts that are really very reasonable if not dirt cheap.20140107-cm-110

These are taken with available light, wished I had at least a reflector and a small flash but how can I complain when they are really stunning even with available light.20140107-cm-121

I will just have to hopefully come back. I just don’t know when but if I do they actually have accommodations for me to stay in their village.

Out with the old, in with the new!

disintegrating cableIn this day and age of consumerism, most of the products that goes out in the market are disposables. In photography some of these gadgets don’t really last or if they do they get so outdated as fast as you can figure out how to work it.

Cheap Chinese made products are not particularly appealing but for cheapskate like me I am daring enough to try it only to get burned.

Yongnou flashes seems to be so popular in the photography group I belong in Facebook and people swear by it. Here I am the eager beaver that I am went online to get  2 flashes for my Nikon D600 camera. It looks well built for a Chinese manufactured product and I am thinking to myself that Metz may have found its match. Well one of my portable Metz that I used for my old reliable film Nikon F & F2 went to so much abuse dropping them several times with parts going all over the place, but it still work perfectly. Of course you can drop it only so much before it gave up.

So here I am on my first gig, using my Yongnou attaching it to one of those cheap flash shoe that I ordered on the internet. Unfortunately I drop it once and it never worked again. On my second gig the other Yongnou unit suffered the same fate and also went kaput, so much for the well built looks, hehe.

In the old days gadgets are built to last, so sturdy that some manufacturing firms I fear went down for lack of demand since their products last. After that disappointing experience with Yongnou I went back to my old, 30 years old to be exact Metz 45 CT-1 that’s still working fine and going strong. In fact I was so happy with it that I bought at KEH an EX+ rated Metz 45 CT-5 a notch below like new that worked perfectly well.

Everything is fine and dandy until I decided to buy at Adorama a FlashPoint power BP960  to power the 2 Metz. The battery is great, imagine having 500 flashes for a dinosaur that consumes so much power unlike the new flash. The problem is the Metz 45 CT-1/5 being old has long ago been out of production line. After several months of waiting for a power cable compatible with  the old Metz 45, the cable turns out to be a dud and was not recognized by the battery pack. To make matters worse I was able to source out a Quantum power cable that was compatible and working well with my flash but the problem is the cable was probably older than my Metz. Lo and behold the cable was disintegrating right before my eyes as you can see in the image I provided.  Looks like I really have no choice but to get rid of the old equipment and make room for the new that offers so many other capabilities that these old dinosaurs don’t have…… except I will just have to be really careful at handling these new gears.