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:: 48 Hours ::
I've been offline for 48 hours. Well, maybe 47, but considering how bored I was during the past couple of days, you could probably count it as double that. Unfortunately, now that I'm back on my computer, my brain is dead. Two days of inactivity, and my mind has shut down.

Fine, I'm exaggerating. I'm writing now, so obviously, something's still ticking up there. The problem is, the restlessness that I've been desperately trying to get rid off the past couple of days has finally gone. That should be a good thing, but now this restlessness been replaced by a lethargy that refuses to let me get out of bed.

I hope a long drive out of town will cure this. This drive will take me offline for roughly half a day - I wish I could have taken this drive yesterday when we had no power. This time though, staying away from the net should do me good. I'll be using my head some other way, an I'll be busy enough, at least, to keep my brain from atrophying.

I seem so pathetic, and self-centered too. The past three paragraphs have all been "I" and "me." This one is turning out the same too. I don't care. My brain isn't working well enough to worry about things like that. The only thing I want is to write something about the past few days. If not for sudoku, some books, and a long night out, I probably would've gone crazy. Thankfully, that's only partly true.

I need to arm myself for life away from the computer and the television. My shelves are stocked with books and magazines, but I've read and re-read practically everything there. Heck, I had to resort to borrowing somebody else's magazines just to read something "fresh" yesterday.

The problem is my life has been swallowed by the computer. My reading materials now are blogs and other articles online. My puzzle-solving lately has been limited to Web Sudoku. With no power feeding my laptop, my world suddenly went dark. I can't let that happen again.

There is life outside the Net, isn't there? Help me find it.

:: BlogCon 1.0 ::
I've held out writing about the BlogCon, but all that effort, or lack thereof, will now go to waste. Yes, I went to the first Philippine BlogCon last Monday, and yes, this is my post about it.

It was a blast.

That's all I can really say that hasn't already been said. Heck, even that statement has been made already, so I'm still echoing others. I guess, yet again, I'm at a loss for words.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't really meet a whole lot of people. Despite what some people may think, I'm shy. I hid behind my camera for most of the event, and only really spoke with the people at my table, some others I got introduced to, and those I recognized from the past.

Ok, so maybe that last paragraph hasn't been said before, but it was about me, not the BlogCon. If you really want to know what happened, I suggest you do any of the following:
1. Go to the BlogCon wiki, or
2. Visit the following links (listed, for some reason, in alphabetical order): 1st Philippine BlogCon, After the 2006 Blogcon, Back from BlogCon 2006, BlogCon 2006, BlogCon 2006 was a Blast, BlogCon Aftermath, Pinoy Bloggers Face-to-Face, Seen & heard at the 1st Philipine BlogCon 2006, Teh BlogCon is the Shizzle!, What Happened at BlogCon 2006? and read what they have to say about it.

:: Oblivious ::

Originally uploaded by driver ng bayan.
My play is over, and aside from my plug about it, this is only my second post about the play. The first was about a power outage we experienced during one of the shows.

Anyway, these are the first photos I'm posting of the whole run. Since I was manning the lights, I couldn't really get shots during the play. I could, however, take shots before, after, and in between shows. The image on the right was taken during a break between shows. Obviously, while some people were resting and conserving their energy, others had an excess of it.

Click here or on the or thumbnail on the right to see some other behind-the-scenes moments. Most of these were taken before shows - the cast is in costume and make-up already. Unfortunately, the shots posted are limited to the cast and the director, as well as a crew member who happened to walk into the frame. I might follow this up with pictures of the rest of the team, but that'll just have to wait.

:: Cars ::

Originally uploaded by driver ng bayan.
Actually, that should be car - as in one car.

In fact, even that is a misnomer. The title should be toy car.

I'm sure some of you knew what it was immediately, but I'd like to think I can still fool some others with this shot. Then again, if I show the original images at full-size, I'm not going to fool anybody. You're free to view my other picks from the bunch at my Flickr. Just click on the image on the right.

Anyway, I'm on the lookout now for a 1/12th scale car. It doesn't have to be a luxury car like the Z8 pictured here. All I need is a model that has a few more details than this one. The one in the picture is a 1/24th scale model, and I'm looking to shoot something that might actually pass as real. Does anybody want to lend me a car?

:: m-ph ::
No, that isn't what the title refers to. Yes, I know I drive fast, but we measure speed in this country by kilometers per hour. Besides, the dash should have told you it wasn't about speed - otherwise I would've typed in MPH, MpH, or something like that. What I'm referring to is m-ph.com, the online version of Mobile Philippines.

Yes, it is widely known that I'm a gadget geek - but what does Mobile Philippines have to do with me? Well, I blog for m-ph.com now. I actually started just under a week ago, but it took me that long to post it here. Just for that, I'll say it again - I'm a guest blogger for Mobile Philippines. Not a bad gig, eh?

:: Darkness ::
In what will probably go down in Kultura history as the most memorable show ever, the cast and crew of Art have proven that regardless of the circumstances, the show must go on.

The evening show on the 20th was moving along smoothly. It was, in fact, turning into one of the best shows in the run. From a technical standpoint, it was damn near perfect. With the exception of a minor mistake handling one of the microphones, as well as a tiny power fluctuation that dimmed the lights just enough for me to notice, it was the cleanest show so far.

From the audience perspective, it was even better. For some reason, I felt like this audience was a lot more involved with the play than others. They laughed more, yes - but everybody laughs during the show. What seemed different was that their laughter was more contagious - at some point, I almost fell on top of the tangle of wires powering our lights. What proved to me that this audience was different, however, was their collective "aawww" during one of the scenes. I had always thought that was an "aawww" moment, but none of the other shows had gotten that. They'd elicited giggles, but not the "aawww" I was looking for. This show was different - of course, I didn't know how different it would be until later.

At some point, just after the most physical scene in the show, the lights dimmed. They immediately powered back on, then dimmed - and this cycle repeated another time before we were plunged almost totally in darkness. Each time the lights dimmed, I heard some loud noise off in the distance. I didn't want to say it at the time, but I knew the power wasn't coming back on - at least not for a while.

We made some announcements and tried to figure out what to do. Since most of the surrounding buildings were in the dark, we knew we couldn't rely on the city's power grid. We had generators in the building, but the operator wasn't around. We had to make do with what little light we had. We made another announcement, we made do.

It's a good thing our play has only three characters. You see, we ended up using three lights bright enough to light them up - a flashlight we borrowed from one of the guards, and an emergency light (with two bulbs) we took off the wall. I'm also glad one of the former technical directors for Kultura was there - she helped me light up our performers.

I'm not sure if it was just the circumstances surrounding us or if it was really the audience, but the applause last night seemed louder than usual. Right now, I don't really care. Things may have gone horribly wrong, but the show did go on. Our systems may have failed, but our performers soldiered on. Heck, the city may have been plunged into darkness, but everybody involved in the production helped to make sure that at least in the tiny space we call our theater, not to mention the path leading out to the exit, things remained bright. We lit up the place, not just with with our borrowed lights and our cellular phones, but with our enthusiasm, our smiles, and our performances.

:: Tune Up ::
On Jayvee's recommendation, I've decided to give a tutorial of sorts on shooting cars, or other fast-moving objects for that matter. In the state I'm in though, I'll probably end up writing a journal - something like a narrative of what transpired during our shoot.

In any case, If you've seen this photo from my previous post and you're wondering how I did it, then read on. If you don't particularly care, then I suggest you jump off to another page. With that disclaimer of sorts out of the way, let's get down to business.

Before I give the details of the shoot, however, here is, quoted from my previous post, the reason for this shoot: "Thinking that he was selling his car in a few days, my friend decided he wanted some photos to remember his ride by. With this in mind, he and I decided to go on a photo shoot."

Now, on to the nitty-gritty. Because I haven't quite acquired the knack for knowing what settings to just by looking around - at least not yet - I fired off some test shots using one of the automatic settings. Mind you, I was shooting from another car, and we were both speeding down the road. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't lose my grip on my camera.

In this shot, the sky is overcast, gray, and otherwise dull. The day wasn't exactly ideal for shooting outdoors, but we decided to try anyway. I switched to manual, checked the settings on the reference shot, and got ready to shoot.

Because I was shooting a moving car and I couldn't exactly repeat any action I hadn't captured, I switched to continuous shooting mode. Since I was shooting from another car, I decided to take another precaution - I raised my shutter speed.

In my first round of shots, the car exposed almost perfectly - but there was something very wrong. It was only (very) slightly overexposed, and that could have easily been corrected in post-processing. In fact, the car looked pretty good. The problem was it didn't look fast.

If not for the faint dust cloud behind the wheels and the slight roll to the right, it looks like the car in this image is standing still. If you look closely at the wheels, in fact, it looks like they're not spinning at all.

After the first round of shots, we had to ditch the chase car. We also had to retreat to another location. We also had to pray to the powers-that-be to keep the rain away.

One car less and a location change later, we were shooting again. I wanted the get the sense of motion we had lost earlier, so I reduced my shutter speed by several stops. This produced the image of an overexposed car moving slowly.

By this time I had realized that my settings were completely off. Colors were dull, highlights were blown, and everything was pretty much overexposed. On top of that, the car looked slow. If I wanted to get the shot right before the light changed on me, I would have to adjust different variable all at once.

First off, I had to make the car look faster. I slowed the shutter down to 1/40 of a second, and took a shot while panning at roughly the speed I had been moving in the previous shots. I was happy with the background blur in the test shot; and I was hoping the wheels would get a nice blur on them too.

Next on the agenda was compensating for the slower shutter speed. I dropped the ISO to 400 and stepped the aperture down to F/8. We then did a test run and came up with this shot. It looked pretty good - but it wasn't quite there yet. The sky, not to mention the roof, was still blown out.

An F-Stop and a batch of pictures later, we came up with the following image. Pretty good, but still not quite there. The car was pretty much dialed in, but the background was still troubling me.

At this point I decided that we couldn't make any more adjustments to get the sky looking right - we would have to find a way to hide it. I didn't want a house dominating the background - it just didn't feel right. I wanted an industrial or a least a commerical look, but I didn't want to switch to yet another location. Thankfully, there was a tree and an empty lot right behind me. Greenery would just have to do.

Shooting from a reverse angle, I snapped away just as the car was running past the tree. This helped the exposure several ways. First, it put the car in the shade - preventing the roof and parts of the hood from blowing out. Second, the tree blocked most of the sky in the background - adding more texture (and blur) to the shot. Third, the change of angle revealed a piece of sky that was filled with gray clouds - giving me a sky that wasn't completely blown out.

All this resulted in a the shot you see here. After getting this, we ran back and forth a few more times and took roughly another hundred photos. We found a handful of good shots, but none quite like #205.

Finally, after a bit of post-processing, we have the image you see here. I can still think of a bunch of ways to improve the image, but they don't exactly fall under the realm of basic image processing. At some point, I might try transplanting the car into a picture on an actual racetrack. Before that, I could simply play with the sky and turn it blue. More likely than either of these possibilities though, I think I'll just get behind the camera again and try to get an even better shot.

Until then, this image will just have to do.

:: 20+ ::
I celebrated my 25th birthday today. After several years of celebrating my 22nd, I finally decided it was time I admitted that I was no longer in my early 20s.

Next year, I will once again be celebrating my 25th. This time around, I think I'll host a party. You're invited. I'll post details some time.

I'm just wondering now - at this rate, when will I celebrate my 28th birthday?

:: Drive By ::

Originally uploaded by driver ng bayan.
Thinking that he was selling his car in a few days, my friend decided he wanted some photos to remember his ride by. With this in mind, he and I decided to go on a photo shoot.

The conditions for the shoot weren't exactly ideal. The sky was a dark gray, and it looked like the clouds were just about ready to burst. In fact, at some point, it had actually started to drizzle.

This, of course, did not deter us. We found a nice wide corner with very little traffic and decided to keep driving the car back and forth until we had gotten a handful of decent shots. Roughly a couple of hundred shots later, we called it a day.

We got more than a handful of nice images that day. This one just happens to be my favorite.

:: Size Matters ::
Tall people earn more because they're smarter, or so they say. It's obvious I'm taller than the average person, at least around here. I know it makes me seem conceited, but I think I'm smarter than most people. Combine these two with the previous entry and you can say I've got it all. Throw in the reference from the title, and well...

I think that's my cue to just shut up. If you want to smack me on the head now, go right ahead - I know I deserve it.

:: Faces ::
I don't know why the hell I'm posting this, but I guess by doing so, I'm giving you license to poke fun at me.
MyHeritage - create your own Celebrity Collage
Done? Now move on to the post below. Believe me, that's more entertaining.

:: Nice Top ::
This woke me up. I cracked up immediately when I saw it, and I couldn't get back to sleep. I found it a link on a friend's page on deviantArt that led to the deviation below, owned by this deviant. In other words, I stumbled upon it, and now I'm sharing it with you. If you don't find it funny, you might at least appreciate other aspects of the image. If not, well...

Isn't the shirt cool? I'd never get it, of course, but I'm wondering who among you would have the guts to wear that. Anyway, I'm heading off to break my fast.

Good morning!

:: Tukar ::

Originally uploaded by driver ng bayan.
I don't know why I waited for over a month before I posted these pictures, but finally, here they are.

I took these late last July at a concert featuring Cynthia Alexander, Joey Ayala, and National Living Treasure from Maguindanao Samaon Sulaiman among others. I knew I had good seats, but I was surprised at how close they were to the stage - I could put my feet up on it from my seat.

If I remember correctly, I took well over a hundred shots. This specific picture is, obviously, a silhouette of somebody on stage. It's Cynthia Alexander's profile - and while I can think of a hundred different ways this picture could be improved, I like it enough to call it one of my favorites. The rest of my favorites are posted here.

:: Crikey ::
Steve Irwin, more popularly known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed today while diving off the northeast coast of Australia. In a freak accident, Irwin, 44, took a stingray barb in the chest while filming a new wildlife documentary. He died doing something he loved.

See this Reuters article for more details.

:: Idiot! ::
I almost ran head-on into another car tonight. The idiot in the other car was (1)speeding (2)down the wrong side of the road (3)while approaching an incline. If I hadn't been paying attention, I probably wouldn't be here now writing about this idiot - I would yelling at and cursing him. Worse, I could be at or on the way to the hospital. As to whether the idiot would be injured or not, I couldn't care less. Given the way he was driving, any injuries he would have sustained would be well deserved. Given the speed at which both our cars were running, those injuries would have been pretty - well - significant. Put another way, any contact would have led to a very ugly scene.

There was, fortunately, no contact - at least none involving my car. I still need to vent though, and that's what this entry is for.