Trese: High Tide at Midnight - A Fan Review

I recently got my own complimentary copy of Trese 6: High Tide at Midnight recently when dropped by Budjette's office in BGC. 

I'm a huge fan of Trese. This is outside the fact that Budjette is a good friend and a contemporary in the industry. This is one local title that caught my imagination in such a long time. How they make use of local folklore and bringing it into modern times is its greatest appeal to me. The (scary) stories of aswang, dwendes, tikbalangs have been translated into the urban landscape. 

Trese, along with other millennial contemporary titles (e.g. Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, Sky World etc...) gave a renewed interest in Philippine comics. It has evolved from your typical monthly issues back in the day to a more slick-looking graphic novel format. Nonetheless this reintroduces the "Komiks" to a younger generation who may have missed the golden age when the industry went zilch. 

From a case to case anthology, we're now seeing longer narratives starting with Book 3 and 5, story arcs akin to most mainstream comics. I guess this was a necessary shift to show more growth with Alexandra and her exploits. A case-to-case approach wasn't enough to introduce more complicated plot threads. By Book 6, she's no longer alone as joined by self-proclaimed superhero Maliksi (a hunky Tikbalang) who has a crush on her, members of the Trese family and some "super" friends. You also would notice a larger undercurrent involvement of the "Madame" secretly pushing her own agenda. Whether she sides to good or evil remains to be ambiguous at this point. 

It is established that you have been reading the previous books to get an idea on the various myths and creatures going about the city. If you're just picking up Trese now, I highly suggest brushing up on the hard bound compilation to get a sense of the world Alexandra is revolving in.

Noticeable with Book 6, mystery gives way to more action and you could feel the build-up to something big -- like a final confrontation between Madame and Trese. The end just happens to be the start. Budjette always makes it a point to leave you on a cliffhanger. 

Just a little showcase of Trese-related cosplay shoots we did in the past. 

For as long as Budjette and Kajo chuck out more stories, Trese would be in my regular cosplay to-do list in the foreseeable future. 


Model Portfolio: Apple

This was one shoot that happened out of serendipity. I was in between ad campaign jobs, and it so happened that one free day was sandwiched in between.  Apple messaged me out of the blue finding out if I was game to shoot. 

Over the years, there's no place like shooting in Raffy's house -- which I personally refer to as Raffy's last resort. Hehehe. It's one house I would never get tired of shooting in. There is always some nook and cranny you'd get to re-explore. 

Did all of these edits in just a morning. There wasn't much to work on except for color grading. So when I locked on one type of grading for a series, it was pretty much a "copy-paste" workflow from there. I did some slight experiments in the second and third sets though for the heck of it.

It was overcast for most part of the day, which gave a this bluish and spread out lighting texture. This scenario is a double-edged sword, but it turned out to be in our favor. Everything was shot in high ISO with at least 400. If I can't get enough grains, I add some more in post production. I never left the F2.8 mark and went for very shallow DoF all the way.

Experimented with various color grading in post production just for the heck of it. I personally like the first one. 

The high-slit cheongsam was pleasant surprise Apple brought given my brief to her was the vintage Chinese look. Obviously I am still riding from that Wong Kar Wai shoot I did with Jinri for her calendar

Doing these natural setting shots is a step back from the heavy effects and post-production we usually do in cosplay.

Production Credits:
  • Make-up: Kiko Escobar
  • Styling: Model's Own
  • Model: Apple Angeles Chan


Canon 7D Mark 2: A Review / Pin-up Girl Lighting Tutorial

Canon recently lent me one of their pre-production models for the 7D Mark 2. Heard so much rave reviews from other sources online, so getting to hold one was quite a treat. I was happy to oblige doing a review and then some. 

Off the bat, the 7D Mark 2 looks alot like the 5D Mark 3 in terms of size, weight and ergonomics. The control panel is virtually the same save for the thumb switch found on the side of the thumb stick. This nifty addition makes a huge leap in how the camera is used.

The 7D Mark 2 AF system was built from the ground up. Packed with the Dual AF and Phase Detection features, the camera focus was such a joy to work with. It was fast and incredibly accurate. 

Now most people tend to measure a camera's capabilities mainly through the resolution / megapixel count, which is a common misnomer. An overlooked factor is pixel-pitch. This is accounts for the amount of information each sensor can handle. The bigger the pixel pitch, the more information it can store (hence, smoother gradations in color). This is where full-frame cameras have an advantage: a full frame means bigger pixel pitch sensors relative to the sensor size. But after my experience with the 7D Mark 2, it left me scratching my head. 

The innate disadvantage in the sensor / pixel pitch department is made up by having two (2) Digic 6+ processors, which I think goes beyond compensating. In my natural light shoots, I intentionally overexpose in the settings to work around with back-lit subjects. This has been my habit for the past bodies I've held (5D, 1Ds-Mark 3, 5D Mark 3...), but pleasantly surprising though, a 7D Mark 2's metering system is accurate. I had to consciously unlearn over exposing the shot from using my 5D Mark 3. 

I sort of swore to myself never to go back to cropped-sensor cameras after holding the 5D (and it's eventual successors), but this camera just gave me 2nd thoughts. 

My lighting setup for Bianca's shoot.
But then, there's no use talking about how the camera just by the looks without trying it out on an actual shoot, so I called up one of my favorite modelesque friends, Bianca, for an afternoon session in the studio. 

I was thinking of making this entry two-fold, so this is also going to be a lighting tutorial on doing a basic pin-up shot. This is one style that's been a classic favorite of mine next to cosplay. 

My personal workflow in doing pin-up involves using a semi-harsh main light (e.g. beauty dish), and balancing out soft and harsh highlights behind the model's flanks. The base formation is actually a variant of the short light setup. Instead of lighting up the short side of the model, my guide would be there the nose is pointing. That's where I flank my main light. For this shoot, the light was on the camera left. On its opposite side would be the softer highlight, while the harsher highlight is on short side of the model as a highlight.

There's an optional fill light underneath the beauty dish just in case (as you could see in my actual lighting setup), but this is the basic using a three (3) light setup. The power of the fill is adjusted according to preference. Mine is about 1.5 stops weaker than the main. 

But as a parting note: lighting can only take you so much, but the rest of the look brought home through make-up and styling.

For this setup, you can check out my one-light tutorial in a previous entry. I used the Mola beauty dish for these shots.u

Bea is a host of an online TV show called Upload. She had the entire shoot featured in an episode with some of the stupid stuff I am willing to do on-air. You could check it out here. Also, you could read more of my review in the 7D Mark 2 in this month's issue of Speed Magazine.

For complete specifications on the 7D Mark 2, there's always DPReview to make the comprehensive lowdown on it. 


Jean Grey - A Charity Cosplay Print Sale

Production Credits
  • Make-up: Bambbi Fuentes
  • Styling: Hannah Kim
  • Costume Production: Badj Genato
  • Art Direction: Bob Cruz / Joe Dy
  • CG Imaging: Riot Inc.
  • Digital Imaging: Ghani Madueno
Riding on the awesome reaction people had from our Wonder Woman cosplay shoot some time back, Marian and I are putting up another limited print sale to raise money for charity. As with the past years, the recipient has been Cribs Foundation, an infant orphanage and shelter for abused girls in Marikina City.  

We would be releasing this in two (2) editions:

A4 Edition (Small)
  • Ten (10) total prints only
  • Canon Fine Art Museum Etching Paper
  • A4 Size with 1.5" inch border upon printing
  • Box-type framing with black borders (can be changed to white upon request)
  • 2" inch matting in-frame
A3+ Edition (Large)
  • Twenty (20) total prints only, five (5) are automatically reserved
  • Canon Fine Art Museum Etching Paper
  • A3+ Size with 1.5" inch border upon printing
  • Box-type framing with black borders (can be changed to white upon request)
  • 2" inch matting in-frame
As for pricing, please get in touch with my assistant Hannah either through:
  • 0917-5645410 (Philippines)
  • hannah.kim@jaytablante.com or jay.tablante@jaytablante.com with the subject header "Print of Charity"
  • Leave your name, email and mobile number for confirmation. 
  • Your piece is reserved once you have made a full or down payment.
  • Pick-up point would be in our booking office in Makati City. Courier can also be arranged at a separate cost for orders outside of Manila or the country.
  • We would be releasing the images once each edition has reached at least 50% of sale.
Just a little effort in trying to give back through something we do for a passion.


Lighting Tutorial: In The Mood - The Jinri Park 2015 Calendar

Coming up with a calendar with Jinri started out as a little "social experiment" of ours -- then it became a small tradition we have kept for three years now. 

I wouldn't even consider this a lighting tutorial, but more like a lighting challenge. Wong Kar Wai has been one of my visually inspiring directors. His moves are well art-directed to frame, and the colors are uniquely his signature. I have been doing countless techniques in replicating the look and feel of his movies for quite some time, which often results in failure. Well at least for me. 

Thebiggest challenge was location. These are the kinds of shoots that cannot be done in a studio. Only a proper location can bring the right textures, colors and grit into an image. You also rely alot on natural light, and the kind that is also reflected from the surrounding elements. 

The house were we shot in was about 50++ years old, and intentionally made to look older that it seems. At first glance you would immediately notice the history; this house has been through generations. The wallpaper has been ingrained into the house so much, to the point of fading. Furniture is made out of old heavy wood. The kind that has been dunked in and coated with so many layers of varnish. Paintings and picture frames adorn the walls, leaving no empty space. Sitting on top of the furniture were small odd bits and items of stuff gathered over the years. Every small cranny was used and placed with something else. It comes out as a maximalist look, which gave the scene so much character to work with.

So for 2015, we thought of getting inspiration from Wong Kar Wai's movies and come up with our own take. 

Let's single out an image, and probably my favorite in the entire shoot...

As you could see, there's no rocket science involved in the lighting setup but the location gave most of the texture in the shot. My settings were opened up to F2.8 and I was shooting in a relatively high ISO (1600 to be exact). This allowed for as much natural / ambient light, while tempering down the strobes. The light that gave the highlights on her camera right is also the source of my "key light" from the luster reflector. There was no direct light on Jinri except for that slice of highlight. The left stripbox was powered to its minimum and served as a minimal fill. I actually never used it in most of the shots. 

Old Hong Kong movies have this yellowish / greenish tinge, and it's not really done in post, but rather with the quality and reflection of the light around. The house had lots of old-school incandescent bulbs, which are warm. Mix that with green walls and a green lamp, it makes for a color graded image right off the bat. Whatever we did in post was just a boost for the effect. 

As of writing, the calendar should already be with The Big Boys Store, the exclusive distributor of the calendar ever since.