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003 - Practice Shots: Part I

by Lucius Felimus | August 27, 2020


Many photographers don't like letting other people see the first pictures they took when they were starting out. It's likely out of embarassment from all the rookie mistakes they made, whether technical imperfections or regrettable artistic decisions. I'm one of those photographers, and yes, I'm ashamed of most of the early pictures I took for this project. But for this article, I'll go ahead and show them anyway.

Here are some of my practice shots from my first few weeks into photography. I will also give a short description about my story and thought processes behind each picture. Most of these are from my Instagram archive.

Hope you don't have something planned, because there's quite a lot.


"Speed Kills"

"Speed Kills"

The first picture I ever took. I was only using a cheap smartphone at the time because it was all I had. This was a very lucky shot, considering how all the different colored lighting fell into place.

I still didn't know what Lightroom was at this time. I only used Photoshop since it was all I knew how to use. What I liked to do back then is to add a Gaussian blur layer set to Screen, then adjust the color balance and saturation.


"No Other Choice"

"No Other Choice"

A pylon sign of a random gas station. The sky was originally blue, but I changed it to black to simplify the color scheme. I used a Color Dodge layer in Photoshop to make the red LEDs stand out more and make it look more "dystopian" (as I thought at the time).


"Food and Lodging"

"Food and Lodging"

When I came across this scene, I thought of the potential of photography as a storytelling medium. This is perhaps the first picture that I thought had a "story" even if it's just poverty porn. It's also one of my well-liked photos during my early days.


"KTV"

"KTV"

This is from a night I decided to go to Quezon Avenue's red light district, because these places are perhaps the most obvious locations for the kind of photography I do. Due to the lack of good angles I can get with my smartphone, I ventured deeper into the side streets. I randomly came across this neon-lit KTV bar and thought it was a nice subject. I applied my usual Gaussian blur and color balance adjustments, but also cropped it to 16:9 and added a fake vignette because I thought it looked nice.


"Morato Nights"

"Morato Nights"

Many of my practice shots were taken in the dining & entertainment district of Tomas Morato, after a night out with friends. For this picture, I messed around with Photoshop's layer masks to attempt a colorful composition. While I think the colors look nice, I didn't really feel like this is suitable for the project because it didn't look "cyberpunk" enough.


"Neon Corridor"

"Neon Corridor"

Another scene at Tomas Morato that caught my eye. This didn't need much editing so I just applied the usual Gaussian blur.


"ATM"

"ATM"

I consider this the picture that I'm the most embarassed of - there's really nothing going on in here. I've taken several shots of ATM's that are way more interesting than this. However, this is the first time I actually used Lightroom and messed around with it to get the purple colors. So at least there's that!


"Drinks"

"Drinks"

Another experiment in Lightroom - this iconic building at Tomas Morato. The teal and orange color scheme was inspired by one of my favorite photographers (Teemu Jarvinen), so I tried to apply a similar look.


"Two Towers"

"Two Towers"

Due to my background in architecture, I thought of including "architectural" shots in this project. This is my very first one - focusing on the light installations of these skyscrapers at Timog Avenue. The colors were heavily edited in Lightroom for a more "neon" color scheme.


"Paradise"

"Paradise"

Just a short walk away from the previous shot is this scene along Tomas Morato. I was already contemplating that I shouldn't stick to the usual blue and purple scheme, so I tried to experiment with different colors this time. I thought the colors here looked "fruity".


"SOGO"

"SOGO"

I thought that these love hotels ("motels" as we call it in my country) are going to be a favorite subject of mine because of how much they contribute to the aesthetics and concepts I'm going for. This is my first ever picture of one.


"Fisher Facade"

"Fisher Facade"

Another one of my favorite subjects is shopping malls, because many malls in Manila have interesting architecture. They are also related to the themes of mass consumerism and hypercapitalism that are prevalent in the cyberpunk genre. I thought this was a nice view of Fisher Mall along Quezon Avenue showing a variety of corporate signage.

I didn't want to make this article too long, so this will be a two-part series. I'll be posting more practice shots in my next blog entry, so stay tuned!

EDIT: I just finished writing Part II. Click here to read the next part of this series!

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