Far away in the Land Down Under is a Bulakenyo who has made it a habit to showcase the beauty of his adopted land in his photos. Originally from the town of Bocaue who used to work in the North Luzon Expressway as tollway police, he relocated to Sydney, Australia and now works there as a maintenance man. In his spare time, he feeds his passion for photography, one that has produced quite a number of wonderful photos that we are excitedly showing you here. Ronald "Onad" de Guzman is the featured Focus photographer of the month.
Q : You’re a Bocaue native now based in Sydney. How did you end up in Australia?
First of all nagpunta ako dito sa Oz to work, kaya hanggang ngayon I'm working here. Not yet a permanent resident.
Q : How did you get started in this wild, beautiful world of photography?
I started with a Sony point-and-shoot, 4 megapixels, nasa akin pa ata 'yon. Nag-enjoy taking pictures. Then upgrade ako, point-and-shoot pa rin but this time 8 megapixels, still Sony. Then sabi ko sa sarili ko gusto ko 'yung may manual control kaya bumili ako ng Canon SX110 ata 'yon, 'di rin ako nakuntento, sabi ko mas gusto ko 'yung mahaba 'yung zoom, kaya palit ulit ako ng Panasonic FZ100. Masaya na ako kasi halos covered ko na lahat ng standard focal length. Then nagpunta kami ng Snowy Mountain, 'yung isang barkada namin pinahiram 'yung Canon 400D niya sa akin, doon ko napansin ang laki ng difference ng image quality ng DSLR sa bridge camera ko. Kaya sabi ko sa sarili ko someday bibili ako ng DSLR. Canon or Nikon. It was December 2011 when I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D7000. Doon na nag simula ang lahat.
Q : What’s it like doing photography in Australia compared to shooting here in the Philippines?
Masarap mag-shoot dito sa Oz, ang daming magandang lugar specially for landscappe at seascape. Kahit public transport lang pwedeng mapuntahan. Sa atin kasi bago ka maka-shoot ng magandang scenery malayo-layo ang lalakbayin mo. Dito mero din malayo pero so far kontento naman ako sa paligid ko. Saka mababait 'yung mga photog na makakasabay mo sa shoot. Approachable sila.
Q : You have a group of friends you shoot with. Tell us how you plan your shoots and squeeze in the time in spite of your work schedules.
Sa group shoot namin, minsan biglaan lalo kung sunrise or sunset shoot. Pero minsan 'pag medyo malayo pinaplano namin. 'Yun nga lang, Sunday lang pwede kasi may work till Saturday. 'Yung biglaang shoot sa tabi-tabi lang naman 'yun kaya pwedeng isingit before or after work.
Q : What’s your favorite shooting spot in all of Sydney? Which location in Australia remains on your bucketlist?
Ang daming lugar dito sa Sydney na magandang mag-shoot. Pero syempre gusto ko 'yung malapit sa amin kasi pwede ko lang lakarin lalo kung nakikita ko 'yung clouds na may potential. Sa Kincoppal-Rose Bay.
Sa bucketlist ko naman, sana bago ako umuwi ng 'Pinas ma-shoot ko 'yung Red Rock (Ayers Rock).
Q : We’ve seen your love for travel, landscape, and portraits. Which of them do you like doing most, and why?
I love landscape kaso nag-slow down ako nang kaunti, marami nang nararamdaman like rayuma sa tuhod. Minsan 'di maiiwasan na masabak sa lakaran. Kaya minsan nag-portraiture din.
Q : You’ve also amassed a fair share of gear over the years, and you’re a user of Sony, Nikon, and Canon. What could you say are the strengths of each brand, or what do you like in each?
I went to Nikon at first kasi maraming lens choices, kahit 'yung manual lenses pwede. Then I bought Canon kasi nagustuhan ko skin tone niya for portrait. 'Yung Nikon naman sa ISO performance at dynamic range. My Sony a6000 is my walk-around camera and I can also use all my Nikon lenses with it. Sa ngayon Nikon at Sony na lang. Naibenta ko na lahat ng Canon body at lenses ko. Lens hood na lang natira.
Q : What is your most memorable photograph? And please tell the story behind it.
Most memorable? 'Yun lightning shot namin sa South Head. 'Yung na-feature sa Focus 2016 calender, July yata. We waited for the lightning storm sa taas ng burol. Pagkatapos ng shoot bumuhos ang napakalakas na ulan kaya nagmamadali kaming ilagay sa bag ang mga gear kasi we still need to walk 500 meters or more papuntang carpark. Basang-basa kami from head to toe. Pero okay naman 'yung gear, 'di nabasa. And more importantly, we got the shot.
Q : How about your most challenging shoot?
'Yun na rin ang most challenging, kasi kailangan namin umakyat ng burol para makarating sa vantage point namin. At doon sa vantage point may lumang kanyon, World War II relic. Nakakatakot, baka tamaan ng kidlat eh, 3 meters away lang sa amin.
Q : What is photography's role in your life?
Photography, para bang pang-alis ko ng inip. Lalo 'pag I feel homesick, shoot na lang ako. Photography also made me quit smoking kasi ang mahal ng gear. Kaya 'yung yosi money ko napunta sa gear at naging healthy-living pa ako, dahil I quit smoking and I walk a lot.
Q : A general tip or advice you want to tell newbie photographers.
Maa-advice ko sa mga baguhan, read photography books, watch Youtube, find a mentor to teach you, and of course, practice, practice and practice.
Q : Finally, what's your message to Focus followers and your fellow Focus members?
I will try to shoot more para may mapakita naman na bago. SA mga member sana makasama rin ako sa mga events at shoots n'yo kung sakaling umuwi ako . More power to Focus Bulacan!
Onad's other favorite photos (click thumbnails to view photos in full)
Thousands of miles away but making his presence felt thru his images. Luckily for us, and thanks to technology, we can also witness the beauty of Oz. Here's to more trips, more shoots, and more breathtaking photos, Onad.
Every month, we have a feature on our members, our photography idols, and other photography issues we feel deserve a heads-up.