Wednesday, August 27, 2008

a little about myself and the blog

Welcome to my blog! My name is Elias Funez, I've currently been photographing items and issues relating to the West Side of Stanislaus County for over ten years, and I can say that I am truly blessed to have been able to make a career out of something that started out just as a hobby years ago in the black and white photography darkroom at Patterson High School.

Photography has come a long way since the days of dektol developer and T-Max films (both are still great products though). The advent of digital photography has streamlined the production process for an image and has allowed photographers to express themselves in ways that could never before be accomplished. I'm not saying everyone should throw out all their old film cameras though. As an everyday user of digital photography, I still think there is a nostalgic quality that old film cameras and processes can give to an image. I still carry around an old '70s Nikon 35mm camera, a '70s Pentax medium format camera, and a 4x5" large format view camera probably from the 1950's. Those old cameras are tanks, I never have to worry about breaking them, and they're so easy to use also.

In this blog I hope to touch on everything photography, from techniques and strategies, a little photo theory, include some film images, images from around the area you might have missed, images that didn't get published in the paper, images from some of my trips, and my thoughts and comments on the inner workings of some of the images. I really love photography, it's become a huge part of my life, and now I get to share part of my passion with you through this blog! So be sure to check back and leave a comment every once in a while to let us know what you think.

Did I mention I love Patterson? I mean, where else can you go to see something like this? Huge lumbering oxen pulling traditional Portuguese carts down Salado ave can't be witnessed every day here, but at least twice a year, once for the Festa De Espiritu Santo (Festival of the Holy Spirit), and once for the St. Anthony's celebration held by Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the F.D.E.S. hall.

One thing that these photos can't convey is the screeching sound the carts make as the wooden construction slowly rubs against itself. Every time the Bodo de Leite (Parade of Ox Carts) strolls through town, it's sights and sounds seems to catch someone off guard. In the past it's been new residents to North 5th street. I remember one morning a family in particular, all standing on the front porch, still half asleep, squinty eyed in the low morning sunlight, mouths agape, and in their full nightgown attire probably wondering 'what in the world!'

This time, it was a few unsuspecting first responders to an accident at the high school football stadium where volunteer Jason Yamamoto had cut his leg open helping to put in the new bleachers on the visitor side. As a paramedic waited for the arrival of an ambulance, the screeching sound of the processional alerted him to something he'd never seen before, which reminded him to run ahead of the slow moving parade to make sure the ambulance would have access to the parking lot before the cows blocked it off.

Of the festivals that the Portuguese hall hosts, many people may only see the parade of ox carts ( I don't blame them, free milk, bread, cheese, and wine distributed at the parade's terminus of Sacred Heart Church), but there's a lot more to it including Mass in Portuguese, livestock auctions, music and dancing into the night, an occasional bull fight, and of course the Sopas and other traditional Portuguese dishes offered to all in attendance.

All the times I had attended portions of the weekend long festival, I had never photographed the candlelight procession that returns the statue of St. Anthony back to Sacred Heart Church, and made it a point to be there Sunday night when the festival ended. Volunteers, led by the senior queens and their side maids, placed the statue on their shoulders and began the walk back as a solemn group of followers recited different prayers along the way.

These photos didn't make it in the August 27th issue of the Irrigator, but I figured they were cool enough to put up here.