BUSINESSMAN and landscape photographer Bengy Toda has been rather busy the past couple of months. He recently held an ex- hibit at the Provenance gallery at Shangri-La at The Fort, consisting of stark and ghostly images of a number of Philippine bridges.
This month, he is staging “Exposure Chroma,” a new exhibit of his photographs at Solaire Resort & Casino. He has chosen a total of 50 images, including some that were already shown in his past three exhibits, namely “Chasing Fountains,” “Chasing Waterfalls” and “Building Bridges.” These will be complemented by two dozen never-before-seen photos.
What makes this new exhibit different is the technique Toda used to print the images. Instead of simply printing them as large format photos, he transferred them on aluminum sheets as large as 20”x30” using the dye sublimation process.
This method starts with the application of an image to specially coated surfaces—in this case, aluminum sheets—using three main ingredients: sublimation ink, heat and pressure.
“The images I’ve chosen are printed on special sublimation paper before they are placed
ight side down on our heat press,” Toda explained. “They’re then ‘baked’ for a minute on the aluminum sheets. The resulting prints are very vibrant and cannot be scratched or peeled off. You can even lightly wash them without fear of erasing the image.”
The dye sublimation process is not exactly new, although Toda will be the first in the country to hold such an exhibit. It certainly helps that he has access to this and other state-of-the-art equipment at Studio 58 Lab 10, his company that has been providing professional film processing and large format printing services for close to 30 years.
The son of former Philippine Airlines chair and president Benigno Toda, Jr., Bengy has always been interested in the capture and production of images, even minoring in photography in college.
He travels extensively, trekking on unstable ground or climbing up a mountain just to get the perfect shot. In Bicol, one time, he climbed 700 steps to reach a clearing for a view that was literally breathtaking.
“I had to stop every hundred steps or so to catch my breath. Behind us there were people laughing because a pregnant local had no problem going up and down. By the time we reached the top, I was wheezing,” he recalled.
Ill with dengue—in Iceland
During a trip to Iceland, Toda didn’t realize he had contracted dengue in the Philippines—his second bout. “I was already feeling sick and feverish but I decided to push through with the trip because I would be meeting up with my photographer friends.”
He went to a hospital once he arrived in Iceland, but the staff were initially unfamiliar with dengue, a tropical illness that has all been wiped out in developed countries.
“My blood pressure dropped, and my blood platelets went down to 40,000 from a normal level of 220,000. They had to strap me to a machine so I could breathe easier,” he said.
When he got better after a week in the hospital, Toda managed to take a couple of photos of a beach in Iceland, then left for Paris where he went to another hospital for monitoring as an out-patient.
Only one photo of that trip passed his standards, and will be included in the exhibit opening Aug. 10.