Traveller, Photographer, Mountaineer, Human

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 Gallery:  ‘SCAPES  Gallery:  CLOSE-UPS  Gallery:  PEOPLE   Gallery:  OTHERS

Landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, etc. Macros and closeups of insects, flowers, plants, waterdrops, etc. Pictures of families, friends, coworkers, acquaintances and strangers All other pictures that doesn’t fall in the other three categories

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Random Photo: Boat Rock

This is probably my most favorite picture taken during our trip to Padre Burgos/Pagbilao back in 2012 (using my now broken 60D).  This was a picture which I did not like immediately due to blown highlights and almost dark shadows and not so good composition (it was taken while we were travelling on a boat).  Fortunately, it was shot RAW and a few months after taking it, I revisited the album and found this picture, converted colors, recovered highlights and pushed shadows and did other stuff to make it what it is now.

My Mother

This is another picture of my mother (who I love) taken with Olympus EM5 and 45mm f1.8 (love love this little gem of a lens).

Calaguas – Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye in Infrared

Browsing my album of Calaguas, I finally found the a usable shot taken using the Samyang fisheye in infrared.  Unfortunately, this was shot in JPEG (got the settings mix up in the camera – again!) so some details cannot be recovered properly.

Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye in Jed’s Island Resort

Last weekend, as advance birthday celebration, my family and I went to Jed’s Island Resort in Bulacan.  I’ve been there before so I wasn’t really excited to photograph the area but I forced myself to go around and take pictures just so I can see what my fisheye can do.

The lens, like all other Samyang offerings (excluding the super telephotos) is relatively affordable, nicely constructed and sharp!  It is a small lens and fits nicely on my Olympus EM5.  Like all other Samyang lenses (except for Nikon versions), this lens doesn’t have electronic contacts and changing aperture is done via the lens aperture ring.

Again, this is a sharp lens, especially considering its cheap price.  It gets a little sharper as stopped down.

My major concern with this lens is the very small size – it is good for portability but when shooting, I’ve accidentally included my fingers in the shot (as shown in the picture below).  With the 8mm fisheye for DSLR, the lens is much bigger and longer which makes operating both the aperture ring and focus ring a non-issue.  With the short barrel of this lens, the aperture and focus rings feel cramped.

Because of the 180 degree diagonal angle of its field of view and the very short lens, pressing the shutter button while holding the lens is a no-go.  There’s a very large chance that a portion of your finger or palm will be included in the corners of the picture.


Like all ultrawide angle, there are lots of times that the sun or other strong source of light will be in the picture. The lens exhibits flare in two forms, one as either a circular of hexagonal purple color moving away from the source of light (see picture below) or as tiny rays of rainbow light (see this).

When I used this lens on my infrared coverted Panasonic GX1 and shot with the sun in the frame, the picture has several blobs of light opposite the sun.  I am not sure if this behavior will be the same in visible light (I have not produced the same amount of flare when using camera for regular visible light) or if this is confined to the infrared spectrum of light.
All in all, I am quite content with the lens.  It is cheap and sharp and can be used when you just want to have fun.

Calaguas – Samyang Fisheye 7.5mm for M4/3

As promised, here are some shots in Calaguas taken using Samyang 7.5mm.  I didn’t take too many shots and here are the only (taken using the lens) worth posting.

The lens can be used as a substitute for a rectilinear ultrawide lens in some instances.  To do this, it requires placing the horizon in the middle of the frame and avoiding straight lines.  For this shot, horizon was in the middle (I made some cropping in the post-processing).

Here’s another shot, this one showing the typical fisheye distortion.

I have more pictures taken using the fisheye in a themed waterpark.

Calaguas – Square Photos

Third time in Calaguas.  Though the beauty of the island and the beach seemed to remain the same, I felt not inspired to shoot pictures.  In fact, I shot only about 145 photos and a good number of those are bursts shots so that brings the total to about a hundred or so – very small number considering that on some location I could take about 500 (even more than a thousand frames in Batanes).

Strewn straw hat.

A straw beach hat strewn in the beach.  To achieve this look (contrast between hat and the sand), I used a Lightroom B&W filter (blue high contrast filter) as the sand is really white (but slightly orangey) and doesn’t contrast much to the white hat in terms of plain luminance.

Camping tents underneath trees.

Mahabang Buhangin (Long Sand) Beach in Calaguas is a beach for camping.  In fact, until less than a year ago, there wasn’t a resort or room located here.  Today, despite the presence of a resort, most people who go to the island still camp (partly because the hotel is expensive).

Turquoise sea, white sand and boat.

One of the very few boat pictures I took in Calaguas.  It’s not that the scene isn’t beautiful.  It’s just that over the course of more than a year of travelling to different beaches, I’ve taken hundreds, if not thousands of pictures of boats on the sea that I don’t find it exciting anymore (the rough boat ride is another level of excitement/anxiety though).

Resort Cottages.

These are the new resort cottages in the island.  They are located on the left side of the beach (if approaching from the sea).  They look nice but somehow spoils the whole pristine beach thing that Calaguas has.  Also, they are expensive (someone told me the room costs Php6000 per night for a room for 6 people and Php4000 per night for a room for 4 people).

I’m sure other resorts will follow in Calaguas and I’m really glad that I was able to visit the island (twice!) before development started.

Venus of Willendorf sandman/woman.

A sand sculpture I found while walking on the beach (with torn styrofoam cup for eyes, nose and mouth).  While most people would think of Olaf (that lovable snowman from Frozen), the first thing that came to my mind was the Venus figurines from prehistoric times, particularly the Venus of Willendorf, with their more than ample bosoms and prominent hips.

Yellow leaf on the sand.

One of those pictures that is full of negative space.  This one was part of a much larger picture involving an out of focus sea, beach and sky.  The horizon was much too tilted for correction (the leaf would have been cut) so I just removed everything from the picture except for the leaf and the sand.  A good picture to be used for one of those inspiration quotes.

Kids on the beach.

One of the few pictures of strangers I took in the beach, this picture was shot with a 28mm equivalent lens and I had to get closer to the kids (cropped most of the empty sand below the pic).

That’s most of my pics in Calaguas.  As I said, I wasn’t much inspired to shoot.  Perhaps it’s the ennui of having seen it before, the not so great light (either sun too strong or sky too monotonously gray during our first day).  I brought my new fisheye lens but took less than 15 pics with it.  Maybe next time I’ll just bring a phone (Samsung Note 3) so I’ll be more inspired to take pictures (limitations of the camera and lens is really something).

Calaguas – Rays of Sunshine and Crashing Waves

Last weekend, we went to Calaguas Island (known locally as Tinaga group of islands).  It was the third time there for most of us, first time for some.  It was also the first time that we’ve experienced huge waves so much so that on going to the island, we were already drenched barely 15 minutes from leaving shore from waves crashing to our small boat.  Waves in Calaguas (in Mahabang Buhangin beach) aren’t any different and the boat cannot go very near the shore so we have to go down in waist deep water.

This picture was taken in late afternoon.  The sun gloriously peeked from a group of clouds casting rays of sunshine on the sea.  I took about five photos of the rays of sunlight but this is my absolute favorite.

As I was about to take a picture of the sun and its rays, I spotted a group of boys playing in the beach just when a huge wave crashed on them.  I guess it was a split second moment and I’m so glad that I was able to catch it with my camera.  The camera was set to expose for the sun and its rays hence the boys and the crashing waves were several stops underexposed.  Good thing it was all set to ISO 200 and I was able to correct exposure in post (though noise is visible on the boys’ bodies).

A wonderful picture taken in a wonderful setting.  Even though I took only very few pictures, this one made the trip worth it.

Micro 4/3 – Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye Lens

Since March is my birthday month, I decided to give myself an advance gift – a Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye Lens!

I’ve been meaning to have this lens for sometime but ordering one has been a hassle (need to deposit advance payment first) but finally when I decide to purchase one this week, there is one already available without having to make advance payment.

A closeup of the front of the lens (mounted on OMD EM5).

I was surprised at how small this lens is.  It is tiny!  It is only a little bigger than the tiny Olympus 45mm f1.8.  This is what I love about m4/3 – very good (prime) lenses in tiny packages.  Even if the camera bodies aren’t much smaller than APS-C mirrorless, the tiny lenses make a lot of difference in reducing the total size (volume) of the camera package.

Tiny but sharp m4/3 lenses – Panasonic 14mm f2.5, Samyang 7.5mm f3.5 fisheye and Olympus 45mm f1.8.

Compared to the 8mm fisheye for DSLRs (which I also have), this lens is absolutely tiny!  It is easily three times smaller and lighter than that lens.  However, build quality is also very good.  The lens is made of metal, aperture ring has a reassuring click and focus ring also turns smoothly (albeit a little too stiff).  I can’t be sure however that this build quality is really an indication of the toughness of the lens.  My 8mm fisheye for DSLR got broken when it fell, it was repaired but now the aperture stays at f22 (even after repeated turns of the aperture ring).

The Samyang fisheye on OMD EM5 with Oly 45mm f1.8 on the side for size comparison.

Mounted on Olympus EM5, the lens looks wonderful (I opted for the black version as I’m not sure how the silver version will look on my black-silver OMD).  My only concern is that because of short lens length, I am finding it hard to move the focus ring.  For some reason, I can reach and move the aperture ring without much difficulty but when it comes to turning the focus ring, I most often than not touch and try to rotate the built in petal hood.  Focus throw (degree needed to turn from minimum focus distance or MFD to infinity) is also very short.

For some reason, I feel that the lens has some mount error.  I feel that the lens cannot reach infinity focus on my EM5.  I made some search on the web and my problem doesn’t seem to be an isolated case.  Those that have problem are usually using EM5 also (I don’t know if this problem is specific to EM5 or just that majority of users who pixel peep are using EM5).  In any case, due to the large depth of field afforded by a fisheye lens and the 4/3 sensor, this is not really a big problem, unless printing very large and shooting at f3.5

A sample shot of the fisheye lens, showing sharpness, flare, chromatic aberration (blue-purple fringing at the edges), extremely short minimum focus distance and quality of bokeh.

Despite being a fisheye lens with an inherently large DOF, the lens is capable of delivering bokeh.  This is due to the extremely short MFD.  In the shot above taken at f3.5, my finger is only about 2 inches from the front of the lens.  it delivered some bokeh which looks alright.  Nonbusy backgrounds remain nondistracting but specular highlights are noticeable.

Another thing noticeable with the lens is chromatic aberration (blue-purple fringing) at the edges (and even some in the middle in high contrast situations).  This is really not a problem (easy to fix in Lightroom) and is hard to avoid in a fisheye lens.

There is also evidence of flare (the photo above is taken with the sun included in the frame).  The flare appears as tiny rays of pale multicolored light radiating from the intense source of light.  In the DSLR 8mm fisheye, flare usually appears as a pale purple hexagon opposite from the sun (or other intense source of light) – see sample here

A crop from the shot above.

Sharpness is sufficient (see crop above).  This is still subject to further evaluation as the sample picture shows sharpness at minimum focus distance (where the lens is rarely used).  I’m taking this lens to Calaguas for further use.

In summary, I really like this lens.  It is inexpensive (as far as lenses go, cheaper than 8mm fisheye), small, sharp and seems to be built well.  On the other hand, I have a little difficulty operating focus ring (I may still get used to it), exhibits fringing (almost inevitable) and flare (when sun is in the frame).  All in all, my conclusion (as many others have concluded) is this is a great value for m4/3 users.  Can’t wait to use this lens to take more photos.

 

Boracay – Fire Dancers

Firedancers have been a fixture and institution in Boracay, much like the blue-sail boats, banana boats and all-you-can-eat buffets.  There are several groups of firedancers in Boracay (some performing in the customer-only bars and restos) but the most famous group perhaps is the Boracay Phoenix Firedancers.  They are a group of gays (some in women’s costume others in men’s costume) perform in the beach in station 2.

I’ve seen them before when I first went to Boracay but the amazement didn’t go away when I saw them again.  They are a group I’d happily fork over money even if it is not required (some members go around with a basket asking voluntarily for money.  I’m not a too keen on giving money to public performers but they are too good and amazing not to give money to.

Batanes – Ivana Port

Another photo from Batanes.  This one in Ivana Port (I think the only place where I used the Canon 10-22mm).

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