Gaspar Island is one of the three islands collectively known as “Tres Reyes” (Three Kings), the other two being Melchor and Baltazar (three kings who visited Jesus in Bethlehem). Of the three islands, Gaspar is the biggest and the only one with a community. All three islands are rocky (rock cliffs) and the community in the island lives in the only beach wide enough to accommodate houses.
As I said in my previous post, the island is beautiful – very clear waters and very good for snorkeling but not very good for taking pictures (unless underwater). The beach is fine but no particular foreground item to anchor a landscape photo. Here are the very few “good” pictures I took in the island.
A boatman. The photo was auto-exposed for the sea but in editing, I found that the clouds are more interesting, so I pulled back the highlights through a graduated filter and used Nik’s Color Efex for detail extraction. The result is one where visible vertical banding is obvious but a more interest photo without the clouds.
Three Kids Playing. These are kids from the community who are living in the island. Shot with the Canon 15-85 and not very very sharp. I had to dial up both clarity and contrast to make it better.
This is a stretch of sand jutting out to sea. The community living there are mostly fisherfolk, hence, the boats.
This is the beach where we camped. I’m not particularly fond of the picture as it has that almost-garish HDR look (through detail extractor, pull back of highlights, graduated filter) but I think it was a necessity considering that the clouds are the most interest part of the pictures.
As for the beach, it was made of mostly dead corals and seashells and a little painful to walk on barefooted.
For this trip, I brought the 7D and 15-85, 10-22 and 50mm 1.4. I did not bother changing lenses as I was not inspired by the landscape. Also, the Canon 15-85mm seems to be not as sharp as before. Pictures don’t seem to have the same amount of details as before. I’m not sure if the lens elements moved or the camera’s AF has misaligned or I’m seeing better pictures with the Olympus OM-D.
Anyway, Eman had better luck using his Nikon D5200 and Samyang 8mm fisheye (wonderful wonderful lens).
Our beach camp at night * The clear waters around the island.
These are black and white landscape photos taken in Mt. Maculot. After reading some articles online, I finally have a better understanding on editing black and white pics – I now know how to edit black and white pictures by adjusting the color channels (e.g., darkening the blue skies by changing the luminance of the blue color channel). Previously, I only use colored filters (red, green, blue, orange, yellow).
The first and fourth images were shot using the Samyang 8mm fisheye and the second and third ones were shot using the 15-85 lens.
The perks of travelling include getting to meet people. Before, I don’t normally shoot people as I am too shy to approach them. Since getting a telephoto zoom, I’ve shot some locals and tourists (in Burot) and I get to shoot some kids and adults in Tambobong, Dasol.
A group of four kids also called me to take their picture while I was walking along the beach. I had the fisheye lens on but I shot their pictures up close (really really close). The kids were fun and giggled when I showed them the photos.
It will be part of my travels from now on, shooting strangers, especially locals.
We spent the night in Eman’s house in Pozzorubio, Pangasinan. In the morning, after dilly-dallying, we finally got to go to Manaoag (around lunch time). This was my second time to go to Manaoag. My first time there was back June.
Well, the Manaoag Church is pretty plain compared to other churches built during the Spanish period. Its claim to fame is the supposedly miraculous image of the Virgin Mary which has made the church and the town a pilgrimage place.
Since I already photographed most of the church using a standard zoom lens last time, I decided to use my fisheye lens (nope, still not tired of the curves).
Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Chapel for the Sacred Heart of Jesus is located in the left side near the entrance of the church (again, Jesus seems to have been in the sidelines in this church with Mary taking center stage). When Oyet saw the outsized hands of the Jesus icon here, she commented that it looks like he is flying.
The fisheye with its curves and very large field of view makes for some interesting pictures of the chapel.
We arrived there first Sunday of the month and there was to be a religious procession of the icons. The main Manaoag icon was removed from its place in the altar and placed on a carriage (with people clapping when the transfer was done). I didn’t get to take a picture of the main icon as it was in front of the altar with many people around it. I did manage to get a picture of some of the other icons near the church door (which come to think of it are the icons in the museum and the one the altar on the right transept of the church).
Religious and Souvenir Store
Due to the procession, the museum, the room behind the altar (where you can touch the main Manaoag icon) are both closed. The only one open is the store where you can buy souvenirs and icons.
A copy of the Lady of Manoag icon and some crucifix for sale in the store.
Other Stuff and Going Home
There are many other areas to photograph but since it was hot and the church is full of devotees and church goers, I only manage to get a shot of the structure behind the church (below), the men’s CR, and the chapel with the Easter icons.
The heat makes the day tiring and after eating some native delicacies (tupig and sesame brittle), we left for Dagupan, where Eman got a fitting of his suit for his friend’s wedding.
We also had lunch there (very cheap but delicious). It was also where we rode a bus going back to Manila.
It was a very tiring trip and the trip from Dagupan back to Manila took more than 5 hours. On our way back, there was a beautiful sunset, a perfect ending to a fun trip.
Oh My Gulay!
Oh My Gulay! is a vegetarian restaurant in Session Road. It is located on the 5th floor of an old building. From the outside, the restaurant (with its curved roof) looks like it could be a gymnasium or a warehouse. There is no elevator in the building so it’s stairs, stairs, stairs (but I guess Baguio residents are used to walking inclines).
A view of rows of buildings in Session Road * Stairs going up to OMG.
When you get inside the restaurant for the first time, you’ll be blown away – it’s surreal! Most of the floors are uneven, the posts are leaning in different directions. There is a mosque-church facade close to a wooden ship, a stage, veranda etc. It’s like a place you’ll see only on your dreams.
Even the comfort room is very different. The area was not made to maximize the number of tables and chairs where people can eat but was made to show the customers different works of art and to give them a new experience.
There are various art stuff around – those that caught my eyes is a carving of an Igorot woman giving birth (near our table) and a stylized fish (also near our table).
There is also a small room for exhibiting artwork but the whole place is actually a big art exhibition center. When we got there, there was preparation for an art exhibit titled “Igorotak” which is supposed to show the culture of the Igorots in our modern times.
And the food… delicious! The onion rings we ordered was the tastiest I’ve ever tried. The OMG rice I tried was also good and I didn’t miss the meat!
Oh My Gulay Rice.
Tired and asleep.
After getting a little nap, it was time for us to go (past 3pm). Eman got his dream birthday cake (a very heavy chocolate caramel cake from Don Henrico’s) and we rode a bus to Eman’s home in Pozzorubio, Pangasinan where we were to have dinner and spend the night.
The next day we’ll be going to Manaoag, Dagupan and then back to Manila… (continued in another post).
Group shot (by Eman).
These are two icons in Manaoag Church. The two icons are located in a sizable chapel beside the church. They are flanking Santo Entierro.
October 6, 2012
Eman’s birthday is October 7 (Sunday) but our trip started midnight on Friday. We arrived in Baguio City before 6am. Baguio City is a city in the mountains with an elevation of approximately 1500 meters above sea level. It is known as the City of Pines, City of Flowers, etc. Because of its elevation, it is a popular summer destination and it is also popular on Christmas for those who wish to experience a colder temperature than most of the country.
On arriving in Baguio, we went straight to the Baguio Cathedral.
Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral (better known as Baguio Cathedral) is a catholic church sitting atop an elevated portion of the city near Session Road (and near the monstrosity that is the SM Mall). Construction started in 1920s and was completed in 1936.
We arrived very early in the morning (before 6am) but there are already people inside the church as there was going to be an early mass (or just early congregation prayers). As such, we were not able to get close to the altar (and since I was using a fisheye, no closeup of the altar and famous stained glass).
Volante and Session Road
After visiting the Baguio Cathedral, we went down to Session Road (accessible from the cathedral via concrete steps). Volante is a 24-hour restaurant (serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails). There we met Eman’s friend Giselle.
For my breakfast, I had so-called “Hanna sausage.” For those planning to have breakfast here, I discourage you to order this. It tastes like a not-so-good chorizo de bilbao. There are other breakfast meals that seem tastier like ham, bacon, etc.
After breakfast, we went down Session Road to go to Burnham Park. Session Road is probably Baguio’s most famous street due to the bars and restaurants on it. There is also a place for ukay-ukay (flea market for second hand items) near the bottom (near Burnham Park) where various items – mostly clothes but can also include household items and Christmas decorations.
Pedestrians in Session Road * Christmas items on sale at ukay-ukay.
At the end of Session Road is Burnham Park at the city center… (continued in part 2).
Yesterday, my friends and I went to Enchanted Kingdom in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
This is where I originally intended to test my fisheye lens (but that came earlier in UP). I also intended to test my infrared filter but I didn’t have time to do custom white balance, set up tripod, etc. for every single shot as we had too much fun enjoying the rides (being being scared of some rides).
Anyway, at night, here are some long exposure shots I made.
The Flying Fiesta
The Wheel of Fate (Ferris Wheel)
September 1, 2012
A return to my beloved alma mater, University of the Philippines – Diliman. This was supposed to be a photowalk but because we scheduled it late (and we arrived later) and since the sky decided to dump some water, it turned out more to be a food trip with some photos shot. Only four of us went there – Tiny, Elaine, Oyet and myself.
For this supposed photowalk, I brought three lenses – the Canon 15-85mm, Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Samyang 8mm fisheye. However because of the rain, we weren’t able to shoot when the sun is still up so we just went and eat in Rodic’s.
We decided to take some shots of the UP Chapel but there was a mass being held (second time to try and take some pics in the chapel but was foiled by an ongoing mass). We then just went to Quezon Hall.
Quezon Hall is the perfect place to try my fisheye lens as it was built in a Neoclassical design with columns and lots of straight elements – more things to bend and curve.
It was already dark when we reached it. Luckily, I brought my tripod so I can take long exposures (and thus use the base ISO).
From the pictures, the Samyang 8mm is a wonderful lens, very sharp even at the corners. However, the circumstances make it rather difficult to use.
It was dark and focusing through the viewfinder is not easy. Focusing through the LCD is also difficult as the LCD will basically show a very dark picture. Opening the lens to f3.5 makes it more bearable but still difficult.
Aperture is changed in the lens and focusing is done manually on the fisheye. This would have been ok in well-lighted places but in the dark, I can barely see the numbers on the aperture ring (which is exacerbated by the fact that the aperture ring is very close to the camera body (and is partially hidden from above by the prism hump and popup flash).
For easier focusing, I just set the aperture to f/11 (or what I think is f/11, can’t really see due to the dark) and set focus to what I think is appropriate (about 1.5 to 3 meters).
Tiny has just bought a Nikon D3200 and I had her shoot the fisheye (I bought a Nikon AE version and use an adapter to use it on my Canon 7D). It’s much easier to use it on the Nikon since focusing is done wide open and aperture is controlled through the camera (which is easier to see on the camera’s LCD screen rather than fumble in the dark on the aperture ring).
I get to try for a few shots the Nikon D3200 and I was amazed by the pictures. The outcome looks great on the camera’s LCD. I don’t know if this is because of higher screen resolution (compared to my 7D) or if the picture is really much better.
The picture also seems much much brighter than the pictures coming from my 7D. Again, I’m not sure if this is due to a better LCD screen or a better sensor.
I don’t like the quick menu of the D3200, however, requires additional button press to change settings and a lot of space is wasted for a representation of the aperture changes. I also can’t seem to find how to use auto ISO in PASM.
But all in all, it seems like a good camera and I’ll try it again in the future (and probably buy one if I have the money).
Another difficulty I experienced is not due to the lens but to my camera. Setting up for a low or high angle shot is difficult using a fixed screen or the viewfinder. I miss my 60D’s vari-angle tilting LCD for composition. (If the D3200 had a tilting screen, I’d probably grab one now).
So what do I think of the Samyang lens? I love it! For the price, a wonderful lens. Very sharp (if properly focused). Not so good, there always seem to be minor flare. Not so good, non-circular six-bladed aperture (but then, the Canon 10-22mm also has this). I look forward to taking more pictures with this lens.
It’s been a week since I bought my Samyang 8mm Fisheye. Reasons why I bought the lens in Nikon mount is to be able to use it both in Canon and Nikon AND because it will offer a wider field of view in a Nikon DX.
Here are some shots to show how the field of view of the lens looks in Canon and Nikon APS-C cameras.
Though the framing are not exactly the same, it is noticeable that the field of view is much wider on the Nikon camera than it is on a Canon camera. (Canon has a crop factor of 1.6 while Nikon has 1.5). There is also flare as the sun is in the picture.
The barrel distortion of fisheyes may not always work and the picture can be turned to rectilinear using the Lightroom profile for Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens.
Here is how the “corrected” pictures appear:
For comparison, here is a shot of an ultrawide rectilinear lens (Canon 10-22mm):
The straightened image for Nikon is still wider than the Canon’s and both are wider than the Canon 10-22 at 10mm. However, the left and right sides of the pictures are much much softer due to the stretching of the picture.
Compared to Samyang, there is a less noticeable flare (reddish hexagon on the third tricycle). I’m not sure if this is due to better flare control or because the sun is not directly in the picture (compared to Samyang).
To get better average resolution in the straightened picture, the Samyang straightened image can be cropped (to remove soft corners). Here is the same picture as the one above (Canon mount) cropped with same FOV as Canon 10-22mm at 10mm.
However, corners are not the same as those shot with the rectilinear lens:
The corners of the Canon 10-22mm are much sharper. However, the ones from Samyang are also good considering that picture was de-fished (stretching the pixels at the corners) and cropped heavily (will have far fewer pixels from the 18MP of 7D than the crop of the rectilinear lens).
*All images shot without Lightroom correction (except for defishing).
Pretty Obvious Conclusions:
1. Samyang 8mm Fisheye provides wider field of view on Nikon DX than on Canon APS-C (due to Canon’s slightly smaller sensor size) . Hmmmm, might get a Nikon DX body.
2. Defished fisheye image from Samyang is still very wide, wider than the widest rectilinear lens from Canon (10-22) and probably even wider than the widest rectilinear APS-C lens (Sigma 8-16mm). However, left and right corners will be much softer due to stretching of pixels necessary in defishing but center will be sharper.
3. If rectilinear images are needed, a rectilinear lens is still better. The defished image can be a substitute, esp. if the output will be small and corner sharpness are not primary concern but it will not be better.
Now, where to get the money for a Nikon DX body…
After a few months of thinking it over, I finally bought a Samyang 8mm fisheye (under the brand Polar). I’ve been eyeing one for quite sometime and have read good reviews of this relatively cheap lens.
Even though I use Canon (and have 5 lenses on Canon mount), I bought one in Nikon mount, just in the event that I might switch to Nikon. (Canon’s lack of innovation in sensor technology makes me want to change to Nikon somehow). Also, since the Nikon flange distance is longer than Canon’s, I just bought an adapter for use in my Canon DSLR. In addition, the 180 degrees view of the lens is only in Nikon. In Canon it is approximately 167 degrees only (due to a slightly larger sensor size).
Oh, and the lens that was given to me is Nikon AE whose aperture can be controlled in Nikon cameras and which has focus confirmation.
Anyway, this fisheye doesn’t seem to be too extreme as far as fisheyes go. If there are straight lines, the distortion is very noticeable but if there are none, not much.
I also read online that you can somehow de-fish the images using Adobe’s profile for Nikon’s 10.5mm fisheye.
I give this a try and yes, it straightens lines. I’m not sure if this is 100% accurate though since the two lenses probably have different projections.
A cursory glance at the two images (fisheye and the de-fished one) may make it seem that the defished image has a wider field of view since the center looks farther away (but of course the sides are now cutoff).
I am yet to try this on a trip and excited and what this lens can do. I’ll also check whether the field of view of the defished image is larger than the field of view of my Canon 10-22mm at 10mm.
(All pictures shot by Eman).