Traveller, Photographer, Mountaineer, Human

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Olympus Tough TG4 Above Water

After posting several pics taken underwater or using super close macro, I am now posting above water regular photos taken with Olympus TG4.  Acceptable quality if taken at low ISOs and because of raw, sharpening and noise reduction is given to the user.  Photos of Oyet and Felix in Punta Malabrigo, Lobo, Batangas.









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Callao Cave


Our First Time Scuba Diving

On our last day in Moalboal, Cebu, we did something we haven’t tried before – scuba!  We’ve snorkled and freedove on several beaches, but this  is our first time to actually use scuba gear.

Main reason why we haven’t done scuba before is the cost.  Whereas freediving costs include mainly transportation and bringing our freediving/snorkling gears (mask, snorkel and fins), scuba costs a lot more – gear rentals, instructors, boat to scuba site, certification, etc.

It was amazing!  Depths we haven’t been down to (16 meters in my case) at longer times (about 45 mins compared to just minutes in freediving).  At first, I felt claustrophobic being strapped to a tank, vest and others and just breathing under water but once I got to breathing normally, it was fun.  Since this is a non-certification dive for beginner, each of us has a guide who takes care of the BCD and all we have to do is look and fin.

Elaine, holding her breath while underwater (shot by Oyet).

Eman and his guide following a turtle with Oyet snorkling above.

Myra and her guide with a group of squid.

Eman and his guide on the way back to the boat.

Maji, Elain, Eman and a guide being a papparazi and fans to a turtle.


Freediving in Moalboal

It has been several months since my last post here in my blog.  As a return, I feature our latest underwater adventure in Moalboal,Cebu.  Moalboal is one of the towns in the province (and island) of Cebu.  It is very famous for its underwater marine life treasures.  Lots of our people (particularly foreigners) come here to dive (freedive and scuba).

Bea and her bubble ring.

This was our second time in Moalboal.  The first time we went there, only Elaine knew how to freedive.  The rest of us were either wearing lifevests or are just floating on the surface.  This time, fortunately, most of us know how to float and freedive.

(Elaine) Reaching for nothing

Moalboal is really filled with beautiful underwater treasures.  There is a huge group of sardines just swimming a few steps from the shore.  There is a cliff drop just a few steps from the shore and perhaps from this feature allows nutrients from the bottom to rise providing food to the school of sardines.

There is also a marine turtle sanctuary.  It is a place where sighting of sea turtles is almost always a guarantee.  In both of our trips there, we were able to see several turtles swimming and sleeping and feeding.  The turtle sanctuary also features a drop off.  The top part (about 5-6 meters in most of the area) is filled with hard corals and lots of reef fishes.  After this comes a cliff dropping off to probably 30 meters of more. The side of this cliff is also filled with marine wildlife.

(Oyet) Rising from the depths

Another diving destination in the town is Pescador Island.  One side of the island has a small strip of shallow coral reefs (about 3-5 meters).  After this is another cliff drop much deeper than that in marine turtle sanctuary.  Most of the pictures here were taken from this side.  The other side (we went there last time but not on this trip) is a much larger area of corals on shallow waters.  The current, however, is much stronger, and people on lifevests are easy prey to being dragged with the current.

Another area for diving is Zaragosa Island but this is probably mostly for open-water scuba divers.  We have not been to this place yet.  The dive maps of Moalboal indicates that there are whale sharks, thresher sharks, manta rays and other sea creatures here.

(Eman) Floating in empty space. This reminds me of the scenes from the film Gravity.

The group includes myself, Eman, Oyet, Elaine, Myra and her sister Maji.  Elaine’s friend, Bea, joined us there.  Except for Myra and Maji, all of us are already comfortable in the sea and can make do without lifevests, just a mask, snorkel and fins.  On our third and last day, Myra was finally able to snorkel without vests.  A few more sea trips and she’ll be under the surface with us.

A big school of sardines, literally a few steps from the shores (about 20 steps from the main shore).

Moalboal is really a beautiful place and we were very very happy that we decided to come back here when we were able to appreciate more the things that the sea offers below its surface.


Green Fields

I’ve not posted in quite a while and I’ve also not climbed in almost a year.  Luckily, two weekends ago, I got to exercise my legs and climbed a relatively benign mountain trail of Gulugod Baboy (Pig’s Spine) to see this beautiful scenery.

 


Ellidel Underwater

This post has been in my saved drafts for a long time and only now do I get to publish it. It shows Ellidel under the sea in Fortune Island.  This is one of the deeper dives we’ve been to (around 8m) and probably second only to El Nido.  For scuba diving and experienced freedivers, 8m is shallow but for us, it is already lung-busting.freedive fortune island


The Woodcarver

A woodworker in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. He’s from Paete, Laguna (a town famous for its woodcarvers) and claims to have been the protege of Carlos “Botong” Francisco (a Filipino national artist).


First Time Shooting a Wedding as Main Photographer (Part 1)

Last month, two friends of ours got married in a small and intimate wedding.  We were invited as photographers and this was my first time to shoot a wedding this way.  Having several camera systems (Canon, m4/3 and Fuji), I made a decision which camera to use based on only 1 criterion, flash.  My Olympus EM5 and Fuji XE1 both have flash but they are small and not powerful.  I also have three external speedlights but two are manual and the other only has TTL with Canon.  Hence, it was Canon 7D + 15-85mm, 50mm 1.4 and the EOS with 22mm as additional camera.

For most of the events, I used the 15-85mm with the Nissin flash (with mini softbox/flash diffuser) mounted on the camera.  I could use the 50mm for better image quality (especially in low light) but I’ll have to be changing lenses for wider shots and in fast-paced events, I’m not comfortable doing this.  Eman was also there shooting but since he’s using the Samyang 85mm, there are some shots that he cannot take.  Oyet also took some pictures using the Pentax K01.

The wedding was done in a resort in Batangas (beautiful place).  It was on a garden near the pool (good thing since there was still light from the afternoon sun compared to a dimly lit church).

Anyway, the pictures of the ceremony and wedding preparations turned out well (well enough that I believe they came out much better than some people I know who’ve hired totally amateur photographers with a consumer DSLR + kit lens to cover their weddings).

First kiss, the light in the background is from a Samsung cellphone being used by the groom’s friend to shoot video (turned out very well).


The bride with their baby daughter (such an angel, didn’t cry the whole time we were there) * The bride and groom on the stairs of one of the villas before the wedding.

The bride and groom.
The wedding ceremony being presided by a Justice of Peace

Family and close friends.

Part 2 to follow, family formals and reception + editing and delivering final results.


White Island, Camiguin

White Island is a sandbar in Camiguin Island.  It really is just a sandbar with nothing but sand (no trees, boulders, etc.).  It is quite near the shore but you still need to ride a P450 boat o shuttle you back and forth from the main island to the sandbar.  The boat is only good for 6, only 6 persons.  There were 7 of us so we had to take two boats.  The water’s clear and the sand is really white.  There are some fish but I didn’t swim but just slept.


5-Day Black and White Photo Challenge

There is a challenge ongoing in facebook to post 5 black and white photos over 5 consecutive days.  Basically, you get nominated and post 1 B&W photo per day for 5 consecutive days.  I was nominated and though I don’t enjoy these types of facebook challenges, this one cost me nothing and I get to see some works that are buried in my other facebook albums.

Now I like black and white.  I believe that without the distraction of color, the quality of light and composition becomes much more important than ever.  Also, some high ISO shots where there are color noise looks much better (and cleaner) in black and white.  However, I know that not all photos are meant to be black and white.  I shoot and process mostly color and convert only to black and white when the image screams to be presented in black and white (great light or great tonal range or too many distracting color).  In short, color is my default and black and white photos are somewhat rare and special.

Now I’ve made several black and white photos over the three years I’ve been serious about photography.  However, for this challenge, I don’t want to present just a black and white image.  It has to be a special B&W image and in the posts, I explained why I think they look better in B&W and the post processing I did to make them that way.  Without further ado, here are my five picks for this challenge.

Day #1

This low-key black and white photo of a beautiful little girl was shot about a year ago in a wedding. I know it wasn’t the first b&w photo I made but maybe the first one I’m satisfied with. I’ve always been amazed by high-contrast and low-key b&w and after use of Lightroom’s graduated filters, contrast and sharpening sliders and several brushes, this is the first one I made that I’m proud of.  (Canon 7d+15-85 IS)

Day #2

Just in time for Halloween, this photo is of a good friend (Elaine) playing the roll of Sadako. Taken at bright afternoon sunlight in Fort Santiago, this is heavily darkened with clarity added to heighten the atmosphere of horror (though she is smiling).  (Canon 7d+15-85 IS)

Day #3

One of my most favorite shot of Batanes. This was taken in Valugan Beach on the main island of Batan. The beach has big boulders and strong waves which makes swimming next to impossible. In the picture is Ellidel taking a picture. After moving several sliders and even messing with brushes and levels in Lightroom, finally got the picture to my liking.  (Canon 7d+15-85 IS)

Day #4

A very simple black and white photo of boatmen and their dog while docked. No fancy post processing, just simple cropping, shadow, highlight, contrast and clarity adjustments. Some pictures are just meant for b&w.  (Fuji XE1+18-55)

Day #5

Another very simple vignette. This one of the cashier/staff of Casa Rap. Instead of a clutter of colors from the cluttered surroundings, it’s just rich grays with some blacks.  (Canon EOS M+22mm)

I believe I completely nailed the challenge (except for a gap in daily posting due to my coming home to the province for the November 1 holiday).  I enjoyed it so much that I’m thinking of doing additional shares of some more images from my previous albums – pictures buried among tens or hundreds of photos in albums, those that deserve better attention than they got.