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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
One of the close but a little inaccessible islands that I finally got to last month was Fortune Island. It is a smallish island located off the coast of Nasugbu, Batangas. It is famous for having greek columns on a cliff.
The thing about this columns is that they are obviously a replica and a little pretentious. If you know anything about Greek architecture or even just simple architecture, you’d know that the columns are supposed to support a roof of the building, hence, the columns should be around a square or rectangular space that enclose something. In the case of Fortune Island, there are two columns of on a narrow cliff. They’re just there for decoration (which is a great place for photoshoots but with no semblance of being authentic. Also,, they are obviously modern made replicas. The rebars on the cement columns are showing, rusting, and running down the concrete sides.
There are other Greek/Roman replica stuff on that cliff, such as these broken statues (where you can see a rebar poking out of the top). Also, I’m not so sure if there were lion statues in Greece/Rome (there could be).
Fortune Island was an exclusive resort. And by exclusive, I mean exclusive. The rich and famous of the country used to go here. It is/was owned by ex-Gov. Leviste of Batangas. I don’t know what happened and why the resort closed and came to such a state of disrepair. We stayed near the previous restaurant. It is a huge circular structure with the roof falling (particularly since the time we were there it was raining hard). We pitched our tents at the side of the structure and cooked our food and ate in one of the tables in the structure.
During the resort’s heyday, this could have been a beautiful and believable shipwreck. However, in its current state, it is obviously a replica. As you can see from the picture, the boards coming off the side shows probably insulation. On the inside are concrete slabs as floor.
Despite the state of disrepair and obviously fake replicas, the island is still a wonderful destination, especially for snorkelers and divers. The front of the island has a coral garden with lots of fishes. I saw a white-spotted boxfish (first time to see this), a big cornetfish, some batfish and a school of Moorish idol. The pictures of our freedive will be covered in another post. Around the island are other dive sites but we really didn’t have much time in the island as we arrived in Nasugbu around 2pm and the boat ride (a very choppy ride) takes almost an hour. We had to leave by around 11am the following day to avoid the huge waves. (The waves were so choppy that two of our companions were very nervous that the moment we left the port in Nasugbu, they already wanted to turn back).
To go to Fortune Island, you have to take a bus or travel by car to Nasugbu. Once there, you will take a motorized boat to the island. The boat can accomodate around 17 guests and you should maximize it as it is insanely expensive (compared to other boat rentals in other places we’ve been to) at P8500-P9000 for the whole trip. Since there were 11 or 13 of us, we were able to go there for less than P2,000 each (more like P1,800 including bus fare).
I went there with Oyet and her current and previous officemates. My usual gang did not go with us but we’re sure we’re coming back there sometime after October when habagat (westerly monsoon) is over so that the waves will be less choppy and it will be easier to dive.
Freediving is all about relaxing your mind and body. Things I could not do when in the water. And in that state, I joined my first (introductory) freedive with ISDAxMUNI dive in Vistamar Resort, Anilao, Mabini, Batangas.
I didn’t know how to swim and I still don’t. Before, I couldn’t go on the deepend of the water without a lifevest, even with flippers, mask and snorkel. The weekend in Vistamar is the first time I’ve done without the lifevest so in a way it was a success. However, I am still not calm and when it comes to diving down, I always panic and as a result, gulped a lot of seawater. And I mean a lot!
Some of my fellow newbies fared better, getting to the seafloor (about 15 feet down), some fared worse, always attached to the lifebuoy.
After a while of trying to go down, I just gave up that day and went to the shallow end of the sea. Fortunately, it wasn’t devoid of anything to see. There were fishes, sea urchins and a whole lot of sea creatures. I got to see lionfish/scorpionfish. Two of them in fact, hiding inside the hollows of an algae-covered rock.
Though I wasn’t able to dive down at all, I still consider that day a success, even just because I could on the water without a lifevest. Though I gave up diving down that day, I tried on other occasions and eventually succeeded. Though I still need a lot of practice and a lot of breathholding to do. This truly opened up a whole new world for me. Seeing fishes in their natural habitat, creatures I’ve only seen in fishtanks, pictures and movies.
There is one documentary I downloaded about creatures under the sea. The copy was so clear you can check the details of each creature. This is so much better than that!
Batulao is one of my favorite mountains. It is readily accessible by public transpo, only a few hours away from Manila, and can be climbed within a day.
Here is Felix in one of the up and down trail of Batulao. To get this shot, I walked a little bit faster than the group while Felix walked normal pace and the rest of the group are behind the peak taking pictures, thus giving the impression of Felix’s solitude in the mountains.
Another infrared picture of Burot Beach.
Last October 5-6 was my third time in Burot. This time, I finally have an infrared camera with me. During a lull in activity (too hot and sunny to take a dip in the water), I took my Panasonic GX1 (590nm infrared) and Canon 7D to take photos. This is one of the infrared shots.
I like this one because it’s more natural than my other shots. The colors could have been real if we’re living in a temperate climate and it’s summer going autumn, with leaves turning yellow. Blue skies and sea add to the naturalness.
Yesterday was Ellidel’s birthday and today, she treated us to a wonderful but very far restaurant – Casa Rap in San Jose, Batangas. Casa Rap is a play on the words casa, which means house in Spanish, and sarap, which is Tagalog (Filipino) for delicious.
Since I did not expect a lot of photo opportunities, I just brought the EOS M with the 22mm (35mm equivalent) pancake lens. The combo’s small enough to be convenient for bringing and putting in small bags or a largish pocket. The focus of the pancake lens is slowish (but not as slow as the very very slow Pentax K01) but manual focus is good and the good LCD screen makes it easier.
Here is one shot of one of the restaurant’s helper on her table (probably works as a cashier). The light was amazing and makes for a very good black and white. Actual contrast is much higher but I settled for a lower contrast to get better midtones. Looks better on print.