Maria Cristina Falls is the tallest waterfalls in the Philippines. It may not look very grand compared to Niagara Falls or other big falls but it is big (see how small the man is on the lower right side of the picture). It powers several hydroelectric plants along the river’s path (before and after the falls).
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
Hundred Islands is a national park located in Alaminos, Pangasinan (about 4-6 hours away from Metro Manila). It is composed of about 127 separate islands. Of these islands, only 3 or 4 are developed. The other islands are either too small, have no beach or both. There are undeveloped islands which are interesting – two of them are Monkey Island and Snake Islands, so named because of the inhabitants of these islands. Most of the islands are made of limestone and packed with vegetation, so dense are these vegetation that even if you manage to get on one of these islands, you’ll have a hard time squeezing through them.
The following two pictures were taken from Governor’s Island , one of the developed islands. Governor’s Island has the highest point (elevation) among the islands and these two pictures were taken from that point (using Olympus OMD EM5 and 12-50 lens). This highest elevation isn’t really that high as it takes only 125 steps up (through a cemented stairs). From this point, you can see most of the other islands but you’ll be hard pressed from distinguishing one from the other (other than they’re so alike, the hill is low so that in the distance, some islands looks like they’re merged).
The next picture (taken with Olympus TG2) shows Crocodile Island and Turtle Island, so named because they look like these animals. For the Crocodile Island, I can see the resemblance. For the Turtle Island, there is also resemblance to that animal but so does tens of the other islets near the area.
There is also another island called Marcos Island (named after former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos). According to our boatman, this island was named that because locals then believed that this is where Marcos hid some of his treasures. The island has a small beach and a small cave near the beach. There is also a path going towards the middle of the island.
The following two pictures (again taken with Olympus TG2) were taken at Quezon Island, named after then president, Manuel L. Quezon. This island is one of the biggest and the most developed of the islets. The island has two low rocky hills connected by a short sandbar. It is also one of the closest islands to the snorkeling area and to the giant clam sanctuary.
Quezon Island is probably the most popular among these hundred islands. There is a group of people who maintain the islands. There are two pavilions (with tables and chairs), some restrooms (which aren’t that clean and which use seawater, a couple of concrete cottages and a cute cottage on top of one of the rocks. There is also a small store that sells some food and essential at high prices. Other than our group, there were several groups camped in the island for the night but come Sunday morning, the island suddenly filled with people (who are there on daytour). We went to the snorkeling area for a few hours and when we returned, the island was dotted with people swimming, eating, etc.
For those planning to get there, it isn’t too expensive.
- Boat (can seat 10 people) – P2200 (P550 each)
- Overnight fee for all the islands – P80 each
- Tent pitch fee – P200 per tent (P100 each)
- Bus fare from Cubao to Alaminos – P395 one way (P790 both ways each)
- Shower (in one of the resorts in Alaminos) – P30 each
- Tricycle from town center to the wharf – P60 for one tricycle one way
- Food – you can bring your own food and cooking stuff
All in all, each of us probably spent less than P2000 for an overnight stay. Not so bad considering that this is the first time we say this National Park and the giant clams. Giant Clams!!!
Another black and white photo taken in Boracay. For this one, I removed some people in the upper right side using Lightroom’s clone and heal stamps.
A recent photo I took in Boracay. She’s wearing yellow (though the photo is in black and white). This one was taken with the Fuji XE1 and the 18-55 kit lens. To my eyes, the Fuji files are very very good in black and white but much too saturated in color. Also, the photos seem to be not very sharp, even compared to the Olympus EM5 with its less superior 12-50mm kit lens. This could perhaps be due to smearing as a result of the x-trans sensor whose output is not yet properly demosaiced by Adobe.
This picture of a kid was taken in Jomalig, Quezon using my Canon 7D and Tamron 70-300mm VC at 300mm. I kinda like the expression on the child’s face.
Salibungot Beach in Jomalig, Quezon is one of the finest beaches I’ve been in. The beach itself is wide with golden brown sand. I would have taken more pictures of this beach but when we arrived there, I was already tired and just wanted to go back to our camp.
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).