Traveller, Photographer, Mountaineer, Human

Posts tagged “Canon 18-135mm

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.

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Random Photo: Low Tide at Sunrise

Puddles of water left by low tide at sunrise in Dampalitan Beach.


Calaguas Here We Come!

It is a long weekend once again here in the Philippines – tomorrow, Friday, is a holiday for the remembrance Andres, Bonifacio, a national hero.

We’re going to the wonderful island group of Calaguas – white fine sand, several shades of clear blue waters, and lots of fun!

We’ll be back on Sunday night probably very tired but with big smiles on our faces and hopefully wonderful pictures on our minds and memory cards.


Random Photos: The Crows of Borawan

These are photos of crows in Borawan Beach, Pagbilao, Quezon. One is probably injured before and one is fine.


Random Photo: Baskets

Hanging baskets as part of the decoration in Hidden Garden Restaurant in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.


C20 – Buntot Palos (Jason’s Birthday Climb)

January 7-8, 2012

My first climb for the year is for Jason’s big 3-0 birthday.  (Still can’t believe he’s 30, he looks like someone in his early 20s).

We met in StarMall Shaw.  The attendees include Jason (the birthday boy), Kyt, Jekk, Jem and Badz, and two of Jason’s officemate – Bogs and Tiny.

From StarMall, we rode a jeep bound for Tanay, Rizal, then another jeepney to the town of Siniloan where we bought food and supplies and ate lunch in Jollibee (wasn’t really expecting Jollibee, the purpose of travelling other than to see places is to eat different).

From the town of Siniloan, we rode tricycle to the next town (Panguil, Laguna) to get to the jump off.

By all internet accounts and posts, Buntot Palos is an easy and minor climb.  However, due to the rains of the continual rains, the trail is very muddy.  This is compounded by the hoof tracks of the horses used by the locals to bring down firewood.  It is indeed a very very muddy climb.

Due to delays in meetups, lunch, etc, we started climbing at around 1pm when the itinerary stated that we should be on the campsite at 1130am.  It took us 4 hours going up due to the mud.  We also met a group of guys who climbed to photograph the falls.  They were obviously not mountaineers and came very ill-prepared, one was wearing flipflops.  I think one had an injury so he was riding the horse of one of the locals.  The guys said that the falls was very foggy and wet that they couldn’t take good pictures.

Birthday boy, Jason, on the muddy trail.

Getting ready for the climb – Jason (in black), Jekk, Bogs, me, Badz, Kyt and Jems (shot by Tiny).

After four hours of climbing, we finally reached the campsite.  It is not near the falls but we could hear the sound of water crashing down nearby.  Well, the campsite should have been a welcome sight but it was not.  The ground was really wet and that meant pitching tent in muddy ground.

After pitching tent, we decided to go to the falls.  Jekk decided not to go to the falls to look after our things (the mountains around Rizal and Laguna have gained a reputation for having thieves).

The Buntot Palos Falls.

Buntot Palos literally means “eel’s tail” and it’s probably named because of its shape (can’t see the resemblance though).  The falls is located some 30 minutes away from the campsite and involves going down a steep slope.  Since it has been raining hard for a few days, the volume of water coming down the falls is really high and current on the rocks and boulders is strong.  We had to take extra care not to be swept by the current.

Enjoying the falls and the river (shot by Badz).

It was getting dark when we went back to the campsite and brought water from the falls for cooking.

Back at camp, dinner was cooked and eaten, hard drink and wine (I brought a cheap Bourdeaux) was consumed and there were lots of chatter.  The talks was of a different kind, probably because there were two new persons with us – Bogs and Tiny.  🙂  After all this, we had a very wet night though we slept safe and sound inside our tents.

Jekk at break-camp.

In the morning, another group of climbers whom Kyt knows arrived.  They got lost during the night and camped in another area.

We had breakfast and it was time to break camp and descend.  Our tents are wet and muddy that we had a hard time packing them.

On our way down, we stopped by a stream and washed our muddy tents, tarps, etc.  They became more wet but at least got cleaned from all the mud.

Me (left) and Kyt (right) on the muddy trail.

If going up a muddy trail is difficult, going down is probably as difficult or more difficult.  Instead of just letting gravity do most of the work on descent, we had to fight it in order not to slip.  Kyt slipped several times, Tiny (with her sandals) slipped a couple while the rest of us also had our moments.

On reaching the jumpoff, we cooked spaghetti for lunch before going back to Manila.  In arriving in Metro Manila, we didn’t go straight home but had some drinks in a bar near Shaw (except for Jem, Badz and Bogs).  Then finally home for a well-deserved rest.

For this climb, I brought 3 lenses (1 lens was unused), a tripod (unused), a wired remote (unused), 24gb of storage (in 2 SD cards) but only came home with 116 pictures and very few decent ones.  The lens got stuck on the camera and it got so foggy in the end that I couldn’t use it until the fog evaporated much much later.  My phone (a Samsung SII) got wet inside the tent and broken.

Buntot Pulos is a nice waterfalls but our timing was so wrong (well, it is expected that it will rain since it was the celebration of someone’s birthday).  There will be a return but not in the near future, and definitely not during the rainy season.


Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine

June 17, 2012

Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine is a pilgrimage shrine in Manaoag, Pangasinan.  It has become a famous pilgrimage shrine due to the alleged miracle that the icon supposedly endows its devotees.

After our Vigan trip, we spent the night in Eman’s family home in Pozzorubio, Pangasinan and visited Manaoag the following (rainy) day (it is less than an hour by public jeepney).

I remembered the story of my batchmate in college whose mother went to the shrine (just before we took the board exam for accountancy) and had the pencils she was going to use for the exam blessed by the icon (I guess rubbed against the icon).

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The Manaoag Church

The Manaoag Church appears to be constructed during the Spanish era and renovated and expanded several times.  Following the traditional layout of Catholic churches, the church is in the shape of the cross with the entrance on the long end, the main altar on the short end and the transept providing additional seating closer to the main altar.

Above the main altar is a dome (probably the whispering gallery) with painted details (rather than carved).  In fact, the whole ceiling of the church is painted with no or very little carving, unlike the more grand churches (San Augustin in Intramuros, for example).

The main church aisle (left) * Dome above the main altar (below).

On each side of the transept are smaller altars dedicated to two saints I’m not familiar with.  On the left side near the entrance of the church is a small chapel dedicated to Jesus (probably the Sacred Heart of Jesus).  The icon of Jesus has disproportionately large hands.

Icon on the left transept altar (above left) * Main altar (above center) * Icon on the right transept (above right)

Icon of Jesus Christ (Sacred Heart) on the small chapel near the main door (far left) * Detail of the keystone above a door arch (left).

Similar to my previous observation, Filipinos are big Marian devotees.  Look at most of the churches here in the Philippines and a statue of Mary in her various incarnations (like in this church) will be the central icon in the church.  Jesus Christ will only have a smaller icon beside or on top of the main altar or a smaller chapel (like in this church).

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Offering Prayers and Wishes

Behind the church and slightly to its right side is a covered area with chairs for resting.  There is also a tree with the statue of Mary carved into its trunk.  I think this is supposedly the area where the original Lady of Manaoag had her apparition.

A carved image on a tree, the supposed site of the original apparition.

On the left side of this tree and directly behind the church building is a circular building with a copy of the icon’s statue in the middle.  Around this are places where devotees and pilgrims can light candles, offer prayers and wishes.  Eman bought six candles and lit up five of them.  He gave one candle to me, which I lit up (despite being a non-Catholic).

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A copy of our Lady of Manaoag icon  * One of the floating candles.* Our candles

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Touching the Icon, Other Saints

On the right side of the church is a stair leading to the second floor.  This is where the devotees gather as the stairs lead to a prayer area where they can touch the back of the main icon in the altar.

There is also a stair on the other side (left side) and this goes to the same room (but cordoned off from the prayer area).  Here are there various saints on display.

People lining up to go to the prayer area (left) * People praying and touching the back of the icon.

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Three of the saints on display.

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One is probably Aaron (brother of Moses) whose staff flowered after being placed inside the ark of the covenant (thereby confirming that it is his family that God chose to be His priests.  One is Jesus Christ as a shepherd.  The third one, not very familiar and the statue could be a young man or a woman.

There are other saints on display like St. Veronica holding a veil with Christ’s face imprint.

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The Museum

The museum is located below the prayer area and directly behind the main altar.  I like this museum as it contains some old items – vestments, icons’ regalia, etc.  (The museum is rather dark and my 18-135mm lens with its aperture of 3.5-5.6 required high ISOs.)

It has several Lady of Manaoag icons.

Some of the faces of the icons have lines, especially one of the Mary icons (the one above in blue).  I guess it was made of ivory and the stripes is a natural pattern in the ivory or the result of the elements on the ivory.

There are also icons of other saints and religious figures.

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There are also the regalia of our Lady of Manaoag (the icon changes her regalia every once in a while).

Religious statues are not the only only things found in the museum.  There are old vestments and liturgical equipment on display.

Chasuble and vestments worn by the the priest and the deacons (this is worn on one special occasion, other colors are used for other occasions).  * Some things used during liturgical mass in previous times.

It is amazing the level of details in all of these items are, particularly the clothing.

Much effort has been made in embellishing the items for use of the icon or by the priests.  This just shows how much devout Filipino Catholics are (especially before).

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Details of rich embroidery (regalia and vestments).

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Going to Manaoag Church is a nice experience.  I may not be a Catholic who will benefit from a visit to one famous pilgrimage site, still I can appreciate the devotion of the people and rich history of Catholicism, its liturgical traditions, and its iconography.


Canon 15-85mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM vs Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM

Canon 15-85mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM (left) and Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM (right)

Finally bought a Canon 15-85mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM lens after being frustrated with my 18-135mm lens.  Here are some comparison photos of the two lenses (using my Canon 7D).  All comparisons were shot on a tripod at ISO 200, f8.0, mirror lockup, wired remote used.  No change in lighting.  I also shot at the widest aperture but there was a problem with the 18-135mm (the 18mm will only open up to f5.6 and not to f3.5).  Also, this will be too long.

Widest Angle

Here is a comparison of 15mm (left) and 18mm (right) – one of the reasons why I bought the lens is for its wider end so that I no longer has to bring my 10-22mm for landscape (nowhere near as wide as 10mm but wide enough).

15-85mm @15mm (left) and 18-135mm @18mm (right).

Telephoto Angle

Here are comparison at 85mm (87mm for the 18-135 as I could not set it precisely) and 135 for the 18-135.

Canon 15-85mm @85mm left), Canon 18-135mm @87mm (center) and @135mm (right).

I think I can live with the slightly shorter telephoto end of the lens.

Center and Border Crops.

Some comparison testing with crops.  I tried to match the focal lengths but the markings on the lens are not very accurate but very close.

24mm (15-85mm left, 18-135 right)

Center

Top right border

 

50mm (15-85mm left, 18-135mm right)

Center

Top Right Border

 

85mm/87mm (15-85 @85mm left, 18-135mm @87mm right)

Center
Bottom Right Corner

Is It Worth It?

The Canon 15-85mm is twice as expensive as the 18-135mm and has a shorter telephoto reach (though wider angle).  It also offers better contrast and color.  Sharper center (especially at the shorter end) and sharper corners (at almost all focal lengths).

In terms of build quality, it is much much nicer than the 18-135.  Build quality is somewhat in between my 50mm f1.4 (good) and 100mm macro (very good).  The zoom ring is stiff (especially around 24 -35mm).  The manual focus ring is  nicer (though less wide).  The manual focus ring of the 18-135mm is very loose (no friction).  The 15-85mm also has full-time manual focus.

All in all, is it worth it?  I still don’t know.  Must shoot the new lens first.


Journey Part 3 (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)

In my previous posts, I talked about how I went from cellphone camera to bridge camera then to DSLR/high end compact/underwater compact.  I read a lot of websites devoted to camera gear (DPReview, Canon/Nikon/Photo Rumors, etc.).  It’s no surprise that right now I have gear acquisition syndrome or GAS.

I guess I should’ve known.

It started reasonably enough.  The cellphone camera (before) doesn’t produce good enough pictures.  My Samsung point-and-shoot seemed to have had a problem focusing (after a year or so of use).  The bridge camera doesn’t focus quickly enough.

With my Fuji S4000 in Tarak Ridge (shot by Felix).

Then came the DSLR.  It’s good (very good actually).  But the 18-135mm doesn’t do macro (hence, the 100mm macro).  It wasn’t very wide (hence, the 10-22mm).  It’s not good for low-light and wasn’t sharp enough (hence, the 50mm f1.4).  After a while, my first DSLR (60D) got wet so I had to buy a new camera (a Fuji X10).  I had four lenses and nothing to use it on so I had to buy a replacement DSLR (my 7D).  When I saw an underwater camera, I just had to buy one (my Panasonic TS3).

With my Fuji X10 in Mt. Talamitam jumpoff (left) and with my 7D and 100mm macro (right) (both shot by Ni Hao).

And now after all these cameras and spending a lot (and I mean a lot), I want more.  First of all, I want something smaller but with interchangeable lens and with good image quality.  I think this is justified since whenever I climb mountains, the camera takes a lot of space in my bag (about 1/4 to 1/3).  Along with my tent, cookset, stove, clothes, etc. it makes for a very big and heavy bag.

Me with a very big bag in Mt. Pulag Akiki Trail (never used the 85 liter bag again after that – forgot who shot this picture).

Of course I can just use my Fuji X10 for climbs but the image quality would not be the same, it wouldn’t do for wide or long shots (rationalizations).  I’ve been looking at Fuji X-Pro1 but it is still (and will probably remain) very expensive.  There’s also the Olympus OM-D EM5 (seriously considering) but I’m not a big fan of the 4/3 format (well, I guess I can live with it since it’s the format of my TS3 and X10).  I’m not a big fan of the faux-pentaprism hump (why? of why?).  There’s also the NEX7 but the lenses are very limited.  I’ll probably just wait for the Canon mirrorless.

My underwater picture shot with my Panasonic TS3.

Of course I want a full-frame camera.  Who wouldn’t?  It makes for better image quality.  Finding a normal lens is easier and 16-40 is wide angle (though telephoto lenses will have shorter reach).  There’s the good 5D Mark III (very expensive) and the excellent Nikon D800/E (still more expensive considering that I’ll have to buy new lenses for the Nikon mount).  I’ll just probably wait for the “entry-level” Canon full-frame camera.

For some reason, I also want to have a smaller DSLR (7D is large).  There’s the Canon 1100D (with a sensor of 2 generations ago), 600D (hmmm) and Nikon D3200 (new generation DX sensor but again, there’s the issue with changing system and lenses).

I want to shoot Nikon.  Based on what I read, Nikon produces cleaner shadows when pushed (my Canon pictures have noisy shadows), a result of higher dynamic range.

I want to trim my DSLR kit whenever I travel.  Right now, for major trips, I carry my 18-135mm for general shooting, 100mm macro for closeups and 10-22 for wide landscapes.  Sometimes I also bring my 50mm f1.4 for portraits.  I want to have the Canon 15-85mm (wide enough for landscapes, covers general zoom focal range) and a 60mm Tamron macro (with an f2.0 aperture, it can substitute for the 100mm macro and 50mm).

Lenses, lenses, lenses:

  • 65mm 1x-5x macro – wanted this eversince I got a DSLR
  • 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM – a fast general zoom
  • 70-200mm f2.8 IS II USM – legendary lens, want to see what the fuss is all about
  • TS-E 17mm – for better depth of field control on landscape pictures (of course I’d have to have to full-frame camera first).
  • a fisheye lens – a different perspective.

I also want a macro focusing rail (will probably be getting one).

There’s the RX100 which seems a very good high-end compact.  There’s also the Olympus TG1 underwater cam with a fast lens.

So many things I want, not enough money.  Until then, I’ll have to be content with what I have and make the most of it.

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UPDATE:  I recently read that Canon’s cheaper full frame will be priced around $2,000.  Much more affordable than the 5d Mk III.  It will also have 19 AF points (sounds like the 7D AF).  Fujifilm will also announce new cameras for their X-series interchangeable cameras.  A lower level camera (good!) and a higher end camera (as if the X-Pro1 isn’t expensive enough).


Post-Processing: The Power of Cropping

One of the best things I’ve learned from reading online about photography and composition is cropping.  This drastically improves composition if the shot was not properly made, the horizon was not level or more magnification is desired.

This one’s a shot of my friend, Ella, with her son, Yeshua.

I was using a 100mm macro on my camera shooting flowers and butterflies and I stopped to take several shots of them.  Using a prime lens and me being rather far from them, my shot was much wider than it should be.  Also, I shot in landscape but on looking at the picture in my computer, I realized that Ella and her son should be the focus of the picture and everything else is distraction.  The cropping simplified composition, removed most distractions and made the picture more intimate.

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This shot was taken in Mt. Batulao.  As it was a climb, I did not bring my macro lens (quite heavy) and I brought only my kit lens (18-135mm) but I still want to take macros and close ups.

I cropped it to get more magnification and to focus more on the unfurling fern leaves.  Also, the cropping is to follow the rule of thirds.

Since the leaves were in the shade, the shot was taken with high ISO and the cropping accentuated the noise (this was before I learned about noise reduction and sharp masking in Lightroom but it can only go so far in removing noise).

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This one’s another example of cropping to increase magnification.  This was taken using my kit lens (which was on the camera at the time) and I was using the center focus point.  I again cropped to increase magnification and follow rule of thirds.  Fortunately, this shot was taken in good light so there’s not much noise on the picture.

Another reason I said was for correcting tilted horizon (which makes it angle cropping) but I’m too lazy to find an example (have several in my pictures).

I’m a cropper.  Most of my post-processing is cropping (especially for shots taken in my camera that I did not take or those taken with a prime lens).  That’s also a reason why I like a camera with big megapixels (my Canon has 18mp) and envy the Nikon D800 users.  It also puts more importance on cameras with good high ISO but can’t complain with what I’m using.