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.
Puddles of water left by low tide at sunrise in Dampalitan Beach.
These are photos of crows in Borawan Beach, Pagbilao, Quezon. One is probably injured before and one is fine.
This is I think my first or second home photography project (right after getting my first DSLR last year). This is a picture of oil and water on an orange bowl (used a different watermark back then).
This is my youngest nephew, Ocef, with his mother. I took this before we went on our family outing in Laguna.
The halogen lamps cast a very yellow light on the streets and the darkness made me shoot at a very high ISO (3200) using f1.4.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
- 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.
* * * * *
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
…I resolved to get a DSLR (making my officemate’s prediction come true – this was July 2011, a mere 3 months since getting the S4000). I began researching online on what good DSLR to get. As with most would-be DSLR owners, there’s that point where I have to decide whether to get Canon or Nikon. I’ve read many forums, articles, reviews, etc. and got the conclusion that they’re both good.
Eventually, I chose Canon. Today, I remembered why I chose Canon over Nikon:
1. Canon has a better service support here in the Philippines. Nikon is serviced by a distributor, CDSC, who is notorious for bad service, especially for units purchased in the grey market. Canon has a Philippine subsidiary and has several service centers.
2. Canon has better and cheaper lenses. Better in the sense that it has some lenses that Nikon doesn’t have (MP-E 65mm, TS-E 17mm, 800mm). I’ve also read that Canon has more expensive bodies but generally cheaper lenses (compared to Nikon equivalents).
My first project, water drops, shot with 60D and 100mm macro.
I bought a 60D (the fully-articulating display swayed me) with 18-135mm lens and a 100mm macro lens. I initially intended on buying the 18-200mm (for a beginner coming from a bridge camera, zoom counts) but I read that the 18-200 is as good as the 18-135 but is much more expensive so I chose the cheaper option and use the savings on a macro lens (a very good decision).
That was in July 2011, in August 2011, I’ve added a 50mm f1.4 to my lenses. Wonderful lens. Great contrast, great bokeh, good resolution (like the 100mm macro). Very good for low-light situations.
In October 2011, we went to a place where I really wished I had an ultra-wide angle lens. The rocks on the beach demands to be seen and take over the picture. My widest angle (18mm on APS-C or 28 equivalent) was not wide enough.
I finally got a Canon 10-22mm ultrawide lens in November. The first time I used it (in Mt. Batulao) I was so not used to the very wide view on the viewfinder that I almost fell on the side on the mountain since I thought that the edge was still far.
Somewhere in between getting the DSLR and the lenses, I got and learned Lightroom (makes a big difference, much more than getting a new or higher end camera or a lens). I also bought a wired remote for night shots (which I rarely do).
In December 2011, a splash of wave (on a boat on our way to Polilio Island) caused my 60D’s lens mount and flash to rust. I had to use my nails to pick up the flash and the lens would sometimes fail to dismount regardless of the amount of force I used. It was still taking pictures anyway.
In January 2012, the days of my Canon 60D came to an end. I climbed a rock f,ormation and had a friend take my picture. A big wave came and drenched my camera (and of course my friend). That was the end of 60D.
One of the last pictures of my 60D, me on a rock formation in Baler, Aurora.
I brought it to the Canon Service Center (great service) but the seawater and the rust it caused has corroded the LCD, the mirror and sensor assembly, the lens mount. It was repairable but at a price where it is more practical to just get a new one. Thankfully the lens (18-135mm) was ok and the battery was still working.
For awhile I had four lenses and no camera. Since the photographer in me has been awakened, I cannot do without a camera. While my 60D was in the service center, I bought a Fuji X10 (have always wanted one since it was announced). Wonderful little camera!
Boats in early morning (Tondol Beach). Shot with Fuji X10 in EXR mode.
Fuji’s innovative sensor and excellent lens are simple a wonderful combination. The good thing about the X10 is that I can just leave the exposure mode dial to EXR and let it make all the decision while I worry about composition. It also does good macros. It’s not perfect of course – EXR mode produces only JPEGs, there’s the white orb issue and other small quirks.
After learning the price of repair for my 60D, I just decided to get a new unit. I thought of getting a 60D again but I guess the lack of weather-sealing has scared me in getting the same model so I upgraded to 7D and happy days began again. I was able to use all my lenses again. And since the 60D and 7D uses the same battery, I now have a spare battery (not that I ever needed one). Unfortunately, the 7D has a different remote port than the 60D so I needed to buy a new one.
Since obtaining a DSLR and Fuji X10, I knew that there’s no place for a point-and-shoot for me, except for one – an underwater rugged camera. For my birthday, I decided to get one (along with the 7D).
Sunset in Morong, Bataan (right) and an underwater shot of myself in Puerto Galera, both shot with Panasonic TS3.
Before buying one, I did several research before settling on the Panasonic Lumix TS3 – the best reviewed rugged compact at the time (up to now since the new generation of rugged cameras are not properly reviewed yet).
The TS3 is ok, for a compact it takes good pictures in good light. It has nice macro capabilities and is the only one I can use for underwater or on the water or near the water shots. I was able to get pictures that is impossible with my other cameras (like a low angle shot of the sea like the sunset above).
And so here I am, in less than 2 years, I bought 5 cameras (the 7D, X10 and TS3 I’m still using, the S4000 I sold to a friend and the 60D still broken), 4 lenses, 2 wired remotes, filters, tripods and other accessories. Photography is indeed an expensive hobby but whenever a picture I took makes me smile, I think to myself that it’s all worth it.
I was searching for a photo to enter in a Facebook group contest for bokeh and found this. I reprocessed the picture in Lightroom (sharpness masking which I have not learned before).