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.
Last weekend and up to Tuesday, we went again to Palawan! This time, in El Nido. El Nido is one of the three tourism areas of Palawan (the others being Coron, where we’ve been before, and Puerto Princesa, the capital city).
Anyway, I’d like to show you photos of a good friend and the the one who introduced us all to the joy of freediving, Elaine.
While we were all clinging to lifevest (several months back), Elaine was already enjoying the freedom of not using them and being able to go to depths and look at fishes and corals from a closer view. She was then an applicant for ISDA (probably an acronym for International Skin Divers Association or something and is also the Tagalog/Filipino term for fish). Now that we are on a level that she was several months ago, she’s levelled up to deeper depths, diving in stronger currents and breathholding for longer.
The next few pictures were taken in Small Lagoon, a stop on tour A in El Nido (tours being coded as A, B, C or D). As a snorkeling/freediving site, it really isn’t much. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs cutting out most of the light from reaching the bottom, hence, the lack of visibility down under compared to the other (probably deeper) sites. However, one good thing about this location is the rays of the sun filtering through the cliffs and the vegetation provides beautiful rays of light in the water. We went there first in the morning (arrived there around 10am) and the light streaking through the water was just awesome for taking these photographs.
This first picture was for me, the most beautiful of the lot. The light was wonderful, no distracting people in the background, just Elaine, her happy yellow fins and the water. Unfortunately though, her head is not seen as she arched her back to look down below.
Second one, more about her happy yellow fins (the one the camera chose to focus). She’s on her descent here.
Third one is where she’s making a turn from going down to ascending. Her body position seems awkward but I like the effect of here centered in all the blueness of the sea.
And this is her on her ascent. As taught by freedivers (and I guess for scuba as well), you need to raise one of your arms when ascending so that when you accidentally hit a boat (or worse a propeller), you’ll just hurt (or cut) your hand, not your head.
And finally, we see her face!
On our second to last dive site for the day (another area), I loaned her my long fins. Since my feet are much bigger than hers, she wore it with her booties and with the fin grip to prevent accidental slippage of the fins.
Yes freediving long fins are reeeeaaallly long. Probably as long as her leg and thighs…
These final two pictures aren’t the strongest of the lot (they are in fact, the least best pics of her) but they show the true joys of recreational freediving.
Being able to see sea creatures up close (this one’s a hawksbill turtle).
And enjoying freedom from heavy scuba gear and the joy and relaxation of moving effortlessly (more or less) through water.
That’s it for now, I’ll be posting more pictures from our El Nido trip (including the wonderful sea creatures underneath the surface of the water). In case you’re wondering how she looks when out of water, here’s her picture.
Have not posted in a while. Last weekend, my friends and I went to Coron for a 4-day trip.
Coron was the last landfall that Yolanda made before exiting the country (the very reason why our scheduled trip there was postponed). The people of Coron are slowly rising up and moving on with their everyday lives. The tourists are also starting to come back. On land, the damage to Coron is visible due to uprooted or de-leafed trees and destroyed houses (mostly the nipa hut houses).
On sea, the damage is much much worse. Most of the areas we went snorkeling are tear-inducing. Corals damaged! If you’ve seen the damage to Tacloban city, you’ll have a good idea of the damage on corals. Corals, the houses and food source of most fishes, are cracked, uprooted, felled and broken. To me this is the greater tragedy in Coron (after the loss of some lives). Trees will grow quickly, houses can be rebuilt with the right assistance but corals will take years to grow back. Such a tragedy!
Anyway, as a starter, here are my friends doing their best to spell CORON. More pictures to follow in coming blogposts.
I bought a wireless flash (Nissin Di 622 II) and it works great with my 7D (which has a flash commander as the popup flash). I also got the biggest circular reflector I can find. Last Nov. 3, I tried it out with a few of my friends in Eman and Tiny’s apartment.
Such wonders! I’ve never used both properly and again I was amazed at how much they make pictures (particularly portraits) so much better (compared to ambient light only or hard flash only). Both also make my 15-85mm lens appear much sharper. Here they are:
Oyet * Eman
An early halloween pic. This is Elaine channeling Sadako (from The Ring). Taken last year in Intramuros (repost).
One of our itinerary in Cebu is snorkeling in Moalboal to see lots of fishes and sea turtles. We were lucky that when we went snorkeling, we were able to see several sea turtles (Elaine went there before and didn’t see sea turtles). We were also fortunate enough to see dolphins swimming beside and around our boat!
Underneath the Sea
Here are some of the things we saw under the sea. The corals are not that colorful but there were lots and lots of colorful fish!
It was really a wonderful experience! One I’d like to try again soon but probably not in Cebu but in nearby provinces (Marinduque perhaps).
These are my travel companions for our Cebu trip: Oyet, Tiny, Eman, Ellidel, Macky, Elaine and Grant. We were on top of Osmena Peak during Osmena Day.
No outdoor trip last weekend so we had an urban photowalk. Eman borrowed a mask which he will use on his housemates. In Fort Santiago, there is a small circular well and I asked Elaine to pose as Sadako (which she did very very well).
There is a small shrine in Intramuros which I finally chanced to be open to public. The windows opposite the small church provided a wonderful frame-on-frame for a picture.
September 1, 2012
A return to my beloved alma mater, University of the Philippines – Diliman. This was supposed to be a photowalk but because we scheduled it late (and we arrived later) and since the sky decided to dump some water, it turned out more to be a food trip with some photos shot. Only four of us went there – Tiny, Elaine, Oyet and myself.
For this supposed photowalk, I brought three lenses – the Canon 15-85mm, Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Samyang 8mm fisheye. However because of the rain, we weren’t able to shoot when the sun is still up so we just went and eat in Rodic’s.
We decided to take some shots of the UP Chapel but there was a mass being held (second time to try and take some pics in the chapel but was foiled by an ongoing mass). We then just went to Quezon Hall.
Quezon Hall is the perfect place to try my fisheye lens as it was built in a Neoclassical design with columns and lots of straight elements – more things to bend and curve.
It was already dark when we reached it. Luckily, I brought my tripod so I can take long exposures (and thus use the base ISO).
From the pictures, the Samyang 8mm is a wonderful lens, very sharp even at the corners. However, the circumstances make it rather difficult to use.
It was dark and focusing through the viewfinder is not easy. Focusing through the LCD is also difficult as the LCD will basically show a very dark picture. Opening the lens to f3.5 makes it more bearable but still difficult.
Aperture is changed in the lens and focusing is done manually on the fisheye. This would have been ok in well-lighted places but in the dark, I can barely see the numbers on the aperture ring (which is exacerbated by the fact that the aperture ring is very close to the camera body (and is partially hidden from above by the prism hump and popup flash).
For easier focusing, I just set the aperture to f/11 (or what I think is f/11, can’t really see due to the dark) and set focus to what I think is appropriate (about 1.5 to 3 meters).
Tiny has just bought a Nikon D3200 and I had her shoot the fisheye (I bought a Nikon AE version and use an adapter to use it on my Canon 7D). It’s much easier to use it on the Nikon since focusing is done wide open and aperture is controlled through the camera (which is easier to see on the camera’s LCD screen rather than fumble in the dark on the aperture ring).
I get to try for a few shots the Nikon D3200 and I was amazed by the pictures. The outcome looks great on the camera’s LCD. I don’t know if this is because of higher screen resolution (compared to my 7D) or if the picture is really much better.
The picture also seems much much brighter than the pictures coming from my 7D. Again, I’m not sure if this is due to a better LCD screen or a better sensor.
I don’t like the quick menu of the D3200, however, requires additional button press to change settings and a lot of space is wasted for a representation of the aperture changes. I also can’t seem to find how to use auto ISO in PASM.
But all in all, it seems like a good camera and I’ll try it again in the future (and probably buy one if I have the money).
Another difficulty I experienced is not due to the lens but to my camera. Setting up for a low or high angle shot is difficult using a fixed screen or the viewfinder. I miss my 60D’s vari-angle tilting LCD for composition. (If the D3200 had a tilting screen, I’d probably grab one now).
So what do I think of the Samyang lens? I love it! For the price, a wonderful lens. Very sharp (if properly focused). Not so good, there always seem to be minor flare. Not so good, non-circular six-bladed aperture (but then, the Canon 10-22mm also has this). I look forward to taking more pictures with this lens.