Traveller, Photographer, Mountaineer, Human

Posts tagged “Eman

Giant Clams!

This is my very first time to post a video here!

This was taken last weekend on our trip to Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan.  There is a sanctuary for giant clams (known in Tagalog as taklobo) there are probably hundreds of them.

Please forgive the jerky motion and lack of resolution, clarity, etc. of the video.  This was taken using Olympus TG2, with correction in exposure, contrast and vibrance in Lightroom and then spliced together using Windows Movie Maker.


Batanes – Tiñan Viewpoint, Sabtang Island

Tiñan Viewpoint is a hill near the Sabtang Road overlooking the sea.  For me, it is the best viewpoint in the whole of Batanes.  It is located very near the village of Chavayan and is marked by an arch (probably as a boundary between Chavayan and Savidug).

The Arch near Tiñan viewpoint.

Me on a hill overlooking the sea.

Ellidel taking some shot of a cliff face.

Beach below the viewpoint * The hills up to the road (the one with the arch) and towards a rocky outcrop.

A group shot taken by our driver/tour guide (tour guides should really be taught basic composition so not every photo they take has the subject in the middle).


Grungy Jumpshots

Here are some jumpshots of my friend (taken with an Olympus TG2) and processed in Lightroom 5 by reducing saturation of all other colors except, blue, orange and red.  Clarity and black levels are increased for a grungy look.

CORON, after Yolanda (Haiyan)

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.

Using a Flash and a Reflector

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

Swimming with Whale Sharks, the Gentle Giants of Oslob, Cebu

September 11, 2013

Our main purpose for our travel to Cebu really is to swim and see the whale sharks, the biggest fish and is locally known as butanding.

The butandings are regularly sighted in Oslob, Cebu, a coastal town 3.5 hours south of Cebu City.  We arrivedat our hotel in Oslob the previous day and had to wake up early to meet the gentle giants.  The butandings regularly go near the shore of Brgy. Tan-awan every morning as the fishermen (who have become boatmen for tourists) feed them small shrimps.  The cost of meeting the butanding is Php500 per person.  Before our boat went to the feeding area to meet the butanding, we were required by local ordinance to attend a very brief orientation conducted by the local government or DENR.  The lady basically said:  no flash photography, do not touch the whale sharks, stay 4 meters away from the butandings and do not wear sunblock and other skin products (those who did were advised to wash it off at the shower area).  After that, it was less then 5 minutes trip to the feeding area.

Meeting the Butandings

Meeting the whale sharks is really a wonderful experience.  The butandings we met were all juvenile but their size is already massive (according to the boatmen, the adults come a little later in the morning).  They were accustomed to the fishermen feeding them and to the people surrounding them that they seem oblivious to humans and just swimming to and fro the boat where small shrimps are being thrown in the water.

With the boats so close together and with several people snorkeling, diving and swimming, it is impossible to stay 4 meters away from any of whale sharks.  At one point, a whale sharks just passed in front of me (the picture of the eye of the fish below) and one brushed against Elaine as she swimming.

As I said, they are really giant despite their large size that I did not fear being harmed by them but fear from drowning (even though I wear a life vest) or just dropping my camera.

I took this next two pictures while I was holding on to the boat and the whale shark was passing in front of me, so close I can touch it if I just extend my hand (of course, per briefing, it is not allowed to touch them so why break the rules?).

Solo Pictures

Being there, each of us had to take our solo pictures with the butandings…
Elaine, an applicant for an organization of skin divers, is more fearless in swimming and diving away from the boat and thus offered better opportunities to be photographed well with the giants.

Ellidel (left) and Oyet (right)

That’s me, keeping close to the boat. (left), Eman, giving the thumbs up sign for the experience. (right)

Tiny, being dunked by the boatman so she’ll be underwater (left), Macky, very near the butanding’s tail (right)

Grant, who doesn’t know how to swim (just like me) was forever anchored on the boat and hence, no picture with the butanding.

Some More Pics

Here are some more pics of the whale shark.

A whale shark swimming, with a smaller fish below it –>

A butanding waiting for the small shrimp being fed by the boatmen.

The head of the fish, up close (above), A close up of the smaller fish on the belly of the whale shark (below left), the whale shark feeding (below right)

After our 30-40 minutes of swimming with the whale sharks is up, it was time for us to go back to our hotel, tidy up and rush back to Cebu City for our flight back home.  It was such a short time but it is really wonderful and will stay with us, probably for the rest of our lives.

My Cebu Travel Companions

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.

Infrared Trials

Finally got my 590nm converted Lumix GX1.  Less than a day to test it.

Some notes:

– Amazing how short exposure time is compared to using a filter, leaves don’t always have to be blurry due to long exposure.

– I realized that I was editing previous infrared pictures wrong.  I tried to determine correct colors and white balance in Photoshop with the channel mixer when I could just swap red and blue channels and do all other adjustments in Lightroom.  Leaves can be bright yellow, candy pink, orange, etc!

I hope to be able to use it to shoot landscapes during weekends.


After our trip to Mt. Pinatubo, we went to a famous restaurant in the north, Isdaan.  Isdaan (Floating Resto and Funpark) is a located in Gerona, Tarlac (two towns north of Capas).  We were only able to board a full bus so we had to stand inside the bus for quite sometime.

Lucky for us, our Pinatubo trip finished earlier than expected and we were able to arrive in Isdaan while there is still light enough to take pictures.

Isdaan is more famous for its giant sculptures than for its food.  The attraction of the place is that you can rest and take pictures while waiting for your food.  And this is not a place to eat when you’re in a hurry.  During peak season and peak hours, you may have to wait for 30 minutes or more just to get a table and probably an hour more for your food to be served.

The Buddhas were one of the first sculptures inside the place.  Giant buddhas in various poses reflecting serenity (several holding fish).  Take a picture in one of the giant Buddhas and you brag to your friends that you’ve been to Thailand.  🙂

Just some photo ops.

Isdaan seems to be always in a state of repair and expansion.  I first visited this place sometime in 2008 when I first worked for Thunderbird.  Since then, several sculptures, floating huts and tables have been added.  Right now, several more are being added.  It’s a good thing that the place is located just outside of town and surrounded by ricefields (which can be bought at much lower prices compared to commercial land).

The earlier sculptures were huge and made of cement. Now, glass fiber and smaller ones are being added (and for me personally, some doesn’t add much to the place and distract from the other good ones).  These are made in Pampanga I think and can be had cheaper compared to the huge cement sculptures.

We had a good time eating the food – different kinds of fried fish, tinupig na manok (barbequed chicken in coconut milk), sinigang na baboy (pork in tamarind soup), and some others.  We were all full for Php305 each.

All shots were taken using Olympus OM-D and the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 lens.

My take on Eggleston’s Tricycle. Except this is not a tricycle but a pullcart AND more importantly, probably no one would pay me big bucks to have a print of this.

Trip to Pinatubo Crater Lake

This weekend, our wandering feet brought us to Mt. Pinatubo.  Mt. Pinatubo is an active volcano (almost dormant now) that erupted sometime in 1990s and whose ashes circled the world.  It spewed out mostly water and rocks (lahar) and devastated several surrounding towns.  The eruption was enormous that its crater collapsed and formed a lake.  Now, it is largely inactive (with periodic mild activity).

Our itinerary is supposed to start at 2am Saturday for us to be able to leave on a bus at 230am.  Several things forced us to leave at a later hour of 330am, which is a blessing in disguise as I’ll tell why later.

Access to the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo is through Capas, Tarlac.  Capas is not very far from Manila (around 2 to 2.5 hours) and we arrived there at 530am.  Buying packed lunch (at McDo) and a tricycle trip later (Php300 per tricycle), we arrived at the satellite tourism office where we’ll be riding a 4×4 jeep towards the crater.

The 4×4 trip takes about 45 minutes to an hour until the start of the trek.  The road passes through a military camp (Camp O’Donell) that is being used by the military for Balikatan Exercises (a military exercise of the Philippine and US military).  The Balikatan exercise forced us to delay this trip by about two weeks.

The path travelled by the 4×4 is very very wide, with most areas full of small rocks and sand, other areas by grasslands (where cows and goats graze) and there are small streams of water that becomes fast-current rivers when the heavy rains pour.

We arrived at a place where a marker indicates a 7km trek going to the crater.  We alighted and started to trek, getting our shoes wet in some stream crossing.  After a few minutes trekking, the 4×4 vehicles started coming on and told us that we could ride all the way to the foot of the summit-crater.  Since we arrived later (than most other visitors), we were able to ride first and pass several trekkers already halfway or almost near the foot of the summit.  (Had we arrived earlier, we would have trekked the full 7km.  A benefit of arriving later than usual).
One tourist (who trekked all the way to the crater) was furious since they had to trek all the way and most of us rode the jeeps.  He was telling one of the vehicle drivers to radio the other drivers and complain about this.  The drivers said that they did not enter earlier as they thought that the vehicle would not be able to pass some of the streams.

From the foot of the summit, it’s only a 20 minute trek to the crater lake (taken us longer since there were many trekkers).

The crater is beautiful but it did not show its full beauty to us.  Clouds occupy the farther side of the crater and several drops of rain fell (good thing it did not rain while we were there).  Swimming is not permitted as (the warnings say) the depth of the lake is not determined and there is already a foreign visitor who died (though people say this is because he swam towards the center of the lake then had a heart attack).

The crater itself is probably only half of the thrill or reason for this adventure. The bigger part is on the 4×4 ride and the trek. The area itself is mostly grey (rocks and sand) which lends itself well to black and white pictures but not so much for color pictures.

There were 9 of us for this trip:  Tiny, Oyet, Eman, Dahlia, Jem, Badz, Ellidel, Felix and I.  After the Pinatubo adventure (where we initially thought that we’d be burning calories through trekking), we went to Gerona, Tarlac to eat at Isdaan Floating Restaurant.