Last month, two friends of ours got married in a small and intimate wedding. We were invited as photographers and this was my first time to shoot a wedding this way. Having several camera systems (Canon, m4/3 and Fuji), I made a decision which camera to use based on only 1 criterion, flash. My Olympus EM5 and Fuji XE1 both have flash but they are small and not powerful. I also have three external speedlights but two are manual and the other only has TTL with Canon. Hence, it was Canon 7D + 15-85mm, 50mm 1.4 and the EOS with 22mm as additional camera.
For most of the events, I used the 15-85mm with the Nissin flash (with mini softbox/flash diffuser) mounted on the camera. I could use the 50mm for better image quality (especially in low light) but I’ll have to be changing lenses for wider shots and in fast-paced events, I’m not comfortable doing this. Eman was also there shooting but since he’s using the Samyang 85mm, there are some shots that he cannot take. Oyet also took some pictures using the Pentax K01.
The wedding was done in a resort in Batangas (beautiful place). It was on a garden near the pool (good thing since there was still light from the afternoon sun compared to a dimly lit church).
Anyway, the pictures of the ceremony and wedding preparations turned out well (well enough that I believe they came out much better than some people I know who’ve hired totally amateur photographers with a consumer DSLR + kit lens to cover their weddings).
The bride with their baby daughter (such an angel, didn’t cry the whole time we were there) * The bride and groom on the stairs of one of the villas before the wedding.
The bride and groom.
The wedding ceremony being presided by a Justice of Peace
Family and close friends.
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.
Katibawasan Falls is another falls we saw on our last trip. It is located on the island province of Camiguin and I believe is the most easily accessible falls on the island. After seeing the big and power Maria Cristina Falls, this one’s quite a small one.
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).
After a long absence in this blog, I’m finally posting again. This one’s taken in Maniwaya Island in Marinduque. The sunset there was ok but the rays of light made it beautiful and the three ladies arranged in almost perfect symmetry provides good silhouette to the picture.
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.
Freediving is all about relaxing your mind and body. Things I could not do when in the water. And in that state, I joined my first (introductory) freedive with ISDAxMUNI dive in Vistamar Resort, Anilao, Mabini, Batangas.
I didn’t know how to swim and I still don’t. Before, I couldn’t go on the deepend of the water without a lifevest, even with flippers, mask and snorkel. The weekend in Vistamar is the first time I’ve done without the lifevest so in a way it was a success. However, I am still not calm and when it comes to diving down, I always panic and as a result, gulped a lot of seawater. And I mean a lot!
Some of my fellow newbies fared better, getting to the seafloor (about 15 feet down), some fared worse, always attached to the lifebuoy.
After a while of trying to go down, I just gave up that day and went to the shallow end of the sea. Fortunately, it wasn’t devoid of anything to see. There were fishes, sea urchins and a whole lot of sea creatures. I got to see lionfish/scorpionfish. Two of them in fact, hiding inside the hollows of an algae-covered rock.
Though I wasn’t able to dive down at all, I still consider that day a success, even just because I could on the water without a lifevest. Though I gave up diving down that day, I tried on other occasions and eventually succeeded. Though I still need a lot of practice and a lot of breathholding to do. This truly opened up a whole new world for me. Seeing fishes in their natural habitat, creatures I’ve only seen in fishtanks, pictures and movies.
There is one documentary I downloaded about creatures under the sea. The copy was so clear you can check the details of each creature. This is so much better than that!
Our trip to Hundred Islands was motivated by our desire to go underwater. Luckily, Hundred Islands has a place for snorkeling and with giant clams as bonus!
I didn’t even think I’d even see giant clams. I once read a book about a boy whose leg was caught by a taklobo (giant clam). That was my first “encounter” with a giant clam and that was about 15 to 20 years ago. It was quite unreal seeing these magnificent (who are slow to close and the adult of which cannot fully close). They are of different colors, some blue, some purple and some green. Their lips are peppered with luminiscent spots. Good thing that there are many (probably hundreds) of them in the national park and that they are protected by the local government.
It seems that everytime I dive now, I can see Moorish Idols (so-called because Moors of Africa once considered them good luck). They are beautiful and graceful creatures that are very conspicuous in reefs.
Triggerfish are notorious for being very protective of their territory. In fact, another species of triggerfish bit my neck as I was diving down to look at some fish. It was a black triggerfish that hides under a rock/coral and went out to bite me. Fortunately, there was no skin break. Also, it is not this guy.
This one, I had trouble finding the identification on the internet. I first thought it was either an angelfish or a butterfly fish (based on its body). After combing through several sites, I found out that butterfly fishes generally have small mouth (such as this guy) and the color palette is limited to white, black, yellow and orange. This made it easier to narrow down the search to butterflyfishes and found the species name.
This fish I still couldn’t identify. From the body type, I assume it is a type of goby. The thing with gobies is that it is a very large family (or some other classification) of fishes that narrowing it down is difficult. So for now, I’ll just let this fish be unidentified.
Clownfish! Made very popular by Finding Nemo. I guess almost all people know this fish as Nemo. They are easy to spot due to their bright colors (though some are darker than the others). Once you find their anemone home, they are quite easy to photography as they will guard it very well. They will resort to intimidation tactics to try and scare you off. If you do not go, they may go inside their home and just peak and then go out to try and scare you again. Such bravado!
Other than fishes, snorkeling sites are often full of corals. Braincorals are the easiest to identify since they look like… brains.
Snorkeling and freediving for fishes is a fun activity. Another fun thing to do is trying to identify the fish species at home. For sure there’ll be more dives for me (just wish there is a better underwater camera for me though).
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!!!