This is another picture of my mother (who I love) taken with Olympus EM5 and 45mm f1.8 (love love this little gem of a lens).
Third time in Calaguas. Though the beauty of the island and the beach seemed to remain the same, I felt not inspired to shoot pictures. In fact, I shot only about 145 photos and a good number of those are bursts shots so that brings the total to about a hundred or so – very small number considering that on some location I could take about 500 (even more than a thousand frames in Batanes).
Strewn straw hat.
A straw beach hat strewn in the beach. To achieve this look (contrast between hat and the sand), I used a Lightroom B&W filter (blue high contrast filter) as the sand is really white (but slightly orangey) and doesn’t contrast much to the white hat in terms of plain luminance.
Mahabang Buhangin (Long Sand) Beach in Calaguas is a beach for camping. In fact, until less than a year ago, there wasn’t a resort or room located here. Today, despite the presence of a resort, most people who go to the island still camp (partly because the hotel is expensive).
One of the very few boat pictures I took in Calaguas. It’s not that the scene isn’t beautiful. It’s just that over the course of more than a year of travelling to different beaches, I’ve taken hundreds, if not thousands of pictures of boats on the sea that I don’t find it exciting anymore (the rough boat ride is another level of excitement/anxiety though).
These are the new resort cottages in the island. They are located on the left side of the beach (if approaching from the sea). They look nice but somehow spoils the whole pristine beach thing that Calaguas has. Also, they are expensive (someone told me the room costs Php6000 per night for a room for 6 people and Php4000 per night for a room for 4 people).
I’m sure other resorts will follow in Calaguas and I’m really glad that I was able to visit the island (twice!) before development started.
A sand sculpture I found while walking on the beach (with torn styrofoam cup for eyes, nose and mouth). While most people would think of Olaf (that lovable snowman from Frozen), the first thing that came to my mind was the Venus figurines from prehistoric times, particularly the Venus of Willendorf, with their more than ample bosoms and prominent hips.
One of those pictures that is full of negative space. This one was part of a much larger picture involving an out of focus sea, beach and sky. The horizon was much too tilted for correction (the leaf would have been cut) so I just removed everything from the picture except for the leaf and the sand. A good picture to be used for one of those inspiration quotes.
One of the few pictures of strangers I took in the beach, this picture was shot with a 28mm equivalent lens and I had to get closer to the kids (cropped most of the empty sand below the pic).
That’s most of my pics in Calaguas. As I said, I wasn’t much inspired to shoot. Perhaps it’s the ennui of having seen it before, the not so great light (either sun too strong or sky too monotonously gray during our first day). I brought my new fisheye lens but took less than 15 pics with it. Maybe next time I’ll just bring a phone (Samsung Note 3) so I’ll be more inspired to take pictures (limitations of the camera and lens is really something).
Last weekend, we went to Calaguas Island (known locally as Tinaga group of islands). It was the third time there for most of us, first time for some. It was also the first time that we’ve experienced huge waves so much so that on going to the island, we were already drenched barely 15 minutes from leaving shore from waves crashing to our small boat. Waves in Calaguas (in Mahabang Buhangin beach) aren’t any different and the boat cannot go very near the shore so we have to go down in waist deep water.
This picture was taken in late afternoon. The sun gloriously peeked from a group of clouds casting rays of sunshine on the sea. I took about five photos of the rays of sunlight but this is my absolute favorite.
As I was about to take a picture of the sun and its rays, I spotted a group of boys playing in the beach just when a huge wave crashed on them. I guess it was a split second moment and I’m so glad that I was able to catch it with my camera. The camera was set to expose for the sun and its rays hence the boys and the crashing waves were several stops underexposed. Good thing it was all set to ISO 200 and I was able to correct exposure in post (though noise is visible on the boys’ bodies).
Firedancers have been a fixture and institution in Boracay, much like the blue-sail boats, banana boats and all-you-can-eat buffets. There are several groups of firedancers in Boracay (some performing in the customer-only bars and restos) but the most famous group perhaps is the Boracay Phoenix Firedancers. They are a group of gays (some in women’s costume others in men’s costume) perform in the beach in station 2.
I’ve seen them before when I first went to Boracay but the amazement didn’t go away when I saw them again. They are a group I’d happily fork over money even if it is not required (some members go around with a basket asking voluntarily for money. I’m not a too keen on giving money to public performers but they are too good and amazing not to give money to.
Another photo taken in Boracay. This is my father frolicking in the beach.
I overexposed this photo intentionally (I wanted to use f1.8) and thought I’d do exposure correction in post. However, I did not know that I accidentally set the camera to JPEG only by fumbling through the flash setting the previous night. I could not recover the correct color of the highlights! (hence, the conversion to black and white).
Another activity you can do in the island paradise of Boracay – paddlesurfing (with a paraglider way way back in the background).
Another picture taken in Boracay. This one is of a couple kissing in the beach. Had to remove some distractions (people) from the picture.
Last weekend, my family and I went to Boracay. This is my second time there but the first time I truly appreciated its beauty (no algae on the water).
January 31 this year is the beginning of the Chinese lunar calendar and the start of the Year of the Wooden Horse.
The Philippines, being one of the countries near China and having a long history of ties with the Chinese, has a significant population of Chinese and their descendants. In fact, the oldest chinatown in the world is found in Manila. Chinatown is an area that covers Binondo and parts of neighboring districts of the city of Manila. It’s main street, Ongpin Street, extends from Sta. Cruz Church to Binondo Church.
A jampacked Ongpin St.
January 31 was declared a national holiday here in the Philippines (due to large number of Chinese descendants. Our President, Noynoy Aquino, is in fact of Chinese descent). On that day, I and my friends, Eman, Ellidel and Myra, went to chinatown to experience the festive mood there. I knew there were be many people in Binondo but I did not expect it to be full of people. Red is the dominant color of the day – Chinese lanterns hanging from houses, buildings and streets and people dressed in red for good luck.
Binondo is very much alive on that day. Though a holiday, shops are open (to take advantage of the huge number of people visiting the area). Restaurants are full and stores are well-staffed, particularly those selling lucky charms.
There are several groups of dragon and lion dancers going around the streets and doing their performances in front of stores and entering the stores to bring luck. Each store owner chooses a dragon/lion dance company and pay them to do the ritual in their stores.
A long green-colored dragon.
Dragon dancers carry sticks which hold the head, tail and sections of the body of the dragon, which looks like a long shiny serpent. Length of the dragon varies with each company (with one very very long red dragon during the parade). The dragon is chasing a ball (pearl) representing a continuing search for knowledge. Each company also has two lions of different colors. Lions are just two dancers each (one for the head and one for the body).
Based on what I’ve seen, the dragon and lion dancers will perform outside the store, circling and circling around the store to the beat of drums and metal gongs/cymbals. They will then enter and exit the store a couple of times. The store owner or his staff will then light a very long firecracker (really hurts the ear being near the firecrackers). The two lions will then dance around the firecrackers, even playing with it. To my eyes, they look like my two shih tzu dogs playing. After the firecracker is spent, the dragon and lions will enter the store for one last time before moving on to the next store.
A man laying down a long firecracker * Eman posing with a red dragon.
There is a community parade (called Solidarity Parade). This is a long parade featuring restaurants, schools, products or companies within the chinatown. There are also floats carrying winners of the Mr. and Ms. Chinatown Pageant. The runners up ride in kalesa, horse-drawn carriages decorated with flowers while the grand winners ride on top of a truck with Manila Mayor Erap Estrada and Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno. Also in the parade is the longest dragon I’ve seen (carried by probably 30 men).
Despite having to elbow our way through the crowd (both Chinese-Filipinos, pure Filipinos and a considerable number of foreigners) and having our feet and legs ache due to long walks, we had a very good time. I even got to buy a mah jongg set that I’ve been planning to buy for a long time. It was great and I’ll definitely consider going back here in the future chinese new year.
To our Filipino Chinese countrymen and to all Chinese everywhere:
Kung Hei Fat Choi! (Gong Xi Fa Cai!)
Yesterday was Chinese New Year and me and my friends went to Binondo (center of Manila Chinatown, the oldest chinatown in the world).
This picture was taken in one of the deadend streets of Binondo. Beside the firestation (where the street ends) is an unfinished dragon (only head was finished). We each took a picture there and then the caretaker (possibly mother or yaya) of a little girl had her pose near it. This one was taken while she was in between smiles. Very very nice.
The photo was taken using OM-D EM5 and the 45mm 1.8 lens. That lens is really really nice – small, sharp and not very expensive as far as lenses go. If the new Olympus 25mm is just like the 45mm, I’m sure to buy it when it becomes available.