My friend, Felix, and I went to Baguio City last month just to tour this city. I’ve been there before and though I don’t find it particularly to my taste (I like beaches and sea more), he’s never gone around the city (and he’s not a water person).
Baguio is a city situated in the mountainous part of Luzon and due to its high altitude, climate is much cooler than the other towns and cities. It is also for this reason that it is a favorite haunt of those who want to escape the heat of Metro Manila. It is also famous for its flowers (celebrated annually with the Flower Festival).
We arrived early and after breakfast, we went around Burnham Park. This park is designed to have lots of flowers and since we were early, I was able to capture dew drops on the flowers.
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!!!
Another photo I took on our photowalk in UP.
A picture of sunflower which I took in UP. This was taken with an Olympus EM5 with the 12-50mm kit lens and processed with Lightroom 5 and Color Efex (photo stylizer).
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).
Last weekend, as advance birthday celebration, my family and I went to Jed’s Island Resort in Bulacan. I’ve been there before so I wasn’t really excited to photograph the area but I forced myself to go around and take pictures just so I can see what my fisheye can do.
The lens, like all other Samyang offerings (excluding the super telephotos) is relatively affordable, nicely constructed and sharp! It is a small lens and fits nicely on my Olympus EM5. Like all other Samyang lenses (except for Nikon versions), this lens doesn’t have electronic contacts and changing aperture is done via the lens aperture ring.
My major concern with this lens is the very small size – it is good for portability but when shooting, I’ve accidentally included my fingers in the shot (as shown in the picture below). With the 8mm fisheye for DSLR, the lens is much bigger and longer which makes operating both the aperture ring and focus ring a non-issue. With the short barrel of this lens, the aperture and focus rings feel cramped.
Because of the 180 degree diagonal angle of its field of view and the very short lens, pressing the shutter button while holding the lens is a no-go. There’s a very large chance that a portion of your finger or palm will be included in the corners of the picture.
Like all ultrawide angle, there are lots of times that the sun or other strong source of light will be in the picture. The lens exhibits flare in two forms, one as either a circular of hexagonal purple color moving away from the source of light (see picture below) or as tiny rays of rainbow light (see this).
When I used this lens on my infrared coverted Panasonic GX1 and shot with the sun in the frame, the picture has several blobs of light opposite the sun. I am not sure if this behavior will be the same in visible light (I have not produced the same amount of flare when using camera for regular visible light) or if this is confined to the infrared spectrum of light.
All in all, I am quite content with the lens. It is cheap and sharp and can be used when you just want to have fun.
As promised, here are some shots in Calaguas taken using Samyang 7.5mm. I didn’t take too many shots and here are the only (taken using the lens) worth posting.
The lens can be used as a substitute for a rectilinear ultrawide lens in some instances. To do this, it requires placing the horizon in the middle of the frame and avoiding straight lines. For this shot, horizon was in the middle (I made some cropping in the post-processing).
I have more pictures taken using the fisheye in a themed waterpark.
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).