A group of condominium buildings in Bonifacio Global City. Taken during our photowalk in American Cemetery.
Plants and flowers are probably my most favorite things to photograph. They have different colors and textures and usually results in beautiful bokeh due to the close up nature of the pictures. Even though I take pictures mostly on my outdoor trips, a photowalk in a park is most welcome as there are some beautiful plants that are not found on my outdoor trips.
Sculptures and Artworks
Parks are a good place to find sculptures. The bad thing is that many of the sculptures “littering” the parks are the “modern” variety and not the good kind – too abstract and poorly made. Luckily, those that we found in Fort Santiago are nice. More fortunately, there is an ongoing exhibition of some sculptures, including a multimedia piece of astronaut looking sculptures with TV for heads (not very original I know) with a short film being shown in the TV heads.
Sculptures in Luneta – a depiction of the seeds of revolution, “Soul Waves”, and something like Brothers-in-Arms
Reflections is a very common photographic technique. I find that reflections are best found on calm waters, especially when the water is dark or very shallow and the sun is bright. In Intramuros, there is a small waterway between the main park and the Fort itself. This reflects the walls as well as the tall buildings around the park.
Below is a picture of puppets (a lion and a bird) which are controlled like a marionette. They were being sold by a not-so-nice man (he was not very nice to Elaine who was taking his picture). The other picture is a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) inside the park. I believe that this is not how kalesas in the past here looked like and I guess the reason they used this design is that it accommodates more people than the traditional kalesa designs.
The good thing about a photowalk in the city is you can photograph buildings. In Luneta and Intramuros, there are interesting buildings – buildings that are different from the skyscrapers of Makati.
Windows are always interesting. They provide an amazing contrast between light and dark and the different and mostly busy outside and serene inside. Sometimes, windows can just be interesting for the window itself.
Young people having a date on the wall of Intramuros
November 11, 2012
As a tourist spot and as a place with schools, commercial establishments and houses, Intramuros is full of people. Some are students, some are visitors (both locals and foreigners) and some are people living or working in the area. Because of this, the area is a very good spot for street photography.
For me, however, street photography is a fuzzy concept and the few pictures I take of strangers I would just call pictures of people rather than street photography. (I once posted two of these pics in a street photography group in facebook and a member told me that though the pictures are good, they are not street photography since they lack a story).
Manila Cathedral is a basilica inside Intramuros. It is the seat of the Catholic church in the Philippines where the Archbishop of Manila (the highest ranking Catholic official) in the country presides).
The church is modeled after European churches and is a beautiful edifice. It is the choice of many celebrities and powerful and rich people for celebrating special moments like weddings and baptisms (with a corresponding high fee and probably full schedule).
A special tidbit of information is that before being transferred to the Rizal monument, kilometer zero (KM 0) was previously measured from the cross on the church steeple. That’s how important this basilica is.
Last Sunday, we went to Intramuros for another photowalk and we took pictures of the exterior of the church. It was closed for renovations and I have yet to take a picture inside the church.
Manila Cathedral’s dome above the altar (left) * The arch above the church’s main door (above) * The church’s steeple (right) * The right side of the church.
The church is full of beautiful details that can be photographed given ample time and right camera/lens combination.
The church’s main door has several panels depicting various scenes, one of which is probably the first mass held in the Philippines in Limasawa, Cebu (below left). Other scenes could probably be from the Bible or other milestones in the history of Christianity. I think there are 8 or more panels on the doors but I was not able to photograph them all.
I wish to return to Manila Cathedral when the renovation is finished and I hope that it is now open for photographers. What wonders could the inside of this basilica hold.
On a side note, the Catholic Church in the Philippines is opposing the Reproductive Health Bill and is using the pulpit as a platform for voicing this opposition. The church here seems to be clinging to the antiquated notion of the Middle Ages.
For non-Filipino readers, the Philippines is currently one of the few countries in the world without divorce and the recent proposal to its (divorce) legalization would definitely have the priests spewing diatribes from the pulpit. The catholic church sure has many beautiful churches but I think it’s high time that it move forward to the 21st century.
This is a shot of a plant I took in Fort Santiago. Just one picture processed differently: one is light and another in a more moody and darker lighting with much higher contrast.
I like this plant as the leaves has very nice texture and photographs beautifully.
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.
After our visit to Paco Park, we got hungry and went to Binondo (Chinatown) for lunch. We ate at a Chinese fastfood Wai Ying (didn’t know that they have more than one location).
After that we went to Divisoria and bought some folding spoon, fork and knife (for outdoors). It was really really hot. We decided to go to Fort Santiago (in Intramuros).
On the Fort Santiago tram (shot by Felix).
I’ve been to Fort Santiago before (on my first photowalk with Felix). I think I’ve shot most of the details in Fort Santiago so this time, I shot fewer of them.
Jose Rizal in prison, the gate and detail of the cornerstone.
The Pasig River as seen from side of the wall.
One of my favorite subjects – plants and flowers. The lilies are below the bridge on the way to the gate. The wild grass flowers are located on the wall and they are backlit by the low-angled sun.
Rizal’s sculptures on display in the museum.
Rizal is a true Renaissance man, good in many disciplines. I realize however that good as he was, he’s not as good as those who are truly dedicated to one discipline (his sculptures are not as good as Rodin, for instance).
Rizal’s “cookset” * a representation of him writing in prison * his lantern (the one in which he slipped the copy of his “Mi Ultimo Adios”.
Other photo opportunities are provided by the people working in or visiting the place.
Tiny reaching for the stars * Jason photographing some fallen flowers/leaves
Me kneeling before Father Stone (shot by Felix) * Jason being chummy with Father Stone.
Angry-looking Oyet * Resting after a full day.
A couple of photos that became my Facebook cover photo for a while:
April 22, 2012
Last Sunday, we went on a Manila daytrip. The original plan only includes Paco Park (a place I’ve wanted to visit for quite sometime) then lunch at Binondo. We met in Jollibee Times Plaza in UN Ave. cor. Taft [though one doesn’t know how to follow directions 🙂 ].
Tiny behind the circular chapel (left).
Tiny, Jason and Oyet in front of the gate to the inner circle (right).
Tiny, pretty woman walking down the cemetery (left).
Friends who attended the Sunday mass inside the small chapel (right).
Paco Park is an old municipal cemetery during the Spanish colonial period. It consists of two circular walls and two or three adjoining smaller circles/half-circles. The dead were buried inside the walls (niches) one on top of another. However, all remains were removed from their tombs and placed somewhere. Jose Rizal, Philippines national hero, was briefly and secretly buried here before being moved to another location. Padre Burgos, Gomez and Zamora (three Filipino priests martyred during the Spanish times) were also buried here. There is also a small circular fountain in the middle (probably a later addition to the place).
Right now, the cemetery is now a park that is popular venue for weddings. (When we went there, there were preparations for a wedding that afternoon).
White leaves on a tree with a caterpillar (right).
In terms of photographic subject, there aren’t many except for the place, some plants and white doves (probably from weddings). I guess the place will be an ideal place for a prenuptial photoshoot (if the couple wouldn’t mind the slightly morbid theme).
This is the first time I tried to capture several shots of bird in motion and upclose. Though my camera body can keep up with autofocus (I think 7D will do), the lens attached (18-135mm kit lens) cannot keep with birds in flight, hence, most of flight shots were blurry.
After we got tired of Paco Park, we then rode a taxi to Binondo to eat lunch.
(to be continued in part 2).