I’ve not posted in quite a while and I’ve also not climbed in almost a year. Luckily, two weekends ago, I got to exercise my legs and climbed a relatively benign mountain trail of Gulugod Baboy (Pig’s Spine) to see this beautiful scenery.
A woodworker in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. He’s from Paete, Laguna (a town famous for its woodcarvers) and claims to have been the protege of Carlos “Botong” Francisco (a Filipino national artist).
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.
There is a challenge ongoing in facebook to post 5 black and white photos over 5 consecutive days. Basically, you get nominated and post 1 B&W photo per day for 5 consecutive days. I was nominated and though I don’t enjoy these types of facebook challenges, this one cost me nothing and I get to see some works that are buried in my other facebook albums.
Now I like black and white. I believe that without the distraction of color, the quality of light and composition becomes much more important than ever. Also, some high ISO shots where there are color noise looks much better (and cleaner) in black and white. However, I know that not all photos are meant to be black and white. I shoot and process mostly color and convert only to black and white when the image screams to be presented in black and white (great light or great tonal range or too many distracting color). In short, color is my default and black and white photos are somewhat rare and special.
Now I’ve made several black and white photos over the three years I’ve been serious about photography. However, for this challenge, I don’t want to present just a black and white image. It has to be a special B&W image and in the posts, I explained why I think they look better in B&W and the post processing I did to make them that way. Without further ado, here are my five picks for this challenge.
This low-key black and white photo of a beautiful little girl was shot about a year ago in a wedding. I know it wasn’t the first b&w photo I made but maybe the first one I’m satisfied with. I’ve always been amazed by high-contrast and low-key b&w and after use of Lightroom’s graduated filters, contrast and sharpening sliders and several brushes, this is the first one I made that I’m proud of. (Canon 7d+15-85 IS)
Just in time for Halloween, this photo is of a good friend (Elaine) playing the roll of Sadako. Taken at bright afternoon sunlight in Fort Santiago, this is heavily darkened with clarity added to heighten the atmosphere of horror (though she is smiling). (Canon 7d+15-85 IS)
One of my most favorite shot of Batanes. This was taken in Valugan Beach on the main island of Batan. The beach has big boulders and strong waves which makes swimming next to impossible. In the picture is Ellidel taking a picture. After moving several sliders and even messing with brushes and levels in Lightroom, finally got the picture to my liking. (Canon 7d+15-85 IS)
A very simple black and white photo of boatmen and their dog while docked. No fancy post processing, just simple cropping, shadow, highlight, contrast and clarity adjustments. Some pictures are just meant for b&w. (Fuji XE1+18-55)
Another very simple vignette. This one of the cashier/staff of Casa Rap. Instead of a clutter of colors from the cluttered surroundings, it’s just rich grays with some blacks. (Canon EOS M+22mm)
I believe I completely nailed the challenge (except for a gap in daily posting due to my coming home to the province for the November 1 holiday). I enjoyed it so much that I’m thinking of doing additional shares of some more images from my previous albums – pictures buried among tens or hundreds of photos in albums, those that deserve better attention than they got.
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.
Another black and white photo taken in Boracay. For this one, I removed some people in the upper right side using Lightroom’s clone and heal stamps.
A recent photo I took in Boracay. She’s wearing yellow (though the photo is in black and white). This one was taken with the Fuji XE1 and the 18-55 kit lens. To my eyes, the Fuji files are very very good in black and white but much too saturated in color. Also, the photos seem to be not very sharp, even compared to the Olympus EM5 with its less superior 12-50mm kit lens. This could perhaps be due to smearing as a result of the x-trans sensor whose output is not yet properly demosaiced by Adobe.
This picture of a kid was taken in Jomalig, Quezon using my Canon 7D and Tamron 70-300mm VC at 300mm. I kinda like the expression on the child’s face.
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).