This post has been in my saved drafts for a long time and only now do I get to publish it. It shows Ellidel under the sea in Fortune Island. This is one of the deeper dives we’ve been to (around 8m) and probably second only to El Nido. For scuba diving and experienced freedivers, 8m is shallow but for us, it is already lung-busting.
Underwater photos are nice to look at but there are problems with color. In most cases, either the water is too blue or too green or a combination of both. This can be corrected by using colored filters on lenses (like magenta or red) such as the Polar Pro for GoPro. I don’t have a GoPro and I don’t have these filters either. Back then I used a Panasonic TS3 (lost the charger), then the Olympus TG2 (battery door opened and seawater flooded inside) then the Panasonic TS3 again (after buying a compatible charger). Unfortunately, the Panasonic stopped functioning so I’m now underwater cameraless.
Anyway, my point is that I didn’t use a colored filter nor do these camera record RAW files. But… the color can still be corrected using Lightroom (or Photoshop or other photo editing applications). Below is one of my pictures where a change in white balance and some other Lightroom sliders hugely improved the picture.
Other people look at some of my underwater photos and say that my camera is nice (really irksome but I’m getting desensitized) as it can take clear underwater pictures. Well, it’s not the camera, it’s also the photographer and in many cases, the post-processing too.
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).
This is my very first time to post a video here!
This was taken last weekend on our trip to Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan. There is a sanctuary for giant clams (known in Tagalog as taklobo) there are probably hundreds of them.
Please forgive the jerky motion and lack of resolution, clarity, etc. of the video. This was taken using Olympus TG2, with correction in exposure, contrast and vibrance in Lightroom and then spliced together using Windows Movie Maker.
Last weekend, my parents, my sister and I went to Boracay. This is our second time this year in Boracay. There were only 4 of us, however, compared to our first time there where the whole family (including my brother and his family).
As my parents are already old (my father’s already 78 and my mother 63), we can no longer do most of the water activities there. Instead, we rented a boat and went around the island. We just stopped in one area, the snorkeling site and had our fill of the wonderful fishes there.
With me of course is my Olympus TG2 camera. An underwater camera I’ve been using for about a year now (after I lost the charger of my Panasonic TS5 and couldn’t find a replacement). I’m quite ok with this camera. It has a wide view lens (25mm equivalent) which is wonderful for taking pictures underwater. It also has a nice 2.0 aperture (at the wide end) resulting in pictures taken at lower ISO. However, I dislike that it doesn’t record raw files (limiting the post processing that can be done). This lack of raw recording makes it very difficult to correct white balance should I or the camera get it wrong.
Anyway, onto the pictures of fishes, fishes, fishes.
And lastly, me! This year has been an amazing year for me as I finally learned how to be in the sea without a lifevest. I just need to have a snorkel, mask and fins and I can spend time in the sea, even in deeper waters (though without them, I’d surely drown). I’m also just learning to freedive (albeit at the very beginning stage still).
September 11, 2013
Our main purpose for our travel to Cebu really is to swim and see the whale sharks, the biggest fish and is locally known as butanding.
The butandings are regularly sighted in Oslob, Cebu, a coastal town 3.5 hours south of Cebu City. We arrivedat our hotel in Oslob the previous day and had to wake up early to meet the gentle giants. The butandings regularly go near the shore of Brgy. Tan-awan every morning as the fishermen (who have become boatmen for tourists) feed them small shrimps. The cost of meeting the butanding is Php500 per person. Before our boat went to the feeding area to meet the butanding, we were required by local ordinance to attend a very brief orientation conducted by the local government or DENR. The lady basically said: no flash photography, do not touch the whale sharks, stay 4 meters away from the butandings and do not wear sunblock and other skin products (those who did were advised to wash it off at the shower area). After that, it was less then 5 minutes trip to the feeding area.
Meeting the Butandings
Meeting the whale sharks is really a wonderful experience. The butandings we met were all juvenile but their size is already massive (according to the boatmen, the adults come a little later in the morning). They were accustomed to the fishermen feeding them and to the people surrounding them that they seem oblivious to humans and just swimming to and fro the boat where small shrimps are being thrown in the water.
With the boats so close together and with several people snorkeling, diving and swimming, it is impossible to stay 4 meters away from any of whale sharks. At one point, a whale sharks just passed in front of me (the picture of the eye of the fish below) and one brushed against Elaine as she swimming.
As I said, they are really giant despite their large size that I did not fear being harmed by them but fear from drowning (even though I wear a life vest) or just dropping my camera.
I took this next two pictures while I was holding on to the boat and the whale shark was passing in front of me, so close I can touch it if I just extend my hand (of course, per briefing, it is not allowed to touch them so why break the rules?).
Being there, each of us had to take our solo pictures with the butandings…
Elaine, an applicant for an organization of skin divers, is more fearless in swimming and diving away from the boat and thus offered better opportunities to be photographed well with the giants.
That’s me, keeping close to the boat. (left), Eman, giving the thumbs up sign for the experience. (right)
Here are some more pics of the whale shark.
A whale shark swimming, with a smaller fish below it –>
A butanding waiting for the small shrimp being fed by the boatmen.
After our 30-40 minutes of swimming with the whale sharks is up, it was time for us to go back to our hotel, tidy up and rush back to Cebu City for our flight back home. It was such a short time but it is really wonderful and will stay with us, probably for the rest of our lives.