Stalking the most beautiful places in the Philippines

Welcome, welcome 'o weary traveler... from where do you cometh? Are you seeking new lands to conquer, perhaps planning a visit to the Philippines? Or are you simply feeling home-sick and hungry for photographs of home? Whatever, feel free to look or share. An adventure awaits.

I try to post new images weekly from my travels across this beautiful land. If you like what you see, please leave a comment or two. Or write me a note, I'd love to hear from where you cometh. Enjoy. Bobby ( Join this group to receive new postcards weekly or become a fan of my Facebook page.

Monday, April 26, 2010

#64 A View from Lignon Hill

Once known for its perfect cone, Mayon is the most active volcano in the country today.

We flew into Legaspi City in Albay and were greeted by the most incredible view of Mayon from the air. Up close, the first thing you realize is how massive this volcano really is.  Its fuming cone and bulging ridges are testament to both its violent origins and its future menace to those who live in its shadow. The perfect cone itself is gone but the scars of past eruptions remain. Do you see the dark trail of scorched earth meandering from the volcano's tip all the way down to the rice fields below?  That was the path of the lava flow. Those among us who are not privy to Mayon’s destructive past marvel at its beauty today.   How anything can be so destructive yet beautiful, that's the paradox of our times. Enjoy.

(Pixel-peepers: Early afternoon light is usually too harsh but the surprisingly three-dimensional look of this photograph can be explained by the presence of side-lighting. Me thinks that huge plume of steam coming out of Mayon acted like a giant reflector, illuminating the landscape with horizontal light, giving it that added sense of depth and enchantment. 28mm at f/8, polarized and gray-balanced. Enjoy.)

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Monday, April 19, 2010

#63 Colors of Summer

Anyone who's been outdoors already know. Summer is here.

We were in the province of Albay, on an island called Cagraray, inside a quaint little resort overlooking the bay of Misibis.  As you can see, the weather couldn't have been better. Just lounging on the beach and staring out at the horizon, I can't help but realize how lucky we Pinoys are: we have over 7,000 islands worth of coastlines to choose from! And when you happen to find one surrounded by shallows that turn emerald green at noon, there is little reason to seek foreign shores. This summer, our local beaches are where you want to be. But Godspeed, life's just too short. Enjoy.

(For the curious: shot handheld, polarizer set at maximum, horizon re-aligned, f/8 with 28mm lens. Basic workflow: gray-balanced, raw conversion, no crops, no selective enhancements, no global color/contrast adjustments.)

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Monday, April 12, 2010

#62 The Desert at Magat

A dune-like landscape along the Magat river? Not!

We drove through the night just to be in the town of Ramon in the province of Isabela at dawn, the site of one of northern Luzon's largest irrigation reservoirs. We knew that the water level would be low because of the El Nino summer, but we didn't expect to see it this low. Do you see all those dune-like hills with striations on their sides? All of them are supposed to be under water. What? Yup, every single one. You see, the maximum water level is at the 193 meter mark.  This photograph shows what the reservoir looks like today, with nearly 40 meters of water missing... an eerie desert where a large lake was supposed to be.

The cyclical El Nino weather pattern is characterized by unusually limited rain, a direct effect of man's excessive load on the planet. Unless it's reversed, what in our generation is known as the Magat dam and reservoir might be called the Magat Desert in the future. 

(Pixel-peepers: the image appears over-sharpened but it isn't. The ground was so dry the thick lake-bottom mud cracked into random tile-like patterns. I am guessing the patterns were of just the right size to cause those artifact-like effects on my digital camera's sensor. Note the floating shack lacks these artifacts. On another note, the light that morning was pretty flat so I attempted a black and white version to see if the soul of the landscape can be better revealed. Not! Enjoy.)

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Monday, April 5, 2010

#61 Burst at Dawn

Every so often, you capture a photograph that will be hard to forget. 

It was five in the morning, and we were somewhere on Cagraray island in the province of Albay. After just 15 minutes of basic instruction we roared out of the parking lot, each on our own ATV's (all-terrain vehicles), speeding towards a mountain viewpoint to catch the sunrise. We've never been on anything that made so much noise, while at the same time vibrating every single bone in our body. Yet, the cool damp wind rushing through our face helped us forget the danger of falling off. We were having too much fun. The sky was bright by the time we arrived at our destination. And on the horizon, behind a row of mountains across a narrow channel, the sun was about to burst forth. I quickly spied a vantage point some 10 feet below where we stood, and carefully slid down a nearby cliff to get there. Another fifteen minutes later, it was done. My catch that morning, including the shot above, was safely stored on my CF card.

So what was so memorable about it? Aside from capturing the sun's fury as it struggled to overcome dark rain clouds? It was taken with a prized lens that I had accidentally dropped while scrambling down that cliff face. Ouch! Lucky for me, it stopped short of a ledge leading to God-knows-where.  It survived with just a nicked aperture ring, a reminder of the price we sometimes pay for a better vantage point. The cost of that lens? A king's ransom. The value of those shots? Priceless. Enjoy.  

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