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, July 26, 2010

#77 Break of Dawn

If you let it, your mind can take you beyond what your eyes can see.

I was stalking the dawn on the south-western coast of Cebu, facing east towards this massive mountain range called Mantalogon. The highest peaks on the island are found here, mostly jagged and craggy tops, and nearly a thousand feet above sea level. Pictures I've come across suggest a scene right out of "The Lord of the Rings." I imagined myself at a high enough vantage point, one moist and misty dawn, overlooking an expanse of crag-tops surrounded by the sea below. Dreaming of the possibilities gets me giddy all over! Climbing the Mantalongon in Dalaguete is now on my bucket list. Set your mind free and see where it takes you. Enjoy.

Pixel-peepers: I normally travel with enough GND filters for up to 5 stops of exposure correction, but today's photograph shows what can happen when you're unprepared for the extremes. The brightness range between the sky and the shadows was so wide that to retain the colors in the clouds I had to sacrifice emerging details on the ground. Bracketing exposures for an HDR did come to mind, but hey, life is too short for that!

Where in the world is Dalaguete, Cebu?

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Monday, July 19, 2010

#76 Pristine Paradise

What is a deserted island worth?

We were hopping the islands of Coron in Palawan but the place teemed with more tourists than we wished. Between sharing a strip of sand versus having one all to yourself, I'm all for the latter. A deserted island is just more enchanting. (It's also easier for photography, because no one inadvertently walks into your composition just when you press the trigger.)

On our last day we decided to find such an place, off the beaten track, the equivalent of a road less travelled. This island would be about an hour south of Coron, one among the hundreds of smaller islands sprinkled along the north-eastern Palawan coastline. We found Dicalubuan Island, a.k.a. Banana Island. The warm gentle water and soft white sand was beyond expectation. With only a handful of revelers, the beach was practically our own. And the price? It was a gusty day to be boating near open sea so the ride was rougher than we expected. There were tense moments, but it was well worth the enchantment. Enjoy.

Pixel-peepers: IMO, composition is paramount. To frame your subject floating in a sea of green under a sky bereft of clouds, find something like a strand of branches to fill the blue void. Exposure is only secondary, metering off where color needs to be the most faithful.  And gear is least: a decent camera, a working lens, and a polarizer for saturated colors. (f/8 with 2.8/28mm.)

Where in the world is Dicalubuan Island in Palawan?

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Monday, July 12, 2010

#75 Shrouded in Mist

A faint glow at dawn is a terrible thing to waste.

It was on a chilly January morning... when we peered through a rising veil of fog... in the direction of a distant mountain range. We were in the town of Bontoc in the Mountain Province, where the sky is usually a deep blue.  But today at twilight, the horizon was simply golden! The dawn sky is much like a chameleon. One moment there's a reddish glow somewhere, and then it can be yellow all over. And in the middle of this transformation it is multiple hues of orange.  You just need to remember to look in all directions because each part of the sky can have a different color.

A rising wall of mist, reaching out for an insanely hued sky, set against the backdrop of a layered mountain range. Twilight photographers spend much of their waking hours dreaming of being at the right place and at the right time. This is the stuff of their dreams. Enjoy. 

(Pixel-peepers: Favorite lenses while on safari: a prime wide and a short portrait lens. The wide is for landscapes and the latter for capturing faces from 5 feet away. It's everything I need for 99% of my photography. But for the remaining 1%, a mid-range telephoto is worth the trouble. You see, the sky doesn't explode into hues of orange all at once. It usually starts as a tiny faint glow somewhere on the horizon, exactly when you need a longer lens! Shot with a 2.8/180mm at f/8, GND, gray-balanced for saturation.)

Wait, there's more...

Where in the world is the town of Bontoc in the Mountain Province?

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Monday, July 5, 2010

#74 A River Scene

How far do you have to go to see scenes from 50 years ago?

Outside the town of Baler in Aurora, we were returning from a sunrise shoot when we chanced upon colorful bancas, lined-up on the banks of a river that winds its way to the sea. Having just returned from an early morning catch, the men were still tending their nets, and the women still dividing-up the catch. It was a scene reminiscent of old, when life was simpler, and when the day was done after the harvest is hauled in. Their homes are still made from just nipa and bamboo, set within groves of banana trees, perched along the length a river. If not for their modern clothes and plastic pails, this scene could have been from a half century ago, a treasure of a sight for us shell-shocked urban types. In fact, if you drive out far enough from the major cities today, scenes just like this one still play out every morning. Who knows in another 50 years? Don't miss your chance. Enjoy.

(Pixel-peepers: It was a brief stop, and in my haste I had forgotten to select a more appropriate aperture. The men in the boats are tack-sharp, but the background was blurred by the len's bokeh. A little USM in photoshop helped, somehow. Thank God this is the 21st century!)

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