Archive for November, 2009

Day 61 – My Birthday

Today is my Birthday…. yeah! I decided to put the laptop and camera down and just enjoy the day. Well… almost… I took a couple of photos at Sunset. Its hard to resist with the sunsets here in Boracay.

I’ve also included a couple of quick photos of my apartment and the surrounding grounds in this post.

A beach sand castle with my birthday date on it. Again... photographing sunsets on Aperture Priority just doesn't work for me. So in manual mode I used, ISO 200, 1/160 sec, F10. Zoomed the flash to 70mm with +0.7 FEV triggered off camera with an ST-E2.

We had blue skies all day except for these clouds at sunset. ISO 200, 1/160 sec, F8, 70mm.


My apartment from the front side.

The main swimming pool I swim in nearly everyday.

The waterfall at the swimming pool.

I swan here for an hour or so today...

The grounds around where my apartment is.

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Today I decided it was time to shoot various images from sun rise to sun set. This meant waking up at 4:45am! It was very dark and continued shooting till around 6am. Then it was time to head over to Bolabog beach again later in the morning to see what was going on and then to the top of the island. Then finally back to Bom Bom bar for sunset on the bean bags.

Taken at 5:26am at ISO 400, 30 seconds, F10.

A wider landscape shot. Taken at 5:33am, ISO 160, 15 seconds, F13.

Getting closer to getting some better shots. Taken at 5:43am, ISO 100, 5 seconds, F22.

Finally this HDR image taken at 5:46am. ISO 100, F22. Frame 1: 1/2 second. Frame 2: 1 second. Frame 3: 2 seconds. 1 minute after this shot, it was all over. Not a great sun rise so I'll try again soon...

A boat getting ready to go out on Bolabog beach.

Then I went to Mount Loho... the tallest point on the island. I used my polarising filter to remove the reflections off the leaves. Bolabog beach is in the distance.

Looking 180 degrees the other way you see this view. Lapus-Lapus Beach.

When you get to Mound Loho, you have to climb these stairs.

The Mount Loho welcome sign.

Tonight's sunset. You can see someone parasailing in the distance. Aperture Priority was far to variable so I switched to manual mode. ISO 200, 1/250 sec, F16.

I took this picture from the Bom Bom bar especially for Nick, Brian and Drew. I was sitting on the bean bag on the next table and popped my flash on my table pointing towards the table in front. As flash is day light balanced it didn't look right so I chucked on a 1/2 strength CTO gel to warm up the scene. ISO 200, 1/200 sec, F20 and the flash at -2/3 FEV.

My last frame of the day taken at 5:23pm. ISO 200, 1/160 sec, F11.

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Here is a collection of photos that I’ve taken over the last few days.

I wondered along the beach and I noticed these 3 girls using a Canon 450D to take photos of each other and having a laugh doing so... So I offered to take a photo of them and then said if I could try something different. They were curious and I took a few frames like this one. After about 5 minutes, I continued and had a beer in a bar called Paraw.

The bar at Club Paraw.

Club Paraw early before it got busy.

Live entertainment at the Bom Bom bar.

I like slow exposures with rear curtain flash. But this was perhaps a bit too slow. ISO 800, 1/3 sec, F4.

Sitting on the beach at Bom Bom.

Willy's rock with the Virgin Mary and is collectively referred to as a symbol of Boracay.

A wider shot of Willy's rock.

You can't see the drama in the clouds in the previous image. So this wider shot gives you more idea.

However, I think this shot really shows what's going on in the clouds.

A HDR image of a kararoki bar. I have a few more shots planned for this location.

The Rumba's bar I attend daily. I have all my meals here and perhaps a few beers! 😉 I took this early tonight with 2 flashes with 1/2 CTO gels..

Getting the Rumba's name in the frame.

Again focusing on getting the bar name into the frame.

A wider shot of the Rumba's Bar.

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Day 55 – Kite Boarding

Before I went to the Miss Earth event, I popped down to Bolabog beach to do some more practice in shooting sports action. I do feel I’m improving which I hope this next batch of images show. My framing is getting better. I’m anticipating when to shoot is getting better. And the focusing technique I learnt from my cousin Barry is getting better also…

ISO 400, 1/1000 sec, F3.5, 200mm, +0.7 EV.

ISO 400, 1/1250 sec, F3.5, 200mm, +0.7 EV.

I love this frame! I found out who this guy was today. His name is Ken at Free Style Kite Boarding.

I love the way he's just hanging on waiting to eventually come down to the water.

I met this person today (Day 57). She's letting the air out of her kite in this photo.

ISO 320, 1/1600 sec, F2.8, 200mm, +0.7 EV.

My last frame of the shoot...

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Day 55 – Miss Earth

I was fortunate enough to be in Boracay for the Miss Earth event. However, I was not fortunate enough to get a photographer pass 😦 Mind you, I was competing with Reuters and other news agencies! 😉 I got a spot on the balcony which proved to be okay for most shots with my 200mm lens. With the lighting conditions at the event, you had to have a F2.8 or faster lens. I worked in manual the whole time and mostly shot at ISO 800, 1/160 sec, F2.8. For wider group shots, I shot at F5.6. I later found an ISO 640 combination that worked well enough. I had to be quite careful with my shutter speed even though I was shooting with a monopod.

I was later told that I was seen on the TV broadcast with my camera! 🙂

Here are some pics from the event…

The wider group of contestants in swim suites.

Miss Northern Ireland.

The contestants being selected for the next round. Miss South Africa is in this frame who went to the final 16.

The presenters with some entertainers...

Miss Brazil looking straight at the TV camera!

Miss Earth 2008 (Miss Philippines).

A whole section of the show had entertainers while the judges worked out the next round of contestants.

The entertainment was very good!

I pushed my shutter speed to 1/200 sec for these action sequences.

Miss Northern Ireland made it to the final 8.

Miss Philippines. The crowd of filipinos went wild every time she came on stage!

Miss South Africa. Unfortunately, she did not make it to the final 8.

Miss Bahamas putting on a show of her musical talents.

Miss Brazil won the contest and is now Miss Earth. In this photo, Miss Earth 2008 has just handed over the crown. In second place, Miss Philippines (Miss Air), in third place was Miss Venezuela (Miss Water). In forth place was Miss Spain (Miss Fire).

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In the evening of day 52, I attended the Miss Earth cocktail party and of course my camera came with me! 😉 The first person I saw was Miss South Africa as I was walking to the bar. Said Hello and we ended up chatting for some time. 🙂 When it was time for the contestants to introduce themselves, everybody came out their point-and-shoot camera! Well… I put my 70-200mm lens on and people soon stopped getting in my way! 😉 Long lenses are great sometimes!

The lighting wasn’t that great and I didn’t want my photos to obviously look like they  were flash lit. So I ended up using ISO 800, 1/80 sec, F2.8 and the flash at -0.7 FEV.

My first few images weren’t that great because when the contestants were talking through the microphone giving their “save the world” speech, all I got was wired looking expressions. So I decided to shoot the contestants waiting to come on to the stage area. Nobody was shooting here and I instantly got much better results. And when the girls saw my long lens pointing straight at them, they often did a little pose or smile.

I also had the pleasure to meet with Miss Wales’s family. I spoke with them for quite a while and the evening was a joy.

Tonight (Day 55) is the main event. I’m trying to get a pass to be with the other photographers so wish me luck!

I don't normally do head shots, but I figured this worked. Notice how the -0.7 FEV didn't make the contestant look too obviously flash lit.

Miss England.

Miss Honduras.

Miss Japan.

Miss Korea.

Miss Mexico.

Miss Philippines.

Miss Scotland.

Miss South Africa who is from Durban.

A couple of nights ago I met Miss South Africa's parents.

Miss Thailand.

Close up of Miss Thailand. I used Lightroom's tone split adjustment to get this look.

Of course the drink at a cocktail party! 😉

Yes... its me...

Miss Wales.

Miss Canada

Me with Miss England and Miss Wales. 🙂

The winner of Miss Earth 2008.

Miss South Sudan is one of the tallest women I have ever seen!

Miss Thailand enjoying some of the finger snacks.

It was great to mingle with everybody...

Miss Thailand posing for me...

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In the afternoon, the Miss Earth contestants were wondering about the island… Here are a few frames. I attended the Miss Earth cocktail party in the evening… those images will be in another post.

Miss Venezuela.

Miss Mexico.


Everybody wanted photos of Miss Philippines! See all the mobile phones! 😉


I can't remember which country this contestant represented...

Everybody wanted a photo with Miss Philippines.

I felt a little bit like a pappa razzi!

Not quite Miss Earth... but this is where my orange juice gets made daily!

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Well today… I decided to use the action sports photography techniques that my cousin Barry taught me in Melbourne. Boracay is a major place for kite boarding and wind surfing. The Bolabog beach is perfect because the beach is shallow for a long way out. This means that if you fall off, you can easily get back on.

This is pretty much my first attempt at this sort of photography… so it was more of a practice session and inspect the images afterwards. Sports photography is quite hard and the pros make it look so easy! There’s a lot that you need to look out for and framing is extremely important!

I noticed that the reflections of the water were quite strong and I decided to use my polarising filter to remove the reflections. Wow! You can really see the colour of the water in some of these images!

Let’s have a look then eh…

Bolabog beach full of kite surfing gear!

ISO 200, 1/2000 sec, F2.8.

ISO 200, 1/1250 sec, F2.8.

ISO 200, 1/1600 sec, F2.8, Aperture Priority, +0.3 EV.

ISO 200, 1/1250 sec, F2.8, Aperture Priority, +0.7 EV.

ISO 200, 1/1000 sec, F2.8, Aperture Priority, +0.7 EV.

ISO 250, 1/1600 sec, F3.5, Aperture Priority, +0.7 EV.

ISO 250, 1/1000 sec, F3.5, Aperture Priority, +0.7 EV.

ISO 250, 1/800 sec, F3.5, Aperture Priority, +0.7 EV.

ISO 250, 1/800 sec, F3.5, Aperture Priority, +0.7 EV.

ISO 250, 1/1000 sec, F4, Aperture Priority, +0.7 EV.

I then wondered over the White Beach... Photo to the left...

Photo to the right...

Just look at how the polarising filter brings that colour out!

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It was sad to leave Australia… I had a great time and loved seeing all the family! I woke up at 4am on the last morning and the airport taxi arrived at 5:10am. My journey took me to Sydney (1.5 hrs) and then on to Manila (8 hrs).

My time in Manila was quite stressful! In fact, I nearly came back straight to the UK! Let me explain…

The Philippine peso is a restricted currency. This means that you can only bring in or take out a small amount of cash in/out of the country. The last time I was here, it was a $100US worth in local currency (about 4,500 peso’s). I ended up bringing 4,000 peso’s. The restriction is now 10,000 peso’s which I didn’t know.

Knowing that 4,000 peso’s wont get you very far when traveling, I tried to cash in some of my travelers cheques at the airport. None of the banks and currency exchange places wanted to change them!! This got me a little worried and so I tried the ATM, “Sorry cannot contact your branch”! Fortunately, I had $30 AUS which I changed and that gave me an extra 1,240 pesos.

I decided that maybe the banks were closing soon at the airport and they simply couldn’t be fussed to phone up for the approval codes. So I got a taxi which cost of 500 pesos, checked-in into the hotel, showered and went across the road for a pizza and a beer.

During the night I did start to worry that “what if?” nobody would change my travelers cheques? I only had 4,000 pesos. If I continued to Boracay and still couldn’t change my money into local cash, I might not have enough to get back to Manila’s international airport. So I had to find a way to change cash in Manila before leaving for the airport the following day.

I set myself a time limit that if I could not change some my travelers cheques by 10:30am, I’d have to arrange to go back to the UK. The last place you want to be is in a foreign place like Manila with no money! I tried all the banks within a visible walking distance from the hotel (you don’t want to wonder too far in a place like Manila). None of them would change UK Pound Sterling travelers cheques. They would only do US Dollar cheques! My immediate thought was “travelers cheques suck!”… On my way to the hotel the night before I saw a HSBC bank about 1km down the road. I got the hotel to arrange a “safe” taxi… When I arrived at the bank, I had smiles when I asked to change my travellers cheques! Whew! I cannot describe the relief I had!!! Even the cashier commented that I looked tired! Eish! It was 9:45am.

The HSBC bank would change £300 into local currency which was okay with me. I also drew out £260 at the ATM inside the bank which gave me a total of 42,000 pesos. But now wondering around Manila with that much cash gives you a different feeling! You don’t want to be carrying that much cash either! Gees, what do you do? Carry no cash and have travelers cheques which mean nothing to anybody, or, carry hard currency which makes you a target!

I spoke with a British fellow in the hotel who comes to the Philippines once a month. Last week he was in the south and said it was a very dangerous place down there. For those that don’t know… the South of the philippines is not a safe place for any body! That is where kidnappings happen and there are groups of muslim extremists in the region. Anyway, this chap said last week he had to “change a lot of money” at a money changer in the middle of the street where everybody could see what was going on. He said it was not a pleasant experience! I can only imagine… In fact, this guy was going back down south this week… no way would I be doing that!! Eish!!

Getting to the local airport and onto Boracay was plain sailing as they say. I was much more relieved and when I saw the island from the air… well…. I was very excited to be back! I got to change my money on the island with no problems, paid for the apartment and started settling in…

Having not really eaten properly for 2 days, I had a US imported Angus Steak and a beer! Just what I needed! And the following morning, I had a good breakfast and I’m now starting to relax…

The pics below was my walk to breakfast…

I walk past the pool area from my apartment.

The distance to the beach is about a 30 second walk along this path.

The beach is just ahead...

Right on the beach.... I turn right and walk for a while...

The tourist centre is just on the right. This is where I changed my travellers cheques.

Taking photos of just about anything!

The colour of the sea is exactly how I remembered it 😉

Could you imagine being here? 😉 getting some shade from the sun...

Okay.. back to the walk along the path by the beach front.

Getting close to my breakfast place...

This is where I finally had breakfast 🙂 Rumba's...

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Some Family Portraits

Here are a few family portraits I like… I took these whilst in Australia.

Little Ava going to the pool...

Ava playing within the pool area...

Ava playing in a park nearby...

Ava posing near a tree at sunset.

My brother Cliff with his gardening hat on.

I love Kristian in this photo!

I love this photo also... I've took a few like this. It was hard to choose, but felt the framing of this one was probably the best of the bunch.

Gwen, Kristian & Dylan together...

I was starting to struggle with shutter speed here and had to increase my ISO 😦

This is my favourite I think...

ISO 800, Aperture Priority, +0.3 EV, 1/80 sec, F4.5.

We took quite a few photos at this location.

My last frame of the shoot...

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