Lao Cai province of northern Vietnam borders the Chinese border and is home to a number of different ethnic minorities that have lived in the area for centuries. I came to Vietnam with very few expectations as our time was relatively short and our tickets were bought over six months ago. The original purpose of this trip was a mini-vacation of sorts and out of necessity to leave the Philippines for my visa renewal. We flew into Hanoi and decide to head straight to Lao Cai Province after a couple of days in this fast pace city. Parts of Lao Cai are fairly popular tourist destinations because of the beautiful landscapes and colorful minorities that live there, especially the mountain city of SaPa.
I was doing some research recently and decided to see what the small island of Olango had to offer because of its proximity to Cebu. I knew the island had a bird sanctuary that is a popular birding destination, but I wanted to see what else the island might have to explore. While searching through some photos I noticed one image of a women standing next to a giant pile of starfish. The image was striking to me because I had never seen so many dead starfish before. I started to dig a little deeper and was able to find that one barangay in Olango island is known to export seastars, shells, urchins and sand dollars. I decided to go and have a look because I couldn’t believe that starfish in this amount could be harvested and sold. For what? I was thinking.
I have heard numerous times now of a mountain town here in Cebu where the weather is cooler and vegetable farmers carry large baskets of produce on their heads. I have always had a small interest in going to see what this was all about, but a part of me never thought it would be too interesting – vegetables are really not that exciting. Again, I was reminded of this place last week when my brother-in-law went on a day hike in the area and showed me some pictures of the farmers carrying these large baskets. I decided I should go and visit the small town of Mantalongon and explore how vegetables are harvested.
The town of Donsol in Sorsogon is agreeably more known for the whale sharks that abound in the area. However, it is hard not to notice as well these men scattered out in the water during sundown with their big, wide nets. They are ‘shrimp farmers’ – fishermen collecting shrimp by dragging the net at the bottom of the ocean and sorting through the algae by lifting the huge thing up to their waist. On their backs are plastic containers where they throw the shrimp in. They do this for a few hours, going back and forth, and in one evening, they can harvest one to two kilos of mid-sized shrimp.
I’ve spent the last two days enjoying a unique experience that is becoming more and more popular with both foreigners and locals here in the Philippines. Donsol is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with the largest of fish, the Whale Shark or Butanding in Tagalog. Coming to Donsol is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but because of the short Whale Shark season I have never made it until this year (however, we found out the season here is actually from December to June, not only March and April like we thought). I have heard a lot of good things about how the Whale Sharks have helped this community with tourism and how well it is being managed, from a conservation standpoint.
Winter is officially here and what a great way to start the season…with a lunar eclipse on a clear, cold night. The snow and cold weather has been a nice change for me and I’m looking forward to getting out and enjoying it during the next few days. I have been getting on and off fishing boats for the past six weeks and I finally have a few days off to enjoy the snow and outdoors. I believe some cross country skiing will be first on my list of fun activities. I’ll be heading back out to sea from Dutch Harbor the day after Christmas, which means my time in Alaska is winding down. Well…a couple of more months here and then back to tropical Cebu.
I’m just checking in as I have been moving around for the past couple of weeks. I arrived into Seattle after another boat trip in Alaska over a week ago. It’s been fun exploring the city and spending some time with a good college friend there. I’m now in Daytona, Florida at the Harley Davidson rally for a week of Boogey Lights and the biker folks. I’m hoping to get some nice portraits of the bikers while here. I will be back in Seattle early next week and then heading up to Alaska again for some more time on the ocean.
I’m back in Dutch Harbor after being out at sea for the past month and a half. I have been observing on long-line commercial fishing vessels fishing for Pacific Cod in the Bering sea. It was a long time out and I must say it’s nice to be back on land. I wanted to share some more images from this beautiful part of the world where bald eagles and rainbows can be found on any ordinary day. I had some great shooting days before I left to sea last month. Now the weather in Dutch is getting cold and windy and its hard to stay outside for very long.
I recently returned back from a ten day trip to Mindanao earlier this week. The second half of my trip took me to the southern part of Mindanao, mostly in the Soccsksargen region (This name is an acronym that stands for the region’s four provinces and one of its cities: South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City). It was my first time to travel to this part of the Philippines and I don’t know why I waited so long to visit.
I have been working on an environmental outreach project the past few days in Bayabas, a municipality in Surigao del Sur, Mindanao. I was invited to come here and photograph their mangroves and other coastal vegetation for a local photo exhibit. This public exhibit will be used to help educate residents about the importance of their mangroves and coastal resources.
I recently read Andrew Gibson’s ebook on The Magic of Black and White and got inspired to work on a few images of my own this week. I don’t do too many black and white conversions with my photos, but with some images it really creates a beautiful impact. Andrew’s ebook is a very good read and he gives his straight forward approach to black and white conversion and split toning images. Split toning is something new to me as I usually only add color to my black and white images with Photoshop’s color filters. I like the results of the split toning methods he shows in this ebook.
Wherever I travel I often find myself photographing local markets. I find a great amount of life and energy in markets and I think that’s the main reason I’m drawn to them. The high energy mixed with the variety of people/personalities and colors usually makes local markets a must place for me to photograph when in a new location. Aside from being good photographic locations, I love trying new foods, smelling new smells (and not all are pleasant), and enjoy watching the daily life of people all around me. It still amazes me that to many people these markets are their way of life. This is what they do day in and day out, whether it be selling vegetables or gutting fish. It still humbles me.
I’ve recently signed up for a PhotoShelter Personal Archive account. I have been wanting to do this for some time now and finally made it a point. For the past month I have been uploading images to my new account and adjusting to my newly improved workflow. Only after a month of working with Photoshelter its painful to look back at all the work I used to do on my old website.
The Philippines held national and local elections yesterday and for the first time used automated machines to count the votes. I was able to go to a local elementary school close to my house here in Cebu to see what the scene was like. It’s basically what I thought it would be like and very similar to the presidential election six years ago. It felt like a town fiesta in a way with loud music playing, candidates giving away free food, political fliers all over the streets and people generally in good spirits.
I’ve spent the last week visiting my mom and family on the shoreline of Connecticut. The weather has been great here and the fall colors are entering into their peak. Not only have I enjoyed seeing my family, but I’ve enjoyed shooting in an area which holds a lot of childhood memories to me. I [...]
I have recently been experimenting with some different post-processing techniques and I would like to share two of my images here. Generally, I do not do a lot of post-processing. I want my images to reflect what I saw (capturing the light, mood and subject of the photo) and not have the image look like [...]
Finding the right wedding photographer for your big day is an important part of your wedding and preparation. A wedding photographer will work closely with the bride and groom before and especially during the wedding day. For this reason, it’s important to feel comfortable and confident with your photographer so he/she can capture your special [...]
This morning I was called out of the house to look at a rainbow. To my surprise it was a circular rainbow wrapping around the sun. This was the first time I have ever seen this and so I took some pictures and did a little research. Apparently, this phenomenon is called a sundog. These [...]
(Update 2012: I have a newer tutorial on editing underwater photos which can be seen on Light Stalking’s website) This is short tutorial to show you how I make quick edits to some of my underwater photos. Most underwater pictures will have a green or cyan color cast that needs to be removed and light/detail [...]