The realm of digital astrophotography used to be exclusive to large-sensor interchangeable lens cameras. But it seems that with the advancement of mobile imaging, smartphones are quickly narrowing the gap. Recently, Asus Philippines invited a few media influencers from tech, lifestyle, photography and travel to try out their new ZenFone 3 line of smartphones. And I must give them credit for choosing Batanes as the destination. There’s no better place to try astrophotography as the province has little light pollution in addition to the stunning landscape. I was handed a ZenFone 3 Laser to play around with during our photo tour and one of our challenges was to capture a galaxy or the night sky. I thought it was a good way for me to assess how far mobile camera imaging has gone by pitting it with the quality of my own DSLR, the Nikon D7100.
If you like shooting landscapes, night skies or even architecture, a tripod is an essential tool for these kind of photography. For beginners in photography, I always stress how important good quality tripods when buying one. Think about it, you have a really costly camera on top of it, would you risk your thousands-of-pesos investment on a flimsy tripod? There are already several trusted brands already and one of them is Manfrotto. For the past few months I have been using the Manfrotto MKC3-P01 Compact Photo Kit. It’s a model that’s been out for quite a while and is leaned as a good starter tripod but still sturdy enough for rugged use.
Filipino mobile brand Starmobile is pushing the boundaries of their mobile imaging with their flagship Starmobile Knight Spectra. It’s a 13MP + 2MP rear Dual-camera phone designed to entice photography enthusiast. I recently had the chance to do a field test of the Starmobile Knight Spectra in my recent travels to see how this flagship spec 5.5” screen dual-camera smartphone performs in the real world. In this review, my focus is on the phone’s imaging capabilities as well as sampling out-of-the-camera images.
The streets were filled with energy of excitement. Of people with painted faces eager to experience the revelry going through the mid-day. A group of performers in their shimmering blue attire dances to the beat under the bearing sun. “Viva Pit Señor!!!” they shout as they raise their hands to the sky. Their festival queen dances gracefully, arching her back incredibly far and deep while raising the Sto Niño to the sky. How she retains her smile through this is a wonder as I try to capture this moment. My DSLR takes a back seat. From my pocket, I pull out the Asus Zenfone Zoom. I like the feel of the leather at the phone’s back cover which also helps with the traction on my hands.
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught”
Late May 2015, I became a part of a group of nature and news photographers to capture images during a photo safari organized by Oceana Philippines. Each of us had our own styles and strengths ensuring we show different facets of the protected seascape, Tañon Strait. For six full days, traveling from Bantayan Islands of Northern Cebu to Dumaguete south of Negros Island, we visited beaches, island hopped, snorkeled, dived, strolled through historic towns, shopped at dry fish markets, went on a river cruise, walked on mangrove boardwalks, stayed a night at a reef station and chased dolphins in the wild. It was an exciting expedition where we were thankful for favorable weather conditions allowing us to easily capture the wonderful scenes during the trip. A set of carefully curated images were printed and became part of a travelling exhibit which includes the World Ocean’s Day exhibit in Libis and toured in parts of Cebu and Dumaguete. Half a year later, we got excited too hear that the planned coffee table book was already out, sooner than expected. The book “Images of Tañon Strait”, is like the culmination of this project.
I have worked with the Dornier/InFlight team for quite a while now and most of the time, the assignments had been really interesting much like the Cebu-Bohol “Escape Into the Wild” and the Laguna Lake Loop “Slice of Art” story. I like working mostly as a photographer with a team comprised of a writer and sometimes the art director as I’m more focused on shooting than interviewing for the story. For this five-day Bicol assignment with InFlight Traveller, I was with writer Monica de Leon and and Art Director Jocas See. We were accompanied by our guide, the Bicolano Man himself, Renato Jao. This assignment was pretty close to me as for the very long time (I think 10 years) I get to go back to my mom’s hometown which is Daraga, Albay. I used to spend summers here when I was a kid and I really like how the places has developed from what I remember. Also in this issue is a feature on one of my favorite resorts in Palawan, Qi Palawan. Check out the spreads below and hopefully you get a copy at the nearest bookstores like Fully Booked and National Bookstore.