The two little monster dogs went at it for many minutes. No quarters
were given, and both put up a spirited fight. In the end, there was no
clear winner in the tug-of-war, just an amused observer overwhelmed by
the cuteness overload. :)
Magnus (a white, male Shih Tzu puppy) plays with his sister Vanta
(female, black color) in the late afternoon in my mother's garden. Both
puppies are over 2 months old.
Filmed with a hand held Osmo Action at 1080/239.76p at northern
Philippines on December 21, 2019.
Some full HD footage of Weaver Ants up close. These are called "hantik" in Pilipino and "abuos" in Ilocano.
I had to shoot many of the clips in 240 fps so it's easier for the eye to catch the twitchy movements of these amazing insects.
"Oecophylla smaragdina (common names include weaver ant, green ant, green tree ant, and orange gaster) is a species of arboreal ant found in tropical Asia and Australia. These ants form colonies with multiple nests in trees, each nest being made of leaves stitched together using the silk produced by the ant larvae."
Shooting info - filmed in natural habitat at northern Philippines on October 13, 2019, Sony RX10 IV, Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B tripod, manual exposure in available light.
Music - "Forest of Fear" by Aakash Gandhi and "Clover 3" by Vibe Mountain.
On account of its tiny size (4 inches total length), skittishness, and
the fact that it ranges only in the Philippines, this microbird is
challenging to film well. I got lucky this morning to be able to capture
it in the open, as well as record its high-pitched call.
Red-keeled Flowerpecker (Dicaeum australe, a Philippine endemic)
Habitat - Canopy of forest, edge and flowering trees.
Shooting info – Bued River, La Union, Philippines, October 11, 2019,
Sony RX10 IV, Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B tripod, manual exposure in
This photogenic river winds down from the high Cordilleras to the flat lands along the border of the provinces of La Union and Pangasinan, then ultimately discharges to the South China Sea at San Fabian town.
Nature dictates that flowing water follows the path of least resistance. This perhaps guided the designers and builders of the Kennon Road early last century - the picturesque access to Baguio City was constructed by the side of the Bued River, following it to the mountains like a twin snake. Why the need to level mountains, when you can follow a clear path already carved out by water rampaging seasonally over millions of years?
Here's presenting the river in two ways:
First, during a lightning storm in the early evening.
Shooting info - Brgy. Camp I, Rosario,
La Union, September 30, 2019 at 8:18 pm, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm, ISO 100, 4
sec, f/2.8, manual exposure in available light, near full frame resize to
800 x 533.
Second, covered with a layer of fog early in the morning.
Shooting info - Brgy. Camp I, Rosario,
La Union, October 5, 2019 at 6:53 am, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, f/6.3, manual exposure in available light, near full frame resize to
800 x 533.
Shooting info - Bued River, northern Philippines, August 30, 2019, Sony
RX10 IV, 220 mm (600 mm equivalent), 4K/29.976p capture, manual focus,
manual exposure in available light, Uniqball UBH45 + Manfrotto 455B
This Part II of the
series includes an extremely rare footage (4K or otherwise) of the Pygmy
Flowerpecker (Dicaeum pygmaeum). This bird, found only in the Philippines, is
just about 3 inches in total length from tip of bill to tip of tail. Its tiny
size and skittish behavior make filming it in the wild a very tough job.
There are over 600 species of Philippine birds, and about a
third of these are endemic to our islands. Over 10% of these species are
By filming these magnificent winged creatures in their
natural habitat and sharing the high-resolution footage, I hope that in my own
little way, I can help raise awareness for the protection of their habitat.
Species List in Part II (in order of
1. Pygmy Flowerpecker (Dicaeum
pygmaeum, a Philippine endemic)
2. Red Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica, resident)
3. Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus, resident)
There are over 600 species of Philippine birds, and about a third of
these are endemic to our islands. Over 10% of these species are
By filming these magnificent winged creatures in their natural habitat
and sharing the high-resolution footage, I hope that in my own little way, I can help
raise awareness for the protection of their habitat.
I just discovered an easier way to capture lightning - use the time lapse function of the 7D II to continually do 30-second exposures.
First, I set the aperture (normally wide open, the 16-35's IQ is excellent even at f/4) and ISO to properly expose the scene with a 30 second exposure, before the lightning bolt strikes.
Next, I point the camera to the general direction of the sky where lighting
strikes are active, fine tune the framing for composition, and manually pre-focus on a foreground object in the distance that I wish to be sharp. The deep DOF of the UWA lens should also render the lightning bolt in reasonably good focus.
At this point, I enable the 7D II's time lapse function, then press the shutter button. The 7D II will shoot long exposures non-stop until I turn it off when the lightning activity subsides. I usually set the interval between shots to 2 seconds to give me time to turn off the camera in between frames.
Here's a practice shot using this approach. I'm hoping the lightning display will be over a more photogenic location in the coming nights. Casting a wide net (long 30 second exposures), and doing this continually, should greatly increase the chances of catching a lightning formation at its sweet moment.
Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, June 22, 2019, Canon 7D MII + EF 16-35 f/4 L IS,
16 mm, f/4, ISO 200, 30 sec, manual exposure in available light,
Uniqball UBH45/455B support, cropped to fit 16:9.
It's amazing to see details in garden bugs when motion is slowed down to
between 5% to 20% of real life speed, and lens magnification is near
macro levels. For scale, the tiny bee in the opening scene has a total
length of less than 10 mm.
Shooting info - Bued River, northern Philippines, June 21, 2019, Sony
RX10 IV, using a tripod and ball head, manual exposure in available
When traveling light and wanting to maintain the capability to shoot various subjects, my "go to" gear is the very compact Sony RX10 IV. This allows me to shoot from 24 mm to 600 mm with decent image and video quality.
When shooting lightning though, I still bring out my good, old Canon 5D MIII and the 16-35 f4 IS from the camera bag. The corner-to-corner sharpness of the 16-35 f4 L IS is perfect for this application, while the big fat pixels of the 5D III allow long exposures which are necessary to catch the brief, unpredictable appearance of the subject.
Shooting info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, Philippines, June 20,2019, Canon 5D MIII + EF 16-35 f/4 L IS,
24 mm, f/4, ISO 100, 30 sec, manual exposure in available light,
Uniqball UBH45/455B support, cropped to fit 16:9.
With the start of the rainy season in our islands, freshly grown
vegetation will soon be all over the place, and there will be an
explosion of various forms of life all around. This is the time that
most resident birds will breed, as food becomes plentiful.
This Scaly-Breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) was gathering nesting
materials along the banks of Bued River when it was filmed.
Shooting info - Bued River, northern Philippines, June 16, 2019, Sony
RX10 IV @ 600 mm (equivalent), various aperture settings, 1/250 sec, ISO
200, manual exposure in available light, using a tripod and ball head,
1920/119.88p capture processed to slow-motion clips.
A few clips of butterflies filmed in natural habitat.
Shooting info - Bued River, northern Philippines, June 14, 2019, Sony RX10 IV, hand
held, manual exposure in available light, 1080/119.88p processed to 1920
x 800/23.976p (20% slow motion), cropped to a cinematic 2.4:1 aspect
been trying to get a more detailed moonshot for the past nine years,
but I just couldn't get something much better than the one I captured in
2010 through the polluted skies of Metro Manila. I think the next big
jump in detail for me is when I get my hands on a piece of glass with a
diameter much larger than 143 mm.
So, when I needed a new desktop wallpaper for my 4K display, I had to go
back to a nearly one decade old capture and re-process it to 3840 x
MANILA MOON - MARCH 7, 2010. Observed from Paranaque City, Philippines, on March 7, 2010 (04:57:54 local time),
Canon 7D + 400 2.8 L IS + stacked Canon 2x and Sigma 2x TCs, 1600 mm, f/16, ISO 100, 1/25 sec, contrast detect auto
focus in Live View, 475B/3421 support, remote switch, single RAW capture cropped and processed to 16:9 aspect ratio.
It was the first thunderstorm over the Bued River this end of summer, and this signals the start of my lightning photography season.
It's quite easy to shoot lightning during a thunderstorm at night - I just have to point the camera at a photogenic scene, focus manually, adjust the aperture and ISO for proper exposure, then open the shutter for 30 seconds. Hopefully, a photogenic lightning bolt will materialize within the frame during that period. If nothing interesting happens during the 30 second window, I delete the file and start all over again.
Without an auto trigger or an ND filter for long exposures, it's nearly impossible to shoot lightning during daytime, which was the case during yesterday's thunderstorm. Fortunately, I have a camera that shoots 4K video - this allowed me to film the scene at 30 fps (or 29.97 fps to be exact) for extended periods. The chances of catching a lightning bolt at that frame rate is quite good. The downside is each frame is essentially a heavily compressed 8.3 MP jpeg file, without the processing flexibility of RAW files.
Here are a few frames caught yesterday. I took shelter in our garage and used the wider end of the Sony RX10 IV's zoom lens. All frames were grabbed from 4K clips, processed and downsized to 1920 x 1080. It's interesting to note that most of the lightning flashes happen very quickly, in about 1-2 frames. Combing frame-by-frame through many minutes of footage is a laborious process.
Barangay Taboc (San Juan, La Union) is famous for its pottery industry - various pots, terra cotta stoves and other earthenware are made and sold by the roadside in this place.
This morning, I saw another facet of Taboc's beauty. With the early morning sun providing good illumination from the left, the twin curves of the Manila North Road and the shoreline leading to Poro Point made this seaside village quite photogenic when seen from the air (click on the high-res version below for more detail).
Many nice looking houses are scattered throughout the village, most of these are near the beach. But what particularly catches my eye is the house built on the leveled hilltop.
I'd exchange a month's supply of barako coffee for the privilege of sipping ice-sold San Miguel beer in its yard during sunset. Lucky houseowner, he must've done numerous good deeds in his previous life to be entitled to such a killer view everyday.
info - Brgy. Taboc, San Juan, La Union, May 5, 2019 @ 7:10 am, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.3 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/240 sec, 5 DNG frames merged into a panorama.
This massive panorama was assembled from four 20-MP RAW (DNG) frames taken by the Mavic 2 Pro's Hasselblad L1D-20 camera. While this drone's lens is not as sharp in the corners as my Canon EF
16-35 f4 IS, it's quite competent in the central portion of the frame,
yielding very good detail.
The wide image shows the progress of the construction of the northern terminus of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) as of April 28, 2019. The interchange at the right side is the junction of the Manila North Road (going up) and the Rosario-Pugo Road (going right) which leads to Baguio City via Marcos Highway.
When completed, the TPLEX should drastically reduce my travel time on the rare occasions that I can brave the traffic and visit toxic, almost unbearable Metro Manila. :)
info - Rosario, La Union, April 28, 2019 @ 6:51 am, DJI Mavic 2
Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/40 sec., panorama from four DNG frames.
After shooting the above "plan view," I repositioned the drone to capture a vertical panorama using three DNG images, each one at an oblique angle to the TPLEX and framed on top of one another (with some overlap), using the vertical gimbal adjustment of the camera. The resulting composite gives a more 3D appearance to the elements of the image.
info - Rosario, La Union, April 28, 2019 @ 6:53 am, DJI Mavic 2
Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/120 sec., vertical panorama from three DNG frames.
An 800-foot high hill with steep slopes towers over the Bued River, overlooking the town of Rosario, La Union. On top of this hill, seemingly oblivious to the rapid development of things below, goats graze in the middle of a mango orchard.
One of the goats managed to get out of the enclosure, while the rest are staying within the fence near their shed.
I've long been wondering what is on top of this hill. Thanks to the power of drone photography, I now have an idea of what's happening there.
info - Bued River, Sison, Pangasinan, April 24, 2019, DJI Mavic 2
Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1600 sec., frame grab from a 4K footage resized to 800 x 450.
With its larger sensor, higher MP, AF and adjustable aperture, the Mavic 2 Pro's still image quality is very impressive to me. It's not quite as sharp at the corners as my EF 16-35 f4 IS, but it's way up there in the central portion of the frame.
Here's a couple of still shots taken this morning, as I was familiarizing myself with the drone's controls and features.
info - Bued River Bridge, Rosario, La Union, April 22, 2019, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/4, ISO 100, 1/200 sec., single frame cropped into a 2:1 panorama.