Sunday, July 14, 2019

It's more fun at Baroro Beach

After a grueling last semester of his fifth and final year at UP-Diliman, this iskolar ng bayan enjoys the waves at La Union, northern Philippines.

Filmed at Baroro Beach, La Union, on July 13, 2019, with a Mavic Air.

Music – “End of Summer” by The 126ers



Monday, June 24, 2019

Easier way to capture lightning

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.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Trying time lapse for the first time

Some sample time lapse clips in 4K captured at Bued River, northern Philippines - Canon 7D MII, EF 16-35 f4 IS, EF 70-200 f/2.8 IS II, manual exposure in available light, tripod/ball head. 

Music - "Old Vienna" by Endless Love


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Slow Life in the Garden

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 light. 

Music - "All Hail the Queen" by Dan Lebowitz


Lightning with the good, old 5D MIII

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.

Extreme Zoom at a Dragonfly

A short footage of a dragonfly taken with an RX10 IV. 

Shooting info - filmed in natural habitat under available light at Bued River, northern Philippines, June 20, 2019. 

Music - "Wishful Thinking" by Dan Lebowitz


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Scaly-Breasted Munia Gathers Nesting Materials

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. 

Music - "Tango de la Noche" by Wayne Jones



Thursday, June 13, 2019

Butterflies in Slow Motion

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 ratio. 

Music - "One Step Closer" by Aakash Gandhi


Bugs in Slow Motion

A short footage of garden bugs filmed in natural habitat at 1080/119.88p. 

Shooting info - Bued River, northern Philippines, June 13, 2019, Sony RX10 IV, hand held, 24 mm, various aperture values, ISO 200, 1/250 sec, manual exposure, manual focus, stabilization on.


Sunday, June 2, 2019

An old moonshot now in 4K

I've 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 2160.


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.


A closer view of  Montes Apenninus cropped from the 3840 x 2160 image.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Catching lightning bolts with 30 fps @ 8 MP bursts (RX10 IV)

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.

1920 x 1080 version

1920 x 1080 version

1920 x 1080 version

1920 x 1080 version

A composite of three frames:

1920 x 1080 version



And a short 4K footage from which one of the frames above was grabbed:


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Barangay Taboc in good morning light

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.

Shooting  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.




Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Cordilleras in golden light

With the setting sun beautifully casting some golden light on the Cordillera mountains, I sent up the Mavic 2 Pro to try to capture a super wide panorama late this afternoon of Labor Day.

Kennon Road starts at the lower left corner, as it runs along the banks of Bued River on its way up to Baguio City.


Shooting  info -  Rosario, La Union, May 1, 2019 @ 5:45 pm, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/120 sec., manual exposure in available light, stitched from four DNG frames.



Saturday, April 27, 2019

The northern terminus of the TPLEX as of April 28, 2019

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. :)


Shooting  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.

   10,000 x 3,000 version


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.


Shooting  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.



Thursday, April 25, 2019

How Premium Aggregates Are Made

A short feature on the quarrying and crushing of river rock into premium aggregates for use in high-performance concrete. 

All footage were filmed on location at the quarry and aggregates plant of Ten-Four Readymix Concrete, Inc. along Bued River, Northern Philippines. 

Shot in available natural light, using a Mavic 2 Pro, 4k/29.97p capture processed into 1080/29.97p.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The goat shed on top of the hill

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.


Shooting  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.   

Monday, April 22, 2019

First still photos with the Mavic 2 Pro

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.

Shooting  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.




Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, April 22, 2019, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 10.30 mm (28 mm equiv.), f/4, ISO 100, 1/500 sec., two frames merged into a 2:1 panorama.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

From River Rock To Concrete

A short feature on the aggregates crushing and readymix concrete production of Ten-Four Readymix Concrete, Inc. - the premier producer of premium aggregates and high-performance concrete in Northern Luzon, Philippines. 

 All footage were captured with a DJI Mavic Air drone at 4K/29.97p, then processed to a 1920 x 800 / 29.97p video (cinematic 2.4:1 aspect ratio). 

 Filmed on location at Bued River, La Union, in available natural light. 

Music - "Willow and the Light" by Kevin McLeod, www.incompetech.com (RF)



Monday, April 8, 2019

Kennon Junction before the traffic rush

This triangular junction at Brgy. Camp I (Rosario, La Union) is where the Kennon Road coming from Baguio City meets with the Manila North Road (MNR). The MNR snakes to the left towards the direction of San Fernando and Laoag cities. 

Traffic is still very light at around 7:00 am when this photo was captured, but this is expected to turn into a virtual carmageddon as soon as vehicles coming from the north and Baguio City start to trek back to Metro Manila in the afternoon, after a four-day long weekend.


Shooting  info - Brgy. Camp I, Rosario, La Union, April 9, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/230 sec.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Brgy. Taboc from the air

This aerial view of Brgy. Taboc (San Juan) was taken this Sunday morning from an altitude of 105.60 m. ASL, with the camera pointed towards the southwest. In the far distance near the center, the twin radar domes at Poro Point are barely visible.

The mansion on top of the hill at the left is reportedly owned by a showbiz personality (a popular comedian). The house in the foreground with a multi-gabled roof sits on top of the leveled hillside near the pottery stalls. The MNR and the shoreline along Taboc form a photogenic double S-curve, while the placid China Sea to the right awaits eager surfers to ride its waves.

Shooting  info - Brgy. Taboc, San Juan, La Union, April 7, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, altitude 105.60 m ASL.

Friday, March 29, 2019

"Droning" the construction progress of the TPLEX

Here's how the construction progress of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX ) looks in the first golden light of the morning - taken from an altitude of 185.30 m ASL at 6:38 am today March 30th over Camp I, Rosario.

The lower road leading to the bridge in the upper left corner is the Manila North Road (MNR), while the upper road (still an embankment at this stage) is the TPLEX. The large rectangular roofs in the lower right corner are the Caltex and Petron gas stations.


Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 30, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec.



I've to split the 180-degree panorama into two for easier viewing.... here's the other half in the northwest direction. Embankment works are still ongoing near the terminus. If one looks closely, the signage of Jollibee and McDonald's are visible near the upper right corner.


Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 30, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Trying drone photography for the first time

I got hold of a DJI Mavic Air recently, and I've started learning how to fly it safely and take images while it's high up in the air. Here's a few of my early attempts, all shot in RAW (DNG).

Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 29, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/170 sec.
Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 27, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, altitude 109.10 m ASL.



Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 27, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/380 sec, altitude 84.60 m ASL.
 1600 x 1200 version


Shooting  info - Bued River, Rosario, La Union, March 27, 2019, DJI Mavic Air, 4.5 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, altitude 34.20 m ASL.
  1600 x 1200 version

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