Monday, November 25, 2013

Atop the Sinai Peninsula

Around April 2012, I was able to climb up the 2,285 meters of Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is located in the Sinai Peninsula, the last stop if you are traveling from Asia to Africa by land. And thus, is frequently visited by tourists before they go to mainland Egypt or enter the holy lands of Israel. This mountain has a rich biblical history; in fact, this is where Moses received the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. 
Golden light at the summit
This was no easy task as we had to wake up 3am and start trekking. The first half of the trail required us to mount up the sure-footed camel. The most exciting part of riding a camel was mounting and unmounting it; the camel is able to bend its knees forward or backward. A 50-50 prediction whether to lean forward or backward when this desert animal starts elevating.
Local bedouins and others from foreign lands
The camel station is reached 1 hour from the jump-off point, that is St. Catherine's Monastery. Here I scramble to wrap my hands in socks in an attempt to fend of the desert cold.
That's me, my reliable TNF backpack and jacket. 
We hiked up the mountain for another 45 mins more. As with most mountains, the feeling of success when reaching the summit is like no other. Whew. The view from the summit was unremarkable from all fronts, from the blue hour to golden light to scorching desert heat.
Camel station #2 (right) When it's pitch black, getting off a camel gets interesting, if you know what I mean.

Descending the mountain was easy enough that I was able to rush back down in a jogging pace. The rocky and dry terrain allowed me to do so. The steep mountain ridges (shown in the photo below) created an unforgettable dramatic landscape that was unappreciated during the pre-dawn trek up the mount. 

This was a very pleasant hike. Very different from the ones I experienced in the Philippines. More so, I was able to appreciate the Old Testament and strengthen my faith.
St Catherine's Monastery on the foothills of Mt. Sinai

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lots of Light

One rainy Saturday, my crazy, co-photographer, pseudo-colleague friend from medical school invited me to attend an advanced photography workshop about strobe lights. Being the curious boy that I am, you should know by now what happens next. The class was handled by Laya Gerlock. Strobe lights are those gigantic standing blackboxes in photography studios (shown in the photo below). They seem to be useless space occupying lesions, like Integrated Clinical Clerks in medical school. But, unlike ICCs in medical school, these space-occupiers make all the difference in controlled lighting environments. So here's how the workshop went.

Basic needs in strobe lighting. Basic white background. Black painted wall. Strobes or speedlights. Modifiers. Reflector. Black marble tile.

Here's the set up, strobe with softbox, reflector on an improvised music stand and strobe again plus the snoot.
On a black marble tile, alcohol lit by flame produces this effect. The snoot was set to light the object. Set your camera to bulb mode.
Hold on to a storage basket and speedlight through it to produce this type of background effect.
Milk splash, you don't need anything high speed sync related for this! Just some translucent fluid on a contrast background.
Switch to B&W on your camera. Pop the speedlight against the background. Set another one to light the subject. VOILA!
The usual lightpainting with props from Google search.
Look at that catchlight then imagine what props were used. Gigantic lighting. 
Reflections, easily reproduced by using the good old black marble tile. Pop the speedlight on a white background.
3 light setup
Vintage Rolleiflex inside a lightbox, lighted with strobes from the left and right. 
This is a warzone. Lightpainting by Ian De Vera

Macky and Lani E-session

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Old and New: Shanghai Travel Diary

Pudong. Aquarium. The Bund. French Concession. Old Shanghai. Pictures now, thoughts later. 

Telepathic in Xihu - Hangzhou Diary

I am feeling nostalgic today --- One gloomy Shanghai morning, V and T decided to hop on a train to the nearest UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the West Lake, known famously as Hangzhou's Xihu. Sidenote: T has yet to track how many UNESCOs he has visited. One day, he shall conquer them all. If not, well, die trying. 

Shanghai's High Speed Rail showed concrete similarities Japan's Shinkansen, less expensive but with lower hygienic standards.

V and T shared a hostel room; the bathroom had no door. Fart filled the air. 
Get wet in these waters. 
V and T suggests spending the day on a bicycle ride. Bike rentals are all over the place. It would be impossible to tread the lakeside by foot.

Temples, pagodas and what nots surround the West Lake. Make sure to lock your bicycle when you decide to enter cultural locations.
Plum blossoms exist in China. They aren't as grand as cherry blossoms. They're more like the budget cherry blossoms. Shake the trees, and the blossoms fall. If you do, hide yourselves from pesky environmentalists. If they see you, pretend to come from Africa. 
The sky is blue, the grass, green and the pond is errr, dirty. 
T on the left and V on the right,  rowdiest Chinese boys from the Philippines!
You are aware what a pagoda looks like, no?
T set up his tripod and shot long exposure photos. 5 minutes have passed, V was nowhere to be found. Camouflaged amongst the lookalikes.
Common sense, with some imed-ness, told both of them to quit getting lost and get back on their parked bikes. Tada! 
V and T lost each other again. Not lost, merely did not know where the other wandered to, as these two possess quite the spatial orientation and geographic prowess. And without the slightest communication, they are reunited when they least expected. Hello Vincen!