The Temple On Ongpin

There’s this small shrine on one of the side streets in Binondo. Every year, the faithful pay homage to this Catholic relic which is derived from the Sto. Cristo de Longos. Being a predominantly Catholic country, many people from all walks of life come and pay homage on this day despite it being a day for celebrating the Lunar New Year which is actually more of a Chinese tradition. I on the other hand keep visiting this site for being a “photo-magnet”. It rarely fails to produce one or two “keepers” which I stash away in my personal portfolio. It’s not uncommon for photographers to have their favorite sites which more or less guarantees to produce notable images. This is one of mine for people or portrait shooting. What’s your favorite site?


Stuffed Snakes

Well ok these were actually sugarcane stalk standing on end. There was a fresh sugarcane juice vendor somewhere nearby and these were probably part of the inventory for the day. I just found the shapes and patterns interesting. Sort of reminded me of coral snakes but in black and white.


While out bug hunting, I saw this fine, old gentleman (lady?) trying to warm himself up in the early morning sun. I say old because he was big by macro standards. Almost 3 inches long by my reckoning. I didn’t have to do my usual “greater than 1:1 magnification” on this guy for this shot. I have no idea what kind of beetle this is but he sure was cooperative. Posing for me and just staying chill for the early morning photo shoot.

Dragons Of Binondo

One of the things you can rely on whenever you go to Binondo for Lunar New Year are the balloon vendors. They’re typically out in full force on this day since you gotta make hay when the sun is shining so to speak. So naturally you just have to feature them when you’re out on the streets. I just liked how this shot shows the patterns and colors which assault your optic nerves on this glorious day.

The Goldfish

I shot this during my annual visit to Binondo some time ago to check out the Lunar New Year celebrations. Binondo is Manila’s Chinatown so it gets crazy here during at this time of year. You’ll see all sorts of things for sale which is typical in any street scene in a major city. I saw this nice lady trying to sell some goldfish and just had to capture her for posterity.

The Cranefly

I saw several of these guys while our shooting so it wasn’t too hard finding one in a decent pose. The legs though made it hard as far as composition goes. Do I take them all in and sacrifice a closer shot with more detail? Or do I stick to the same “just get the eyes in focus” routine? In the end, the focused eyes still rule and I think the shot did the critter justice. What do you think?

The Cloud

I was surprised to see a lenticular cloud during sunrise at Baguio. Not too common a site although it was kind of small and not as dramatic as that of our more Northern neighbors. Still, it was cool to see one this fine morning and hopefully, it won’t be my last.

Green Bug On A Yellow Flower

Yes it’s a stupid title I know but my brain isn’t working 100% right now. Just getting back to work from a 4-day bout with fever. Not so alarming as it only peaked at 38.5F but still a bummer nonetheless. I shot this at Baguio during December some years back and I remember macro shooting was slim pickings at that time of year. Too cold for the bugs to be staying outside I guess. Found this little guy bravely sunning himself and obliged him with a quick portrait. I have this thing with bugs…if I see one just lying there waiting I take his picture even if it’s something I already have or a not-so-desirable-looking species. Unless it’s a plain housefly. Those I totally ignore.

Shooting The Palace

When you see the Palace of Fine Arts, you’ll know you’re in San Francisco. One of SF’s most endearing landmarks, the Palace was completely rebuilt in the 60s and has withstood the test of time through all these decades. I had a great time shooting here notwithstanding the cloudy skies. SanFo will always be SanFo no matter the weather.

The One That Got Away

A great 2019 ahead to everyone!!!! And to start the year off, we were able to get some vacay time at the beach right after New Year and I was finally able to get some shooting time with my camera. It’s been languishing in the dry box for almost 9 months and it sure felt good to be shooting again.

And sure enough, the Camera Gods gave me a lesson I won’t soon forget which BTW, is the reason for the title of this blog.

You see I pride myself in always preparing for a trip by arranging my camera bag/s, laptop, camera/s, lenses, tripod and accessories such as chargers, cables and other gadgets on my table and packing them accordingly using a setup I’ve been using all these years. It’s worked for me for almost 10 years except for this trip.

You see I have two kinds of Benro tripods. One is a lightweight Travel Angel which I use when I have to travel via air and uses this kind of camera quick release (QR) plate.

My other tripod which I usually bring to the beach is a big and heavy Benro A458 which is an old design but rock solid even in windy conditions. That uses this kind of QR plate.

You see where I’m headed with all of this? Yup, I didn’t check which QR plate was mounted om my camera when I packed for the beach. The end result? No tripod! And no tripod means no sunset afterglow pics which uses long exposures. And the sunsets on this trip were interesting with the one above being amazing! So what I ended up doing was using my camera bag as a flexible base to set up my camera. It meant really limited shooting locations with mediocre viewpoints like that of the shot above but better than nothing right? But nooo, it didn’t end there. I forget the cardinal rule of sunset photography. Wait for the light show AFTER the sunset no matter how shitty the sunset is because you’ll never know how the sun lights up those clouds when it dips below the horizon. And sure enough, after I packed my bag and started walking back after a so-so sunset scene, the sky explodes with this amazing afterglow the likes of which I haven’t seen in a while. I decided at the last minute to just take a quick 5-shot HDR (above) but I totally missed the best part. I really felt like a moron and will never forget that lesson for quite some time. Oh, and to add insult to injury, I also forgot to bring the charging brick of my laptop. But no big deal right?

My takeaway from this is that just like in any vocation, good photography demands that you stay sharp and always bring your A-game. My shooting eye also needed some prodding to assess the scene, study the lighting and look for the image. That’s one skill that for me at least needs to be exercised and honed while others (like my younger brother) just have a knack for seeing the picture right away.

So this trip ended up being really memorable for me in more ways than one which is a good thing actually. Makes you feel alive and kicking.

Stay sharp everyone and here’s to great photography in 2019.