Sunset silhouettes

We all know that sunsets are the best time to create silhouette shots. So how do we go about this? Keep an eye out for distinct shapes, forms and outlines, or you can use silhouettes to frame an image. If you can’t nail it in manual, use the “sunset” mode (one of your camera’s preset shooting modes) that way your camera does all the analyzing to get the right white balance, exposure and other optimal settings for sunset situations.





Sunset Week

Another week and another picture series, this time on one of my all-time favorite subjects – sunsets.


I wrote this piece titled Do The Math on April 27, 2013 and I’m reposting it.

Those few minutes before the sun finally dips into the horizon will give you some deep contrast. It’s where the darkness of ensuing night conquers the last remaining light of day. And depending on the weather, cloud formation and where the rays fall, it can give you an exquisite canvas of colors, light, silhouettes and shadows.

I have said before that I’m not a morning guy, hence I have just a few sunrise shots. But I have a whole collection of sunset scenes – reminders of the cyclical nature of life, of the eternal passing of time divided into a 24-hour day. I remember this quote from American photographer Galen Rowell:

“There are only a fixed number of sunrises and sunsets to be enjoyed in a lifetime. The wise photographer will do the math and not waste any of them.”

I would like to think that the wise photographer is the thinking photographer that we should all strive to be. Whether we have reached that level or not yet, it would add to our experience, satisfaction and skill to capture one of the most spectacular displays of nature afforded us on a daily basis. When the opportunity to photograph a great sunset is there, yes, we should not pass it up. We should “do the math.”


Wishing you all a splendid week ahead!

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Composition does not just happen; there must be a need for expression, and substance cannot be divorced from form. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Sometimes we work so fast that we don’t really understand what’s going on in front of the camera. We just kind of sense that, ‘Oh my God, it’s significant!’ and photograph impulsively while trying to get the exposure right. Exposure occupies my mind while intuition frames the images.~Minor White

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I often find it useful to consider landscape images as comprising three areas, foreground, middle-ground and background. While our human perception tends to focus more on foreground details and objects in our near vicinity, the camera makes no such distinctions. Foreground rocks that the photographer could reach out and touch while at the scene are rendered with the same presence as distant clouds in the final image. When visualising, I think it pays to try to see background and foreground details with equal importance.~Pete Bridgwood

The justification for monochrome

There’s the element of timelessness. Black and white images come across as dreamlike, almost unreal. And that’s an artistic choice you have in today’s digital imaging technology. Unlike before in the early years of photography where your only choice was a black and white roll of film, today you can easily shift from black and white to color in your digital camera. Again we go back to the photographer’s judgment. As I said in a previous post, its the photographer’s choice. How he presents his image, from the full glory and splendor of color to the mysterious and dramatic effect of black and white, is a decision he has to determine. The primary consideration is why should we shoot in black and white?


1. To go back to the roots. You have to move forward in your photographic journey and improve and better yourself. But you have to be aware and look back from whence the medium came from, and that is in the world of black and white photography. Give homage and reverence from where it all started.
2. To heighten our senses and photographic awareness. The lack of natural color forces us to see the interesting and essential – forms, shapes, texture, patterns, light. That’s basically all we have to look out for.
3. To engage our creative and artistic side. Because we are compelled to look for primary elements, we strive to be imaginative in our composition and innovative in our presentation.

There may be many other reasons why we should go for monochrome, and these reasons can be diverse and far-ranging. I have proclaimed before that I am a disciple of color but at the same time I’m also an avid practitioner of the art of black and white. Which is why to organize my blog postings here I have reserved Saturdays and Sundays as “monograph weekends.” This is to give myself the space and opportunity to go back to a revered medium, to challenge myself, and to explore further the world and boundaries beyond color.

Composition – making sense out of things


Article Excerpt: The principles of composition evolved for a good reason: they address the human need for unity, order, and emotional expression. They activate the mind’s natural ability to make sense out of things by stimulating associations from everyday life, by encouraging us to ask, “What does this remind me of?”~John Suler from his article The Psychology of Composition


JJWP391“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes” says Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s the first thing we see outside when we look up – vast, encompassing, restless and inconstant – features which make it a magnet for photographers. If you’re a nature, outdoor or landscape shooter, the sky is a great backdrop to your foregrounds or subjects. Sometimes they become subjects themselves being attractive, constantly evolving and colorful. More often than not, we make them the canvas or background in our frame as we find interesting focal points. When I’m out on location, first thing I do is look up and see where the sun is and how its light falls on the surrounding areas. Our instinct of observation kicks in, we eye how the clouds form and, depending on time of day, see how light affects things. You know you get dramatic colors during sunset and sunrise, and those are the golden hours preferred by photographers. But mid-day sky will not escape our notice especially if it has interesting cloud formation. As always we look for the appealing and pleasing, and the sky almost always never fails us in this respect, in whatever weather.  Even thunderstorms in the horizon will give us the most incredible view. Just don’t get caught beneath it or all you’ll be taking pictures of are droplets on your window pane as you sip coffee and wait for the rain to subside. Here are simple tips from on Photographing Dramatic Skies. The article suggests the time to best capture the sky, to add the clouds in the image, to include objects or foregrounds, using wide-angle for our shots, and setting the white balance in the camera. You will never see the same sky twice, it is always changing and shifting. Don’t pass up on the most astounding sky scenery, capture it. Passionate photographers may not lug around their bulky DSLRs all the time, but they will not go out without their backup – the handy, carry-anywhere point and shoot cam. Such as the time when I chanced upon an amazing sunset along a coastal road. I parked the car off the road, pulled out the P&S from my belt pouch and crouched low to capture a slender, foot-high plant. The above picture was the result.

Stay and be patient

Article Excerpt: “It seems that good photography is almost entirely about patience of one kind or another…I can’t stress enough how important it is to be patient, to stay with a situation and work it over. Things are always changing—your subject, the environment, your own thoughts about the image you’re making…Because we can now press the shutter button and then immediately see the image, there’s a tendency to have a quick look (keep in mind that a small LCD screen is not the best way to judge a photograph, especially outdoors on a sunny day), think that you “have” it, and move on to another photographic subject…But if something strikes you as being worth photographing then it’s certainly worth spending some time on. As your subject or the scene changes, your knowledge of it and approach will change too—the more time you spend with anything the better you know it.”~Cary Wolinsky and Bob Caputo from their article Patience!


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Keep it simple.~Alfred Eisenstaedt (Photo location: Bohol)

Reminiscing the moments

Time flies by so fast you can only recall so much of what you did in a day. How much more in a month, or a year. But humans have the power to recall, to remember and reminisce, particularly special moments – your first love, first kiss, the time you said “I Do”, the shrill cries of your first born, the smell of your new car, your first out of town trip, family reunions, the first time you stood as god-parent in a baptismal or main sponsor in a wedding, the initial steps as you moved through the door of your very own house, the best sunset you ever saw, the most beautiful flower that beheld your eyes, your first cellphone or digicam, the highest mountain you climbed, the most laps you swam, the fastest you have ever driven – these and many more are the memorable entries in your life’s journal. When you are in a quiet place, a site of solitude, take time to review the notes you have made in your journey. These are moments that may never return or recur, yet you can relish them again by reminiscing. (Photo location: the sea off Mindoro Oriental)

I believe

I believe in the miracle of life. I believe in the eternity of the soul. I believe in the wondrous gifts of nature, the solemn grace of a setting sun, the calm of a morning sea, the scent of pure breeze, the warmth of a sunny day, the picturesque scene of solitude, the sway and motion of heavenly clouds, the lines, shapes and contours of a wonderful vision – bright, lucid and clear. I believe in the cacophony of aural experiences, music of the spirit, the ambient sound of sweet whispers, the surreal echo of distant dreams, the ripples and flutter of movement in the air. I believe in the visual explosion of colors, the subtle tints of dawn, the harsh light of noon and the muted tones and shadows of early evening. I believe in so much reality there is barely room for pretensions and lies. Because I believe in what I see and sense, grasp and comprehend, it is truth that beholds my being. I am what I am because I believe. (Photo location: Lake Tri An, Vietnam)

The world is your canvas

With photography, the world is yours to capture, to portray, to paint. It is your canvas, to put your image, to give your interpretation, to express yourself. While traditional painting may take hours or days, photography takes just an instant to create your art, and the considerations are the same – light, shadows, contrast, texture, colors. These are elements which, in the hands of a dedicated photographer with the mind of a poet and the heart of an artist, can create a personal magnum opus. Continue clicking and pursue your art. (Photo location: Batangas City)

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If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.~Linda McCartney (Photo location: Narvacan, Ilocos Sur)

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When your mouth drops open, click the shutter.~Harold Feinstein (Photo location: Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte province)

Shape that silhouette

Gosh, silly me! I’m running out of good post titles. Of course silhouettes are shapes and forms against a backdrop of bright, colorful light. We’ve taken pictures of these – people, structures, trees, animals – without knowing how we did it. They just looked good, appealing and visually stimulating. Our eyes naturally follow shapes and outlines, more so if the objects are defined, familiar and recognizable. Photographer Rebecca Spencer tells us the when, the where and the what as well as many other aspects in her article How to Take Silhouette Photos – A Tutorial. The essential thing is to play around and shoot as many images. In the picture above, it took me nearly two dozen shots before I settled on the one cross silhouette image I like.  (Photo location: Montemaria, Batangas)

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The artist photographer knows that there is a great difference between seeing a scene and producing a photographic equivalent.~Nathan Knobler (Photo location: Batangas Bay)

A poignant photo story

A chapter of individual lives close every end of the day. Body and mind need to recharge. But there are moments of reflection before we lie down to rest. Have we done any meaningful thing the past 24 hours? Perhaps nothing earth-shattering that could change the world. Just small, simple acts of an ordinary life. Yet some deeds stand out. The boy in the picture, tying his boat in a makeshift pier after an afternoon at sea, was all smiles as I approached him. I asked him if he caught any and he showed me a medium-sized pail full of fishes. He added that his father was sick and could not go fishing, and what he caught would be food for dinner for his six siblings. I was moved and impressed. What the boy did will never matter to the world, but it is all the world for him to make sure his family would not sleep on empty stomachs at the end of the day. (Photo location: Surigao City)