El Nido is Next Level Beautiful
Mar21

El Nido is Next Level Beautiful

El Nido, on Palawan Island, is the place I was most excited about seeing on my Philippines trip.  I first learned of the area back when I still had my travel magazine, and an article on this “off-the-beaten-path” but “up-and-coming” destination was submitted.  Of course, these days it’s far from off the tourist trail, and instead a mainstay on the backpacker trail in The Philippines.  And, for very good reason.  El Nido is next level beautiful. I spent almost a full week exploring El Nido and area and it blew my mind almost daily. Here’s what I got up to. A Chill Day in El Nido After some pretty hard travel over the past month, I needed a day to kind of chill out and organize things a bit in El Nido when I arrived.  So, I hung out, ate some good food, and enjoyed the beach views.  Of course, I also got the drone up in the air. One of the things I love about the drone is how it gives you a bird’s eye view of a location even if there’s no mountain to climb to get it.  I think the drone footage really shows how spectacular this place is. El Nido Tour A Honestly, my tour A journey got off to a bit of a rough start.  I’m almost positive that my crew was hungover, or still a bit drunk from the night before.  The captain showed up to the boat an hour late, and that pretty much set the tone for the day. Tour A was so busy that it was hard to get the boat parked in places we were meant to visit.  So, we spent a lot of time waiting around.  On top of it, because we were so far from the places we were meant to visit we were told we had to rent kayaks to get to them, something no one told us before the trip started.  Of course, if your boat was parked close, you could just jump out and enjoy the location. That said, the places we visited on Tour A were spectacular.  The limestone landscape and the clear waters are simply incredible. I do have to say something negative again, though.  To get to “the secret lagoon” we were told to walk over the coral.  The coral in that spot were all dying as a result.  That’s something that can’t happen.  You can’t have tourists walking over corals, killing corals, just to get to a lagoon.  The government needs to build an apparatus to get tourists over the corals safely, or stop allowing tourists to visit there. At...

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Siquijor: Chilled Out and Adventurous
Mar03

Siquijor: Chilled Out and Adventurous

If you’ve been following along with my adventures here in The Philippines so far you’ll know that I didn’t really plan the trip out. On the way to the airport in Madrid I opened a Lonely Planet and quickly sketched a trip based on a couple cool sights I wanted to photograph.  One of those places was a waterfall on Siquijor Island.  Like all the other places I have visited on the trip so far, I knew nothing about Siquijor aside from the presence of this waterfall. I’d soon find out, however, that Siquijor Island is an absolute gem. And the almost perfect combination of chill and adventure. Siquijor Island Cliff Jumping I heard of a little place on the island called Salagdoong Beach where there’s an old waterpark built onto an island. And while they aren’t using the waterpark anymore, they’ve turned a couple of the platforms into places to do cliff jumping.  And, if you know me, there’s nothing I like more than a little bit of adventure.  So, I headed out to this Siquijor cliff jumping spot. The places is set on this nice little cove of calm water.  There’s a little beach, and a bridge going out to the island with the cliff jumping spots.  There was a group of Chinese tourists standing on the spot, most way too scared to jump.  But, a couple did, and I managed to fly the drone as people jumped a bit. Still cut up from my motorcycle crash on Bohol, I probably shouldn’t have been cliff jumping. But, I couldn’t resist. So, I took a couple jumps myself.  The cliff jumps on Siquijor Island are 8m and 10m high. So, they’re not crazy. Just a good enough height to get some adrenaline flowing, but also a fairly safe height. I was also surprised that there was a lifeguard on duty. Well done Salagdoong Beach. Cambugahay Falls The other top spot on Siquijor Island is a set of waterfalls called Cambugahay Falls.  They are just this brilliant bit of bright blue water tumbling through the jungle near the town of Lazi. The falls are a popular spot, so they’re quite busy. But, they are spread out enough that you can still get away a little bit.  There’s a little bit of adventure to be had at the waterfalls too.  There’s a place to go cliff jumping (it’s about 5m high) right off one of the waterfalls.  There’s also a rope swing into the falls. When I was at Cambugahay Falls there was a crew shooting a travel show, so it was a little bit busy, but luckily everyone kind...

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Join us in Peru and/or Iceland!
Feb24

Join us in Peru and/or Iceland!

Of all the places we get requests to run tours, Peru and Iceland and far and away the most popular.  I get emails almost every week asking when our next Peru travel photography workshop will be.  I get about the same amount of emails for Iceland.  So, it was just a matter of time before we’d go back to Peru, and initiate our first workshop in Iceland. Going Back to Peru Our trip to Peru in 2014 was a massive success.  Not only did we have a great tour filled with incredible imagery, but we had an amazing group of participants which made the tour even more special. Peru is one of the most photogenic countries in the world.  It’s also one of the most diverse places in the world for photography.  In just a 2 week period, we’ll photograph the desert, the coast, the Andes Mountains, and even parts of the rain forest.  As far as subjects are concerned, there will be people, mountains, wildlife, seascapes, and so much more to photograph in the country.  As usual, Jeff Bartlett will be co-leading this tour with me. You can download the full itinerary for Peru here. And, for more information on the trip to Peru or to book, visit this page. Iceland! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be heading back to Iceland.  It’s one of my favourite countries to shoot, and definitely one of the most impressive places I’ve ever been.  As usual, I’ll be running the Iceland photography workshop alongside my buddy and fantastic photographer, Jeff Bartlett.  He has also spent a lot of time in Iceland scouting locations and organizing this trip.  We’ll also have with us a local photographer named Ivan Olaffson who will help guide us around and show us some of the secret photo spots off the usual beaten path. For the full itinerary for Iceland, click here. And, to book, or for some more information on the trip, click here. Images from Peru and Iceland If you’re interested in seeing some of the imagery you can come up with in these two incredible countries, check out the videos below.  The first one is a piece I put together from my first time in Iceland in which I spent a week exploring the ring road of the country location scouting. The second video is from my last photography workshop in Peru: Can’t Join These Ones? If you can’t join these photography workshops, but are interested in potentially joining one in the future, be sure to sign up to the form below.  That way, when we launch future workshops you’ll be...

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Chocolate Hills and The Wonders of Bohol
Feb24

Chocolate Hills and The Wonders of Bohol

I planned for 5 days on Bohol because of The Chocolate Hills.  In fact, my entire reason to coming to Bohol was for The Chocolate Hills.  But, as I did some research before arriving, I found that there were actually quite a few cool places worth shooting and exploring.  So, I set aside quite a bit of time.  In the end, I probably could have done it all in 3 or 4 days, but it was nice having the extra day at the end since I crashed my motorcycle – more on that later. The Tarsiers of Bohol If you know me, you know that I love primates. I mean, I love all animals, but primates in particular are just fascinating to me. So, when I heard that there were a couple tarsier sanctuaries on Bohol, I got a little excited.  Tarsiers are one of the smallest primates on the world. And, they are extremely delicate animals. Not only are they tiny, but the nocturnal animals do not deal with stress well at all.  For example, in captivity, and even in sanctuaries where they are plagued by noise and flash cameras, they will actually commit suicide. Crazy right? In Bohol, there are two main sanctuaries. If you come here, be sure to go to The Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary rather than the other one. Not only is it far more ethical than the other one (from what I’ve read) but the crowds are far more sparse.  You only get about 15 minutes wandering through the forest looking at the tarsiers, but that’s really all you need.  The little primates look a little bit like Yoda, and might be the cutest animal in the world. The Chocolate Hills Based on the imagery I saw of the Chocolate Hills before coming here, this was going to be a brilliant place to shoot. After visiting the tarsiers on my first day in Bohol, I headed up here to location scout it.  It became pretty clear to me that there really are only a couple shots to be had, and only one or two locations to capture the Chocolate Hills.  It’s not a bad thing. It just means that I wouldn’t have to work as hard to get my shots. The next day, I left my hotel out near Alona Beach at 4am to try to get to the Chocolate Hills for sunrise.  Unfortunately for me, I ran out of gas on the way there and had to wait until a gas station opened at 530am to fuel up.  Fortunately for me, the hills were completely fogged in when I got there.  I met...

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Epic Photo Location: The Banaue Rice Terraces
Feb19

Epic Photo Location: The Banaue Rice Terraces

Of all the places in the Philippines, I think it was Banaue that I was most looking forward to. The images of the landscapes and rice terraces are all over the social media and marketing for The Philippines. I couldn’t wait to get my lens on them, and head out and explore them as well. But, as the jeepney I caught from Sagada rolled towards town it poured rain. At times, I’m sure the driver couldn’t see more than 10 meters in front of him because of the fog. But, somehow the ride was still a lot of fun. I should have known it would be a bit of foreshadowing for my next couple days in Banaue. The forecast was showers, with a chance of occasional brilliance. Wandering the Villages around Banaue With heavy fog in the air my first morning in Banaue, I slept in a little bit. Later in the morning, I headed out to do a village trek in the area. I started with a visit to a village called Tam-an. Just outside of Banaue, this little village is perched on a hill’s edge with incredible views of the valley. I stopped there, pulled out the drone, and took a flight to get an overview of the area. It was fun, not only because the views were beautiful, but because the drone served as such a nice ice-breaker into conversations with the locals. They all came out to chat. Then, I pushed on towards the village of Poitan. However, I managed to get totally lost on the way there and found myself wandering aimlessly through some rice terraces. By the time I found the trail down to Poitan, I was covered in mud all the way to my waist. Again, the hike down to Poitan was stunning. It cut across some rice terraces, but also carved along the cliff-side lending to some beautiful views of the area. By the afternoon, the rain rolled back in and cut into my dreams of shooting photos from the classic view of the rice terraces. No Batad, Bad Brendan! I had plans of catching a ride out to an area called Batad. The terraces out that way are meant to be the most beautiful in all The Philippines. However, it poured rain the whole day. And, if I’m being honest with you, I probably should have just fought through it anyways. Of course, the weather could have been better that way – although, to be fair to myself, it probably wasn’t. I hiked up to the viewpoint for sunrise, but struck out. Then, in the afternoon, I hiked up again...

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Manila, Sagada & First Impressions of The Philippines
Feb16

Manila, Sagada & First Impressions of The Philippines

After a visit to Spain that felt shorter than it actually was, I was off again. This time, I was heading to The Philippines – a new country for me. Not only is The Philippines a new country for me, but one of which I had absolutely no expectations. Honestly, I knew very little about The Philippines. My knowledge of Filipino people, too, is limited to those I’ve met. Those I met, I knew to be very friendly, and love photography and basketball. So, I assumed we’d get along. So far, I’m right. Manila I landed in Manila really late, and really didn’t have any time planned there. To be honest, I have little to no interest in Manila. I want to see the nature, countryside, and landscapes of the country. So, the next day, I was already off again. However, on the couple hours I had free in Manila, I did get out and explore a little bit. In doing so, I came up with some of my first impressions, and observations of The Philippines: People are extremely friendly and welcoming. Jeepneys are awesome – local transport. I want one. The people do seem to love basketball – there’s always a game on somewhere. There’s a lot of foreign guys living there and dating local girls – not prostitution, but dating. There is no way I wont stand out – I’m a foot taller than the average person. I’m like a giant Q-Tip wandering around the streets. That night, I caught the bus north on the same island as Manila. It was a 12 hour journey to the town of Sagada. Jet Lagged in Sagada When I arrived in Sagada I was on a bit of a high. And, looking back, there’s a good chance it was more of an adrenaline rush keeping me going. The drive into Sagada as the sun rose was stunning, and I couldn’t wait to get out and explore. However, as I got settled into my hotel in Sagada, it became apparent to me that jet lag was finally catching up with me. I took what was meant to be an hour’s nap before exploring. It ended up being a 3 hour sleep and I nearly missed sunset because of it. With no idea where to go and shoot photos, I made the mistake of asking the hotel receptionists. She recommended a place called Lake Banum. But, after hiking an hour to get there, I realized it wasn’t much of a lake, but more of a swamp. And, the reason I was pointed in this direction wasn’t because the landscape is beautiful, but...

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