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Patrick Love Photography bio picture

Simply put,

I love carrying around a camera, and trying to get people to look into the lens.

Tag Archives: Travel Photography

Donsol, Philippines Travel Photography

Holy Week in Donsol!  There are plenty of things to keep travelers entertained for a couple of days- a sandy beach, great food, nice locals, Holy Week festivities, firefly tours, and of course whale sharks.  The only problem is that on top of all that, it gets seriously packed with visitors.

Donsol is a little bit like the guy who won the lottery, but becomes a victim of his own success.  Locals have not yet found a way to manage the wealth of visitors who want to explore all the great things that Donsol can offer.  Instead, of experiencing a peaceful stroll through Donsol’s wonders, crowds of visitors experience traffic jams and pushing mobs of other visitors as everyone vies for his or her own piece of the pie.  Come back next year and you will find that they’ve paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.  I’ll explain more on that later.

(above) I recommend that you stay at the Elysia Beach Resort.  It has a nice courtyard, seen here, and it’s on one of the nicer stretches of beach.  Not exactly budget lodging though.  A huge bonus is that it is right next door to the BARracuda restaurant.  Hands down the best restaurant in Donsol, and one of the top-five best restaurants I’ve eaten at in the Philippines.  Go early (6pm) and have a reservation.  The first night, we went early and had great service and food.  The second night, we made a later reservation, and service and food were very slow, but the food was still great.

(above and below) Firefly tour – This is what a Nikon D700 with a 24 or 35/1.4 can do at iso 6400.  Our guide told me that she had never seen anyone successfully take a picture of the fireflies.

Holy Week – Good Friday Procession in Donsol

While the Philippines loves Holy Week, Holy Week has to be the whale shark’s least favorite holiday.  There are rules for whale shark encounters, but as you can guess, those all get thrown out the window.  It’s pretty much guaranteed that if you do see a whale shark, it will have almost 30 boats and 50+ people swimming right on top of it.  I can handle swimming with a crowd of people, but it really upset me to see people swimming up against the sharks, touching the sharks, or taking pictures from so close that the shark would have to change direction.  Too see people stressing the animals out, and making them work just that much harder for survival really bums me out.

Secondly, because they are being treated so poorly, shark sightings during Holy Week go way down.  Sharks have to go somewhere else, which puts even more stress on them.  Boats will only take visitors on 3-hour tours, and every day at least 2/3 of the tour groups would come back without seeing any sharks!  My group had to go out on two tours, just to be able to swim briefly with two sharks.  When it’s not Holy Week, people report usually seeing about 5-10 sharks per trip, in uncrowded surroundings.

Donsol for Holy Week? – My advice is go elsewhere.

Clara Poblador - Good day! I am a student of tourism at the University of the Philippines Diliman. I am required to write a paper for my major on travel photography tours in the Philippines. Do you arrange travel photography tours? Is it okay to know all the details of these tours and some itineraries as well? Thank you very much! :)February 18, 2013 - 2:25 am

Hong Kong Travel Photography

I liked the food in Hong Kong better than the photographic opportunities.  But that’s just because the food is blow-your-mind amazing.

It was in the 60s at night and the 70s in the day.  This was my first chance to comfortably wear jeans in, like… forever.

We stayed in a hotel that should be avoided at all cost.  However, the location was money, and the price was right up my alley.

My inspiration for the trip was the Kowloon Walled City, which used to exist within the city limits of Hong Kong.  Unfortunately, government officials had it torn down in an effort to “modernize” the city.  I can only imagine what a wild place it must have been.  I would have loved the chance to photograph within it’s dense maze of streets.  It was once the most densely populated place in the world, and it is said that many of the residents would never see direct sunlight.  Before it was torn down, a team of city planners or something, from Japan, did a cross section of what some of the buildings were like.

In Hong Kong, every market has a specific theme.

Sporting Goods Market

Flower Market

Bird Park – Birds are lucky in Chinese culture

Fish Market

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Travel Photography

We spent a quick three day weekend in Ho Chi Minh City.  Before I went, I heard a lot of comments about how it’s just not all that great.  Hanoi seems to get everyone’s vote.  Maybe they are right, but that doesn’t matter because I had a great time in HCMC and still don’t know any different.  I loved HCMC, and I would go back in a heartbeat.  Everywhere we went, the food was indescribably good.  I’d take Vietnamese food over Thai food any day.  We also did a really fun cooking class, and a scooter/eating tour of the city.  We stayed at the Riverside Hotel, which was nice, but I wouldn’t splash out that kind of money again.  We also ate twice at the highly acclaimed Hoa Tuc restaurant.  I wanted to like it, as it’s the most popular place in town, but it really didn’t take the whole dinner experience to the next level.  I also got the feeling that every tour group in HCMC eats at this place every single night.  I’m going to go all Anthony Bourdain next time I’m there.

New and Old

At a Chinese New Years party someone gave me a $100 note.  Unfortunately, I had to burn it.  Was it real?  Now I’ll never know.

Not sure what these funny hats are all about.

Same same, but slightly different

Chiang Rai, Thailand Travel Photography

Chiang Rai was a welcome change from Chiang Mai.  Less tourists, and better coffee!  Chiang Rai is also better suited for motorcycle day trips.  These pictures were all taken on day trips.

Way out on some backroad, we happened upon a small hilltribe festival.  Not much to see really, so we only stayed for about 15 minutes.  Nice people though.

We drove up to a tea plantation.  Did some tasting and bought a box of tea.

One morning we drove out to a local monastery that was carved into the side of a cliff.  This was the only monk who was there.

Lake Inle, Myanmar Travel Photography

Oh how I love to get me some good market! Lake Inle has a great market.  Local hill people come down for the market and sell their things.  Thailand has got nothing on this place.

We stayed at the Mingalar Inn in Nyaungshwe.  It was amazing!  Best breakfasts we had the whole time.  I still remember the thin banana pancakes.  The people who own the place couldn’t have been any more accommodating or helpful.  They even arranged plane tickets for us.

One of (many of) Myanmar’s quirks is that steering wheels are on the right and cars drive on the right.  That means that when passengers exit a bus or any other vehicle, it’s always in the middle of the road in the worst traffic.

We bought a bag of some amazing green tea from this lady.  I would describe it as woody and buttery.  So good.

Our guide around the lake.  Great guy.

This is the only place in the world where fishermen stand up, paddle with one foot, throw a net cage into the water, and then spear the fish.  How else would you fish in a 5 foot deep grass filled marsh?

When the water is up they can use nets too.

U Bein Bridge – Mandalay Bay, Myanmar Travel Photography

To start, I’ve been waiting to take pictures at the U Bein Bridge for well over 8 years, so this was a major accomplishment for me.  U Bein bridge is the longest teak bridge in the world.  Who cares?  It turns out that it is also one of the best travel photography locations that I have ever experienced shooting.  I would rank it up there with the old town in Sanliurfa, Turkey.    Of course, when you get there it’s never just how you imagine it to be, but I’m used to that.  For instance, based on my research, I was expecting the sun to rise on the other side of the bridge!  Turns out that I should have tried to come to the bridge at sunset, instead of sunrise.  I’ll just have to go back and try again.  In fact, last night, there was a large AirAsia sale, and I purchased tickets to return to Myanmar for Nov. 2012.  Can’t wait.

Ideally, the sun would be rising behind the bridge and I would be shooting dark silhouettes in front of a blazing orange sky with perhaps some mist on the water to add to the ambiance.

I ended up spending a long time talking with the monk above.  He was really intelligent, curious and kind.  After talking for well over an hour, he invited us to come back to his monastery with him.

In Myanmar it is common for people to carry around cages of birds that you can pay a fee to release.  It has something to do with a spiritual belief that it brings good Karma or something (obviously I don’t know specifics).  What they neglect to tell you is that the birds are trained to return to their homes, so that they can be gathered up and sold again the next day.

mariah - I fucking love thes picsMarch 5, 2014 - 7:52 am

Sean - Hi I love your pics I am heading out to Burma in October ,just hope together pics half as good as yours CheersJuly 6, 2015 - 9:16 am

Kota Kinabalu, Borneo

I would like to spend more time exploring Kota Kinabalu, or KK as everyone refers to it.  While in KK, we enjoyed great coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, there were many old markets to explore and a unique waterfront with lots of old fishing boats to keep things interesting.

Sandakan, Borneo

I would not return to Sandakan.  It just didn’t do it for me.  Why?  There was nothing special to see.  There is no apparent local culture.  The food is not that great (relative to the area).  The waterfront smells like sewage.  The streets smell like sewage.  The rats in the streets look like they have been living in sewage… ok, you get the point.

Billie - Still horrible nearly five years later! I am here at the moment and agree whole heartily so pleased we are only here for one night. The market smelled unbelievably bad that we couldnt stay there. Shops are uninspiring, the restaurants by the harbour very dirty and staff unkempt. After koto kinabalu it is such a let down how can it be the same country?November 6, 2016 - 4:11 am

Sepilok, Borneo

The Sepilok area is a chilled out place that features a couple of nicer places to stay, and a variety of wildlife sanctuaries and rainforest discovery centers.  I am not really into spending time at wildlife sanctuaries or discovery centers, but they did provide enough distraction to keep us entertained for about two days.  If I did return, I would quickly book a standard chalet at Sepilok Forest Edge Resort.  The chalet felt deluxe after the other places we’d been.  The food was good, and the pool was a nice added bonus.

During our time, we visited the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, the Orang Utan Sanctuary, and the Sandakan Rainforest Discovery Centre.  None of them really grabbed me as being worth the trip, but they were OK.

Kinabatangan River, Borneo

Kinabatangan River was truly an amazing place.  Seeing animals in the wild is a completely different experience than seeing them in a zoo.  Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of zoos, or seeing animals.  One minute, and I’m ready to move on to the next thing.  This was different kind of experience.  Animals can be kind of cool!

We ended up getting connected with Osman’s homestay, which was right on the river.  There are other nature lodges one can choose from in the area, but they are much more expensive.  The deal with a homestay is that visitors experience what it’s like to hang out with a family, instead of just having a room somewhere.  I’m glad we got the chance to meet Osman and his family.  He is a passionate conservationist and educator, and knows the local environment as well as anyone.

We were happy that a herd of nearly sixty pygmy elephants was in the area.  What surprised me the most about the elephants was the noises that they would make.  One person commented, “now we know where the dinosaur noises used in Jurassic Park came from.”

Osman with a flower

At night, the herd of elephants moved through Osman’s yard.  At times, the elephants would bump and rub against the house causing it to shake.  Osman’s house is on stilts, which made it even more unstable and vulnerable.  We prayed that an elephant would would not get itself under the house and knock the entire thing over trying to get out.  Trying to sleep with wild elephants walking just a few feet from where we were sleeping proved to be impossible.  We tried starting a chainsaw, started small fires and using a spot light to try to get them to move away.  Nothing was successful.

Scott Miller - Hi, I'm taking my family to Borneo in December and trying to track down an email address or contact for Osmans home stay but can't seem to find. Ate you able to provide any details and any photography tips you may wish to pass on? ScottOctober 29, 2013 - 1:46 pm

P-Lo - Hey Scott, I'm not sure about Osman's contact details. Overall, not sure I'd recommend spending time with him. He was a bit aggressive with some of the girls we traveled with, and made a lot of sexual/gay jokes, that came off as a bit Jr. High-ish. He hard sells extra boat trips and tours. Your final bill will be higher than you expected. Also, he gets pretty aggressive with the wild elephants, chasing them, pulling their tails, etc, acting like it's all for a laugh. I was a little appalled, to be honest. I will say though, that the nature lodges along the river don't look any more impressive.November 1, 2013 - 5:41 am