Coron: Palawan Photography Workshop

I just came back from a travel photography workshop in northern Palawan. The workshop was organized by Colors Travel, and the Palawan leg was the 2nd tour offering out of 4. The first one was held in Batanes with George Tapan. This tour had Master Photographer Wig Tysmans.

We took a SEAIR flight and landed in Busuanga Island in northern Palawan. We then proceeded to our host resort, El Rio Y Mar, which is a sister resort of the established Club Paradise. El Rio is situated in a quiet cove near Maricaban. It is on the way to Club Paradise.

Though not really an island resort, the secluded location of El Rio becomes an attraction, highlighted with calm waters and a backdrop of hills. The beach is not that great, but the water is clean and clear. At high tide, the beachfront cottages seem to float on water.

There is a restaurant serving great food and a refreshing infinity pool that looks out to the serenity of the cove. The cottages are appointed well, neat and huge by ordinary standards. It has a balcony where one can just relax and read a book while enjoying the view.

Okay, I'm done with the resort. Now for the reason I'm in Palawan: the Travel Photography Workshop. Master Photographer Wig Tysmans gave us an insightful speed lecture on all the things we need to know when doing travel photography. Most of you have seen my photos, and after evaluating them, I realized that I take more of landscapes. I want to take pictures that would attract the viewer so much to move them to visit the place. Hence, I take pictures of landmarks and landscapes both in view and in detail to share to you the experience that I had. From this workshop, I've discovered I can take my hobby to the next level, and actually make it tell a story.

I learned to put more elements in my photo that would give it more drama or interest. One example is to add a human element. Master Wig always reminds us that a landscape photo becomes more interesting when you put a person somewhere. I think it is an aesthetic and that this should not be taken as a rule. I still believe that most landscapes are better without anyone in them, since it makes it look more like paradise.

I also learned how to balance my photos. I love the vertical orientation, and I realized that balancing the elements in my photo from top to bottom makes it look better. Master Wig told us that if you cut the photo into two, there's still something happening in both parts, the top and bottom that is interesting.

All in all, I found the workshop helpful. It was difficult to take it seriously since the tour schedule was hectic, and the beauty of Palawan just makes you forget everything and enjoy. On our second day, we made it out of the resort and visited Coron town, our jump off point for the limestone islands.

We traversed through dramatic rock formations similar to those I saw in Krabi in Thailand and Caramoan in Camarines Sur. We then hunted for barracudas at the Big and Small Lagoons.

We then proceeded to the famous Cayangan Lake, the cleanest and clearest lake I have ever seen. We had to hike up around 150 steps and then down again to reach the lake. But the trail up gave us a spectacular view of the limestone islands. We had lunch set-up by the resort in a hut in the area where our boats docked.

We then snorkeled at Siete Picados, a group of islets and a preserved marine park. The corals were alive, though the fishes were small and uninteresting. I almost bumped a huge jellyfish if I wasn't warned. We then took a steamy dip in the Makinit Hot Springs. The water's temperature rose up to 40 degrees and it was a bit of a task to submerge in the water. We ended our second day with a quick stop at a cashew nut factory in Coron town. We were so exhausted and got back at the resort in the evening, just in time for a hearty dinner.

On our third day, we made our way through the Calauit Safari, which had giraffes and zebras. I found it not really worth the 2 hour boat ride going there, since only the giraffes and zebras made it look like Africa.

Since the journey was long, we had to skip our island hopping tours, which disappointed me greatly. I love islands, and imagine not seeing beaches in Palawan. That was a blow for me. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the facilities and the simple beach of El Rio upon getting back at 3PM for a super late lunch.

We ended the workshop with an evaluation of our photos and a graduation. All in all, the experience was satisfying. I had qualms initially since I went alone. But I met a lot of new friends and personalities who made the experience worthwhile. So to all my new found friends, thanks for an enjoyable and memorable trip.

The next legs of the Workshop Series will be held in Camiguin from May 1 to 4 and Boracay from May 11 to 14. Call Colors Travel at 6388374 for more details. When you join, you get a free S70 Samsung Digital Camera that takes picture with impressive color saturation. This is my first panoramic shot ever, not taken using the Samsung though. It's amazing.


El Rio Y Mar Island Resort
Phone: (632) 838 4956 to 60 (Manila office)

Coron Boat (look for Paul)
P3,000 per day, inclusive of gas, capacity is 20 pax so it's a good deal!

Coron Van (look for Jing Manalo)
P1,500 per day, airport pick ups

Just a tip, PAL will soon be flying to Coron and they are offering low fares. I heard it costs 1,500 one way including taxes already. It can go lower if you book earlier. So call PAL now!

Also visit Anton's blog, for his take on the workshop. Too bad he got an injury from snorkeling during the 2nd day.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE SHOTS I PRESENTED DURING THE WORKSHOP. YES, NOT MUCH LANDSCAPES, BUT WHAT THE HECK. I actually took few shots relatively and I just realized this when I got back. Hope you like the pictures!



    Great review and photos, RJ! Love your site and your passion to promote Philippine tourism. Haha. NAKS.

    Hope to see you around soon! Let's photo-trip one time!


  2. whatever u learned in this photography workshop, i think its worth it, bec. i just love your pictures, they really make me want to go there! to coron, and samal in davao... but while i still cant, keep the pictures coming!


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