Let me first put this into context as many photographers out there may have a different take on this. I’m a hobby photographer and it’s my first time island hopping El Nido . Prior to the trip, I’m confronted with a dilemma of enjoying the island hop or take decent photographs. Alas, I went for both, which is to enjoy the island hop and take decent shots at the same time. I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy the island hop, because I certainly did! I had some success getting some decent shots too, despite time limitations but I think I can do better with the “enjoying” or the photography part if I concentrated on just one goal.
A structured research of the El Nido and related photography "tips" will make your island hopping experience, fun. A good understanding of the geography, light metering and just the location of the sun during the day will be a lot helpful when composing shots. Lastly, time and timing is of the essence.
So for photographing El Nido island hop the first time, here’s my essentials list:
- Waterproof , tightly sealable camera bag/back pack. An Overboard BackPack would have been very ideal. But any tightly sealing, watertight and waterproof camera bag will do. The boat rides splashes are just unavoidable. Worst, your camera and gadgets may accidentally take a swim too while you are exploring some beaches or lagoons.
- Lightweight, interchangeable lens compact camera with near or SLR like quality. This is asking too much I know, but if I have the moolah to buy one and is very confident of the shot quality you get from such, go for it. Less weight to carry mean saving energy to shoot. I brought my mirrorless Olympus EP3 but I don’t have the lenses and filters for the shots I wanted. I still got some nice shots out of improvisation though.
- Filters- circular polarizer and neutral density filters. The mid morning sun and flare is just too much for shooting landscapes. Polarizers and filters give you more options for shooting without too much worrying about flares or the sun.
- Portable, camera and lens cleaning kit. No matter how good you take care of your cam, its going to get splashes and salt deposits. Cleaning your gears before and after each trip is a must.
- Lightweight and sturdy tripod. A must for any landscape photographer. A carbon fiber/ titanium tripod is desirable, but it cost an arm and leg. So, settled for a foldable Benpro Angel series tripod.
- Small waterproof, submersible camera.If you have a submersible waterproof casing for your cam, much better. That will cost you another arm though. I brought my go pro action camera and it really got me some very nice action and underwater shots.
- Extra camera batteries packs. Yes. You don’t want to ran out of power in the middle of an island hop. I take tons of shots and thus extra batteries are essential for me
- Sling or carabiners for attaching camera safely. I’m paranoid my gears would jump to sea without me. Like in the mountain, I’m used to hooking my camera straps on me or on stable pole. Be careful with the metal carabiner and the LCD of your cam though.
- Extra camera cards. If you’re hopping 4-5 island in a day, chances are you’ll use a take some 300+ shots. Depending on the size of your file, you may need an extra camera card. I usually bring a device to upload my photos temporarily but then again, this is an added weight.
- Zip locks with DIY silicon packs inside for storing lenses and other gears.
I can think of some more gears and accessories that might ease your island hopping shoot but that’s additional baggage. A good understanding of the geography, light metering and just the location of the sun during the day will be a lot helpful when composing shots. I think a structured research of the El Nido and related photography “tips” will make your island hopping experience, fun. Lastly, time and timing is of the essence. With a jam packed island hopping schedule, a 15-30 minute shooting window is definitely not enough for me. This is why I’m going to go back to El Nido for a longer photo shoot this time!
Can you add any other gear to this list?