The Scene: Calm Seas

Clouds sweep across the dawn sky at Moalboal, Philippines.

Clouds sweep across the dawn sky at Moalboal, Philippines.

Moalboal is a small-ish town on the west coast of Cebu Island in the Philippines.  It’s position is ideal in relation to the depths and currents of the ocean to provide one of the most amazing snorkeling reefs I have visited in the Philippines.   I first visited in 2010 and it was my first experience swimming over a coral reef:  I was hooked!  At the time I didn’t have any way to take underwater photos, so my photography was restricted to the shore, and what a beautiful shore it is.

The pure white sand beaches that are so highly prized by sunbathers are a real drag for me and my adventurous nature.  For photography they have a simple palette of colors and textures which pose a challenge for originality.  I always walk to the end of the beach, where the sand meets the rocks or some other feature.  It is at these boundaries that contrast and interaction come together into a pleasing composition.   The beach at Moalboal has a mix of sand and boulders at its north end.  As the tide changes different features are exposed or concealed.

One feature of the Philippines that really struck me was the fishing boats.  I grew up in a town with a substantial fishing industry… for lobsters.  We have the classic lobster boats lined up in our harbor, an everyday sight for us.  So to see the different designs and fishing methods consistently caught my eye while traveling.  The design found in the Philippines and much of the South Pacific relies heavily on outriggers for stability.  The boats themselves are very sleek and light and these qualities also make them unstable.  The fishermen can handle big swells and long distances due to the efficiency that this design offers.

Visually I find the boats, called bangka, an intriguing subject.  They are a way to place people in the frame without having people present.  An empty boat is an invitation for the viewer to step into the scene.

Calm seas in Moalboal, Philippines where a bangka floats, waiting for the fisherman to wake.

Calm seas in Moalboal, Philippines where a bangka floats, waiting for the fisherman to wake.

 

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