Getting reacquainted with a travel icon

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A lake within a volcano within a lake within a ring of fire of volcanos—that was Taal Volcano as we knew it or were told about it when we were growing up (at one point we were also told that it was the smallest volcano in the world, eliciting a lot of ooohs and aaahs from us youngsters then).   Now pair that with a magnificent view from a high enough place with cool weather almost year-round and you have a tourist-and-travel magnet. 

For the harried Metro Manilans,  zipping (or crawling) up to the ever-popular Tagaytay City, 55 kms south of Manila, was the next best thing to zigzagging up to Baguio City to escape the heat and stress of the metropolis.  There is bound to be a memorable story or two in the lives of baby boomers involving these escapades, all fondly recalled in banter among family and friends during yearly reunions.

Taal Volcano and Tagaytay City are inextricably linked together—they are always mentioned in the same breath—twin attractions that have lured visitors to this area for decades.  Settlers and vacation house owners in this city have vied with one another in building (and claiming) the best view of the lake. 

One of the most popular views can be had at Taal Vista Resort from where I took this photo last December.  It is easy to see why this picturesque venue remains a popular choice for wedding receptions – with the caveat that the bride cannot complain if the view can rival her as THE star of the day.  Well, make that brides because there can be as many as five wedding receptions happening simultaneously, indoors and outdoors.

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I cheated a bit, sort of, kinda, because I used Dariel’s Fuji XT-1, which he had set to take HDR photos.  (Why I had to borrow his camera is the subject of my next post).  I had called him out of the reception to see the sunset and after we had gone back inside, I snuck out again with only his camera in tow because I had seen that the sun and clouds were giving it their best shot (uhrm pardon the pun) outdoing one another in putting up a grand celestial show. 

Chimping at the camera showed us that the resulting HDR photos from this camera hits you on the head with its HDR-on-steroids effect—but one that translates beautifully into a black-and-white photo, capturing a wide range of tonal gradations that you’d look for in a monochrome picture.  The challenge is to lift out as much detail as you can from the dark areas.  But a handheld landscape photo absent those all-important filters that landscape photographers wouldn’t be caught without one, or two, or a whole set?  Who would’ve thunk it was possible?  It’s actually a little scary what technology can do these days.  It’s up to the photographer to pull it back, rein it in, and shape it to his/her own vision.

As the light was raking the vegetation in the foreground, I continued taking photographs for a few more minutes and then hurried back to the party. 

Mother Nature, consider me impressed.

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