No trip would be complete without that trophy sunrise or sunset shot. The odds may not be always in our favor, as sometimes nature will rain on our parade literally, but the rewards for trying often outweigh the inconveniences.
For me it comes almost as second nature and I go into “sunrise/sunset auto drive mode” once the golden hour or the twilight approaches. It helps that the location is an exotic one: Villa Norte in the eastern part of Alabat island in Quezon can keep a landscape photographer happy for days.
However, unlike iconic locations where you have a lot of references of where to shoot and what to expect, you’ll have to do a lot oculars first for places that have not seen that many photographers yet. On the plus side, you won’t be boxed into producing “similars”.
I have a faint idea of where to shoot, I have done some research via Google Map. My target is a large sea stack locals call the Pulong Bato (Rock Island), one of the landmarks of the eastern side of Alabat island.
Since Villa Norte is on the eastern side, I was not expecting see any remarkable at sunset (see first image in this post), but decided to check the location out. More often than not, what looks like a walk in the park on map will always be quite a hike. In the case of Pulong Bato, one hell of a hike over very sharp rocks.
rock garden and Pulong Bato
The sea stack is more accessible at lowtide, but lowtide is at midnight and on high noon the next day! After a couple of shots and imagining what I will have to deal with the next morning if I decided to shoot Pulong Bato, I was resigned to the possibility that I just may have to shoot somewhere “accessible” given the tide conditions.
Dawn came the next day, and I was scampering over rocks enroute to Pulong Bato with a local kid as guide. I guess “accessible” is never on a landscape photographer’s dictionary. Overzealous as I am, I’m still fully conscious of safety, both for myself and for my equipment. In the end nature won the round.
Pulong Bato at dawn
Standing on a large rock, Pulong Bato was almost within reach, but not quite. The tide was high and Pacific Ocean seemed to have woken up that morning with a huge hangover. She was moody and kept on trashing the shore with huge waves.
My guide was still enthusiastic, pointing to where we can cross over to get farther, but reminded me we’ll to sync our crossing with the waves (or the absence of waves). I glanced down at his feet and saw he was already missing one slipper. I planted my tripod firmly on the rock and told myself our location is just as good as any.
Pulong Bato sunrise