A Porol is a unique Christmas lantern that originated from the province Pampanga in Central Luzon, Philippines. The ornamental star-shaped lantern is a representation of the star of Bethlehem that guided the three kings to the manger.
The five-pointed star was originally crafted by an artisan named Francísco Estasnislao in 1908 using bamboo sticks and covered by Japanese paper. Today, parols have evolved into a myriad of star-like designs, colors and sizes. They are made of various materials that range from plastic, shells, glass, beads, foil, feathers, hemp, leaves, seeds, soft drink straws, wood and even metal
Every Christmas for decades more intricate. colorful and much much larger Parols are displayed in a parol festival in Pampanga called: "Giant Lantern Festival." These Parols are about 20 feet in diameter and are illuminated by about 3,500 to 5,000 light bulbs synchronized to display movement, shapes, patterns and color combinations- a lighting show like no other.
Interesting enough, you would expect that the complex light programming to be controlled electronically but everything is still as it was in the 70's where hundreds of wires hang at the back of the parol and controlled by rotors (drum-like wheels) that switch the bulbs on and off. They are operated by as many as a 20-man team and are mounted on a large truck bed.
Here are a few photos and a video of the Festival in December 2015. The video clip was shot handheld therefore shaky... the place was crowded and I couldn't setup my camera properly on a tripod.
2014 iPhone 6 Camera vs 2012 Panasonic Lumix LX7
How does a top Smartphone measure up to a very popular enthusiast photographer-targeted compact camera? Here's a real world test to see if all the superlatives Tim Cook mentions to describe the iPhone's camera can match a real (middle of the pack) pocket-sized camera.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 was announced in late 2012 but it is till sold on Amazon for roughy US $400 despite being succeeded by the Lumix LX100 (US $650 ave presumably the price of the older LX7 when it debuted) in late 2014. The iPhone 6 on the other hand was announced in late 2014.
Let me begin by telling you what I did not do in this test. I did not compare both to a Higher-end DSLR since the image sensor of a pro/ enthusiast's DSLR is approximately 55X the size of an iPhone's sensor. So you can assume the quality of a D750 to be infinitely better, ; ) I also did not shoot in low-light since both the LX7 and iPhone are only good for iPhone-sized screens in dimmer environments at least for my taste. Viewing low-light shots large in a mac or a PC you'll easily notice "roughness" in the image. In photography talk: noise, moire and even artifacts.
So here are the test/ comparison shots. I have included the EXIF (settings for the first pair of shots -house/ bldg.) Others were shot in good light and using an aperture of f/2.2 and up. The images are cropped in the same area at 100% magnification to see the details better. You can click the .jpg below to see the test shots in full detail/ size on a new browser window.
From the samples above two things are apparent. The LX7 produces cooler images while the iPhone 6 is warmer (less blue, more yellow)- on Auto White Balance. You may have noticed the slight difference is sizes (resolution) since the LX7 has a 10MP sensor while the iPhone has 8MP.
Now the important difference is quality of the output. I find the (Luma) noise on the iPhone images even at the lowest ISO (32). Yes the iPhone shot at that ISO! Noise are speckles/ grain in the image. Also found moiré (see the roof of the white house). Moiré is the appearance of curvy lines on pattered details of the image, Lastly if you look close enough you'll see some bunching up of pixels or what is referred to as artifacts.
In terms of color I found the images of the LX7 to be more scene accurate than the iPhone's which were too warm. White balance can easily be adjusted especially for a stand-alone camera like the LX7 which has proper camera controls.
Finally, the details on the iPhone is not as defined viewed 100% even at almost macro focal length/ distance. A contributing factor could be that the default contrast setting of the iPhone is low. Looking at the full-sized test, you can see the curvy fine line detail on the watch dial (face) on the LX7 image while on the iPhone's, it's completely lost.
Overall, the LX7 has cleaner/ crisper details. In my estimate, the quality of the images of the LX7 is perhaps 25-30% better than the iPhone's under good/ bright light. The advantage from memory is even higher in dim/ low-light. You can say the quality is almost similar but the difference is enough for people to maybe judge a blog's images as of "good" or of "not-really good" quality if the LX7 or iPhone were used to shoot them.
If you're wondering why this post? I scored an LX7 recently, a rock-bottom priced display unit. It got me curious if owning one adds value to my casual photography since the iPhone's image quality is already acceptable at least during the day.
I would be doing readers a disfavor if I paint lopsided picture of the country. So allow me to break from my regular programming and sharethe Philippines (or as a self-respecting citizen would rather present it) by the numbers and through rather neat clips and images (embedded).
The Philippines has enjoyed roughly 6.5% GDP growth annually for last 6 years. It has been upgraded to investment grade by the big three credit rating agencies namely: Standard & Poor's (S&P), Moody's, and Fitch Group.
START of the boring part- Services are the biggest sector of the Filipino economy and account for 57 percent of total GDP. Within services the most important segments are: trade, household goods, real estate, business activities, transport, motor vehicle repair and services and communication. Industry accounts for 31 percent of GDP. Within industry, manufacturing (22 percent of total GDP) and construction (5 percent) are the most important. Agriculture contributes the remaining 12 percent of GDP. (Source: Tradingeconomics.com) -END of the boring part.
Other notable trends: The Philippine automotive sector continued its strong rally throughout 2014 as vehicle sales rose 30 percent to 234,747 units. (Inquirer) For the sixth straight year, the local stock barometer: The Philippine Stock Exchange Composite Index (PSEi) ended on a higher note, rising by more than 22 percent in 2014. From about 2,000 points in 2009, the index is now hovering at 7,000 points (late 2015). That's close to a "how did-I-miss-that" 50% gain yearly! Financial institutions are strong and many publicly traded corporations have posted high double digit growth annually.
In a populous country where per capita income still lags behind globally, poverty is still a painful predicament of 20-30% of the population! Poverty alleviation programs are currently planned and implemented by the public, private and international sectors. It is a long and arduous road but the good news: many private individuals and institutions extend a helping hand.
Here are embedded video and images to give you snapshots of the developed face of the country to hopefully balance the rustic scenes I normally cover in this blog.
The following images are six of the biggest business districts in the Philippines. Il be adding to the images since there are other districts that are as developed and updating others when I find more recent work. Some of them were shot years ago... in 2008.
Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig City
Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Makati, BGC and Manila Bay Videos
General Santos is the southern most city in Mindanao and the Philippines. It is the 15th most populous city in the country with an urban center complete with the country's major mall brands, hotels and commercial centers.
Seeing the landscape from the plane's window, Gensan is a beautiful expanse with green rolling hills as far as the eyes can see. The city is the center of commerce for the SOCCSKSARGEN region comprising South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani. Sarangani is where boxer Manny Paquiao hails.
In the 5 days I was there, I have met the most welcoming and friendliest people. From accomplished businessmen to common fisher folk, they wear the warmest and most genuine smiles.
Gensan is a regional player in the fishing sector not only in the Philippines but in Asia. Major fishing companies produce and process hundreds of tons of tuna a month. The sector with its processing plants produce top notch sashimi grade tuna to canned tuna. A big portion of their output is exported from their own international seaport.
I was able to see the sea port and market in action from dawn to about 8:00 in the morning. Armed with a 50mm lens on a dslr and wearing regulated rubber boots 3 sizes too large, I shot what I could while I observed and asked people how everything worked.
Here is some of the the set I've taken that morning in late August 2015.
(Click any thumbnail image to view original size. Best seen on a desktop and an iPad.)
Navotas is located along the fringes of the North of Metro Mania. Its elongated land area lines the Manila Bay on one side. It is dubbed as the "Fishing Capital of the Philippines" since many of its residents derive their livelihood directly or indirectly from fishing and related industries.
The city boasts of a modern container port, city hospital and city hall. Businesses, modern warehouses, container terminals and container parks dot the area. Unlike bustling cities with towering buildings in the Metro, Navotas with its roadside stores and commuters in bicycles and decorated tricycles have a character and charm uniquely its own.
That said however, what left a lasting impression on me is the residents living in extreme poverty. Poverty encompasses age, sex and physical appearance. In Metro Manila, the urban poor live in idle or neglected property (both private and public), streets, embankments and under bridges. They are referred to as informal settlers or squatters. Normally, I'm used to the nicer side of the Metro even if I do see these communities behind a car's windshield. Seeing them up close and really observing even for a moment however, can still put one in silent disbelief.
Here's an impromptu shoot of what I've witnessed during a trip to the area for a meeting. It was a dreary overcast day.
The blog is about the Philippines... the less photographed side of it. My hope is that as I develop the series, the story I tell about trivial life in the country resonates with its readers.