We drove to Subic yesterday over the occasionally-potholed Gapan-Olongapo highway. I noticed a disturbing vibration in the car's steering at speeds close to 100 km/h while on the NLEX. It's just like the old car! I suspect that either one (or both) of the front wheels are slightly oblong due to being under-pressurized for a long time, or the 16-inch rims have gotten dented due to hitting one too many potholes. Bad news, that.
Anyway, we left Manila around 7:00 a.m. and arrived at the Tiger Safari around 10:30 a.m. This was after getting lost. I had my Canon EOS 350D with it's middling 18-55mm kit lens, and an old 1960's technology 200mm Pentax Screw mount, manual-focus lens with an EOS adapter.
At the Tiger Safari: we didn't go for the chicken (to feed the tigers) so they basically ignored our ride. This photo was taken with the 200mm, and the bokeh is kind of messy because I had to take the photo from behind the protective grille on the safari ride.
And as close as we could get: the 200mm is just a bit too long for this kind of thing (and madly spinning the manual-focus ring got old real fast):
Tiger cub, this one taken with the kit lens at 55mm:
Meh! baby goat getting milk, 200mm. Nice bokeh, but again a little too tight. The 200mm M42 lens has a close-focusing distance of 2.7 meters, which is quite far.
More "head shots" with the 200mm -- an ostrich, and a camel. Manual-focusing basically sucks, the camel shot isn't too sharp even after application of sharpening.
A white-headed eagle, again with the 200mm.
A politician in his natural habitat. Look at that underbite! I also used the 200mm here, it's not safe to approach politicians.
We also visited Ocean Adventure, which has a dog and pony show (I mean, a whale and dolphin show) and a sea lion show. The sea lions at Ocean Adventure actually have a larger bag of tricks than those at the Singapore Zoo.
The aquarium is relatively small, and not very well-lit. But the presentation is fantastic. I took all of the photos here with the 18-55mm kit lens, ISO 1600, and flash sometimes (when I couldn't get a high-enough shutter speed). When using the flash however I had to put the camera lens right up against the glass to avoid reflections.
This is a baby hawksbill turtle which was rescued after a recent typhoon:
A small triggerfish:
This is a Deadly Stonefish, which is almost as dangerous as a politician. Highly-toxic venom on its fin spines can kill a person in a few hours.
A hitherto-unknown species of underwater cockroach:
Fish hiding behind a pipe:
and congregating around the fluke of an old boat anchor. One of the fishes has what looks like two horns and is particularly ugly:
The photo is somewhat grainy due to use of ISO 1600 and post-processing. I thought flash would spoil the image so didn't use it.
Lastly, we watched the whale and dolphin show, which is supposed to be the highlight of Ocean Adventure.
Before the show, I wandered around with the 200mm manual-focus (ick) lens and managed to take a few interesting photos. Both of these were taken at f/8 (several steps down from wide-open) and pre-focused. Since the lens was significantly stopped down, contrast is higher and everything is sharper due to the more forgiving depth of field.
This dolphin was just playing, there were no trainers in sight.
And, the whale and dolphin show. Again, I used the 18-55mm kit lens, at a fixed f/7.1 (to get the lens into its sweet spot) at focal lengths between 35mm and 55mm.
The amazing flying dolphins!
55mm is too short. And 200mm is too long. Around 100mm would have been just right, if I had that focal length.
Tonka the one-ton false killer whale broaching:
This man has a very dangerous occupation: being hurled twenty feet in the air by Tonka the one-ton whale. It's like being "gently" thrown by a car!
The EOS 350D performed admirably, focusing quite fast. I actually took some shots "blind" because I was reviewing some photo and the whales decided to do something interesting. But, the 18-55mm lens has its limits.
I've decided that, instead of a 17-40/4 L (26,800 pesos online, but 33,250 pesos from the Canon store, much more expensive, but with a local warranty and with the option of installment payments), I should get a 70-200/4 L which is the cheapest white lens and the lens I've been drooling about since 2002.
The 17-40mm is basically a replacement for the kit lens, it does everything the kit lens does, but better. The 70-200/4 L does things which the kit lens cannot do, basically add reach. I would suspect the most-used focal lengths would be the 70-135mm range.
And my experiences at the Zoo have shown me that a short telephoto is ideal. Maybe I should get the 100/2 prime instead, for half the price. But it's hard to get the ideal focal length when doing this sort of photography if you only have a prime lens.
Actually the 24-105/4 L IS would probably do very well here too, but it's $1,000 versus around $550 for the 70-200/4 L. Or, I could settle for the recently-discontinued 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM, which is not an L lens, but it is middle-class and has a ring USM motor. At half the price of the cheapest L lens.