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A view of the sunset along the NLEX Highway in Pulilan, Bulacan.

Chasing the sun from dusk till dawn across the archipelago

by: Erwin Mascariñas / travel and wildlife photographer

Since I started photography, I had always been in love with the notion of capturing the colorful beauty, splendor and the contrasts with the rise and the setting of the sun.

No matter where, may it be in an island or in the depths of the urban high-rise jungle, my mind keeps on pushing my imagination on how I will be able to capture the scenic motion of the sun through the frames of my camera.

One influence would be old epic Hollywood movies, the cinematic scenes of which have been ingredients for my creative mind to flourish to this day.

An example of such scene would be the moment right after sunset creating that dark tone of the surrounding scenery as it creeps into the frame, with the soft pastel colors of red, orange and yellow blending in the horizon. Highlighted by the contrasting silhouette of a tree and the male and female subjects. Cinematic moments such from the ending of the 1939 movie Gone with the Wind, have always romanticized my imagination since I was a young boy.

So each time I travel across the country and even abroad, images depicting the metamorphosis between darkness and the light, have always played on my mind. Like the endearing need of an artist to create something with his brush, I see the surrounding environment like a canvas waiting to be painted with light and the sun as the theme that binds all of it.

Chasing such imagination is a daunting task, as you need to wake up very early in the morning without any assurance that dark rain clouds would ruin the moment. On the other hand, the same situation goes, while you wait for the sun to set in but at least you’re already awake to capture the right moment.

Traveling to several parts of the Philippines, I’ve gained several photos over the past few years, from the bustling Isabela City seaport in Basilan, the typhoon-ravaged scenes of Eastern Samar to the windmills of Ilocos Norte. Exploring moments with the sun from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Basically, not all places can offer the best view of the sunrise and the sunset within one area. Most often, you have to be contented in capturing either just the setting sun or as it rises.

It would be better if you research first with the locals, as they know the area better as to where the best vantage points you need to photograph. This will also give you time to connect and have a good conversation with the people in the community, enabling further knowledge about pretty amazing spots in the area that are not on the tourism brochures or travel guides as well as learning about certain issues and concerns.

Knowing the right location where to shot the moment you want to capture gives you time to prepare, assess and plan better helping you create better compositions as well as creating a good story. I prefer having a good contrast, creating a silhouette of people and objects, the more they are moving the better.

But remember to prepare, assess and plan fast as each sunrise and sunset blends into the horizon faster than you might be able to catch up. You don’t need to have the best gadgets or additional accessories, as long as you have explored well the capabilities of your camera to that of your skill take over.

If having a silhouette is not your style and you want to see the faces of your subject, then you better use either an internal or external flash but you have to set the amount of light properly. Having a tripod around would be good but not necessarily a must unless you want to create cotton like effects of the water rendered by the low shutter speed with the opening going in the opposite direction.

Hopefully, my photos would inspire others to explore on their own, capturing moments made while they chased the sun.

A child plays along the beach while the sun rises in the horizon in Claver, Surigao del Sur
A sunrise illuminates the fishermen as they gather their crab traps early morning in Barobo town, Surigao del Sur.
A picturesque glare of the horizon while the sunset along the sunken cemetery in Camiguin Island.
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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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