Tucked in the easternmost part of the Philippines, one can find the beautiful Caramoan Islands. Known as the setting for the hit American reality show Survivor, tourists visit this place to rekindle their Survivor dreams.
But Caramoan is more than just a Survivor destination. It’s home to white and pink sand beaches and tropical activities such as diving, swimming, snorkeling, and spelunking. To get to this paradise, you must take a sixteen-hour drive from Manila.
When we arrived, my friends and I opted to do island hopping for one day to see what Caramoan has to offer. I brought the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE — my favorite midrange smartphone this year — to capture my travels for the day.
Perfect summer weather
Caramoan, like other tropical destinations, is prone to rains and storms. Thankfully, we started with a fine, sunny morning. There were no hints of rain clouds and gloomy skies so we were permitted to roam and go on an island hopping tour.
A day won’t start without a selfie. Before we hop on a boat, we took a selfie under the sun to show-off the blue sky, and of course, us.
Tip #1: When in a tropical destination, make sure you’re wearing appropriate yet fashionable clothes. In this case, I wore a yellow tie-dye sleeveless shirt that I can easily take off should I decide to dip into the water.
Contrary to my previous island hopping tour experiences, the view we had here was kinda gloomy. The sea looked silky as it was enveloped by fog, just like a scene taken right out of Pirates of the Caribbean. While my friends were sleepy, I took advantage of taking photographs since the view will be the same for at least half an hour.
Tip #2: If you’re not exhausted, observe and soak up the surroundings. Everything is picture-worthy, only if you know when and how to.
Our first stop was Guinahoan island, where the popular lighthouse is located. You need a ten to fifteen-minute walk before you can reach the summit where a magnificent view awaits.
Tip #3: Never forget your sunblock and if possible, bring a shawl or anything to cover your skin from the harsh sunlight.
I know, I know. We all want to visit the beaches, but this scenic landscape of rolling hills and greenery is too beautiful to give a pass.
Tip #4: There are no trees or any shade so it’s a must to wear your favorite sunglasses whenever you want to have a photo-op.
Of course, there’s a high chance you’ll end up taking the same photos in the same spots with everyone. It’s important to be creative, even when you travel. While I have inspiration for the photos I want to take, it’s best to explore the area and look for a different perspective to be different. As you can see, my friends and I decided to have our photos taken in different spots so our photos wouldn’t look the same.
Tip #5: If you want a fresh take on your Instagram photos, maybe try adding foreground and forget using portrait mode. Swear, it does wonders especially when you have a scenic background.
We headed to Manlawi sandbar where we were greeted with floating cottages. This sandbar appears only when it’s low tide, hence, the water is chest-deep for those who are swimming.
Our group rented a cottage — which was part of the packaged tour — where we could eat our packed lunch. We decided to bring reusable plastic containers we have from our homes so we can clean and pack them after. While it’s hard to steer away from plastic use, we did our best to keep the place clean and bring our trash with us wherever we went.
After lunch, we’re ready for another island adventure. Being in a tight space, I wished my phone had a wide-angle selfie meant for group photos like this. Nonetheless, we still tried taking a photo or two with my short arms.
Tip #6: I know selfie sticks are so 2015, but it’s additional safety precaution when taking your photos. Imagine if you accidentally dropped your phone in the water!
While on our way to the next island, I stumbled upon beautiful limestone cliffs and rock formations. Caramoan is like a combination of El Nido and Boracay — filled with limestone cliffs, white and golden fine sand, and blue seas.
Tip #7: Use 2x zoom (or more) to find a suitable frame for a scene you want to capture. It helps especially when the boat is a little bit far for you to take a photo.
One of my favorites, Matukad Island is a heaven for beach lovers. There’s fine, white sand everywhere, where you’d rather stomp around barefooted and roll over than go back to city pavements. Since this trip is actually a birthday celebration of a friend, we brought Survivor props and played a game.
If I could go back, I’ll be sure to add this island to the itinerary again. I spent a lot of time running around, sitting, and rolling over in the sand. Life is really better at the beach.
This place is majestic, especially during the golden hour. Wherever you look, it’s instagrammable. If taking photos isn’t your thing, you can sit around and ponder about life since it’s peaceful and relaxing.
Tip #8: Wide-angle modes are your friend when it comes to scenic landscapes. Don’t hesitate to use them!
The sun is going down and we need to get back to the port before the seas get crazy. But before we arrive at the port, the boatman and our guide dropped us off at a small cove with mesmerizing rock formations.
Friendly advice, don’t climb the rocks barefoot. It’s too painful but I endured it to get the pose that I wanted. After twenty minutes, we hopped on the boat to finally go back to the port.
My friends and I were staying in Magindara Guesthouse, a beachfront resort filled with airconditioned cottages to give you that relaxed, tropical vibe. The sand where we stayed at is fine yet brown, but the foamy, bubbly waves compensate. It makes for a perfect profile photo!
Fun nights at Magindara Guesthouse
The sun has finally set and we’re down for a night of drinking and fun moments to cherish. Luckily, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE can take decent photos using its front and rear cameras. You’ll never miss a moment to capture anymore!
Tip #9: Decent night shots are still a hit or miss. To capture better photos at night, find and lean your angle towards a source of light.
And before everything went south, we asked to take a group photo in front of our boodle fight. The whole experience in Caramoan was fantastic, made even better by my companions and the memories we made.
Caramoan is for the adventurous soul, and it’s a place I would come back to if given the chance. Luckily, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE was more than enough to capture all the memories of this wonderful trip. I can look back without regrets, and I look forward to the time where I’ll be traveling to this paradise once again.
All photos are taken with the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE.
First 24 Hours with the iPhone 14
Bluer than Blue!
September 11 marks a historical day not just for New Yorkers, but for (almost) everyone in this world.
With a memory that lives forever in our heads, Michael Josh has tried commemorating it.
He went to the pier along Brooklyn Bridge to recreate a shot he wanted to do for so long.
Can’t wait to see how the shot turned out? Or just curious how the iPhone 14’s gonna last throughout the day?
Head over now to our iPhone 14 First 24 Hours video to feed your curiosities.
First 24 Hours with the iPhone 14 Pro Max
Battery & Camera Champ?
Aside from the usual one day usage, it’s also a great time to see the streets of New York, at least virtually.
With the new cameras of the iPhone 14 Pro Max (including a 48MP sensor),
is it suffice to say it’s worth upgrading to this year’s iPhone?
Here’s Michael Josh’s first 24 hours with the new iPhone 14 Pro Max for you to find out more.
vivo V25 and V25 Pro: First 24 Hours
Impressive all around!
For the uninitiated, smartphone manufacturer vivo makes the V-series, apart from the more premium X-series. The V-series is its midrange line that inherits a lot of the flagship features its more expensive brothers offer. It’s also got fun selfie camera features, as well as a more colorful, dynamic design.
The V25 and V25 Pro are the latest in the series, and we partnered with vivo to talk about our experience using both phones for the first 24 hours. We took them around New York City to test out new camera tricks during the day and at night, as well as to give you an idea what it might be like using the V25 Pro in the real world.
Lunch and Errands
We started the day by unplugging the V25 Pro at 10am at 100%. Errands had to be run around the city, which took almost 4 hours.
We then headed to Urbanspace meet some friends for lunch. It’s a food hall with lots of yummy options to choose from, and I opted for a caramelized pork banh mi.
While waiting for my order, I took some video samples using the V25 Pro’s rear camera. For a lot of smartphones photographing and filming at Urbanspace is not as easy. It’s moody with random light sources here and there but the V25 Pro’s 64MP OIS Ultra-Sensing Camera took the challenge like a champ. Watch our YouTube video here.
After lunch we walked over to Grand Central Terminal to take the subway to a Mediatek event. We were running late but we had to take a few photos using the V25 and V25 Pro because this station is stunning.
Even if it was quite dim inside the station, these shots came out great thanks to the V25 series’ 64MP OIS Ultra-Sensing Camera, which minimizes blur and supports a longer exposure time, resulting in clearer and brighter images.
When it comes to videos, the V25 series uses a Hybrid Image Stabilization (OIS+EIS) feature to deliver smooth videos even in low light. The X-series has long been known for great video stabilization so it’s good to see that come to its more affordable models. So, we also filmed a few clips during our subway ride.
Processing Power and Color Changing Design
At the Mediatek event, we got reunited with a lot of our fellow tech YouTubers, including Enobong Etteh (@booredatwork, Joshua Vergara (@jvtechtea), and Danny Winget (@superscientific).
Both the V25 and V25 Pro are powered by a MediaTek 5G system on a chip. The vivo V25 is powered by Mediatek’s Dimensity 900, a 6nm chip with exceptional AI camera features.
Meanwhile, the V25 Pro is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 1300, an octa core CPU with boosted AI performance and HyperEngine 5 which provides a suite of gaming related optimizations.
At the event however, we got our friends to talk about the color changing design of the V25 and V25 Pro.
Our V25 unit turns from golden yellow to a rich orange tone when exposed to the sun or UV light. While the V25 Pro goes from a lighter blue to a deep blue. This is thanks to the Color Changing Fluorite AG Glass material that vivo used.
Both Joshua and Danny liked how eye catching the V25’s color is. I personally love anything blue, so the V25 Pro is my pick.
At the event we also got to test the V25 Pro’s 32MP Eye AF selfie camera. It’s got autofocus, so even if you’re dealing with moving subjects, it locks on them so selfies remain clear.
In one test we had Chay move in and out of frame. Autofocus detects her as soon as she comes back into frame and follows her along as she moves around the frame.
I also love the teleprompter feature which lets me put up a script to read while recording video. I might use it for my Instagram stories more often. It’s such a fun tool!
The MediaTek event took place on a gorgeous rooftop suite so while everyone was busy mingling, I snapped the rest of these photos.
We had a lot of fun catching up with everyone, showing them the new vivo phones, and taking photos that we almost forgot to do a battery check.
At 7:07 PM, the vivo V25 Pro still had 62% left. That’s 9 hours after unplugging it from the charger.
Back in Brooklyn
After the event, we headed back to Brooklyn to try and catch the sunset. This time of the year we get longer days so we had a few minutes left and I snapped more photos along the way.
Being able to film video at night is the holy grail of smartphone videography and with Super Night Video on the V25 Pro, I can shoot videos of the Manhattan skyline when it looks its best.
Super Night Video brightens and reduces noise when filming in low light.
It’s 8:30 PM, and I could just feel the hunger pangs so we decided to grab some tacos from Tacocina at Domino Park. But first, another battery check: 49% left in the tank.
Of course, we didn’t want to pass up on the chance to take a photo of the tacos, too. The camera always eats first.
While we were there it was also the perfect opportunity to test out the Bokeh Flare Portrait. There are five effects to choose from: default, hearts, stars, butterfly, and cherry blossom.
The vivo V25 Pro did a great job of separating me from the background despite how dark it already got. I can’t say which effect is my favorite but I think I’m gonna use hearts for now.
I was so hungry after the day we just had that I had to order another taco. While waiting I went and tested out the Time-Lapse feature on the V25 Pro as well. You can watch our video here to watch those samples.
More Photos at Night
Our next camera test involved having the subject in the shadows, with a well-lit background. We snapped a few around Domino Park, but it’s the one where Chay stood in front of the pillars that takes the cake.
For that we turned on Super Night Portrait. It uses AI to compensate for the lack of light on the subject. It’s of course not obvious in this photo, but in real life, Chay had barely any light on her face when we took the shot.
We couldn’t end the day without taking some artsy night time photos.
This first shot is of the Williamsburg bridge around Blue Hour. I visiting love Domino Park for views just like this one.
I love that Tacocina exists. It means you don’t even need to leave the park to get food and drink. I highly recommend their carne asada soft taco!
I always am a sucker for a mural. I love street art and the walls around Domino Park are lined with them.
I had to do it: an OOTD photo.
These blue steel towers are actually cranes from the sugar refinery that once stood in this area. I love how they kept them around and how they’re now like art pieces that illuminate the park at night.
I love this shot of Chay walking down the stairs from the elevated walkway.
We’ve got a few more shots for you from my walk home.
I was super impressed with this one of a food truck because it was much darker than the pic looks. I also love how the V25 Pro did not produce lens flares other smartphones tend to do when photographing lights.
Neon is always a challenging thing to film or photograph. I think the V25 Pro did an excellent job of this hair salon.
I thought this was a quirky way to end this photoshoot — a neon flamingo atop a building.
After almost 12 hours of use, and exactly 4 hours of screen-on time, the V25 Pro had 28% left at 9:39 PM.
I’m glad we ended our day in Brooklyn with night photography tests using the V25 Pro. It’s worth pointing out that V25 series cost half the price of higher end smartphones. Yet it more than delivers in terms of capturing stunning photos at night.
I guess I shouldn’t even be surprised, considering how the vivo X80 Pro, along with its predecessors, are some of the best smartphone shooters we’ve tried.
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