Features

7 tips to stepping up your Instagram game

No amount of editing can fix a bad image

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It all started with sharing memories using a vintage filter. Through the years, Instagram grew and became a platform for self-expression, an avenue for individuals to showcase their lifestyle and creativity. More and more, people are curating their Instagram profiles and here you are, stuck with your messy feed and hoping to step up your Instagram game out of envy.

Fret not! A lot of us feel that way, too. As a creative who lives and breathes Instagram for brands, but doesn’t have the time to work on his own account, I’ve got seven tips to share to help people level up. Here they are:


Think like a brand

Chay likes to take photos of her food, while Kevin is passionate about landscape and aerial photography

Set the direction of how you want your Instagram feed to look. It can be in tune with your personality, hobbies, and interests, or you can transform it into your portfolio of artworks, photographs, or works you proudly share. It can also give people a glimpse of your lifestyle, or the things you’re passionate about. Whatever it is, you decide on what to show on your feed.

Equip yourself with the right camera

Kevin likes to capture his adventures with his favorite toy, the DJI Mavic Pro. MJ, on the other hand, prefers to capture his moments on a good camera phone

Today’s smartphone cameras can sometimes have the same resolution and image quality as a DSLR camera’s, but you shouldn’t fully rely on them. Depending on what kind of photographs you take, there’s a gadget that will help you up your Instagram game. Whether it’s an action cam, drone, or mirrorless camera, there’s a specific shooter out there for your unique needs.

Let your photos tell a story

MJ captured this photo of a girl walking on the streets of Puerto Galera under the scorching sun, while Vincenz photographed a passing taho vendor during a late afternoon in Boracay

Be in touch with your surroundings and capture the moments you find yourself in. Give your followers a glimpse of what’s happening by including people, actions, scenery, and events in your photos. Invoke emotions and make your audience feel like they’re a part of your narrative. A caption would help to support your post, but your photograph should be able to tell a story on its own.

Adjust and tweak for the best results

Chay visited an Instagram-worthy cafe in Shanghai; the raw image is beautiful enough, but to keep her style, she adjusted the brightness and temperature slightly to make it warmer

Our smartphones may not capture the exact moment we see with our own eyes, but we can always accentuate how beautiful our photos are through editing. There are numerous photo-editing apps but remember to not overdo it! Just tweak and adjust these main points: brightness, contrast, alignment, and temperature. Do so, and you’ll look like a pro.

Keep it authentic from the start

MJ upped the vibrancy a little bit to accentuate Mt. Pinatubo’s aquamarine-colored lake, and Dan tweaked the highlights to feature the skyscrapers of Singapore

Good editing is the kind wherein you don’t notice it was even edited. A lot of people overdo their editing to the point of looking artificial. Some can actually pull it off, but others try so hard to copy styles and presets that the image loses its authenticity.

Be consistent and learn how to commit

Dan’s feed consists of his daily grind showcasing urban life and architecture, while Isa’s feed features her travels and OOTDs.

This generation has a lot of commitment issues *ehem* but being uncommitted when you badly want something isn’t going to get you anywhere. Once you’ve decided to up your Instagram game, you have to continue doing so to achieve the feed that you’ve always wanted.  Be consistent in posting a single style to make it cohesive.

Don’t take it too seriously

Isa, Alven, and Michael Josh uploaded their fun and memorable moments on their respective Instagram profiles.

And lastly, enjoy and have fun! Taking it seriously kills your creativity. Get in touch with your inner child and be playful. There’s so much more to life than your Instagram feed.

Curating your feed might seem daunting, and from your perspective, it could be a thing only brands, influencers, and creative people do. You might even downplay yourself because you don’t have talent in photography, but guess what, you don’t need to be a pro to take nice photographs. Your eyes can be trained to see the beauty in everything; you just have to believe that there’s an artist inside you.

Automotive

The GadgetMatch team goes for ARCC 2019

It’s that time of the year again

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Sunshine TV’s Auto Rally Corporate Challenge (ARCC) season is here to enforce and remind everyone of road safety and driver discipline. It is also a celebration of the popular Sampaguita Rally in the Philippines back in 2001.

If you just heard of ARCC and have no idea what happens during the event, you may quickly read our feature from last year.


Ford had a total of three teams comprised of three members each

Just like the previous ARCC, each automotive brand can send up to three teams with three members per vehicle. And for 2019, Ford went with an all-Raptor lineup to join the competition.

Wii Gamboa of Sunshine TV kicks off the event

What’s different from last year was that this time, we had a solid GadgetMatch team for the driver, time-keeper, and navigator positions. As such, we’ve collected our experiences during the run to show how exactly the dynamics work between the three roles.

Rodneil (time-keeper):

Going into the rally, people were saying the time-keeper had perhaps the most challenging role because he had to do the math. While I’d like to think my math isn’t too shabby, there was more to the role than just crunching numbers.

Rodneil re-enacting his confused look after being given the handbook

Like anyone doing anything for the first time, I quickly entered into a mild panic the moment we were handed the handbook that contained the rally’s route. Sure, we prepared the night before but that didn’t seem to matter for the first few seconds. Luckily Kevin and Dan were a little more level-headed and helped me calm down lol.

It was smooth sailing from there, or at least that’s what I would like to think. I was flipping through the pages making sure I calculate the ideal time to complete a certain leg while also letting Kevin know if we should slow down or hit the pedal to the metal.

Each entry has a corresponding time to get from one point to the next

The second leg was a little bit rougher. We got lost and confused at multiple stops but were able to find our way somehow. The bonus stage was super fun because Kevin really got to take advantage of the Ranger Raptor’s capabilities sliding our way through the wet roads and dodging obstacles.

Even though I honestly wasn’t sure what I was doing 90% of the time, I’d like to think we did pretty okay and more than winning, I really like the teamwork we had during the rally.

Dan (navigator):

As a first-time participant in ARCC, I was both excited and nervous. When I was told that I’ll be the navigator for the team, I felt the pressure to make sure that we’re in the right way. I’ve always been good with directions, especially when I have a map with me. However, the directions included in the rally’s handbook were just arrows with minimal clues (see picture below) and it was definitely a challenge.

Making the right turn is important or it could offset the distance counter

Throughout the race, I had to closely coordinate with Kevin, the driver, so we don’t miss any turns. I also had to check in with Rodneil, the time-keeper, to keep track of the time. The first leg was relatively easy for me since we mostly passed by the expressway and long secondary roads that go around and through the rural areas.

The second leg was a different story. Just as it started, I got confused with the initial directions and the tiny traffic cones. Unlike with the first one, the second leg of the rally was within the city center. I had to deal with multiple intersections and a number of small roads that weren’t specified in the handbook. Sad to say, I was muddled and not able to keep my head in the game.

Overall, I had fun. It was enjoyable to have a different activity. I wasn’t in front of my laptop the whole day which means the rally really took my full attention.

Kevin (driver):

I’ve participated in ARCC for a couple of times now and I’ve always been the driver every single event. The reason being I feel it’s where I’d be effective the most and personally, I just enjoy driving. As the one behind the wheel, you basically just have to listen to both the time-keeper and navigator to tell you how fast you should go and where you should go.

A steady pace is one of the key things to keep in mind for the driver

Although that may sound simple, you also have to be able to know when to go beyond the recommended speed to make up for lost time, for example, or when to slow down when you’re ahead of the perfect time.

As Rodneil and Dan have already stressed out, the first of two legs was pretty simple and directions were straightforward. We didn’t miss any of the checkpoints and we’re actually pretty confident of our recorded times.

Different cars from different brands ready for flag off

During the afternoon leg, however, the directions were a little bit more complex — making us turn at more corners in short distances which made things a bit confusing. We found our way towards the right direction, though, and were able to make up for a few lost seconds. We even did good time during the bonus stage clocking in half a second past the perfect time.

Overall, it was still an enjoyable event that brought friendly competition between automotive brands. On top of that, STV was successful in making the event not only fun but also serve an important reminder to always follow traffic rules and practice road safety. It was awesome to once again represent Ford Philippines and this time, with our very own GadgetMatch team.

We’re looking forward to next year’s ARCC!

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Automotive

A Father’s Day drive up north

Story time!

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We recently got the Ranger Raptor for the second time to use at this year’s STV ARCC and represent Ford Philippines. And since we had a free day before the event itself happened, I decided to use it and take out my dad along with my brother for a road trip. Good thing Mom had an errand to do that day!

Dad wanted to visit a certain theme park restaurant north of Metro Manila so I agreed and went for it. We already brought the Raptor to a 4×4 route for some off-road action, so now we go for long, paved roads with hungry stomachs.


That’s Dad, my brother Kiefer, and me on the road

After four hours of driving from the south, past the traffic metro, and all the way up north, we reached our destination. The place is called Isdaan Floating Restaurant and it’s at the municipality of Talavera in Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. “Isdaan,” when translated, means “fishery” so it already paints you a picture of what to expect. The restaurant is hard to miss as it has a wide, inviting facade fronted with sculptures.

The staff greeted us with a warm welcome and led us to our private floating nipa hut with koi fish swimming around and under us. Looking at the menu, there were lots of choices from appetizers, meat, seafood obviously, and even specialties that you don’t usually see in city restaurants.

“Guarding” the floating nipa huts

We got Bicol Express (spicy stew), Sinigang na Liempo (pork belly soup), and Binukadkad na Plapla (butterflied fish) from the menu. One of their signatures is a Boat Special. Basically, they offer select dishes in a long sizzling plate mounted on a wooden counter-top that resembles a boat. This was how Bicol Express was served which greatly added to the presentation value.

Food was really great especially the soup. While the service wasn’t too snappy and could definitely be improved, the food compensated for it. It has that home-cooked taste that hits the spot after a long drive.

After eating, we decided to walk around the area and check out the theme park side of the place. There were giant statues everywhere — from the Charging Bull similar to New York’s, Big Buddha of Phuket, and even prehistoric dinosaurs. It does make for great photo opportunities as you’ll see in the following photos.

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Apart from the gigantic and humorous characters, another attraction to find here is a corner to vent out all your pent-up emotions. For a reasonable price, you can choose objects like those plates or coffee mugs that you can smash onto the wall. If you ask me, I feel it’s a bit out of place in this family-friendly restaurant but it still does make the place unique.

Those are all fun but what usually entices people to visit this place is the fact that you can dip your feet in this shallow pond and have large koi fish swimming in between your legs. It might sound weird and it’s probably not for everyone, but the novelty of being able to do it was actually fun.

These koi quickly gather around you as you go near the water

Caught this little guy trying to nibble on his watch

Can’t leave the place without this obligatory shot!

After all the photos were taken and a few minor mishaps (one of us slipping trying to get in with the fish, not telling who), we were ready to go back home. It was another four hours inside the Raptor and we ended up exchanging stories and laughing our way through the expressways while the truck was mostly on cruise control. It was definitely a trip to remember.

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Features

6 best smartphones of 2019 (so far)

H1 2019 Edition

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We’re about to hit the half-way mark of 2019, and with most major smartphone launches out of the way, it’s time to pick the best models so far.

After numerous new products around the globe, it’s impossible to cover everything and provide a top-to-bottom ranking. With this in mind, these are the top smartphones we actually tested and believe are front-runners till the end of the year.


In no particular order, here they are:

Xiaomi Mi 9

Whenever a new Mi flagship comes out, people’s heads turn. The Mi 9 is this year’s first “flagship killer,” owning the specs and attractive price tag that made the more premium brands rethink their marketing strategies. Despite being one of the earliest to release this year, its price-to-performance ratio is still one to beat.

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Even though the Galaxy S10+ borrows several key features from the past generation, it does so with grace. By combining the best of the best, we have a flagship smartphone that’s more refined inside and out compared to the other entries on this list. It may not be groundbreaking, but Samsung nailed what we want in a high-end device.

Huawei P30 Pro

Controversies and trade ban aside, the P30 Pro set the highest bar for smartphone photography this year. Its zooming capabilities are unreal, and when combined with the advanced image processing and incredible battery life, this is practically a standalone camera replacement. Let’s just hope the second half of the year is nicer to Huawei.

OPPO Reno 10x Zoom

OPPO made it clear that they’re serious about the premium segment when it unveiled the Find X last year. The Reno follows up on that ambition with an impressive set of rear cameras and one of the most unusual selfie shooters we’ve ever seen. It owns some of the best internal hardware, as well, making this a lot more well-rounded than you’d expect.

Google Pixel 3a

Months of leaks and rumors eventually blossomed into the lower-end sibling of the much-loved Pixel 3. Google’s Pixel 3a makes a few compromises here and there, yet retains the features we truly want, such as the unmatched single rear camera and always up-to-date software — all in a package that costs only US$ 399.

OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus may have veered away from its affordable pricing strategy, but the OnePlus 7 Pro justifies the price hike with possibly the best smartphone screen in the market, along with a gorgeous design and unrivaled specifications. This gadget most definitely does not settle.

Honorable Mention: Redmi K20 Pro

We’re currently in the process of reviewing this device, but from what we can tell so far, this is indeed a winner. As the spiritual successor to last year’s smash hit, the Pocophone F1, the Redmi K20 Pro looks to become 2019’s one true flagship killer. It’s got everything, from the sharp looks and top-shelf specs, to the high-tech cameras and lovely price.

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