Aliwan Festival: a photographer’s dream

The Aliwan Festival (or fiesta) was held this weekend in Manila. The festival is a massive event that brings together cultures from all across the Philippines in the form of a street parade, beauty pageant, and float competition. Braving the heat wasn’t easy, but I felt a strong urge to use this as a launching point from which to begin focusing more effort on photographing the Philippines (since it is my home now) – I wasn’t disappointed.

The variety of costumes and cultural displays was staggering. Thousands of people overlayed with a backdrop of rhythmic drums, pulsing dance, and myriad colors created a sense of energy unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

My biggest mistake of the day was to only bring 12GB of memory cards and no way to offload them. I shoot primarily RAW when possible, and with the 21MP Canon 5D mk II, I burned through 8GB cards in no time. Mixing in some 1080p movies didn’t help; I really wish I could have done more video. In regards to lenses, I found myself most often using the Canon 70-200mm with a 1.4x teleconverter in order to get more intimate with portraits. I would have loved to keep a wide angle on my 40D backup but Novita was busy capturing some fantastic shots.

It’s my first fiesta / festival in the Philippines but definitely not my last. I walked away from the 6 hours of heat with a sense of fulfillment I haven’t had in months with my camera – I feel inspired for the first time in a long time.

Now comes the mass culling of 620 photos. Excessive? Perhaps. But wow, what an experience. I’ll be posting them as I get the time. Here are a few to kick things off:

  • realy great captures, well done.

    • javajive

      Juergen – as always I appreciate you following my work all these years. It's too bad we haven't met up yet! How is everything?

  • Alice

    Wow Brandon, stunning shots.

    • javajive

      Cheers Alice.

  • outoftownmanila

    I love this set:) fantastic colors, Im glad you enjoyed your shoot despite of the humid temperature.. See you in Aliwan 2011

    • javajive

      Thanks – I'll indeed be sure to be there next year – hope to catch a few more in this month of May. Heading down to Taal tomorrow to take pics.

  • james

    Great shots! I love it! I would have loved to be there too!

    • javajive

      Thank you James. Cheers.

  • Mi

    I'm surprised you're still alive with the heat! Great pictures! I wish I knew about it. I could have brought my friend from the US who's visiting me.

    • javajive

      I'm pretty used to the heat, but Jakarta doesn't get as hot as Manila – although Manila also gets cooler – I prefer the slight variation actually. Plus, the midwest of America gets hotter than Manila in July/August at times, so I grew up with it.

      Surely your friend would have loved it!

  • Mi

    I'm surprised you're still alive with the heat! Great pictures! I wish I knew about it. I could have brought my friend from the US who's visiting me.

  • Awesome photos and what an experience! Looking forward to seeing more.

    • javajive

      Thanks, Matt. I'll continue posting more as I find the time – but surely you guys will get sick of them! 🙂 How's Oregon?

  • javajive

    Thanks, Matt. I'll continue posting more as I find the time – but surely you guys will get sick of them! 🙂 How's Oregon?

  • javajive

    I'm pretty used to the heat, but Jakarta doesn't get as hot as Manila – although Manila also gets cooler – I prefer the slight variation actually. Plus, the midwest of America gets hotter than Manila in July/August at times, so I grew up with it.

    Surely your friend would have loved it!

  • javajive

    Thank you James. Cheers.

  • javajive

    Thanks – I'll indeed be sure to be there next year – hope to catch a few more in this month of May. Heading down to Taal tomorrow to take pics.

  • javajive

    Cheers Alice.

  • javajive

    Juergen – as always I appreciate you following my work all these years. It's too bad we haven't met up yet! How is everything?