El Nido and 5 reasons why it’s awesome to Travel in Film

El Nido is such a beautiful place to go to. While the road leading to it is not easy, either it will cost you much time or it will cost you much money, I’d say it still is worth whichever you’re willing to spend just to get to the place.

Being a professional photographer, it’s totally refreshing to travel with a film camera. We always have our DSLRs beside us at work, we work with the positives and like clock work, it’s already part of our routine. Traveling with film gives me a new feel, a new experience.

We stayed there for about 3 days. We went on tour every day and chilled every night. We got to explore the islands, the secret beaches, the caves and reefs. I somehow wished I had the time to go diving, But with limited time on hand, we could only do what the schedule permitted. It could be somewhat like an amazing race being a tourist but it really is up to us how we go about things.

5. Shooting with film lets you slow down

We travel to unwind, to forget, to see something different, to experience something out of the usual. The habits we have formed today has cost us the experience we ought to be having when we’re out. Rather than being focused in being in the present, we tend to take too much photos for social media purposes, with the likes and shares we’re going to get with such a post in mind. With film, you get limited shots, you don’t see what you get until it’s developed, which means you don’t get to review your shots until you get home and have it serviced.

El Nido is such a pristine, stunning, extraordinary experience worth taking in, don’t lose it to your millenial mindset. Put your gadgets aside and focus your attention in the nature, in the people you meet, in the food you eat and the company you keep.

One thing I did like about it too was that the signal was weak. It was a real get away! I opted to stay away from the wifi as well. I chose to explore the food, the community, the locals, the total experience of budget tripping in El Nido.

4. It makes you think before you click

Unlike digital or phone cameras, film does not give the freedom to collect and select. Like a hunter waiting for the prey, you wait for the right moment, the right angle, the right lighting before you take the shot. It teaches a virtue that a lot of us have lost in the generation gaps: patience.

I remember that scene in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” where the photographer chose not to click the shutter when he saw a beautiful moment and refused to take a shot because he wanted the moment to be his alone, it instilled in me a new perspective in taking photos and how not everything should be captured and shared with everyone.

3. You get to take home fewer but more meaningful shots

And because your shots are limited, thus making you think twice or even thrice before pressing the shutter, you’d take lesser unnecessary photos, and that will allow you to use more time to take a dive, swim, feel the water, watch the sea creatures down under, get a tan, talk to your friends and really see what’s out there. This too, is a good discipline when shooting, as it will really hone your skill as a shooter.

2. Film shots are always a pleasant surprise

One film is different from another. The expired ones are also different from the non-expired ones. And because you cannot see what you just shot, there are a lot of pleasant surprises to look forward to when you get home. Its colors are a lot more crisp and stunning compared to that of what we have with digital, and even #feelslikefilm edits do not come close. So go ahead and give it a try, and let your film roll surprise you.

On this trip I used mostly Fujifilm C200. It’s a good film to use on such travels, you don’t need high ASA for shooting outdoors anyway. I love the colors that this film produces even when it’s a lot less vivid compared to that of the Kodak Color 200.

1. Shooting film is like having a time capsule

During our sunrise kayak, an activity that we did in El Nido that we decided to go for it out of the blue. It wasn’t really listed in the “to do’s” but since it was a good spot for a sunrise, we woke up extra early on our last morning and went in search for a kayak rental. We almost lost hope, but lo and behold, there was one shop that was willing to wake up extra early to rent out their kayaks and off! We went!

It was one of the most memorable moments I had in El Nido. Waiting for the dawn in the middle of the still ocean. The moment was serene, it was quiet, the waves were calm, the mountains were stunning, the colors were so vibrant. I could only sit in awe of God. And of course I couldn’t see the shots I took during that time because I used film, I could only enjoy the moment. When I went home, it was a good feeling, re-living the moment by viewing the photos for the first time.

It was like reliving that morning once more. Like breathing that same breeze of air El Nido had, the inexplainable peace I had in the great outdoor, that sense of awe. 

On our second to the last day, we thought, we always missed the sunsets, so after the island hopping tour, we hopped on to a tricycle to catch the sunset in Las Cabanas. It just so happened that my film cam was on its last shot and I could only have so much time to rewind and change into a new roll. So I took one shot and decided to just see the sunset as it was, AMAZING.

P.S. The truth is, I also had my digital camera with me on this travel, but I decided to do away with it and I have not one hint of regret in making that decision.

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