Ian Harper

Top Insta Spots In The Philippines

These are our Top tips for Instagram snaps from our trip around The Philippines!

Manila

Our first stop was the capital city, Manila.  We were not there a very long time, just over 24 hours, but it was just enough time to get a little bit of a flavour from the city.  We enjoyed exploring the city during the day, in particular the Intramuros part of the city and the old buildings there.  However, our top Instagram spot from the city was heading to a rooftop in the Makati district for sunset.  The views over the city are stunning and offer lots of different options for sunset photos.  Happy sunset snapping chaps.

The Carmoan Peninsular

Next up on our trip was the beautiful Carmon peninsular.  It is not the most accessible place we have ever been to - but that merely adds to the experience.  We flew from Manila to Naga, then had a bus transfer and then a boat transfer and then another bus!  But it was worth getting there.  Unfortunately we did not get the best weather when we were at Gotta Village (where the TV show survivor is filmed) but our top recommendation would be kayaking around the white sand beaches or island hoping and getting the drone up.  There is so much potential here for stunning imagery, we hope to return some day and get luckier with the weather.

Cebu & Oslob

Easily accessible, Cebu is a bit of a hub in central Philippines for flights connecting people to other smaller islands in The Philippines.  Our main highlights were the waterfalls, particularly Tumalog Falls and Kawasan Falls.  Tumalog is impressively tall but can get quite busy, so for photography we would suggest getting there as early as possible.  A suggestion for Kawasan falls would be to try the canyoneering that is on offer there too.  We went with a guide and he was happy to carry our 1Dx Mark ii up with us in a waterproof bag, which meant we could take snaps along the way too.  The scenery at canyoneering is almost as stunning as the final waterfall and is not too busy considering.

Bohol

Head to The Chocolate Hills!  For photos and drone shots try be there for sunset or sunrise, obviously, as the light is softer and it is not as busy.  But during the day it is equally fun hiring a couple of ATVs and exploring from a different, faster perspective.

Siargao

The surf hotspot in The Philippines was well worth a visit and we found it one of the best places for drone photography from our trip.  The surf at Cloud 9 is very consistent and is perfectly lit at sunrise.  Moreover the fields of palm trees by the coast also offer some interesting compositions with the drone.  If you have time, we would also suggest heading to the south of the island for some stunning blue waters, lagoons and islands off the coastline.

Camiguin

The White Island on Camiguin is a relatively undiscovered slice of paradise that is easily accessible for the day and surrounded by some of the bluest and warmest water we have ever experienced.  This would be our top snapping spot, enjoy.

Have any questions? Or want to leave some feedback? Drop a comment below ↓

How To Have an Unforgettable Time in Brussels!

How to have an unforgettable time in Brussels!

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Earlier this summer Ian and Henry headed out to Brussels to complete a project with @visitbrussels.  They had a great time and these were their top three tips from the trip!

1. Without a doubt having lunch underwater at Nemo 33 was the most extraordinary experience from our time in Brussels.  Although neither of us were experienced divers, we felt safe and comfortable after a 45 minute diving lesson.  The experience was like nothing else we’d ever done and incredibly surreal!  If you can image a giant fish bowl secured underwater upside down - you’ve imaged the Nemo 33 restaurant.  We had a vegan menu and the food was delicious.  And the champagne was the icing on top of the whole experience.

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2. A helicopter tour of any city offers a unique perspective and can add so much to one’s understanding of the layout of the city.  Brussels is no different and a helicopter tour is an epic and exciting way to see the scale of the city.  It is also interesting to observe how surrounded the city is by forrest and castles, which was a big surprise for me!  Henry got some incredible shots of the forrest surrounding the city

3. The food and beer!  Make sure you enjoy the Belgium-Fries, as opposed to French-Fries, haha!  Additionally, the waffles and chocolates are some of the best we’ve ever had and really do live up the world class reputation.  Try and head to a beer festival if there is one on, or a pub with literally hundreds of options for beer.  We visited the Delirium cafe with over 2000 types of beer!

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The XPO Creatives Team were hosted by the Brussels Tourism Board, Visit Brussels.  We would like to extend a big thank you to the Visit Brussels team for an amazing week in Brussels earlier this year - look forward to returning next year

Any questions, leave a comment below guys! 

Interview With a Photographer: Ian Harper

Where’s home?

Hey, I’m Ian and home for me is just south of London, in the UK.

What is the favourite place you’ve travelled to?

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel to a lot of places.  I actually always love coming home!  But my favourite place is probably Isla Grande, a small island off the coast of Brazil.

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How did you get started as a photographer?

I got started in photography whilst travelling around South America with my brother for 4 months.  I was just capturing my travels on my iPhone, but took the photography more seriously as the travels progressed.  It was on this trip where I met Henry too, who propelled my enthusiasm into photography to a new level!

What camera equipment / software / tech do you use?  Any must haves?

I shoot on a Canon 5D Mark III, mostly with a 16-35mm f/2,8.  I then edit on Lightroom.  A cheeky must have is probably VSCO on the iPhone to really transform some iPhone shots you get when there isn’t the time to get the camera out.

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What photographers have influenced you, how you think and shoot?

I’ve been massively influenced by Henry Nathan above all other travel photographers across Instagram.  Working and travelling with him has been a great opportunity to really work on my photography and editing.  Specifically with how to compose and edit a shot for Instagram.

Any top tips for Instagram?

Use the filter X-Pro II and whack the saturation all the way up and hope for the best ;)

What are you trying to communicate through your photographs?

I am trying to communicate adventure and the beauty of the world! lol.

What motivates you to continue doing what you’re doing?

I love travelling and photographing the beauty of the world.  I am motivated to continue doing what I love for as long as I love doing it!

Are you a bathroom singer?

Yes, and a big time car singer.

Do you have any advice for young aspiring photographers?

Practice!  Just take loads of photos and don’t be put off if it takes 1,000 bad photos to get 1 good photo.  And do it if you enjoy it.

What are your goals for the future, regarding your work?

Continue to travel, learn and improve.  And master the art of using that sweet sweet  X-Pro II filter.

Both of these images are available for print and canvas purchases here. 

If you have any questions for Ian, leave a comment below! 

24 Hours in Hong Kong!

24 hours in Hong Kong!

After a safe flight down with Virgin Atlantic, Henry and I found ourselves in Hong Kong in the late afternoon.  It was Henry’s first time in the urban jungle and we wanted to see as much of the city as we could before flying out again in just under 24 hours time.

All these photos are edited with our CP Collectives Volume 1. Preset pack. Available here

We grabbed a Tesla uber to our hotel, The Mira Hotel.  The hotel is in the Mong Kok district and conveniently, centrally located in the heart of the city. The design of the hotel sets it apart from other 5* hotels in the city and this is evident from the moment of arrival.  No detail is to small, and nothing has been ignored.

The buzz of the city keeps you awake, despite any jet lag you may be feeling, or think you may be feeling.  This was certainly true for us!  We dropped our bags and headed straight to Hong Kong harbour for the evening light and laser show, just a 5 minute walk from The Mira through Kowloon Park.

Following the electric show, we returned to the hotel and enjoyed a relaxing evening by the indoor pool and jacuzzi, which is simply stunning.  The facilities are state-of-the-art and so quiet for a hotel with over 400 rooms!

We headed to bed with alarms set for 4am so we could wake up and be up Victoria’s Peak before sunrise.

One of the best parts of Instagram is the community.  We were fortunate to meet Irvin, a very talented young photographer from Hong Kong.  He was kind enough to be our guide for the day in Hong Kong and took us up Victoria’s Peak for sunrise.  The views from the peak are unbelievable, it is a chance to take in the scale of the city and become aware of just how many sky scrappers the city boasts.

Our next locations were Quarry Bay and the iconic rainbow residence.  Two spots we had both seen numerable times before Instagram.  Two classic Instagram hot spots, which are even more impressive in real life! 

Following a busy morning of photography, and serious neck ache after looking up for so long at Quarry Bay, we headed back to The Mira for a Michelin-recommended lunch at cuisine-cuisine.  Our 24 hours were running out after lunch and it was time to pack up and head to the airport again!

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The XPO Creatives team were hosted by The Mira hotel.  We would like to extend a big thank you to Jakub from The Mira, who looked after us so well.

As always, please leave a comment below to let us know what you think!

Top 5 Tips for Beginner Photographers

1:  Take photos for you!

Don’t focus on the numbers (how many likes or followers you have).  Often this is a motivating reason for many young photographers, but can be a distraction from the actual process of taking photographs.  Instead, focus on improving your ability and on taking photos you love.

2:  Get used to your camera!

Don’t worry enormously about what camera you are shooting with, instead focus on really getting used to your camera.  Whether you are shooting on an old iPhone or a new DSLR, watch YouTube videos on your exact camera and learn the ‘Ins and Outs’ of it.  Before you start thinking about going out and shooting, you should first have a good grasp of how your camera works, what the buttons mean and what the settings do.  If you do shoot on a DSLR it is worth while reading up, or watching up, on what a DSLR camera actually is!

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3:  Get shooting Manual!

Learn the basics of photography and exposing photographs so you can get shooting in manual mode.  What is ISO, aperture and shutter speed? Learn about the roles each have to play in capturing differently exposed images.  This is a great way to make your move out of auto mode, and into shooting on manual so you can take better control of your shots.  It can be daunting shooting manual for the first time and can lead to some interesting results!  But with time it will really help you improve.  This is the data we put on all our featured photographs on @canon_photos, so people can get an insight into how the shot was taken.

4:  Attempt a specific shot!

Learn a specific technique and attempt a specific shot.  If you have seen a cool long-exposure shot or an interesting photo of someone jumping, or a specific edit.  Try and recreate it.  It will take a few attempts I am sure and will likely look different to what you had in mind.  But it is a great way to help get to know your camera and editing software.  On @canon_photos we always put the camera exit data, so if you see an interesting shot on @canon_photos, note the camera settings down and try and recreate a similar shot!  Similarly with a specific edit, try to re create a certain feel of a photograph you have seen elsewhere.  This is where presets can be really great and we encourage people to try them out to enhance their photography. Our range of presets are available here

5:  Be patient and practice!

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.  A little cliche but it is worth being patient and enjoying the process of improving. Take your camera with you more often than not!  Practice shooting more and then go home and practice editing the shots too.  Like learning anything, practice is so crucial!

If you have any further questions about this blog, give it a comment below

Our Top 5 Insta Spots in New Zealand

Last month our team headed down to New Zealand for an epic eight day adventure.  Here are our top Instagram spots!

1. Sunset at The Wanaka Tree; it may be a little cliche and obvious.  But sunset at The Wanaka Tree is stunning and really does live up to the stunning shots that litter Instagram.  Bring your tripod and a few lenses and experiment with what works best for you that particular day.  When we were there the water level in the lake was so low we could capture reflection shots with a 16-35mm, that look a bit different.

2. Sunset at Piha, overlooking Lion Rock; perhaps not as classic, but we were really impressed with how stunning but rugged the West Coast is.  And just 1 hour from Auckland, we think it should be on everyone’s list.  There are great hikes around Piha, as well as surfing opportunities!

3. Sunrise in The Bay of Islands was another surprise highlight from our trip.  It was unbelievably peaceful but there were such vivid colours all across the skies.  And if you can stand the cold (depending on the time of year) you can even go for a dip in the water.

4. Helicopter views over Queenstown.  If you have the chance to see Queenstown from above, you should go for it!  It is the ideal way to grasp the scale of the town, the lakes and The Remarkables.  It can be a little scary though if the wind picks up.

5. Capture the adrenaline!  Sky dive or Bungee.  New Zealand is the place to go for it when it comes to adrenaline.  We opted for a bungee jump whilst in NZ and although we were so scared before, we would now say it really is a #NZMustDo!  

If you have any further questions about this blog, give it a comment below .

A Contemporary Stay At The Savoy

As I walked into The American Bar, the best bar in Europe and the second best in the world, I asked; What makes it this bar so special?  The answer was, the menu, the feel, but ultimately, you'll see for yourself.  And as I sat at the bar sipping a refreshing cocktail from their new Coast-to-Coast Menu, and made conversation with my attentive white-jacketed barman I was beginning to understand what made the bar so unique.  But then the barman, Martin, said, I have worked here 2 years, 5 months and 19 days.  You never forget the day you join The Savoy.  This moment stuck with me during my stay; the excitement of the guests and staff is contagious.

Other highlights included a tour of the 'back' of The Savoy.  Realising that the incredibly high standards at the front of house are equally high behind the scenes was remarkable.  Each meal is checked, double checked and triple checked whilst being prepared to ensure nothing but excellence is delivered!  And having eaten at Kaspar's three times I was pleasantly surprised at the extensiveness of the vegan menu.  My personal favourtie was the Samosa to start and then the gnocchi!

However, my highlight was the roof access.  The hotel is in the heart of London, to the left there is The London Eye and Big Ben, and on the right St Pauls and The City.  During a pleasant summer's sunset it was genuinely one of the most stunning views I have ever seen.  Climbing up a steep ladder and then opening an old door and then being presented with the view brought back memories of the surprise at Sun Gate, Peru.

Thank you for a memorable stay and excellent experience.  I look forward to returning one day soon!

Barcelona

Day 1:
After a quick flight down from London and an easy Aerobus into town, we were in Barcelona by lunch time!  It was just as well as we were hungry to eat and explore the city.  A place worth checking out is Veggie Garden, which is a very popular vegan restaurant in the middle of Barcelona.  The restaurant offers a three course meal, with wine and bread, for under €10!

After a fairly relaxed afternoon strolling around the Gothic Quarter and picking up a gelato on Las Ramblas, we had rooftop drinks at Barcelona Raval Hotel.  Although I had previously lived in Barcelona for a year, we had no idea about this hotel bar.  The hotel is blessed with amazing 360 degree views of the city.  Such a great place to watch the sunset and a great end to a first day in Barcelona.

 

Day 2:
Another realisation we had visiting Barcelona this time was that it is possible to ascend the Columbus Monument at the bottom of Las Ramlas!  It is a small elevator and a small viewing platform from the top, but it offers a different 360 degree of the city and a great perspective of the trees along La Ramblas.
Barcelona is such an easy city to navigate and it was great to get a cable car up Mont Juic and in just 25 minutes we were enjoying a coffee overlooking the city.
Another highlight from the day was getting the hop on and hop off bus towards Tibidabo.  Tibidabo really does have the most stunning views of the city.  It is a great location to capture sunset and also take in the scale of the city as it spreads in from the coast.  There is also an amusement park at the very top, which is the coolest place for a theme park!
On the way back down we ate at my favourite restaurant in Barcelona.  My favourite restaurant in Barcelona is a vegan and vegetarian pizza restaurant called Dolce Pizza & Los Veganos.  It has loads of options for vegetarians and vegans.  Including pizza, burgers and pasta dishes; I always had the chorizo pizza though with a nice cold Estrella after a nice warm day!

 

Day 3:
After a lazy start to the day, we headed to Poblenou to look at some street art, which is not so well known and so isn’t too busy, but still very impressive.  Some of the art is over 5 metres high and over 20m long and full of vivid colours.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed the highlight of the trip; a helicopter tour of the city.  The helicopter tour goes along the coast from near the W hotel to Poblenou.  Then it goes inland near Sagrada Familia and then to the Camp Nou.  We had great weather and the 12 minute helicopter trip was over before we knew it!  It is the best way to appreciate the grid design Barcelona has, which is just so visually pleasing from the sky but hard to appreciate from the city level.  Barcelona has a strict grid pattern, crossed by wide avenues, designed in the 19th Century. This visionary design by Catalan urban planner Ildefons Cerdà, considered traffic and transport along with sunlight and ventilation in coming up with his characteristic octagonal blocks!

 

Day 4:
In the morning we headed to a bakery for breakfast.  There is a vegan bakery in Gracia, which is really good.  It is a bit expensive, but the food is very nice.  Gracia is a lovely part of Barcelona, which is not quite as tourist as Gothico but has so many stunning squares with lovely cafes and bars.
In the afternoon we had a bit of a surprise and ended up doing a Ferrari experience of the city.  It was a lot of fun, ridiculously fun, even from the perspective of someone who isn’t mad on cars.  And the tour drives up to the top of Mont Juic and so we got out and enjoyed looking out over the city once more, from the Ferrari!
In the early evening it was then home time again after such an amazing time in Barcelona.  Hopefully we will get a chance to visit again - when Messi is playing and the sun is shining!

 

Photography | @ianharper_

Canon 5D Mark III & 24-70mm