Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Anniversary of our Coron island-hopping tour

with 46 comments

A year ago today we went on our Coron* island-hopping tour
in the Philippine province of Palawan, which neither of us had ever been to.

Can you tell that the first two photographs offer different views of the same nature-sculpted promontory?

The final picture includes the kind of outrigger from which I photographed all these scenes.

* Who knew that just a month later we’d begin hearing and worrying about something else
whose first five letters happened to be Coron?

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 13, 2020 at 4:40 AM

46 Responses

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  1. An amazing place, both the water and the rocks. Second to last shot, with all the bold vertical lines and jagged edges, almost looks like a detailed drawing with a graphite pencil or charcoal.

    Robert Parker

    December 13, 2020 at 6:44 AM

    • I’ve had that feeling about the next-to-last picture, too, but didn’t make the connection to a graphite pencil or charcoal the way you did, so I’m glad you specified it. This was the most impressive of the several places in nature that we visited in the Philippines on that trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2020 at 6:50 AM

  2. It is so interesting to see the different ways that nature carves the land. I’ve thought this too, how innocent we all were just 9 months ago or so.


    December 13, 2020 at 8:59 AM

    • Those wind- and water-carved rocks certainly got my attention.
      Ah yes, lost innocence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2020 at 10:17 AM

      • Maybe we’ll get to regain some in a few weeks…


        December 14, 2020 at 9:46 AM

  3. The bizarre rock formations you captured in the Philippines give a good impression of the earth’s violent geological past, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    December 13, 2020 at 9:32 AM

    • And there are plenty of places, including the Philippines, where violent geological activity continues.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2020 at 11:05 AM

  4. Each of these photos has something to commend it. In the last photo, I especially like the implied triangle formed by the clouds. Probably influenced by the season, I thought of a Christmas tree, with the boat as the trunk. Just above that photo, I was greatly amused by the tiny bit of rock extending out from the top. It seems rather delicate; it’s interesting that it hasn’t broken off.

    The next photo above, with the shrubs tucked into the crevices and folds of rock brought to mind a huge chunk of driftwood I found at the Hamby Nature Trail beach after one of this year’s hurricanes. The rock and the wood appear remarkably similar. The folded rock brought to mind the concluding lines of Eliot’s Four Quartets, as well:

    “And all shall be well and
    All manner of thing shall be well
    When the tongues of flame are in-folded
    Into the crowned knot of fire
    And the fire and the rose are one.”


    December 13, 2020 at 9:54 AM

    • The jagged rocks atop the formations in the fourth picture drew my glance, too, especially the fragile-looking one you singled out that must be stronger than it looks. The lack of freezes there lets the formation hang on longer than it would in cold climates. I hadn’t imagined the rock formation in the middle picture as driftwood, but I see it now. That’s a good connection you’ve made to T.S. Eliot’s in-folded tongues of flame, which now remind me, since we’re in the realm of poetry, of Blake’s chariot of fire:


      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2020 at 11:22 AM

  5. Beautiful place! What kind of rock makes up those formations?

    Lavinia Ross

    December 13, 2020 at 10:25 AM

  6. Beautiful photos. The second looks very much like a painting.


    December 13, 2020 at 1:32 PM

    • Thanks. Now that you mention it, I especially see a painting-like quality in the second picture’s tropical water.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2020 at 2:02 PM

      • Yes, there and in the rock face and particularly in the muted green that may be part of the rock. I first took that green for some kind of juniper.


        December 13, 2020 at 3:37 PM

        • If you look at the left side of the rock in the first picture you’ll notice a big wedge missing from it. The second picture lets you see the underside of the top part of that wedge, and I believe the muted green comes from light reflected upwards off the water. I see how you could take it for some sort of juniper.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 13, 2020 at 7:12 PM

  7. I’ve been to the Philippines once, as part of a singing tour with my college choir, and I remember it very clearly. We did get out of Manila and a little into the country, but I’d have loved to get out on the water to have a look at this spectacular coastline. Those jagged, knife-edged formations are surely karst, right?


    December 13, 2020 at 2:01 PM

  8. Wow, such a gorgeous place! Calgon take me away!

    Eliza Waters

    December 13, 2020 at 7:10 PM

  9. The lines of those sea sculptures are so interesting. You were lucky to have been there when you were and before tourism went down the drain.

    Steve Gingold

    December 13, 2020 at 7:18 PM

    • Speaking of going down the drain, that’s what we thought had happened when the hotel we stayed at messed up by not following through on the group tour we were supposed to be part of that day. The management rectified the mistake by arranging for a private tour for just Eve and me. The two guys who were the crew on the boat would stop whenever I asked them to so I could take pictures. I could also walk around to whatever part of the boat I wanted to in order to get the best shot. Both of those things would have been difficult or impossible on a group tour.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 13, 2020 at 7:42 PM

      • An excellent way to make up for a mistake and all to your benefit.

        Steve Gingold

        December 14, 2020 at 3:23 AM

      • I agree with Steve, that’s an excellent way of correcting a mistake!


        December 14, 2020 at 5:33 AM

        • Yes, I give the management credit for fixing their mistake. For a while it looked like we’d completely missed out because by the time it became clear that no one was going to pick us up at the hotel, all the regularly scheduled group tours in town had already departed.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 14, 2020 at 5:49 AM

  10. Beautiful images and such precious memories, Steve. I quite like Corona beer, but I never open a bottle without feeling sorry for the name.


    December 14, 2020 at 5:35 AM

  11. Needless to say that these rock formations are exceptional.
    Great shots Steve !
    Kind regards,
    Rudi (Belgium)


    December 15, 2020 at 7:07 AM

    • Dankjewel. By a coincidence of spelling (but not pronunciation), that Dutch expression could be read as the English words “dank jewel,” where “dank” means ‘disagreeably damp, musty, and typically cold.’ Why a jewel would be dank, I don’t know, but there are lots of strange things in the world.

      These rock formations were the most interesting I saw in the Philippines, and well worth the visit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 15, 2020 at 7:53 AM

  12. What a beautiful place! Interesting rock forms!


    December 15, 2020 at 12:46 PM

    • We made the right decision in going to Coron. Other places on Palawan are supposed to be good, too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 15, 2020 at 8:37 PM

  13. Impressive formations


    December 15, 2020 at 7:36 PM

  14. Wonderful photos Steve… such interesting rock formations


    December 20, 2020 at 7:23 PM

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