Long-exposure photography at Banzai Cliff

DSC_6581YOU should visit Banzai Cliff at night to see a totally different aspect of one of the most frequented places on island.

Recently, I was there with five other photographers. We wanted to learn time-lapse photography and we were told that Banzai Cliff was the best spot to do it. We arrived just before 8 p.m.Setting up our tripods and cameras, we studied the sky. Only a few stars were visible and I was beginning to get disappointed, but I followed what my companions were doing and set the timer on my camera and left it to do its work. We kept repeating the process and paid more attention to the food and drinks that we brought with us.IMG_2196

Banzai Cliff was so different at night. It had an eerie feel and the silhouettes of monuments seemed sinister. My imagination was running wild, as usual. I thought the statues would come to life at any time, and I could almost hear the screams of the people who died in that place during the war.

Half an hour and several gigabytes later, I scrolled back to have a glimpse of what my camera collected. I was in for a big surprise. I saw only a few stars but the camera showed more — in fact the sky was filled with glittering dots and I had to check if my camera was not playing tricks on me. I peered at the screens of my companions and discovered that yes indeed, there were more stars in the sky than we saw.DSC_9006

Fascinated, I repositioned my tripod to face the area above Suicide Cliff and turned it to the widest angle to capture the silhouettes of the monuments with the stars.

My images did not come out good as well as the time-lapse images of the other photographers. I need more practice, but the experience taught me a lot about the wonders of the sky.IMG_5663

First published at the Marianas Variety here



3 Christmas ‘giants’ in the islands


30-foot Christmas tree at the Multipurpose Center in Susupe

CAN you imagine Christmas without Christmas trees?

Each year in December, Christmas trees with brilliant twinkling lights and other ornaments are installed in homes, parks, stores, schools and offices.

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30-foot Christmas tree at the Paseo de Marianas in Garapan, Saipan

On Saipan and Tinian, the three tallest Christmas trees can be found at the multi-purpose center in Susupe, at the Paseo De Marianas in Garapan and at the Tinian Dynasty.

At 41 feet, the Christmas tree at Tinian Dynasty should be the CNMI’s tallest. It is made of multi-colored blinking lights topped by a “star.”

Christmas tree at the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino gate towering at 41 feet

The Christmas tree outsider the multi-purpose center is 30 feet high and was lit up a day after Thanksgiving. The tree comes with a nativity scene and is an annual project of the First Lady’s Vision Foundation.

At Paseo de Marianas, the 30-foot Christmas tree glitters with ornaments from recycled materials, and near it are the 9-foot trees decorated by elementary schools that competed in the recently held Christmas tree decoration contest.

In daytime, these Christmas trees look ordinary, but in the evening they turn into something magical — and festive.