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Photographer of the Week: John Kimwell Laluma

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By Maan D’Asis Pamaran

With all the grandeur that nature brings, it’s the night sky that fascinates John Kimwell Laluma the most. The Bacolod-based lensman is also an electronics engineer and a college instructor. When he is off-duty, he packs his gear and camps outside to wait for the stars to start twinkling against their black velvet backdrop.

  • Wish Upon a Star (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Wish Upon a Star (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Windows (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Windows (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Treeline (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Treeline (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • The Beacon (John Kimwell Laluma)

    The Beacon (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Sunflower Sunrise (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Sunflower Sunrise (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Steps (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Steps (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Sleeping Giant of Duvek (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Sleeping Giant of Duvek (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Singapore CBD (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Singapore CBD (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Singapore Before Dawn (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Singapore Before Dawn (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Shanghai Sunrise (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Shanghai Sunrise (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Salt Pans (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Salt Pans (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Prelude To Summer (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Prelude To Summer (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Portals (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Portals (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Path to the Cosmos (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Path to the Cosmos (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Milky Way Over Stonepeak (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Milky Way Over Stonepeak (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Milky Way Over Naidi (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Milky Way Over Naidi (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Mangroves (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Mangroves (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Hive (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Hive (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Galactic Gazebo (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Galactic Gazebo (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • From Up Above (John Kimwell Laluma)

    From Up Above (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Foothills of Mt. Kanlaon (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Foothills of Mt. Kanlaon (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • First of April (John Kimwell Laluma)

    First of April (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Density (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Density (John Kimwell Laluma)

  • Center of the Universe (John Kimwell Laluma)

    Center of the Universe (John Kimwell Laluma)

    He bought his first digital camera back in 2008, then tried out different genres of photography before finding his niche in landscape and travel in 2016. By 2018, he gained recognition here and overseas for his body of work. Among his awards were second place in the International Photography Awards (Architecture) and another second place in Tokyo International Foto Awards (TIFA) also in Architecture. The image that won in those two awards also won the grand prize in Skylum’s Symmetry Contest.

    John’s interest in the Milky Way and in other faraway galaxies started out when he was still very young. “As a child, I was really into astronomy and geography, thanks to the many books that my aunt gave me. I still retain that until now and it shows in my images. I love to photograph interesting places and currently, I am really into showing the beauty of the night sky. I am particularly drawn to patterns and symmetry, be it natural or manmade.”

    The stargazer talks tips on how to train your lens at the sky. “Astrophotography requires a thorough knowledge of your camera in terms of exposure control as well as basic knowledge in astronomy. Getting the perfect shot of the night sky is a combination of skill, a little bit of luck, and of course a whole lot of imagination. Nowadays, there are Apps that help you track the stars so it’s a lot easier.”

    Of course, it is not always physically easy.  He also shares what he as to go through to get his awe-inspiring shots. “I don’t’ want to give the details, but it’s driving to a location alone at 2 a.m. and wading in ankle-deep mud to photograph the Milky Way,” he laughs.

    He is a member of the prestigious Camera Club of Negros and he finds so much inspiration in the fact that this part of our archipelago is blessed with so many beautiful sceneries. “In landscapes, light primarily shapes the mood as well as other elements such as clouds, fog, among others. I use these elements to portray my intentions. I can’t really say that I have a particular preference but I usually go with bright and vibrant tones. An effective photograph is one that you can still see even when your close your eyes—the one that is embedded in your mind, the image that triggers emotions and encourages discussion, the one that inspires you to go out and shoot.”

    When you are constantly around nature, you get to find your place in the universe. John shares his most profound thoughts about communing with the stars. “Looking at the night sky is always a humbling experience. It makes you realize the vastness of the universe and how insignificant you are. It also brings about a wave of nostalgia, back to simpler days where I do nothing but gaze and study the night sky.”

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