The night reveals a different side of Manila.
There’s something magical about biking and walking around the streets of the walled city after dark, guided only by the twinkling lights in the trees and dimly-lit lamp posts.
With travel restrictions eased, the once empty streets are buzzing again with life and energy after two years, as friends reunite for long-awaited meet-ups over coffee, drinks, and casual conversations.
While low-light and night scenes are really more difficult to photograph, some smartphones give users the power to capture their favorite moments even after the sun has gone down.
Samsung Galaxy users can now make their nights epic with the Nightography feature of the S22. With its powerful combination of software and hardware, anyone can take night scenes easily like a pro.
Here are a few tips to best experience and capture the charm of Manila after dark.
Bambike Sunset tour around Intramuros
Bambike has resumed their Ecotours and bike rentals in the Walled City. Groups of friends and families looking for a unique activity to do in Manila—or those taking balikbayans around—can enjoy cycling around the historic neighborhood of Intramuros on bamboo bikes.
Guests can choose from a wide variety of Bambike designs including their signature Ligtasin Cove beach cruisers, Victoria city bikes, and other hand-made bamboo bikes crafted in partnership with artisans from Gawad Kalinga.
Sightseeing and biking during the day this summer can get very hot and humid. There are also a lot more people out walking and vehicles on the road, making it difficult to take photos of landmarks.
The leisurely sunset bike tour when weather is cooler and light less harsh, offers a more chill sightseeing trip around historical landmarks, and better photo opportunities.
Our bike tour took us to four main stops: the Baluarte de San Diego Garden, a majestic stone fort; Puerto Real Gardens, a garden wedding venue surrounded by 18th century stone walls; the ASEAN Gardens, which features an assortment of trees and shrubs from different nations; and the Manila Cathedral.
It’s generally hard to bike with a heavy camera in tow. Good thing the Samsung S22 lets users take high quality photos and videos, despite its small size, and easily extend their adventures from day to night.
I appreciated how clear and crisp photos came out even in low-light conditions, even in some of the darker areas of Intramuros and towards the end of our bike tour around dusk.
Both the Galaxy S22 and S22+ offer a 50MP Wide camera, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra boasts an even more impressive 108MP Wide camera. This function captures much more of the scene than the standard lens, making it ideal for street and landscape photography while traveling.
The camera is very versatile with its Quad camera (12MP ultrawide, 108MP wide, and two 10MP telephoto lenses), a bigger 6.8-inch display, and a 40MP selfie camera. You can easily shift from a wide angle up to 10x zoom setting, so it's easy to frame unique shots at different angles or take photos from afar all from the same vantage point.
For those who like to shoot video, the phone offers a Super Steady feature, which stabilizes scenes even if you're exploring the city on bikes. This makes it a powerful tool for vloggers and content creators who are constantly on the move.
Intramuros Walking Tour
The bike tour started and ended at the Bambike Headquarters, within the Plaza San Luis Complex. The same structure located right across San Agustin Church also contains Casa Manila, a museum that depicts the colonial lifestyle during Spanish colonization of the Philippines, and Barbara's Heritage Restaurant.
This is also where you can find Batala Bar, a bar that specializes in local craft beer, coffee, ice cream and a few light snacks that you can enjoy after biking around. Seating at the bar is a bit limited, but the small area by the fountain offers a great al fresco spot to enjoy drinks or ice cream to cool down.
It was starting to get dark after biking around, but the Galaxy S22 still managed to capture decent low-light shots even with the widest setting.
From here, our group took a quick walk back to Manila Cathedral and Plaza Roma, the small park right in front of the churcc to capture some night scenes. While I had already taken several photos during the day, the church has a different appeal at night, with all the city lights switched on and less people around.
I normally don’t like taking photos at night, because they usually come out too dark or it takes too long to adjust settings using manual cameras. The S22 manages to deliver pro-photography-level features of Nightography to take some pretty decent photos.
Thanks to larger pixels and a sensor with advanced AI high-resolution processing, the Galaxy S22 cameras are able to capture 4x more data than ever before to create noticeably sharp images.
The Galaxy S22 series is said to have 23 percent better night photography than the previous Galaxy S21 series released in 2021, and the photos did not disappoint.
We capped our Intramuros tour with dinner and socials at La Cathedral Café, a trendy restaurant located at the roof deck behind Manila Cathedral.
The cafe is decorated with capiz lanterns and lots of greenery and flowers, offering a stunning and romantic view that’s best experienced at night. La Cathedral Café is a much sought-after spot for dates and casual get-togethers with friends, so to avoid a long waiting time, you should reserve tables online and pre-order food before your scheduled visit, especially if you're dining as a large group.
To capture the best night scenes and prevent blurry photos, it’s best to hold the S22 steady for a couple of seconds. For more professional-looking night shots, I’d suggest using a tripod or having a steady base, but the phone managed to capture satisfying night shots even in handheld mode.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the Galaxy S22's Nightography mode. The images didn’t come out super grainy and retained a lot of details even if you zoom in. There's really no need to tinker much with the settings as the phone's AI automatically balances the light and stabilizes images.
We only got to use the phone units for a couple of hours, but based on specs, the S22 has fast-charging compatibility and an all-day battery, so you won’t have to worry about running out of power and can capture memories at any time of day or night.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is currently available in Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, and Burgundy. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S22+ and S22 come in Phantom Black, Phantom White, and fun colors like Green and Pink Gold.
- Galaxy S22 Ultra - P68,990 SRP (128GB) / P72,990 SRP (256GB) / P80,990 SRP (512GB)
- Galaxy S22+ - P56,990 SRP (128GB) / P60,990 SRP (256GB)
- Galaxy S22 - P45,990 SRP (128GB) / P49,990 SRP (256GB)
According to Samsung, users can also take home the Galaxy S22 Series for as low as P1,916.25/mo at zero percent interest for up to 24 months via Samsung Authorized Stores Nationwide. Citibank card holders can get up to 36 months installment at zero percent interest for as low as P1,277.50/mo. On the other hand, PNB card holders can get their first installment month for FREE and pay zero percent interest for up to 24 months in select Samsung Experience stores and Abenson Stores.
Samsung users can also trade-in an old smartphone for the Galaxy S22 Series to get tokens worth up to P8,000 in participating Samsung Experience Stores and Authorized Stores. Customers can also trade-in their devices via Globe and Smart to receive discounts worth up to P7,200.