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Lots of excellent surfers were out on Saturday at the Juno Pier surf spot in South Florida. Hurricane Irene left plenty of great waves in her wake. Waves of this size are not a regular occurrence in South Florida so everyone comes out, surfers, observers and photographers…I had a great time watching and shooting. Pura Vida!
Just in case you want to shoot some of your own pix, here’s what I used. A Canon 5D Mark II body with a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L zoom lens, a tripod (monopod would be better) and a polarizing filter to bring out the color of the water. In some cases I added as much as one full stop of exposure to compensate for the polarizer. I shot in shutter priority mode, and used iso settings between 160 and 300, that gave me f stops between 5.6 and 9 depending on the shot.
My OpenSky store is alive and kicking! So let’s get started. I want to introduce you to a product that is a perfect solution for someone who loves shooting photos, and wants more versatility and creative options than a point and shoot camera offers.
I am a huge fan of Canon cameras. I purchased my very first Canon SLR (SLR=single lens reflex, it means you’re looking through the lens rather than a viewfinder) camera at the beginning of my first year of college, it was a Canon TLB film camera with a 50mm lens. I don’t believe I consciously chose Canon at the time for any reason other than that’s what the store I shopped at offered. Thankfully, the decision to go with Canon cameras and lenses, many, many, years ago, has proven to be a good one. I’ve owned lots of different Canon cameras since then. As Canon developed new technology, and my budget allowed, I upgraded my current Canon camera. I gave in and went digital only when Canon made the first digital camera I could afford. That was the good old Canon EOS 10D. I still use it, and it’s nearly 10 years old and going strong. I can honestly say I have never had a single problem with any of my Canon cameras or equipment.
All of the photos on my site www.g2gvisions.com, and this blog, were shot using Canon cameras. From my Canon F1n LA Olympic Edition film camera, my Canon PowerShot SD630 (point and shoot), which I purchased 5 years ago and carry around in my handbag, to my most recent Canon purchase, the incredible Canon EOS 5D Mark II.
Check out this Canon EOS Rebel XS 18-55IS Kit, it’s a perfect entry level Canon SLR digital camera. Get lots of the same features the pros enjoy with this incredible camera, which is Canon’s lightest and most compact EOS Digital SLR to date. Visit my OpenSky store at my website, www.g2gvisions.com/openskystore.html
If you’re looking for a great way to get into working with a SLR camera, and all of the cool creative options that go with using one, then start out with this kit, it’s a perfect setup to get you shooting right away. Since it’s a Canon product, I can whole-heartedly assure you that this is a high quality product. If you have questions about this Canon EOS Rebel XS 18-55IS kit, or any other Canon lens or accessory, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll certainly make every effort to get the answer for you.
Now back to the Canon EOS Rebel XS 18-55IS kit, it comes fully loaded with many of the features offered on much, much higher priced cameras. From its 10.1-megapixel CMOS Sensor, Canon’s DIGIC III processor, simple, easy-to-use controls, compact design, huge 2.5-inch LCD monitor, and Live View Function (this cool function lets you see the image you’e shooting right there on the monitor so you don’t have to hold the camera to your eye), to the Canon 18-55 IS zoom lens, the IS stands for image stabilization, it’s totally a beginner’s dream come true. If you’re on the edge about whether or not to purchase this camera, I say, go for it, I chose Canon many years ago and I have not looked back. I recently got a Nikon advocate to switch to Canon once I showed him all the great things that my Canon EOS 5D Mark II can do!
Just look at this impressive list of facts and features.
• 10.1-megapixel CMOS Sensor
• Canon’s DIGIC III processor
• simple, easy-to-use controls
• compact design
• a 2.5-inch LCD monitor, and
• Live View Function
• Auto Lighting Optimizer for highlight/shadow control
• Picture Style settings for in-camera color, contrast, and sharpness control
• High-speed, wide-area 7-point AF with center cross-type sensors
• Excellent performance with 3.0 fps continuous shooting and burst rate up to 514 Large JPEGs (until memory card is full)
• Large 2.5-inch LCD monitor with Live View Function
• EOS Integrated Cleaning System
• Compatible with compact SD and SDHC memory cards
• Compatible with over 60 Canon EF/EF-S lenses and most EOS System accessories
Included: EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS Lens, Wide Strap EW-100DBIII, Video Cable VC-100, USB Interface Cable IFC-200U, Battery Pack LP-E5, Battery Charger LC-E5, EOS Digital Solution Disk and Instruction Manuals.
Special! 25% Off! From August 10th through August 16th, use coupon code EXCITE25 and you’ll receive 25% off any product on OpenSky! Visit my OpenSky “Candy” Store today! Michelle’s OpenSky Candy Store
Feel free to e-mail me with questions, the products that I endorse are products that I think are high-quality, and are worthy of taking the time to share them with you. Best of all, when you buy at my OpenSky shop, each and every purchase you make is completely GUARANTEED! You may return any purchase, for any reason, in its original condition, within 1 year for a FULL REFUND. And we’ll pay for the shipping! What could be better than that!?!
Don’t forget, order by August 16th, and use the special coupon EXCITE25 to save 25%!
By the way, send me your Canon camera photos and stories. E-mail me at email@example.com. Not only would I enjoy them, but I’ll post your shots and stories here on my blog to be enjoyed by all!
If you are looking for a good time on Cape Cod check out the Hyannis Whale Watcher. It’s a trip you will remember.
Last week I took a ride on the Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruise, for the second time. www.whales.net. The whale-friendly (no propellers), water jet propulsion cruiser leaves from Barnstable Harbor (Cape Cod) and shoots you right out to the whales. If you like speed, you’ll enjoy the ride. We passed by the beautiful Sandy Neck lighthouse and cottages on their barrier beach at the mouth of the Barnstable Harbor. That view is incredible itself. I was so inspired last time I went out that I created a large, digital painting of the Sandy Neck Lighthouse. You can see it here.
Once we were out of Barnstable Harbor and in the open waters, the jets kicked in and we were whisked out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. I sat outside at the stern and watched the power of those engines pushing the water. Unbelievable. It felt a bit like flying.
If you like photography and wildlife you will really enjoy the challenge that whale photography presents. I brought along my Canon 5D Mark II and my Canon 100-400 f4.5-5.6L Series zoom. I set my ASA to 320 so I could use a fast shutter speed and still get decent depth of field. Most were shot at 1/1600 at f6.3, f7.1 and f8. It seems to have worked. The whales and water are dark in color for the most part so you have to compensate for that too. I added between one third and two thirds of a stop more exposure in most cases.
The crew know their whales and they know where to find them. We had whale visitors within moments of arriving. We saw lots of Humpback whales on the day we went out so we learned a lot about them. They got their name from the hump on their backs, just in front of their small dorsal fin. Humpbacks are baleen whales, meaning they have no teeth, but they have baleen plates made of the same material as our fingernails (keratin). The plates hang from the whales upper jaw and allow the whale to filter its food from the water. Humpback whales can be 35 to 50 feet long and weigh between 25 and 40 tons, and they’re mid-sized whales. The underside of the tail, or flukes, is like our thumb print, no two whales have the same markings, making it possible to identify individuals and track them.
We learned that the Humpback whales that we were seeing spent the winter in the Caribbean where they breed and birth their young, their calves weigh about a ton, and are 13 to 15 feet long. Talk about labor! The Humpback whales travel up from the Caribbean in the spring and they hang out in the Gulf of Maine from late spring to early fall. They spend the entire time feeding. That’s why they’re up there—to eat. They eat krill, herring, mackerel, and other small schooling fish. They have to eat enough during their months up north to get them through the lean times in the Caribbean where there is little food.
Some of the whales came right up beside our boat. They seemed to be really curious, even playful. They were lolling around on their backs, lifting their heads out of the water to get a look at us, slapping their fins on the surface, they were acting like they were genuinely happy to see us.
Humpback whales have lots of bumps on their heads. Each of these bumps, called tubercles, contains one hair. Scientists believe that these hairs are used as a sensory device.
Here’s a Humpback whale waving his flipper at us as we head back to the harbor.
Please protect the welfare of our whales, dolphins and porpoises for their future and ours. For more information visit the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society at www.wdcs-na.org.
She’s sailed away. The HMS Bounty is heading toward Baltimore now, on to Greenport, and Newburgh, NY then to Portland, ME. Check out the schedule if you’d like to see her, and if you’re lucky, the Bounty will be under the control of pirates. (If there’s a Pirate Fest where you are.) The ship’s position on the schedule is currently 9 days out of date according to their website. http://www.tallshipbounty.org/schedule/
When the HMS Bounty docked at Peanut Island in Palm Beach Florida, we went for a visit, of course I had my camera in tow. I brought my 100-400mm Canon L series zoom, and my 24-105mm Canon L series zoom along with me.
We not only saw the Bounty we also got to see the tall ship, Privateer Lynx of Portsmouth, NH, a square top sail schooner which is an interpretation of a privateer or naval schooner from the War of 1812, we saw the entrance to the Kennedy Bunker, and the historic Coast Guard Station.
You see the Lynx was in Florida to offer the crew of the Bounty a pardon if the ship was returned to her home port by April 5th. The crews of the two ships got friendly and decided to party! You can see more info on the Peanut Island Pirate Festival theme here http://www.peanutislandpiratefest.com/eventtheme.html
You can only get to Peanut Island by boat. We rode over on a ferry which picked us up at the Riviera Beach Marina. While we were waiting for the ferry, this hard-working sea turtle swam by us busily paddling against the current. It was not an easy task, the wind was fierce that day. He gave us a look that said, hey can you help me!
For those that don’t know, this Bounty is a replica of the original ship that was used by the British Admiralty for a special mission in 1787. That special mission was to sail to Tahiti, halfway around the world, collect sapling breadfruit trees and bring them to the West Indies so that the British plantation owners would have a cheap source of food for their workers. Lt. William Bligh led the mission, and after much difficulty in traveling they arrived in Tahiti in October of 1788. During the five months that the crew stayed, they gathered more than a thousand breadfruit trees. The crew lived onshore to take care of the trees, and became quite attached to the Tahitians while they were there.
After five months in Tahiti, the Bounty set sail with its load of breadfruit trees on April 4th 1789. Nearly 24 days later mutiny broke out. (Acting Lieutenant) Fletcher Christian, totally fed up with the continual abuse from Capt. Bligh took the ship and sailed it to the island of Tubuai. Three months later, after a failed effort to settle on the island, they sailed back to Tahiti, and left sixteen of the crew on the island, some of the crew were loyal to Bligh, some were mutineers.
Then Christian with eight Bounty crew members, six Tahitian men, twelve women and one baby, sailed off in an effort to hide from the Royal Navy. They sailed through the Fiji and Cook Islands, but didn’t feel safe there. On January 15th 1790 they came upon Pitcairn Island, an island in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific, which had been misplaced on the Royal Navy’s charts. They decided to stay on the island, they took the livestock and other provisions from the Bounty, and they burned the ship on January 23rd 1790, in the hope that they wouldn’t be found, and to keep anyone from escaping the island. The ship sits in what is now called Bounty Bay. No one found out about their dirty deed for 18 years.
The replica was built in 1960 for MGM studios’ Mutiny on the Bounty, starring that hunk, Marlon Brando. The movie studio execs had a new Bounty built from scratch, and they built her just the way she would have been built in 1760. They used the original ship’s drawings to construct the replica. The Bounty replica has starred in many productions since then, and in 1986 Ted Turner purchased the MGM film library and he got the Bounty with it. He used it in the movie Treasure Island with Charlton Heston in 1989, she also played many other roles along the way. In 1993 she was donated to the Fall River Chamber Foundation, in Fall River, Massachusetts. They began the Tall Ship Bounty Foundation, and used the ship for educational purposes.
In February of 2001, when the Bounty was in serious need of repairs she was purchased by HMS Bounty Organization LLC. They took her to the shipyard in Boothbay Harbor Maine for work. Once the Bounty was ready to go again, her first stop was to go back home to the United Kingdom. The organization keeps the Bounty sailing and uses her to teach square rigged sailing and seamanship.
You can almost feel the history as you wander around the Bounty. You find yourself wondering what life was like then. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Captain Jack Sparrow showed up and took control. Of course if you visit during a Pirate Fest, he just might!
This weekend in southeast Florida was unusual in that we had waves, big 5 to 6 foot waves. Exciting stuff for all of the surfers in our area. This only happens once or twice a year, and only when the weather is just right. The weather was just right this weekend and people were loving the big, crashing waves. They were such an incredible color too, it looked like they might have gotten some of their color from the sand they picked up as they came roaring toward the shore. That picking up sand business is not such a good thing, the erosion has been out of control this weekend too.
Of course I had to head out to the beach with my camera, and big, heavy 100-400mm lens which let me get in pretty close on the surfers and the surf. I had to shield my lens from the salt, the wind was kicking up pretty good out of the north. I actually just pulled the bottom out of my camera bag (it was a small one) and used it to semi-protect my lens from the onslaught of salt. Even though my camera and lens are weatherproof, I try not to abuse that. In fact, it’s a very good idea to clean your camera and lenses when returning from a shoot at the beach. You don’t want to leave all that salt on your equipment.
I can’t seem to go anywhere that an osprey might be without seeing one, so I’ve included some pix of a young male osprey that circled by me several times on Saturday and another one came by on Sunday. What a beautiful sight silhouetted against the deep blue sky.
We had a really great beach weekend. The surf looked more like Daytona Beach than Delray Beach, ok, I’m pushing it, but one can dream!
Check out the sights for yourself!
My friend Janet and I went to the water’s edge, wine glasses in hand, Sunday evening around 7pm to wait for the moon to rise. As I set up my photo equipment, the sky was just starting to turn that really great cobalt blue color that it gets right before dark sets in.
The moon was due to rise at 7:07 and we didn’t see anything until our friend Marlene called us over to a spot where you could see through the Australian pines, and there it was….big, beautiful and amazing. It was already 7:21 by then.
Check out the cool shot of the American flag and the moon. Janet worked hard to try to get that flag to fly and it did.
It was so nice to slow down and enjoy all that nature had on display for us Sunday evening.
For those that might be interested;
I was using a Canon 100-400 mm f4.5-5.6L series lens on my Canon 5D Mark II body, I had it mounted on a tripod and had to use manual focus, auto focus only worked for the super close ups.
Most of the shots were hit or miss. I tried different exposures until I got the ones I wanted. Even though, it was impossible to get detail in the moon and get the reflection of the moon on the clouds. I had to overexpose to get the clouds, which ends up blurring the moon somewhat, and underexpose to get detail in the moon. I decided to combine a properly exposed shot of the moon with a good exposure of the overall shot. That worked.
The early shots, with the dark blue sky were shot at 1/40 f5.6 -1EV. The night shots were 0.5 sec at f7.1 and 0.8 sec at f5.6.
How cool is that? I dropped by my usual haunt down by the Intracoastal Waterway this morning with my camera and 100-400 zoom lens to see what I could see. The tide was pretty low so I was able to walk north along the shoreline and past all the cool trees that lay out over the water. This is where a lot of different birds like to roost. I sometimes take them by surprise, which was the case with this poor Great Blue Heron, I think that’s what this bird is, although I thought they were more gray than this bird. Anyway, at his expense, I was able to get these two shots of him or her, in flight.
I walked along the shoreline, then in the water when I had to go around the big branches that hang over and block my way. I saw several birds in flight and got some shots, but they were too far off. On my way back, I looked up at the branch above my head, the one the Osprey usually gets, just to check for her, and I came across this Ibis. The angle made it a fun shot. I’ve never really been UNDER an Ibis before!
I decided to go and sit on the rocks to just watch nature go by. Next thing you know the entire branch I just shot the Ibis on, has a bunch more Ibis perched on it. I got some shots of them, they looked kind of artsy just sitting around on that branch. I decided to go in closer on the Ibis and walked out to the giant dead tree branch by the canal to prop the lens on, and shoot some more. I stopped shooting for a second, and just looked. All of a sudden, and I mean that, the Osprey arrived, she was stealth, she was just hanging out a few “floors” down on the same branch as the Ibis! I was so excited, she was right there. Looking at me. Close! I used the branch as a pseudo tripod and took about 20 shots of her, and I am telling you, she posed. These birds know I love them and they show off! I was not able to get any closer though. She wasn’t havin’ it!
I checked back in on the area tonight at around 5 PM. No birds, just people fishing, and only the Catfish were biting for them. The light was beautiful though. I wish I’d had my camera so I could show you the pink streaks shooting up from the eastern horizon as the sun set in the west. Next time.
Oh I promised to do a post on HDR photography, I took some shots for HDR images today. I’ll process them and post them tomorrow. Here’s a shot of one of the locations that I used to shoot for the HDR photos. It was contrasty. Wait until you see how it looks after HDR processing.
This morning my special little area of the Intracoastal waterway was chock full of birds. The first ones I came across were the ducks, they really are quite friendly. They were pretty amusing today when I spied them listening to a barrage of bird calls, and they were loud. I think they were partying back there in the canal, it’s too shady to really see anything down there so I couldn’t tell “who” was making all the noise.
Then I looked up and saw a Red Tailed Hawk (I think, too much mottling on the belly to be an Osprey, right? It’s hard to tell from the photo) making a wide loop, high above my head. I immediately switched to manual focus, because auto focus just doesn’t seem to “get it” when you’re after a small spec in a solid blue sky, using 400 mm of magnification. I was able to get a few shots off before the bird flew out of sight. Only the photograph at the top came close to being in focus, and it’s also cropped pretty tightly. Here’s a shot of an Osprey from last week when I was able to get closer. It was a cloudy day too, that helps a lot with lowering the contrast.
The next visitor to the area was an Ibis. The tree he landed on, one of the Osprey’s regular haunts, is fairly high, so I wasn’t able to get in that close. I did get a great shot of the same type of bird several days before that was at much closer range. You can really see the detail in the birds features in that photo. This bird was watching me, more curiously I think, than from fright.
This is the image from several days ago, I think it was the same cloudy day I got the photo of the Osprey.
I decided to get out of the water at this point because the tide was getting a little bit too high to be standing in with thousands of dollars worth of equipment. So I walked up along the dock to get the long view. Seconds later a flock of Ibis came flying over to the big dead branch in the water by the canal. Again, I should have stayed put on my rock, I would have been so very much closer. Live and learn. The antics these birds were displaying were hilarious. I had a great time shooting away. Check out the poses. Too darned funny, if you ask me.
This fellow slams it into reverse to prep for his landing. Flaps down, reverse engines captain.
Yes! Another safe landing and another job well done.
Right after that, one of the brown Ibis and a Snowy Egret had a showdown for perch space. The Ibis lost, but not without a good effort. Birds are all about the highest and best location. Aren’t we all?
Next on the roster was my Osprey friend, I caught a glimpse of her at the top of a dead tree quite a way up the Intracoastal. I took a few shots, but she was too far away to get anything good. A short while later I saw her fly off her perch and head north away from me. Time to go home. I felt I had a successful day of shooting birds! Until my next post, which I will try to make on HDR photography, Bye! Happy shooting… M
PS. My site is still down, I am not a happy camper about that! They tell me they are working around the clock.