Barbados 2018 - The little tropical island in the Caribbean

February 06, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Barbados - a tiny island in the eastern Caribbean.  Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the vast Atlantic ocean, it is truly remote.  Aqua blue warm sea, beautiful clean sandy beaches and a warm humid climate all add to the appeal of a tropical island paradise for holiday makers.

The west coast sports luxurious hotels and calm seas. The east coast and especially the northern part of the island have a rugged but very beautiful coastline.

Humidity levels are very high on the island, so even on a relatively cool day of 25 degrees Celsius one can quickly work up a good sweat in just a few minutes.

 

The Grantley Adams Airport is kept busy every day as tourists arrive in droves by passenger jet airplanes.

 

A palm tree and beautiful aqua blue sea at Miami Beach on the southern coast

 

Barbados has a number of excellent golf courses.  The Barbados Golf Course (above) is a championship course with excellently maintained greens and palm tree lined fairways.

 

Accra is another pristine beach on the west coast.  Lovely textured sand and gentle waves make it an ideal swimming spot.

 

Spectacular cliffs and rough seas are found at the northern tip of the island.  This is where the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet.  There is also a fascinating cave situated here with special sea anenomes.  These anenomes, which look like flowers, are living creatures hence the name Animal Flower Cave.

But visitors beware - the roads in Barbados are generally in a shocking state and it generally takes much longer to reach a destination than expected.

 

Many old ruined dwellings can be found on the island.  Most of them are relics from the colonial days when the sugar cane industry was established. The most famous ruin is Sam Lord's Castle but that is another story..... click here if you are interested in pirates

 

Another stunning Barbados sunset

 

A chalet type house propped up with bricks and blocks

Another chatel type house with a more permanent foundation

 

Bridgetown is the capital and is always very active with numerous activities.  Colorful lights illuminate the archway bridge in the middle of the city.

 

Cotton Bay on the south of the island is a popular spot for surfers

 

Foul Bay on the east coast has nothing foul about it!  The name comes from when the bay was used as a fishing hub and the smell of rotting fish was overpowering.  Now it is a pristine beach although the sea can be a little rough for swimming at times.

 

Bajans love the festive season and enjoy lights and decorations.  Every inch of this house seems to be lit up with colorful lights to create a fantasy look

 

Bathsheba Beach has unique rock formations as well as a quirky little building on top of the rocks.  The ruined building seemed to be a change room for bathers in its day.

 

Rugged Rocks on the Atlantic side of the island has some spectacular views of the ocean.

 

Gorgeous sunsets are almost guaranteed at Miami Beach

 

Tourism is a major industry for Barbados.  However, sugarcane still plays a vital role in the economy of the country.  Here workers chop sugarcane into small sections. These will be sown in a new field and each section will grow into a new plant.

 

Good bye Barbados!!!


Aerial Photo Shoot over Port Elizabeth

June 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

It is a long time ago that I last flew in a light aircraft.  So to be commissioned to take aerial photographs of a property in Port Elizabeth was really exciting.

The arrangements were made with Mr John Huddlestone (aircraft owner) and Mr Mitchell Hill (pilot) and we were all set.  We decided on using the Skyranger (see http://helicoptercharter.co.za/skyranger/ ) due to it's slow speed as well as the ability to remove the door.  The weather prediction was accurate (for once) and we had a beautiful calm day.

The Two Seat Skyranger with Owner and PilotJohn Huddlestone (L) and Mitchell Hill (R)

After completing the commissioned shoot we flew out to Swartkops River Mouth and then back along the coast to Cape Recife.  From there we flew over the Soccer Stadium and a few other landmarks before heading back to the airport.

Some sample images:
Baakens ValleySettlers Park and the Baakens River Cape Recife Coastline and Lighthouse, South AfricaCape Recife Coastline and Lighthouse, South AfricaAerial view of the lighthouse and beach at Cape Recife, Port Elizabeth Arial View of Soccer Stadium and LakeAerial View of Soccer Stadium and LakeAerial view of the soccer stadium and lake in Port Elizabeth, South Africa Swartkops River MouthAerial view of the Swartkops River Mouth and Estuary

Some tips for aerial photography:

  • Plan the shoot - have everything ready before takeoff.  It is very difficult to change memory cards etc while flying and opportunities will be missed if you are fiddling with your camera.
  • Use a high shutter speed - this will help eliminate the effects of vibration from the aircraft.
  • Use a relatively small aperture to get a good depth of field. f11 or f16 should be fine
  • Choose a calm day when it is clear or when the cloud cover is even and overhead.
  • Fly when the sun is directly overhead unless the dramatic effect of long shadows is a requirement.
  • Choose an aircraft where the window or door can be open. You don't want to shoot through glass or perspex that will degrade image quality


 

 


Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM Lens Review

May 17, 2015  •  7 Comments

The long anticipated replacement to the original Canon 100-400 L lens finally became available towards the end of 2014.  This is about 15 years after the launch of the original 100-400 lens!  Is the new version a worthy successor to the original?  And how does it compare to the competition?

This mini review of the new Canon 100-400 L IS II is not technically inclined but based on real life usage.  There are no charts etc. Only my personal experience and comments as well as sample images.   I will also compare the new Canon 100-400 L IS II to the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD.

First Impression
Quality!!!  Handling this lens immediately gives one the impression of excellent build quality.  The lens has no "play" when zoomed, the lens hood attaches is a positive way, the buttons all feel solid and Canon supply a very nice protective case.  The lens hood also has a opening which allows one to adjust a polarising filter without removing the hood - simple but neat feature.  The lens is also weather sealed.

Handling
Compared to the Tamron 150-600mm it is considerably smaller and easier to carry.  The trade-off is the maximum zoom of 400mm which is perhaps too short for some situations when photographing birds or small wildlife.  However, I find it easy to use for long periods of time without getting overly tired.  Also it fits into my Lowepro Flipside 400 camera bag without a problem. 

The IS works extremely well.  Hand held at 400mm and 1/100th second produces consistently sharp images. At this shutter speed the only blur is because of subject movement.

I prefer the new twist action to zoom over the old push pull method.  Not that I ever minded the push pull action.  Some will also argue that twist action is better because it doesn't suck dust into the lens.

Closest Focusing Distance (perhaps the best feature of the lens!)
The lens can focus at a closest distance of about 0,98m (98cm).  This is compared to 1,8m for the original Canon 100-400 and 2,7m for the Tamron 150-600mm.  This ability to focus so close opens up a lot of new opportunities. The lens almost operates as a macro lens when focused at it's closest.  The image below was shot in a small aviary.  I was just over a meter away from the small quail.  With the original Canon 100-400 or the Tamron 150-600 I would not have been able to get this shot due to limited space in the aviary.  Also, getting closer to the subject means the frame is better filled and less cropping is necessary.  And depth of field gets narrower as one gets closer to the subject - the result is beautiful blurred backgrounds.

Blue Quail BirdBlue Quail Birdf5.6, 1/250th sec, 300mm

Field Usage
After one month and about 500 shots later I can only say I like almost everything about this lens.  Image quality is brilliant, handling is excellent,  the IS works extremely well and Bokeh is beautiful.

Below are some sample images taken with the Canon 100-400 IS L MkII.  These images were shot in RAW have been processed in Lightroom - mainly to boost the contrast a little.

King Vulturef10, 1/250th sec, 400mm African Elephant MaleAfrican Elephant Malef6.3, 1/800th sec, 312mm

Green Tree Iguanaf9, 1/160th sec, 241mm Plains Zebra Grazing on Green GrassPlains Zebra Grazing on Green Grassf5.6, 1/300th sec, 300mm African Elephant HerdAfrican Elephant Herdf6.5, 1/800th sec, 400mm

 

Controlled Test and Comparison
The images below were shot on a tripod with IS (or VC) off.  The camera used was a Canon 5DMkIII and picture style was set to "Standard".  The images have been resized to 800 x 600 pixels and a little bit of sharpening applied.

The 100% crops are all exactly as they were shot and processed by the camera.  Exposure was manually controlled. Identical exposures were used for each lens.

All images at 400mm zoom unless stated otherwise.

 

Left:  Canon f5.6, 1/1000th sec, 400mm        Right:  Tamron f5.6,  1/1000th sec,  400mm
Left: Canon f5.6 Right: Tamron f5.6


Canon 100% Crop from above image, f5.6
Canon 100% Crop, f5,6

Tamron 100% crop from above image, f5.6
Tamron 100% Crop, f5.6

 

Left:  Canon f8, 1/500th sec, 400mm        Right:  Tamron f8,  1/500th sec,  400mm
Left: Canon f8 Right: Tamron f8

Canon 100% Crop from above image, f8

Canon 100% Crop, f8

Tamron 100% crop from above image, f8
Tamron 100% crop, f8

 

Left:  Canon f11, 1/500th sec, 400mm        Right:  Tamron f11,  1/500th sec,  400mm
Left: Canon f11 Right: Tamron f11 Canon 100% Crop from above image, f11
Canon 100% Crop, f11 Tamron 100% crop from above image, f11
Tamron 100% crop, f11 Obsevation

  • The Canon lens produced brighter images at all f stops.  Shadow detail was also more detailed.
  • The Tamron lens is not as sharp as the Canon lens.  (There may be a front focussing adjustment for the Tamron but never-the-less the Canon is sharper, especially wider open at f5.6)
  • Both lenses produce excellent results but I think a discerning pro would definitely choose the Canon over the Tamron.
 
Pros
Image Quality
Excellent IS
Accurate Focusing and Speed
Smooth Bokeh
Size and Mass
 
Cons
400mm maximum can be a bit short for some wildlife and sport situations
Price
 
Don't forget you can see my complete portfolio at Shutterstock or Dreamstime.  I hope to have lots of images taken with my new Canon 100-400 MkII uploaded there very soon!
 
Disclaimer:    I have not been compensated for this review and my conclusions were not influenced in any way.  The opinions stated here are my own.  I have tried to be as balanced and objective as possible in this review.

UPDATE:

I had the opportunity to test the AI server focus mode and panning on IS mode 2.  The subject was fast moving karts on a local race track.

The AI server focus was almost flawless!  I am very impressed with how accurate it is.  Panning was not as successful but this is mainly due to my lack of technique, not a fault of the lens.  However, I still managed a few panning keepers as well.

Panning Mode 2ISO100, f16, 1/250th sec AI Server FocusISO800, f8, 1/5000th sec

I can confidently recommend this lens as a superb sports and wildlife lens as well as very good for portraits and even semi-macro shots.


Chroma Key (Green Screen) Portraits

March 25, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Chroma Key (or green screen photography) is a simple way of shooting a subject and then replacing the background from another image.

There are three main things to remember when shooting green screen:-

  • Light the green screen as evenly as possible and if using a cloth make sure that there are no wrinkles
  • Leave at least 2 metres between the subject and the green screen.  This will help avoid "green" light spilling back onto the subject.
  • You will need software that can extract the subject (or remove the background).  I use PhotoKey 6.  It is intuitive and does an excellent job.

Click on the slide show below to see the effect a different background can make!  Notice how even the strands of hair are perfectly extracted and seamlessly fit over the new background.  The whole process of extracting and replacing the background takes about 3 mins or less in PhotoKey 6!!!


Puppy Shoot

December 15, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I have been wanting to photograph a puppy for a long time.  The photography part I can manage but to get someone to agree to loan a puppy for an hour or two was very difficult.

Anyway, I finally found a pet shop with puppies that would let me take a puppy from the shop for an hour or two. 

The shoot was fairly simple and I had my friend Anne as the assistant and dog handler.  Below is the lighting setup.  The "studio" was the lounge of my house. 

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