OUR LAST STOP (SAVANNAH, GA)

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Savannah Georgia was just a quick stop along the way to break up our 17 hour drive back to Cedarville from Del Ray.  We had heard a lot of cool things about it and being that we were passing through a little after dinner time, we thought it would be worth checking out.  And it was! I think most of the guys would agree that we shied we could have spent more time there.  The town had a very old and historic feel to it with no building over 7 stories tall and the brick and cobblestone roads.  We also happened to land there on a very lively evening.  Right before we got there, the town had just finished up their Shamrock 5k so everyone was out donned in their crazy green clothes and out having a good time.  Everywhere we went was packed. One thing we loved was how open and airy everything was too.  There was live music being played out in the streets, people eating outside, and rooftop patio bars that people could look out onto the street from. One place we loved was the candy shop right next to our pizza place.  It felt like we were in Willy Wonkas chocolate factory.  They were making taffy right in front of us and we saw this whole system of how the taffy got made and transported to its place in the store using conveyor belts.  We also got a lot of free samples there.  We ended up eating at Vinnie Van GoGo’s pizza place. This was one of the coolest restraints I had been to.  It was one of those places that you could barely move in once you were inside because it was so tight.  They were tossing pizza dough and making the pizzas right in front of everyone.  I regrettably didn’t end up getting any good pictures in there because it was so tight and there was hardly any light in the place so you’ll just have to believe me that it was a pretty sweet place! Its something that you would more have to experience anyway because of the whole atmosphere of the town and its location.  After our pizza we walked around the town much, and since I was sick of carrying around my 30lb. camera bag, I just brought my camera with the 28-75 mm lens.  I completely forgot to even grab my tripod which is accessory number 1 when shooting at night.  So I had to really push the limits of my new cameras ISO and use makeshift tripods such as railings and stone pillars.  We were also kind of rushed so I wasn’t able to set up some shots that i wanted, but it is definitely a place I would like to return to someday to capture more of the old town feel!  Quite a contrast from Miami just a few nights ago.  After our brief visit in Savannah, we continued our drive all the way back north up to Ohio which took about 11 more hours.  We arrived at about 10 am, and we had lost about 45 degrees from what we had in Florida 😦 It was a great relaxing vacation though, and I am glad I rush ordered my D600 so that I had it for this break! There were a lot of great opportunities to use the extra power of it during the week.  I hope you enjoyed seeing some shots of our trip throughout the week!  Thanks for following along 🙂

ImageThese were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 28-75mm f/2.8.  As I mentioned earlier, I forgot my tripod, so I was shooting at 1600-3200 for most of these. And look at how little noise there is! Very happy with my new camera.

 

-ZAM

 

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DEL RAY SUNRISE

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We pushed it off until our last morning at Del Ray, but we finally woke up before the sun in order to go to the beach to watch it rise over the Atlantic! It was gorgeous. It was so serene being on the coast that early in the morning.  It was before the town had waken up to go to work, and before the birds had come out to sing, and before cars were zooming by on the highway.  It was just us, the ocean, and the warm sunlight slowly peaking over the horizon. All we heard was the crashing of the waves against the shore, and as you can see, some of them crashed pretty hard.  We were standing right on a bank above where the ocean had chipped away at the loose sand and so we were about a foot and a half above the tide but every once and a while with the big waves, the water would come up and crash over the bank we were standing on.  One time the water even came up and swallowed my flip flops and if it weren’t for Justin quickly grabbing them before they got pulled into the sea, they would be half way to the bahamas by now. I was more worried about the salt water splashing up against my camera as it sat on its tripod. We had gotten there about a half hour before the sun rose so I had some time to set up my camera on the tripod and figure out my exposure.  I then just sat there with my remote shutter release and just snapped away, occasionally checking the exposure, and just watch the sunrise with everyone else. It was really neat seeing the transition of the day into night once again as the light from the sun filled the sky. People started waking up and going to work, the birds started chirping, and the noise of the crashing waves was joined by the motoring of cars as the passed by on the highway.

ImageThese were shot with my Nikon D600 at 28mm on my 28-75 2.8 at f/11 ISO 100 and 1/160s.

 

 

-ZAM

 

 

MIAMI SKYLINE

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Night photography requires a lot of patience and a methodical and thought out set up.  There is simply not enough light to just point and shoot and get a quality image.  And because so much goes into each shot, I like to put a lot of time into the composition before I set up the shot.  I will often walk around with one eye through the viewfinder so that I know the limitations of my lens as I am setting up a shot.  When I find something that catches my interest, I will then pull out my tripod and set up the composition. Then I need to find the proper exposure.  I will try to keep my ISO at about 200 or lower when shooting buildings because I know my subject will stay still so shutter speed will not be an issue.  Then I try to keep my aperture at about f/8-11 to keep the entire structure nice and sharp.  So given those constraints, I usually end up with about a 2-4 second exposure.  With that long of an exposure, I will want to minimize camera shake as much as possible.  That requires a bit more than simply using a tripod. With my new D600 I have the capability of locking up my mirror.  That function lifts the mirror to expose the sensor so that when the picture is taken there will be one less vibration to possibly cause camera shake in the frame.  Another technique I use to reduce camera shake is using a remote shutter release.  This is a system that you plug into the GPS socket in your camera that allows you to capture the shot without touching the camera and when your shutter is open more than a 50th of a second, that extra little shake caused by pressing the cameras release could blur your image.  So that is how I captured some of these night scenes, and hopefully you can appreciate a little bit more of the process it takes to capture that detail in the limited light.  To make a night shot interesting, I usually am looking for a mix of direct light and the ambient light that lights the scene.  For a great shot including both the ambient light and the city lights of the skyscrapers as seen above, you need to go right after dusk.  There is about a 30 minute window from where the sun is setting and the city lights are turning on that are great for this ambient look. Yesterday, we arrived in Miami just at sunset so I dropped some of the guys off at a restaraunt and drove immediately to this island where you get a great view of the skyline.  I worked there about an hour testing exposures and bracketing a bunch until the sun was completely out of the picture and complete darkness had settled in.  I took about 100 exposures from the same general area just hoping that in the end I would find one with a great mix of city light and setting sun light.  The one you see above I think did the best job at capturing both.  There are a lot more shots that I hope to ultimately stitch together and do some HDR techniques to to get some more unique shots. Can’t wait to get to those!

 

After watching that beautiful sunset over Miami, I went back to downtown Miami to join the rest of the guys at Cien Montaditos.  Every Wednesday they have dollarmania where every sandwich on their menu was only a dollar!  It was a bustling place and we were all pretty satisfied with the variety of sandwiches we got at this little Spanish restraunt. We spent the rest of the night just walking around the city checking out some of the sweet street art and the amazing architecture! Miami was an awesome city!!

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These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 28-75 mm f/2.8.

The top night shot was taken at 28mm with f/11 ISO200 with a shutterspeed of 4 seconds.

 

 

-ZAM

NO SWIMMING. SHARKS (WEST PALM)

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West Palm just made it to one of my top vacation spots of all time! It was a beautiful city with lots of classy buildings buildings right along the beach and seemed to have avoided the tourist trap of lining the beach with all of those trashy, loud, obnoxious shops. The beach was really well maintained and had the bluest water I have seen all trip. The roads were lined with tall palms and my favorite part was the sidewalks littered with rustling lizards. We met up with a few friends from Cedarville there so I took the opportunity to capture more of the people we were with and the activities we did. I also took a little journey around the beach searching for some big lizards to capture. The one you see here was the biggest one I saw! He was about 6 inches long before the tail and he was very cooperative. You may even notice he has a stub of a second tail from where he may have evaded a capture. As you can see in one of the pictures, the water was actually off limits because of an earlier shark sighting just about 10 yards of the shore. That meant we were swimming at our own risk if we went in the water beyond the life guarded region, and fortunately we all returned with all of our limbs. Overall it was just a very relaxing day at the beach and te weather was just perfect. It was in the low 70s with a nice little warm ocean breeze to cool us down. We all got some good reading done as well as played some paddle ball and even jumped some waves and all got some good sun. After our time at the beach we went to this very nice urban village in town to get some food at the Mellow Mushroom.  This was one of the coolest themed restraunts I have been to. It’s a really neat pizza franchise that themes every one of its locations differently. This one opened up just six weeks ago and they left the theme in the hands of three artists who had two weeks to paint the place. It had a very abstract, trippy, colorful vibe to it which made it really fun. I took a few photos here which I will use on a restraunt review that I will do later on, but overall it was a sweet dinner there! Then we walked around more of the urban village center checking out some of the interesting shops and grabbed some ice cream. There were a few fountains outside and fortunately I had brought my tripod so I broke it out and tried a few night shots of the shopping center. I had been itching to get my new d600 out to take some sharp night shots with its full frame sensor! West Palm was great and I hope I end up there again some day!

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These were shot with my nikon D600 with a 28-75mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8.

 

 

-ZAM

SURF, SAND, AND SEA GULLS (FORT LAUDERDALE)

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Aimlessly exploring towns is one of my favorite things to do.  Whenever I travel, I love to see the main tourist sites, but i also love to go off the beaten path a bit and see what everyday life is like for the locals. I love different cultures and I love just witnessing them and contrasting how different some people’s ordinary life is from mine. Yesterday I had the opportunity to do this in Fort Lauderdale.  After we went to church in Miami, we stopped in Fort Lauderdale to grab some lunch.  I wasn’t quite hungry yet and figured that rather than eatting in a neat little coastal town like this, I would rather walk around the town and see what life was like there.  My journey ended up taking me to the beach. Here I saw a few surfers who were just enjoying the afternoon by riding a few waves in. There were also a few skim boarders who would try to catch the tail end of the wave before it receded back into the ocean.  What an extremely chill way to spend the afternoon.  There were also a few families enjoying the sun together with picnics and playing paddleball.  One man even found the luxury spot of sprawling out in a hammock suspended between two palm trees, the epitomy of rest and relaxation.  Another man was scouring the beach with his metal detector trying to find any lost treasures that fell out of the pockets of casual beach goers. One last man I met was a Jamaican man.  He was visiting some family there and he was complaining about how cold the 70 degree weather there.  Of course that was extremely warm for me compared to the 20 degree weather we had left in Cedarville, but definitely cold compared to the 90 degree weather they had had a week prior.  He actually helped me out with a few shots.  I was having fun shooting this very tame group of sea gulls right along the waters edge but I wanted to get some action out of them. So I had my jamaican friend gently throw some shells  at the gulls just to get them to stir a little bit.  He did a great job and gave me the opportunity to catch some great detail of the birds in action.  Gulls may be annoying but they really are quite beautiful birds contrasted against the deep blue water.  Over all it was a great afternoon for catching Fort Lauderdale in action from the surfers to the gulls. A peaceful Sunday afternoon.

ImageThese were shot with my Nikon D600 with both the 28-75mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8.

 

 

-ZAM

 

EVERGLADES

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Today I had one of my first opportunities to take some great wildlife photography with a solid telephoto lens.  A long, fast zoom lens is an absolute necessity to shoot wildlife.  I even find that my 70-200mm f/2.8 hardly cuts it out in the wild.  We ran into many photographers in the field who were sporting massive 400-600mm lenses.  They were about 3 feet long and were covered in camo.  They had obviously invested a lot of time and money into this and were hopefully doing it somewhat professionally to support it.  They were very willing to talk to us however and even let us use their lenses to spot some birds in the trees.  The necessity for these super long lenses though is because in order to capture these animals in their natural environment, you will need to give them as much space as possible as to not make them feel invaded, and these lenses allow you to zoom right in close to the species to capture their unique detail.  Timing and patience is also very crucial while trying to photograph live animals.  Sometimes you have to wait until just the right moment in order to get the animal posed in just the right position.  Other times you have to be ready to pull out your camera and focus quick to capture a fleeting moment.  Many moments were lost today for me just because I didn’t have my settings ready to get the correct exposure for a split second movement by the wildlife.  Gators were our priority for the trip and we got to see a few.  We saw a tiny 4 footer right of the side of the trail, and then we saw the 2 you see here which were in the water just off some of the docks.  We also saw many cool birds in the wetlands and we saw an owl off in one of the trees, but that was one example where the limitations of my 200mm focal length didn’t allow me to get a very tight shot to capture the details of the owl.  Although it was a very difficult task trying to capture these animals, it was a very rewarding capture in the end because capturing this wildlife in its habitat gives each photo such a unique subject to it as opposed to static landscapes that could be captured the same way any day.Image

These were shot with my Nikon D600.

 

-ZAM

DAYTONA SUNRISE

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14 hours was all it took of straight driving through the night to make it to Daytona for the sun rise. And to be honest, the sunrise was kind of disappointing. There was very thick cloud cover, and the clouds didn’t absorb the colors of the rays as much as they just blocked the sun completely until all of a sudden it was light out. There were a few strokes of brilliant color, but not enough to really compose a very dramatic scene. I was really excited about this shoot because it was one of my first experiences with my brand new Nikon D600. In fact, the extra hour we had between arriving in Daytona and the suns expected arrival, I couldn’t even sleep, but instead messed around with some of my camera settings to make sure I was as prepared as I could be during the short window of time that was the sun rise. Before the sun rose, I was even able to test out some of the capabilities of my camera in very low light situations. The first shot you see here was one that just made me know I made the right decision to upgrade to a full frame sensor as soon as I could. I shot that at ISO 400 with f/5.0 and shutter speed of .3 s on a tripod. I was also able to experiment with the mirror lock up and remote shooting settings to reduce camera shake even more. I was just blown away when I saw the result in the viewfinder. Soon after, the sun began to rise and so I went and focused my attention on trying to grab those colors, But as I mentioned, unfortunately the colors weren’t as stunning as I was hoping, However, the phenomenon of seeing the world turn slowly from night into day was an amazing experience. That led me up to the pier to see all of the early morning fishermen who were trying either catch their lunch or catch their living off the pier of the boardwalk. There were both professionals and hobbyists up there and they were catching quite a few fish. It was really awesome capturing these men in there environment just doing something they were passionate about and in such a cool setting. The best part about this photo outting was that I was done by about 7:30 and still had the rest of the day to do stuff in Daytona and Orlando such as check out a local coffee shop, visit the Daytona speedway, visit Full Sail University, visit Relevant Media Groups headquarters and talk to one of my biggest role models, Cameron Strang, go thrift shopping, check out a few of Orlandos finest malls, and finish of the day by watching my first ever live NBA game in the Amway center (and all of this was done on less than an hour of sleep). This break has been incredible already and its barely just begun. Most of my friends haven’t even arrived in Florida yet!

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