Category: photography

Some scavenger hunt photos

I recently participated on a photo scavenger hunt on Google+ arranged by the awesome Chrysta Rae.  The idea behind the hunt is that you have about a month to take photos of ten different subjects.  The use of Photoshop/Lightroom is encouraged, although I didn’t explore heavy editing that much.   You cannot use photos you’ve previously taken – they have to be taken during that month.  At the end of the month, Chrysta compiles the photos from everyone (500 people are in the group, with about two-thirds of that participating),  and the photos are judged (Chrysta is not one of the judges, of course).

I ended up taking six photos, and of those, the two below are the only ones of mine that I really liked.


The above photo, “balloon”, is of a water-filled balloon popping.  Here is a dump of the text I wrote alongside this photo in the hunt: shot with my Nikon D90 on a tripod, wired remote control, remote flash on another tripod, and my favourite lens – a 50mm prime.  I situated the flash to the right of the shot.  I was standing behind the flash, holding a long stick with a pin in one hand and the remote in the other. I tied the balloons to a plant hanger and situated the flash and camera to focus on the bottom of the balloon.  Then it was just timing… and a whole pack of balloons and wet feet.  I was really aiming to retain the shape of the balloon – it’s amazing how many completely-not-a-balloon shapes came out.  The remains of the balloon had flown outside of the shot, as I gave the water a little time to settle and drop down before the shot was taken.  You don’t see the stick-and-pin (or my hand) I used to pop the balloon as they’re behind and above, and also outside the flash focus.  I processed the shot in Lightroom –  mainly just sharpness and contrast adjustments, with a bit of oomph to the black levels.

This second photo, “smoke”, was of Adriana blowing smoke with flash situated behind and to the left of her.  I made minor adjustments to black levels and a graduated exposure filter was used to even out the brightness levels (which originally decreased from bottom left to top right).



You can get in on the action by circling Chrysta on Google Plus:

Signup for the next hunt is on the 29th of June:

The very hungry caterpillar

I recently couldn’t help but notice that one of the shrubs in our back garden had been reduced from something like this:


To this:


I thought that my mind had wondered while spraying for weeds a few days prior, and I’d accidentally killed most of it. However, while out watering I noticed something about the size of my little finger clinging to the side of one of the newly bare stems.


It’s the caterpillar of an Io moth. I was fascinated by the spines (which are actually poisonous, but not greatly) and the brown and white stripe running along the length of the caterpillar. Luckily it was early enough in the morning and wasn’t in a rush for work, so unpacked the monopod and macro lens and set to taking some shots. It ate most of the shrub, the least it could do was pose for me.


A few more shots can be found here.

The interesting part is that I currently don’t know where it is. I did see it on an adjoining shrub at one point, although it hasn’t left a trail of destruction. My only guess is that it has made a cocoon down near the base of the new shrub. I’m sort of hoping it is a male, as it will fly away to try and find a mate and then I won’t have to kill offspring. The female however tends to remain in place, waiting for a male to arrive (in moth form life lasts for only a day, so things have to happen fairly quickly), and that means things could get messy when I bring out the killing spray.  But I’ll try and get some more photos first.

So those Australia photos

A long time ago in a land far, far away, Adriana and I caught up with family and friends. And then I fell into some sort of Internet coma. I showed some signs of consciousness with Frex (still working on it), and now here I am with another post.

So, Australia.

We went to Oz back in May. I’d never been to Uluru before, even though I’d been to Alice Springs for a wedding (it’s not really that close to Uluru, but while you’re in the general area…), but at the time I was a university student with no money, and getting a day trip to the rock was well out of my price range. This time around I wasn’t going to miss it, so decided that a 3-day camping tour out of Alice Springs would be the ticket. We had a couple of days in Alice Springs to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in yonks, acclimate (that is, let all the Florida humidity I’d acquired over the years evaporate), and try and sync up with the timezone. We also accumulated enough red dust to last us till we returned to Florida.

My friend’s two older kids were a hoot and we had a lot of fun with them.
Darcy and Amy

The Alice Springs Desert Park was large, open, and relaxing. We got to see some pretty cool bird shows:

As you walked around the park, there were many Crested pigeons (I love these guys) basking in the sun:
Crested pigeon

The park provided awesome views of the huge open skies above the Macdonnell ranges:

And a go-anywhere four wheel drive out in the car park:

We then went to see the Alice Springs Reptile Centre, a quaint little place that allowed us to get up really close with some reptiles. It was pretty cool, and Adriana does what she always seems to do when holding a snake: making out she’s going to eat it.


That’s a pretty quick summary of Alice Springs before we went on the camping tour, which turned out to be awesome and bloody cold at night. But, that’s for another blog post, standing up too fast can make one feel light-headed.  The flickr set for all of this is here.

Costa Rica – 2011

Adriana and I (way back in February now) spent a week in Costa Rica, dividing our time between the Arenal region (to see a volcano that turned out to be camera shy) and Quepos, a town on the southern area of the West coast.

Hiring a car turned out being incredibly expensive, mostly due to the mandatory government insurance that can nearly cost as much as the rental itself. We found car hire necessary however, although we did not get a 4WD but instead opted for the cheap Toyota Yaris. For the one place that required a 4WD for access, we got there via a tour bus.

As you’re driving around, you can come across some pretty cool places that deserve a quick stop. Zarcero, a small town on the way to Fortuna, had a park outside the front of the town church that had hedges sculpted in many shapes, from faces to dinosaurs.
Zarcero, Costa Rica

After a four or so hour drive to the Arenal area, we were ‘welcomed’ with weather that we’d be experiencing our whole stay in the area: cloudy, cool, and wet. I had specifically chosen the bed and breakfast we stayed at because it was located at the base of the volcano with views of the peak, and I was hoping for some awesome views of it at night. Although I had read that the volcano was more dormant recently, I wasn’t expecting anything like this:

But I was hoping to at least hear it rumbling or see a faint red glow from the top of the volcano. Unfortunately, the volcano was covered by clouds the whole time we were there. For fun, I took this long exposure at night, pointed in the direction the volcano is supposed to be. As you can see, the only cool thing was the light from accommodation on the hill in front of us being reflected by the clouds.
Night exposure

La Fortuna waterfall is a popular sight in the area, but it rained quite heavily on our walk up and down. There are about 400 steps down to the waterfall, so if you’re not fit, be prepared. Because of my thing with vertigo, I was expecting some problems with heights, but had no problems with this walk.
La Fortuna waterfall hike

And we were greeted with this view down the bottom.
La Fortuna waterfall

Due to the volcanic activity in the area, there are many hot springs to visit. We spent an afternoon at Baldi hot springs, and quite enjoyed it. The place was huge and had many different baths to visit, with temperatures ranging from that of a heated pool to scorching hot (I really couldn’t understand how you could visit the ultra hot ones without cooking certain parts of your body).

We took the sky tram tour next to Arenal Volcano, but due to the rain, there wasn’t much wildlife about on the way up. The sky tram tour cost nearly as much as the zip lining, so if you’re so inclined, that’d be a better option (you have to take the tram to get to the top anyway), otherwise take the walking bridge tour. The way down was better, with the sun coming out and wildlife starting to reappear, plus a fantastic view back down the slope.
View from Sky Tram near volcano Arenal

On our way out of the Arenal area, this was probably the most we saw of the volcano.
Nearly the most we ever saw of volcano Arenal in Costa Rica

Driving around Lake Arenal was very picturesque, and a tour bus stopped off on the side of the rode tipped us off to some local wildlife, in this case a Howler monkey.
Howler monkey near lake Arenal

We stayed at the excellent Coyaba Tropical in Quepos, near Manuel Antonio national park. There is a bunch of wildlife to see at the park, so visit the flickr set link down the bottom to see all the animals. We spent a relaxing afternoon sleeping next to the beach, with white faced monkeys playing in the trees above us.
And so Magic Monkey began to channel his energy...

An ant walking the rope.
Walking the rope

On advice from our hosts at Coyaba Tropical, we had a sunset dinner at Raphael’s Terrazas, which had fantastic food, service, and sights.
Sunset from Raphael's Terrazas

The next day we went on a catamaran sunset ride for snorkelling, drinking, and dolphin viewing.
She's on a boat

On the final day while driving back to the airport, we stopped off in the picturesque town of Palmares. An iguana was eating food off a bench, with food obviously prepared for him, so it seems this guy was held in much higher regard than many of the iguanas here in South Florida.
King Iguana

As always, more photos are available for viewing by visiting the flickr set here.