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zackiedawg

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About zackiedawg

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Boca Raton, Florida
  • Interests
    Cruising, boating, driving, computers, hockey, photography
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Holland America, Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Europe, Canada, Alaska

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  1. Thank you. I didn't do any sky replacement experiments...I tried a few many years ago, and probably wasn't all that good at it, so I didn't bother to try anymore! Because I'm primarily a JPG shooter, I prefer to do most of my 'processing' as pre-processing in the camera and rarely do much other than crop and resize after the fact. I'll do the occasional noise reduction for high ISO shots, and occasionally I'll bring up shadows or down highlights if something was a little crushed or blown out. I miss San Juan...last visit there was before Hurricane Maria, but most of Old San Juan didn't suffer much damage - and will always have that colonial charm. The above shot is the Paseo De La Princesa, below the city walls along the bay. Lovely walk!
  2. Well one of those things that you can do when you're spending more time around the house, or evenings when there aren't as many places to go or things to do, is to go through some galleries, and find some old favorite shots - either try some re-processing with newer technology, or just upload or save some higher resolution versions online. I was working on uploading some shots to a new beta-testing gallery system, and while going through a lot of my old cruise photos, most were originally uploaded to my online galleries at 1024x pixels on the long side - I later upgraded them to 1400 pixels, but mostly just grabbing the original and resizing it. This time, I decided to check some of them for better shadow rendition, or better sharpening algorithms, and save them at a higher JPG quality and larger size. Though the full originals won't post here due to the beta-testing of that gallery that resizes them all to 1600 pixels max, and with some compression, I uploaded the originals at 2000 pixels on the long edge. It was fun going back on some of those older cruise shots that for whatever reason I liked. Various cameras used over the years, from P&S to interchangeable, DSLR to mirrorless. Thought since we're sorely lacking on new cruise photos around here, I'd share some 'oldies' from this project:
  3. Some shooting from Saturday out in the wetlands, but also from my backyard - I was going to share just the 'pretty' shots of bird and reptiles, but one thing that was unique this weekend was the variety of raptors that were around - especially in my yard while shooting from the swimming pool. So here's a selection: First, one of the continuing wave of migrating birds passing through - a lovely prairie warbler: This adorable black-bellied whistling duckling had spent a little time picking up leaves from the spot it wanted to lay down, and moving them off to the side - the brown leaves it moved ended up making a neat little ring around it: A great egret soaring past me, low over the water: And now for the raptor selection on Saturday, starting with this osprey giving me the stare as it aborted a fishing dive: When I got home and jumped in the pool to cool off from the hot day in the wetlands, the first raptor visitor was my 'regular' serial killer, Cooper. Cooper has been hunting my yard for blue jays and doves for years now, and is very successful, which is why he sticks around. He's a Cooper's Hawk: One of the more distant and more surprising sightings is a bird we don't really have down here in S. Florida - but at least twice a year we can get lucky and spot them as they move from their far north tundra grounds down to South America, passing over Florida's peninsula (peregrines are one of the longest migrating distance birds): The final raptor from Saturday was a flyover of a red-tailed hawk, again not a hawk very common in my area. I think it might have seen all the other raptors around, and heard all the birds at the feeders in my yard, and decided to have a look to see what it was missing:
  4. The weekend's wildlife... Pied-billed grebe: Pig frog in the water: Belted kingfisher: Black and white warbler: Paper wasp hive: Tricolor heron:
  5. More wetlands variety from this past weekend...the wetlands were occasionally living up to their name - as I had to shoot through several rainshowers and overcast weather and the swampy mudflats were running higher than normal due to lots of rain this past month...this time, I've got mostly things OTHER than birds, though I've included at least one bird or I'd feel like a traitor! Alligator - looks almost like a B&W shot - but the overcast light, grey skies reflecting in the water, and dark grey reptile all conspire: Pig frog hiding in the shade under some overhanging trees in the shallow water. Look in his pupil and there's a reflection of the boardwalk rail I'm standing on, with me dead center taking the shot: Water snake working its way over the algae waters: A big softshell turtle having a rest on a partially submerged palm tree trunk: Closeup of the slippery five-lined skink, with its distinctive blue tail: Cute little pied-billed grebe: Juvenile raccoon eating palm seeds and fruits:
  6. I think it depends on what types of things you think you'd want to photograph...your 18-135mm can do just about anything, so is a great one-lens travel solution...but if you might want more reach to photograph wildlife or animals, or distant shorelines and ships, then you might lean towards something that reaches out 200-400mm, if you want to photograph lots of ship interiors and building interiors, in narrow streets, etc, then you might look to an ultra-wide lens solution instead...if you will be doing lots of very low light handheld shooting, nighttime, dark interiors with no flash, etc - then a faster lens in the F1.8 to F1.4 aperture range would be the target. For me personally, other than an all-in-one solution, probably my next favorite lens on cruises is an ultrawide. Something like the 10-18mm lens is wonderful for photographing all the rooms and lounges of the ship, the exterior decks, and the ship plus scenery, and comes in very handy for narrow streets, church interiors, forts and old buildings inside and out, and playing with perspectives. If you could swing the expense, or find one used, and if any of those types of photography were within your interest, I'd certainly recommend it. Fast lenses can be useful in more limited ways...I also have the Sigma 16mm F1.4, but think of it more as a specialty lens for certain dark interior shooting, nighttime walkaround handheld, etc. For me, it's my favorite lens for photographing dark rides at Disney World, where the wide perspective plus fast aperture allow me to shoot from moving boat rides and cars where flash is forbidden and light is extremely low.
  7. And I still do carry the A6600 with the FE70-300mm G, 100-400mm GM, and 200-600mm G lenses onboard, as I did also with the A6300 before it, and the A6000 before that. I've also been a long-time DSLR shooter and always use some of the larger lenses being a wildlife and bird shooter - I haven't yet seen a single photographer who carries any of those lenses on their camera by the camera grip. Once the lens begins to outsize and outweigh the camera, you begin to carry the rig by the lens, and not by the camera. The largest lenses usually have collars and/or handles to help carry, but even the moderate lenses that don't, like the 70-300mm and 24-240mm and such still are much easier to carry around the lens barrel - and would almost always be two-handed shooters anyway. The weight of the lens is supported by the left hand and arm under the lens barrel while the right hand around the camera grip serves to steady and to aim when the camera is up to your eye. It's quite stable and I never felt any difference in overall carry-ability or stability/ease when shooting between the A6xxx bodies and DSLR bodies with those big lenses attached.
  8. Though still stunningly hot and humid, the light in the wetlands has been getting nicer and warmer, in between thunderstorms...and we're getting into that time of year when more birds start to migrate through or come down for winter. Saturday's visit to the wetlands was a very nice day with some good birds and action... Starting with this green iguana going out on a limb. On the extremely rare 'cool' days we might get in South Florida, when temps might touch into the 40s, they'll issue 'falling iguana' alerts on the weather report as the cold-blooded tropical animals aren't fond of the cold: Closeup staredown with a pig frog...they're just so grumpy cute: The lovely, amazing, colorful roseate spoonbills were really standing out with the nice still waters, reflecting a clear blue sky...and the pink bird of course: Not wanting to be outdone by the showy pink bird, the grey-headed swamphen standing on a root nearby decided to stretch his wings and show off his purple, blue, and red colors: A red-shouldered hawk swooped down on some sandpipers below, who all scurried away: The hawk then continued on its way, flying right past me: Like, really close by:
  9. I'm doing OK on the good food, made at home or takeout, not so much on the drinks as that's a social thing and there's not much of that. Distant scenery would be nice. I'm covered on the blue water though...perk of living in a South Florida beach town. I miss just being on the ship - the sights, smells, and motion of the ocean. I miss Disney too - my last vacation away from home was the first week of March - usually I'd have been at Disney World at lest two more times by now. I can go to Disney if I wanted, but they are requiring masks at all times even outdoors - and there's just no part of 100 degree temps, 90% humidity, and wearing a mask outdoors that I want any part of...so I'll wait!
  10. A very hot, but very lovely sunny day Saturday out at the newly re-opened wetlands - this my third weekend back, and the first one where it wasn't raining or cloudy all day: Anhinga cruising at the surface: The migrating birds are still passing through - a yellow-throated warbler standing up proud in the dark forest canopy: A roseate spoonbill 'spooning' the waters for food, and giving me a backward glance: The Golden Child. A very young pig frog, glistening in gold colors - eventually he'll be more green as an adult: Always a challenge to find a hummingbird in the wild - no feeders to draw them in. This ruby-throated was in a dark forest covered area and I needed all of my 600mm lens on APS-C crop, plus ISO1600, to catch it: Another flying beast - this time, a green darner dragonfly cruising by in a clear blue sky: A raccoon with an expression of surprise at being discovered in the forest! Actually, he was just chewing something and looking my way:
  11. I never have photos for the weekly photo thread that starts Monday until the following weekend. Well, usually never. I got out for a brief walk in the wetlands today, and therefore actually have a few photos for this thread ready to go: A green heron under the trees: Closeup with a blue dragonfly: A rare warbler I don't often see - the migratory birds are starting to pass through, and I lucked upon this worm-eating warbler (that's his name): A white peacock butterfly on a purple flower backlit by the sun:
  12. Well FINALLY my regular wetlands have re-opened, for the first time since early November 2019. Boy have I missed it! So this Saturday, I headed back to Green Cay to see what I could find, despite the heat and humidity and the threat of rain... Yellow-crowned night heron trying to nap in the afternoon: The wee, colorful northern parula, a migratory bird passing through Florida for a few weeks: But the big surprise and prize of the day - my first EVER owl in flight shot, as well as my first ever photograph of a barn owl - not something commonly seen in these wetlands, nor during the day: Closeup with a pretty little pied-billed grebe, fresh from a dive: A raccoon, wondering why nobody has mowed the grass on the levee for, like, a year!: A green heron hunting in a small pond:
  13. Thank you. All of those shots were taken with the FE200-600mm lens - at the more distant wetlands you tend to need more reach as the animals and birds are a little more shy - I'm often in the 400-600mm range out there.
  14. The weekly wetlands update - one more visit to Peaceful Waters, the western wetlands at the edge of the Everglades this Saturday. Beginning next week, I'll finally be able to return to one of my 'regular' wetlands spots which will be re-opening - it closed back in November for repairs to the nature center roof, and then never got to reopen because of Covid...but finally have decided to try a re-opening. It's been great having an alternative spot to go wildlife shooting though, so credit to Peaceful Waters for staying open, and for some pretty good and surprising spottings over the past few months! Here's what I saw Saturday: A great sighting and surprise for me - a lovely killdeer standing on the levee - I haven't shot one of these in years: A tricolor heron hunting in the shallow water: The black-bellied whistling ducks are still churning out ducklings - this was a new batch: The wood ducks are still around - this one was resting on a concrete drain pipe enclosure: The moment this raccoon and I spotted eachother: A lovely solitary sandpiper standing quite close: I had this sneaking suspicion and feeling like I was being followed. It had been about 20 minutes of occasional crunching leaves and darting shadows behind me - so I rounded a corner from one levee to another and turned with my camera ready to see if indeed I was being followed. Sure enough, out popped the shadow, caught in the act: Surely hoping I'd drop some food along the way, or stir something up, the very same raccoon spotted 20 minutes before had decided to fall in behind me and follow me down the levees. He looks rather guilty, don't you think?
  15. Another weekend out in the western wetlands, at the edge of the Everglades...still the only spot in my county I can visit for nature photography! Least terns have returned and were busy dive bombing the wetlands pond (big thunderstorm had just passed and is filling up the background): Female grackle all puffed up and grooming: Green heron looking upwards at a dragonfly just out of reach: Black-necked stilt standing in the wind-rippled shallows: Distant red-shouldered hawk on lookout:
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