Just back from vacation in Mexico

What better time to take a trip to a warm Caribbean climate than the dead of winter?  My wife and I both thought the same thing and booked a trip to the Dreams Resort in Puertos Aventura’s in Mexico.  We spent 4 nights relaxing and getting away from it all.  We snorkeled in the ocean, in a cenote and in a cave.  Dayna swam with Dolphins, Sea Lions and Manatee’s.  The resort threw a huge Super Bowl party complete with fake stadium displays, workers dressed as Cheerleaders, Security guards, players and referee’s.  Plenty of food as well.  There were beautiful sights, quiet nights and no work at all.  A fantastic trip.

A Short hike on a warm day

On this fairly warm Sunday, I was once again able to get some free time to go for a hike through Ohiopyle.  The sky was clear, the sun was bright and the trails were mostly empty, which made it all the more peaceful.  We’ve had a good amount of rain in the past week, so the river and falls were flowing more than usual.  The roar of the water could be heard all along the trails.

Yough river right above the main falls. G3 + 14-42mm

I started from the visitor’s center and made my way over to Great Gorge Trail.  This would take me along the river and put me right above Cucumber Fall’s.  It is basically a loop around the Ferncliff Peninsula.  Then I could just pick up 381 and walk back to the main Falls before heading to my car.  Not a very long hike, but one full of good views.  The rocky outcroppings are full of interesting detail and textures, if you look carefully.

Rock wall. G3 + 14-42mm

With all the leaves down and the sun high in the sky, it was tough to find anything very scenic or expansive to photograph.  The lighting was awful and the color wasn’t much better.  This harsh lighting did give me a change to really push a raw file and “HDR” it to see what I could get out of it.  I am pleasantly surprised with this.

Cliff side. G3 + 14-42mm

Of course, a trip to Ohiopyle isn’t complete without at least one picture of Cucumber Falls.  I love this waterfall because every time I’ve been there, it’s been different.

Cucumber Falls. G3 + 14-42mm

Further on down the trail in the shade, some puddles were still iced over.  The ice was closer to melting, which gave it a nice sheen and texture.

G3 + 14-42mm
G3 + 14-42mm

After this, it was time to walk back to the car.  The hike only lasted for an hour and half, but it was a perfect time to reflect on things and forget about all the struggles we face daily.  I need to do it more often.

Where is the snow?

I realize that asking this question is bound to bring on an apocalyptic snowstorm, but it’s something I’m missing.  I’d like to go out and hike in the snow, maybe some biking and of course some picture taking.  I want like 3 feet of shut down everything snow.  Since this doesn’t seem as if it’s going to happen, I just had to go back through my archives and dig up some images of the last big snowstorm.  So here they are.  These were are all taken in and around Ohiopyle a day after a snowstorm dumped multiple feet of snow on top of even more snow back in February 2010.

Getting down to Cucumber Falls meant that we had to scale a 4 foot high wall of snow and then trudge through 3 feet snow that no one has been through yet.  Fun times!

There were some massive icicles hanging off of the walls.  Not something to be walking under.

The falls were mostly frozen over, but some water was coming down.

Here is how we had to get back to the road.

I guess I’ll have to wait a big longer for the snow.  All I see in the forecast is rain and gloom.

 

Portraits, ice hockey and some urban landscapes with micro 4/3s.

I’ll warn you now, this is going to be a longer post.  This past week I haven’t had the time to really do anything photography related.  Just when I thought it was hopeless, comes a flurry of photographic activity!  We had family over for my Dad’s birthday so I got some portraits done and my brother had an ice hockey game, so I did some sports shooting in as well.

As an experiment and test of the micro 4/3’s gear that I’ve been packing lately, I opted to leave the big Nikon gear on the shelf.  Don’t get me wrong, the full frame Nikon and fast glass produces some of the nicest work I’ve ever done and is way more camera than I need (or can even make use of).  I benched it today because I wanted to see what I could do with the mirrorless system I have.  I mounted up the G3 with the Oly 45mm f/1.8 lens, set up the backdrop and off I went.  I threw on a Nissin Di-466 flash on the G3 and used TTL bounced off the ceiling.  Not an ideal solution, but given the time constraint, it was the best I could do.  It worked out surprisingly well I think.

Panasonic G3, Oly 45mm f/1.8, 1/80, f/2, ISO 160, TTL flash

The only downsides I can see with the small G3 is the handling.  Switching various settings isn’t nearly as intuitive as on the D700, which is what I expected since the two camera’s are targeted towards opposite ends of the user spectrum.  Overall though, I was quite happy with what turned out.  I still am anxious to test it out once the replacement battery gets here for my flash triggers.

Right after the portraits, I drove to the local ice rink to watch my little brother play ice hockey.  This is normally reserved for only the big guns and fast glass, but I wanted to really see what the G3 can do in this challenging situation.  The light levels are low (it is not a pro rink) and the players are fast.

Panasonic G3, Oly 45mm f/1.8, 1/800, f/1.8, ISO 640

I was quite surprised at the continuous autofocus on the small camera.  It did fairly well, considering the conditions.  The AF performed very well when the players were moving laterally across the frame.  I did notice that it struggled when the players were moving directly toward me.  The percentage of shots in focus dropped drastically to probably around 30-40%.  While not the best low-light sports camera and lens combo, it did admirably well.

For the past few months I have been harping on this small mirrorless system, but I do believe that is a great solution for many people.  Below is a picture of my entire micro 4/3 kit, and behind the gear is the small bag (man-purse according to my lovely wife) that I carry it all in (Domke F-5XB).

Panasonic G3, P20mm, Oly 45mm, P14-42mm, P45-200mm, Nissin Di-466, batteries, etc.

Now we come to today.  The weather has done yet another 180 and the temperature rose to above 50 and the sun was shining, the snow and ice melted and the wind blowing.  So over lunch, I once again grabbed the camera bag, hopped on the bike and went off for a 45 minute ride.  I rolled down to the local trail which runs alongside a portion of Jacob’s Creek.  Below are a few shots from the ride.

Panasonic G3, 20mm, 1/4000, f/4, ISO 160
Panasonic G3, 14-42mm, 1/800, f/5.6, ISO 160

 

Panasonic G3, 14-42, 1/1000, f/5.6, ISO 160

And we finally come to the close of this post.  It just all hit me at once, in the future I’ll try and spread things out a bit more.  Hope you enjoyed.

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