Western Caribbean – Cruise 2014

We had to get out of this never ending Iowa winter so far south we went – on a 7 night cruise to Cozumel, Belize City, Honduras, and Costa Maya! The scenery was gorgeous, weather perfect, and it was an amazing chance to reconnect with my passion for capturing the beauty in the world. I was brought back to how I look at things differently – with a curious and bright outlook. It was wonderful to slow down the pace of life and unplug for a bit. I tried some new photo shooting and editing techniques I’ll be incorporating into my professional work – so look out for a little twist on my photo style in the future! And of course, enjoy the photos I made. The best part about photography, though: in addition to some nice pictures I also have fond memories connected to each of them – memories made with my wonderful family.
Every productive day starts with a good (fatty) breakfast, right?! What better place for that than a Waffle House?!?? This was my first time at one!Camera settings: 1/13th second at f/11, ISO 100. Slow shutter speed allowed a cool blur capturing the action (and excitement!) of running on the beach!

Cruising is for the climbers! Stair steps everywhere!
Not our ship but another passing Carnival ship. Photo shot at 1/30th at f/2.8, ISO 25600 at 200 mm. The grain at that ISO added just what the photo needed – but regardless the photo wouldn’t have been possible without it!Ooh!! My big experiment for the trip: Neutral Density filters! ND filters are basically sunglasses for your camera! They allow slower shutter speeds and wider apertures to be used in bright conditions. In this instance I shot this image at 1/1600, f/1.4, ISO 100. The f/1.4 aperture allowed the background of this pier to blur out (bokeh) and guide the eye to the knot along the railing. Without the ND filters, this technique would otherwise be impossible as the shutter speed would max out and the photographer would be forced to increase the aperture due to the bright sunlight. This is totally something that can be done in Photoshop but why waste time in front of the computer instead of enjoying your time in the field (or at the beach!).

Same ND filter used here but focus was on the pier’s hut. Notice now the ropes near the lens are now out of focus.Got to break out the macro lens for some shots! That lens stays put away most the time but when it’s on the camera, for its few jobs, it shines!
Another use for Neutral Density filters here! Unlike the pier photo, above, I wasn’t worried about a wide aperture but rather a slow shutter speed. The slow shutter speed allowed the waves to blur on the camera’s sensor and create a dreamy feeling in this image. Camera settings were 5 second shutter, f/20 (so everything is in focus) and ISO 200. Obviously the colors were bumped up but that’s the real reflection from the gorgeous sunset in the sky.
Same long shutter here. This time it was 8 seconds with an aperture of 22.About the author 😉 haha!Long story short – in Belize City, on the way back from the beach, a fellow cab passenger mentioned to the Belizean driver that he was a firefighter and wanted to know more about the local fire stations. Turns out Sonny, the driver, was a former firefighter himself. He detoured to the central fire station and we got an impromptu tour of the entire building! The station boasted few worn firetrucks, two fire poles and a 6 story lookout tower with commanding views of the city. The firefighters were so kind to show us around and I certainly appreciated the unique experience to catch some images of that experience! So I can no longer say “never have I ever slid down a fire pole in a Belizean fire station”!The view from the top! They said when their radios and phones go down they just look for smoke from here. How’s that for a backup plan…The welcome structure in Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Honduras. Glad our ship didn’t end up that way!More ND filter action. Aperture was 2.2 with a shutter at 1/80 of a second.My sister and I rented a scooter and transversed the island. Gorgeous views of the sea from every point on the trek. It was wonderful to get around on our own and experience beaches and sights the other tourists couldn’t get to! Was it a safe mode of transportation…. well, no.A colorful abandoned bar on the beach.
Paradise of relaxation.$3500 of camera almost dipping in the sea – no worries!I love this bag! It’s my camera bag (with a Tenba insert) and my proud man purse all other times. Got to have all my crap!! And because the iPhone is easier to carry around and always there here’s a collage of some cell phone camera shots, all edited with VSCO Cam – I certainly recommend it! YOU: take photos everywhere, all the time! It’s so important to document life and all our wonderful experiences.

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