Thursday, April 30, 2009

SeaWorld

Although swine flu news are coming one by another, plenty of people visited SeaWorld today. And it's worth visiting at every price. My recommendation is to get a show schedule first and plan visiting them all or at least almost all. Personally for me the most interesting was Shamu, but my kids enjoyed Sea Lions show more. Probably because the last one was just very funny and had a lot of dancing and singing in it. After visiting all show you should see Wild Arctic, Manatee Rescue, California Tide Pool and many others. These are very nice arrange exhibitions worth seeing and even my younger daughter who was a little tired after visiting all shows and other attractions, was watching manatees, belugas and bears with a lot of interest.
There's also a place where parents can rest while children are playing safely - it's called Sesame Street Bay of Play. And there we had great ice creams with strawberries and I got a suntan. Later we visited cool roller coaster kind of attraction called Journey to Atlantis - it's a little different, because it goes through water and inside the tower - like a lift. My older daughter made it twice, because of very short lines.
Please see some Sea World pictures below:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Art Wolfe #4

Finally I've received my Art Wolfe DVDs! But had to come to USA to pick them... this movie is really not so easy available. Now I'm waiting to get home and watch them on my plasma...two weeks left... :)

Disneyland and Wild Animal Park

Yesterday was our first day in Disneyland. I've to say that you need plenty of time to get there and back, but it's definitely worth going. First we headed to the parking. Parked on the Mickey level and left our car there. From the parking to the entrance they've special worm train that is really slow and it takes about 20-30 minutes to get to the main gate after leaving your car. But when you're finally there, you start your patience training. First is the line to the security check, then to ticket office, then to enter the park and finally about 30-45 minutes of waiting to every attraction. But what's worth saying, there are two parks - first Disneyland Park and second - Adventure Park. On the first day we visited only the first one and left the other for another day this week. Disneyland Park is dedicated to younger kids and has plenty of rides, shows and attractions. My 6-year old daughter was really happy with this, but my older one was even more happy and was trying to ride every possible attraction. During 6 and a half hour of staying in the park, we managed to do 13 attractions and the longest line was about 45 minutes. Of course this day was not dedicated to photography, so I took only about 200 pictures. Can try to show you these two:

Today we decided to relax a little bit - I mean not to be in such hurry and try to visit something more quiet. In such case we've chosen Wild Animal Park - nice safari type zoo located about 25 miles to the east from Carlsbad/Oceanside area. Visiting this place was a part of our deal with Souther California Citypass and we could decide between San Diego Zoo and this park. And it was a good choice. Maybe worse for kids, but better for me. I managed to catch some birds with my camera and what's the most interesting and what I'm proud of most is the first hummingbird picture in my life. This hummingbird was caught in completely wild environment and to be honest, by accident. I though it's not so easy to photograph such small bird. I read a lot of articles about techniques of shooting these beasts. And this time I had luck and just keep camera with proper lens in my hand while noticed this small creature. Here you can see effects:

EOS 40D, 70-200/4L+1.4x @ 215mm, f5.6, 1/800, ISO400

EOS 40D, 70-200/4L+1.4x @ 235mm, f5.6, 1/1250, ISO400

EOS 40D, 70-200/4L+1.4x @ 235mm, f5.6, 1/1250, ISO400

I also managed to catch some other nice birds. Please see just two examples below:

EOS 40D, 70-200/4L+1.4x @ 280mm, f5.6, 1/5000, ISO400

EOS 40D, 70-200/4L+1.4x @ 180mm, f7.1, 1/500, ISO400

This is all for today. Tomorrow we plan to see Sea World in San Diego - located in the swine flu county - here, in states, people doesn't seem to be scared with the flu, they live rather as usual, so it's again a lot of mess, but I hope only as a sensation that can fill the media time and space...

Monday, April 27, 2009

KidsTrip09 - Day 1

First thing in the morning we headed to find some breakfast. Starbucks was on our way so we had some nice coffee and pastries. Then caught car rental shuttle and went to Hertz. After 15 minutes of discussion about what car we can have and explanations that they can't give me any good car, only crappy KIA, I won Toyota Highlander with high mileage. Although I've 20% discount in Hertz and they prices seems to be attractive when applied, it's my last time with this car rental company. Their service is poor, cars even worse and often with 30-40k miles on odometer - I definitely prefer and recommend Alamo with newer, better cars, very often quite new ones.
With our rented car we came to the hotel to grab luggage and check out. I must say that Radisson at LAX is not so bad and perfectly located (5 minutes walk from the terminal).
Then our plan was to see Beverly Hills, Hollywood Walk of Fame and Santa Monica Beach. So we went to magic triangle in Bevely Hills. It's nice place to walk around and admire amazing architecture, rich shops, greenery, sport cars and other stuff. See some pictures below.

Hollywood is a different story - very crowded place with many people treading on stars with actors names or on concrete plates with imprints of hands and feet. To be honest it's nothing interesting there - I just wanted to show some so called "plastic" attractions to my kids.

Unfortunately we were too tired to visit Santa Monica Beach, so decided to head to hotel and visit local Carlsbad beach. But next to I5 just ahead of Oceanside it's nice Vista Point with squirrels and sea-gulls so we rested there for 20 minutes and took some pictures. Then went to Carlsbad, had some dinner at Dennys. Please see pictures below...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Scratching america

I don't know anybody who likes long flights. I don't like them too. And sometimes it's better to split such trip into 3 segments instead of 2. That's what I've done with my flight to America, with kids. I decided to choose option with 4 hours of waiting in Minneapolis, MN. After 9 hours in air it's nice to straighten out your legs and at St. Paul airport it's plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes, so it turned out to be perfect place to take some rest before almost 4 hours flight to LAX. Moreover my kids found fantastic place to play a little, jump, flap hands, etc. I don't think it's good idea to write more, just watch the short movie below...

video

After seeing such a gadget, an idea came to my mind - Americans done it to save on cleaning costs - everyone passing this advertisment is tempted to touch it and this way it's still clean :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

100th entry!

Here it is. It passed 100 entries since I started this blog planning our big phototrip to american southwest. Now I'm on my way to fly another time, but this time with my kids and to visit sunny California instead of amazing southwest. I can't decide which part of States is more beautiful, but you can trace my blog starting Sunday to see new pictures and read stories... maybe you can decide then?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Book about birds photography

Visiting EMPiK recently I came across very interesting book (unfortunately in polish) called "Fotografujemy ptaki" written by the most famous polish birds photographers - Klosowscy brothers. I bought this book immediately and read it over the weekend. It's really nice and interesting considering not only perfect bird pictures, but also description of birds, technology required to get good results, methods of bird photography and even law aspects of bird's nest and similar things. I'm surprised that this book sprung into existence, because it's complicated and touchy topic. Publication is very smart and present very intelligent and balanced approach to the subject. You can learn a lot and get knowledge from the most experienced polish bird photographers. Congratulations!!!

Another morning in the forest...

Today I was waken up by rays of nice sun. Usually in such morning I put my tracksuit and go for a jogging session to the forest. But today I decided to take my camera instead of tracksuit and try to hunt some birds with it. Unfortunately it was probably too late and I've taken only one picture I like...

EOS 40D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 IS @ 220mm, f5.6, 1/500, ISO400

...and some crappy pictures:

EOS 40D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 IS @ 400mm, f5.6, 1/100, ISO400

EOS 40D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 IS @ 400mm, f5.6, 1/400, ISO400

EOS 40D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 IS @ 400mm, f5.6, 1/400, ISO400

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bryce Canyon Vernissage in Warsaw!

Walking around city center I came across a small poster inviting to the photo exhibit. I only noticed it, because author put a picture of Bryce Canyon there. Date shown on the invitation was 16th of April, so I decided to get there and see how one can organize so called vernissage. Event was held in very interesting place called Lysy Pingwin - restaurant in the most dangerous part of Warsaw (as legends tell). It turned out that it's not so dangerous and you can easily get there. Restaurant itself is really nice and has that atmosphere, so I generally recommend it. But let's return to the exhibit itself... of course author welcomed me in the door and I could see about 18 or 20 pictures from Bryce Canyon hung up on the walls and properly lit. Pictures themselves wasn't exposed very well, because of glass covering the photo itself and rather not correctly chosen frame. Besides as author told me, he has only 3 hours in Bryce to take all of those pictures and someone familiar with the park knows that it's definitely too short... But I personaly envy him the courage to show his pictures to the world - it's really important and very worthy! Contratulations Piotr!
Below you can see a little leaflet offered at the vernissage. Of course you still have a chance to see it with your own eyes, because it'll be open till 12th of May 2009.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

World of Goo

After few hours of playing, I've finally completed this amazing game. It's not easy sometimes and requires a little thinking from your brain. But it's always surprising you with mad ideas of the crazy world. I definitely recommend this game to everyone who likes logical games mixed with a little bit of dexterity.
Of course I was playing on Wii, but as far as I know game also exists for PC and other platforms. In case you get stuck on some level you can always choose to skip it or... just watch youtube video with solution...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Traditional Polish Easter cake...

...looks like in the picture below. It was made by my daughters, younger one is 6 and she painted catkins and my older is 12 and typed the word. I was really surprised with look of this cake and decided to take picture and share with you. Now I can't stand till I'll be allowed to taste it!

First Starbucks Coffee Shop in Warsaw!

Last week, just before Easter, Starbucks opened first coffee shop in Warsaw or even in the whole Poland! I was tempted to visit it and taste their coffee in Poland. It turned out to be exactly the same as in other parts of the world. And below find just few pictures I managed to take, because my daughter took her camera and shared it with me :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Evening on the bridge

Today was a day dedicated to photography. In the evening I decided to go to the Siekierkowski bridge in Warsaw and take the picture of Warsaw landscape in the sunset. Don't want to write too much... just please enjoy the pictures...

But eventually I'd like to give some recommendations for people willing to take similar pictures:
1. Take longer lens (I had 17-55 and it was a bit too short). Next time I'll get 70-200
2. Choose colder day, air will be more clear and transparent
3. Choose more cloudy day - if sky is too clear, you won't get a nice color effect
4. Reserve at least 20 minutes to get from the car to the spot and unpack your gear - it's not easy to find convenient parking place under the bridge
5. Take polariser filters (Vari-ND recommended) - it's nice idea to make water more blurred

Morning in the forest

This morning I decided to go to the Kabaty forest. It's nothing new for me. But this time instead of tracksuit I took my backpack and camera. This time I went to the forest to take some pictures. And below you can see results...

1. Mysterious trail

2. Forest in the morning

3. Unknown bird - if you can identify it, please let me know

4. Woodpecker in action