Friday, February 26, 2010

Topaz DeNoise

With my new camera I started to use ISO 1600, ISO 3200 and other high iso not usable in 40D. Of course pictures taken with 1D MkIII are better, but not perfect. So I started to look for a good noise removal software. Everybody knows Noise Ninja. It's very good software although with a little bit tricky user interface. I wanted something else. And finally I've found Topaz DeNoise 3.01. It's available as a photoshop plug-in and it works nice. IMHO better than Noise Ninja. You can see it for yourself - below I put "before" and "after" versions of the ISO3200 picture (wow!). What you think about it? I go for it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Florida 2010 memories...

I would like to show some of promised pictures... so here they're:

1. Close encounters with alligators...

picture (c) by Sylwester Z.

2. "Trained" heron

3. Mystery of "trained heron" :)

picture (c) by Sylwester Z.

Monday, February 8, 2010

200th entry!

So... I'm surprised, but this is entry number 200! My blog seems to be alive and I can't stop writing and sharing pics with you. What's interesting in January I had the highest number of visits per day - 44! Thanks!
I must also mention that I've visitors from 25 countries like Germany (437 visits over last year!), UK (375), United States (99), Spain (43), Brazil (31), Ecuador (30), Norway (29), Malysia (7), Peru (4), Finalnd (3), Canada (3), Belgium (2), Australia (2), Ireland (2), South Korea, Hungary, Portugal, Columbia, Indonesia, Greece, Argentina, Estonia, Russia, etc... That's interesting and that means that I've made good choice to write this blog in English.
Thanks a lot to my international readers! Please put more comments...thanks again!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Back home :( - summary of the trip

Today we returned from the amazing trip. We're home now and it's time to summarize. I've taken many pictures, but only few are nice. We were trying to catch many different situations - unfortunately lack of knowledge and experience caused that pictures are not perfect. Of course we learned a lot, but it's the knowledge for another trip. Who knows when will it happen?
First of all I must say few words about my equipment. I've made good decision. Canon EOS 1D Mk III is great camera for such trip - maybe a little bit too heavy, but otherwise great. Its battery is enough for 2500-3000 pictures and sometimes you can't charge it, so I was really very happy with it. I decided to take 3 lenses - 17-40/4L, 24-70/2.8L and 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS. It was also a good decision, but the most used lens was the last one (85% of the pictures), then equally 17-40 and 24-70. All of them were necessary, but I would be probably more happy to have 70-200/4L and 400/5.6L instead of 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS. Unfortunately I was limited with the total weight of my carry-on. I had to fit in 12kg and backpack itself weights 3 kg. I also had to put there my laptop (Twinhead F11Y), flash Canon 580EX, better beamer, extender 1.4x, ND filters, external hard disk (for backup), charger, additional camera (Canon D10 underwater), and a lot of other stuff. So I had to make some trade-off - went with 100-400 instead of two lenses, but next time.... I'm not sure. Actually everything I've taken was necessary, maybe except of ND filters. To our amazement we had not many opportunities for landscape photography and moreover weather was not good for such pictures. So we focused on birds, animals and other topics as you can see on the pictures in the blog.
We were very happy with our backpacks - as I mentioned before I had Lowepro Vertex 200 and my friend had Tamrac Adventure 10. My backpack fits perfectly as carry-on and tamrac is a bit too big, but somehow we managed to have them with us all the time. My friend had a sad accident when his backpack was completely submerged in salt water for few seconds, but the whole equipment survived! Great backpack I must say! I recommend it to everyone. Vertex 200 is less flexible (has only photo compartment), but more comfortable for me. There's no perfect solution - you must make choices... That's the gear part...
Trip itself was again well prepared. We planned everything in very detailed way and had no problems with dates, flights, etc. Everything was ready and nice. But of course next time I would make many things differently. Here you can find some suggestions in case you go to Ecuador:
1. I'd make Galapagos trip as a 9 days instead of 5 - this way for not much more money you can see more islands and more species.
2. I'd go to the jungle one more time. NWC lodge was a good choice!
3. Quito is nice city, I'd stay there more than few days. Cayman hotel is located in good part of city and has very kind owners and staff. It's highly recommended although not the cheapest choice...
4. I love Ecuadorian cuisine. Next time I want to taste even more different things!
5. We missed opportunity to visit seaside, but heard a lot of interesting things about it. Definitely must see next time!

There's probably much more, but I don't want to bore you, so let's stop here... :)
Now I'm processing pictures for my gallery and little slide show that's coming soon...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Last day in Miami area

After the night in van and taking a bath in very severe conditions we headed to Miami for some last shopping. But on the way we stopped by Shark Valley in Everglades NP. There we just came perfectly to observe morning fauna activity and managed to take some cool pictures...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Everglades & Sanibel Island

On my last morning in Key West I woke up with terrible headache and hangover. We had to change our plans a little bit and hit the road only about noon. That way we arrived to Everglades late afternoon. Just perfect moment to catch some late rays of sun and take few nice pictures of animals there. Nothing to write about, better see some pictures....

Next morning we got back to Anhinga trail in Everglades very early in the morning to catch some sunrise rays, but it was cloudy again. Weather changed after two hours, but animals just finished their morning activity by then.

So we managed to take some last pictures and decided to head to Sanibel and Captiva islands. I knew the last place from my previous trip in 2007. They've very nice vacation resorts there, but you can also spot a lot of different animals like dolphins, raccoons, herons, young women, flamingos, etc. There's some kind of trail - Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We visited it, but had not much luck. Birds were far away from us or we just had too short lenses. Eventually we've reached the very end of Captiva island - the parking at the beach and decided to go see some sunset pics on the beach. It turned out to be perfect decsision. First we've noticed blue heron on the beach - unusual view. Later it became clear why it is there and even very close to the people. One guy had fishing rod and was trying to catch some fish in the sea. Heron was waiting for them, because the guy was doing it for him! Yes, he was feeding the bird! Besides it was sunset - perfect light for taking pictures. I managed to fill my 16GB card in almost an hour and hopefully have some good pictures among them. After all judge them yourself and leave me a comment please...

After the sunset we decided to find some place to sleep. But still on Sanibel we came across the restaurant called Hungry Heron - the name reminded me the one from the beach and decided to stop by here for a small dinner. Actually it turned out to be not so small and I managed to eat only a half of it... With full belly we left Sanibel island and headed back to Miami. Finally we found a small camping at the 41th state and stopped there for a night. We had no tent, but fortunately got minivan instead of midsize requested in Alamo and due to this had some space to sleep. We spent the night on the hard floor of the van in the middle of wetlands. Very memorable night for only 22 USD...

Rainy Key West

I woke up hearing rain behind the window. It was unbelievable! We were in Key West! But it was true. Rain outside. What can you do in such a rainy day on Key West? Hard to guess. We decided to do some shopping (but number of shops is limited on the island) and visiting the port and city center. Rain jacket was helpful, but somehow weather had changed a little bit and it stopped to rain later in the day. Actually we didn't take any pictures.
In the evening my friends (thanks again Kasia and Polu!) invited us for a dinner - typical Key West dinner. Sea food. Very sophisticated, because my friend is very good cook. He served us tuna tartar, then Alaskan King's Crabs and lobsters. All of it was complemented with good white wine. Really great dinner. After that we headed back to the city center for some drinks. Then I don't remember too much, but evening was really great and relaxing... see some sea food pictures in the preparation process...

Greetings for Jay!