Saturday, June 15, 2013

Up in the air with The Grizz in Door County WI.

A week ago we went up to Door County Wisconsin. It is a beautiful place famous for its cherry. Cherry pies, cherry soda, cherry jam, you name it they have it. It's a place excellent for relaxing, where the towns are close together, and there is a port in almost every town you visit as it is a beautiful peninsula.

One of the beautiful islands in the lake.
On our second day at Door County we were trying to find a great way to see the peninsula. We browsed online and there were a lot of tours going on that week. Then we saw the Grizzly scenic air tours. And we booked a tour and we scheduled it on that friday because it was supposed to be really sunny and dry.

Eagle Bluff lighthouse from the air.
Friday came and we were excited to go to the airport to meet Grizzly Dave, the pilot of the plane that is taking us on the tour.  He briefed us on where we are going, what we are expected to see, and how we can take the shot perfectly from the air.

Horseshoe island.
For this trip I packed 2 bodies. I have my Canon 5D MK2 equipped with a 17-40mm f/4 lens and a Canon 6D equipped with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. These two lenses work perfectly for scenic trips, and I never fail to bring both of them on tours and vacations.

The beautiful shoreline from above.
Grizzly Dave just warned me to stay away from the window as far as I can with my 70-200mm as it is a big lens. I was told that a guy once popped his window out with his camera lens. For safety reasons I took out my lens hood to at least cut off about 4 inches away from my lens. I could just imagine the horror on that guys face when he busted the window open of a plane currently in flight.

The water is clear that you can see the bottom in some areas.
The trip was bumpy at first, as we flew a lower altitude above the trees. As soon as we gained altitude, the ride became more stable and we were able to look into our viewfinders better.

Two sunken ship hulls visible from the air. 
While the tour was going on Grizzly Dave pointed out the different towns, he told us stories about some lighthouses, and he pointed to us which is which.

Cana Island Lighthouse.
While we were over at Door County, they had a lighthouse festival. Door County is home to 11 lighthouses. Seeing lighthouses on a land tour is great. Seeing the lighthouses from the air is just magnificent.

Canal Station Pier-head lighthouse visible on the lower right side.
Most of the time I shot with the 70-200mm lens. The focal length is just right as it is not too long and at the same time not too short. I set my dial to shutter priority so I can set a speed that I wanted. For these shots I set it to around 400/sec. It was a very bright day so my iso was at 100, no need to worry about noise at all.

The Steel Bridge in Sturgeon bay.
One thing I forgot to bring is a polarizer. It would've helped to eliminate reflections from the window, I managed to minimize reflections by shooting at the right angle at certain times, the polarizer would've been great to have though.

The dock in Sturgeon bay.
Throughout the tour we were never bored with Grizzly Daves stories and jokes. He is indeed a very funny guy. He told us that there were numerous times that guys would propose to their girlfriends during the tour. In fact, as of that time there were seven proposals...six of them were successful...hahaha.

Seeing the peninsula in a plane is a different experience.
I highly recommend the tour. It was very entertaining and fun. For photographers, it is an excellent way to photograph landscapes in a very unique way. Would I do it again? Heck, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

One of the beautiful docks in Door County
For more information about Grizzly scenic tours, visit their website at:

The Grizz himself.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lowepro Vertex 100

The Lowepro Vertex 100.
Here I am again with another Lowepro review. As I told before I am never paid to do reviews. Lowepro is just a brand that I have learned to love because of their awesome bags. So far I own 5 Lowepro bags. I buy a certain model depending on what I need. Different photographers with different setups need different bags, and the Lowepro Vertex 100 is a bag that I will use for a light to medium setup that will allow me to carry a small laptop as well.

Like it's big brother, it's got a tripod/monopod holder.
 Let's start off with the outside features of the bag. Like the Vertex 200 and 300, the Vertex 100 has a tripod/monopod holder that is height adjustable. The Vertex 100 has a similar Glide Lock system that allows you to adjust the height of the tripod strap to however you want it according to the tripod size that you will carry on it. The bottom compartment that grabs the bottom legs of the tripod is detachable for a smaller bag size. I just like to keep it on all the time.

The zippers are sealed to keep out dust and moisture.
The Vertex 100 backpack, being considered a professional camera backpack offers weather resistant zippers for the main compartment that keeps out dust and moisture. This also gives the zippers a tighter and more secure feel.

It can hold up to a 14" laptop.
One of the main reasons I bought this bag was the laptop compartment. My Lowepro Flipside backpack doesn't have one so having this one is a bonus. It can store up to a 14" laptop securely. 

A rain cover is hidden in a pocket at the bottom.
The rain cover is perfect for making the bag water resistant.
At the bottom of the bag is a rain cover that covers up the bag when you need it. The nice thing about it is that the rain cover is a part of the bag. You can keep it in the pocket when you don't need it.

One of the front compartments in the front.
 The front left compartment of the bag has 2 zipped pockets that can hold filters or batteries or anything that is thin. It also has 3 pen holders and a pocket on top of it.  I mainly use the zipped pockets for extra batteries.

The right compartment of the bag.
The right front compartment has three small pockets that can hold cables, wipes, or anything that's thin too. Opposite of that side are three card holders that can hold cf, sd, memory sticks etc. inside their cases. Another small pocket is below the 3 card holders.

The inside of the bag.
A good amount of equipment fits inside.
 One of the main reasons why I chose the Lowepro Vertex 100 is the amount of equipment it can carry for being a smaller bag. I can fit 2 slrs with medium sized lenses attached. Shown in the photo is my Canon 50d and 5D MK2 with a 24-105mm and an 85mm lens attached in the bag facing each other, along with a 400mm f/5.6 lens on the side. On the other side is a Canon 430EX II lens and a Canon 28-135mm lens. And they all fit comfortably inside. I can also fit a 70-200mm lens attached to a body in front of another body without a lens's all up to you how you want to set this up but the Lowepro Vertex 100 can hold a lot.

The padded shoulder pads are really comfortable.
The shoulder pads are similar to the Vertex 100. Well padded and comfortable. It also features a waist strap that is padded as well. Very nice feature to have especially for long hiking trips to keep the bag flat in your back.

The nice waist strap to keep it flat on your back.

The detachable tripod catch.
The tough handle on top for carrying.
The same features of a Vertex 300 in a smaller package.
Here's a video showing the key features of the Lowepro Vertex 100:

The Vertex 100 is an exact copy of the Vertex 300 without some features of its bigger brother. The Vertex 100 doesn't have a cover that hides the shoulder straps if you don't need them. It also has a smaller inside compartment space. The thing that I don't like about the Vertex 100 is that it looks pretty bulky when carried. It looks like it protrudes more in your back than any other backpack of its class. Other than that the Lowepro Vertex 100 is an awesome backpack to have like the Vertex 300. For the best equipment protection I would get a Lowepro Vertex series bag anytime.