Thursday, September 26, 2013

This years first visit to Crabtree Nature center

One of the pretty creatures at Crabtree nature center.
This years first visit to Crabtree Nature center was great. We went there when the weather was great. The only this was, there were not too many birds as we went there around noon, and birds usually hide out to keep out of the heat and come hunting later on in the afternoon.

One of my favorite dragonfly photos.
For trips like these, I usually go big. I was expecting to photograph birds so I brought along my Canon 400mm f/5.6L lens. Realizing that I needed a macro lens for my secondary lens the least time I went, I went and brought along my Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. The last time I went I just brought my 400mm with my 50mm 1.8 and boy did I regret not bringing a macro lens along. This time I was smarter.

A similar shot I did that won a Brookfield Zoo award last year.
This trip my 400mm mostly stayed in monopod. I was using the 100mm macro more than I expected to use it. There were a ton of dragonflies and I just snapped on. I am so glad I had my macro with me. I caught some pretty cool close up shots of dragonflies just standing on a leaf, and it seemed like the dragonflies just stayed put whenever I got close.

A bird shot I took while on our way out.
My 400mm never really became useless that day. On our way out we saw a couple of birds hanging out by the feeders. It's pretty nice how Crabtree Nature center set up their bird feeders. They are by the Entrance and near the washrooms by the visitor center. You'd pass them by before you leave and you usually will see a lot of birds by them, fighting over the food.

My last shot of the day.
I will definitely go back to the nature center when it becomes cooler. Maybe I will see different species of birds next time. Other than that the trip was worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2013 Blueberry Festival Plymouth Indiana Parade

The parade was started off with a 5k/10k run.
Labor day weekend is great when going to the Marshall county annual Blueberry festival. The 2013 Blueberry festival was capped off with the annual Labor day parade on the morning of Labor day September 2 2013.

The official Blueberry festival mascot.
The parade was started off with a 5k/10k run with different runners from kids to adults. The most amazing runners were the firemen with full gear going through it all the way. After the runners trickled down a bit the parade started.

One of the motorcycle guys in the parade.
The parade was started with police cars and cruisers with all their lights and sirens on. Followed by marching bands all over Indiana. A lot of good stuff marching by one after the other.

One of the few bands that played.
On parades like these, I like to use my trusty Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM. Paired with the awesome Canon 6D, this setup is more than what I need. I never did intend to bring out a secondary body with a shorter lens in it.

A kid and his Mustang.
The 70-200's f/2.8 maximum aperture allows me to focus on a single subject in my viewfinder and isolate it from the background. This time I shot between f/2.8 and f/3.2...very wide apertures but the best for blurring out the background for isolation. I then set my shooting mode to aperture priority so I can shoot according to the aperture that I want. It was pretty sunny and my ISO was set at ISO 100.

One of the weird cars in the parade.
Shooting in very wide apertures such as f/2.8, it requires speed as the most subtle movement from your subject will throw your focus away. The technique is to shoot right away as soon as your focus locks. Wait for half a second or more and your focus is have to be fast.

Triton High School band.
There were a lot of high school bands that were in the parade. All of them were pretty good. Playing covers of classic marching band tunes as well as more modern pop songs.

John Glenn High School.
The parade wouldn't be complete without cars. There were a lot of them. From the classic Model T up to the most modern Ford Mustang. It's like having a parade and a motor show at once.

Cars, cars, and more cars.
There were also a lot of animals. People in horses, and people with dogs from a dog obedience school were among the people in the parade. The people with dogs representing an obedience school even demonstrated the tricks that their dogs learned from the school. Pretty neat stuff.

Another classic car.

Another fun car in the parade.

Argos Maching Dragons.

Comedians in a classic car.

A girl and her horse.

Yogi bear in a float.

Hot rod in the parade.

Great Balancing act.

Another classic car.

Darth Vader walking around.

The bounty hunter.

More troopers.
And then there was the costume guys which in my opinion were the coolest in the parade. Leading them was Darth Vader walking with storm troopers and his other minions. It was a pretty cool moment!

Female version of Kerokerokeroppi?

That dog is well trained.

More costumes.

Beauty queens all in one float.
Labor day is great watching a parade like this. For some interesting people and animals to photograph I would recommend going to the next Marshall County Blueberry festival parade next year!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Blueberry festival Skateboard competition 2013

We visited the Plymouth Indiana for the annual Blueberry festival. And one of the events in the festival that I always go to is the Skateboard/BMX competition. It was rainy last year so I wasn't really sure if they had the competition or not so I wasn't able to check it out. So when we came this year I was really happy to be there when the competition was about to start.

The competition is for beginners and advanced competitors. It was started off with two boys that were about 9 or 10 years old. These beginners were pretty good considering how your they were. They both went back and forth to the route of the skate park, and after that, the intermediate competition began.

The intermediate skaters were great. It was fun to see them during the warmups and they were even better during the actual competition. During the competition, you can actually take better photos because it's basically just one skater going around the skate park. No distracting skaters in the background or going in front of your camera.

In events like this it is really a no brainer that I used my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM lens. The 70-200's fast and crisp USM focusing captures every jump and tumble of the skaters. Paired with the Canon 6D's somewhat fast fps burst and you got yourself an awesome setup for skateboard shots. I'm sure I can use a 1D for events like this...only if I had 6 thousand dollars to spend on it.

So I set my focusing mode to AI servo and set the burst mode on. I then set my camera to shutter priority so I can set my shutter speed to whatever I want. I think for these shots I set it to around 500/sec. I set the speed high to capture fast motion and also for the camera to set the aperture at a wider aperture automatically. Having a wide aperture for shots like this isolates your subjects more from the background...and also eliminates the visibility of the fence I was shooting behind from...yes all these shots were done behind a fence. As long as the sun doesn't shine directly into the fence you'll be fine shooting scenes behind it.

I felt bad I wasn't able to hang around for the BMX competition. But hopefully I will be able to do it next year! Enjoy the rest of the shots!