Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Swimming with the Green Sea Turtles in Maui (Photos and Video)

I am back from Hawaii after spending 10 days of vacation time on the island of Maui. I was able to slow down, spend time with family and friends, read, and step away from the technology a little bit. Heck, there were even two days when I left the condo without my camera or iPhone (partly to be totally involved with the others and partly to prove to them that I could do it!)

But there were still times when I could not help myself and had to capture some photos to fill my creative soul. Most of my photos were taken underwater on this trip, with my wife, daughter and I using a combination of a Canon underwater point-and-shoot camera and a GoPro Hero 4.

But on our first full day on the island, I took the Canon 5D Mark IV (with the Canon 100-400mm lens) down to the water and took photos and video of this Green sea turtle making his way back into the ocean. You can see the video of this and more at the end of this blog.

But as I mentioned, most of my photos were taken underwater when we were swimming with the turtles. And there were a lot of turtles to be seen, as we were staying in a condo that was 100 feet from shores of turtle cove.

I preferred to photograph the sea turtles when they were close to the surface, for two reasons. First and foremost, the light is better near the surface which yielded better images, and secondly, I liked the reflection of the turtles on the surface of the water.

Sometimes when the turtles would dive down, I would take a deep breath and follow them down to get shots of them nearer the ocean floor.

While swimming, I saw these rays of sunlight coming from the water's surface and loved how it framed the two turtles.

Oh wait - before I go on I need to tell all of you about the editing process for these photos.

Are you ready for this?

This is the original photo of what you just saw above. When you take photos or video underwater, the cameras have a hard time determining the proper color levels. You will need to edit those photos to bring back the contrast and color. Each of the underwater photos that you see in this blog have been retouched in Adobe Photoshop CC. I adjusted the white balance, contrast, shadows and highlights to make the images appear closer to what I saw when snorkeling. What a huge difference, huh?

I had fun following the turtles as they swam from one location to another.

Like photographing any subject, I enjoyed the challenge of capturing photos of the turtles from different angles. For this shot, I was floating in place and saw this turtle swimming right towards me.

The turtles come up for air periodically, so it is not hard to get photos like this of them by the surface.

It took a couple of tries, but I managed to get this photo half above water and half underwater, which gives you a perfect example of how the turtles come up to breath.

This shot is a little different, because the turtle was swimming in shallow water, with both the ocean's bottom and the water's surface in the same image.

After they would come up for air, they would swim down deep and park themselves under the rocks and coral.

My wife and daughter was hanging around this turtle and watching it intensely. I was so busy trying to get steady video with the camera, that I did not notice what intrigued them. This turtle was missing it's front right flipper, but still managed to swim around as well as any of the others. We nicknamed this one "Nubby". We looked for this turtle a couple of days later, but could not find him again.

At the beginning of this blog, I mentioned that I took video footage both above the water and below. You can click on the image below to watch my short 2 1/2 minute video compilation. I hope you like it!

Now the relaxation is over and I am back to the real world. During these three weeks I will be capturing 3 Bar Mitzvahs, 2 NHL games, one vow renewal, one adoption ceremony, and preparing camera gear and clothing for the Winter Olympics.

From this point on, it is full speed ahead (which I know how to handle better than the slow island pace anyways).

Get ready folks - we are almost to the start of another Olympics! :)

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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world.

Monday, January 8, 2018

From the shorelines of Maui - photos and video from the coast and blowhole on the west side of the island

For the last week, I have been on the island of Maui in the Hawaiian Islands with my wife, daughter and good friends. The timing is great since this gives me a little down time before taking off for the month long work at the Olympic Games.

We have been to Maui many times, but it is always nice to come back and enjoy the warm weather, especially when most of the U.S. is in freezing weather.

I have posted some images on social media, and people have been saying things like "you must be taking tons of photos there in Hawaii". But the truth is, as much as I would like to be shooting more, I am trying to use this time to hang with the group, play cards, snorkel and not focus on photography.

But if you know me, and most of you do, I still have to get my fix. So I have been using the GoPro camera when snorkeling and even taken the Canon 5D Mark IV camera out for a couple of photo excursions. I only brought two lenses with me, the Canon 24-105mm and the Canon 100-400mm.

So for this blog post, I am going to share with you some of my favorite images taken along the coastline of Maui during this past week.

This first image may look like a photo taken at night, but it was actually a photo taken just before sunrise on our first morning on Maui. I was up early (due to the 2 hour time change) and was planning on taking some sunrise photos. But before the sunrise, I saw the setting super moon and focused on that instead.

I was excited to get a shot of the moon setting over the island of Molokai, mixed with the colors of the upcoming sunrise.

A couple of days ago, my wife, daughter and I went for a walk along the Kaanapali coastline and I did bring the Canon 5D Mark IV and 24-105mm lens for that walk. It is a beautiful coastline and I am glad that I had the camera with me.

On our walk back, I saw a family of four trying to get a family portrait with their iPhone. I took some shots for them and then offered to do a better photo with my camera. We ended up talking to them for a while and made some new friends. I retouched their photo and sent it to them later this afternoon. If it wasn't for me having my camera, we would never have met these nice people.

And that evening I stepped out to get another couple of sunset photos. For these, I used my Gitzo travel tripod to keep the camera still during the long exposure shots.

Yesterday we drove around the island looking for a good beach for the kids and us to boogie board or snorkel. Since we were back home in the late afternoon, I did break away for a little photography excursion to get some photos of the blowhole, located about 20 minutes north of where we are staying. Ethan, the son of our good friends asked if he could come along, and I was happy to have someone to share the fun with.

During our 20 minute car ride together, I told Ethan about my plan to photograph the blowhole. I had never actually seen one before, but figured that as slow shutter speed would be the best way to capture the action in the water spout.  I put on my Tiffen Circular Polarizing filter to help mitigate the glare off the wet rocks, but also to help kill some of the ambient light. Using the Gitzo travel tripod once again, with the Acratech ballhead, I started with a shutter speed of 1/5 second, and you can see the results in this first photo.

And...of course, one of the great lessons in photography is to look all around when shooting to see if there are other good shots. And in doing so, I saw this heart shaped hole in the rock behind me, and reframed to get shots in this direction. To get a little more motion in the water, I changed the camera settings of my Canon 5D Mark IV to get a 1 second exposure.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 24-105mm lens, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/2 sec)

Then I was back to photographing the blowhole, moving around to get different angles.

I would shoot numerous frames in different positions, since the amount of water coming from the spout would vary, yielding very different results. You can see the slight differences in the two photos above.

The hard part was keeping all that water spray off of my lens (filter). I would have to clean the front of the lens after almost every shot.

There are a lot of warnings in the area, reminding people of the dangers of getting too close to the blowhole and water's edge. These surface becomes very slippery and the area is covered with very sharp volcanic rocks. But that did not stop these people from getting a photo very close to the blowhole. I took this photo to show you the scale of the spout (to the right of the people).

(Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 24-105mm lens, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/13 sec, Canon 600EX-RT flash at -2))
After taking all the landscape shots I wanted, I set up the tripod to get a shot of Ethan and I. For this photo, I used the same setup as before (camera, filter, tripod) but also added a Canon 600EX-RT flash to light us. I put the camera in 10 second timer mode and carefully ran into the scene for the photo.

While down by the blowhole, I also decided to step away from the DSLR setup and break out my iPhone X to take a slow motion video. It is pretty impressive how well iPhone camera does in this situation.  Check out the video by clicking on the image above or here.

Aloha from the Hawaiian islands!

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world.