Here’s a shot that I took with my iPhone as we left Port Canaveral on the inaugural Atlantic crossing of Symphony of the Seas. Not bad for a two-and-a-half-year-old iPhone.
I was up on the top deck without my camera as we pulled out of port. I wished I had my Sony because there was a lot of hoopla surrounding the first U.S. docking of the world’s largest ship. But, as the old saying goes, the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. In my case, that means the iPhone 7 plus. I think it did a pretty good job.
Nevertheless, I processed it a little in Skylum’s Luminar, and this is how it turned out. I like this perpendicular perspective of the beach. It’s a minimalist landscape shot, but not too shabby. One of these days I’ll get around to upgrading my iPhone to a new model and get even better pictures.
Now and then, without warning, the view from a cruise ship can be over the top. This is why I like booking a room with a balcony.
The Oasis of the Seas was just leaving the dock at Cozumel, and everything came together. As the ships leave, smaller boats are returning to dock after depositing their tour groups. By six in the evening, all the ships have departed, and the little towns and villages become sleepy again. That’s why I think Cozumel is the closest thing to Margaritaville.
My apologies if this image seems overly saturated. I’ve desaturated the colors a couple of times because it doesn’t seem realistic. Every now and then that happens. More and more I pay attention to the levels of color saturation while I’m taking the picture, and sometimes it’s quite high. Then I have to tone it down in post-processing because it can look fake. This is one of those cases, but I’m still not sure if it’s enough.
Over the holidays we jumped on a last-minute cruise of the Carribean. Living in Florida, these kinds of things are easy to do, just find a cheap ticket and drive to the port.
The ship was Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which is one of the worlds largest. We’ve sailed on a couple of her sister ships, so we already had a good feel for the layout.
I took a few photos that are of a more abstract nature than typical holiday snapshots. Here is a collection with descriptions of each.
West Palm Beach
On our first evening at sea, we sailed down the east coast of Florida from Cape Canaveral. The lights on the left are from West Palm Beach if I’m not mistaken. The first day is always a good time to look out to sea and decompress from life on land.
Here is another shot from the first night, looking to the back of the ship, as the smoke from the engine trails out. These first two shots are long exposures that were stabilized on the balcony railing.
We departed Falmouth, Jamacia in the evening after a very windy day. All day long I wondered how the captain would pull out in such conditions, but as the sun fell so did the wind, and we departed quite easily. I created this long exposure as the ship slowly moved past the dock. The jiggling of the light trails was from my unsteady hand as I held the camera (not necessarily from the Jamaican rum one may be obliged to try).
There are large hot tubs on both sides of the upper deck that protrude out from the sides of the ship on deck fifteen. I didn’t manage to try them out for myself, but that didn’t stop me from taking an architectural shot from our balcony five floors below.
One lazy pastime when leaving a port is to sit on the balcony and watch others board the ship. In Labadee Haiti, there are musicians and dancers on the dock as well. Here I’m aiming directly down at the pier as a passenger walks to the gangway.
The perfect symmetry of the bar stools caught my eye as I wandered around the decks at night. This is one of the outdoor bars that had closed for the evening.
I snapped this as we left our last port of Cozumel. Another pastime for me is to sit on the balcony and read or listen to music. No agenda, no schedule, just free time to do anything or nothing at all.
These egrets will sit on trees to preen while keeping an eye on the fishermen and their catch.
I took this at a bayou that is also a state preserve. Florida preserves give wildlife a safe place to thrive outside of the urban sprawl. Egrets are opportunists that adapt to just about anything. Often I’ll see them on the front lawn looking for lizards. It’s not uncommon to see them perched on the roof of a car.
However, just because they adapt doesn’t mean they’re not skittish. If you get too close, they’ll fly away, so I had to keep a comfortable distance to capture this photo. That meant using a 70-200mm lens with a 2x converter for a total of 400mm. It’s rare that I carry that combination, but I’m glad I did on this day.
This is the back side of Bradenton Beach, the front side is, uh, a beach.
The little beach town is surrounded by water because it sits on Anna Maria Island. The back side faces the intercoastal waterway and is the place where all the boats dock. It’s also where you’ll find a lot of fun things to explore, like restaurants, galleries, and fishing piers; not to mention other little villages like Cortez.
I shot this picture at water level using a Platypod on a remarkably calm night; usually, there’s a little chop. This is also a prolonged, thirteen-second exposure, so it makes the water appear even smoother. Then I stretched the lights a little downwards to accentuate them. But at the end of the day, if you squint your eyes a little, this is exactly what you would see on most evenings along the inter-coastal waterway. But if that doesn’t float your boat, there is always the beach on the other side.
I took this the morning after arriving from the east coast. When I woke up, it was before 4:00 AM, so I went out taking photos, and this was the last place I stopped. I started at the Palace of Fine Arts and ended up here at Embarcadero.
It was early on a weekend so the streets were empty and I could get from place to place in no time. Traveling to the west coast is easy to do, going the other way is another matter entirely. That is unless you like staying up late, but I’m more of a morning person, so going west works better for me. Early to rise…, and all that stuff.
It’s been two years since I took this and looking at it now I thought it was the Golden Gate bridge. But the background doesn’t look right, and the sun doesn’t set or rise this way as far as I know. Something didn’t seem right. Fortunately, this is tagged with GPS coordinates from an app I use; just like iPhone photos, but for Sony. So I looked it up on Google maps and only then did I realized it was the Bay Bridge. Silly me.
This simple image is a long (one second) exposure from the side of a ship. These are swells from hurricane Oscar that was over a thousand miles away.
The captain took us south to avoid the worst of it, but for about two days we saw some impressive swells, more massive than these. Even the largest cruise ship in the world will rock in these conditions. The swells hitting the side of the boat sounded exactly like waves crashing on the shore. It was relaxing, and for two nights we slept with the balcony door open so we could hear the soothing sounds.
To make a one-second exposure in daylight, I set the aperture to f40. That’s a tiny aperture, maybe the smallest I’ve ever used. An F-stop higher than 20 does not have a lot of practical uses, but long exposures are one. One second is long enough to make an in-camera motion blur effect without resorting to photoshop tricks.
My favorite thing about the trip across the Atlantic was the open sea. For over a week there was nothing but water and clouds.
When we booked the trip, I wasn’t sure what eight days at sea would be like. Now, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The entire time we did not see land, another boat, or a plane. It was an opportunity to detach from all land-based frames of reference.
On the final day before arriving at Port Canaveral, we began to see planes in the sky and seabirds. It was the first signs that home was not far off. It’s nice to back on the ground, but at the same time, it was nice to have a glimpse of a perspective where all the familiar references were not there.
With the pace of things being what they are, a little chill time can be a good thing. It’s something we all probably need a little more of. Sometimes I try to meditate, but often I end up falling asleep.
I took this photo of myself on a quiet evening in Bradenton, but I wasn’t really relaxing, I was setting up the shot, setting the timer, clicking the shutter and then running up to sit in the shot. But if we ignore all that, its a pretty chill shot.
This morning I took a yoga class that ended with a few minutes of meditation while laying on our backs. I became aware of my breathing and let my thoughts go. A few minutes later when we were all standing the instructor walked over to a couple of people still on the ground to wake them up. I had to laugh inside because that’s precisely what happens to me most of the time.
I know I shouldn’t spend time wishing I was somewhere else. However, I do. Except when I’m here, then I don’t.
When I have a vacation coming up, I wish I was there already; but if I were, it would be over sooner, and I’d be back to the real world when I should be on vacation. The only other option is to make life one big vacation. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
If life was just one big vacation, would I want to go to work? I think I know the answer to that. Sometimes I have too many thoughts for my own good. The best cure for that is a beach-view of the sunset on Friday. There’s plenty of time for the other stuff on Monday.