Monday, October 14, 2019

Cosplay on the Farm

ISO 3200, Focal Length 15mm, Aperture F8, Exposure 1/30 (shot by my husband)

On October 5th  I hosted a meet up of the Dayton-Columbus-Cincinnati Cosplay Photoshoot group at Lucas Brothers Farm in Centerville.  This was on of the rare evening shoots for the group.   We had 16 cosplayers, 7 photographers, and 3 assistants attend, so the cosplayer to photographer ratio was relatively good. The best ratio is 1.5 cosplayers to every 1 photographer.

I worked with 11 cosplayers of which 4 were in groups of two.  I shot a total of  284 frames in three hours. Of the 284 frames I edited 173 images and delivered 86 final images.  It should be noted that my husband also shot a few frames using a fisheye lens and provided 5 final images. I shot the whole meet using a light from a single bare off camera speed light on a light stand. I shot using ISO 100, which I shouldn’t have done since part of the shoot was at night.  My aperture and shutter speed varied throughout the shoot, due to the changing lighting conditions due to the setting sun.  My aperture ranged between F4.5 and F8 with the most common being F4.5.  My shutter speed varied from 2/3s to 1/250s with the most common speed being 1/250s.  It should be noted the flash sync speed is 1/250s and I used 2/3s shutter speeds for long exposure shots. Finally, my focal length varied from 18mm to 100mm, with the most common focal length being 18mm.   

ISO 100, Focal Length 18mm, Aperture F4.5, Exposure 1/160
This shoot was held on a farm with a pumpkin patch, a corn field, and woods making it a good location for Halloween themed cosplays. I believe Izabel Cortez had the best cosplay of the night with her gender bent Pennywise from the movie “IT”.  She is a very good cosplayer and always a pleasure to work with.  The other cosplay that was very good was Space Mermaid Cosplay as Sally from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”  I will discuss one photo of each of them. 

This first photo (left) is of Izabel as Pennywise.  For this image I had her act like she was coming out of the corn stalks and give me a creepy look. I got down on the ground and shot up, while zooming my flash to 80mm to provide a more spot light appearance.  When editing the photo, I white blanced on her make-up. I then used a preset that cranked up both the clarity and sharpness of the photo while reducing the color saturation to give it the grungy dirty look.  I also adjusted the exposure slightly, did a bit of localized adjustments round her face, then added a vignette.

ISO 100, Focal Length 18mm, Aperture F4.5, Exposure 1/80

This second photo (right) is of Space Mermaid Cosplay as Sally.  I like this photo because I think it fits the character, and who doesn’t enjoy dancing in a pumpkin patch.  For this photo I used a wider flash spread between 35mm and 50mm.  I mostly used the flash as fill to pop the cosplayer in the frame. I was relatively low to the ground to ensure I got a nice view of the pumpkin patch. As you can see the sun was setting and it was setting fast.  When editing the image, I kept it close to straight out of camera, but bumped up the color saturation slightly, and adjusted the exposure slightly.  A quarter moon was in the raw image, but showed up as a white spot, due to focal length.  I removed the original moon and add a half moon back into the image using Photoshop. To finish off the image I add a slight vignette.

Overall this was a great shoot. It was a bit challenging during the changing lighting conditions due to the setting sun, but overall, I feel I got a lot of nice images.  You can see all of my images plus my husbands five images on our web site under the Farm gallery.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Fall Still Life

I like doing still life photos now and then, because it can be relaxing yet challenging to get an interesting photo.  My inspiration for this still life was autumn season, even though the weather begs to differ right now.  Really it is the end of September and we been having strings of 90-degree days.  

For this shoot the set up was simple. I used a black backdrop laid across my kitchen table. The back drop was propped up in the back by a cardboard box.  I placed a speed light with a small soft box on a light stand to the camera’s right pointed down at the gourds, basket, and straw. The flash was set to a 25mm zoom and 1/16 to 1/8 power. I also had a gold reflector on the camera’s left to reflect some light back into the image to ensure some definition and separation from the background and to give the image some warmth. (See image to left.) I used a 18-55 mm lens.  I was shooting at ISO 100 at a focal length of 18mm with an aperture of  F8.  I used two distinct shutter speeds 1/160s and 1/200s with most frames being shot at 1/160s.  I shot 76 frames and kept 33 images. 

When setting this image up I had a basic fall harvest concept in my mind and built up from the basic image of the gourds, hay, and basket to the all-inclusive image of the with the flowers and candle.  I started simply thinking of the cornucopia and having the gourds spill out. The issue with this was the one small orange pumpkin like gourd would get lost and covered by the other two gourds. To fix this I put two small blocks in the back and covered them with hay to raise the orange gourd up. This was especially important when I added the flowers.  From there I add a red candle, then relied on framing and cropping to help ensure movement and interest in the image.   I then partially broke the set up down, to set the basket up right and place flowers in it.  It was very important to use the reflector at this point to ensure decent light coverage across the scene.  When editing these images, I kept them fairly dark and moody.  However, I did pop the colors by using the “vivid” color treatment in lightroom. I also used some selective highlighting to bring out the edges of the flowers and show the separation of the petals. 


Overall, I’m happy with how the still life turned out, it was also a nice diversion for me.  In total I spent about 90 minutes on the shoot from set up through tear-down.  I then spent about 90 minutes editing the images which included uploading, culling, and exporting the final images.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Whetstone Pond Shoot

On September 8th  I hosted a meet up of the Dayton-Columbus-Cincinnati Cosplay Photoshoot group at Whetstone Pond in Columbus.  Whetstone Pond is located next to the Park of Roses in Columbus.   We had 14 cosplayers and 3 photographers attend, so it was a very busy shoot.

I worked with 11 cosplayers of which 6 were in groups of two.  I shot a total of  227 frames in three hours. Of the 292 frames I edited 146 images and delivered 83 final images. I shot the whole meet using a light from a single bare off camera speed light on a light stand. I shot with a bare speed light to compensate for the sun. I shot using ISO 200.  My aperture and shutter speed varied throughout the shoot, due to the changing lighting conditions due to the drifting clouds.  My aperture ranged between F5 and F14 with the most common being F8.  My shutter speed varied from 1/40s to 1/250s with the most common speed being 1/250s.  Finally, my focal length varied from 18mm to 100mm, with the most common focal length being 18mm.   

This was a very busy shoot because we only had three photographers for 14 cosplayers. I wanted to ensure as many cosplayers as possible got to work with a photographer and get photos for showing up.  While I shoot relatively fast, I was going faster then normal and it showed in some of the images when I was conducting my image cull.  However, there were still some very nice images.  My favorite from the shoot is of ButDragonsTho Cosplay.  While she was easy to photograph, the tricky part was the post edit, due to the tattoo sleeve she was wearing for her cosplay.  There were two issue I had to contend with 1) the seam of the tattoo sleeve and 2) the color of the tattoo sleeve, which was a shade darker than her natural skin tone.  I’m going to discuss how I changed the original image on the top into the final image on the bottom.  

To get the final image on the bottom,  I first did basic adjustments in Lightroom. These adjustments consisted of color balancing, increasing the contract, adjusting the exposure, and removing any noise from the image.  From there I exported the image into Photoshop to do the heavy lifting.  The first thing I did was use the content aware tool to remove the seam of the tattoo sleeve and touched up a few fly-away hairs.  I then applied frequency separation to the image and applied localized gaussian blur, to smooth the skin.  This was very important in the area of the tattoo sleeve to ensure a decent blend between it and the model’s natural skin.  From there I added some highlighting using dodge tool.  I then flattened the image and sent it back to Lightroom.  I did a few more minor adjustments and added a slight vignette to the image to finish it off.  While this process seems simple, it took me about 20-minutes to complete.

Original Image shot at  ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/100s, Focal Length 40mm

Final Image

Overall, it was a great shoot.  You can see all the images from that day’s event here: Whetstone Pond

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Matsuricon 2019

I attended my second Matsuricon, and I’m still not sure how to rate the overall convention. The check in process was smooth except for the confusion over the photography badges again.  I’m starting to think they need to better train their volunteers who check people in so there is less confusion about photography badges. (A photography badge is needed if you are charging for one-on-one sessions.)   This year I had 11 sessions booked, but had to cancel one, because I ended up getting sick.  The convention center felt like it was the same temperature inside as it was outside; and I do not due well in heat.  I had to cancel my last session of the convention because I was just feeling ill and it is not fair to the cosplayer if I cannot provide my best during a session.   I also attended the cosplay fashion show and shot during that.  I have two comments on the fashion show, first it needed to be longer with more cosplayers, second the cosplayers needed to be reminded to walk down the catwalk and walk all the way to the end of the catwalk.  Overall the cosplay fashion show was ok, I would attend it again.

For Matsuricon I took 988 shots, with most of the shots coming from one-on-one sessions.  Of the 988 shots, I edited 715 images.  During Matsuricon I used ISO 100 or ISO 400 depending on the conditions. My dominant focal length was 18mm,  and this is due to working in tight quarters and wanting to capture the complete cosplay.  My dominant shutter speed was 1/250, which also happens to be the highest sync speed of my flashes without changing to high-speed sync mode.  Finally, my dominate aperture was F9 with F10 being a very close second, this was most likely due to me trying to reduce ambient light and rely on the flash for lighting.   

This year I spent a lot of time walking from one end of the convention center to the other.  I did a lot of my shots at the large lattice windows in the front of the convention center and a fair number of sessions in the parking garage. Yes, parking garages make great locations, especially if they have murals and your working with comic book characters.  This year I worked with some great people and got some nice shots. I’m going to discuss a few of those shots below.

ISO 100, Aperture F7.1, Shutter 1/160s, Focal Length 35mm
My two of favorite shot shots from this year are of Raven Moonlight as Lucoa from “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid” (left) and of Cyren as Camie Utsushimi from “My Hero Academia” (lower right).  These two ladies are great to work with and easy to direct. The image of Raven Moonlight as Lucoa, I like because it is sexy yet has the bit a sweetness to it.  When editing the image, I went for a high fashion and high-key look, which really brings out the personality of the character she is trying to portray.  The image of Cyren as Cami, I like because it sexy yet under stated. It is a traditional sexy pose but by editing the portrait to be low key and fading it slightly it gives it an understated quality in my opinion. 

ISO 400, Aperture F11, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 28mm

The next two images are of shots done in a parking garage.  The first one is Marvelfanboy82 as Spiderman (left) and the second one is of Pandacosplay as Lady Deadpool (Lady Deadpool is an actual comic character not a gender bent Deadpool) (right). The reason I like this image of Marvelfanboy82 as Spiderman is because it captures the Spiderman vibe and looks like he is about to spring into action.  For this image I kept the image intentionally cool.  I also bumped the blacks, shadows, clarity and the vibrance of the image. It also has a bit of vignetting to the image.  The image of Pandacosplay as Lady Deadpool, I like because it shows action but the image is rough and gritty, just like Deadpool.   For this image I used an orange/blue split tone and cranked the clarity adjuster to the max, which make the image look gritty. I also dropped the highlights and the whites and kicked the vibrancy up a notch while adding a slight vignette.   

ISO 400, Aperture F10, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 18mm
ISO 100, Aperture F5.6, Shutter 1/160s, Focal Length 24mm

Overall this year I got to work with some great people, try my hand at shooting a fashion show, and see several interesting cosplays.  If you would like to see all the final photos from Matsuricon you can check them out here: Matsuricon 2019

As a side note, I was not worried about getting a ton of bookings this year for Matsuricon because I’m currently working on a Masters Degree, which is eating up a lot of my time.  This is also why I haven’t been posting as much.   Hopefully by June of 2020 I will be done with my degree and be back to shooting and posting more regularly.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

DCC First Anniversary

Cosplayer Group Photo (Focal Length 24mm, Aperture F11, Shutter 1/60s) 

I started the Dayton-Columbus-Cincinnati Cosplay Photo Shoot Group (DCC) on Facebook in April 2018 and held the first group shoot in June 2018. Over the past 12 months it has been a significant amount of work, but the group has grown from 10 people (5 cosplayers, 4 photographers and 1 assistant) attending the very first shoot in Dayton to  34 people attending the first anniversary shoot held on June 23, 2019.  

The anniversary shoot was held at Eastwood Metro Park in Dayton and was an open themed event. The location had several places to shoot at to include stone bridges, iron bridges, nice grass areas, and several water features.  We had 22 cosplayers come out to the event so there was going to be no way I could work with all of them. I ended up working with about half of them, because 4 of them were a group cosplay.   I shot 274 frames, edited 168, and posted 100 final photos.  I forgot my light stand for this meet up so shot the whole event with one flash on its little foot stand angled up from the ground.  In some cases, it worked very well.  I shot using ISO 100.  My aperture varied from f4.5 to f11 with the most common aperture being f8 followed by f4.5.  My shutter speed varied from 1/60s to 1/640s with the most common speed being 1/160s.  Finally, my focal length varied from 18mm to 80mm, with the most common focal length being 18mm. 

My favorite two shots from the meet up are of Kamikaze Kendra as punk Thor.  Most cosplay images are in bright vivid color to show off the costume and detail. However, I took a different approach and made the image black and white to capture the punk nature of the cosplay.  Turning the image to black and white gives it a gritty edge that is found in several punk photos.  I believe the edit also brings out the persona that the cosplayer was trying to portray.

Focal Length 32mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/200s 
Focal Length 50mm, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/200s

All the cosplayers were great that day.  You can see all my final images from the event here.
If you want to participate in these great events please join our Facebook Group: Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati (DCC) Cosplay Photo Shoots.  You can also see some behind the scenes images on our Instagram page: DCC Cosplay Photoshoots

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Pink Flowers

On May 11th,  I got to work with Susan, who won a free photoshoot from me.  She won the session by commenting on a post on my Facebook page, thus winning a 60-minute session, 10 high-resolutions images, and one print. The post was held back until she selected her photos from the shoot. This shoot was inspired by a Pinterest picture that used a bed of flowers and dry ice fog.  For this session I used a bunch of pink and beach colored peonies, and pink tulle to create the background.

For the session I used the following items:
  • Canon 70D
  • 18 -200 mm lens
  • Strobes with power supply
  • 7-foot reflective umbrella
  • C-stand with boom arm
  • 2 speed lights
  • RF-transmitter
  • Tether line
  • Desktop
  • Foam core board (to make a corral for the fog)
  • White backdrop
  • Pink tulle
  • Fake peonies
  • Dry ice and hot water
  • Step stool
  • Handsome assistant
I did two set ups for this session using a large 7-foot umbrella placed on a boom arm.  In the first set up the umbrella was positioned directly over the model, who was laying on the flowers and tulle.  I then placed 12-inch high by 24-inch long foam core board round the model to create a little corral to keep the fog from the dry ice in.  Before bringing the dry ice, into the stet-up we took a few shots without, just to be able to get comfortable working with the props and posing. After  doing a few shots without the dry ice, I placed a metal bowl in corner of the corral with the dry, which my assistant dumped hot water over to create the fog.  When using the dry ice, we ensure there was plenty of ventilation in the studio.  I shot pointing down at the model by standing on a step stool or directly over her.  This dry ice did not create as much fog as previously, and I believe that was because we were using large chunks this time around.  So, in the future I will be using smaller pieces which react quicker thus producing more fog.  In the second set up the model was sitting up and the umbrella was pointed straight on to the model’s face. Two small speed lights were placed behind the model to blow the background to give the images a high key look.

Now onto the image descriptions.  I shot 221 frames, edited 101 frames, and delivered 78 final images. I shot using ISO 100, with an aperture of F8, and a shutter speed of 1/250s. My focal length ranged from 18mm to 60mm, with the most common 28mm.    

Two of my favorite images from the shoot was taken early in the session. I edited both images so it would be soft, and slightly faded to give them a dream like look.  I also used a bit of frequency separation to smooth the skin out just slightly and highlighted a few areas using a doge and burn technique to add a bit of glow to the skin.


This image was taken after asking the model to play with the tulle. She place the tulle over her head and work with it. It is a little reminiscent of the Beyoncé pregnancy photo where she wore a piece of green tulle over her head with a flower background.  I feel this image works a little better and it is different then my standard work.  I might do a session in the future that just involves the model working the tulle, because I think some interesting images could come out that.

Overall it was a good session, that produced some very nice images.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Galapagos Wrap Up

Day 7 and 8 – May 30 and 31

We are home from the Galapagos.  Our day started in San Cristobal around 6:00AM MST (8:00 AM EST). We did not need to be up that early but we just naturally woke up at that time.  We had breakfast, repacked our bags, and hung around the hotel till our pick up time of 11:30 AM MST to take us to the airport.  It was a short ride to the San Cristobal airport, were we waited for our 1:30 PM MST flight back to Quito, Ecuador.  We arrived in Quito around 5:00 PM CST (6:00 PM EST).  We then had about a four-hour layover till our flight back home.  Our flight to Atlanta left at 11:30 PM CST (12:30 AM EST May 31).  We arrived in Atlanta at 5:00 AM EST, were we had another layover before our flight to Cleveland. I tried to nap in the Delta lounge, because I didn’t sleep on the plane. We left Atlanta on a 10:00 AM EST flight and arrived in Cleveland at 11:45 AM EST.  After collecting our luggage and car, we ran through a drive-thru for lunch before picking up our dog Teddy from my mom’s house.   From there we had a three-hour drive home to Dayton.  We got home around 5:00PM EST.    We went to bed around 8:30 PM EST.  In total we were up for about 36 hours.

Overall, it was nice to go to the Galapagos once, but I don’t feel I need to go again.  If I had the trip to do over, I would do the cruise route instead of the land tour.  The land tour had too much wasted time in traveling  to ports to get boats and the travel between islands.  At least on a cruse much of the travel between islands would occur in the evening.

If you plan on going to the Galapagos here are a few things you should know. Remember you will need a lot of sunscreen.  Jim and I  used one full bottle of SPF 70 sunscreen between the two of us for 6 days.  You must apply the sunscreen often.  They get 12 hours of sunlight; in this case it was from 6:00AM to 6:00PM every day.   If you do decide to go to the Galapagos remember to pack a roll of toilet paper for yourself, since most of the public restrooms do not have toilet paper in them.  Also, you don’t flush toilet paper in the Galapagos, you through it in a trashcan in the bathroom/stall; because their plumbing can’t handle it.  When you transfer between islands (boat or plane), your luggage is search for fruit, nuts, seeds, sand, rocks, and coral because they don’t want species of any type transferred between islands.  They will put a special zip-tie on your luggage after inspection to show it was inspected.  They also have contraband sniffing dogs at each port of entry to ensure nothing was missed.  Finally, if you think you will have cell service or internet, think again.  The cell service and internet on all the islands is horribly spotty and slow at best.  And, no, internet is not better at the hotels, we were lucky if the Wi-Fi reached our room.

I’m glad I went to the Galapagos; it was an experience. I personally don’t think I have been that close to wild animals before, or near animals they just don’t really care if people are around or not.  If you get the change to go, go  but do the cruise.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Galapagos Day 6

Day 6 - May 29

Today was our last full day in the Galapagos. It started with a 7:30 AM pick up to go snorkeling on Tintoreras. We were supposed to do that yesterday but the tour company changed the itinerary on us because they thought doing the volcano and snorkeling in one day would be too much. This change had a domino effect on the rest of the itinerary, because it also changed our flight out of Isabella to San Cristobal which affected the things we where to do on San Cristobal. So I was picked up at 7:30 AM to go snorkeling. Jim did not go because he was having stomach issues, and just didn't feel like it.
Snorkeling around Tintoreras was ok. The water was not as clear as in the other two locations I went snorkeling on this trip. However on this snorkel I got to see sea turtles up close and personal while in the water, swim with a penguin, and have two sea lions swim right under me. I was too slow to get a picture of the sea lions swimming under me. Also the water was colder in Tintoreras than other places, and considering this was a longer swim, I was rather tired afterwards. At the conclusion of the snorkeling, they took me back to the hotel where they were supposed to have a room for me to shower in. However they didn't, so I didn't get to shower, but I was at least able to change in the restroom into dry cloths.
Our guide picked us up at 11:45 AM to have lunch before our 1:30PM flight out of Isabella. Lunch was ok. From lunch we drove to the airport, which is more of an air taxi staging area. They weighed our bags, and checked them for fruit, from there we were good to go. It was a 45-minute flight on a 9 seat turboprop airplane. We flew at an altitude of 5,500ft, I was surprised that it was a smooth flight. Once arriving at the airport we took a taxi, which is just a pick-up truck, to the hotel, where we met our guide. After checking in and getting situated we had our little adventure on San Cristobal.
The guide took us sea kayaking. We launched from a sandy beach that had a bunch of sea lions on it. The launch was a bit wet since the water was getting a little rough closer into shore. Once we were out on the sea paddling it wasn't too bad. It was a double kayak, so hopefully I contributed to the paddling effort. We kayaked over to Darwin Cove and saw a few birds, several snorkelers, sea lions, and a sea turtle. After floating around for 10 minutes in the cove we paddled back to the starting point. That was basically the end of our adventure. We went back to the hotel, changed, and then went out to get something to eat. 

We head home tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Galapagos Day 5

Day 5 - May 28
Today we had a 7:15 AM pick up today to go hike the Sierra Negra Volcano. The hike was 17 kilometers (about 9 miles) round trip. We only did the first portion of the hike up the side of the volcano and round part of the caldera, we did not do the second portion into the lava field. We decided against doing the lava field because it was very rocky, my knee was bothering me, and I already fell once on this vacation.  I might have done the lava field walk if we rode horses up, the main trail like one couple from the group did. They met us at the top of the trail.  The cute thing was the one of the horses, was a mom and her little foal followed her all the way to the top. That was one tired little foal when they got to the top. 

The hike up the volcano and around part of the caldera was misty when we started. Due to the fog we couldn't get a clear view of the caldera or across it. Apparently, the caldera is 26 miles around, but the two trails up the sides don't meet so there is not a complete loop trail. It took about 2 hours to hike up the side of the caldera and part way around it to the little shelter. We stopped at the shelter for a snack break, before the rest of the group traveled into the lava field. We only went about 10-minute walk into the lava field, to the first major viewpoint there before turning around and heading back to the starting location for the overall hike. On the way back along the trail the fog cleared up and you could see across the caldera and part of the valley below. Overall, it was a nice hike.

After the hike we stopped for lunch at Campo Duro Restaurant. We had some nice roasted chicken, vegetables, rice, and lentils. Dessert consisted of fruit (banana, watermelon, peach). From there we were taken back to the hotel. We got back to the hotel around 2:30 PM. Because we were back at a reasonable time, we walked along the main street, which doesn't have much, and stopped at a store to pick up some drinks, munchies, and ice cream. So far I haven't found any good souvenirs to bring back from the trip.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Galapagos Day 4

Day 4 - May 27
Today started out with a 6:30 AM pick-up to go over to the pier to catch our speed boat over to Isabella Island. You have to take a water taxi out to the boat, there is no other way, and they charge you 50-cents per person to get to your boat. The speed boat over to Isabella took about 2 hours. And it was worse than sitting in an airplane, since 25 people are smooshed together with their bags and life jackets in the main body of the boat. To top it off there is little ventilation, unless you are sitting in the back of the boat, so the air gets hot and stagnant. Three people got seasick including myself. I was doing really well sitting in the back of the boat with the breeze, until the breeze changed and all I got was boat exhaust. So I got sick with about a half hour left of the ride, thankfully the nice Australian couple next me was kind of enough to give me some tic-tacs after I stopped being sick.
After arriving at the port at Isabella, we took another water taxi to the pier. That water taxi charged a dollar per person. We met our guide at the pier who took us to our hotel, which is not as nice as the first two hotels we stayed at. After checking in we had about 90-minutes to relax before lunch. Lunch was warm potato soup, a pork chop, rice, large cold vegetables with dressing, and potato wedges. Dessert was some form of custard. After lunch we had a couple hours to relax and nap before our 3-kilometer bike ride tour.
Our bike ride tour was conducted in a tropical rain. The ride itself was on a compacted sand path up four hills to the wall of tears, which was built by a penal colony. Our guide is actually a descendant of one of the original guards of the penal colony. We did not attempt to go to the overlook because visibility sucked due to the rain. We did stop at one of the beach viewpoints and saw some more marine iguanas and a pelican. Along the ride, we did see two tortoises fighting, which let me tell is a very slow fight, and a male tortoise trying to mate with a very unhappy female tortoise. By the end of the ride we were soaked through. Overall, it wasn't a bad bike ride, might have been better if it was dry, the steering on the bike wasn't so loose, and the seat was more padded. After the bike ride we went back to the hotel to dry off and changed before having dinner at the Endemic Turtle.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Galapagos Day 3

Day 3 - May 26
Today started off with a 6:00AM pick up from the hotel, to make the 40-minute drive down to the dock to board our boat for our trip out to Bartolome Island. The excursion usually had 20 people, but this group was small and only consisted of 7 people including ourselves. Which was nice, because we could spread out on the boat and not feel crowded. Due to the early pick up time we were served breakfast on the boat which consisted of tea, bananas, yogurt, granola, cheese, bread and butter. Overall it was a nice simple breakfast.

The trip out to Bartolome Island takes about 2 hours, including the small detour around Daphne Major. The trip out was relatively smooth, with small 1-2 foot waves. We also saw several sea turtles swimming in the ocean along the way. When we got to the island we boarded the RIB to over get onto the island and walk up the very long path to the top of the island. Fun fact, according to our guide the walkway on the island was put in place by the film crew of “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” since part of the movie was filmed in the islands bay. The walk way has large square lookout points where the cameras were placed. We went up over 200 stairs to get to the top of the island, which is about a 40-60 minute hike. There are only small lizards on the island that turn cannibalistic during the dry season. That truly is survival of the fittest. After the hike, we came back down boarded the RIB and went around to the major feature of the island called Pinnacle Rock. Near the rock we saw two sea lions, and three Galapagos Penguins. The Galapagos Penguins are tropical and are the second smallest penguin in the world. The smallest penguin is the fairy penguin, found in Australia. I have seen it in the wild. I’m just slowly working up the penguin size chain. After the trip around Pinnacle Rock, we went back to the main boat to change for snorkeling.

Snorkeling in the Bartolome Bay was nice as there were a lot of fish. Sadly neither the sea lions nor the penguins we saw got into the water while we were snorkeling. I did see several types of starfish, a small stingray, parrot fish, some small orange/red fish, an angel fish, and a bunch of other fish I should know the name of, but have forgotten. I am using the small underwater camera Jim bought for kayaking, for photos while snorkeling. After snorkeling it was back on the boat for lunch. We had fish (or maybe chicken), a chunky tomato type sauce, rice, a mixture of beans and corn in cream dressing, and small salad of mostly red cabbage. For desert it was white pineapple and papaya. After lunch we headed back to Santa Cruz.


The first hour of the trip back was slightly rough with 3-4 foot waves. Apparently in the afternoon the sea gets rough until you are in the area protected by Santa Cruz Island. I was up on the top deck and really felt the boat sway side to side. Once back on Santa Cruz we had a 40-minute bus ride back to the hotel to conclude the day.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Galapagos Day 2

Day 2 - May 25
Today started out good, but ended poorly. We had breakfast in the hotel, which was a decent buffet. I learned from my trip to Costa Rica don’t eat the eggs, so no runny scrambled eggs for me. But they did have an OK selection of lunch meats, cheese, fruit, fried bread, some odd little pancake thing, and regular bread. So breakfast was OK.
Our guide met us at the hotel at 7:30 AM to walk over to the meeting point for our tour. We then boarded a bus for a 40 minute ride to the boat. Once at the dock area we donned life-jackets and got on a rigid hull inflatable boat (RIB) boat to go over to the main boat which took us over to North Seymour Island. We boarded the RIB again to go over to the island and do a guided nature walk. We saw several frigate birds and blue footed boobies. We even saw some baby boobies. We also saw several seals, and land iguanas. The walk took about 2 hours, and it was in the sun the whole time, so it was important you had a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and plenty of water. From there we boarded the RIB again back to the main boat.


The main boat then went further down the island to the snorkeling location. We changed into swimsuits, and got masks and flipper before getting into the RIB again to go the snorkeling start point. I had my camera in its waterproof housing but apparently I did not install it correctly, but I wouldn’t know this till the end of the snorkel portion. I did see several colorful fish to include parrot fish and angelfish. I also saw a 3-foot reef shark. When I got back to the RIB that is when disaster struck, I noticed the waterproof cover was fogging up, and my worst fears were confirmed by Jim once I got back to the boat. The cover filled with about a ½-inch of water. Which looks like it got into the main body of the camera, basically killing the camera. I’m really sad and mad at myself. I shouldn’t of trusted the waterproof house and not taken my actual camera snorkeling the first day. I realize my camera is 7-years old, completely insured, and could be replaced but I was so looking forward to doing photography on this trip. This basically made the rest of the day sad for me. 

After the conclusion of snorkeling, we had lunch on the boat which was tuna steak with sauce, a beet and tuber side, and asparagus. For dessert we had cantaloupe. After lunch we went over to another area of North Seymour Island where we boarded the RIB and did a wet landing on the beach. The beach was nice, we saw some marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, remains of a barge the US sunk off the coast when it gave land back to Ecuador, and three flamingos. The flamingos were a lucky see, because there are very few on the islands. After that we got back into the RIB and headed back to main boat to journey back to port and the town.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Galapagos Day 0 & 1

Day 0 - May 23
We flew from Cleveland to Atlanta to Quito on May 23. We left out of Cleveland, so Teddy could stay with his Grandma while we were on vacation. The flight from Cleveland to Atlanta was uneventful. We had a four hour layover in Atlanta so spent part of that time in the Delta Sky Club since Jim gets free entry. The Delta Sky Club had a nice “free” buffet layed out with several types of salads, pulled chicken, and a few other warm sides. We also had free drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). I felt sitting in the Sky Club, was a much better option then just sitting at the terminal gate.
The 5 hour flight from Atlanta to Quito was uneventful. We landed in Quito at 10:30PM Central time and went through customs and immigration fairly quickly. The tour company representative met us past customs, and had a gift for us two Panama hats. (Side note: Panama hats are actually invented and made in Ecuador, but are called Panama hats because they were handed out to the workers building the Panama Canal. Thus are called Panama hats) We got to the hotel around 11:30 PM which gave us about 4.5 hour to shower and sleep before our 5:00AM pick-up to go back to the airport for our flight to Baltra in the Galapagos.
Day 1 - May 24
The tour company representative picked us up at 5:00 AM, and since we were checking out so early the hotel had a box breakfast made up for us. The breakfast included a yogurt like drink, yogurt, an apple, and a ham and cheese sandwich. It was ok. The tour company representative, personally took us through the Galapagos travel process, which includes getting a special visa, (which the tour company got for us ahead of time), getting our luggage scanned and tagged, and then actually checking in for the flight. The flight consisted of one stop on our way from Quito to Baltra Island where the only Galapagos Airport is. Fun fact: the Galapagos airport code is “GPS”. Second fun fact: The reason the Galapagos has an airport is because the US Military built an air base there during WWII, and when they were done using it turned it over to Ecuador.
The total flight time from Quito to Baltra was about 3 hour to include the short layover, were we did not leave the plane. When you land you end up going to the end of the runway, the plan then has to turn around and taxi all the way back up the runway to the airport to unload. You then go through the Galapagos immigration process and pay your $100 per person park fee. (The cost was included in our tour price.) From there our carry on bags were x rayed, and the contraband sniffing dog gave everyone’s checked bags a once-over. When done the dog got to play with his tennis ball and everyone got to get their luggage. After collecting our luggage, we met our tour guide for the day and boarded the bus to take us to ferry to get us to Santa Cruz Island where we’ll be for three nights.
Once on Santa Cruz we went to see lava tubes and one type of tortoise and have lunch. So contrary to my husband’s teasing, the tortoises did not all go on an off-island vacation. I got pictures of the tortoises. Lunch was good. It consisted of baked chicken, rice, roasted tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, and roasted asparagus. After lunch we checked into the hotel, to drop our bags off before walking to Charles Darwin Station.

The walk over to Charles Darwin Station, think of it as park headquarters, was easy and we got to see our guide direct a small sea iguana out of the road and back towards the water. At Darwin Station we got to see other types of tortoises and the taxidermied “Lonesome George” who was the last of his species of tortoise. I thought the exciting part was going down to beach area to see a few sea iguanas. The sea iguana are black and blend into the black lava rocks on the beach. I got a few nice pictures, and one ran right towards me as it was getting out of the water. The guide said the seals can be worse and will get right up to your nose if you are sitting still. I kind-of hope that happens, I think it will make a good picture. Jim got a few pictures of the iguanas swimming. After that we headed back to the hotel. It is now time to shower, eat, and sleep.

Cosplay on the Farm

ISO 3200, Focal Length 15mm, Aperture F8, Exposure 1/30 (shot by my husband) On October 5 th  I hosted a meet up of the  Dayton-Colu...