Lynn and I returned a week ago from a Caribbean cruise on the Holland America MS Oosterdam where we met up with her brother Art and his wife Michele. Since we’ve been back we’ve had Mike, Sara, Calvin, and Avon in town for the holidays (and MaryKate – yay family!!!). Anyway, I don’t have a lot of spare time for writing this week, so I think you’ll just have to make do with some photos and captions from our cruise. I hope you enjoy them!
Inviting! – This scene is from the beach on Half Moon Cay (Holland America’s private island). Lynn and I both enjoyed the sun, some swimming and conversations with Art and Michelle.
Make it a double. – There were other things to do on the island too!
Clouds over Cuba – We haven’t ever been to Cuba and this is as close as we got on this cruise. This photo is from six miles east of the Punta Maisi Lighthouse. I wish it had been clearer and closer!
Clouds in the valley – I spotted this low cloud bank as we arrived in Montego Bay Jamaica and rushed to make several images.
Masked Booby in flight – Different people on (and off) the ship saw a variety of wildlife. I enjoyed photographing the Masked and Brown Boobies that followed us for a while.
Approaching the Cayman Islands – We were scheduled to stop in Grand Cayman, but the seas were too rough for the tenders to operate. The captain ended up skipping that port call and moving on early to the next one.
Cozumel at night. – I had hoped to get many more images in Cozumel, but the photography tour we’d signed up for was canceled (due to lack of interest!). I like this photo of the city after dark.
Lynn and I were fortunate to be able to cruise the Caribbean once again earlier this month. I love watching birds and wildlife and trying to make photographs of their behavior. On this trip we both saw something for the first time.
On more than one occasion, birds followed our ship and dove for fish right along side.
There were mostly Brown Boobies with a few Masked Boobies mixed in.
Flying Fish were also plentiful along our route and the ship’s wake seemed to scare them up as we passed.
A closer look at the Flying Fish
Photographing the birds catching fish wasn’t easy. You have to track a bird (at high magnification) as it moves just above the water and focus / shoot continuously – then hope you catch the right moment before your camera buffer runs out. I managed to get a few frames although the quality is not high. This is probably the best one.
Just before the catch
I was using a new camera (Olympus E-M1 II) for the bird / fish photos. The frame rate and continuous focus capabilities really helped. There’s a new “Pro Capture” mode on this that I couldn’t use (didn’t have the right lens). It captures frames with the shutter button pressed half way and saves them with a final frame when fully pressed. It would have made this use case easier. I’m looking forward to seeing how the camera works in other situations.
We also saw Magnificent Frigatebirds. They seem pretty common in the Caribbean – mostly in the harbors. I’ve only seen a few here in Florida, along both coasts
Female Magnificent Frigatebird
Cruise directors plan interesting things for passengers to do while at sea but these may not appeal to everyone. It’s good to have an alternative activity available like wildlife observation and photography when you’re looking for something fun to do.
By the way (no.1): I realize that some spam filters may reject the email for this post due to the names of the birds. If it happens to you, sorry. You can always read the latest content on the web at http://edrosack.com
By the way (no. 2): I think the search problem on the blog is resolved. If anyone still has issues, please let me know.
By the way (no. 3): Happy new year! I hope all of you have a great holiday and prosperous and delightful 2017!
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Lynn and I returned last week from a wonderful visit with her brother Arthur, and his wife Michele. We cruised together around the Caribbean on Holland America’s MS Zuiderdam. I’ll post more about the rest of our adventures later, but this time I’d like to write about wildlife photography from cruise ships. Here’s one earlier post about this (North to Alaska, Ch. 1: Intro and Wildlife) but it’s a subject worth discussing again.
Our route went by the Bahamas, Aruba, Bonaire, Panama, and Costa Rica. Many of the animals in these places are only inside zoos in the US. It’s wonderful to see them wild in their natural habitats.
Sleepy Sloth – A wild, two-toed sloth napping In the rain forest, along the Tortuguero Canal, near Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. They seem to be common there. We saw three on our tour – although they were hidden in trees and hard to find.
If you’re on vacation with your family, the main reason for going isn’t wildlife photography, so you’ll have to improvise and stay alert for wildlife photo ops. Since Lynn and I hadn’t ever been to these places, we took advantage of several “highlight” excursions offered by the cruise line. The one to the Tortuguero Canal in Costa Rica was especially nice and we enjoyed seeing a variety of flora and fauna.
Masked Booby in flight – These birds were feeding on fish (flying fish, and others) that were stirred up by the ship’s wake
The morning before we arrived in Aruba, we noticed “sea gulls” flying near the ship. After breakfast I spent a while watching what turned out to be scores of Masked Boobies catching fish stirred up by the ship’s wake. It was fun to watch (and photograph!).
A wild American / Caribbean Flamingo – Bonaire is famous for its flamingo populations and has one of only four nesting grounds for flamingos in the Caribbean.
On excursions, it’s helpful to have a good guide. Our Costa Rican guide (Porfilio) was exceptional at seeing and pointing out the wildlife in the canal. You could tell he liked his job, and we enjoyed our time with him immensely.
Howler Monkey – A wild monkey In the rain forest, along the Tortuguero Canal, near Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.
Here are a few pointers if you go on a similar adventure:
Do your research ahead of time. Look into the wildlife that lives in each place.
Search for reviews and critiques of the excursions offered and pick ones that give the best photography opportunities.
If possible, schedule your excursions for early in the day. Animals are more active then, and it’s cooler. I found the Masked Boobies at breakfast and we left for the Tortuguero Canal at 6:30am.
Question the guides. They’re very helpful and can let you know the best place to sit, etc.
Have your camera out and ready to go, not in your backpack. Many times the sightings will be brief, so pay attention and be ready to shoot instantly.
The animals will likely be far away and you’ll have to hand hold your shots, so you’ll definitely want a long lens with stabilization. I used an Olympus E-M1 M4/3 camera and a 200 – 600mm equivalent lens for the photos in this post.
Hard core wildlife photographers will want to spend much longer in places like Costa Rica, but if you’re on a cruise don’t overlook the opportunities. A few hours in a new place can lead to wonderful memories and unique images.
I’m collecting photos from the cruise in this folder on Flickr. Please check back as I finish processing and add more.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!