Posts by Category: Florida

Panny Goes To Florida

Posted by Caz on Friday, 10th February 2012

I’ve just returned from a fortnight in Florida and thought I’d write a few things about my experience with my Panasonic GF1 kit.

The trip wasn’t primarily a “photographic” holiday as I was visiting with friends who aren’t really keen photographers. It was more about going to the theme parks and having a bit of fun. So I didn’t want to be burdened with my big DSLR equipment all the time. But on the other hand, I wanted something more versatile than a little digital compact as there may be plenty of opportunities for pictures in difficult conditions, not to mention image quality issues with compacts.

So instead I took the GF1 with 20mm f1/1.7 pancake lens and a twin zoom kit – the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 IOS short zoom and the 45-200mm f4-5.6 IOS I got a few weeks ago. It all packed away neatly into a small padded bag which took up very little room in my carry-on luggage.

Before I set off I was a bit apprehensive as to whether this setup might “cope” with the sort of pictures I like to make. I’m not one to shy away from dingy conditions, low light, or fast action stuff, and I didn’t want to just end up with a load of average holiday snaps by avoiding these situations.

Two other essential items I packed were the bolt-on LCD viewfinder for the GF1 (the rear screen is clean and bright but when the sun shines full on it, it can be rather difficult to see what’s going on – mainly due to seeing a lot of your own reflection!) and a gorillapod which would handle the size and weight of the 45-200mm lens.

Here are some of favourite pictures from the trip.

Having The Right Lens

Ybor Trolley

Ybor Trolley

The 14-42mm (28-94mm equivalent) was plenty wide enough for this trolley in Ybor, even though I’m used to having the option of 10-22mm (16-36mm equivalent) on my DSLR.

Wader At The Waterline

Wader At The Waterline

This lovely little wader wasn’t too far away for my 45-200mm zoom to catch a good shot!

Tricky Lighting Conditions

Dr Fear's Tower - Universal Studios

Dr Fear’s Tower – Universal Studios

Draw Your Sword - Legoland Show

Draw Your Sword – Legoland Show

Two diverse but equally tricky lighting situations – dusk and artificial light at Universal and full-on sun into the lens watching the pirates at Legoland – both handled with aplomb by the GF1.

Night Shots

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

You don’t get much lower light than trying to photograph fireworks. With the aid of a statue of Mr Walt Disney himself (I balanced the gorillapod on his head!) I got some great shots of the firework display at Magic Kingdom, using a 2 second self-timer delay to avoid camera shake, and hoping to capture the right moments.

Misty Fountains After Dark

Misty Fountains After Dark

I found a railing to wrap the gorillapod around at Epcot Center for this long exposure shot of the brightly-coloured fountains after dark.

Shutter Lag? What Shutter Lag?

When you’re used to the near-instantaneous response of a DSLR when you press the shutter button, I wondered if I might miss the “decisive moment” with the GF1. It isn’t quite as responsive, but far better than most digital compacts, where you press the button and about 3 seconds later something happens!

Hulk Rollercoaster

Hulk Rollercoaster

Hulk is one of the fastest-accelerating rollercoasters in the world. This is just at the top of the first curve – it’s moving pretty quickly but a fast shutter speed and minimal lag got me the shot.

Boom! Universal Studios Stage Show

Boom! Universal Studios Stage Show

I knew this explosion was coming, but not exactly when. So having minimal shutter lag was very useful once I reacted to the bomb going off. I had already pre-focussed on the aircraft, but the light levels suddenly changed with the flames – so the camera did well to cope with that exposure correction too.

Image Stabilisation

One word: invaluable!

Hippo Snuffling Around

Hippo Snuffling Around

We saw the hippo on “safari” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We were in the back of a truck on a bumpy road, and never actually stopped. This was a grab shot between ruts in the track!

Trimming Boosters

Trimming Boosters

Part of space history, this Apollo capsule was on display in a quite dark room at Kennedy Space Center. There was nothing nearby to rest the camera on, so it was brace, breathe out and hope the IOS did its job. It did!

ISO Noise

Avenue Of Palms

Avenue Of Palms

With the help of IOS lenses and the gorillapod, I tried not to push the ISO up too high, but sometimes it was unavoidable. Generally I was very pleased with the lack of discernable ISO noise in the images.

Conclusion

With hindsight, I need not have worried about the equipment’s capabilities. I made hundreds of images I was really pleased with. The camera and lenses proved easy to use and plenty versatile enough for any situation I cared to throw at it.

Would I take just this gear if I were going on a big photographic trip? Probably not, but then it’s horses for courses. And for this holiday, the Panny worked out just fine.

Farewell Florida!

Posted by Caz on Tuesday, 7th February 2012

Our last full day in Florida was spent revisiting some of the Disney parks to do a few things we had missed.

Mickey ears at Hollywood Studios

Mickey ears at Hollywood Studios

The monorail at Epcot

The monorail at Epcot

Walt and Mickey wave goodbye

Walt and Mickey wave goodbye

After visiting Downtown Disney for some final shopping, Hollywood Studios was the next port of call. We enjoyed a great Sci-Fi themed dinner in the “1950’s Drive-In Movie Theatre” which was my pick for Day #1498. Then I headed off to Epcot to pick up a virtual geocache which I’d missed on our first visit. It was an interesting mono rail ride from there to Disney Magic Kingdom for a final farewell from Walt and Mickey, and to watch the evening’s fireworks display.

We had to leave the house by 10am the next morning, but I was up bright and early to do my Face Down February shot. I wanted this to be taken in the pool in Florida, and our very last morning was the only Tuesday in Feb where I would be able to achieve it. The pool wasn’t heated at this point, so it was pretty chilly! I did 4 shots, this was a close contender but I finally chose one which had the beach ball included for Day #1499.

Trying not to drown on the last morning

Trying not to drown on the last morning

Then it was time to head home after a great trip. Florida treated us very well, and I enjoyed the visit very much, with some great company. I’ll be back – and promise not to leave it another 19 years before my return!

Legoland Fun

Posted by Caz on Sunday, 5th February 2012

Being the big kids that we are, we decided to go to Legoland Florida for the day today. It wasn’t too far from the house and although some of the rides weren’t quite as spectacular as some we have been on, it was still fun. Plus there were lots of Lego models of famous American landmarks. Buzz, Woody and Alien had a good time at the park:

Woody, Buzz and Alien in Lego Las Vegas

Woody, Buzz and Alien in Lego Las Vegas

Here are the rest of my images from the day:

Relaxing At The House

Posted by Caz on Saturday, 4th February 2012

After all the running around I decided to have a “down day” and just chill out at the house while the others went out for another visit to the water park. I spent most of the day on the patio or in the pool. It’s a hard life! The toys enjoyed fooling about in the pool too:

Toys relax on a lilo

Toys relax on a lilo

Here are some other images of the house, taken during our stay:

Hollywood Studios

Posted by Caz on Friday, 3rd February 2012

Having visited Universal studios a few days ago, today it was the turn of Disney Hollywood studios. There were lots of cinema-themed rides and yet more interesting Art Deco architecture. The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show was rather good too. And we met some great characters form various Disney animated films. Mike and Sully nearly made it for Day #1495‘s image:

Mike and Sully say hello

Mike and Sully say hello

Here are the rest of my images from the day:

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