Saturday, October 8, 2016

Catalina Island Photography

     When my friend Mike asked me to second shoot a wedding for him in Catalina, I jumped at the chance.  I hadn't been there in about 5 years, and remembered that I had a good time.  It involved me getting up earlier than I would normally want to, but luckily the excitement of taking the boat over to Catalina gave me some adrenaline to push through the morning.  I knew we were there for work, but still managed to enjoy a little time photographing the island for my own photography pleasure.  

     We arrived super early at the Catalina Island Terminal.  Apparently we padded our travel time quite a bit.  That was okay though, since it gave us time to relax and grab some breakfast.  I barely remember what the experience was like before even though I left from this same terminal.  

      Mike kept saying it felt like we were really going somewhere different.  I don't know if I'd fully agree, but it definitely did feel like we were traveling - except instead of luggage, we had rolling bags of camera gear.

     They have an Express Grill (and also a small restaurant that operates out of the same kitchen) at the terminal.  We decided to share a breakfast burrito which was actually quite good!  If I weren't supposed to work later in the day, I would've definitely opted for a bloody mary!

     I think they allow you to bring two pieces of luggage with you, just like at the airport on a flight.  However, I saw some people with a crap ton of stuff going onto the boat.  Some people looked like they were gonna be gone for months!  

     I liked how the boat ride gives you different vantage points of some iconic things in Long Beach such as the Queen Mary.

     Look at how this cruise ship dwarfs the Queen Mary!  

     Probably the most iconic building on Catalina Island - the Casino!  It's not really a casino, but I heard that it used to be a long time ago.  Oh, and did I mention that when people say they don't get seasick or dizzy on boats, that they  usually end up becoming seasick and dizzy on boats?  :o/

     And we're here!  Luckily it only took me about 10 minutes to regain my composure from feeling absolutely ill. 

     Bad hair day, and Mike in the background.

     I had forgotten all the cute things there are to photograph on the island.  At one point, I made a mental note to come back for my birthday.  On your birthday, you can ride the Catalina Express for free round trip (as long as you purchase a regular fare with it).

     We had a little bit of time to kill, so we decided to get fish and chips on the pier.  Mike had heard that it was the best fish and chips on the island.  

     The fish was actually quite good and tasted fresh.  My only complaint was that they looked like fish sticks.  Normally, when I've had fish and chips, the pieces are flat.

     Funny tip jar I saw at Scoops Ice Cream.

     This ice cream rivaled that of McConnell's Ice Cream.  No joke.

     This was the last picture I snapped before we had to get to work at the wedding.  If you want to check out some shots from the wedding, you can check it out here!

     We were on the last boat out of the island.  I was super tired!

     The boat was quite empty when we left.  I'm sure all the people that came over with us were staying for the weekend or the week.   I spent the boat ride back telling Mike how tired I was as I nursed my Diet Coke and planned out how I was going to spend my birthday on Catalina. :) 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Riley's Farm Photography (and a mini 70-200mm F2.8 IS II Review!)

     When I first started getting into photography, I went through a lot of gear before finally curating the bodies and lenses that I knew would be part of my permanent arsenal.  I remember the excitement of waiting for the UPS man to ring the doorbell.  One time, I missed the delivery and even drove out to the UPS distribution center to pick up my 16-35mm F2.8 lens!  

     For a while, my longest lens was my 135mm F2.  I was perfectly happy shooting with it, and for the most part, it did the job 95% of the time.  However, every now and then, especially during wedding ceremonies, I felt like I needed a little bit more reach.  Sometimes you just can't get up close enough with your feet, and that's when a nice zoom would really help.  A few years ago, I bought the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 lens, but it was the non-IS version.  While I enjoyed using the lens, there were times where I ended up getting blurry shots because I just couldn't hold it steady enough (despite the weight of the lens).  About a year later, I ended up selling it, thinking I didn't really need it.  I wasn't impressed by the lens, and I just gravitated back towards the 135mm.  A couple of days ago, I decided (after much debate about whether I really needed and would use this lens) to finally pull the trigger on the newest IS version of the 70-200mm!  There was a model in between, but the price difference was close enough that I felt it was worth it just to get the most current version.  All the reviews I've read about the lens have been positive, so I wasn't worried about not liking the lens.  I was hoping it would've arrived in time for a wedding I was second shooting in Catalina, but it didn't happen sadly.  

     What I love about photography is that it gets you out doing things that you sometimes wouldn't normally do.  For instance, I have no desire to pick apples.  I know I can buy them all nicely washed and waxed at the grocery store (ironically, for less money than if I were to pick them myself!)  I knew a few friends who were going to Riley's Apple Farm, so I decided it would be a great opportunity to test out my new baby. :)

     All of the following shots were taken with the 70-200mm, except the ones that are otherwise marked with *28mm F1.8.  I felt I needed to bring something wider along in case I needed it.  I also wanted something lightweight since the 70-200mm is such a beast.

Look at all that buttery bokeh!

     NOTE:  For anyone that's never been apple picking, I will say that I was surprised to discover how popular this is!  It's waaaay out in Yucaipa, and there were hoards of cars waiting in line to get into the farm.  They have other activities besides apple picking, and lots to keep the kids occupied.  We even discovered that they have a Civil War reenactment which sounded pretty cool.  I got overly excited when I saw a sign that said Backwoods BBQ.  I soon realized that it was not the same BBQ place that I was familiar with.  The BBQ was just okay, and the sides were pretty much tasteless.  Skip that if you're thinking about going.  I think there are some other places to eat that might be better choices. 

*28mm F1.8

*28mm F1.8

*28mm F1.8

*28mm F1.8

*28mm F1.8

     If it wasn't for the 90 degree weather, I might've seriously thought it was fall!

SOOOOOO buttery.

     The focusing ring is so smooth on this lens.  I really can't wait to use it at an event! 

     I definitely wasn't prepared for this lens to be as sharp as it was.  I notice a strong difference in sharpness between the II version and the first non-IS version.  So far, I'm definitely not regretting the purchase (my wallet may disagree though!)