Monthly Archives: November 2013

Other amazing things from the Vancouver Aquarium

Pink Anemones – really, do I need to say anything more? Strawberry pink living animals, people!!

Pink Anenomes

I’ve loved rays ever since I went nighttime snorkelling to see the giant kona rays, but never expected to see one looking so swanky!

Polka dot rays

 

I always knew sturgeon could be really big, but this guy was longer than my dad was tall!  And he just hung there in the gloom – really spooky.  And this is why I only snorkel close to shore.

Really big fish

See the yellow fish in the photo below?  See the rest of his friends hanging motionless in the reeds?  I’m not even sure how they breathe because you coldn’t even really see their gills move.  They did a convincing job of playing possum (almost like the goldfish in my Dad’s fish tank that I swear is dead half the time)

Possum fish

And if you thought the strawberry pink anemones were out of this world….here are the lime green ones 🙂  It’s a good thing they weren’t in the same tank – can you imagine the colour clash???

Black, Orange and Green

Advertisements

What the jellyfish taught me

I love aquariums. When last I visited Vancouver, my old stomping grounds, I made sure I squeezed a trip into the aquarium. At the time, they had a huge jellyfish exhibit going on. This is a great opportunity to practice some niche photography.

First, jellyfish don’t really have an “up” and a “down” – so capture them when they are in the frame. This guy below was perfectly framed (who cared if he’s “upside down” – could just rotate the photo!)  The photo shows him in mid “swim” with all his tentacles.

DSC00419

Second, they move deceptively fast, so don’t hunt them, pick a spot and wait. These little guys were so cute – but so fast.  You’re already dealing with low light conditions and because of the water flow and zippiness of these guys, lots of bubbles in the water AND the glass of the tank.  So, I focussed in on one spot and waited for someone to glide across and got him that way.

DSC00528

Third, it isn’t always about the big picture – go ahead, cut off a tentacle. These guys were huge!  They didn’t move as fast overall, but different parts of them moved fast.  I wanted to show the beauty of their colouring so I zoomed in to get the underside.  They also twisted a lot in their movement (unlike the previous white and purple guy) so it made for some interesting compositions.

DSC00525


Just one hour

A friend and I were lamenting about how we had no time to ourselves anymore. Life was busy and work was stressful.  I had to take a vacation day just to get basic chores done. She had a brilliant suggestion.  Instead of trying to get a whole day, start with just an hour a week.  Just one hour. Something much more controllable yet gives you the sense that you actually got a rest and got rejuvenated.  So, I’m going to try that.  One hour a week that is not scheduled.  When that hour comes, I will not use it to do something that I didn’t get done in the previous 5 hours. I will pay myself first which will payoff later.  Watch this space, I will report back….


A Quick Splash of Happiness

I did a “30 days of Beauty” blogging exercise and as you can see from some of the entries, I did have to reach deep down some days.  But some days, you look up and realise just how joyous you feel in that moment.  For me, it was wearing my bright pink wellingtons (rain boots) while it was raining and walking through puddles!! When else can you combine a quirky sense of fashion (who cares whatever anyone else thinks – they are rainboots!), with total practicality (it WAS raining) and a sense of childhood (I may have stepped a little harder than I needed to in some of the puddles)??!!

What’s your happiness today?


Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, SA

When I think of Africa, I think big animals, exotic birds, completely different cultures, tribes, etc.  I don’t think of botanical gardens to rival, dare I say it? Kew Gardens in England!!  So Kirstenbosch was a wonderful surprise. Our tour guide told us we would be going to a garden and I thought “ok, sure, it’s nice to see a variety of stuff”, but I don’t think we saw even a quarter of it.  It was great that our guide was a trained conservationist and could tell us about the flora and what the things in the garden represented when we weren’t taking photos.

The gardens sit near enough to the mountains that you can use them as a backdrop, but not so much that they are in the shadow of it. These flowers are a member of the protea family and they really do feel like plastic ones that have come from your local fake flower store, but they are real!

Pretty, plasticky flowers

 

There’s a tiny corner of the garden with a tiny pond that gave perfect reflections….marred only by the grass clippings because they had just finished cutting the grass!!!  Arrghh!!  This is the part I hate about being a tourist – you often don’t have a chance to come back -it’s a now or never type of thing.  So, we shot a corner of the garden with very little grass clippings.

Reeds in the water twice

There were also beds and beds of flowers to help practice your landscape photography…

The colours popped and the lines made it interesting

The colours popped and the lines made it interesting

 

…or your close up depth of field photography.

Just a nice composition

Or your macro photography

In Kirstenboch gardens 2 In Kirstenboch gardens

Hope you enjoyed this splash of colour!


How to pack in a sub-continent in 5 hours

So, after all that, I did manage to see a little of Cape Town in the 96 hours (minus 12 hours recovery, 60 hours business, 4 hours various travelling, and misc hours sleeping)!!

I thoughtfully booked a private photography tour for 5 hours on a Thursday morning (check out my tour guide’s webpages here and here) because I was too chicken to book the 10 hour tour. In those 5 hours, James crammed in a couple bits of the city of Cape Town, a ton of history, a garden, photographic instruction (he found 3 – THREE- buttons on my camera I never knew) and a winery.  I really should have booked the 10 hour tour. Rather than blather on, let me show you my photos of half of the tour.

 

The light was bright and harsh, but it was great for making the colours stand out.

This was typical in District 6 before it was torn down and now only exists in a small part of the city

This was typical in District 6 before it was torn down and now only exists in a small part of the city

 

The lookout over camp bay gave great views of the mountains, the beach and the houses. It was also a great place to try and freeze frame the waves, but I would have loved a tripod.

Ok, so I didn't take this picture, but I was in it!

Ok, so I didn’t take this picture, but I was in it!

 

James explained that originally, they could only ship small pieces of glass to make sure they didn’t break in the transportation. Hence, a lot of the windows are made up of small panes. This was one of the larger wineries with several buildings, restaurants and I believe, a museum.

The building is in the style of the original Dutch settlers. Especially the window panes of small glass squares which were shipped from Europe

The building is in the style of the original Dutch settlers. Especially the window panes of small glass squares which were shipped from Europe

 

James took us to a small pond that gave great opportunities to see some of the local (not wholly indigenous though) vegetation and photograph a landscape.  The photos below omit the territorial battles of the Egyptian geese that were hanging about!

Playing around with reflections

Amazing that what we buy for $$$ grows wild here!

Amazing that what we buy for $$$ grows wild here!

Also need to get my macro-fix in

Also need to get my macro-fix in

James had us play around with shapes and reflections

James had us play around with shapes and reflections

Watercolours in water

Much of the flora was imported when the Europeans came to South Africa, but it is still unique and beautiful

Much of the flora was imported when the Europeans came to South Africa, but it is still unique and beautiful

This post is much too long now so the rest of my 5 hour tour will have to wait until the next posting…..