The Northern Migration – Whale Watching off Sydney Heads

I’ve been really lucky over the past couple of weeks to have been out whale watching from TWICE from Sydney – yes TWICE 🙂

Both days were warm and sunny and we were SO lucky {and grateful} to see some ‘Humpback’ whales heading north during their annual migration.

Each year – around May, Humpback whales leave the cold waters of Antarctica and swim north to the warm tropical waters of Queensland, Australia, to mate and give birth to their young.

They are such amazing creatures…We spotted our first couple of humpbacks not far off Sydney heads..

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These majestic creatures can grow to an average length of 12-18 metres and weigh as much as 45 tonnes.

The two whales travelled along together for a while, diving and giving us a glimpse of their tails – {click, click, click went my camera :)}

Whale Tail

Humpbacks are VERY acrobatic {considering their size} and one of the two whales we were observing really decided to put on a show…

Breaching is said to be either purely for play, to loosen skin parasites or it may have some social meaning. Check out the splash he made when he hit the water!

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He then ‘spyhopped’ {poked his head out of the water for around 30 seconds} to check out what was going on.

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Again this was followed by a playful ‘splash.’ 🙂

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Finally, he waved good-bye…and they continued on their journey north…

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Then just to top off a fantastic day, an albatross flew past {for anyone that knows me, I LOVE albatross.}

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Our second day out whale watching was completely different…it was two weeks after the first trip and the whales seemed to be more intent on heading north as quickly as possible….

We just observed them for a while before we headed back to Darling Harbour…

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I can’t wait to photograph them again when they head south down the East coast. Have you seen any humpback whales this season? I’d love to hear your stories. Please let me know in the comments below 🙂

bye for now,

Chris 🙂

Early morning photography at Mahon Pool, Maroubra

I love getting out and about with my camera and particularly enjoy starting the day early, photographing a sunrise 🙂

Last Saturday we discovered a brilliant spot for photography – Mahon Pool, Maroubra Beach Sydney.

The first part of the morning I used my ND {neutral density} filters to create slow shutter speeds and movement blur in my photos….I love the effect the slow shutter has on the water – each photo is so individual…the swirling water looks like mist and gives the image an ethereal look.

So, what is a neutral density filter and what does it do?

As you all know {well I’m hoping you do} to SLOW DOWN YOUR SHUTTER SPEED you need low light….
So at dawn, dusk or night time, it’s easy….
But during the day {when the sun is shining :)} even if you set your camera to a small aperture {like f20} and your ISO way down to 100….sometimes the shutter speed is STILL NOT SLOW ENOUGH to record movement and blur within a photograph.

So, in comes the neutral density filter {ND FILTER.}

There are several different types of ND filter on the market. Circular threaded screw-on ND filters are the simplest to use, but have the disadvantage that stacking them together soon leads to vignetting issues.

A more recent innovation are variable Neutral Density filters, which screw onto the lens but have an adjustable outer ring, which you rotate to adjust the density depending on the light conditions and the effect you want.

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Variable Neutral Density Filter

Slot-in filters require you to first attach a filter holder to your lens via a ring adapter {the same size as the diameter of your lens – in my case – 77mm}, then insert square or oblong filters into the holder – the chief advantage is that, once set up, it’s easy to swap filters, stack them or add different kinds of filters to the mix. Slot-in filters are usually the most expensive option when purchasing ND filters.

Here’s my Lee slot-in filter set up below.

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Lee adaptor and holder attached to the front of the lens

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Lee .9 ND filter inserted into holder.

It’s SUPER easy to use the slot-in ND filter system.

I have 4 filters –

.3  – reduces the s/speed by 1 stop.

.6 – reduces the s/speed by stops.

.9 – reduces the s/speed by 3 stops.

‘The little Stopper’ – reduces the s/speed by 6 stops.

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So, how do they work?

Lets say you meter a scene at f22 and the s/speed is 1/250 sec in Manual mode.

Now, insert the .3  {1 stop} ND filter into the holder on the front of the lens. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/125 sec – 1 stop slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .3 filter from the holder.

Now insert the .6 {2 stop} ND filter. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/60 sec – 2 stops slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .6 filter from the holder.

Now insert the .9 {3 stop} ND filter. Roll the shutter speed dial till the exposure level indicator meets in the middle. The s/speed will now be 1/30 sec – 3 stops slower than 1/250 sec.

Remove the .9 filter from the holder.

See how it works? You can also stack the filters in front of one another in the holder – eg
I could insert the .3, .6 & .9 filters into the holder and reduce the shutter speed by 6 stops -{1 +2+3 = 6 stops.}

Another really cool thing about ND filters is that they enhance the colours and will create more contrast in your image.

So, experiment with ND filters and different shutter speeds to achieve some really cool effects in your images:)

Click on each pic to view as large image…..

The second half of our shoot I experimented with FAST and SUPER FAST shutter speeds. Using the Canon 70-200mm zoom lens in AV mode, I raised the ISO to 640 and varied the aperture from f5 to f7.1. The shutter speeds ranged from 1/800 second up to 1/5000 sec. Don’t you just love the frozen action of the waves?

Click on each pic to view as large image…..

If you have any questions about ND filters, please email me at bernasconiphotography@gmail.com

Chris 🙂

P.S If you would like to connect with me on Instagram – click hereFacebook – click here & Twitter – click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Eek! A Polar Plunge in the Southern Ocean – you’ve got to be kidding!!

Paradise Bay.The view from the back of the boat
Paradise Bay.
The view from the back of the boat

Everyone had a ball.... :)

I didn’t want to do it at first – in fact I actually hadn’t given it much thought at all…

The ship anchored in Paradise Bay and at that stage, I was happy to photograph everyone and soak up the atmosphere.

There were a few factors that changed my mind….

1. Everyone else was doing it – and I hate missing out on anything.. 🙂

2. There was great music playing and lots of support from the crew…

3. One of my wonderful new friends on the boat found me and said “Chris, why don’t you do it? This is a chance to cleanse your body of all your sins (really?) and wipe the slate clean…

Well what do you say to that? I quickly rushed back to my cabin – put my cossie on and hurried back to deck 3.

I didn’t even hesitate…I ran down the stairs, walked off the back of the ship into the zodiac…and dived in…

Me....Going, going, gone...
Me….
Going, going, gone…
Me again
Me again

Well – that day the Southern Ocean was a balmy 2 degrees…hmmmm

It was exhilarating.

and COLD.

The water was crystal clear and yes, it shocked my body…but it was truly, truly worth it and something I’ll never forget.

Life’s too short to go to The Antarctic and NOT jump into the Southern Ocean….

Thanks to John Rodsted for some of these awesome pics 🙂

Here are some of my other new buddies…..

Don’t forget to click on the pics to make them larger.

Please feel free to contact me in the comments section below or on Facebook , twitter  or pinterest.

More new friends
More new friends
Kellie & Mark..
Kellie & Mark..
Show off!!
Allan – Show off!!
Nick..The guy that finally convinced me.
Nick..The guy that finally convinced me.

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Antarctica and that blue, blue ice

I’ve just returned from Antarctica. I saw many breathtaking scenes that I am still dreaming about.

But the real reason I went there was the icebergs. I’ve always been fascinated by them and they were initially what lured me to Antarctica.

Well I certainly got my dose of those. 100’s of them – large and small – they were all spectacular.

I particularly loved the larger ones – such tall, powerful structures that drift in the peaceful stillness of the waters of the 5th largest continent.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off them. Being down low in the zodiac, it felt very surreal, as if I was in another world and at one with the ice.

Its almost as if time has forgotten them.

Why are some of the icebergs blue? Well its really all about compression of the ice and the colour spectrum.

Icebergs come from glaciers, which are formed by continual ice and snow. Snowflakes (frozen water) form and then become cystalized. A snowflake is a multi faceted crystal and these facets reflect light. As snow accumulates on the glacier huge amounts of air is trapped.

The blue colour occurs in ice that is generally hundred’s to thousand’s of years old. Continual compression as the glacier moves and heads towards the sea plus the continual thawing and refreezing of the ice causes the air that was originally trapped by the falling snow to be expelled. The ability to reflect light (and therefore appear white ) only exists when there is air trapped between the snow crystals. This very old, very dense ice is no longer capable of reflecting light .

Light that now hits the iceberg no longer reflects off it, it is absorbed by it. The weaker wavelengths of light are quickly filtered out (red, orange, yellow, green.) The blue wavelength has enough energy to reflect from, or penetrate deep within the iceberg therefore giving it that gorgeous blue colour……

Cool huh? 🙂

These photos were taken at Cierva Cove, Antarctica. 64.16S 60.89W. Don’t forget to click on the photos to enlarge them…

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Hotel La Darsena – Lake Como, Italy…Fantastico!!

We were greeted by a very good looking Italian man…hmmm….

“Welcome to Hotel La Darsena” he said.

This was the start of an extraordinary week on the shores on beautiful Lake Como, Italy.

I had picked ‘Hotel La Darsena’ in Tremezzo off the internet as it was the only hotel on Lake Como situated over the lake with a balcony so we could admire an uninterrupted view. :)

Hotel La Darsena is a 9 room boutique hotel that is a family owned and run business.

Tiziano and Ezio run this business along with their wives Mirina and Mariangela with a friendly, personal touch and a strong sense of Italian pride.

Our check in was swift and efficient and our rooms were fantastic!

On the website I had seen two rooms at either end of the hotel that had two balconies {one at the front and another bigger verandah at the side} so I had specifically asked for them when booking.

Wow, was all I could say when I opened the door to our room.

Tastefully decorated in modern Italian style, this spacious room had a king size bed, lots of cupboard space, a large recently renewed modern bathroom with a spa, and of course the beautiful balconies to enjoy the view.

Breakfast was included in the tarrif. Each morning downstairs in the restaurant, a huge array of Italian delicacies were laid out in buffet style. We enjoyed Italian cheeses, fruit salad, prosciutto, ham, eggs, yoghurt and cereals with coffee that was to die for!!

The restaurant is also open for dinner each night. It stands alone as one of the best restaurants on Lake Como. The food was superb and each time we were given a table overlooking the lake. The view was only topped by the originality and the quality of the food. Marcello the chef and his team provided great service and all the meals were reasonably priced.

Hotel La Darsena is situated on the western side of Lake Como. There is a ferry stop and bus stop 2 minutes up the road, car parking is provided for guests and there is an array of other fantastic restaurants within 5 minutes walk from the hotel. I would highly recommend it as a great base to explore Lake Como and all it has to offer. Tremezzo has a real ‘village’ feel and is a lot quieter and less ‘touristy’ than Bellagio.

Maria and all the front desk staff are locals and know the area really well. Nothing was ever a problem, each morning we were quickly and efficiently provided with all the information we needed for our days adventure.

Each evening we would have drinks on our balcony and stare in wonder at the magic of the lake and the magnificent mountains that surround it.

The lake certainly weaved its magic on us…but the hospitality, warmth and standard of service at Hotel La Darsena made our stay there unforgettable.

If you’re planning to visit Lake Como, and want a great place to stay, visit www.hotelladarsena.it for more information.

Don’t forget to click on the photos to enlarge them.

Please feel free to contact me in the comments section below or on Facebook , twitter  or pinterest.

 

Planes, trains, automobiles and…..ferries

To get around (or across) Lake Como there were two options – Driving. Hmmm. Or catching the Ferry.

On Lake Como I found the batelli the easiest way to get from one side of the lake to the other.

The local ferries are a quick and efficient way to travel between the villages and towns dotted around the lake.

I loved being out on the water and was able to admire some of the smaller villages, whilst relaxing and gazing in awe at the spectacular mountains all around me!

Residents going to and from work, cyclists and tourists all line up at the many ferry wharfs around the lake to board the ferries every day.

There are slow ferries, rapido ferries and ferries that look like they are from days gone by 🙂

You can even use the traghetti (car ferry) to transport your car between one side of the lake and the other!

We never had to wait too long for a ferry, although none of the services we caught coordinated with the timetable 🙂

They were definitely running on Italian time……

Have you been to Lake Como?

Don’t forget to click on the photos to enlarge them.

Please feel free to contact me in the comments section below or on Facebook , twitter  or pinterest.

 

A magical place….early morning on Lake Como, Italy

Hi everyone,

Im finally back at my desk. For those of you that don’t know I’ve just spent 5 weeks away in Italy, France and the UK. 🙂

It was fantastic. All my senses were filled with beautiful views, food that was to die for, warm friendly people and the wonderful sound of the Italian and French languages spoken all around me.

My camera was also in overload…I took LOTS of photos. I seriously mean LOTS. 🙂

I wanted to show you a view of Lake Como taken from my balcony on our first morning just as the Lake was starting to come to life.

What a truly magical place…

Remember to click on the photo to enlarge it….

Please feel free to contact me in the comments section below or on Facebook , twitter  or pinterest.