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Posts Tagged ‘cayman islands’

Ewa Marine U-B100 Underwater Housing

During previous trips to the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac, in the Cayman Islands I used a Sony RX100 in a dedicated underwater housing with very good success. On my most recent trip I decided that it was time to take my Nikon D800 & Nikon D500 into the ocean, however, I could not really justify the expense of a dedicated housing for these cameras at this point in time. Since I would only be using the cameras while snorkeling, I was planning to rely solely on ambient light for underwater photography. After a bit of research I decided that an Ewa Marine underwater housing would be my choice of housing for the recently concluded trip to Cayman Brac. I purchased the Ewa Marine U-B100 housing which is designed for use with professional cameras and for lenses with a filter diameter of 77mm or 82mm. The housing comes with the 77mm adapter (the 82mm adpater is optional) that allows you to firmly position the lens inside the lens port and flush against the optical glass element. The Ewa Marine housing is made from special, multi-layered, laminated PVC to ensure safety and durability and all seams are double welded. Two rails are fastened together by means of three thumb screws to securely close the opening to the housing. There is a sepcailly designed pocket molded into the design for your finger to reach the shutter release button on the camera. All other functions are accessed through the thick laminated PVC – a difficult but not impossible task.

Spotted Stonefish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 32mm (48mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/125 sec

On my first snorkel trip with the Ewa Marine housing I quickly discovered that I had left too much air in the housing and was subsequently very hard to dive down with the housing. I opened the housing and using a straw sucked out as much air as I could and then re-sealed the housing, which worked perfectly.Ewa Marine does sell an optional lead weight that goes inside this housing and after using the housing for a couple of weeks I believe that the weight would be an added benefit to using this housing.

Southern Stingray, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 23mm
ISO 500
f16 @ 1250 sec

As I researched this particular housing via blogs and You Tube videos there was a common theme. One was that the lens adapter was very difficult to fit against the optical glass port and the other being virtually impossible to operate camera controls and zoom lenses. I had no difficulty whatsoever fitting the lens into the lens port and while camera functions are more difficult to adjust I was able to make exposure adjustments and zoom the lens as required while underwater.

Peacock Flounder, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 32mm (48mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/200 sec

I used both my Nikon D800 and Nikon D500 cameras with no issues at all. My lens of choice for use in the housing was the Nikkor AF-S 18-35mm lens which did vignette slightly, at 18mm, on the Nikon D800. When the lens was zoomed to about 20mm the vignetting disappeared. I chose to use the 18-35mm lens as it focuses down to 12 inches throughout it’s focal range. In underwater photography the closer you can get to your subjects the better the image quality will be. You must minimize the amount of water between you and your subject for better clarity.

Octopus, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 34mm
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/160 sec

I am looking forward to using the housing on Horseshoe Lake this summer where I will use it for frog photography and freshwater fish imagery too. If you are curious about trying your hand at underwater photography I would highly recommend an Ewa Marine housing to get you started. I purchased my Ewa Marine U-B100 housing from B&H Photo. Please note that I am in no way affiliated with Ewa Marine or B&H Photo. I simply wanted to provide you with an honest, real-world review after my experience with this housing.

I am often amazed by the ability of ocean fish to superbly camouflage themselves. This is especially evident in the highly venomous Spotted Stonefish, a member of the scorpionfish family. Fortunately Stonefish only use their venom as a means of self-defence, however, accidentally stepping on one does mean a trip to the nearest hospital!

Please do remember to click on each photo to see the larger, sharper version. Which one is your favorite?

Barracuda, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 28mm
ISO 500
f11 @ 1/320 sec

 

Spotted Stonefish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 34mm
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/200 sec

 

Southern Stingray, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 34mm (51mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/320 sec

 

Octopus Inking, Cayman Brac
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 24mm
ISO 500
f11 @ 1/400 sec

 

Spotted Stonefish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D800
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 34mm
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/400 sec

 

Spotted Stonefish, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Nikon D500
Nikkor 18-35mm @ 24mm ( 36mm effective focal length)
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/160 sec

 

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Silver Thatch Palm at Sunset, Cayman Brac, Cayman Island, BWI
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm Lens
ISO 200
f11 @ 1/50

 

I have been hard at work editing the many thousands of images created during my two week trip to the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac within Cayman Islands. Each morning I awoke at 5:30 a.m. to be on location roughly one hour prior to sunrise. One of the key elements to successful landscape imagery is to arrive for work on time! For me that means being on site long before sunrise and staying well past sunset. Often I find my favorite photos are created in the brief window of opportunity prior to sunrise or they are created after the sun has dipped below the horizon. The opening photo for this blog post, the Cayman Islands national tree, is the Silver Thatch Palm Trees was created one evening while I was up on the bluff photographing Brown Booby birds in soft light and decided to take advantage of my Nikkor 200-55mm lens to isolate these trees against the beautiful glowing sky.

 

Below are some early morning scenes from Pollard Bay on the island’s south east side. Here the Caribbean Sea rolls into the rugged iron shore that surrounds much of island. This area is by far my favorite sunrise location on the island and when the seas get rough tide pools are created on the rugged shoreline rock creating lots of foreground interest. For each of the Pollard Bay images I used my never-leave-home-without-it Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter. And furthermore, since each image was created in pre-dawn light I was able to use long shutter speeds to smooth out the ocean waves so that they would not become a distracting element within each scene.

Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 15 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 8 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 15 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Pollard Bay, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 5 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

On the morning of February 26th when I headed out there was a persistent drizzle in the air, but that did not deter me from making the 20 minute drive up to the bluff to photograph an inclement weather sunrise looking out across the Caribbean Sea – I was certain there would be a little bit of color peaking through as the sun rose.

 

Sunrise From The Bluff, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 2 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

Sunrise on Caribbean Sea, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 1.3 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

On February 28th I was in the mood for a sandy beach sunrise, which brought me to the public beach area which has several large rocks scattered about that make for nice foreground elements. Again in pre-dawn light a long shutter speed allowed for the blurring of the incoming waves which were starting to get much larger as the winds were getting much stronger at this point in the trip.

 

Public Beach, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 50
f16 @ 4 seconds
Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

 

One part of this recently concluded trip that I was looking most forward to was the underwater photography I had planned to do with both the Nikon D800 and Nikon D500. I purchased an Ewa Marine Housing for this part of the trip but that will be reviewed here on the blog shortly. I did, however, take a few underwater sea-scapes with that set-up of which two of my favorites can be seen below. I only wish a shark could have been swimming through these sea-scape scenes 🙂

 

Sea-Scape, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 500
f16 @ 1/200 sec

 

Sea-Scape, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens
ISO 500
f11 @ 1/320 sec

 

Please do remember to click on each image to view the larger, sharper version.

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Sunrise at Pollard Bay on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, BWI
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 250
f16 @ 30 seconds
Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

I returned from a two week stay on Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands on March 8th and have been busy processing the image files this week. I will share many more images here in the coming days, including a selection of underwater photos captured using my Nikon cameras in an Ewa Marine Housing. First I thought I would share my gear bag for this trip. My go-to pack for traveling light is the Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack which is distributed in Canada by Gentec International. I am always amazed at how much gear I can fit into this well designed pack that meets the current carry-on luggage requirements of airlines. Here is what I packed into this gear bag for the trip:

  • Nikon D800
  • Nikon D500
  • Nikkor 18-35mm Lens
  • Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
  • Nikkor 200-500mm Lens
  • Nikon SB400 Spedlight
  • Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
  • 77mm Polarizing Filter
  • 95mm Polarizing Filter
  • Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter
  • Cable Release
  • Gepe Card Holder
  • 2 extra batteries for the camera bodies and lithium AA batteries for for the SB400

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack

The total weight of the gear bag fully packed was 19lbs, which was a tad over the weight requirement for the Twin Otter flight from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac but the good folks from Cayman Air were fine with me carrying my camera gear with me on the flight. Packed in my checked luggage was my MeFoto Travel Tripod, which was carried in the tripod pocket of the Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack once I arrived on Cayman Brac. The water repellent fabric of the pack and the included rain cover came in particularly useful towards the end of my trip as the winds became very strong with 8-10 foot waves crashing into the island’s iron shore causing significant salt spray. It was comforting to know that my gear was safe in the pack when not is use. To read my earlier, in-depth review of this great gear bag please click here.

Stay tuned for much more form this beautiful Caribbean island getaway. To view a larger and sharper version of today’s featured image from Pollard Bay on the island’s south easterly side please do click on the image.

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cayman-brac-sign

Today I am bound for a two week excursion to Cayman Brac. I am looking forward to photographing the nesting Brown Booby and the rugged terrain of the island, as well as diving into the sea to explore the life below with my cameras. I will follow-up with a trip report after a few days and perhaps share a couple of cellphone snaps. The photo featured in today`s post was created during a previous visit to the island and was given a creative edit using Topaz Labs Black & White Effects with a reduced opacity to reveal the natural colors of the sign.

See you all very soon.

Cheers!!!

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Sunset on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka near the town of Rosseau, Ontario, Canada

Sunset on Horseshoe Lake in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Its hard to believe that another year has flown by and that we are now heading into 2016. It is also that time of year when I like to share with you some of my favorite images that I created throughout the past year. One of the highlights of the past year for me was to spend two weeks on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac, where I quite literally spent more time in the ocean than I did on land, and while on land I spent much of that time photographing Brown Booby birds at the nest with chicks. The day before I boarded the plane for Cayman Brac I was rewarded with our resident, over-wintering Snowy Owl perching in a dead tree across the road from my home. I also spent quite a bit of time photographing frogs, as I usually do :), and created my most favorite Bullfrog-scape to date. My travels throughout much of the year was somewhat limited as I was staying closer to home to assist my elderly parents. I was however able to attend a personal invite to the Algonquin Radio Observatory on Lake Travers in Algonquin Provincial Park and do stay tuned as I will be setting up a workshop at this location during the summer months. In September I finally made the trek up to The Crack in Ontario’s Killarney Provincial Park despite a bad flare-up with my lower back and a bad right foot. My foot problem was corrected with a small surgical procedure that prevented me from doing much hiking in October and November, but I am all healed now and ready to hit the trails in 2016.

I hope you enjoy viewing these images again here in this Top 10 for 2015 post and do remember to click on each image to view the larger, sharper versions.

See ya in 2016 🙂

Happy New Year to all and safe travels to those of you who are traveling during this time.

Bullfrog (male) in wetland on Horseshoe Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Bullfrog (male) in wetland on Horseshoe Lake
Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

 

Stonefish camouflaged on the ocean floor Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Stonefish camouflaged on the ocean floor
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

High-key Common Loon on Horseshoe Lake Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

High-key Common Loon on Horseshoe Lake
Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

 

Sunrise on Pollard Bay Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Sunrise on Pollard Bay
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

Snowy Owl in dead tree Thornton, Ontario, Canada

Snowy Owl in dead tree
Thornton, Ontario, Canada

 

Brown Booby (male) with chick Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Brown Booby (male) with chick
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

Octopus Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

Octopus
Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

 

The Crack over-looking Killarney Lake LaCloche Mountain Range Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The Crack over-looking Killarney Lake
LaCloche Mountain Range
Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

 

Sunrise on Lake Travers Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Sunrise on Lake Travers
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

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Octopus Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/320 sec

Octopus
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/320 sec

The Cayman Islands is a well-known must go destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. During my two-week stay on the island of Cayman Brac, which is the most easterly of the three islands known as the Cayman Islands, I explored the world beneath the sea for several hours daily. I do not scuba dive, but do love snorkeling and often I am most interested in the aquatic wildlife that can easily, or not so easily discovered in the shallows. I will define the shallows as water to a depth of about 20 feet. Either way I find entering the ocean an exhilarating experience because there are fishes that can eat you 🙂 Essentially you are entering the food-chain, and even though such risks are minimal you should be aware of what fishes may be encountered.It is not only those fishes with large toothy mouths that you need to be concerned with, but often the smaller species of fish that can inflict painful stings if one is not careful. My choice of camera for my underwater photography to date has been the Sony RX-100. This amazing point and shoot camera is teeny-tiny and will easily fit into a shirt or pants pocket, as a zoom range of 28mm to 100mm (35mm equivalent), is capable of capturing image files in RAW and produces a 20MB file which translates to a native image size of 12.16  18.24 inches. Impressive! Note: I found RAW capture to be most beneficial as I was able to make adjustments to the White Balance in Adobe Camera RAW to realistically match the scenes as I saw them. Often the Auto White Balance setting on the Sony RX-100 produced image files with a strong green cast, which was easily correctable in ACR. My choice of underwater housing for the Sony RX-100 was a polycarbonate housing from Meikon, This housing is rated for a depth of 40M (131 feet) and allows me to operate all of the essential controls underwater. I initially purchased this housing as I began my interest in the underwater world. I would however, highly recommend getting one of the housing available from IkeLite. The housing from Meikon works great for snorkeling, but I am not sure I would dive to deeper depths with it. One of the biggest problems I encountered using a polycarbonate housing with the Sony RX-100 was viewing the LCD screen underwater due to the reflective properties of the polycarbonate material underwater. The Sony RX-100 has no viewfinder, so images are composed using the LCD screen. In the photo below an easy solution to this concern can be overcome by creating a bracket to hold a small section of plastic downspout over the area of the LCD screen to act as a shade.

Underwater Housing with Plastic Downspout to Shade the LCD Screen

Underwater Housing with Plastic Downspout to Shade the LCD Screen

To create many of the underwater images ISO 200 or ISO 400 was selected and the Aperture Priority mode too. Creating underwater images while snorkeling is a bit of a challenge to our buoyancy, however, for fishes that were resting on the ocean floor I found it easier if I exhaled while diving to the bottom, and with less air in my lungs I was able to stay at the bottom long enough for 2 or 3 images before the need to re-surface again. For some subjects I repeated this process numerous times to create various compositions, such as the photos below of the Stonefish – a true master of camouflage! Note: the spines on the dorsal fins of Stonefish, a member of the Scorpionfish family, can inflict a painful sting – exercise caution!

Stonefish Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Stonefish
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Stonefish Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Stonefish
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Stonefish Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec.

Stonefish
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec.

As you read the captions for the images in this post you will note that many of them were created at a focal length of 28mm. Often in underwater photography a wide-angle lens used in close will produce the best image. By reducing the distance between the camera and the subject the risk of particulate matter in the water column is reduced, producing a cleaner, sharper image. The Sony RX-100 will focus as close as 5cm at the 28mm setting. On rare occasions I would zoom the lens out if there was some interesting action occurring in deeper water that I would not have been able to dive down to capture.

Sand Diver Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

Sand Diver
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

Often repeated attempts to photograph some species was required, as was the case with the Sand Diver above. This specimen was roughly 2 feet in length and very skittish. After many repeat dives I was able to get this one close up that allows us to see its very toothy mouth. Below is a selection of Stingray images that were created at various reefs along the coast. Scott’s Dock and Radar Reef produced the best photographic opportunities for them.

Stingray Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Stingray
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Stingray Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Stingray
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Stingray Interaction Sony RX-100 @ 65mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Stingray Interaction
Sony RX-100 @ 65mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Below is an image of a Sharp-tailed Eel. I was thrilled to see this specimen out in the open. In 2014 I had seen one of these very interesting snake-like fishes but it was in too difficult of a location to photograph. Fast-forward to March 2015 and I was presented a second opportunity whereby the specimen was most cooperative. This was photographed at the Buccaneer (Tibbett’s) dive site.

Sharp-tailed Eel Sony RX-100 @ 100mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Sharp-tailed Eel
Sony RX-100 @ 100mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Other species that I was able to photograph along the coast of Cayman Brac were Caribbean Reef Squid, Octopus, Barracuda, and some underwater ocean-scapes. Below are my favorites of these. If you ever make your way to Cayman Brac be sure to snorkel the Scott’s Dock, Radar Reef, and the Buccaneer dive sites as these are equally productive for folks that prefer to snorkel.

Caribbean Reef Squid Sony RX-100 @ 100mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/400 sec.

Caribbean Reef Squid
Sony RX-100 @ 100mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/400 sec.

Octopus Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Octopus
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

Octopus Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 200, f8 @ 1/160 sec.

Octopus
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 200, f8 @ 1/160 sec.

Barracuda Sony RX-100 @ 100mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

Barracuda
Sony RX-100 @ 100mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

Ocean-Scape in B&W Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Ocean-Scape in B&W
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/100 sec.

Coral Details Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8@ 1/100 sec.

Coral Details
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8@ 1/100 sec.

Octopus Sony RX-100 @ 28mm ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec.

Octopus
Sony RX-100 @ 28mm
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec.

Please remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version.

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Hurricane Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm ISO 100, f25 @ 1/60 sec. Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Hurricane Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm
ISO 100, f25 @ 1/60 sec.
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

With this post I unveil my new logo that now occupies the header section of the blog. Hope y’all like it 🙂

As mentioned in the previous post, I had several unsuccessful nights of searching for and photographing frogs while on the island of Cayman Brac. These nights were not wasted though. While exploring the understory of the seagrape trees I encountered numerous Soldier Crabs and Hurricane Crabs. I quickly noted that these crabs were very sensitive to the light from my flashlight. Often if too much light fell upon them they would immediately and quickly head for cover. A slow, cautious approach and careful use of the flashlight allowed me to get in low and close for the imagery I had hoped for. The Hurricane Crabs were very large with their bodies being roughly four inches across. Mostly they were a purplish-red color but I did encounter one specimen that had olive to yellowish coloration.

Hurricane Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 85mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f18 @ 1/60 sec

Hurricane Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 85mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f18 @ 1/60 sec

Hurricane Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 92mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Hurricane Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 92mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

The other type of crab that was most often encountered during my night time excursions for frog imagery was the Soldier Cab, which is a type of land hermit crab. They varied in size greatly with some having very small shells and others having very large shells. They most often are seen using abandoned whelk shells for their homes. Again these crabs were also sensitive to the light from my flashlight, but careful use also allowed the opportunity for some interesting imagery, particularly when I found a lone Soldier Crab walking along a very thin branch – almost like walking a tight-rope.

Soldier Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 165mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Soldier Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 165mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

As with the Cuban Treefrog images in the previous post note that I have once again used the Canon 500D Close-up Filter on my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. This is the combination that I always use when traveling. It is a very convenient solution for quality close-up photography and also helps to reduce the overall weight of gear to carry onto an aircraft or out into the field.

Do remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version and if you feel so inclined, let me know which is your favorite image 🙂

Soldier Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400 mm VR @ 210mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Soldier Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400 mm VR @ 210mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Soldier Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 220mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Soldier Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 220mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

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Cuban Treefrog at Rest Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85 VR @ 85mm ISO 100, f22 @ 0.5 sec.

Cuban Treefrog at Rest
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85 VR @ 85mm
ISO 100, f22 @ 0.5 sec.

One thing I was looking most forward to upon returning to the Caribbean Island of Cayman Brac in March was photographing Cuban Treefrogs. Although the Cuban Treefrog is an invasive species throughout the Caribbean known to feast upon smaller frog species, they are still a beautiful treefrog. When I visited Cayman Brac in February 2014 the Cuban Treefrogs were very easy to locate however, in March 2015 this was not the case. It had been relatively dry prior to my return trip and I think some of the frogs moved on to wetter areas or were lying dormant somewhere. After three very unsuccessful nights of searching for these frogs I remembered one very important fact about treefrogs – they will most often hang-out around human structures and porch lights as the lights tend to provide these amphibians with an all-u-can-eat buffet 🙂 I began searching the decorative concrete wall surrounding the villa and alas I found a Cuban Treefrog sleeping away the day. The next plan was to monitor this frog as night began to fall so that I could finally create some fresh Cuban Treefrog imagery.

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400 VR @ 200mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400 VR @ 200mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Once I had discovered this frog’s day-time resting place I was easily able to locate and photograph it over the course of several nights. Here is a selection of my most favorite froggie images from the lovely island of Cayman Brac.

As you scroll through the images below do note that I have used a Canon 500D Close-up Filter on my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. This close-up filter is a simple and relatively inexpensive option for turning lenses such as the Nikon 80-400mm and the Canon 100-400mm into close focusing macro lenses. Here is a photo to illustrate the Canon 500D Close-up Filter attached to my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens.

Canon 500D Close-up Filter Attached to Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens

Canon 500D Close-up Filter Attached to Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens

Also note that each of these images were photographed handheld using the discontinued Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket (the best flash bracket on the market for macro work today).

Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Please do remember to click on each image to see the larger, sharper versions.

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, NIkon 80-400mm VR @ 195mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 195mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 92mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 92mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 260mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 260mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 175mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f32 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 175mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f32 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog - headshot Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 310mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f32 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog – headshot
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 310mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f32 @ 1/60 sec.

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Brown Booby (male) Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 400mm ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 second

Brown Booby (male)
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec.

During my visit to Cayman Brac in February 2014 I was able to photograph the Brown Booby colony on the island as they were incubating their eggs. I kept hoping that the eggs would hatch before I departed the island, but no such luck, so I planned my recent trip to be slightly later in to the nesting season to be assured of hatchlings at the nest.

Brown Booby pair at Nest Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 330mm ISO 800, f11 @ 1/250 second

Brown Booby pair at Nest
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 330mm
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/250 sec.

On Cayman Brac the Brown Booby nests at the very edge of the 144 foot bluff that dominates the east end of the tiny island (Cayman Brac is roughly 12 miles long and about 1 mile wide). My timing for my recent March 2015 visit was perfect as there were birds sitting on eggs, parents with chicks, and chicks that had began molting. Shortly before sunset I would make way to the trail that follows the edge of the bluff to photograph in the warm glow of the setting sun.

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 120mm ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 second

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 120 mm
ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 sec.

The experience of being able to sit and watch these majestic seabirds with their young at the very edge of the bluff is one I will not soon forget, nor is the sight of the fluffy, white chicks stretching their little wings that will one day enable them to glide over the ocean waves and plummet into the sea to catch their prey.

Brown Booby Chick Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 230mm ISO 100, f8 @1/250 second

Brown Booby Chick
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 230mm
ISO 100, f8 @1/250 sec.

During my two weeks on Cayman Brac I created several thousand photos of the Brown Booby. This post represents some of my most favorite images…hope you like them too 🙂

Do remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

Brown Booby Chick Molting Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 400mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 second

Brown Booby Chick Molting
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec.

Brown Booby Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 280mm ISO 1250, f8 @ 1/80 second

Brown Booby
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 280mm
ISO 1250, f8 @ 1/80 sec.

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 360mm ISO 200, f16 @ 1/250 second

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 360mm
ISO 200, f16 @ 1/250 sec.

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 330mm ISO 400, f11 @ 1/320 second

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 330mm
ISO 400, f11 @ 1/320 sec.

Brown Booby with Chick Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm ISO 400, f16 @  1/250 sec.

Brown Booby with Chick
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/250 sec.

Brown Booby (female) Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 sec.

Brown Booby (female)
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm
ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 sec.

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Sunrise on the South Shore of Cayman Brac Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 50, f16 @ 1/5 second 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Sunrise on the South Shore of Cayman Brac
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 50, f16 @ 1/5 second
3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Since my return from Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands I have been busy processing the images created during my two weeks on the island as well as getting caught up on a backlog of work. The terrain of Cayman Brac is mostly that of what is referred to as the “Iron Shore” however, there are a few sandy beach locations and also a very rugged cliff on the east end of the island. Cayman Brac is roughly 12 miles long by about 1 mile wide so getting around the island to photogenic locations is never really a challenge.

For my two week stay on the island I rented a villa on the south shore that has a lovely sandy beach with a few strewn rocks that were often my subjects for sunrise imagery due to their photogenic appearance.

Daybreak on the South Shore of Cayman Brac Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 20mm ISO 50, f25 @ 0.8 seconds 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Daybreak on the South Shore of Cayman Brac
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 20mm
ISO 50, f25 @ 0.8 seconds
3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

For the sunrise imagery over the Caribbean Sea my number one, go-to filter was the Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter. A reverse grad filter has the darkest density in the center of the filter and will transition to the lighter density has you approach the top of the filter, therefore, it does an excellent job of holding back the brightness of the sun when it is on the horizon without over darkening the upper portions of the sky.

Pollard Bay at Sunrise on Cayman Brac Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 100, f16 @ 10 seconds Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Pollard Bay at Sunrise on Cayman Brac
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 10 seconds
3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

On the morning I decided to make way up to Pollard Bay for sunrise opportunities on the eastern end of the island I was rewarded with a beautiful sky, and I was immediately drawn to the numerous tide pools reflecting the sky’s colors. The iron shore here is also adorned with lovely green vegetation. After the sunrise image opportunities ended I walked along the shore towards the base of the brac – a Scottish word for bluff.The walk to the base of the bluff was relatively easy, with only one section that would have been treacherous during rough seas, but the seas were not too bad and all I had to contend with was a touch of ocean spray as the waves crashed into the rugged shore.

Rugged Shoreline on Cayman Brac Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm ;ens @ 35mm ISO 50, f16 @ 1/25 sec. Nikon Polarizing Filter

Rugged Shoreline on Cayman Brac
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 35mm
ISO 50, f16 @ 1/25 sec.
Nikon Polarizing Filter

Crashing Wave on Cayman Brac Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 95mm ISO 50, f25 @ 1/8 sec Nikon Polarizing Filter

Crashing Wave on Cayman Brac
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 95mm
ISO 50, f25 @ 1/8 sec
Nikon Polarizing Filter

The north shore of Cayman Brac provided nice opportunities for sunset images, however, on most evenings as the sun was setting the skies were uncloudy. With little interest in the cloudless skies it was often best to have a minimal amount of sky within the compositions and concentrate on foreground details. Lengthy exposures would blur the ocean’s wave action into a pleasing misty appearance.

Twilight on Cayman Brac's North Shore Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 22mm ISO 100, f16 @ 6 seconds

Twilight on Cayman Brac’s North Shore
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 22mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 6 seconds

Often during my morning sunrise sessions the sun would end up rising into a bank of clouds and present a lovely display of crepuscular rays – below is one of my most favorite such displays that I witnessed.

Please do remember to click on each image to view the larger, sharper versions.

Crepuscular Rays Over the Caribbean Sea Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm ISO 50, f22 @ 1/13 second

Crepuscular Rays Over the Caribbean Sea
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm
ISO 50, f22 @ 1/13 second

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