So, I just got back from a Celebrity Cruise vacation! As you all know, I absolutely love photographing weddings, but you may not know how much I love landscape photography as well. I thought I would create a blog post to showcase some of my vacation photos and review various aspects of the trip.
To start, here are some basic facts:
Cameras: Sony a6000, GoPro Hero 4 Black
Lens: Sony 18-105 f/4G
Other camera gear: 10-stop neutral density filter, Joby GorillaPod
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Cruise Ports: Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel (Mexico)
If you don’t care about the camera equipment I used and just want to get to the pretty pictures, scroll down.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a self-proclaimed gear snob. I know way too much about camera gear and love talking about it. I shoot professionally with Canon, so you might be wondering why I did not take my Canon equipment on this vacation. Well, I never actually travel with my Canon. The Sony is a mirrorless camera, which basically means it has all the capabilities of a DSLR (like your Canon or Nikon), but in a much smaller package. It is the absolute perfect travel camera because it is compact and still incredibly amazing in all conditions.
When I’m on vacation, I typically try to be as lazy as possible. I put my camera on auto because I don’t want to constantly be thinking about camera settings. I want to relax and enjoy the vacation while still getting amazing pictures. My Sony is so easy to use and allows me to get great photos without taking it off auto, for the most part.
This camera has been around the world with me and I’ve never wished I had my Canon with me. The only downside is the battery life. With the a6000, you can expect to charge the battery every night. I typically travel with two batteries, but rarely have to switch while out and about. If you tend to shoot nonstop, you might want to carry multiple batteries since the average battery will get you about 300 shots. I usually get around 1000 with my Canon.
As for lenses, until this vacation I only carried a 16mm with me. This lens does not zoom at all. It is a wide angle prime, which means it’s great for landscapes, awful for portraits. I’m a huge fan of prime lenses (lenses that don’t zoom). You won’t find a single zoom lens in my bag, so when looking for a travel lens, it made sense to also get a prime.
After using this lens exclusively for a year, I realized I needed something a bit more versatile. So a couple months ago, I was forced to buy my first zoom lens. I bought the 18-105 G-master lens. G-master lenses are top of the line quality glass, so I knew I would still get sharp images from it. I loved the focal length. It’s versatile enough to still get those landscape shots while also squeezing in a few portraits. I found myself sticking to the wide end of the focal length for the most part, but it was still nice to have the option to zoom in.
Additionally, I knew I would be visiting some beautiful landscapes, so i wanted a couple additional items to help with creating long exposures. I brought a B+W neutral density filter and a Joby Gorillapod. Long exposures allow for different photos with photographing water or clouds. The water blurs, to show movement and the clouds look creamy, also showing movement.
I absolutely love my GorillaPod. It’s basically a tripod, but the legs can be sculpted to wrap around poles or trees. It’s also super compact and great for traveling. When doing long exposures, a tripod is always required to keep the camera steady.
Without getting too technical, the neutral density filter allows for me to use those slower shutter speeds in broad daylight. When you use a slow shutter speed, the shutter is literally open for that amount of time. For example, if you want to blur the water for 30 seconds, the camera needs to remain still with the shutter open for the whole 30 seconds. The longer the shutter is open, the more light it lets in. Even with your other settings letting in as little light as possible, there will still be too much light during the day.
A neutral density filter reduces that light. It essentially adds a dark coat to the outer element of the lens. This allows you to use a slower shutter speed without letting in way too much light. Long exposures are my current obsession, so this piece of equipment will probably be stuck on this lens for the foreseeable future.
If you don’t care about my review of the cruise, please skip ahead to the pretty pictures.
So cruising is officially my favorite way to travel. We went on a Royal Caribbean cruise last summer and loved it so much we had to go again less than a year later. This time we went on a Celebrity Cruise. The ship was the Celebrity Silhouette. Celebrity is a partner of Royal Caribbean, but they are known for much smaller ships.
The ship was incredible. It was clean. The service was great. And oh my god, the food! It was phenomenal. On our cruise last summer, we traveled on the Oasis of the Seas. The food was ok, nothing special, but this food was seriously some of the most delicious food I have ever had. We didn’t even feel the need to go to a specialty restaurant because the food in the buffet area was so good.
The only complaint I have about the ship is the entertainment. There isn’t much to do onboard. The Oasis was always filled with activities, this one was more focused on relaxing. I took a nap every day. It was glorious. It did get boring on occasion though. My boyfriend isn’t a huge napper, so he was bored on a daily basis.
During sea days, there wasn’t really much to do other than relax. Well, there were things to do, but nothing looked very entertaining. The average cruiser was probably closer to retirement age, and the entertainment was geared toward them. We did see a couple shows on the last couple nights, which were incredible. Rich Aronovitch was the comedian onboard. He was hilarious. We also saw the Tenors of Rock preform. What an incredible show! Although the shows the first few nights did not seem entertaining, I really wish we went to more. Everything we saw was wonderful.
Although we loved everything about the ship for the most part, we’re going to try something else for our next cruise. We need to find a cruise line with a bunch of activities going on minus the screaming kids. Let me know if you have any ideas!
The moment you have been waiting for!
Coco Kay, Bahamas
This is a nice private island owned by Royal Caribbean. We spent a nice day relaxing by the ocean and spent some time exploring a hidden forest complete with iguanas and unusual trees. Overall, I wasn’t a huge fan. I’m not great at relaxing and there was way too much time to sit back and do nothing on this private island.
In Cozumel, we swam with dolphins! Unfortunately I have no pictures to prove this. One of the hardest parts about going on vacation as a professional photographer is not being able to take my own pictures. They did not allow any photography while with the dolphins, but offered the ability to purchase pictures. Usually I do purchase pictures because I want proof, but the pictures were awful and way overpriced. The photographer was using an entry-level camera with a kit lens and didn’t seem to know what he was doing.
Swimming with dolphins was fun. It was a good experience and I am glad I did it. I’m not sure I would want to do it again, especially if I’m not allowed to take pictures.
In Cozumel, we also swam with manatees. These was a very cool experience. I really wish I was able to have a picture with the manatee, but the photographer didn’t take any. Oh well.
The aquatic park, Chankanaab, was extremely beautiful though and I did enjoy the experiences. Next time in Mexico, I want to do something a bit more historic. For instance, a Mayan village can be found about 45 minutes away from the port. The aquatic park did house a fake Mayan village, so I did get my history fix. There is always next time for the real thing.
Georgetown, Grand Cayman
I got to swim with sting rays! For this, I brought out my GoPro. Some of the pictures were purchased from Shamanisha Richards, who was contracted to take pictures. This was an amazing experience! It’s not an experience I would need to repeat, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity. The stingrays were gentle and massive. Anyone who visits Grand Cayman must swim with the stingrays! Also, excuse my horribly messy hair.
Jamaica was by far my favorite port of call. Sometimes the city gets a bad rap for being dangerous, but I always felt extremely safe. I spent all day taking pictures. It was incredible. We visited the amazing Dunns River Falls. Most people climbed the waterfall, but I stood on the sidelines taking pictures. Before the waterfall, we visited the Green Grotto Caves. We went about 40 feet underground where bats ran rampant. There was also a boa constrictor siting. I refrained from taking a peek. No need to be even more terrified while I’m underground. The pictures turned out pretty fantastic though.
On the Ship
We also paid for a small photo package on the ship. I dressed up all pretty and I needed proof. The photos were ok. There are a few winners.
It was a great experience. I absolutely love cruising and we had such a great time. I can’t wait for our Alaska cruise this summer! Hope you enjoy the pictures.