Google+

Action shots of the thunderous blue angels

Its been always my dreams to watch the US navy blue angels air show and I was lucky this year to make the dream come true in Chicago. The Blue angels pilots showed their amazing skills at the 2014 Chicago air and water show. It was a full day event and we made sure we got the best view spots to take pictures and have the best view of their performance & stunts. We were also lucky to be attend the show on first day as we got to know that the second day show was cancelled due to bad weather. Here are some of my best shots that I took on the first day of the airshow and also some history, their schedules (Practice and 2015 future shows), video and some interesting facts on riding with the blue angels (I thought that would be super cool to take the hot seat with the pilot).

Blue angels

Blue angels

Blue angels photos

Blue angels picture

US Navy Blue Angels history
Blue angels schedule details
The US Navy Blue Angels formation was first created at the end of the World War II, in the desire to keep the public interested in Naval Aviation and at the will of Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, which was the Chief of Naval Operations at that time. Thus, the Blue Angels had their first formation flight in June 1946, at less than a year after their founding was decided, at their home base in Jacksonville, Florida. Since then the Blue Angels won a very large number of admirers, about 15 million of them, which watch their show on the sky every year. And they do have what too see, the spectacular maneuvers like vertical rolls at 15,000 feet or Sneak Pass just above the audience at 50 feet, the incredible speeds of about 700 mph (just under Mach 1) and the great smoke trails , cause by burned biodegradable paraffin-based oil that come out of the exhaust nozzles.

Blue Angels Air show Schedules
Blue angels close formation
If you still want to catch the Navy Blue Angels perform, you still have time until this year is over. Their airshow schedules include shows on following schedules
1) 4th-5th Oct in MCAS Miramar, CA;
2) 11th-12th Oct in San Francisco, CA;
3) 18th-19th Oct in Millington, TN;
4) 25th-26th Oct in NAS Jacksonville, FL;
5) 1st-2nd Nov in Houston, TX;
6) 7th-9th Nov in NAS Pensacola, FL.

Blue Angels Video
Check out the entire video of US navy blue angels performing at the LA County Air Show 2014.

Find the detailed 2015 Blue angels air show schedules here. (Or also can be found here )

Blue Angels practice Schedules
Just find the one that suits you best and get the air show of your life. But if you are not able to see their shows, you should also know that you can always see them practice, at their base in NAS Pensacola. The entrance to see their practice is free and usually starts at 11.30 AM, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from March to November, and last for about an hour. You should also know that you are not allowed with any type of luggage inside. Here you can also visit the great National Naval Aviation Museum.

Find their detailed 2014 practice Schedule here. (Watch this space for the updated 2015 practice schedule )

Blue angels airshow

Blue angels chicago airshow

The Navy Blue Angels are not stuntmen, but they are true refined professionals. The maneuvers they make during their flight are not specially designed to impress the public, but are skills taught by every pilot in the aviation school, that are now brought to the highest level of command, showing a full mature pilot that has reached the highest level of training.

How to get to fly with the blue angels
Anyone that gets to witness at least for once a Navy Blue Angels show will want to try it on their skin. But as any elite formation, having access inside and even get the chance to fly with them is rather difficult. There are a number of ways, very few and difficult unfortunate, which can get you the chance to be high in the air with them. One way is if you are one of the Congress’s high ranked members. Another way would be if you are a very well known, with a spotless reputation, local or national media representative. This will increase the chances to obtain a media flight, for the sake of promotion. Or the slightest of all, to be a great celebrity, no matter in which domain, sports, music, film, and ask to enjoy one of the VIP flights.

Also so you know I still wear the Citizen Eco-Drive Radio-Controlled Chronograph World Timer; Blue Angels edition :) (Check out the watch here)

Discover the Swamp tours near New Orleans

Sometimes it is not necessary to go too far away to find places that have the power to surprise you. If you are among those people who enjoy spending quality time in the outdoors, then you should know that a special place waits for you to discover it, right outside New Orleans. This special place is the swamp that lies in the vicinity of this big city. I may sound weird to take a swamp tour, but you will be amazed of the complex ecosystem that is able to develop in these conditions. Give this place a chance and choose to do something out of the ordinary, by checking in your to do list to visit a swamp.

swamp tours new orleans

Slowly people start to understand the role of a swamp in the entire ecosystem and end up appreciating the way it develops and goes on by its own unique rules. The swamp tours in New Orleans are meant to give anyone, with a desire to experience something new, an overall look of how a swamp can look, with its creatures and vegetation and, why not, have a very relaxing and fun day on board of a cute boat that floats on the streams of the swamp. In spite of its rather dull name, a swamp can be quiet and attraction and it really has what to show you, this being the main reason why so many people are starting to get interested in visiting places like this, and the reason why there are so many tour operators that are ready to help you get that experience. If you want to get on a swamp tour you must get out of New Orleans. Every tour operator has its own departure spot, but mainly it is about 10 to 11 miles away from the city.

Depending on the tour operator, the tour can be from 2 up to 4 hours, in which you will slowly deepen into the mysterious beauty of the swamp. The main attraction of a swamp tour is to see the gators, some operators even allow you to feed them raw chicken, with certain limitations of course. Besides gators you can encounter several snake species, the lumbering nutria. More scarce are the raccoon or swamp dear. The fun of it is that you never know what you may stumble upon on your tour. The vegetation is unique here, just think about the old cypresses and a lot of Spanish moss that give the place a one of a kind look. The average prices can range from $25 for adults / $15 for children and can get up to $52 for adults and $32.50 for children, under 12 years old.

Please find a few more swamp and gator pictures that I shot at the swamp tour :

 

Some of the best known swamp tour operators are:

Airboat Adventures LLC (They can offer Airboat Tours, Swamp Tours and Night Tours.),
5145 Fleming Park Rd.,
Lafitte, LA 70067,
Phone : (504) 885-7325, (888) 467-9267
Website: www.airboatadventures.com

 

Airboat Tours by Arthur Matherne Inc (They offer Airboat Tours, Swamp Tours, Night Tours and Multilingual Tours.)
4262 Hwy 90 E,
Des Allemandes, LA 70030,
Phone : (985) 758-2365, (800) 975-9345,
Website www.airboattours.com

Cajun Encounters Swamp, City, and Plantation Tours LLC
(They can offer Bus Tours, Flatboat Tours, Swamp Tours, Night Tours, City/Neighborhood Tours, Cemetery Tours, Multilingual Tours, French Quarter Tours, Plantation Tours and Personalized/Specialized Tours.)
55345 Hwy 90,
Slidell, LA 70461,
Phone : (504) 834-1770, (866) 928-6877,
Website www.airboattours.com

Just enjoy your swamp adventure.

Chicago river green st patricks day 2014

I have always heard turning the Chicago river green – In 2014 I was lucky enough to witness that. We moved to Chicago in early March and St. Patrick day was on March 16th. We decided to explore the st patricks day celebration on foot. The dying of the Chicago river normally happens in the morning marking the official start of the celebrations in Chicago city. Its always better to reach the loop using the CTA trains and heading towards the bridge – Merchandise Mart or Washington/wells being the best when riding the brown line. The dyeing starts at 9 am, so it better to be early if you really wan to see it happen.

Chicago river green pictures

Chicago river green pictures

Chicago river green pictures

Chicago river green pictures

Digging a little history around the concept of dying the river, the tradition is been there for the last 40 years and is led by the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers. Officially this is how it started “In 1961 Stephen Bailey was approached by a plumber who was wearing some white coveralls, they knew this only because they could see some of the original color. These coveralls had been mostly stained or dyed a perfect shade of green, an Irish green to better describe it. It was when Stephen Bailey asked how the coveralls got this way, that they discovered that the dye used to detect leaks into the river turned green, not just any color green, but the perfect color green.”

So how do they turn Chicago river green or what makes Chicago river green ? They add green dye to a section of the river. Please find the video below which clearly shows how the crew add the dye to the water and make it all green.

 

The st patricks day celebration also includes a magnificent 2-3 hours long parade (which can be best viewed from the East side of the bridge at Columbus Drive or upper and lower Wacker Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive), lot of Irish food and of course Irish Beer (Yes, Chicago gets really drunk – all the bars gets packed)

Nick Vujicic baby kiyoshi pictures

Nick Vujicic is always an inspiration for everybody and will always an inspiration for me.I was one of the few bloggers on the internet who shared his marriage pictures and also more information on his wonderful wife Kanae Miyahara. They got married on the valentines day in 2012.

Now they have an amazing news to share to his followers and fans – They had their first baby son Kiyoshi James Vujicic, whose pictures I will be sharing below. The baby was born a day before their first wedding anniversary.

Nick Vujicic Kanae Miyahara baby pictures

Nick Vujicic Kanae Miyahara kiyoshi james pictures

Here are the first few words Nick shared to his friends and family after his son was born “Thank you all so very much for all your love and prayers!! Kiyoshi James Vujicic – 8 Pounds 10 oz, 21 3/4 inches long. Mama Kanae doing excellent as well.” “Dream come true. Holding my Baby Boy Kiyoshi. Amazing grace and gift from God. Love you all so much. Thank you for your showers of prayer.” Nearly 113 thousands LIKED his pictures and more than 12 thousand congratulated them on this auspicious occasion. Here are some congratulation messages posted by his friends on facebook.

Nick Vujicic with his baby

Madelyn posted : “your the miracle of GOD love baby Kiyoshi james, your so cute congratz nick and mummy kanae GOD bess you.”
Phyllis posted : “May you do greater things for the Lord than your mom and dad baby Kiyoshi.”
Rita posted : gorgeous baby….so lovely….how lucky you are a new life is so special and precious ..congratulations x

The 30-year-old Nick was born without limbs. As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally as well as physically, but eventually came to terms with his disability and, at the age of seventeen, started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limits. Nick Vujicic presents motivational speeches worldwide, on life with a disability, hope and finding meaning in life. He also speaks about his belief that God can use any willing heart to do his work and that God is big enough to overcome any and all disabilities.

Nick Vujicic Kanae Miyahara pregnant

He shared shared the following words on his Facebook page “As a new father, I will serve as the champion defender for my son. I do not want him to be the target of a bully’s reckless comments, but I cannot isolate him in a protective bubble. He will, one day, feel the sting of someone’s deliberate arrows of cruelty. And to prepare him, I will spend plenty of time coaching my son on how to neutralize the comments from an angry peer. It’s not the government’s job alone. The anti-bullying campaign starts in the home with loving parents and should be cultivated by churches that educate families and propagate the love of Jesus.”

Nick Vujicic wife having a baby boy

Christine Sara Photography (www.christinesaraphotography.com) will be very happy that she got selected to take the wonderful family picture with their son Kiyoshi James Vujicic.

Nick Vujicic Kanae Miyahara baby photoshoot

To congratulate Nick Vijucic and Kanae Miyahara, Please add you wishes as comments.

how to take pictures of fireworks

How to take pictures of fireworks

I am sure you want to know how to photograph fireworks? Let it be on the occasion of July 4th or the new year celebrations, Fireworks are always very tricky to photograph and when you shoot them correctly, you will be amazed at how beautiful and colorful they are. To shoot fireworks there are definitely a few important steps required to get the best and most vibrant shots. I would like you to take through a series of tips and tricks that I personally follow when clicking fireworks pictures.

Here are the basic accessories you need to take firework pictures

A stable tripod

It is impossible to shoot the fireworks without a tripod ( you can defintely use a chair or a table or even a wall instead of a tripod ) but defintely not handheld. This is mainly because we are taking a long exposure shot (2 seconds or above) and the camera needs to be stable for the 2+ secs when the camera is taking the shot. If your lens is not a heavy lens, you can defintely get a very cheap tripod from amazon – will cost you less than 20$ ( link )

A good wide angle lens (if you are closer to the fireworks area)
A wide angle lens also comes handy when you want to capture the whole area + the fireworks. I will prefer a focal length of 17mm – 70 mm for these shots. So if you don’t have a wide angle lens and your lens starts with a 70mm , I prefer you select a location which is far from the fireworks area . Also you also have an option to rent a wide angle lens from your local camera rental shop or even online stores (borrowlenses.com).

Finding the best location to shoot fireworks
This is very important for composing the best fireworks picture. We definitely don’t need peoples ‘head’ in your shots and will be better if you can find a location with less crowded. I always prefer the following guidelines before picking a location :

– Open field with less crowd
– Presence of a building or structure (its better to have structures in the shot to get a comparison of the size and details of the fireworks.
– Less movement in the frame – Finding an area where there is no movement of cars or public – that can create ‘ghost’ effects in the picture

Always shoot in Manual Mode and Manual focus

Yes, Auto mode doesn’t work best here. This a great opportunity for you to experiment manual mode in your DSLR. This also helps you to control shutter speed, Aperture and ISO to find the best appropriate settings for that night. The following section will clearly mention you the best camera settings you need to set for photographing fireworks.
Also with Manual Focus, as the area is dark the lens will find it difficult to find the point to focus. You can always pre-focus the camera (selecting the top right or top left focus point ) and wait for the first firework to brighten up the sky so that the camera finds the focus point.Also check your manual whether you can lock the focus point.

Shutter release (wireless or wired)
This helps us to avoid camera shakes when pressing the button on the camera. If you don’t have a shutter release, please use the 2 secs timer built-in your camera (You need to be very accurate in judging when the shell is fired from the ground).

Best fireworks photography settings – very important

– Aperture Settings

Make sure you start with F11. As there are lot of details to be captured in the photo, we need to make sure that we set a smaller aperture. Also at the end of the firework display, I am sure that there will be a lot of shells going up together and they will be a time when the sky becomes too bright at f11. At that time I recommend you increase to f19 or f 22 or even the highest (my canon 60D goes till F32) – they totally depends on how bright your area becomes. I recommend experimenting (going up the F value) various aperture value starting from F11.

– Shutter speed

2 seconds and Up. Understand that the 2 seconds from the shell is fired and its travelling up in the sky. If the firework is travelling high and you are not able to fit in that period, try to increase the shutter speed to 4-6 seconds. I have acheived wonderful results with 6 seconds (Especially when you have multiple fireworks at the same time).

– ISO

Set the ISO to 100 – to the lowest your camera goes. We defintely don’t need ISO as we have a tripod and we are setting long exposure – so light will be good enough when the fireworks are in the sky.

A few basic firework photography tips and tricks

– Try to get the best shots in the first 5-10 mins of the fireworks display, as the end part of the display will have a lot of smoke in the sky.
– Make sure that wind is not shaking the camera while photographing fireworks.
– Be well prepared to change the settings while the fireworks is going on. As mentioned before, the first few minutes of the firework display gives you the sharpest and neatest shots.
– Always track your results after every shot so that you know what to change to perfect it. There will be many occasions when the shots go dark or bright. A speedy decision on finding the best settings can help you start in the beginning of the display to capture the best firework photos.
– Find good firework pictures in Google images or even try photo sharing websites like flickr, pixoto to find well composed firework pictures. They give you a lot of ideas on “how to compose the best firework pictures” and also help you find a good location to setup your equipment.
– Take as many pictures of the fireworks till the end of the display. You don’t know when you will get your best shot.

If you have any questions / comments / recommendations, Please feel free to add a comment.

Digital Photography from Ratish Naroor