Saturday, March 17, 2012

Classroom of the Sea

You can only learn so much from a textbook. My daughter's recent school field trip to Tampa Bay Watch in Fort De Soto, Florida brought the classroom directly to the ocean. Number 2 pencils are replaced with life jackets and hands on experience with sea life from ocean to your lap.

A ten minute boat ride to open water surfaces salt water creatures of all shapes and sizes. From slimy algae, to spiky puffer fish, to angelic starfish and adorable dwarf sea horses, the mystery of the deep is unlocked to sea legged students.

I lied. There has to be some classroom time in a real building. Microscopes are not conducive to a marine environment, especially when examining smaller than life plankton.

Marine sciences were overwhelmed by the culinary arts for the moment. Scalpel and tweezers were replaced by flour and a touch of salt for deep fried calamari. You cannot learn new things on an empty stomach!

Tampa Bay Watch with their Estuary EDventures program educates through hands on experience environmental responsibility. Life, big and small, need love also. Who would not love my baby daughter with a dirty diaper? Tough love.

You can view more in my Tampa Bay Watch Experience Gallery shot with the Canon 5D Mark II paired with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.

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Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Practical Lens Review and Video Test

The convergence of still photo DSLR's and video camcorders brought a game changing dynamic to the world of image making. The introduction of the Nikon D90 and the revolutionary Canon 5D Mark II in 2008 made affordable HD video capture with that "bokeh" film style. With any emerging technology there are drawbacks, especially with using still photography lenses for video. The Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Aspherical Wide Angle Lens solves many of those problems at a great price.

At a street price of $500, the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Aspherical Wide Angle Lens is a filmmaker's dream. A fast lens with an aperture of f/1.4, a focal length equivalent of a standard 50mm lens on a crop sensor and a price that will not break the bank makes this fast prime lens great for HD video capture. The magic is in the design of the lens with controls for easy focus and aperture. The focus barrel is nice and wide with a long throw to slowly manipulate critical focus. This is a must when shooting at a fast f/1.4 aperture.

The optics give great color especially when compared to the "L" equivalent of the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L lens. Superb color, contrast and sharpness describe this Korean made Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 lens under many brand names such as Samyang and Bower. I picked up my Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Wide Angle Lens from my friends at North Tampa Photography. As a Rokinon lens dealer, they now carry the full line of Rokinon prime lenses.

Now for the drawbacks. Still photographers will be disappointed because of the lack of automatic focus. This above average in size prime lens comes fully manual out of the box. No focus confirmation light or chirp on this prime lens, you just have a sharp, fast and manual piece of glass catered to DSLR cinematography. I suggest the Canon EF 35mm f/2 for a street price of $330 for a fully automatic still photography lens.

The next drawback is the ratcheted aperture ring. It is not smooth like the focus control because it has clicks for every f-stop. Not ideal for a smooth change of exposure. I suggest using a variable neutral density filter such as the Fader ND Mark II Filter on the Rokinon 77mm sized filter thread to reduce the incoming light.

Strawberry fields forever as far as my Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 wide angle lens can see. The annual Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida is the perfect backdrop for a video test of this fast prime lens. A 1080p video shot with the Canon Rebel T3i/600D paired with the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 lens at 29.97fps. Edited with Apple Final Cut Pro 6.0.6 and transcoded to AppleProRes422 using the Canon E-1 Movie Plugin.

Strawberry season in Plant City, Florida was captured with the help of my affordable HD DSLR rig. For stability, I used the Manfrotto 701 HDV head paired with Benro 3580 tripod legs. For audio capture, I used the AZDEN ECZ-990 shotgun microphone. For critical focus, I used the Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 2.5x magnification with a Blue Star large chamois eyecup protector. For a reduction of incoming light, I also used a FADER ND Mark II filter.

The Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 wide angle lens review verdict? This fast affordable prime lens catered to HD DSLR cinematography has the color,contrast and sharpness comparable to Canon "L" glass. The lens ergonomics are worthy of Broadcast Television ENG cameras with a long focus throw for precise control. The Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 wide angle lens compatible with Canon full frame EF and crop EF-S mounts makes this prime lens an excellent value for any DSLR filmmaker. As sweet as Plant City, Florida strawberries, your cinematic heart will not be disappointed.

You can view more pictures and videos in my Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Lens Review and Plant City, Florida Strawberry Festival Gallery shot with the Canon Rebel T3i/600D and the Canon 1D Mark IV.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Madeline's First Track Meet

Running in circles is not my cup of tea. Just the thought of running a long distance makes me exhausted. As for my daughter, the sport of Track and Field events means she will not get kicked in the shins anymore.

Runners gather en masse like a Justin Bieber concert at the first track meet of the season. Track and Field Teams from the schools of the Catholic Diocese compete in several events such as relay, sprint medleys, discus, javelin and long jumps throughout the season.

The competition from other schools was just as tough as the lighting conditions with "Friday Night Lights". Stadium lighting is not the ideal light for freezing action but not all sport arenas can be like the Super Bowl. When the sun finally went down, I was pushing the ISO to 6400 to prevent motion blur. Even equipped with fast f/2.8 and f/4 glass, the image grain began to look like winter snow.

The last time my daughter ran this fast was to the nearest shopping mall for the latest Vera Bradley, Hello Kitty or Apple Store for the latest products. The spirit of competition and sportsmanship fills her running shoes. Although, she would also gladly accept a Hipster or the latest iPhone 4S around her neck than any shiny medal.

You can view more Olympic events in my Daughter's First Track Meet Galley shot with the Canon 1D Mark IV paired with EF 24-105mm f/4L, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II and the EF 300mm f/4L IS lenses.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Serena !

A whole one year has passed since I held you for the first time in the delivery room. Wrapped tightly in linens, you barely opened your newborn eyes to a strange world and the parents who unconditionally love you. The sleepless nights waking to your cries for formula, soiled diapers, runny nose, high temperature fevers and projectile vomiting are slowly waning each day. 12 months later, parental anxiety takes over with baby crawling hazards and potential chokables in the household. Ahh...parenthood!

Happy first birthday, Serena! You are now one year old with many accomplished baby milestones and much more to conquer in the upcoming months ahead. Soon you will be walking with confidence and marching to a different tune. The tune of the next generation Apple iPhone with all the bells and whistles. You can never start them too early!

A pink frosted cake and your very own personal side of roasted meat are the perfect accompaniment for any birthday celebrant. With emerging four baby teeth, Serena's feral instinct kicks in to devour any rotisserie prey.

Call it a celebration of life and the carnivorous consumption of red meat at Texas De Brazil, a Brazilian Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida. Serena's family and friends gathered for the big one year birthday and to bathe in Churrascaria delicacies. I will take my flank steak rare and bloody but charred on the outside please...

You definitely have your mother's beautiful genes, quite literally. The eyes, face and even your infant lips are almost clone like. Yikes! I will soon have two bosses in the household.

Singing "Happy Birthday" can never get old, especially to children. Maybe by next year, Serena can figure out the candle blowing by then. If you are new to my ChadSorianoPhotoBlog, here is a recap of my baby daughter over the year in a "George Lucas" video trilogy. Enjoy!

Show me the babies! These videos are only the tip of the iceberg for this year. More birthdays and milestones to document and capture with my Canon HD DSLR's. My computer hard drives are bursting at the seams just thinking about all the upcoming photos and video footage. Newegg.com to the rescue...

"Count my five pudgy fingers...each one for a gift without an iPhone 4S." There is always next year. My Vera Bradley Hipster will have to suffice for the moment.

Happy Wedding Anniversary to my beautiful wife! I am blessed to have three wonderful children from her and a gorgeous view of the pay here-parking lot at the Plant City, Florida Strawberry Festival in the trunk of our family minivan. Mahal Kita, Kathleen!

Bonds hold strong in my family. Weakness is spelled baby p-o-o-p and v-o-m-i-t. My will power is not that strong...

You can view more photos and videos in my Serena's First Birthday 2012 Gallery shot with the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV and the Canon EOS Rebel T3i/600D.

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You may have noticed rarely seen and unheard portraits of me. I have to give thanks to my son's God Father for a helping hand at Getawaymoments.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Disney Dream Experience

A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're aboard a 14 deck Disney Cruise ship for a 3 day voyage aptly named the Disney Dream. The majestic third ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Dream set sail off the east coast of Florida in Port Canaveral with a very anxious family on deck.

All hands on deck for a bounty full beginning on the open sea to conquer all things Disney. The state of the art cruise ship afloat with luxurious amenities for young and old mimics the Walt Disney Magic Kingdom theme park on a boat. A really big boat that can accommodate over 4000 lucky guests.

My kids went wild over the Disney Dream's signature water roller coaster called the AquaDuck. Despite the long wait time in line for this water adventure, it is an aquatic experience you will never forget. Just like the Magic Kingdom, you cannot escape large crowds and never ending lines of people.

Every magical voyage begins with a culinary delight. Every night has an elegant sit down multiple course dinner at three themed on ship restaurants. The Royal Palace, The Enchanted Garden and The Animator's Palate fill my bottomless stomach for everything edible at dinner time. For breakfast, lunch and ice cream in between, the Disney Dream is a glutton's paradise with 24 hour food and beverage stations. There is no slim in SlimFast on this boat.

With endless buffets and sunsets, the ship journeyed to our first stop in Nassau, Bahamas. My family took an Atlantis Resort detour this time to pursue a "Dolphin Tale" excursion.

With a quick and gorgeous 20 minute boat ride from Nassau, the family landed on another paradise. Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island gave my children an up close and personal encounter with a friendly dolphin named Salvador. I was just as excited as the kids because of all the glorious pictures and videos of their smiling faces. Priceless.

One paradise encounter ends, another paradise experience begins at our next port of call in Disney's exclusive island called Castaway Cay. Geared for an all day sand and surf event, beach time is family time. Of course, sandy pursuits comes with a barbeque lunch buffet and endless banana soft serve ice cream.

Almost one year old, baby Serena enjoys her very first Disney Cruise experience. Not yet walking, but butt shuffling very fast, Serena soaks up the beach time fun. Fun meaning tasting sand and floating debris around her. To each her own!

Our final night was worthy of a palace steps photo opportunity. Exchange the forever wet swimsuits for slacks, long sleeves and gown like for a royal occasion such as dress up and the Disney theatrical performances such as the "Golden Mickeys". Believe me, the semi formal attire lasted briefly with constant whining reminders of pool time and obligatory Disney gift shops. Sound familiar?

A 1080p video shot with the Canon 1D Mark IV and Powershot ELPH 300HS at 29.97fps. Edited with Final Cut Pro 6 and transcoded the h264 files with Canon E-1 Movie plugin. Used Compressor to render a 1.3gb h264 video file. For audio, I used an Azden ECZ-990 shotgun microphone and used a Manfrotto 701 hdv head on Benro 3580 tripod legs. The Canon Powershot ELPH 300HS was housed in a Canon WP-DC320L waterproof housing for the AquaDuck water roller coaster ride and underwater pool pictures in my gallery below.

Everything must come to an end, even Disney Dreams. All is not lost, the fast approaching Disney Fantasy is coming soon with its 7 night voyages and even with more luxurious splendor than the Disney Dream. A fantasy come true!

You can view more majestic photos and videos shot with the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV paired with the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L, EF 24-105mm f/4L IS and EF 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses in The Disney Dream Experience 2012 Gallery.

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