Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Island of Enchantment

A flight distance of 1237 miles and just over 4 digits on the rental car odometer filled my family's Caribbean travel log to the Common Wealth of Puerto Rico this summer. The tropical lure of this enchanted island fancied the Conquistadors of Spain of year's past and ultimately the imperial forces of the United States. Strategic importance and global conflict gave way to sun, sand and lechonara on this family vacation.

Imagine a small Puerto Rican inland town dedicated to the art of roasted swine. The crowded streets are lined with crispy lechonara, quite literally! Guavate is ground zero for succulent pig charred over coal and gas flame until the layers of crackling skin just melt in your mouth. The 2.5 hour mountainous drive from Fajardo to Guavate satisfied our family motto, "Live to Eat".

Swim, eat, see some sights and swim again played like a broken record this trip. The kids grew flippers and gills. The parents increased waist size and lost patience with Puerto Rican driving habits.

In between the eating, swimming and defensive driving, I actually shot some video of the natural wonders of Puerto Rico. Finally, on our second consecutive 2.5 hour drive to Arecibo, we made the afternoon tour of the Rio Camuy Caverns. With tripod in hand, I managed to capture the dark caves at ISO 12800 despite the slippery terrain and pitch black conditions. I was using my Apple iPhone 4S video light to guide me through the dark abyss.

Over 100 steps up the Yokahu Tower in El Yunque Rain Forest, we could see endless amounts of green all the way to the coastline. I really mean endless fast food franchises and strip malls as far as the eye can see.

Beware foreign invaders of a precious smile and cute kankles behind the walls of Fort San Felipe del Morro. My almost 18 month baby daughter has the power of spoken mimicry and a demanding bottomless appetite to wear down the patience of any worthy opponent. She is an adorable weapon of mass destruction.

For hours of fun for restless kids, go fly a kite in endless rolling hills of San Juan. Tropical breezes give life to $2 plastic and string aircraft that soar to new heights. Take note, parking cost more than the kite itself but the moments are priceless.

I think only Facebook and Pinterest come before my wife's favorite juice sipped out of a fresh coconut. Of course, the fruity libation was photographed, posted and liked on Facebook via her Apple iPhone 4S in a Puerto Rican minute.

You can view more of the Puerto Rican experience in my Puerto Rico 2012 Gallery shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III paired with Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L, EF 24-105mm f/4L IS and EF 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses.

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  1. Nice video and post. That video is sharp as heck. Did you add sharpness in post? I read the 5D MK III was soft. And how did you manage 3 kids and a gear on a trip like that?

    1. Gerald,
      Thanks for the compliments. I used the Sharpen plugin in FCP 6.0.6. around level 20 from a scale of 0 to 100. Soft video is relative. Yes, the Mark III is a tad softer than the Mark II but it does not bother me. I only added sharpness in clips with ISO under 640 and left the high ISO shots like in the cavern alone. The sharpness plugin increases grain and aliasing. All my gear except tripod fit in my Domke F4AF shoulder bag. 5D Mark III lens and battery grip attached, two lenses, ND filter,flash, batteries,charger,microphone, and all the little stuff like lens wipes, GPS, and Apple iPhone 4S charger. I forgot, I slipped in a Amazon Kindle Fire, too. The trick with traveling with kids is the baby stroller. With Domke and tripod bag on my shoulders, my hands are free to push stroller with stuff hanging off the handles. The caverns were paved slippery sidewalks with occasional stairs in the dark, but manageable.