Sailing Through the Bermuda Triangle in the Caribbean 1500 (Start POSTPONED until Nov. 8th due to Hurricane Tomas)

This blog is chiefly for information related to Wedding Photography, but occasionally I post an unrelated topic just for fun. Nov. 1st (NOW the 8TH) I leave on an 8-10 day sail across 1,500 miles of ocean in the Caribbean 1500 on a 43ft. catamaran, departing Hampton, Va. for Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. We have over 300 people sailing on 87 boats worth a collective 40 to $50,000,000 dollars, supported by weather experts and the latest technologies. This is a BIG event, and is well watched by the marine industry and various related boating publications. This is my 6th trip with this group and I am the “unofficial” Professional Photographer covering the event.

Families and interested people back home can follow us on the carib1500 website where each boat is tracked with a satelite transponder that overlays its position on Google Earth. Lest any of our clients be concerned about their weddings or portraits during this time, our studio is well run by our able studio manager Mrs. Jeffrey, and the weddings are covered by our videographer and two staff photographers. Plus, we keep in touch with my Iridium satelite phone anytime we wish. With computers, GPS chartplotters, transmitted weather data and software, we know where we all are all the time and the friendly racing that ensues makes it all the more fun.

Nonetheless, on most trips we are still dealing with anything from storms to breakdowns to even baby sea monsters (photo below). I ‘ll even bring my laptop to get a little work done and transmit emails by shortwave radio hookups.

Track us on “CATAWAY”. We should complete the passage in 8 or 9 days in the middle of the fleet. I’ll be back in the studio on Nov. 19th (I hope). Again, the Caribbean 1500 website is www.carib1500.com.

Retouching, Wakeboarding, Surfing & PhotoShop Art In One Minute!

Below are wakeboarding shots of our rabid wakeboarding sons on the Wye River, in Maryland on the Eastern Shore from this past summer. This is one of our favorite places for summertime boating and you might enjoy a couple of the images posted here. Also included is a surfing shot from a trip to the beach. I converted them into “PhotoShop Art” in just 1 minute, using Photoshop CS5 and their wonderful (and simple) filter options.

There are many photographers and artists much more skilled and practiced in the area than I am. I don’t like sitting in front of a computer for hours doing this, but it shows you how simple it is for a less experienced practitioner like myself to take advantage of today’s advanced technologies to create something only available to professonals just a few years ago.

In our Professional Wedding Photography, we routinely use Photoshop to retouch blemishes, hair strands, facial shine, eyeglass reflections, waistlines (believe it or not) and remove everything in our images from exit signs to telephone wires and, yes, people! To view more of our work, see our professional website at www.philipkent.com.

1st Place…The Atlantic Cup Race and Bermuda

I recently flew down to the British Virgin Islands on to join the 58ft. sailing yacht “Special Delivery” and sail it 800 miles north to Bermuda, and then another 700 miles across the ocean to Annapolis, MD. Special Delivery is owned by a retired couple, Bill & Diana Quinlin of Jacksonville, FL. Bill was an obstetrician specializing in high-risk pregnancies and deliveries, hence the name. With 3 other ocean sailors aboard as well as the owners, we had a great crew. This was my second trip on Special Delivery.

18 boats in total made the passage, organized by the Cruising Rally Association of Hampton, Va., and if all goes well, are back in their East Coast homeports after a 2 or 3 day stop in Bermuda. Our positions are relayed every 6 hours via satelite by transponders aboard each boat to the www.carib1500.com website under “Atlantic Cup” and overlayed on Google Earth. Combined with GPS chartplotters, satelite phones, computers, shortwave radios and you-name-it, we are always in contact with the “outside world”–if we want to be.

Below are a few pictures from the event and our layover in Bermuda (a great honeymoon location by the way!)

Conducting business by email and satellite phone while at sea is a challenge, especially when everything is bouncing around constantly. Two of our 4 crew were sea-sick for a couple of days, which is understandable given the conditions. Fortunately, weather conditions at sea, as on land, change, and a couple of rough days are usually followed by a few days of calmer conditions. For a photographer, Bermuda is a spectacular place because of the brilliant color of the water, homes and buildings. Nowhere else is there such visual richness.
And by the way, we came in FIRST out of 16 boats heading to Bermuda!

Click on photos to enlarge.

Scenes of Las Vegas

The are many natural wonders in this world to visit and photograph and I’ve been to quite a few of them. But for man-made wonders, Vegas is hard to beat. It’s a visual feast of architecture, lights and people. Visiting there every other year or so for conventions, I find it enjoyable to go out at dusk and photograph the lights on the strip, usually a different area during each visit. In just a one hour walking tour, what you can see and come across is simply amazing. See my website at philipkent.com for local work but in the meantime, here are some images from my most recent trip…

An Ansel Adams Moment…”Moon over Hernandez”

Recently I was driving along California’s Hwy 395 along the eastern side of the Sierra Mountain range on the way to Mammoth Lakes, a ski resort. South of Carson City at 6:30 in the morning I spotted something eerily familiar. A few seconds later I made a u-turn to re-examine what I saw, stopped along the side of the road and pulled out my camera. Reminicent of Ansel Adam’s most famous photograph “Moonrise over Hernandez” I composed, exposed and captured the scene. The scene was a small retirement community with the Sierra mountains illuminated in the background with the dawn light and the moon setting overhead.

Adam’s Moonrise was taken in 1941 in New Mexico and researching this, I found he was also driving along, spotted the scene, stopped his car and hurredly exposed the scene not unlike I did. Except, he had to set up in a minute or two an 8×10 view camera on a tripod and use his talent to guess the exposure on his black and white sheet film. I had an advanced 21st century Canon 5D Mark II with 21 megapixels at my disposal and instant exposure confirmation without a tripod. Later that evening and excited by what I had, I converted the image to b&w, included a few Photoshop enhancements to enrich the tonal range and voila–my own Moonrise–or moonset in this case.

In the 1970’s while in college I visited the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park. A 16×20 hand-printed and signed copy of Moonrise was for sale for $400. For a college student this was a lot of money, especially back then, so I passed. Recently a copy of the same print was for sale for $80,000! It doesn’t have the name but now I have my own “Moonrise”.

Below is a image of Adam’s Moonrise, the original image I took in color, and the enhanced b&w version I created. While you’re at it check out my website at www.philipkent.com. Let the bidding begin!

My original color version–click to enlarge.

My own “Moon Over the Sierras” …click to enlarge.

A Snowstorm and a Blizzard–a week we’ll never forget.

It reminded me of getting off the ski lift at the top of Blackcomb mountain at Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort, the Winter Olympics venue in BC, Canada.  The white-out made it impossible to see more than several feet, with the snow and the wind screaming by at over 40mph.  Scary scene, I remember holding on to each other so no one would get lost or separated as we make our way.  Except now, I was on our street in front of our house in suburban Fairfax County, Va.  I go on my morning jog every day, rain or snow, and in this case, just for fun, a blizzard.  Deciding to call it short with the wind-blown snow stinging my face, barely able to see the snow-covered street in front of me, and with boots that didn’t lend themselves to running, I headed back in. 

We all have our own memories of the great week of snow that began on Friday, Feb. 5th.  In our case, driving from our home near Tysons to the Verizon Center on Rt. 66 with NO traffic to a college basketball game between Georgetown and Villanova (a neighbor with a daughter at Villanova invited us).  Used our son’s 4×4 pick-up truck to get there.  I couldn’t believe the high attendence at the game in the middle of a snowstorm–we weren’t the only crazy ones! Washington is maybe the most beautiful city when it snows.  And, the same son using the same pick-up to pull our other son on skis through the neighborhood using a wake-boarding line from our boat.   Such fun and beautiful (and amazing) scenes are best described in photos, shown below…   And, be sure to check out our short, 3 minute  “homemade” video (shot with a pocket camera), linked just above the photos.   Let us know what you think!



Visit our Professional Photography website at www.philipkent.com.

Adventure and Fun on the Open Seas

 

Ever dream of sailing a boat in the Caribbean?  Or, across an ocean?  The Cruising Rally Association in Hampton, Va., in which I am a volunteer, moves dozens of sailboats a year back and forth across the Atlantic from Hampton, Va. to the British Virgin Islands and back.  Professional folks and retirees with 40-60 ft. ocean going sailboats need help getting their yachts down to the islands for the winter.  They need crew to help sail the boats 24/7 for 8-10 days for 1,500  through a challenging environment called the Atlantic Ocean.  In November.  Why November?  Hurricanes are mostly gone and the winter fronts haven’t arrived.  So, those of us without our own boats who have sailing experience get to crew and participate in one of the great thrills in life: offshore sailing.  Exhilirating, dangerous, challenging and fun, and you’re doing this with 50 or 6o other boats and 200+ other  sailors at the same time.  This is all coordinated in Hampton, Va. by the Cruising Rally Association managed by Steve Black, well-known in the sailing world as an accomplished ocean sailor.

Everyone meets down in Hampton a few days before, for safety and weather briefings, meetings and general prep.  If the weather is a go, all the boats leave together and stay in touch through shortwave radio chats twice a day for the next 7-10 days it takes to cover the 1,500 miles to the islands.  I use an Iridium satellite phone to touch base with the studio (and the “boss”) about once every day or two.  Each boat has a GPS transponder that sends a signal via satellite to the shore base in Hampton where its position is overlayed on Google Earth for our families back home to see where we are on the Caribbean 1500 website.

Ocean conditions hundreds of miles offshore vary greatly.  Rough conditions with 10-15 ft. waves are not uncommon and it can be a real test of physical and mental endurance, with no recourse than to deal with it.  On the other hand, one year it was so flat and calm for a few days you could see your reflection in the water.  With computers, autopilots and GPS chartplotters running everything, boredom can even be a problem.  I actually bring plenty to read and some work with me, along with a few DVDs and an ipod.  At the end, when the islands finally appear, and we always seem to make landfall in the night around 3am in the morning, a great sense of accomplishment is enjoyed by all!  A couple of days of rum parties, an awards banquet, and it’s time to fly home!   Till next time… 

Among the more memorable experiences…1) Listening on the radio as a crewmember in a nearby boat was being medevac’d by helicopter while crossing the rough gulf stream 2) dropping an expensive pair of sunglasses in water 16,000 ft. deep 3) listening to friends on a nearby boat by radio as they stopped a freighter mid-ocean to take on fuel (not allowed) 4) catching a little “sea monster” (picture below) that we immediately threw back 5) arriving in the islands after dark and having to use a night-vision scope to find our way in 6) with 4 lives at stake, trying to keep a half-million dollar 43 ft. catamaran from flipping over as I’m surfing down 12-14 ft. waves in a gale 70 miles off Cape Hatteras while listening to Phil Collins’s “Take Me Home” on my ipod–at midnight! Awesome does not even begin to describe the experience.

More posts on this stuff in the future.  Meanwhile check out a few photos below (I am the unofficial official photographer of the group) …also check out some of my pix used by Sail Magazine at http://www.sailmagazine.com/cruising/nanny_cay_or_bust/ 


See our Professional Photography website at www.philipkent.com.

Attention Skiers!

 My two favorite sports are skiing in the winter and boating, especially sailing,  the rest of the year.  It is my good fortune that with my profession these activities lend themselves to great picture opportunites as they are often in amazingly beautiful settings and locals. 

Many of my clients are skiers and I sometimes spend too much time talking about skiing instead of what they hired me for!  Nonetheless, I will post occasional reports on ski destinations and will be happy to offer anyone advice and information on places to ski, saving money (skiing is an expensive sport) and suggestions on how to have a fantastic recreational experience.  Of course I’ll even throw in a few pictures along the way!

On New Year’s Eve, we had an early morning flight from Salt Lake back to DC.   Just had 4 great days of skiing, and as we climbed to altitude, had an AMAZING view in the dawn sky of the areas we had just skiied.  I pulled out my pocket camera and took a few photos (through a scratchy plane window) of the Wasatch mountains of Utah, home of probably the greatest collection of ski resorts in the world.  All are within 30 minutes of each other and within 30-40 minutes of the Salt Lake City airport.  We ski there every year and there is no better place in the country, including Colorado, for quality, convenience and variety in the sport of skiing. 

Below are a few photos from this recent trip, including two from the plane showing the locations of most of  Utah’s great resorts.  I overlayed the names of the resorts in the photos.  Also there are a couple of shots of our sons Colin and Ryan who have skiied since the age of 3 and spend more time in the air than on the ground.  Fun for a dad who likes to ski AND photograph!  In the future, I’ll cover more about various locations for you skiers.  Feel free to contact me for more information and any questions!   CLICK  to enlarge any photo.   Please wait for it to load.  Click on it again to enlarge further.


For information on our Professional Photography see our website!

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