Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I probably wouldn't have gone to Seaworld anytime soon, but in one single day two things happened: Xiaodong mentioned Shamou, the killer whale of Seaworld at the group meeting, and also Stayros with Dimitri said they would go on the next day since they had bought tickets a while back and they had to use them before the end of the year. So I decided to join them and at 4:30pm I went to the USC ticket office and bought a discounted $35 for Seaworld. We all went the next day, Saturday.

This was also a first-class chance to test the new camera in tough conditions. I have to say I was astounded; here are a couple of pictures of Shamou.

The first one will be nominated for my picture of the year; it captures the highest point of an incredible stunt, with Shamou throwing with his wings the trainer many meters in the air.

Later on the sun came out, and that allowed the following amazing picture to be captured:

The sun was bright, there was a lot of light, and the less light you have the more fast your picture can be. In this case it was so fast that you can see the water droplets very clearly.

Here is a picture of a Flamingo, at 12x zoom. It seems so real that you think you can extend your hand and touch the bird...

The next show we went were the dolphins. Do dolphins fly?

How about this:

Overall the park was quite empty (good for us) and also nor very big. We saw pretty much everything in 5 hours. My opinion is that Shamou is the main attraction without which the park would be quite boring.

After it got dark, we went for a short stop at the nearby San Diego, by night:

Also, for the first time I managed to get a picture like this:
Notice how both the foreground (us) and the background (city) are clearly visible. I hadn't managed to do that with the Olympus camera. The trick is this: despite the use of the flash, the shutter remains open for a long time. During the short flash burst, the foreground is captured. The flash ends, but the shutter remains open. During this second phase, the light from the background is allowed to hit the pixels long enough to create a bright background; the dim light from us is still hitting the camera, but it is so less compared to the flash data that it doesn't change the outcome much.
(noticed how wet am I from the ride Journey to Atlantis, the first roller-coaster that uses an elevator to climb up the vagons?)

After that we headed to Long beach, for dinner and a night walk. Notice the lasers that exist above the car and pedestrians in the main street on Long Beach, Pine:

From the harbor you can get an excellent view of the Queen Mary, now a hotel and museum:

Finally, me and Stayros struggled a lot in order to get a correct and colorful picture like that.