By Jean Rydberg
Every summer growing up our Mom would drive us to Siesta Key, Florida, for a week or two at the beach. Siesta Key is known for having some of the best sand in the US along with a few local attractions including a weekend drum circle on the public beach and the nearby John Ringling Estate and Circus Museum.
The annual migration of Hoosiers to the Sunshine State for Spring Break this year was stirring feelings of nostalgia in me. Or maybe jealousy- it’s hard to tell. My kids have no memory the first and only time they went to a beach- as babies at a lake in Sweden. My husband is averse to hot weather and spending time in the sun. I got the notion to recruit my mom and the kids’ uncle John to relive my childhood and create some new beach-going memories. With a few major adjustments. Now that I’m grown up enough to have decision-making powers I won’t suffer the 16-hour drive from Indianapolis or the smothering August heat anymore. I booked some plane tickets and a last-minute condo after the Spring Break crowd died down in April.
Usually I’m trying to avoid water spots on my dome but I think in this photo it actually adds to the joy and motion of the shot. © 2022 Jean Rydberg
For me, creating neural network memories is not enough. I need photographic material to weave into the fabric of the memory. I also need something to keep me occupied when I’m otherwise bored on the beach. A camera does the trick.
A large camera system was out of the question for me. John was already scoffing at the volume of stuff I packed in my beach bag(s) to transport two young children down five stories by elevator and across 100 yards to the sand. I remain paranoid about getting water damage to my phone in spite of the improvements Apple has made in water-proofing. I have replaced several iPhones due to drops in rain puddles, snow and ice, and of course the toilet. My de facto choice for capturing beach memories was the Olympus Tough TG-6 which is waterproof on its own in addition to being lightweight and portable inside of the housing.
The focus range of the Olympus TG-6 is stunning and it has no problem focusing right down to the surface of the dome port. © 2022 Jean Rydberg
Adding the FCON-T02 fisheye lens was necessary knowing that my primary focus is shooting pictures of the kids. In the water the native lens of the TG-6 simply isn’t wide angle enough to capture even a small child plus the background. The ability to use full zoom range of the camera with the lens and dome attached was critical to shooting wide angle without the pronounced warping of a circular fisheye image.
Admittedly I think the full circular fisheye look has limited appeal. But it can be useful to force a different perspective on an otherwise common theme. © 2022 Jean Rydberg
Fully submerged photo opportunities were not abundant on this trip. At the time the kids weren’t yet comfortable diving underwater in the pool. The gulf waters shoreside at Siesta Key are not exactly crystal clear and actually give the impression of diving in clam chowder. I love split shots anyway so I happily snapped away right at the waterline. Palm trees lining the perimeter of the beach and pool added some vertical interest to an otherwise low-rise landscape.
Clean split shots like this and the lead photo are virtually impossible without a dome and wide angle lens. © 2022 Jean Rydberg
I have always been mildly interested by wave photography and I really thought this was going to be my chance to make a creative statement. I was pretty impressed by the number of the shots I could get off with the TG-6 as the waves crashed. I struggled to find an angle that works with the greyish-beige color of the shallow gulf waters. I do seem to be missing the right lighting, the right wave, the vision, or all of the above. On the next try I will target the golden hour as the sun sets and reflects pink and purples hues in the surface of the water.
Wave photography is not my forté and actually I don’t think anyone is going to Siesta Key for waves. It took me about 5 seconds in Photoshop to remove a huge water droplet from the center of the water- can you find where? © 2022 Jean Rydberg
In reviewing my images I am not unhappy with the fact that I shot everything in Program (P) mode. Perhaps it was a mistake to pre-set ISO 100 but I can’t be sure whether a higher ISO would have caused the camera to shoot a smaller aperture than f/5 or f/5.6. The fast shutter speeds of 1/800 and sometimes 1/1000 did pretty well to stop motion on the water and capture details within the splashing and waves.
Trying to put a new spin on the classic “feet at the beach” shot. Having the feet out of focus hides the lack of a pedicure. © 2022 Jean Rydberg
After investing about five grand in a beach vacation, it turns out that my kids just wanted to go to the pool every day. That is, until my youngest got the stomach flu and we were trapped in the condo for three days straight. And in the best of times I don’t really like the feeling of sand on my feet, and in my shoes, hair, clothes, and on the condo floor, even if it is some of the softest sand in the world. But I do enjoy looking back at the photos, and my kids have been referring fondly to that time we spent in Florida with Grammie and John. And against my better judgement I’ve started to look at condo availability for next year.
Six days times multiple dips in the pool can be a lot. Taking the camera with us broke up the monotony and gave us a chance to exercise our creativity. I had no second thoughts about handing the TG-6 over to my kids to shoot in the pool and I barely had to show them how to use it.
Jean Rydberg, daughter of Ike Brigham, became President & CEO of Ikelite in 2006. Prior to that, she wisely pursued a degree in Astronomy & Astrophysics to prepare herself for the challenges of running a technology-driven manufacturing business with global distribution. Jean fully embraces the need to travel outside of her hometown of Indianapolis to experience good diving. She believes that any camera is capable of amazing results in the right hands, and anyone can become a great photographer given the right advice. When she's not working she's spending time with her husband, cats, and two daughters (though not necessarily in that order).
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