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The new baby

It’s been a while since the last entry and that is because it’s been very busy both with photography and home and family events including our son’s wedding. This was closely followed by our younger daughter’s engagement announcement and we now have her upcoming wedding to look forward to this year in the UK. I’m looking forward to letting my camera loose again on those beautiful scenes in the UK and Ireland.

My 2017 calendars were a great success being despatched not only locally and nationally, but as far as Europe and Scandinavia. My photography is also hanging on quite a few other walls as canvas prints and I have also sold images for commercial use including a big roadside billboard which I pass fairly regularly (Coast, Papamoa Beach). I feel extremely fortunate as photography is a hobby primarily for my pleasure but it's so rewarding that it also brings pleasure to others via my Facebook & Instagram accounts and also via my webpage.

Late last year I was delivered a new baby after a painful protracted labour, the Olympus E-M1 MKII camera which supersedes my beloved Olympus E-M1. (Warning: Camera porn image follows)

I knew I would be fighting the urge to acquire this camera from the moment it debuted at Photokina, which is the world’s leading trade fair for photography. Like other manufacturers, the global shipping of this Olympus camera was delayed in part due to a series of strong earthquakes in southern Japan in mid-2016 that damaged factories manufacturing camera components and resulted in a shortage of camera sensors.

I was contacted just before Christmas to say I had the option on what was purported to be the first E-M1 MKII in New Zealand. These cameras are about 1/3rd more expensive than the MK1 predecessor so it was a very difficult yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes sort of time. In the end the glowing reviews which I compulsively read just fed the hunger pains so I went ahead and got it. I must have agonised to the point where my wife borrowed the NIKE phrase ‘just do it!’ I console myself with the thought that there are other hobbies and pastimes which consume significantly greater costs.  I am now 100% satisfied with my photography kit (although that new Olympus 12-100 f/4 PRO lens sure looks very enticing), but no, I must snuff those thoughts out. I definitely know I will never part with $4300 to buy the Olympus 300mm f/4 PRO lens.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some images from the E-M1 MKII. It took me a few outings to get comfortable with it and familiar with the menu and sub-menu settings, which in true Olympus fashion are arguably highly over engineered and complex and will be an on-going education.

Now that I have achieved some good results amongst the hit and miss I’m starting to feel increasingly OK about upgrading to this camera.  

Olympus O-MD E-M1 MKII. Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens and Olympus MC-14 Teleconverter

Olympus O-MD E-M1 MKII. Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens and Olympus MC-14 Teleconverter

One of the very first images I took with this camera from the summit of Mauao, which is about 240 metres above sea level. Launched in February 2017 the near new Ovation of The Seas is the largest cruise ship to visit New Zealand. It was an amazing sight as it cruised through the narrow channel entrance to Tauranga Harbour.

My speciality with photography is being out at the so called 'golden hour', aka 'the magic hour'. This is the time of day just after sunrise and just before sunset where the light is mellow and warm and enhances the colours of the scene. For some reason we seem innately attracted to sunrise and sunset. The time shortly before sunrise and shortly after sunset between day and night is known as 'the blue hour'. The following photo taken just before sunrise one morning this week at Papamoa Beach is a 'blue hour' image example.

Papamoa Beach, Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/200 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 200

Papamoa Beach, Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/200 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 200

The following image taken at Mount Maunganui Beach this week just after sunrise is a 'golden hour' image.

Mount Maunganui Beach, Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/800 sec @ f/4, ISO 200

Mount Maunganui Beach, Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/800 sec @ f/4, ISO 200

It had been many months since we have had a really wild ocean. Big seas are an aspect of photography I love so when I heard the ocean roaring in the night last weekend I just had to have a look the next morning. Knowing there was a surf lifesaving event along at Omanu Beach I headed there. Unsurprisingly the event appeared to be cancelled but this IRB provided a great focus point in the churning sea.

Ocean fury. Omanu Beach, Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/2000 sec @f/8, ISO 200

Ocean fury. Omanu Beach, Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/2000 sec @f/8, ISO 200

I have four lenses in my photography gear and the wide angle 6-14mm f/2.8 lens, which I never thought I'd get a lot of use out of has become a real favourite. It probably spends more time on the camera than the other three. (Warning: Lens porn image follows)

Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 lens

Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 lens

The following gob-smackingly beautiful sunrise was taken with the 7-14mm f/2.8 lens. Its awesome for landscapes but its not one I'd necessarily use in the bright light of day as its bulbous wide angle lens is prone to pick up sun flare. 

Fire in the sky. Mount Maunganui Beach. Olympus E-M1 MKII & 7-14mm f/2.8 lens. 1/60 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 250

Fire in the sky. Mount Maunganui Beach. Olympus E-M1 MKII & 7-14mm f/2.8 lens. 1/60 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 250

Well, that's it for now. Start of a long fine warm holiday weekend in this part of the country. It's tough, but we just have to try and cope.

 

 

 

Well, where did that go?

I have been asked what I do with the photos I take. Well, to get some perspective at one stage I had circa 25,000 photo files on my desktop PC. Is that all you say? A couple of years back these were all imported into Adobe Lightroom, my photo editing application of choice. This was the beginning of some sort of semblance of order. The sheer volume of photos however created a bit of a nightmare when it came to searching for specific images. Fortunately Lightroom has several cataloguing options including sorting by year, or by camera model, or lens used etc.

It was apparent from the beginning that there were many duplicated images as well as images that were just not worth keeping. Over time I have sliced and diced my Lightroom photo catalogue down to around 15,000 images at the present time, a reduction of some 10,000 images. This is ongoing work and as I get time I will continue to cull photos that from my purely subjective viewpoint don’t make the grade.

Many of what I regard as prime images are now also copied into folders in Lightroom with titles such as Sunrise, Sunset, Beach, Street, Landscape, Family etc. This has further helped simplify searching. I have also started including the automatically generated photo file number with photos loaded on my website. This further helps find the file quickly when I receive inquiries for canvases, prints, or .jpeg files.

The key photo management strategy for me then is to keep reviewing and culling photos not worth keeping. When I take new photos. I firstly download them to an iPad, review them and delete the rejects and then load the rest to Lightroom in RAW (unprocessed format). Once in Lightroom, I review again and cull all but what I think are the best. I may initially take and download dozens of photos but ultimately keep only one, two or three. You have to be ruthless to avoid being overwhelmed.

I limit the number of images on my website gallery in order to ensure the pages are not slow loading and also so as not to overwhelm viewers with choice. If someone contacts me and asks if I have other photos with a specific element, say for example someone surfing while standing on their head, or dancing in the street then I will look through the Lightroom catalogue, select any contenders, copy them to a folder and send them (in low resolution) to the inquirer.

Dancing in the street

Dancing in the street

My experience indicates canvases are preferred over framed prints, certainly for larger size images. I can appreciate that sometimes a frame can be a distraction and the glass over a framed print can also be annoyingly reflective. In the end it comes down to personal choice and the look people want in relation to their own décor. Framing is also often more expensive.

At home, we have recently embarked on a project to freshen up the interior using a white variant (double alabaster) for the walls. This immediately takes the eye to what is mounted on the walls. We have quite large canvases of beach scenes in the living areas. Initially we were thinking framed images but the canvases look great. I’m not a fan of wrapping the image on canvas around the sides of the frame. You potentially lose an essential part of some images. I prefer to have white or black sides to the canvases depending on the colour and mood of the image. It’s personal choice.

Canvases often come in lighter or heavier weight. Light canvases have a smoother glossier surface while heavier canvas has a more textured surface. My personal liking is for the light canvas. We also have a couple of my photos enlarged and in frames. This is one, which I think suits framing.

The good thing about hanging my photography at home aside from the satisfaction of seeing my own work is that it is a helpful means for people to see for themselves and visualise how they may look on their own walls. Sort of a mini-gallery (with the emphasis on mini).

I have always wanted to present and offer a quality product and with this in mind I have to know that canvas and print providers produce a quality end product true to my values. I got caught out one time by having two canvases for myself done by a supposed New Zealand supplier only to find they actually send the image files to China, have the canvases manufactured in China, no doubt at very low cost, and then shipped back to New Zealand. Needless to say the quality was dreadful. Even the frames were bendy plastic. I threw both in the trash. Lesson learnt. 

This year after being asked numerous times, I thought it would be worth testing the market with a 2017 calendar. My concept was for it to be comprised of purely local coastal images as feedback on Facebook and Instagram indicated those images to be the most popular. I think you have to stick to a niche or a signature photography and the coastal Bay of Plenty especially around Tauranga has become my signature. Signature photography is where you develop a particular style and/or subject matter and it becomes recognisable as probably one of your images.

Images from 2017 calendar

Images from 2017 calendar

For the calendar, I sought advice from other photographers on suppliers. I had a sample calendar manufactured and was thrilled with the quality, the faithfulness of colour reproduction and the cost for larger printing quantities. I posted a grid of calendar images on Facebook and Instagram to gauge initial interest and knew very quickly this project was a goer. Without promoting anywhere other than on Facebook and Instagram I have found walls for approximately 300 calendars, many overseas to the USA, UK, Ireland and even Russia. This has been well beyond what I envisaged and the feedback has been 100% positive.

I have also sold .jpeg files for commercial use, for personal use, and for two ‘kitchen splash backs’.

My photography is a hobby, for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. Over time through a lot of hard work it has as a bonus started earning some money periodically. This is nice as there are so many costs including the camera equipment which in my case totals some 6kg when combined in a backpack (which is another cost). There is planning, travel and time in seeking out the location and determining what is to be photographed. Then there is the processing and editing time, the cost of editing software, the cost of a PC powerful enough to run good editing software, the cost of having a hosted website, the time involved in posting images and responding to comments and inquiries etc. A course in Complete Professional Photography last year also cost over $1000.  

Having my images adorn peoples walls is quite humbling. They won't be found in any shop and its unlikely you'll see them in the neighbours home. I'd probably have retired young if that was the case :) 

Until next time .............

It's a sign!

I'm very thrilled to see one of my photos enlarged and adorning this billboard for the prestigious beachside development Coast Papamoa Beach. Whenever I drive along Papamoa Beach Road now I can see my work. It also appears on the developer's website.

Coast Papamoa Beach, Tauranga, NZ. My photo adorning the billboard and website.

Coast Papamoa Beach, Tauranga, NZ. My photo adorning the billboard and website.

Memories are made of this

Some of my most vivid and nostalgic holiday memories as a kid were the regular holidays we had at Charteris Bay opposite Lyttelton Harbour on Banks Peninsula. Although only 26km from Christchurch City, the trip seemed like an adventure in itself.

Before the Lyttelton Road Tunnel was opened in 1964 travel involved a steep climb up through the Cashmere Hills and through a stand of dark pine forest where I was always hoping to see some sort of wildlife, but I’m not sure what. We’d reach the Sign of the Kiwi at the summit and there in front was that beautiful vista of Lyttelton Harbour. From this point it was a steep descent down to Governors Bay, across the Teddington flats and on around to Charteris Bay. When I saw the old Charteris Bay wharf I knew we were there.

Me with the matchstick legs second to left, with Steve, Rose & Brent.

Me with the matchstick legs second to left, with Steve, Rose & Brent.

Most of the time we stayed in a home owned by family friends Laurie & Eileen McIntyre or in their garage below which had been converted into a self-contained bach. Our days were filled with activity from dawn to dusk. In the early mornings on days when the tides were high, Dad, often with a neighbour or friend would row us in a big heavy row boat from the fine shell and rock beach out to a point which I think is known as Blacks Point. I also recall a time or two when we went out in our Christchurch neighbours motor boat. Once there we would drop our fishing lines into the depths of the milky green hued water which was so often flat and glassy in the early dawn. Its depths held the promise of the day’s catch. It never seemed to take long until a fat red cod was hooked and then they’d be hauled up one after the other.

A load of CODlers. Charteris Bay many moons ago.

A load of CODlers. Charteris Bay many moons ago.

We’d go back to shore contented and then play on the beach, upending rocks to find dozens of crabs skittering for cover again, or we’d fish for sprats off the little wharf, or play up in the bush and hills behind the house.

Charteris Bay boat ramp.

Charteris Bay boat ramp.

Some days we would help Dad and other adults drag a long net in a sweep across the bay and haul ashore a good feed of big fat flounder. Other days we’d wait until the tide was low and then walk out over the mud flats to the mussel beds. The mussels were always large and juicy. We’d watch the tide and make a bee-line for the beach once the tide was turning and starting to rise once more.

By now you’d be thinking this was quite a fishing person’s Eldorado. It was!

At night in summer we went to bed before dark and from bunks could see out the windows and across the harbour watching the rise and fall of the tide across the mudflats as dusk enveloped the bay. Then the distant lights of the Port of Lyttelton would start twinkling. Mum and Dad took their portable record player which was in a red and white plastic case. They’d play records out in the lounge/living area and from bed we’d listen to those early Beatles hits which came out in quick succession. After dark there were always possums about which added a bit of a reluctance to want to use the outside toilet until daybreak.

In the early days I recall the milkman would just pour the milk into metal cans or sauce pans. There was also a neighbour, a German (dentist) from memory called Doctor Landsberg. He lived alone and appeared to prefer his own company. He was very hirsute (hairy) and would regularly dive off the jetty to the left of the bay, swim across to the boat ramp on the right hand side of the bay and back again regardless of the weather. 

A hidden gem in those days and still today is Paradise Bay just beyond Charteris Bay. Hidden from the road and accessible from just a walking track it is an idyllic sheltered sun trap.

Paradise Bay. My Dad in yellow shirt.

Paradise Bay. My Dad in yellow shirt.

They were such memorable days that I believe left me and my brothers and sister with an enduring sentimental bond with that coast from Charteris Bay to Diamond Harbour. Our Dad spent many days in his youth yachting there and I guess it continued to hold the same attraction for him.

To me, Charteris Bay hasn’t really changed much through all the decades. There are homes still perched on the hill side that were there when I was a kid. It’s an unsettling mix of nostalgia and loss whenever I return there. So many memories coupled with a realisation that so much time has passed. I think my experiences created a desire to provide our own kids with memorable childhood holidays and I feel confident that aim was achieved.  

View across to Lyttelton from my bro and sister-in-law's idyllic home setting in Diamond Harbour a few bends in the road along from Charteris Bay.

View across to Lyttelton from my bro and sister-in-law's idyllic home setting in Diamond Harbour a few bends in the road along from Charteris Bay.

Sunsets are made of this 

Some of the most beautiful scenes are right on my doorstep and often found when we are going for an early evening walk. This was a fleeting moment recently in the stormwater catchment lakes and waterways which run for a few kilometres from Papamoa West to Papamoa East.

Papamoa Beach sunset. Olympus E-M1 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

Papamoa Beach sunset. Olympus E-M1 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

Another image taken early evening at the end of the street when there was quite a stunning sky.

Sky high. Evening tranquility at the end of the street. Olympus E-M1. 1/200sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

Sky high. Evening tranquility at the end of the street. Olympus E-M1. 1/200sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

The previous two photos were taken with the most recent addition to my lens stable. The wide angle Olympus 7mm-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens. I really hesitated in getting this quite expensive lens thinking I'd never have much use for it, but it has quickly become my favourite. The rather bulbous lens and short lens hood seen in the photo below means its picks up flare and ghosting fairly easily in bright light especially when pointed in the general direction of the sun. Its ideal place then is before sunrise, after sunset or in low light in the opposite direction of the light source as in the image above.

Olympus E-M1 with Olympus 7mm-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens

Olympus E-M1 with Olympus 7mm-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens

I've been framed!

I have been thrilled with the interest in my photography on canvas. These three are hanging at home. I'm very happy to know that my photography which you won't find in The Warehouse is hanging on walls in other homes. Speaking of which, my 2017 calendar print of 300 is all but sold. It's been a great success. I now have a local holiday resort seeking my work, so its slowly but surely ratcheting up as a very satisfying hobby.

Cheers

Chris

 

 

 

Every cloud........

I have a fascination with the ever changing sky. I think I always have had. Cloud can be a bit of a regional trademark like the infamous easterly cloud and accompanying chill that sweeps over Christchurch from the sea, or the equally recognisable nor-west arch of the Canterbury plains. 

We are fortunate here in the Bay of Plenty to have some pretty awesome weather including brilliant cloud form. In the warmer months this could be because this is a weather convergence zone. A pool of warmer air often sits over the bay and when cooler air from the south arrives there's a bit of a tussle as the warm and cold air meet.  This can cause upwelling cumulonimbus cloud which at sunset is often a good reason to drag the camera out or alternatively just stare at the sky. 

Thunderstorm over the Bay of Plenty coast illuminated by the last light of the day. 1/125sec f/4.5 ISO 200

Thunderstorm over the Bay of Plenty coast illuminated by the last light of the day. 1/125sec f/4.5 ISO 200

Some years ago I captured the most amazing thunderstorm cell I have ever seen. It looked like an atomic bomb test. I recall driving home and seeing this sky from another world out to sea. I couldn't get home fast enough! I rushed inside, grabbed a camera and sprinted to the beach. This thunderstorm was heading out into the bay after delivering a very generous amount of hail. Regretfully I no longer have that image in the precisely 19185 photos I currently have in my catalogue. The original was lost in one of my earlier desktop PC replacement/data transfers. By coincidence I did see it pop up in a Facebook feed not so long ago. Some guy in Whakatane was trying to pass it off as his.  Any way as a consolation prize here is another image of a storm front crossing the coast and heading out into the bay. The calm of the ocean belies the turbulence that must have been going on up in that sky.  

Ocean bound storm front crossing the Bay of Plenty coast. 

Ocean bound storm front crossing the Bay of Plenty coast. 

Another 'armageddon' image taken early one very stormy morning. The wind blowing along the beach was so strong it was like being sandblasted. In the lower right of the image poor Toby the dog is getting a sandblasting. 

Came a stormy dawn. Our dog Toby is getting sandblasted in lower right of photo.

Came a stormy dawn. Our dog Toby is getting sandblasted in lower right of photo.

Then there was a time when I couldn't be bothered carrying my camera gear but fortunately did have an iPhone in my pocket. I was near Pilot Bay in Mount Maunganui taking no notice of anything in particular when I turned around and saw this. Wow! Nearly ripped the stitches out of my jeans trying to pull the phone camera out.

Anvil shaped thunderstorm cloud over the Kaimai Ranges, Bay of Plenty, NZ. Taken with an iPhone

Anvil shaped thunderstorm cloud over the Kaimai Ranges, Bay of Plenty, NZ. Taken with an iPhone

This cloud formation one recent evening was quite striking. I loved the alignment. New Zealand Meteorological Service picked up on this and featured it on their Instagram feed.

Mount Maunganui Beach. 1/200sec, f/6.3 ISO 200

Mount Maunganui Beach. 1/200sec, f/6.3 ISO 200

These are just a very small sample of countless photos I have taken where the cloud has been the main attraction. They are often fleeting moments especially in the golden hour, that warm light period either side of sunrise and sunset. The last photo in this series (below) I took in Bray, Dublin, Ireland. On the day it was bitterly cold and there were intermittent snow showers. Standing on the beach promenade this menacing cloud decided it was heading our way. It brought with it a dumping of snow and sleet. It was then that a cosy little pub across the road became a very attractive place to be. 

Bray, Dublin, Ireland

Bray, Dublin, Ireland

The silver lining.......They're out there! 

Earlier this year I was contacted by 'a long lost relative' who had read an earlier blog entry on our Wagner history.  Not only is he called Chris, but we also both worked for the same business in Wellington at different times back in the 1980's. He was finding markets for dairy products and I was collecting payments from buyers. When I wasn't doing that I was playing indoor bowls, or pool, or darts in the staff cafeteria. When I wasn't playing bowls, pool, or darts in the staff cafeteria I was drinking in the fully ranged staff bar on a Friday evening. What on earth happened to those glory days where work and play really was the same thing. 

Chris Wagner & Chris Taylor. Ohope Beach, 1 Oct 2016.

Chris Wagner & Chris Taylor. Ohope Beach, 1 Oct 2016.

Chris's grandfather Herman Wagner and my great grandmother Lisa Wagner were brother and sister. It was wonderful to finally meet at Chris and wife Yulia's Ohope Beach motel complex and see that we had some common ancestry and some common photos in our family photo albums. We also have a common taste in wine, except I possibly, well probably, well ok definitely tasted too much of it.

Chris's wife Yulia is an astoundingly talented artist, painter, designer and special effects artist. We very much enjoyed our time with them and THAT bed was the most comfortable bed I can recall sleeping in, in a motel/hotel.

Well, time to run along for now.

Best wishes all and may the sun shine. No really, may it please shine! What a predominantly cloudy wet spring it has been so far.  

Just a touch, a touch of paradise

At the end of August my wife Margie and I travelled down to Nelson for the first time in over 20 years. Even much longer ago, 40 years to be precise, we had our honeymoon at Kaiteriteri Beach which is around 45 minutes drive from Nelson and very close to the boundary of the magnificent Abel Tasman National Park. Knowing that our 40th wedding anniversary was coming up I thought, why not return to the place where it all started?

City of Nelson, NZ. Photo taken with iPhone 6s 

City of Nelson, NZ. Photo taken with iPhone 6s 

We stayed in a fantastic waterfront apartment Arrow Rock, which had a glorious view across the harbour and Tasman Bay. The photo below of a container ship entering Port Nelson is taken from the balcony.

Dusk arrival, Port Nelson, Nelson. 1/125sec, f/4.5 ISO 200

Dusk arrival, Port Nelson, Nelson. 1/125sec, f/4.5 ISO 200

The day after we arrived we drove to Kaiteriteri and the start of a full day out in the glorious Abel Tasman National Park. Kaiteriteri is one of the most popular summer beach destinations in New Zealand with its golden sands and sheltered clear waters.

Golden sands of Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson. 27 Aug 2016. iPhone 6s photo

Golden sands of Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson. 27 Aug 2016. iPhone 6s photo

It was a stunning late winter's day as we headed up to Bark Bay (Medlands Beach) and the starting point of our walk. On the way we saw young NZ fur seals and little blue penguins, but just watching this beautiful coast from the sea was terrific.

Bound for Bark Bay in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 27 Aug 2016

Bound for Bark Bay in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 27 Aug 2016

After a look around Bark Bay and the last remaining illegal 'squatters cottage' in the national park we started walking south along a section of what is at full length a 60km coastal and bush walk with the most fantastic views. We did a four day walk way back in the 80's and so many memories came flooding back.

Looking back to Bark Bay (Medlands Beach) in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/320sec, f/6.3 ISO 200 

Looking back to Bark Bay (Medlands Beach) in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/320sec, f/6.3 ISO 200 

It is easy to feel like you may be the only people on the planet during the off-season finding you can have the most beautiful of beaches to yourself. In the height of summer the track and overnight lodges along the way are 'heaving'. We were told it wouldn't be unusual to see 150 two person kayaks on the beach at Anchorage.

Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/800sec, f/8, ISo 200

Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/800sec, f/8, ISo 200

Torrent Bay was named by French explorer Dumont D'Urville during his exploration and mapping of this area of New Zealand in 1827. The Abel Tasman coast has one of the largest tidal differences in NZ and these estuaries quickly fill and drain with the ebb and flow of the tides.

Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/800sec, f/8, ISO 200

Torrent Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/800sec, f/8, ISO 200

Arguably one of the most beautiful bays and beaches you could visit. Anchorage is simply superb. It would be a great place to 'unplug' from the world for a few months. There is a very nicely appointed Department of Conservation Lodge overlooking the beach and this along with others is available for overnight accommodation for track walkers.

Anchorage, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/1000sec, f/6.3, ISO200

Anchorage, Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ. 1/1000sec, f/6.3, ISO200

Margie near 'Cleopatra's Pool' in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ, 27 Aug 2016. 1/60sec, f/4, ISO 800

Margie near 'Cleopatra's Pool' in Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, NZ, 27 Aug 2016. 1/60sec, f/4, ISO 800

It was a truly wonderful day under a big blue sky and warm sun. We absolutely loved it and the sight of the water taxi approaching Anchorage brought it to a close much too soon. New Zealanders are often called the world's greatest travellers but all too often we are probably guilty of heading off-shore more than seeing our own country. I recall a marketing campaign many years ago with the catch-phrase 'don't leave home, till you've seen the country'. With so much awesome and diverse landscape and coastline, we don't know how lucky we are.

The colour of Nelson

Love the history and character of Nelson, NZ. iPhone photos. 

Love the history and character of Nelson, NZ. iPhone photos. 

Where did 40 years go! 

28 August 1976

28 August 1976

Our pride and joy. Jennie, Louise & Mike

Our pride and joy. Jennie, Louise & Mike

Cheers to 40 years. 28 Aug 1976 - 28 Aug 2016. 1/250sec, f/6.3, ISO200

Cheers to 40 years. 28 Aug 1976 - 28 Aug 2016. 1/250sec, f/6.3, ISO200

 

 

What becomes of the broken hearted?

I have travelled to Christchurch, the city I was raised in, several times since the devastating and tragic earthquake of Feb 2011. Each time I have been astounded by the destruction and the erasing of so many areas and structures that I knew. The feeling of loss lingers every time I'm confronted with it on return visits. 

In the heart of the city lies the remains of the shattered ChristChurch Cathedral. The cathedral built between 1864-1904 was envisioned from the early planning of Christchurch. It's quite surreal looking up and seeing loose building materials swaying in the wind blowing through the wreckage of the nave of what was once a city centrepiece. I well recall the tolling of the bells and climbing the internal staircase of the spire to views of the inner city and always tourists milling around the entrance. 

ChristChurch Cathedral, Christchurch, NZ. 16 August 2016

ChristChurch Cathedral, Christchurch, NZ. 16 August 2016

I grew up in the eastern suburbs. New Brighton Mall was an almost mandatory Saturday outing. As a kid I recall we went there as a family most Saturday's always keeping an eye out for a goat tethered on the verge of New Brighton Road. It was vibrant and buzzing through the 1970's until the advent of nationwide Saturday trading in 1980.

Where once was life. New Brighton in its hey-day. 

Where once was life. New Brighton in its hey-day. 

From that moment it started to bleed and nothing could arrest it's demise. What a dreadful cold empty place it is now especially in winter. Closed empty shopping and commercial premises and the streets devoid of people save for the couple getting happy smoking a joint in their car on the foreshore. The extent of 'the rot' crosses the road to the dirty empty rubbish strewn foreshore playground. Even the beachside library is closed and the books all under plastic wrap. Its tragic that a seaside location like this (albeit often battered by that legendary cold easterly wind) has been left unloved.

New Brighton Mall, 16 August 2016.

New Brighton Mall, 16 August 2016.

A real asset to the New Brighton foreshore is the 300 metre long New Brighton Pier, the longest pier in Australasia. Completed in 1997 it will close later this year for earthquake damage repair and reopen in 2018. A few more attractions such as long talked about hot salt water pools and a revived retail scene could see this neglected part of the city regain some of its former glory.

Last light on the New Brighton Pier, 16 August 2016. 1/250sec @ f/7.1 ISO 200

Last light on the New Brighton Pier, 16 August 2016. 1/250sec @ f/7.1 ISO 200

Whenever I return to Christchurch I feel a great sense of loss and loss of belonging. I spent some 40 years there and the entire suburb I was raised in has gone and been replaced by a wilderness vista. Much of the eastern side of the city looks pretty forlorn. In the central city much heritage has gone and for the time being large chunks of now cleared land are given over to parking lots. Where there is new development and rebuilding there are some very attractive designs and 'the new' Christchurch of the future is set to in decades ahead become a very attractive city again.

Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, NZ. August 2016. iPhone 6s photo.

Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, NZ. August 2016. iPhone 6s photo.

There is one constant that defines Christchurch and that is its claim to be a garden city. There is arguably no better time to be in the city than in Spring. While a little early, even in August a walk through the botanical gardens daffodil lawns is a refreshing and relaxing experience.

Daffodil Lawns, Christchurch Botanical Gardens, 6 August 2016.

Daffodil Lawns, Christchurch Botanical Gardens, 6 August 2016.

Punting on the River Avon on a winter afternoon. Christchurch, NZ, 6 August 2016. 1/2500sec @f/4 ISO 200

Punting on the River Avon on a winter afternoon. Christchurch, NZ, 6 August 2016. 1/2500sec @f/4 ISO 200

The most recent trips to Christchurch were centred around my ailing father-in-law who sadly passed away on 13 August 2016 just a few months short of his 90th birthday. Rest in peace John and thank you for giving me my treasure Margie.

6 December 2015

6 December 2015

It is so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

 

 

Streets ahead

While I predominantly point my camera at seascapes and landscapes, I really love street scenes and love poring through street photography books. Like many others though, I have an unease about photographing random people. It's a matter of being discrete and unobtrusive. Camera gear also has a bearing on that discreetness. No one would feel comfortable seeing a lens the size of a telescope being pointed at them. Phone cameras make it a lot easier as do small cameras and small camera/lens combinations. 

Anyway, before taking to the street, let me tell you a cautionary tale about getting too close to a raging surf. This morning I was on Mount Maunganui Beach getting up close and personal with a raging surf. As a bit of a rogue wave washed ashore I walked backwards quickly and oopsie, did a Frank Spencer

Betty: Frank, what are you doing?

Frank: Taking photos on the beach

Betty: Will you please stop it, you'll do your self an injury

Frank: I told you yesterday I'd like to try out some new positions

Betty: I wasn't quite sure what you meant?

I fell backward over the top of a very large rock. The outcome was the rear end of my camera partially buried in wet sand and me with an elevated level of embarrassment. Fortunately I was the only idiot on the beach. Did I get any photo's apart from one flat on my back?

Wild weather. Mount Maunganui Beach, Tauranga, NZ. 23 July 2016 1/400sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

Wild weather. Mount Maunganui Beach, Tauranga, NZ. 23 July 2016 1/400sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

Well, yes, I did manage to get a couple of photos. Its probably not a good environment for a camera. Salt spray is not kind to many objects but sometimes you do these things as a deranged photographer to add that little bit extra to the photo.

So, back to street photography. Unlike landscape, seascape, or still life, you never know just what you will see walking the streets.

Sydney, Australia. May 2016. 1/500 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200

Sydney, Australia. May 2016. 1/500 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200

When I walked around a corner one day on the summit of Mauao, Mount Maunganui, I couldn't believe what I was seeing taking place between a rock and a hard place 230 metres directly below. Talk about extreme yoga!

"It's yoga, but not as we know it Jim". 1/500 sec, f/4.0, ISO 80

"It's yoga, but not as we know it Jim". 1/500 sec, f/4.0, ISO 80

I couldn't get my camera out fast enough! There wasn't much time to check settings, so I just took the photo and fortunately it came out pretty good. This is an example of 'a fleeting moment' in street/people photography, where that special shot isn't going to hang around while you have a sandwich before getting the camera out.  

You are seldom the only one about with a camera. In the photo below a well known local photographer made a guest appearance in the background of this photo I took at a Diwali Festival in my city last year.

Caught on camera. Diwali Festival, Tauranga, NZ. 1/320 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200

Caught on camera. Diwali Festival, Tauranga, NZ. 1/320 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200

There is such a wealth of opportunity in street photography and if you have an interest in it, then keeping an eye on upcoming events and festivals creates more and often special photo opportunities that you'd not normally see day to day.

'Where were you in '62?' Wheels on Mainstreet, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga. 1/250sec, f/4.0, ISO 200

'Where were you in '62?' Wheels on Mainstreet, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga. 1/250sec, f/4.0, ISO 200

Its not always at street level. This is the roofline of a police station in Paris, France.

'The Magnificent Seven'. Paris, France. 1/800sec, f/3.5, ISO 80

'The Magnificent Seven'. Paris, France. 1/800sec, f/3.5, ISO 80

So there is a lot of colour to be had out there in our towns and cities. Its the colour of life.

'The colour of life'. Tauranga, NZ. 1/250sec, f/2.2, ISO 200

'The colour of life'. Tauranga, NZ. 1/250sec, f/2.2, ISO 200

The week that was

Last weekend while taking the beach route alternative home from the local shopping plaza, I thought I'd hang around in the bitterly cold southerly chill for another 15 minutes on the off-chance that the sunset may produce a scene worth photographing. Even our dog started crying about the cold! It didn't look promising but as the reflections of the setting sun started to light up a stormwater outflow stream I thought something special may just happen. For just a few glorious fleeting minutes, land and sky were bathed in the most beautiful light.....and there was the picture. This photo which I loaded to my Facebook photography page has to date been seen by nearly 74,400 people and has been shared 505 times. I have had comments from several countries and it has certainly brought pleasure to locals and so many ex locals and others who have made the decision to relocate to this beautiful part of our beautiful country.

Sunset on Papamoa Beach, Tauranga, NZ. 16 July 2016. 1/320sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

Sunset on Papamoa Beach, Tauranga, NZ. 16 July 2016. 1/320sec, f/7.1, ISO 200

A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of it’s going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.
— John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

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Until next time..................

 

 

 

 

In the (not so) bleak mid-winter.

As I write this, my Facebook photography page now has more than 2200 followers which is very humbling. I'm thrilled so many people admire my photography. It is not easy to build a profile like this on Facebook these days, requiring a lot of patience, interaction and acknowledgment of followers comments and questions. My philosophy is that if people take the time to comment or ask questions then they deserve respect, recognition and thanks. From the comments I get, many images invoke quite an emotional response and connection especially to those who are living away from 'home'. In the end, my pleasure is in bringing pleasure to others to the extent that they want to follow my photography feed and it's a lot better to consume, even gorge on, from a health perspective, than junk food (although I have no scientific evidence to support my claim).

I was intending to focus on street photography in this update but the not so bleak winter has afforded some great photography opportunities. We have been fortunate that the most glorious summer in decades was followed by a beautiful warm autumn and now a mild winter with some stunning clear, sunny, calm, crisp days, although when it has rained it has really rained. I love the dawn and dusk tones at this time of year. It may be an illusion but they seem to take on richer deeper tones than in the days of summer. I find it quite mesmerising at times. I feel like there is an unseen energy at work, a kind of spiritual thing.

The following photo was taken on the coldest morning this year. At the time I took the photo it was a finger tingling toe tapping 2degC, but the cold is bearable when you see what you wouldn't have seen if still tucked up cozily under the duvet.

First light, Mount Maunganui Beach, Tauranga, NZ 2 July 2016. 1/100sec, f/4, ISO 200

First light, Mount Maunganui Beach, Tauranga, NZ 2 July 2016. 1/100sec, f/4, ISO 200

Its undeniably a little hard to get up from a warm bed and venture out early under a dark star splattered sky on a frosty weekend morning with the intention of photographing the first light of the new day. I can say it's much harder after a couple of wines the night before. What drives me (apart from the car)? Well, it's not putting the previous night's wine bottle out in the recycling bin, letting the dog out, or opening the curtains. It sort of includes milking the weekend for all its worth and from a photography perspective it's the anticipation of what may come. Will the new day take to the stage in a blaze of glory? Will I click the shutter button and think 'that's the one!' It's such a wonderful feeling to come away thinking that I got a 'money shot'. 

First light, first flight. 1/500sec, f/10, ISO200

First light, first flight. 1/500sec, f/10, ISO200

Over many years I have climbed to the summit of Mauao (Mount Maunganui) hundreds of times, more than my aching legs would care to remember. At one stage it was 2-3 times a week, but then I had an attack of commonsense and now go up there just once a week, usually at dawn on a weekend morning and taking the steepest route. The weather and the light is always different and the views are truly spectacular. I have been up there in screaming gales, torrential rain, and on the calmest sunniest of days. The torrential rain experiences; well they have been by accident rather than intention; a result of miscalculating the chances of rain.

New day in the bay. Sunrise from 230 metres above coastal Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, NZ. 1/160sec, f/13, ISO 1250

New day in the bay. Sunrise from 230 metres above coastal Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, NZ. 1/160sec, f/13, ISO 1250

Its a fantastic spot to gorge on sunset. For a few minutes everyone seems transfixed by that beautiful stage show as the sun sinks in the west behind the Kaimai Ranges. I have been there as dusk closes in, when the only sounds have been the distant surf and the call of Morepork owls.  It's absolute magic.

Contemplation as the sun sinks below the Kaimai Range in the Western Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/400 sec, f/9, ISO 200

Contemplation as the sun sinks below the Kaimai Range in the Western Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/400 sec, f/9, ISO 200

As previously mentioned, the beauty of a clear, calm, cold winter dawn is in the colours. I always scope the scene for some sort point of interest. Of course I live in hope of a whale breaching, a pod of dolphins or orca, or an alien spacecraft appearing just for me. Well, hope springs eternal. In the following photo as luck would have it, a kayaker seeking a taste of arctic paddling appeared and gave me an added focal point.

I have been guilty of not using one of my most expensive and critically acclaimed pieces of camera gear, the superbly built Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron f/1.2 lens. This beautifully engineered lens is primarily designed for portrait and street photography and with a f/1.2 aperture has fantastic light gathering ability in low light situations. I love just looking at it, let alone taking photos with it. As a portrait lens it is sublime. I decided having re-read reviews that I'd use it almost exclusively for a while over a few weeks and test its ability with sunrise and sunset photography. I'm stoked with the fantastic results. I was blown away by just how good it was when I decided to use it for a recent sunrise expedition.

Dawn kayaker. Mount Maunganui, NZ. 1/320sec, f/7.1, ISO 200. Olympus O-MD E-M1 & Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens.

Dawn kayaker. Mount Maunganui, NZ. 1/320sec, f/7.1, ISO 200. Olympus O-MD E-M1 & Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens.

So, it has indeed been a not so bleak winter to date. We are past the winter solstice now and slowly but surely the daylight hours will lengthen and hopefully the power bills will start reducing. I intend to produce a 2017 calendar and am in the process of choosing images for each month. I'm also looking at other options for foisting my photos on the world. Aside from that I'm trying to go dairy free. The good thing is, that it won't preclude me from photographing cows, should I be so inclined.

Until next time.....

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To sea or not to see

While not 100% obvious (well maybe 99%) obvious, my camera and I are not only an item, but are drawn to the seductive call of coastal locations. I don't think I could ever live far from the coast unless there was a lake or a river nearby. The restless sea is ever changing in its moods, it's sounds, and in the variable light and patterns that fall upon it. Sand, sea water and salt laden air arguably don't do much for camera longevity but they sure provide for endless photo opportunities.

Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/200sec, f/8, ISO 500

Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/200sec, f/8, ISO 500

It may be that my love of the coast was born of many holidays around Charteris Bay and Lyttelton Harbour, Christchurch when I was a kid, or many days at New Brighton Beach, or Sumner Beach, or holidays at Kaikoura, the Marlborough Sounds, or Nelson. In this country the coast is generally never really far away. As a teenager my home for a few years was a few hundred metres from North Beach in Christchurch. Always loved the distant sound of the surf at the end of our street. I know those dunes could tell a tale or two.

I am fortunate to live adjacent to one of the most beautiful coastlines in a country rich in beautiful coastlines. The Bay of Plenty is a climatically favoured region and is a magnet for summer holiday makers. Living here feels like being on holiday. 

Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, NZ. (taken with iPhone 6s)

Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, NZ. (taken with iPhone 6s)

While I enjoy walking the beach camera in hand, I think our dog Toby is in canine ecstasy when let loose on the sands. Being near to black in contrast to the glare of the beach makes for challenging dogtography. I took this photo by having him sit while I stepped backward for some distance, set the camera and gave him the signal to get those little legs pumping. He is running toward me at considerable speed and a 1/1600 shutter speed did a pretty good job of stopping him in his tracks.

Toby in beach heaven. 1/1600sec, f/5, ISO 200

Toby in beach heaven. 1/1600sec, f/5, ISO 200

The coast presents many challenges and many rewards for camera toters. The contrast between sea and sky, the amount of wave action, the amount of available light, glare, salt air, bikini wearers, and the ever present risk of frying camera gear in salt water.

Rough seas, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, NZ. 1/320sec, f/13, ISO 200

Rough seas, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, NZ. 1/320sec, f/13, ISO 200

Both aperture and shutter speed may need frequent adjustment when faced with capturing or freezing movement such as wave action, adding in surfers or kite surfers, fast moving boats such as surf club inflatables, swimmers, people running, moving vehicles on the beach, gulls, sea mist, noon day sun, sunrise, sunset, stormy weather etc.

Papamoa Beach Surf Lifesaving Club. 1/1250sec, f/5, ISO 200

Papamoa Beach Surf Lifesaving Club. 1/1250sec, f/5, ISO 200

At times its just magic in its simplicity. Nothing going on in the next photo but I was attracted to the blues, whites, lines and symmetry.  

Three colours blue. Caloundra, Queensland, Australia. 1/1250sec, f/4, ISO 80.

Three colours blue. Caloundra, Queensland, Australia. 1/1250sec, f/4, ISO 80.

In the high UV days of summer I'm not a fan of toasting on the beach in the noon day sun and the light at that time of day is not as conducive to photography as the warm light at each end of the day. Sunset is my favourite time. The benefit it has over dawn, as much as I like sunrise, is that I don't have to get out of bed for it. The aspect I like about sunset time is not really knowing just what sort a show is about to take to the stage. If there was a TV series called 'Sunsets Got Talent' then some would get the judges 'off the stage' buzzer pretty quickly, while others would get 'the golden buzzer'. Sometimes I wouldn't get the camera out, other times I can't get it up and running fast enough. One aspect that I silently remind myself to do is take time to enjoy watching the sunset rather than photographing it.

Sunset magic. Papamoa Beach, Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/500sec, f/7.1, ISO 160

Sunset magic. Papamoa Beach, Bay of Plenty, NZ. 1/500sec, f/7.1, ISO 160

And the seasons come and go

As someone who may suffer just a touch of seasonal adjustment depression, its always great to move past the winter solstice and the slow but certain increasing daylight hours which will become noticeable by August. Last weekend saw the annual polar plunge held at many beach locations around the country. The one below was down the road adjacent to the local surf lifesaving club. A good thing that bronze whaler sharks, a common sight along the coast here in summer move into deeper water. Anyway, some hardy souls celebrated the solstice with a race to immerse themselves in a relatively warm 17C ocean.

Winter solstice 2016. Papamoa Beach, Tauranga, NZ

Winter solstice 2016. Papamoa Beach, Tauranga, NZ

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What poverty?

Some time back I read about Eastwoodhill Arboretum. Eastwoodhill is about 34km's inland from Gisborne City in Poverty Bay, Eastland. The Arboretum which comprises some 131 hectares, contains the largest collection of northern hemisphere trees growing south of the equator. It is renown for its brilliant autumn colour display. The best time to go is in mid-May but I had to shift the original travel plan back to June. Margie and I set out on a road trip to the east coast last weekend. It is winter so we knew there was a risk of rubbish weather in which case we would have shelved the trip. As it turned out the long weekend weather was glorious. We set off on a 260km road trip under big blue skies. Brunch stop was Ohope Beach in the eastern Bay of Plenty. Ohope holds the AA (Automobile Association) title of New Zealand's most loved beach as voted by members.

Ohope Beach, Eastern Bay of Plenty, NZ. iPhone6s

Ohope Beach, Eastern Bay of Plenty, NZ. iPhone6s

The drive eastward from Ohope skirts the Ohiwa harbour and the Bay of Plenty coast to Opotiki where it really does start feeling like you are about to enter sparsely populated country. From Opotiki there is a right hand turn towards the Waioeka Gorge. The 144km drive through the Waioeka Gorge on a twisting highway under a cloudless sky is one of the most scenic of road trips through densely forested country and the Raukumara Ranges which separate the Bay of Plenty and Eastland. 

Waioeka Gorge, Eastern Bay of Plenty, NZ. iPhone 6s. 

Waioeka Gorge, Eastern Bay of Plenty, NZ. iPhone 6s. 

Emerging on the east coast the landscape becomes noticeably different with brown hues replacing the greens. The road snakes down through the foot hills and across flat land towards Poverty Bay and Gisborne, 'the Chardonnay capital'. Bush gives way to sheep and vineyards, or dinner and wine (see photo below).

Dinner and wine. Gisborne, the 'Chardonnay Capital' of New Zealand. iPhone 6s.

Dinner and wine. Gisborne, the 'Chardonnay Capital' of New Zealand. iPhone 6s.

With high sunshine hours and hot summer days, fertile clay loam soils and some of the most acclaimed winemakers in the country, Gisborne is famous for producing exceptional Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Merlot and Malbec (gisbornewine.co.nz). 

Our accommodation was adjacent to Sponge Bay, about 5kms north of Gisborne. After a few hours in the car we were keen to get out and go for a walk, so walk to Sponge Bay we did. The sun was sinking towards the western horizon and the cliffs were bathed in warm evening light. The so called 'golden hour' is my favourite time to photograph. We seem instinctively drawn to the warmth of the light at sunrise or sunset. 

Sponge Bay, Gisborne, NZ. 1/400sec, f/9, ISO 200

Sponge Bay, Gisborne, NZ. 1/400sec, f/9, ISO 200

Sponge Bay is a sandy/rocky bay and clearly a driftwood magnet. It looked like the tide was fairly well in when I took this photo. 

After darkness fell I went into Gisborne city to get a few food items and also found a pizza place where the extra large pizza size could easily have provided adequate shelter in a rainstorm for anyone who might feel inclined to balance the pizza on their head, and I guess if it was raining heavily you'd be silly not to (and silly if you did). Honestly, it was the widest pizza I can recall seeing.

Next morning I got up before daylight and headed for Wainui Beach hoping to get a nice sunrise photo or two. I wasn't disappointed. It must have been only a couple of degrees C above freezing. My fingers had lost any feeling and I struggled with the camera controls and setting up a tripod. Still perseverance paid off.

Wainui Beach, Gisborne. 1/125sec, f/5, ISO 200

Wainui Beach, Gisborne. 1/125sec, f/5, ISO 200

Gotta love that wave. Dawn at Wainui Beach, Gisborne. 1/400sec, f5.6, ISO 200

Gotta love that wave. Dawn at Wainui Beach, Gisborne. 1/400sec, f5.6, ISO 200

Mid-morning we drove inland to Eastwoodhill Arboretum. It's a terrific place for families with a myriad of walks for different abilities and great kids play areas. We did get frustrated with lack of directional signage within the arboretum. Would be fine if you were highly skilled at orienteering. We had missed the best colours of autumn but there was still enough to satisfy.

Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Gisborne, NZ. 1/160sec, f/5, ISO 800

Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Gisborne, NZ. 1/160sec, f/5, ISO 800

From here we drove 12km's further into nowhere to the quite spectacular Rere Falls on the Wharekopai River.  

Rere Falls, Gisborne, NZ. 1/20 sec, f/11, ISO 800

Rere Falls, Gisborne, NZ. 1/20 sec, f/11, ISO 800

Back to Gisborne and a walk along the coast and river and through the city. Gisborne has a laid back quiet feel to it and is very easy to get around. The river walk is beautiful. 

Turanganui River, Gisborne, NZ. 1/320sec, f/9, ISO 200

Turanganui River, Gisborne, NZ. 1/320sec, f/9, ISO 200

As the sun slipped towards the west we drove up Kaiti Hill with the intention of doing some sunset photography as well as just soaking up the magnificent panoramic views from Poverty Bay and across the city to the surrounding hills.  

Gisborne at dusk. 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 200

Gisborne at dusk. 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 200

Gisborne has a rich history being the first place British mariner and explorer James Cook stepped ashore in October 1769 having sailed from Tahiti in search of a great land mass or continent in the southern ocean. I guess he found that further west with Australia! Anyway it was in Gisborne that he met local Maori and misunderstandings led to several deaths and no fresh water or provisions were obtained by Cook. Thus he named the area Poverty Bay. It is widely regarded that this interaction between these European visitors and Maori marked the beginnings of the nation.

With its its warm sunny climate, fertile land, wineries galore, beautiful beaches and a city with much history and character this is a great destination in a very remote part of the country.  The alternative or optional drive up around East Cape to or from Bay of Plenty traverses the most beautiful coastline and is also a must do, but to do it justice it needs to be taken at a leisurely pace over a few more days. You'd have to be pretty miserable not to enjoy this beautiful region in this beautiful country. Poverty Bay? A misnomer.

 

 

You light me up

Sydney Opera House in the shadow of the harbour bridge in the very last light of day. 27 May 2016. 1/320sec, f/5, ISO 200 

Sydney Opera House in the shadow of the harbour bridge in the very last light of day. 27 May 2016. 1/320sec, f/5, ISO 200 

I have been very fortunate to have enjoyed a few holidays in Australia over the years. Love it every time and for a city break Sydney is terrific. It would be fair to say that getting there this time was far from simple with a chain of events following the cancellation of the flight from home to Auckland. Amongst it all we even ended up with an unknown persons luggage in our car boot. But we won't go there. It was stressful enough at the time without reliving it.

Dusk from Cremorne Point, Sydney. 22 May 2016. 1/40 sec, f/4, ISO 800

Dusk from Cremorne Point, Sydney. 22 May 2016. 1/40 sec, f/4, ISO 800

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in sunset silhouette. 23 May 2016. 1/800sec, f/9, ISO 200 

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in sunset silhouette. 23 May 2016. 1/800sec, f/9, ISO 200 

 

At this time of year the Vivid Sydney light festival runs for 21 days. The festival expands more each year and the illuminations after dark are amazing and a must see. This is the second time my travel has coincided with Vivid.  

Circular Quay, Sydney, 28 May 2016. 1/3sec, f/2.8, ISO 800

Circular Quay, Sydney, 28 May 2016. 1/3sec, f/2.8, ISO 800

Sydney Harbour Bridge. 6 sec, f/7, ISO 1000

Sydney Harbour Bridge. 6 sec, f/7, ISO 1000

 

My my other real love of Sydney is the plethora of coastal and harbour walking tracks and the ease of getting to these places via a very efficient public transport system.  I can highly recommend the inner harbour walk from Spit Bridge to Manly, and the coastal Watsons Bay to Bondi, and Coogee Beach to Bondi walks. On the Watsons Bay to Bondi walk we saw a couple of humpback whales breaching but they were very distant. It is from about now that they are seen migrating north towards the tropical Pacific and Coral Seas.

My sister Rose (left) and my wife Margie (right)

My sister Rose (left) and my wife Margie (right)

I can never go to Sydney without a visit to Fourth Village Providore in Mosman. What a visual and aural sensory delight it is. It is a food market and restaurant with a huge range of local, imported and fresh produce and delectable deli items. Its like the world of food in one shop. I could happily live in it, or certainly camp outside on the footpath hoping kindly shoppers might throw me a fine cheese on a cracker with one of the multitude of mouth watering relishes. I also love David Jones department store's lower floor food hall in the central city. I think I would have loved to have worked in and or owned a gourmet food place.   

While in Sydney I took the opportunity to acquire the Olympus MC-14 teleconverter. Made specifically for the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens, it extends that lens's zoom capability by another 40%. I tested it out when taking photos of surfers at Bronte & Bondi Beach. From a considerable distance the lens and teleconverter combination produced very satisfying results. As the teleconverter has a negative impact on the light gathering ability of the lens I would not contemplate using it in low light situations. I bought the teleconverter from Gerry Gibbs Camera in Perth and had it delivered to Sydney. It was half the cost of buying at home. I don't especially like the camera shop options in Sydney. From personal experience they remind me of the rip-off camera outlets in San Francisco with similar sales tactics.

Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens with Olympus MC-14 x1.4 teleconverter fitted. 

Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens with Olympus MC-14 x1.4 teleconverter fitted. 

Well, the warmest autumn on record in this region has departed the stage and left the fridge door very wide open as winter has not been shy in announcing its arrival. It's the time of year where my photography gear suffers from SAS (seasonal adjustment syndrome) and doesn't venture out except for a spot of weekend work. However, hopefully it will get a bit of exercise this weekend as I plan to capture the last of the autumn colour at Eastwoodhill Arborium over in Gisborne on the east coast and hopefully a few other scenes along the way. 

Going against the grain

In the last entry I said I'd mention ISO. ISO is an abbreviation of the International Standards Organization. It makes up the three most important aspects of photography with aperture and shutter speed. ISO is a measure of the camera sensor, or in the pre-digital days, film sensitivity to light. The lower the ISO number setting the less sensitive the camera is to light and the higher the ISO number setting the more sensitive it is to light. In a low light/dark situation you would need to select a higher ISO number which would make the camera sensor more sensitive to light (let more light through to the sensor) in order to get a well exposed photo. Sounds OK but there is a downside to high ISO numbers and that is as the ISO number increases so does the level of 'graininess' otherwise known as 'noise' in the photo. The lowest ISO number you can use with your camera will give the cleanest image with minimal graininess or noise. The sample below from exposure.com gives a visual understanding to what I have been saying.

Left (ISO 100)                                                       Right (ISO 3200)

Left (ISO 100)                                                       Right (ISO 3200)

Every camera has a base ISO. With mine it is ISO 200 and it is this setting which will produce the cleanest best quality image from the camera. So why would you not just stick with that? In a low light situation you'd require a very long exposure to gather sufficient light to capture a decent image. Each step up in ISO values doubles the light sensitivity of the camera sensor. ISO steps are generally ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, and maybe higher in some cameras. ISO 200 is twice as sensitive to light as ISO 100. ISO 400 is 4 x more sensitive to light than ISO 100, ISO 800 is 8 x more sensitive, ISO 1600 is 16 times more sensitive and so on.

If in low light you have ISO set at 100 you will require a slow shutter speed which may be say 1 second. In this case if you want a sharp image you will need to mount the camera on a tripod. By selecting ISO 1600 you can reduce that shutter time to 1/16th sec. This is still not fast and unless the camera has pretty impressive image stabilisation you'll still need a tripod. I used ISO 1600 for the following image I took at The Festival of Lights in New Plymouth, NZ in January 2015. I can highly recommend this festival which runs for around six weeks every year from mid-December to end of January.  

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, NZ. 1/25 sec, f/1.8, ISO 1600

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, NZ. 1/25 sec, f/1.8, ISO 1600

I am very fortunate that my camera, an Olympus O-MD E-M1 has built in '5 axis image stabilisation. This makes it much easier to forego a tripod and hand hold the camera in low light situations and still get a sharp image. Without that feature, this photo would have needed a much faster shutter speed. There is a degree of grain or noise at ISO 1600, which is what I used for this photo but because it is a night scene it is not readily apparent.

I'm actually struggling to find a photo I have taken above ISO 1600 because I tend not to exceed that as the amount of graininess in the image increases noticeably (see first image in this blog). Here is another photo taken with an ISO setting of 1600 (16 x as sensitive to light as ISO 100). This was taken in a dark setting at Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand. It is a very much larger than life realistic figure in the Gallipoli war exhibition.

'Gallipoli, The Scale of Our War'. Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington NZ, March 2016. 1/15 sec f/3.2, ISO 1600

'Gallipoli, The Scale of Our War'. Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington NZ, March 2016. 1/15 sec f/3.2, ISO 1600

Once again I was able to hand hold my camera at a very slow shutter speed of 1/16th second and still get a very sharp image thanks to the stabilisation built into the camera. 

In summary, always aim to use the lowest ISO setting you can which is generally ISO 100 or ISO 200, which will give a clear grain free/noise free image. In some cameras ISO may go as low as ISO 50. Where low light situations require a higher ISO number to gather more light to the camera's sensor aim to not go above ISO 1600 or maybe ISO 3200 otherwise the amount of graininess starts to become obvious and distracting.

If paradise is half as nice

Since the days when the Bee Gees had the disco dance floors pumping and I wore bright red pants and white shoes we have had the pleasure of sharing good times with good friends Sue & Murray Johns and their simply stunning home location out in the very isolated eastern bays of Banks Peninsula in the South Island, NZ.

Paua Bay, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, NZ.

Paua Bay, Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, NZ.

The family property which Sue & Murray restored and revived after it had been vacant for some time is set in a breathtaking landscape. Murray's family have farmed this 900 acre sheep, cattle and deer farm for five generations. It really does feel like the last loneliest loveliest place in the world, a phrase used by Rudyard Kipling to describe Auckland in early settlement days. If only he'd ventured to the Eastern bays of Banks Peninsula!

These massive rocks on the landscape of Paua Bay and environs were thrown here by volcanic activity between six million and eleven million years ago. 

These massive rocks on the landscape of Paua Bay and environs were thrown here by volcanic activity between six million and eleven million years ago. 

This is a breath-taking setting with the approach road providing sweeping views out over the vast Pacific Ocean. Whales can be seen passing by and the private beach is a haven for New Zealand fur seals. There are also still visible terraces above the beach attesting to pre European Maori settlement in this bay. Paua Bay Farm has been featured on television, in magazines, and now in a soon to be released movie 'The Greenstone'. It is a traditional working farm, a very friendly farm stay option, a place of genuine warmth and hospitality, and an excursion option through Paua Bay Farm Tours for passengers on cruise ships calling at nearby historic Akaroa to learn a bit of history, hear some stories, see and maybe engage in some sheep shearing, see some sheep mustering and indulge in Sue's home baking. Rumour has it (and I made it up) that Sue produces the finest scones between Paua Bay and South America beyond the vast blue ocean horizon.

Deservedly earning 5 star reviews on TripAdvisor, this really is paradise found. You can find out more and see more images on the Paua Bay Farmstay website. Honestly, if you are passing this way and feel like experiencing solitude and an overload of striking landscape and seascape its well worth a visit. 

Since we moved north we don't get to revisit heaven on earth too often but the memories linger and gnaw away sparking a desire to return again. 

Dramatic wild atmospheric Paua Bay

Dramatic wild atmospheric Paua Bay

NZ Fur Seal. Paua Bay, Banks Peninsula, NZ. Olympus O-MD E-M1 & 40-150mm f/2.8 lens @ 1/1000sec

NZ Fur Seal. Paua Bay, Banks Peninsula, NZ. Olympus O-MD E-M1 & 40-150mm f/2.8 lens @ 1/1000sec

Tie me kangaroo down....oops, that's a bit too Rolf Harris, so let's go for Waltzing Matilda.

I'm across the Tasman in Australia next week catching up with and enjoying the overdue company of family in Sydney and making the most of the countless experiences Sydney has to offer. I hope to give the camera a bit of exercise as well including the start of the Vivid Sydney Festival, a truly magical after dark experience.

Until next time.............

PS. If you would like email notification of new blog entries, please enter details on my contact page or just email me at chris@christaylorphotography.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking control

In this blog entry I thought I'd share my thoughts on using the dreaded 'M' for Manual camera function. Why would you bother? After all, with an automatic function, and on many cameras a multitude of other presets which are a part of the cost of and simplicity of operating the camera, it should be expected to drive itself. Manual seems so last decade or last century.

For all the technology packed into the camera body though, none of it takes care of the intangible. The camera cannot read your mind and really know exactly what you see and what sort of image you want to capture. If you use the set and forget preprogrammed functions like aperture priority, shutter priority, landscape mode, portrait, beach, sport, night or a host of other functions many cameras offer, you'll probably get a pretty good photo, but only probably. Probably may be good enough but if you want to apply some creativity, using the Manual option allows you to override and maybe outsmart the camera presets. You can 'tweak' the three important settings of shutter speed, depth of field, and ISO, the latter determining the level of graininess, otherwise known as 'noise' in the image. ISO is a matter for future discussion. 

My 'Toki' pendant. Signifies strength, control, determination, focus. 1/160sec, f/2, ISO 200

My 'Toki' pendant. Signifies strength, control, determination, focus. 1/160sec, f/2, ISO 200

Using a Manual setting for fast action 'need for speed' shots is not recommended. Manual mode should be confined to use in a non-rushed situation otherwise by the time you have set the camera up and fiddled with the settings the magic moment when for example, the alien in your garden gives you a wave, may be gone. Manual is no good for sports, birds in flight, or a fast moving UFO. It can be very good for landscapes, waterfalls, still life, or portrait photography though.

One of my daughters, and one of her twin daughters. 1/160sec, f/1.2, ISO 1600

One of my daughters, and one of her twin daughters. 1/160sec, f/1.2, ISO 1600

In a relaxed situation, but not so relaxed so as to be in a trance, for a landscape photo the camera could be mounted on a tripod allowing use a slow shutter speed to maximise light recorded by the camera and a high f/stop number to maximize depth of field. In the following photo I have used f/18 which has given quite good depth to the image. A low ISO setting could also be selected to minimize the amount of graininess or 'noise' in the photo. A number of experimental photos could be taken slightly tweaking each setting to give a higher chance of getting a 'that's it!' image. Some cameras (mine included) have a function called Bracketing. With my Olympus E-M1, if I use the bracketing function, when I click the shutter button it will take three photos, each with slightly different settings and then I can choose the most appealing of them.

Misty morning stillness at the end of my street. 1/400sec, f/18, ISO 1250

Misty morning stillness at the end of my street. 1/400sec, f/18, ISO 1250

Photography is all about available light and sometimes lighting situations can be too difficult to get a great image even using Manual mode and you will need to improvise with either additional lighting in a dull dark situation or some sort of light diffuser in a very bright situation. 

Shine a light. Mauao, Mount Maunganui, NZ. 1/250sec, f/10, ISO 200

Shine a light. Mauao, Mount Maunganui, NZ. 1/250sec, f/10, ISO 200

This is just an overview on using Manual mode from my perspective. There is a wealth of on-line and written tutorial information on this and other camera modes. 

My photo choice

I took this photo last year while touring a section of the west coast of Ireland from the Cliffs of Moher up to Galway and Westport. It is Kylemore Abbey set in a beautiful location in Connemara. It is regarded as Ireland's most beautiful castle.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland. 1/80 sec, f/14, ISO 400

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland. 1/80 sec, f/14, ISO 400

Kylemore Castle was built as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London whose family was involved in textile manufacturing in Manchester, England. He moved to Ireland when he and his wife Margaret purchased the land around the Abbey. He became Member of Parliament for County Galway from 1871 to 1885. Construction of the castle began in 1867, and took one hundred men four years to complete. The castle covered approximately 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) and had over seventy rooms with a principal wall that was two to three feet thick. The facade measures 142 feet (43 m) in width and is made of granite and limestone. There were 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, a ballroom, billiard room, library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room and various offices and domestic staff residences for the butler, cook, housekeeper and other servants. Other buildings include a Gothic cathedral and family mausoleum containing the bodies of Margaret Henry, Mitchell Henry and a great grand-nephew.

The Abbey remained in Henry's estate after he returned to England. The castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1909, who resided there for several years before being forced to sell the house and grounds because of gambling debts. In 1920, the Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the Abbey castle and lands after they were forced to flee Ypres, Belgium during World War I. The nuns continued to offer education to Catholic girls, opening an international boarding school and establishing a day school for girls from the locality. The school acted as the main educator for most girls from Renvyle, Letterfrack and further afield for almost a century but it was forced to close in June 2010.

The Estate includes large walled Victorian Gardens. Since the 1970s these have been open for public tours and 'nature' walks. The Benedictine community has restored the Abbey's gardens and Cathedral with donations and local artisans in order to be a self-sustaining estate. (Ref: Wikipedia).

 

 

 

 

Need for Speed

Freeze frame - Shutter Priority

Following on from my previous post on the option of taking photos using aperture priority, 'A' on the camera dial, and its relation to 'depth of field', this time I'm going to look at shutter priority or the camera dial function options marked 'S' or 'Tv'. Shutter priority is my first choice when it comes to the need to get a clean sharp photo of a fast moving subject or subjects such as sports events, moving cars or birds in flight. As mentioned in my previous blog, if you choose 'A' aperture priority or 'S' shutter priority the camera will choose the other setting to create the correct exposure but not always get the photo you want. For example you may want to get a sharp image of a moving subject but have the background either blurred or in sharp focus as well. This is where the 'M' manual dial option comes in to play. I will write about that next time. For now the following are samples of images where shutter speed has been the priority.

Beach Race 1/800th sec at f/8 

Beach Race 1/800th sec at f/8 

The photo above was taken in bright sunny conditions on a white sand beach. Someone had just yelled "free coffee at the other end of the beach". The shutter speed was 1/800th second which was fast enough to produce a sharp image of the runners in the foreground. With an aperture of f/8, the depth of field starts to blur from the background runners to the distant horizon and this could be partly due to the zoom lens I was using but it is clear enough to show it is a beach location and make the subject and point of focus unmistakably the runners.

The photo below is a personal favourite. I took this at a major sporting event. I had to clamber down rocks to quite a precarious position to get this perspective. I have used an even faster shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second to catch the dive from the rocks of Moturiki Island, Mount Maunganui. The aperture of f/5.6 has produced a shorter depth of field with the rocks being in sharp focus while the distance is blurred. Again, this is intentional as I wanted the focus to be on the woman diving, but its still clearly obvious this is a coastal location.    

Between a rock and a wet place. 1/2000 sec at f/5.6

Between a rock and a wet place. 1/2000 sec at f/5.6

The next photo was technically quite difficult for me as I wanted to create the impression of speed and to do this required a sharp focus on a fast moving go-kart at a shutter speed fast enough to get a sharp image of the kart but also slow enough to blur the background and give the sense of fast movement. 

Need for speed. 1/160th sec at f/10

Need for speed. 1/160th sec at f/10

If I had just pointed the camera at the kart and clicked, the kart would have been blurred as 1/160th sec shutter speed is not fast enough to freeze this fast moving object. If I'd pointed and clicked using a very fast shutter speed of say 1/2000 sec or higher then the background would also have been captured in sharp focus along with the kart which may have created an illusion that the kart was stationary. The answer was 'panning', whereby you rotate the camera on a horizontal axis to follow the subject. I focused on the kart and followed it (or panned) and then chose a moment when there was no distracting signage in the background to click the shutter. Its not easy as you have to keep up with the speed of the subject and keep the focus locked on to it.

So its not all about high shutter speed. I could have achieved a different but arguably just as interesting effect by using a very slow shutter speed and clicking as the kart came into frame. The kart would have been blurred and the background would have been sharp still creating a sense of speed. The photo below is sort of an example of this but because I was riding parallel to the bush and not standing at a right angle and photographing the cyclists riding past with a very slow shutter speed of 1/30th sec I ended up with a blurred image of the cyclists (you know who you are) and blurred trees creating a sense of movement and speed. I didn't have any input in these settings as I took the photo with an iPhone while riding in the group. "Look Ma, no hands!" 

Karangahake Gorge, NZ. 1/30th sec at f/2.8. Taken with an iPhone.

Karangahake Gorge, NZ. 1/30th sec at f/2.8. Taken with an iPhone.

 

Slow shutter speeds are also fantastic for landscape and cloud photography and a necessity for night photography. In the image below taken at night in Darling Harbour, Sydney, I used a tripod by necessity to keep the camera still because a long exposure using a slow shutter speed of 6 seconds was required to allow the amount of light to be recorded to get a good exposure.

Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia. 6 sec at f/8

Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia. 6 sec at f/8

Seasons in the sun.

It has been a beautiful settled sunny balmy April. I like the softer mellow autumn light and the ability to be out in the sun without being toasted within a few minutes, and of course the autumn colours painting the landscape such as in this scene at the beautiful local McLaren Falls.

McLaren Falls Park, Lower Kaimai, Tauranga, New Zealand. 1/80sec at f/6.3

McLaren Falls Park, Lower Kaimai, Tauranga, New Zealand. 1/80sec at f/6.3

The week that was.

I can't go past this last week without paying tribute to my father-in-law John's dearly loved wife, and my wife Margie's step-mother Martha who recently passed away in her 81st year. I had known Martha since the mid 1970's. Without a shadow of doubt her family were her over-riding passion and number one source of pride and joy. She was an absolutely devoted mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was not one to wallow in negativity. My enduring memory is of her unceasing infectious humour and positivity and that can be clearly seen in the portrait below. She had an underlying Scottish accent but was a proud New Zealander through and through. She had such a laugh and laughed and joked often, and always saw the good around her. Even after suffering a stroke a few years back and during a long hard road to recovery and also losing her home in the devastating Christchurch earthquakes she still maintained that innate sense of humour. RIP Martha.

  

Beginning to see the light

Depth of field - Aperture Priority

I think my first revelation once I really started getting in to photography was that while using the automatic function on a camera often produces images from good to quite spectacular, it can be hit and miss. The camera can't anticipate what you really hope to capture. It makes a calculated guess when you focus on the subject. When I bought my first camera above the point and shoot variety I developed a desire to start using the functions on those wheels and buttons on top of and on the back and front of the camera body, after all they weren't just on the camera to get in the way of your fingers. 

I did a lot of self learning, often researching on-line or through photography magazines. The two functions on the camera dial that initially interested me were aperture priority 'A' and shutter speed 'S'. On some camera brands these can be marked as Av (aperture value) and Tv (time value). Knowing what I now know, these are key functions in getting a really good photo. In fact, while I do use manual setting 'M' (subject to a future discussion) my go to is frequently aperture priority 'A' and then shutter speed 'S'. For those seeking to learn more, the effects of these two functions which work in tandem with each other in creating the image are quite pronounced. In this post I will excuse the pun, 'focus' on Aperture priority which influences depth of field sharpness and I will discuss 'S' or 'Tv' (shutter priority) next time.

Depth of field relates to sharpness of the image captured from foreground to the far distance/background. Typical ranges of apertures used in photography are from about f/2.8 to f/22 or f/2 to f/16, covering 6 stops. Ranges and f/stop divisions vary for different lenses. The larger the aperture f/stop number the greater the depth of field. The lower the aperture f/stop number the lower the depth of field meaning objects in the foreground are sharp while the background is increasingly blurred. Changing the aperture changes the amount of light transmission through the camera lens. A reliable aperture setting for clear sharpness from near to distant is f/11.

For a good easily read guide to aperture have a look at this link and/or this one 

I took the photo below in my garden with a low aperture setting of f/2 and the camera automatically set 1/160th sec as the shutter speed to produce a correctly exposed photo.

1/160 sec at f/2.0

1/160 sec at f/2.0

The very low aperture value of f/2 has completed blurred out the foliage in the background making the greenstone pendant the clear subject of the photo.

In the image below I used f/13. Notice the clarity from the rock in the foreground the camera was sitting on to the horizon. The atmosphere was hazy and with greater atmospheric clarity the sharpness from foreground to background would have been even more noticeable. 

Sunrise over Mount Maunganui. 1/160 sec at f/13

Sunrise over Mount Maunganui. 1/160 sec at f/13

Most lenses have an aperture 'sweet spot' where the sharpest image is obtained. I find apertures between around f/5.6 to f/11 give the best results for getting sharpness from front to back of the image. I have seen f/11 described as the 'who cares' default setting for landscapes as it generally provides good depth of field clarity, which is what you want in a landscape photo.

Next time I will discuss shutter speed priority; 'S' or 'Tv' on most cameras. 

 

Such are the days of autumn

I took this photo yesterday as autumn starts to paint the landscape in vibrant colour. In this part of New Zealand the warmer climate means we don't get the really rich tones to the extent they are seen in the south but there are pockets of autumn beauty to be found, and in this area its hard to surpass the very beautiful McLaren Falls Park.

McLaren Falls Park, Lower Kaimai, Tauranga, NZ. 24 April 2016

McLaren Falls Park, Lower Kaimai, Tauranga, NZ. 24 April 2016

 

ANZAC Day 25th April

Today we celebrate for the 100th year, a national day of remembrance in New Zealand and Australia that "broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations and the contribution and suffering of all who served". 

My grandfather Arthur Gordon Taylor served in Europe in the Great War 1914-1918. He was a specialist machine gunner with the 25th Reinforcements, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, who set sail for Plymouth in Devon, England on the 'Turakina' in 1917. He was one of the lucky ones to return home but he never escaped the psychological toll of the war, having spells in psychiatric care. He was a a quiet man who never really spoke about the war but was clearly mentally tormented by his experiences. I am fortunate to hold his service certificate, medals and photographs in trust to pass to future generations. 

Arthur Gordon Taylor (1917)

Arthur Gordon Taylor (1917)

NZ Specialists, 25th Reinforcements, NZ Expeditionary Forces. Featherston Military Camp, NZ. March 1917. Arthur Gordon Taylor, second row from top, fifth in from the left.

NZ Specialists, 25th Reinforcements, NZ Expeditionary Forces. Featherston Military Camp, NZ. March 1917. Arthur Gordon Taylor, second row from top, fifth in from the left.

The Turakina (below) was designed for passenger and cargo services between Great Britain and New Zealand and was requisitioned as a troop carrier in WW1. It was this ship that carried my grandfather to Europe. Turakina was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine on 13th August 1917 en route from London to New York.

Turakina. 

Turakina. 

The Klink : a souvenir of the voyage of S.S. Turakina (H.M.N.Z.T. 84) April to July, 1917; and a history of the doings of the Left Wing of the 25th Reinforcements N.Z.E.F. on their way to the Front.

'The Klink' (1917)

'The Klink' (1917)

Hope you enjoyed this mix of photography info and family history. If you'd like to be alerted to updates by email, just contact me. chris@christaylorphotography.net

  

 

 

 

 

I knew I loved you before I met you

Having had a number of camera lenses I have now settled on three. I bought these lenses progressively after much research, as I could afford them, and in line with what I felt I needed for the type of photography I wanted to do. I knew I loved them before I met them.

The first of these is the brilliant Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens.  If you were to just have one lens with this camera, this beautiful piece of engineering would be it. It is a wide angle to portrait length lens and also fantastic for landscape, people and street photography. A beautiful robust solid metal weather proof professional zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture providing consistent low-light performance and shallow depth of field control. It's not cheap but diamonds never are. 

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens

My next lens (below) is the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens. Like the previous lens this is a premium waterproof all metal construction sharp telephoto lens. It's 150mm reach (equivalent to 300mm on a 35mm/full frame camera) has made it my go to lens for action shots, beach images involving people, cruise ship and wild weather photography. It spends more time attached to my camera than the other lenses as it allows me to quickly whip the camera out and capture those 'seize the moment' shots where good zoom capability is beneficial.

I previously mentioned the difference in reach to a full frame camera. Micro four thirds cameras like mine have a 2 x crop factor. What this means is that if the same focal length lens, say a 50mm lens, was put on both a micro four thirds (aka compact system camera) like my Olympus E-M1, the image in the micro four thirds camera would be twice as close close as it would appear in a full frame camera. I'd love to have the M.Zuiko MC-14 Digital 1.4 x Teleconverter to extend the reach of this lens magnification by another 40% beyond its capability. One day............

It may sound confusing but after a glass of wine or two you'll soon move on to other things.   

 

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens

My third lens is the critically acclaimed Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 DG Nocticron ASPH Power OIS lens. This is a beautifully built tack sharp and very fast portraiture and street photography lens. Use this in the street and you'll likely get wolf whistles. Given it is a fixed focal length lens there is no zoom function which means you have to move around with the camera to fill the viewfinder with the image you want. This isn't a bad thing. Provided you watch where you're going and don't trip over the family pet, moving around adds to creativity in composing the photo. Lenses like this are seriously attractive reasons to switch to the micro four thirds compact system camera range.  There comes a point though where you have to evaluate just how much you want to spend on camera gear. Adding new/additional lenses is money that could be used instead on 'doing' rather than acquiring. It arguably would be money better spent on a holiday and taking photos of that holiday.  

Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 DG Nocticron lens

Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 DG Nocticron lens

 

The week that was

It's 12 months since we departed on a wonderful trip to the UK & Ireland to see one of our daughter's and partner and to attend a family wedding in Ireland. It started pretty well as I'd booked a hotel room at Auckland Airport, only when we arrived it turned out I'd booked it for May instead of April and it was fully booked out. We were so lucky that after much fingernail biting on our part and good will on their part they managed to off load another booking. Unfortunately the original fantastic deal had to be replaced by a full cost room. 

Primarily based with our daughter and partner in Canterbury, Kent, we did extensive travel including towns and cities on the Kent & Sussex coasts from Whitstable, Deal and Margate to Dover, Hastings, Eastbourne and Brighton. We flew across to Ireland and Dublin, drove across to the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, Galway, Westport and got a ferry out to the remote Aran Islands. From Ireland we flew to very beautiful Edinburgh in Scotland and rode on fast trains down to Durham and Manchester in the north of England and back down to London and Canterbury. Loved the experiences and hope to return to the UK again in 2017.   

14 April 2015, Tauranga, NZ. 

14 April 2015, Tauranga, NZ. 

One of the first photos I took after arriving in England. It was a very cold day in Canterbury, Kent, but undeniably beautiful with the new blossom and fresh colours of spring. It's so strange going from the  falling leaves of autumn at home to new spring growth within about 27 hours.

Canterbury, Kent, UK. April 2015.

Canterbury, Kent, UK. April 2015.

 

Surf's up!

The photo below was taken by my father circa 1976 at least going by the age of the red Toyota Corolla in the image. It is taken at 'The New Brighton Ramp' in Christchurch, NZ. It is a beachside parking area adjacent to New Brighton Beach. As a teenager, apart from doing circuits around Cathedral Square in the heart of Christchurch City, in those days it was pretty much one of the only other popular 'cruising 'destinations. It was a place where we'd congregate. It was a place to display your car and/or your girlfriend or sit there in someone else's car with someone else's girlfriend. We'd sit and watch the cars doing circuits and gaze out at the chilly Pacific Ocean while eating fish and chips on our laps and Listening to Radio Avon, the first private radio station in Christchurch. The station went to air in August 1973.

New Brighton Ramp (car park). Christchurch, NZ (1970's)

New Brighton Ramp (car park). Christchurch, NZ (1970's)

Until next time........

First gear

I have had countless cameras over the years from a succession of compact point and shoots cameras to bridge cameras such as the Canon PowerShot s5. I guess after a time with each camera I got to the stage where I wanted a little more range and functionality. It was an article on the Panasonic GX1, an early example of the evolving mirrorless compact system cameras (CSC) that was the catalyst for getting me into this new level of cameras which provide the functionalities of a larger DSLR camera in a smaller lighter package, which is more incentive to carry the camera gear out more often. I ended up buying the Panasonic GX1 with the kit lens. It was a great camera but I then started hankering for better optics to be found in premium lenses. I bought a couple of new lenses and then found that Olympus lenses were compatible and Olympus had some pretty flash lenses. There was however an issue with Panasonic lenses having built in image stabilisation, but with Olympus the image stabilisation is built into the camera body. I bought the superb Olympus 75mm f1.8 portrait and street photography lens but had compatibility problems with image stabilisation. At this point I decided I wanted to switch to all Olympus gear.

After in-depth research I bought the newly released Olympus O-MD E-M1, the flagship camera in the Olympus compact system camera range.

Olympus O-MD E-M1

Olympus O-MD E-M1

This is the camera I still use today. Its had about four firmware updates in its life, each one enhancing the cameras ability even more. A feature that I really love in this camera is the Olympus 5-axis image stabilisation. This innovative feature enables hand-held shooting in dark locations and during telephoto photography without worrying about camera shake and the need for a tripod. It also prevents image shake in the viewfinder for stable framing. The Olympus O-MD E-M1 is without doubt my favourite camera to date. I love it! It is widely expected that Olympus will soon announce a MKII successor to the E-M1. I'm sure I will be eyeing it up

As I have progressively added to my gear, I'm pretty sure I will stay with the compact system camera category and in particular Olympus unless some generous manufacturer mistakenly gifts me a full professional kit in another brand .

I have two critically acclaimed Olympus lenses and a five star rated Panasonic portrait and street photography lens. I will cover these lenses and show specific photos taken with each, in a future post.  

 

The week that was

Without a shadow of doubt the highlight this week was being at an awards dinner at Sky City, Auckland, where my son Mike was announced as team member/employee of the year from over 1000 staff in the business he and I work for. It was a very emotional moment. I was so thrilled and extremely proud of him. 

9 March 2016. Sky City, Auckland.

9 March 2016. Sky City, Auckland.

 

Constructing a dislike for deconstruction

I had breakfast this week at a recently opened cafe in Mount Maunganui. After trying to find something at a reasonable cafe price for breakfast, which is not easy in this country, I settled on a salmon and cream cheese bagel. When it was presented, I was somewhat taken aback. I have only ever come across food presented in similar fashion once before and as with that time I won't be returning to this place anytime soon. This is a salmon and cream cheese bagel in the new era of deconstruction. I was asked whether or not I wanted cutlery? What a stupid question. Hell, no: I was so eager to bend down and lick it from the plate and spread it on the bagel with my tongue! I must remember to smear cream cheese and I guess any other spreads, chutneys and toppings across the kitchen bench at home when we have dinner guests so that they can enjoy the delights of constructing their own snack. My long black coffee to my utter disappointment wasn't presented as an empty cup, a few beans, a grinder and hot water. You'd think they'd get that right too!

Neighbours at war. It's the bringing together that counts.

Neighbours at war. It's the bringing together that counts.

 

I'm thinking it won't be long until we buy shirts with unattached sleeves to sew on. Oh wait! I bought a shirt this week and when I unpacked it a pre-cut piece of material in a pocket shape fell out.

Pocketing the difference

Pocketing the difference

I was quite perplexed as to how a shirt could come off the production line and go through the folding and packaging stage accompanied by a homeless half finished detached pocket. I shook the package further thinking there would be matching cotton, a mini sewing machine and instructions. Unbelievably there wasn't. I'm worried about my next pair of shoes now as I don't have an industrial sewing machine to attach the leather upper to the sole. For now I just have to deconstruct my thoughts about it all.

  

Family matters

Following on from my previous posts on family ancestry from my mother's side, here is a bit of information from my father's side. In the first photo taken way back in 1868 are my great, great grandparents Wilson and Anne Taylor. The photo is taken outside their thatched roof earth walled home in Dunbars Road, Halswell, Christchurch, New Zealand. To the far left is my great grandfather aged six years.The family emigrated from England, via Australia. In the second photo are my great, great grandparents on their farm in Springston, south east of Christchurch. They both died in 1887 just eleven hours apart. 

Halswell, Christchurch, New Zealand (1868)

Halswell, Christchurch, New Zealand (1868)

In the 1868 photo above is my great grandfather Arthur on the left aged six and my great, great grandparents seated third and fourth from the left. Second from the left is Charles (17), Edwin (4), my great, great grandfather Wilson (44) and he may be holding Ellen (2), George (12), my great, great grandmother Anne (39) holding baby Henry, and William (9).

My  great, great grandparents Wilson and Anne Taylor (1880)

My  great, great grandparents Wilson and Anne Taylor (1880)

My great grandparents Annie & Arthur. My grandfather Arthur Gordon Taylor is the boy to the right.

My great grandparents Annie & Arthur. My grandfather Arthur Gordon Taylor is the boy to the right.

 

I will continue with some more family history in future blog updates.

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