Blog

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

If you'd like to be emailed blog update notifications contact

chris@christaylorphotography.net

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.....

If you'd like to subscribe to this blog automatically by email, email chris@christaylorphotography.net

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

If you would like to subscribe to future blog posts, send me your email address.

Email chris@christaylorphotography.net

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