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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 guide to aperture have a look at A Beginners Guide to Aperture and Depth of Field in Photography Talk. 

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.