Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Check here for a triptych of the spider.
Very cute. Amazing what you see when you carry a camera with you.
Oh, the hibiscus? Well, it seems that they've planted all manner of plants with them. Bromeliads, ferns, palms pretty well anything!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Quite amazing that you can lose one of the main rail routes into the largest city in the country whilst they lower the tracks in preparation for electrification of the network. I suspect this disruption is just the start of many over the next year or so as preparations get under way for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Both lines have been lifted as you can see from the image below.
Monday, December 28, 2009
It was a lovely evening. I was sure there was going to be a sunset so headed to a place where I'd get good views. I was there ready, but the sky didn't seem to be doing anything worthwhile so I set off home. Walking down the hill the sky became quite dramatic, and I was now in the wrong place! Instead of atop the hill wit great views I was on the street surrounded by houses! The shot in this post is the best I could do at the time. Nine shot HDR processed in Photomatix Pro.
Next time, I'll wait for it to go dark before I leave my viewpoint :-)
Sunday, December 27, 2009
A morning walk took us to one of South Auckland's beaches. The sun was quite harsh and very bright. As you can see from the shot above most of the colour seems to have been bleached out of the image. The images in the post are unprocessed ... just a bit of a crop.
It was surprisingly quiet and peaceful; I suspect a lot of people headed to the malls to take advantage of the Boxing Day sales. I have to say, I was delighted they did as the morning walk was quite lovely. Heading along the coast past Maraetai we came to Duder's Beach from where we could see the Coromandel Penninsular in the distance and some cormorants drying their wings closer to shore.
I was a little concerned about the images so took several at 1 stop intervals to process in Photomatix Pro as HDR images. To have a squiz at a couple of these check here and here. I quite like the flare in the second of these two images as it seems to point to the boy on the beach; almost a sci-fi type feel to things! Let me know what you think.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Now we can make all manner of changes very easily. We can also take hundreds of shots without the hassle of changing films, labeling them appropriately and then processing them ... or in the case of Kodachrome, posting them and then waiting a week or more for the results to come back. I can recall taking shots in Jordan back in 1978 and not seeing my results until 1979! Now I can see them instantly on the camera's rear LCD.
So, what about going back to basics. Forget photo manipulation software and concentrate on getting it right when you press the shutter. I'm not saying never use the software, but just try to take an image or two with the expectation that the software won't be required.
With this in mind I wandered around my back yard. The image at the start of this post is a crop of the image below.
No post processing save for a crop, and I'm not sure the crop has benefitted the image if truth be told. This second image plays on the use of a diagonal linking the two flowers and perhaps has more interest than the first that merely places the centre of the flower on an intersection of thirds. The second image was what I saw in the camera (click on the image to see it a little larger). What do you think? Perhaps leave a comment below.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Yesterday's attempt failed miserably as I was so tired and just couldn't leave the cosiness of my bed. Today, however, I faired a bit better.
At last I reached the bottom lake at the Botanical Gardens and thought this could be the place for the first shot. The water was very still and the clouds looked like an HDR shot could work. This is the image at the start of this post. A five shot HDR processed with default settings in Photomatix Pro. (I didn't have time to do anything else and it looked pretty good. Problems at work meant I had to head off to the office).
After taking my five shots for the HDR image I was looking at the water and noticed a few insects causing the odd ripple. Then I started to get wet! Typical Paul D Smart! Jinxed by the British project with British weather!
Oh, on the way home I noticed Santa, rather worse for wear. Somewhat deflated you might say :-)
Comments, if you have any, below ...
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The image above is of the University Clock Tower taken from the top floor of the Library. Quite a lovely building and inside it's just as nice. You may remember this shot of the spiral staircases I took last year?
On the way home we managed to get to the top of Mount Wellington where we enjoyed some quite spectacular 360 degree views of Auckland and its surroundings. Below is the view towards Panmure.
Regular trips along the Southern Motorway heading north have presented lovely views over the estuary to the west. The clouds have been wonderful, but never have I had a chance to stop and take a photo. Monday night I had a chance. Not much time, and truth be told I made a complete hash of taking the shot! 50mm lens, and everything set manual. I was really looking for a multi-shot HDR image, but failed dismally on that score. The image you see is a single shot image (the best of the five). I noticed flare more prominent on some of the brighter images, so settled for a single shot picture. The colours aren't fake ... this is just as it was.
The dark area is probably best left as it is as it disguises the houses, roads and traffic signs! The water, I think, looks lovely. What do you think?
Monday, December 21, 2009
The tree to the left has some odd shapes in the lower part of its trunk ... make you wonder what was going on when it was a sapling. Now look up the tree and you'll note that its wrapped a branch or two around its neighbour.
As far as I can tell, both trees are alive and well and probably benefit from the added stability two sets of roots provide!
Bean bags are provided for you to sit or lie underneath the tree and gaze up to better enjoy the light show.
The balls of light are constantly changing both colour and intensity to provide a variety of effects so those bean bags are really quite handy. The image to the left shows the balls. All the colours of the rainbow appear and it's quite impressive.
I didn't take a tripod as I thought it'd just get in the way; there's quite a few people milling around and admiring the tree. I used my 18-200mm zoom and set the camera to ISO 800. I had no idea what to expect and this zoom lens is a great "jack of all trades" and avoids the need to carry lots of lenses.
There's a few more pictures of the tree here, here and here.
So, if you're anywhere near Ponsonby ... and it's dark, I'd recommend you check it out.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I used the Canon Photo5 bokeh hood as a template, then created a new cutout from my daughter's punch. The light is all wrong for doing the Christmas tree, but there was some nice light coming through the trees in the back yard. Desperate to try out my new hood I set off without tripod in an attempt to get a shot.
Auto-focus gets very confused with the hood over the lens and with the lens wide open focussing became a challenge ... especially as I was in an awkward position to get some nice highlights. Focus is on the rightmost flower, and as the depth of field is so shallow that's about the only thing that is vaguely focussed. The highlights haven't come out too bad though. Just waiting for it to go dark now then I can play with the lights on the tree.
I didn't post this for any other reason than to encourage whoever reads this to have a go with different shaped cutouts in a bokeh good. Great fun and you can get some quite lovely effects.
Just for fun I took another bokeh image from the backyard and then had a bit of a play with hdr. What do you think?
Friday, December 18, 2009
I usually walk all over these little shells on the way to something "more important". Bearing in mind my previous post, time to look at what you're racing past, there's often something of beauty or interest right underneath your feet. What do you think. Should I have kept on walking, or was it worthwhile stopping and taking a shot?
So, with this in mind I thought I'd venture into Auckland City with camera in hand and try to view (and photograph of course) things differently. I'll keep posting my efforts and, as always, you can comment on my efforts and ideas. Perhaps even make suggestions of places I should visit?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The image was taken some time ago, but I wasn't impressed. I decided a desaturated look might give a nice effect, but first I processed the image in Photomatix Pro from -4, -2, 0 and +2 EV images taken from the original. Back in Lightroom I then desaturated the image and cropped it slightly to arrive at what you see here.
To see the image a little larger, and on white click here.
Comments, as always, are most welcome. That's the only way I'll learn, right?
I alway try to shoot raw (interesting article here btw) and so I thought I'd try a bit of HDR on the image. The colours may seem a bit vivid, but the sea was quite stunning on the day and the hillside opposite seems more as my memory remembers it.
Three shots created from the original in Lightroom with EV values -2. 0 and +2. These were then processed in Photomatix Pro and the result is as you see.
An improvement? Perhaps. You be the judge :-)
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Close to Sacred Heart College though I could stop and get a shot or two. The sun's rays were quite special and this 9 shot HDR image processed in Photomatix Pro highlights them reasonably well. Again, typically, I forgot the tripod ... desperate to travel light, but also plain late leaving home! Thankfully I could rest the camera on the trig point so the images line up pretty well.
More of my HDR shots are here, and if you want to know more about HDR I'd suggest you have a squiz here.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I needed the lights to be out of focus, so a shallow depth of field was selected (lens wide open) and then focussed on the soldier with him as close as possible to the lens (this made the depth of field even shallower). A couple of shots were then tried to see if the lights came out as stars, which they did, but the soldier was not illuminated very well.
As I'd just got the tree out of the loft I had my flashlight handy, so a gentle indirect light was placed on the soldier. Spot exposure on the soldier's face then gave the result you see above.
The bokeh hood is the one supplied by Canon in their Photo5 competition earlier this year. You may recall I had a go with hoods last month? Great fun, and well worth trying especially at this time of year when you may have time to spare and there's lots of lights about!
If you like the image, have any comments or suggestions please let me know.
Friday, December 11, 2009
The camera was new, and I took many shots , a few of which I've saved here. Looking back at the images I couldn't help feeling with a bit of a tweak some of my less favourite shots could be improved with a bit of hdr. This particular shot started off like this.
I think you'll agree has detail lacking in the clouds. Surprising to me was that detail had not been lost in what appear to be blown out highlights. Perhaps that's the advantage of shooting RAW? You may also notice extra detail and texture in the sand (or mud).
So, this shot lives another day. Perhaps it will end up in the bin shortly, but for now I'm intrigued by the detail hidden in those clouds in the original image.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Do you like it, or have any suggestions for improvement?
With spare time I managed to climb the hill and enjoy quite lovely views out to Rangitoto Island and One Tree Hill. Also, on this particular night the sun was setting and giving a lovely orange glow. There were clumps of grasses atop the hill, so by lying down amongst the grasses I could see some grass heads beautifully backlit by the setting sun. That's what I tried to capture in the image you see here. 200mm lens, ISO 200, 1/400s and f8.
Check out the flickr links above and let me know if you prefer on white ... or black.
Remember I mentioned views of One Tree Hill. There's also a shot of that here.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
I took a few other shots whilst at the Telstra Clear Pacifica Centre. I've tried an HDR from a single shot on a few of them. The "totem pole" is an ideal candidate especially as the clouds are so dramatic. I;m not sure what I think of this image. Over the top perhaps? I've tried to modify things again in Photomatix Pro, but can't say I like any of the results more that the first attempt above. What do you think? A friend, who's judgment I respect, suggest the clouds are too grainy. All comments welcome :-)
There's a few interesting objects close to Manukau City's Telstra Clear Pacifica Centre. One of these objects is the large Maori carving. This is the tallest in the world and is quite impressive. The problem is that to get it all in without seeing the traffic on the motorway, electricity pylons or other modern day artifacts means you need a wide angle lens, but then the carving curves due to the lens's focal length. Furthermore, the stone carvings either side of the main carving are often missed.
The answer was a stitch! Five images were taken with an 18mm lens on a 1.5 crop factor DX format digital camera then stitched with Hugin software. This software is VERY impressive and worth investigating.
After playing around in Hugin I imported the resultant composite image (weighing in, believe it or not, at just over 800MB) to Adobe Lightroom. I cropped the image, then saved three TIFF images at -2, 0 and +2 EV to import into Photomatix Pro. Even before I arrived at Telstra Clear I was taken with the clouds and I thought I'd get a bit more drama into the image with a bit of HDR. the end result is as you see. Do you like it? Comments are welcome :-)
Thursday, December 3, 2009
A short walk uphill and over a "wobbly" swing bridge leads you to this wonderful waterfall. The vegetation is quite dark, but the waterfall brilliant white. The problem is that you either overexpose the waterfall, or underexpose the foliage. What's the trick to getting a good image in a a situation like this?
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I was really quite taken with this little "bothy" or workman's hut up near the entrance to Pupu Springs near Takaka, New Zealand. I've been quite intrigued with single image HDRs and thought this image may be an ideal candidate for a trial. Perhaps let me know what you think?
The original image was taken RAW and then two other images created from it using Nikon's NX2 at -2 and +2 stops exposure differences to give me three shots. These three shots were then aggregated in Photomatix Pro and twiddled a little in an attempt to increase the contrasts in the weatherboards on the hut.
All that seemed to happen was the skies became more dramatic and the colours in the foliage rather more intense. Overall I don't think it's that bad, but you may think otherwise? It's certainly a more interesting image than the original!
Why try a single image HDR? I suppose one of the issues I'd had was my inability to select scenes that remained static whilst I made my 5, 7 or 9 shots. The wind invariably moved the trees and bushes, people, vehicles or birds moved which all contributed to a muddy, out of focus imprecise image. Not the best really. So far I've been quite pleased - I wonder whether I'm better using RAW instead of JPEG, but I'll play with that and see what happens. You may have a comment on the relative benefits of RAM over JPEG in HDR images.
The image below was taken on Mount Roberts near St. Arnaud on a breezy day. There's considerable movement in the grass and leaves which leads to a poorly focussed image. Then again, you may like the effect?
Monday, November 30, 2009
On the way back to Pohara one evening we stopped in at Pupu springs near Takaka. The water here is wonderfully clear. In the image above you can see a turquoise area centre left that looks a little cloudy. This marks the site of the spring from which the clear fresh water originates. Apparently this water is some of the cleanest, freshest water anywhere on the planet. As such contact with the water is prohibited to prevent contamination. This wasn't always the case as can be seen in the images here.
The colours are quite amazing. The image above was taken on a cloudy and grey day yet the colours in the water were as you see in the picture. Very very beautiful.
Whilst at Wharariki Brach I was looking for different angles from which to take shots of the rocks. I stepped onto a rock that was quickly surrounded by water. Arggh! So I wait for the water to subside then step off, back onto the beach only to be chased by a seal! I was quite amazed by the speed with which they cover the sand ... and the size of their teeth. Very relieved, I have to tell you, that the seal didn't come out of the water earlier for an early lunch!
Besides being impressed with the seal's speed on land I was also rather impressed with their camouflage on the rocks and ability to climb up the rocks to a safe vantage point.
We saw quite a few birds whilst touring the South Island, but no where near as many as we heard. This heron was sitting in a tree in the central city gardens in Nelson. The evening light was quite nice I thought and the bird remained sufficiently still for me to get a photo.
Other birds we managed to see included the tui, bellbird, robin and tomtit. I'll add them to my flickr pages as I locate them out of the hundreds of images we took on our trip!