Monday, November 30, 2009

Pupu Springs

Pupu Springs, originally uploaded by nzcjs.

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.

Seals at Wharariki

Seal at Wharariki, originally uploaded by nzcjs.

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.

Heron in Nelson Gardens

Heron in Nelson Gardens, originally uploaded by nzcjs.

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!

Golden Sands

Golden Sands, originally uploaded by nzcjs.

Not far from where we stayed at Pohara, Tata Bay on a warm sunny day. Today, back in Auckland, it's cool, wet and very grey. I think I'd rather be back at Tata Bay!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

St. Arnaud

St. Arnaud was very quiet and peaceful. There's a few walks close by the Alpine Lodge where we were looked after rather well during our stay there. It's about a five minute walk from the Lodge to Lake Rotoiti following the stream (see left) that feeds into the lake. The weather was quite changeable and views across the lake could look very moody or menacing with grey clouds, or peaceful and picturesque. On arrival it was more of the former. Quite monochromatic and moody, but still captivating. There's three wharves that lead into the lake (Lake Rotoiti) and I think everyone with a camera that visits the lake stands on at least one of the wharves (the eastern most being the favourite) to take a picture.
There's quite a few birds in the area that sound quite lovely. There's bellbirds and tuis that both enjoy the sweet sticky honeydew excretions from the various aphids and other insects that suck the sap from the trees in the bush. You can see some of the honeydew, and the black sooty mould on the tree trunks on the image to the left. With time to just sit and relax you're bound to see the bellbirds quite close to. Sadly, we were a bit short of time so most things were in a rush in an attempt to see as much as possible in the available time. Even so we saw bellbirds, tuis and robins.

If you've enjoyed the pictures in this post you may like to look here where I've saved some more images of our trip to the South Island.

Friday, November 27, 2009

South Island Trip.. Christchurch to St. Arnaud

Six nights, 1600 kms in the car, and judging by the blisters on my feet, possibly something similar on foot. We had a wonderful time. The scenery is quite special and if you ever get the chance to visit NZ's South Island then you really should go.

We flew to Christchurch with Air New Zealand then picked up an Avis rental car. Great service by both companies and we'll certainly use them again. From Christchurch we headed north to St. Arnaud.
The weather wasn't the best ... cloudy and looked a bit gloomy at times, but at least it was dry.

St. Arnaud is in the area knows as the Nelson Lakes and we were really
hoping for some nice blue skies to show the place off. First impressions weren't that hot, but things did improve ... eventually! The second image shows Lake Rotoroa which is the larger of the two Nelson Lakes. (This image is a nine shot HDR processed with PhotoMartix Pro).

We stayed at the Alpine Lodge which is just a short walk away from the smaller of the two Nelson Lakes, Lake Rotoiti, close to Kerr Bay. In fact, most people who visit the Nelson Lakes take a photograph from the eastern most jetty at Lake Rotoiti. It's probably one of the most photographed jetties in the country! Having seen these images in the tourist brochures we were of course hoping for the clear blue skies over the lake.
Sadly this didn't happen until towards the end of the day. Even so we had a great time walking round some of the tracks and the overcast weather helped keep the temperature down a bit. Lovely place and we all like the idea of going back to do the walks we didn't have the time to try this year. Only too quickly did our time in St. Arnaud come to a close and we were back in the car and heading north to Nelson.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Canon Photo5 Finalist

Whoa! Amazing! One of my photos has made it into the Canon Photo5 Competition finals. I'm over the moon! I tried a few shots, the bokeh, the close-up and SPLAT (fluid in motion). It's the SPLAT image that's in the final, along with ten others. Follow the link above and have a look at the entries. It's a great competition. The assignments are fun to do and make you think and try things with your camera you might not normally try. Canon really have done well.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heaps of photos!

Whoa, what a busy few days! Trying to help out during the absence of a photographer colleague resulted in a few calls to take a range of photos. Quite a buzz to see your image in the press!

Being used to taking photos for fun is quite different from taking photos to order. The PR people know what they want and the dialogue between photographer, PR person and subject can be quite interesting. I've learnt heaps from the PR person and been delighted with the attitude of the subjects. Very accommodating and willing to help us get the shots we wanted. Interesting to see how people relaxed as the number of shots increased; the smiles became more natural and less forced.

Quite how people managed in the days of film with the types of deadlines to which we worked if difficult to imagine. I took heaps of photos and they were ready to view instantly; no changing of films, processing of film, contact sheets or sample prints. I suspect the techniques used by the "old-school" photographer are as relevant today as they were a few years ago though. Images requiring little to no post processing make meeting deadlines easy.

Great fun, but quite tiring.

More recently I went to a friends to see a baby zebra finch. Gorgeous creature. Quite tiny, but compared to the egg from which its life started rather large. Photos in this entry are of the baby zebra finch.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Went down to the Baking School today to have a squiz at the students cakes. Whoa there's some talented students down there. Superb effort and wonderful cakes. I say cakes, but I wonder how much is cake and how much is icing. Very impressive all the same.

They're not finished yet ... I just couldn't resist having a sneak preview. Image to the left is of one of the cakes and I've tried a bit of Gaussian Blur to lift the cake from the background. What do you think? (Click on the image to see it bigger).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Baby Thrush

Came home this evening to see a baby thrush on the fence outside the living room. What with the excitement of seeing the bird so close and the fact that I was shooting at an odd angle through the ranch-slider glass the image isn't as crisp as I'd like. Nevertheless it's pretty cute I think. Looking at the difference between parent and infant one can appreciate why youngsters have difficulty steering due to a lack of tail! A couple more pictures of the thrush are here and here

I think we may have seen Mum sometime last week. Remember this?

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Out driving with my daughter we ended up at Ardmore Aerodrome. We used to come here quite often to watch the 'planes. It's a busy aerodrome with lots of little aeroplanes taking off and landing so you never get bored. Today, however, was quite special. A few of the restored WW2 planes were on show as well as other Warbirds. the sight and sound of these machines was really quite special. Quite how the fighter pilots summoned up the courage to get into these machines and fly off looking for a fight is quite beyond me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bokeh Hoods

Playing with Bokeh Hoods today. I was quite inspired by the simplicity of the hood design provided by Canon in the recent Photo5 competition. Surely it must be easy to make a hood?
I use OmniGraffle on my Mac and set about making up some hood designs. I haven't put any card through the printer yet, just been using coloured paper. The effects are encouraging and I suspect that with card the effect will be fine. Easy to make too! I've saved six different hood designs as a pdf should you wish to try things out yourself.

You'll notice a couple of rings on each hood design. These are 80, 77 and 52 mm in diameter. My lens is 77mm so I cut down to the second ring and then fold over. I then user an elastic band to secure the hood in place. Haver a squiz at the image to the left.

I've been playing with different coloured paper, but think a stiff black paper or thin card would be better. However, for the purpose of showing you how the hood sits on the camera it's probably better than black.

Here's a few images I took using black bokeh hoods. Have a play and let me know how you get on.

Oh, it'd be a good idea to ensure you have a filter on your precious lens prior to playing with the bokeh hoods.

Friday, November 6, 2009


The weather was somewhat moist last night (5th November), so we deferred setting off the fireworks until tonight. Good night for fireworks as there was neither rain nor wind. I tried taking a few photos, but at such close range it was very difficult to get sort of sensible image. Not many of the fireworks went high in the sky and one of those that was supposed to go up fell over and caused us to race for cover. Most images are of an over exposed cloud with a few sparks! Nevertheless still good fun, bit easy to see how people can get hurt.

Bath time!

Whilst sitting in the living room this evening I noticed a thrush having a fine time splashing about in an old pot base we use as a bird bath. The thrush wasn't there for long so the shot is very much a quick snap. What surprises me are the water droplets flying through the air and glistening in the evening light. If you look carefully at some of the water trails (click on the image to enlarge it) you'll see some are rather "jagged" instead of smooth. Not really what I was expecting.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stupid Fly

Working downstairs in the rumpus room I was irritated with a fly buzzing around and bashing itself on the various windows. I've always been curious in the way that flies seem unable to extricate themselves from a house whereas bees seem much better. I opened a window, as you can see to the left and the fly was still unable to make its way through the gap. In fact it came back in to the house and made several attempts to leave the building before finally succeeding. I'm not sure who was more frustrated ... the fly or me!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Quite harsh light tonight, but it seemed to make the flowers on the streptocarpus in the hanging basket positively glow. Not sure what I think about the image from composition perspective, but I quite liked the deep shadows and the "sparkle" on the petals. Let me know what you think :-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


What a wonderful competition. Not sure how well I'll do, but it has been a heap of fun participating. Five different challenges and I suppose I got a bit hung up on the first assignment, SPLAT - liquid in motion. The Canon people really excelled themselves; the assignments are challenging and thought provoking but there's a wealth of information; tips and tricks etc. to help out. Well done Canon. I'm impressed and grateful for the opportunity to participate.

So, come Sunday I was still lacking images to submit ... nothing like leaving things until the last minute (deadline midnight on Sunday).Italic A quick squiz around the garden and some attempts with the bokeh hoods (see top picture). This was great fun and the resultant images are very pleasing. I've put some up on flickr if you'd like to see more. The next attempt was with the "hundreds and thousands" or "sprinkles" as they call them locally. I had no inspiration or imagination for this at all and have been quite impressed with the other submissions.