Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Skate Park

Great fun at the skateboard park and I was seriously impressed with the talent of the kids.  I must also say I was more than slightly concerned for their wellbeing should they fall, which undoubtedly happens periodically.

I'm not sure the 50mm lens was the best choice ... something wider and lower down may have worked better, but I was trying to get shots for my 505050 project!

The lens was pretty well wide open, ISO was set quite high and ISO 800, shutter speeds were then 1/4000 sec and faster.  I shot JPEGs as this allowed a faster write to the memory card.  Great fun.  Take a squiz at the shots and let me know what you think.  Better still give me some hints on how to do things better!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Allegro on a Sunday Afternoon

Cool jazz at Nathan Homestead, Manurewa courtesy of Manukau City Council and Allegro.  First shot in this post is of Patrick Tanielu on drums.  Quite a few folks turned up to listen to the last of the jazz in the park events for this year and it was well worth the effort.  Music included items from George Benson, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac and Michael Jackson.

Allegro's members are Malcolm Lakatani on lead guitar, Semi Leo on bass guitar, Saylene Ulberg on keyboard and Patrick Tanielu on drums.  The event at Nathan Homestead saw the band joined by Ross Devereux on saxaphone ... and he was good.  Very good :-)

Shots two and three are of Malcome and Ross.  Great fun as you can probably gather from their facial expressions.  I was having a ball too taking the shots and I hope they'll allow me to take some more.

The last two shots in this post are of Saylene and Semi.  I really liked the lighting in the shot of Semi.  When the concert started the sun was quite high in the sky, but after an hour or so the sun was getting lower and gave some nice rich Kodachrome type colours to the shots.

So there you have it.  A really good Sunday afternoon taking photos whilst a great band played some cool jazz.  Who could ask for anything more?

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Wonderful afternoon at AUT's new Manukau Campus on Great South Road.  The gent in the first image is Anonymouz (aka Matthew Faiumu Salapu) one of the main attractions at the event.  I had a ball!  Light levels were quite low on the stage, and my lens isn't that wide :-(  ISO was boosted up toward ISO1600 at times, but the noise introduced in the in the images adds to the atmosphere of the live event.
I wasn't the only one having fun.  I think everyone who was there had a great time.  Second and thrid shots in this post show a couple more of the musicians on the stage thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The drummer was the hugely talented Dylan Elise (check out this video).  I saw Dylan earlier this year at Manukau Institute of Technology and he's truely amazing.  Follow the links above to see his drum solos and if you ever get the chance to see him you really really should go.

So, besides all the talent on the stage there was plenty off the stage enjoying the music.  I'll finish off this post with a few other images you might like.  Let me know what you think.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Next door's cat!

I can't say as I'm much of a fan of cats, but have to admit next door's is pretty cute.  I'm not fond of the way they stalk and catch the birds in my garden.  We get quite a few nesting in the garden and then there's the period when the youngsters aren't too good at flying and still being fed by mum and dad.  It's at this time they're pretty vulnerable and next door's cat plummets to the bottom of my favourite animal table.

Cheeky?  Definitely!  Hiding under my trees in a bit of undergrowth waiting for some unsuspecting creature to pass by.  Thankfully the clatter of my shutter encouraged the cat top go home, so my birds can rest easy for another day.

(Image is a crop from one taken with my 50mm lens.  Click on it to get a larger version).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


There's something about HDR and concrete that rather appeals to me.  I'm not sure if it's the increase in texture you seem to be able to achieve or if it's something else.  This first shot, taken under a new overbridge, certainly has a much more gritty appearance after processing in Photomatix Pro.  I suppose the clouds in the background give a more foreboding appearance also.

The second shot was taken landscape in an attempt to get more of the sweeping curve of the bridge into the shot.  I was quite taken by the variation in height of the supports.  Not sure which shot I prefer, but they both look better when enlarged so please click on the images to get a bigger view.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Noxious weed

I thought I'd add this image as I was rather disappointed with my 505050 effort today and some quite nice shots were taken yesterday of which some haven't yet been posted.  One of these was of a noxious weed that seems to be invading gardens and open spaces around our home.  The flower is quite pretty as you can see here, but the weed is rampant!  Once established it's nigh on impossible to remove it.

The second image in the post shows the weed again along with the toitoi and, as it happens, some flax to the right.  this shot was taken looking the opposite way from the bridge shot I posted on flickr.

Both shots taken with the 50mm lens.  The first is unmodified, the second has been cropped and saturation changed slightly.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Still 50!

Toitoi down by the Telstra Clear Pacific Centre on Great South Road.  That's the first image in this post.

Today's weather was great.  Quite warm, a bit of a breeze so it didn't feel too hot, a bit of cloud so the light was a little diffused and the shadows weren't too harsh.  Great day for taking photographs.

As you may be aware, I'm posting one shot per day for 50 days as part of a 50mm lens project.  Checkout the plan.  One result of this activity is that the 50mm lens pretty well lives on the camera body now.  Another result is that I'm becoming increasingly fond on this lens.  The results from this lens can be quite lovely.  Very sharp with good colours too.  The shot of the toitoi is an unmodified 50mm lens shot by the way.

Close to the Telstra Clear building are some larger than life plywood "people".  Not quite sure what to do with these objects as I always seemed to get something unfortunate in the background, I opted to get quite close to one of them, shoot upwards so there was only sky in the background, but try to get a couple more chaps in the shot for depth.  Their heights helped to give an imaginary diagonal line heading into the bottom right hand corner.  Again, this is a 50mm lens shot with which I'm reasonably pleased.  What do you think?  I did try this as an HDR shot, but I think it's better left as it is.  There's a pleasant hdr shot of a Samoan Church taken today on my flickr page you might like to check out.
I keep mentioning the Telstra Clear Centre and suspect you don't know what it looks like!  Below are a couple of shots to give you a bit of an appreciation of it architecture.  A little like an upside down boat perhaps?  I suspect some night time shots of the facility may be interesting, but these may have to wait for another day.

So, I suppose you've guessed now why the post has the title it does?  All shots are uncropped, unmodified and takern with the 50mm lens.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ferns in the morning

Just by the front door, that faces east, we have a number of ferns the positively glow with the early morning sunlight.  Today, for a change, I seemed to have enough time to point the camera in the general direction of the ferns and get a few shots.  Unfortunately, over-enthusiasm to get the shot meant I didn't check settings on the camera so a reasonable number of shots were taken at a ridiculously high ISO of 3200!

Still working on my 505050 project each of the images you see in this post were taken with the 50mm lens and, as it happens, none of them have been modified in any way.

A number of the ferns seem a little "scorched" on the tips of their leaves and all I can think is that it's due to the very dry weather we've been experiencing.  I think the colour adds to the "glow" of the leaves and enhances the overall effect.  What do you think?

The second image has the bleeding heart vine leaf in the background.  This particular plant featured in my 50mm shot of the day.  Have a squiz and let me know what you think.

Besides taking shots "through" the leaves I tried to take some where the light reflected off the leaves.  I'm not sure what I think about these, but have added one as the third image in this post.  Like I mentioned in a recent 50mm posting, sometimes the image doesn't need a lot of detail, but can leave that to your imagination.  I suppose that's what I was hoping to do with these reflective shots of the ferns.  I don't think the image's subject is that obvious on initial viewing, but then you can see it.  Whether it works once you know at what you're looking I'm not sure, perhaps let me know?
After the early morning shots of the ferns I headed out to the beach ... still with the 50mm lens, but this time I had a polarising filter as well.  I haven't used one of these for many, many years and I have to say the results are quite pleasing.  I'll end this post with a shot of Rangitoto Island taken from Maraetai with a 50mm lens.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Night-time shots

Each morning as I've been heading off to work I've seen this view down a local street.  There's something about the lights, the T-junction, the trees and bushes that I just like.  I keep wanting to stop and take a shot or two, but I'm always on the last gasp and keen to keep going to avoid the traffic on the southern motorway.  The first shot in this post is the view I'm talking about, but it's shot at  8pm at night.

Turning the other way is the view over the top of the hill.  OK, I've cheated a bit here as I've processed the image in Photomatix Pro.  There's rather more saturation in this image than I saw at the time, but I rather like it even so.  The star effects of the street lights I really like.  Add to this some boy racer heading up the hill that gave me a red streak and the image is interesting.

One other view I quite liked was between the two shots you've just seen.  We have these rather old street lamps that are quite cool, it's just been "bin day" and then there's some nice lights from a neighbours house.  Atmospheric?  Let me know what you think.

All shots taken with a 50mm lens.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I've been out in the garden with my 50mm lens again.  I must say that I'm becoming increasingly fond of this lens.  It's sharp, and it's pretty quick too.  It's also quite limiting when compared to a zoom and you have to move around a lot more to get a shot.  All this does really is remind me of my mum's favourite poem.  Using the nifty fifty makes you look carefully at the shot; observe what's there and take a bit of time to compose the image.  Remember that in my 505050 project I'm not allowing myself any image processing either in or out of camera.  I suppose it's a bit of a trip back to the old Kodachrome days when you'd sit around the projector to watch Uncle Eric's recent holiday shots!
I find that I look for angles and shapes that I may not have looked for previously.  Shapes, colours and textures are becoming as important as the view.

In no way am I claiming to be expert, nor am I suggesting that any of the images in these posts are anything more than snapshots by an amateur.  What I am suggesting is that you can see a lot more if you take the time to just look; perhaps a better word would be, observe.  There's so much of beauty and interest that we miss, which, I have to say, seems rather sad.

So there you are.  Don't think there's nothing of interest near where you are and defer getting out and taking some shots.  Take your time, observe what's going on and how the light plays different games at different times of the day and look for shapes and contrasts rather than typical scenic views and beauty.

One other thing.  Try to avoid using those post processing tools like Photoshop for a little while.  I'm not against these tools (here's a few HDR shots you might like), but just put them to one side for a little while and see what you can create with just you and your camera.

That's what I'm trying just now.  Are you going to have a go too?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tin Can

I suppose it was the way the can blended in with the dead leaves and general undergrowth from the trees that intrigued me.  I'm not sure where the can came from ... possibly launched over the fence from next door by some errant child a few years ago?  I wanted to isolate the can as much as possible from other objects in the frame so selected a wide aperture (f1.8) and focussed on the front edge of the can.  I decided to leave the green plant in the foreground for a bit of contrast, but can't say I'm sure it should be there.

Rather intrigued with the contrasts in the image I converted in to monochrome.  Can't say I'm particularly impressed with either picture but feel there's an image of value somewhere in there with that can and the undergrowth.  Any tips, tricks or hints?  If you have, please attach them as a comment :-)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back to basics

I must say that I've been enjoying using my 50mm lens.  It's quite sharp and has a very pleasant shallow depth of field.

This evening, after work, I was toying with the idea of watering the garden.  It's been very dry in Auckland of late and many of the plants are suffering and in serious need of a drink.  I delayed setting off the sprinkler as I thought rain might eventuate, which it did in small measure.  Just enough to moisten the iris flowers on my driveway and leave a few water droplets on the petals.

I took the shot in this post in very soft, overcast, evening light.  I used a tripod, but there was a bit of a breeze which meant I needed a reasonable shutter speed.  Compromise was f2.8, 1/60sec and ISO 800.  I must say I've been pleased with the camera and its ability to use quite high ISOs and deliver pictures which aren't too noisy.  Click on the image to enlarge it and see what you think.

Pretty flowers?  I think so.  So much so in fact that I've attached a second image of the flowers.  Any preference?  Neither image has been modified except for a bit of a crop on the second image ... hence the title ... back to basics ;-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A bit more HDR :-)

You may have noticed my 505050 project post for today?  The light was quite harsh and contrasty so I took a number of images for the project and selected the one I liked the best.  Not wanting to waste all those images I combined them into a five shot HDR of the red geranium in my back yard.  Have a squiz at the two images and let me know which you prefer.  the HDR image left seems to have softened the harshness of the highlights and shadows and given a more even tone to the flowers.  What do you think?

After playing in the garden with the camera and the geranium it was time to take a chum off to the airport.  The light is quite lovely in the early evening and there's such a lovely warm glow.  Close to Auckland International airport there's a pretty estuary, but sadly nowhere to park to take a shot.  The best I could do was the second image in this post.  A seven shot HDR looking over Pukaki Inlet.  (The hill you can see in the background is, I believe, Mangere Mountain.  Perhaps correct me if I'm mistaken.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Trains ... and HDR?

In an attempt to get some images for my 505050 project I decided to head out to a local substation.  I'm quite intrigued with the angles and shapes the wires and structures make and certain lighting conditions offer some interesting possibilities.  On the way we cross the railway, and as luck would have it, a train was coming through.
Some shots seem to lend themselves to HDR, but is this one of them?  Some family members just don't like HDR at all, whereas I think that in some cases the image seems a more accurate representation of what I can recall "seeing" when I pressed the shutter release.

So, for this post I'll show you a couple of images of the local commuter train.  The first image is straight from the camera (well, OK, I converted it from RAW to JPEG, but that's all).  The camera has its colours set to Natural by the way, so colour saturation may be a little low.

The second image has been processed in Photomatix Pro and then twiddled with a little in Lightroom.

Which do you prefer?  Is one "better" than the other, or are they just different?  I'd be interested to know what you think.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Distant City View ... Nice Clouds

Distant City View, originally uploaded by nzcjs.

Whilst downtown this morning we spent quite a bit of time looking towards the sun as we watched it rise. When we looked in the opposite direction, however, the sky and clouds were quite stunning. The image in this post is a 7 shot HDR image processed in Photomatix Pro. The camera angle is quite low (mounted on a tripod) in an attempt to get as much of the sky as possible without losing the railway and some of the city buildings. There's a couple more images looking in the same direction here and here.

A trip downtown

Early morning trip into Auckland City this morning to drop off a friend for a trip up north.  The sun was still on its way up when we arrived on Quay Street and we enjoyed a pretty special sunrise looking down towards the container terminal.  50mm lens, ISO 200 but then a bit of work in Photomatix Pro (the foreground was seriously under exposed in contrast to the sky), and Lightroom.  I was glad the cyclist was there, otherwise the image may have been a tad lacking.  What do you think?

A quick glance up Queen street at about 7.20am looking for the bus presented the next view you can see to the left.  Again 50mm lens, ISO 800, f8 1/50 second with a bit of a twiddle in Photmatix Pro.  I think you can just notice the reflections of the sunrise in the tower blocks to the right.

After the bus left we headed down towards the heliport just beyond the container terminal.  The sun was pretty well up by now, but the clouds looked special so I opted for a wide angle lens (18mm) and a tripod for the next 7 shot HDR image looking towards St. Heliers.