Sunday, July 25, 2010

The New Bridge!

After feeling pretty rough over the past few days with a chest infection I was delighted to get out into the sunshine today and visit the new motorway bridge over the Manukau Harbour.  This new bridge, very similar to the previous version, has been added to increase the number of traffic lanes crossing the harbour.  The old bridge will cater for all the north bound traffic and the new bridge will look after the southbound traffic.  Apparently, this new bridge has only taken two years to complete, whereas the previous version took eight.  Obviously practice makes perfect.

Lots of people came to walk over the bridge and enjoy the views over the harbour ... even the Prime Minister, John Key, came along with his scissors to cut the ribbon signifying the opening of the bridge.
It's not all finished yet and there's a little bit of landscaping to complete, but the overall impression is very impressive.

I took a wide angle lens, really to get as much of the view as possible, and will complete this post with a few views taken close to the bridge.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ellerslie Racecourse

Feeling pretty rough yesterday ... well today too for that matter, so please forgive the quality of the images and text!  I've developed a really bad sore throat and now I'm having problems with my sinuses so I'm definitely feeling the worse for wear.  Nevertheless, yesterday required a trip to Ellerslie to drop my wife off at the hospital.  She was in for a few hours so I thought I'd take my camera and have a gentle little walk around the Ellerslie Racecourse.  I've been here a few times before, but never with camera in hand.  This is a great place for a photo walk.  So many interesting things to see.

We started walking from the hospital through a lovely avenue of palm trees.  I was using a wide 12-24mm zoom lens which may explain the curvature of the palm trees!  They're not as bent as this in real life.  My son took a Samsung U10 FlashCAM that we're evaluating for work and I have to say the differences between the cameras was significant.  Granted, my Nikon probably has a higher price tag than the Samsung, but my son came to the conclusion my cellphone camera was better; and my phone was the cheapest Sharp 'phone I could find.  My sky came out blue (see the image left) whereas the Samsung just couldn't sort out white balance and exposure and it's sky came out almost white.  Video seemed as bad with serious delays with exposure, focus and white balance.  Disappointing.  I'll have a play with the device later today and perhaps let you know how I get on.

The Nikon, however, was fine.  I was in no way disappointed there :-)
One thing that's always surprised me has been the pigeons.  I'm used to them living in towns, congregating in town hall squares and perhaps more famously, in Trafalgar square.  I think of them as town birds, making their nests in and on buildings.  Congregating on the window sills and ledges of high rise town buildings.  I don't really associate them with trees, let alone palm trees, yet the one you see in the second image in this post seems quite happy in amongst the fronds of the palm.  This pigeon isn't out native wood pigeon or Kereru but a common rock pigeon.  The bird isn't as sharp as I'd have liked; I should really have used a tripod, but I wasn't feeling the best remember :-(

Just down from this lovely avenue of trees is the car-park and then the racecourse and associated buildings.  The sky changed from cloudless to something quite spectacular as you might see in the remaining photos in this post.

Time for some more painkillers and a drink methinks.

Let me know what you think of the photos ;-)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Barry White?

Well not the real Barry White, but certainly somebody who sounds like Barry White; Thomas Stowers.  For a couple of hours we were treated to the Barry White sounds of the 1970's.  The band was very good indeed with a nice tight sound.  Bass playing by Semi Leo was perfect, Paul Voight superb on lead guitar, Mark Dennison on saxophone and Paul Norman on trumpet.  I hadn't realised this, but Mark played for the real Barry White.  Paul Norman is also a bit of a legend as a result of all the work he has done around the schools and nurturing some of NZ's top musical talents.  When he was at Avondale College their Jazz bands took out numerous NZ jazz festival awards.  Hardly surprising then with talent a plenty on stage that the music was good and the audience loved it.  All being well there'll be other gigs so more people can enjoy the performances.  More photos are on Facebook, and heaps more on my computer!
The light on Thomas was great, but the rest of the band was less well lit.  I must admit that I didn't find it that easy.  I wanted to use a low ISO to avoid noise, but keep the shutter speed as high as possible.  However, ISO settings ranged from 400 through to 6400 and shutter speeds from 1/25 up to 1/800sec.  Also, with the audience seated I really didn't want to get in the way and obscure folk's views of the performers.  Quite different to what I've been used to at the Cock 'n Bull or Osborne Street!  I must say though, that as the evening progressed I felt more at ease and started to have a bit more fun.

I'll close this post with a few more images of Thomas.  Don't forget to let me know what you think and you can always take a squiz at a lot more photos on Facebook.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Allegro in monochrome at Osborne Street

Another pleasant Sunday afternoon at Osborne Street in Newmarket.  Allegro were playing again to their usual high standard and I managed to get a few more shots for the album :-)

For this post I thought I'd just post monochrome images.  There's a few people recently who have commented on monochrome images saying how they often prefer them over colour.  The images in this post were all taken as colour images and then converted to monochrome with Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro ... a Lightroom plug-in.  Check out Nik software's website as you can run their software for free for a 30 day period as you evaluate it.

The shots have a slight vignette added which I think adds a bit of atmosphere.  Let me know what you think.

For the shots taken at the Cock 'n Bull on Friday I used a wide angle lens, but tonight at Osborne Street I reverted to my trusty nifty fifty.  This lens is a gem.  I think it's Nikon's cheapest lens and must be one of their sharpest.  At f1.8 it's quite quick and ideal for the low light levels at Osborne Street.

There's more photos on my Facebook page should you want to see more as well as some colour images.

Contagious ... WIDE!

Friday night at the Cock 'n Bull at Botany with a wide angle lens and Contagious on stage.  The first shot in this post was taken at 12mm.  The only problem really was the aperture.  f4 just isn't really fast enough for the amount of available light.  I was keen to get more of the lights in the shot, and the wide angle lens would certainly let me do this, but as Terrence and Birgette move around on the stage my shutter speed wasn't fast enough to freeze the action.  Never mind ... you live and learn.

The second shot was also taken with the wide angle lens.  I think it gives some nice distortions sometimes.  One effect is to make the guitar increase in length.  Another less flattering effect can occur of you get a bit close to people and put them at the edge of the frame.  I'll try to avoid doing this :-)

Third shot in this post is again taken with the wide angle lens.  This lens lets me get quite close to the performers yet retain a lot of the background.  Sadly I need to boost the sensitivity which then introduces a bit of noise into the image.  This third shot shows Brett Robertson on keyboards.  Let me know what you think.  Does it add to the atmosphere perhaps?

Some of my favourite shots are of Carlos on the lead guitar.  He has a small spot light that illuminates him when he has a bit of a solo.  The contrast between him and the background I find particularly pleasing.  Again, sadly, there's a reasonable amount of noise as I need to boost the sensitivity up a few notches to ISO 3200 or even 6400.  You may recall a shot I took a few weeks ago of Carlos.  The previous shot was taken with the 50mm lens and a lower ISO so there's not as much noise.  This shot was taken with the wide angle lens and I think is a bit noisier.  Perhaps let me know which you prefer and why ;-)

The last shot in this post is of Birgette.  Sadly I haven't managed to get any shots of the drummer.  There's so much hardware in front of him that it's nigh on impossible to get him performing without a microphone appear to be protruding out of his ear or something else casting an unpleasant shadow across his face.  I'll keep trying, but so far, no joy :-(

Anyway, Birgette completes the shots for this post.  More images are on my Facebook page should you want to see more.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Back at work!

Lovely weather today and the campus looked great.  The magnolia close to the marae is in bloom which really added to the scene.  Saturation and contrast have been tweaked slightly by processing with Photomatix Pro.  I'll add a couple more shots of the campus close to the marae to complete this rather brief post.  The last shot is of the Dilworth Building, the old DSIR building, built about 1916.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


A trip to Newmarket this afternoon to visit a health professional on Remuera Road provided an opportunity for some photographs of the new railway station and nearby buildings.  The first shot is a wideangle shot of a train headed for Britomart entering the Newmarket Station.  Single shot HDR processed in Photomatix Pro.  I was quite taken with the flare from the sunlight ... let me know what you think :-)

Near the railway line and specialist's was a very pretty timber church that you can see in the second image.  I must come back and take some more shots of this church as it very picturesque indeed.  I was somewhat annoyed by the woman who entered the picture on the right, but now I think this adds to the shot.  What do you think?

After Newmarket and a visit to the pharmacy we had a quick walk around Auckland's Botanic Gardens. The sun was setting by now and gave a pleasant view through the trees as you can see in the final image in this post.

As always, click on the image to see it enlarged, send me an email if you want more details or to get copies of any of the shots and write me a comment so I know what you think about the photos.
Whoa!  I almost forgot!  Whilst at the Gardens I met these three charming Indian gentlemen.  Sitting close to the rose gardens, chatting away to each other and enjoying the warmth of the setting sun.  My initial idea was to use a long lens and shoot them without them knowing.  However, the gent with the blue turban didn't miss anything and was being observed all the time I tried to find a suitable vantage point.  After taking the photograph I went to see them and show them what I'd done and then took a another shot.  Hopefully I'll meet them again and I can then give them some copies of the photos I've taken to remind them of their trip to the Gardens.