Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas!!

Happy Christmas!!

Often at this time of year we think of "Peace".  I came across this Ancient Chinese proverb that you might like to ponder ...

If there is to be peace in the world, 
There must be peace in the nations. 
If there is to be peace in the nations, 
There must be peace in the cities. 
If there is to be peace in the cities, 
There must be peace between neighbors. 
If there is to be peace between neighbors, 
There must be peace in the home. 
If there is to be peace in the home, 
There must be peace in the heart.
Lao Tzu

Question now is, from where does that peace in your heart come?  Perhaps by thinking of the true meaning of Christmas the answer may become a little clearer?

Happy Christmas ... stay safe, and all the best for 2012!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Out in the garden ...

Time to have a bit of fun with camera and my new tripod.  I went out in the back yard with my son.  I've only got my shots in this post ... I did ask for some of the closeup shots my son did with his Nikon P500, but nothing has been forthcoming yet!!

First shot is of a "Hen and Chickens" fern.  I like the idea of isolating the fern from its background especially as there was so much colour in the background that contrasted with the green of the fern.

Second shot is a weed!  I was quite taken with shape of the flower ... and again, isolating the bloom from its background.

The last three shots are of the agapanthus that are just coming into bloom along my driveway.  We'll get about two months of blooms out of these plants then its the boring green foliage.  Right now they're rather pretty.  Perhaps let me know what you think.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Yellow flowers!

Yellow flowers!
Just got back from work and really keen to start the holidays I took my tripod and headed into the garden to try some shots.  These bright yellow flowers caught my eye, but the image seemed just too saturated.  A bit of a play in Lightroom ... desaturating, reducing contrast and adding a bit of a vignette resulted in the shot you see above.  I quite like it.  Certainly give a better impression of the texture and form of the flower which I believe was lost in the colour version of the shot.  It also has a somewhat "dreamy" look to the shot that I quite like.  Anyway, what do you think?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A bit of music ... for Christmas


Carols, a few other songs and a reminder of what Christmas is all about.  We had a great time.  Quite a few folks came along to help the music team sing the carols and then we had a few songs by some of my music friends.

I think everyone had a good time.  A chance to meet old friends and make new ones.  Best of all, a chance to relax and have some fun. It really was a good night.

The light wasn't the best so ISOs were quite high and there were some interesting shadows.  Most shots have been converted to monochrome to hide issues with noise.

First shot is of Rosa, out talented drummer.  next we have the band that played at the end of the concert.  I liked the somewhat 'retro' look to the shot.  the remaining shots are of  the individual band members.  Each is hugely talented!

Anyway, have a look and let me know what you think.  Perhaps next year you might like to come along as well :-)
L to R: Ross Devereux, Malcolm Lakatani, Demetrius Savai'inaea, Grace Ikenasio, Semi Leo.

Demetrius Savai'inaea
Grace Ikenasio
Malcolm Lakatani
Ross Devereux

Semi Leo

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In the garden ...

Backlit flax just coming into flower
Well, it wasn't my garden, but a friend's place a little further south from my home.  A stroll around the garden gave me a chance to see some quite lovely blooms.  Perhaps the most significant thing for me was the way in which weeds had been blended and accepted as part of the garden.  Many weeds have pleasing flowers, but, due to their invasive nature, are often avoided and ripped out of the garden.  The second shot in this post shows a blend of chives and daisies.  I really wanted a shallow depth of field to focus your eyes on a specific bloom, but which one?  Do I pick the daisy, to the chives?  Perhaps let me know what you think?  In the third shot I changed focus to concentrate on the chives ... so which do you prefer?
Daisy and chives.  
Chives and daisies
Besides weeds and chives there was a huge range of other blooms including some King Protea.  Quite different to daisies!!  I showed the fourth shot in this post to some friends in the States and was surprised to learn they'd never heard of proteaceae before.  The King Protea has large blooms ... in excess of 8inches or 20cms across ... these really are quite stunning flowers that really make an impression.
King Protea
A rather pleasing doorway
The last shot in this post is a monochrome interpretation of one of the outbuilding's doorways.  As soon as I saw this scene I thought of an "Olde Worlde" scene.  A quick twiddle in Silver Efex for a sepia effect with a light vignette helped produce the scene you see.

I had a great time.  A lovely rambling garden with flowers that will bloom at different times through the year.  I'll take my camera next time I visit along with a tripod.  Shots from this visit were all hand held and I was a little disappointed with the sharpness in some of my images.  I thought I'd take some extra light and diffusers to try and even out the light too.  Quite a few harsh shadows and deep contrasts in many of my shots from this last visit I'll try to rectify next time.  Perhaps I should show a before and after set of shots and get you to let me know which you prefer and why.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

787 visits Auckland

Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner has arrived in Auckland.  After a direct flight from Seattle to Auckland the 787 landed at about 9am on Saturday morning.  It's now at the engineering department, no doubt being examined by the staff who will be maintaining the aircraft once Air New Zealand takes delivery of its aeroplanes in a couple of years time.
Fences were in the way which prevented us getting a closer shot, but depending on the time the aircraft leaves on Tuesday we make get chance of some closer shots as it takes off.  The last shot is a tigherter crop of the second shot and clearly shows an Air New Zealand name tag above the doors.  Perhaps this 'plane is Air New Zealand's after all?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Winter Gardens

Single shot HDR image of one of Auckland's Winter Garden hot houses.  Well worth a visit.
After dropping off my daughter in the city yesterday ... the trains were all cancelled again, total confusion ruled regarding which bus went where and when, so the only option was to use the car to get to the city.  Anyway, I was saying, after dropping off my daughter in the city, I headed to the Winter Gardens.  I've not been here for ages and they really are well worth a visit.  They have some glorious blooms and specialist plants on display, parking is free and the Fern Garden is here too!  Looking at the shot above, the Fern Garden would be just off to the right, opposite the fish pond.
Gorgeous poppies.  These blooms caught my eye due to their colour and size ... but take a look at their seed pods!
Poppy seed pods.  Wonderful shapes, textures and colour.  Just as beautiful as the blooms!
The first plants to catch my eye were the poppies.  Stunning colour and huge blooms.  Composing the shot I couldn't help but notice the seed pods.  The second shot has a more detailed view of these strange creations.  I must admit to being equally entranced with the seed pods as I was with the blooms.

I didn't have as much time as I'd have liked, and I should really have taken a tripod.  Nevertheless it was a worthwhile visit.  I'll close this post with a few more shots that you might enjoy.  Perhaps let me know what you think.
I have no idea what this is ... but it seemed so delicate and pretty!

I loved these colours.  I have Anthurium at home, but not in these colours!

Gorgeous water lilies.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Onehunga Wharf

Spirit of Resolution, Onehunga Wharf, New Zealand
Friday evening usually has the "Spirit of Resolution" docked at the Onehunga Wharf.  Returning from the city in the evening and driving over the motorway bridge I can often see out of the corner of my eye interesting lights and activity as the ship is either loaded or unloaded with its cargo.  Always keen to stop and take some shots, but never with the time to stop and play.  That all changed this Friday.  The sunset looked interesting and we had a bit of spare time, so off we set to see what we could do!

The first shot in this post is a blend of five images shot at 1 stop intervals (-2, -1, 0, 1, 2) processed in Photomatix Pro.  I didn't want the HDR effect, but needed some help with the high contrasts.  The sky was quite bright, but there were deep shadows in the foreground.  There was also the problem of the boat moving on the water as well as the cranes working to relocate the ship's cargo.  I was reasonably happy with the shot, but really wanted a bit more saturation.  All efforts to date have resulted in a somewhat false looking shot, so I'll stick with the image you see above!
Spirit of Resolution, Onehunga Wharf, New Zealand
The second shot in this post is a closer shot of the rear of the boat.  I was quite intrigued with the lights, evening colours and reflections on the water.  This second shot is a single image.  This shot helps you appreciate the range of light levels.  Any suggestions on how to bring out the darks, push back the lights yet retain a reasonable level of contrasts and saturation would be most welcome.

Shot three is a landscape version of shot two from a similar viewpoint used for the first shot.  Difference now is time ... about 10 minutes!  I think I prefer this shot to  the first as it seems to have more interest to it.  Perhaps let me know which you prefer?

The last shot is a 15 second exposure of the motorway bridge from which I've observed this ship on a number of occasions.  I picked 15 seconds in an attempt to "flatten" the water and get a bit more emphasis on the motorway lights.  Not sure it's worked, but I'm sure you'll let me know.  Oh, if you click on the images you should get an enlarged version of the shot :-)
Spirit of Resolution at Onehunga Wharf
Highway 20 motorway bridge at Onehunga.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Victoria Park Tunnel

South entrance to the new Victoria Park tunnel, Auckland, New Zealand
It's open ... well, just to foot traffic today.  Motorists will have to wait a few more weeks before they're allowed to drive through the new tunnel.  Finished ahead of schedule by a good couple of months this new cut and cover tunnel should make life rather easier for those folk on the North Shore as they battle their way home after work.  I can't say I'm convinced it will have either a significant or long lasting benefit, but let's wait and see.

9.30am and the gates opened.  Close by Victoria Park are a couple of 'evacuation' points which hopefully will only be used for the maintenance crews to access the tunnel.  It was through these evacuation points that we gained access to the road beneath.  Several flights of stairs and then, there it was.  All three lanes of the north bound State Highway One. The lanes seemed a little narrow, but perhaps that was just my imagination?

On leaving the tunnel we were impressed by the new skate park. I took a couple of shots of the Maori carvings you can see in the park that I've included at the end of this post.
Welcome to the tunnel!  Clever use of lighting ensures your eyes have time to adjust to the darkness as you enter and the bright sunlight as you exit.  This shot was taken at the Northern end of the tunnel as the road approaches Westhaven Marina.
Access way underneath Victoria Park.  The road is off to the right behind the wall.   Fireproof access ways are provided every 25m in case anything untoward happens on the road.

Contrast between old and new?  Traditional Maori carving and the more modern Skytower in the background.

Old style formatting with a light vignette to accentuate the traditional nature of this carving.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Monochrome ... for a change :-)

Thankfully I'm starting to feel more normal again after this dreadful chest infection.  Still not 100%, but certainly on the mend now.  In an attempt to feel less nauseous I headed off to the Botanic Gardens for a breath of fresh air.  Oh, and I took my camera ... just in case there was something nice to see.

The first thing to catch my eye were the lupins.  I've always liked their leaves.  Great textures and patterns that I think are perhaps best captured with a monochrome treatment.

After the lupins I headed down towards the lake where there was this gorgeous tree with some quite stunning cones.  I;m afraid I don't know the name of the tree, but if you do, please let me know.  Again, a monochrome treatment with a light vignette ... sounds like a salad!  The shots have a bit of an old style look to them which I must admit to quite liking.  Perhaps let me know what you think?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spider ...

Sadly I don't have a macro lens, so it's always a little frustrating when I see a wee beasty in the garden and I can't quite get close enough.  Out with the 50mm lens and a very tight crop.  This 50mm f1.8 lens must be one of the best value for money lenses available from Nikon.  I'm very fond of the lens myself.  Nice and sharp and has quite a pleasing blur when wide open.

Second shot is a tighter crop, but still with the 50mm lens.

Oh well, that's all for today.  Still feeling rough and unwell.  Gentle strolls in my garden are all I seem to be able to manage at present so please forgive the lack of variety in the shots.  Hopefully I'll get rid of this chest infection and be able to shoot some portraits and more action shots of the bands.  Must admit that the idea of being able to get out a bit more is more than slightly appealing!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Three shots ...

Fatsia in monochrome. 
Tiny snail on an arum lily.
I really can't get over the slowness with which I seem to be recovering from my chest infection.  The cough remains and the drugs used to help out seem to be making me feel sick most of the time with reflux problem.  Arggh!  I try to get a bit of fresh air each day, but get tired quite quickly.  Anyway, I usually take my trusty Nikon with me when I go for a stroll and what you see here are a few shots from today's stroll.

The first shot in this post is of a fatsia leaf.  These leaves have such lovely textures and the morning light playing on the leaf was quite special.  Sharpened in Lightroom, monochrome treatment courtesy of Silver Efex Pro.

The second shot is quite a contrast with very rich colour in the green leaf of the arum lily.  It was the little snail that caught my eye.  50mm lens quite open to enhance the blur in the background, but retain sharpness in the snail's shell.

The third shot was taken in the evening when the light seemed to go soft and blurry.  I've tried to keep the flower sharp and correctly exposed but retain the atmosphere of that special light.  Did it work?  Perhaps you'll let me know?
Impatiens in a soft light

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple blossom

Apple blossom in my back yard.
Walking around the garden this afternoon I couldn't help but be drawn by the apple blossom. Selecting my 50mm lens with a wide aperture, to lessen the depth of field, I took a couple of shots.

We'd been pretty ruthless with the pruning of this tree and I wasn't really expecting to get many apples this year.  To see the blossom on the old tree was a welcome surprise.

The second shot in this post is a tight crop with the focussed blooms placed on a golden section.  I was quite taken with the second set of blooms off to the left of the shot ... I thought it helped give a bit more interest and depth to the shot.  Perhaps let me know what you think?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Downtown ...

Huge Rugby Ball on Auckland's wharf.
Feeling rather better today, so I tried a trip downtown Auckland to have a look at "The Cloud" and other special things laid on for the Rugby World Cup.  Sadly, can't say I feel the best since I've come home, but it was quite a pleasant day all the same.  As such, this post will be brief.  There's a few more shots on flickr and G+ if you want to see more :-)
The Topp Twins singing a song for the folks on the wharf.
Quite a few things to see, even the Topp Twins were there!  In fact there were musicians and performers all over the place.  Quite a special atmosphere and it'll be a shame to see it all put away and forgotten about once the World Cup is over.
Talented musician busking in downtown Auckland.