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.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Metrosideros at the Botanic Gardens

Well, my cough and chest infection seem to be improving and breathing is getting easier, but  the drugs make me nauseous.  Just can't win!  Anyway, I thought a bit of fresh air might help me feel better so I went for a gentle stroll to the Botanic Gardens.

Quite a pleasant day here today in Auckland with lovely blue skies.  I took my camera, but wasn't really in the mood for taking pictures, though I did manage a couple that I'll share with you in this post.

First shot was taken close by the visitor's centre and shows the very pretty metrosideros tree in bloom. The metrosideros is often referred to as the New Zealand Christmas tree, so either this particular tree is very early or it's not the NZ Christmas tree!

The next two shots are of a Rosa and something about which I know nothing!  If you do perhaps let me know?

Rosa at the Botanic Gardens

Monday, October 17, 2011

Melancholy ...

Seed heads
Still rough and unwell today and have spent a good chunk of the day in bed.  I had a brief stroll around the garden and took a couple of shots, but really not feeling the best.

The first shot is of some seed heads down near the sandpit in my back yard.  I suppose I often look at the flowers and get excited by the colours and shapes of the blooms.  However, sometimes the 'dead heads' or seed heads can be just as interesting.  I'm not sure of the name of this particular plant, but the seed head has some interesting patterns and textures to it.

Shot taken with my Nikkor 18-200mm lens at 200mm and quite open to get that nice bokeh effect you see.  The grass is pretty green thanks to the rain we've had recently!

Second shot is of some small agapanthus.  Not sure what I think of these plants.  The blooms are quite nice, but the larger variety are somewhat intrusive and once you have them they're somewhat tricky to get rid of.

I must say, looking at the shots in this post they seem somewhat bland and lacking in punch.  Perhaps just a manifestation of my melancholy mood?
Miniature Agapanthus

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Patience?  Sorry, don't have a lot of that:-(  Seriously fed up of feeling ill and the pharmaceuticals recommended by the doctor don't seem to be helping much at all.  Started using the citrus fruits from the garden, honey and alcohol.  I had intended going downtown to the Tupa-Waka, but sadly this hasn't happened due to being ill.  Whirimako Black and the Pacific Curls were playing this weekend and I'd really fancied going to take some shots.  Arggh!
Liquid Amber.  New spring leaves lit by setting sun.
Sitting in the living room, feeling sorry for myself, I noticed these rather pretty new liquid amber leaves lit by the setting sun with the trunk of the tree providing a pleasing background.  Nikkor 85mm f1.4G with aperture set to f3.5 and manual focus.  I wanted as shallow a depth of field as possible to get that lovely blur this lens provides, but needed enough depth of field to ensure all the leaves were in focus.  Manual focus let me juggle with the DoF preview and focus ring to get just the leaves sharp.  Well, that was the idea anyway.  As you know, I've been feeling rough, so things may not have worked as well as I'd hoped, but you get the idea of what I was trying to achieve.

Quite sharp the 85mm lens.  You may even be able to pick out a spider's thread?  Good news is that the price for this lens has been dramatically reduced here in NZ.
Callistemon "Little John"

Second Shot in this post is a pretty heavy crop of a Callistemon in my front yard.  Nice and sharp ... great detail from this which I suppose is traditionally thought of as a portrait lens.  Anyway, as you already know, my plans for using the lens for more portrait type shots down at the waterfront have been dashed with this chest infection.

I love this lens.  I have a 50mm lens, but this 85mm is really sweet and I prefer that little extra reach.

Perhaps let me know what you think of the shots?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Anti-biotics :-(

Not the best night last night and hopes of seeing Pacific Curls and Whirimako Black on the waterfront were dashed.  Really not well and spent a good chunk of the day resting and feeling very sorry for myself.  Quick trip to the doctors this morning resulted in a cocktail of pills including some anti-biotics.  Sadly, as I start to get ready for the evening meal this evening, I can't say that I'm feeling much better than I did first thing this morning.
Cherry Blossom.
Still keen to make the most of the lovely weather we've enjoyed over the past couple of days I attached the Nikkor 85mm f1.5G to my D300 and took a closer look at some of the blooms in the garden.

First shot was taken over the fence to capture my neighbour's cherry blossom.  The sun was a bit lower in the sky which helps give a bit more warmth to the shot.  This lens really is a gem.  It's surprisingly sharp wide open and creates a gorgeous background blur.  Quite a special piece of kit.  This was shot at f3.5 ... trying to retain the blur, but get a bit more depth of field on the blooms themselves.  Did it work?  Perhaps ley me know.

Kowhai blooms
The second shot is of some more kowhai blooms in my back yard.  This time looking up so you can get a better idea of the bell like blooms of this tree.  Nice blue sky this evening as you can see.

The last few shots are a bit of a change.  My son is looking after a chum's guinea pig for a few days, so I thought I'd get a few shots whilst I could and the 'pig' was returned to its owner.  Shallow depth of field again in an attempt to draw your attention to the creature's face and eyes.  Does it work?

Now it's time for tea and some more tablets ... hopefully I'll feel rather better tomorrow.  I must say that I'm pretty fed up with the sore throat and cough already!  Perhaps let me know what you think of the pig pictures ;-)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sick :-(

Felt rough today, sore throat and bad chest.  Not a happy chappy at all.  Coming towards the end of the day, just as the sun started to go down I went outside with my son to take a few shots.  Can't say these are my best efforts, but I'm sure you'll excuse me as I'm not feeling well.
Orchid(?) on my deck just outside my living room.
The first shot in this post was taken just outside my living room.  These little orchids are very pretty, but the background isn't flattering.  I picked a wide aperture (f1.4) to blur the fence and gutter downpipe.  At least that part of the shot worked!!
Backyard bluebells.
My next shot is of some bluebells in my backyard.  I've been wanting to get a shot of the bluebells where I can give the impression of depth.  I wanted some blooms in front and behind the main subject, but slightly out of focus.  Anyway, what you see is my effort whilst feeling rough.  The light was pretty bright from the right and quite dark elsewhere. The blur is not too bad though. Again a very wide aperture was selected (f1.4).

Shot three is probably my favourite for today.  This was shot by the entrance to by property.  I was shooting into the sun and wasn't altogether certain what type of effect I was going to get.  I'd seen a few highlights behind the 'red hot poker' as the sun reflected off some background leaves, but the flare and rather pleasant circular highlights have turned out much better than I expected.  Shot at f1.4 again, using the Nikkor 85mm f1.4G (dream lens!!).
Red Hot Poker.
After coming inside I noticed a few black dots on the image ... not really sure what these marks are.  I've since cleaned the lens (it did have a few dust specs on both front and rear lens elements) and haven't noticed these marks on other images so am hoping it's not a dirty sensor!  We'll see.  Anyway, what do you think of the shot?  Does the flare work?
Yet another weed!

Last shot in this post is of yet another weed! As you can see, I was still playing with a very shallow depth of field.  Daisy at f1.4 with the Nikkor 85mm f1.4G.  One seriously sweet piece of kit.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A gentle stroll

Californian Poppies at Auckland's Botanic Gardens.
Some friends came over earlier today and we ended up at the Botanic Gardens here in Auckland.  I was keen to continue working with as shallow depth of field as possible.  Not easy with a wide angle lens!  The first shot in this post was take with the Nikkor 12-24mm wide open at f4.  The lens was at the long end of the range really to avoid the pathways and other general clutter beyond the flower bed.  Focus and exposure was taken in the centre of the white flower and I must admit to being quite pleased with the sharpness of the image.  The background blur is quite nice I think and I managed to increase this blur effect by getting as close as possible (minimum focus distance) to the white bloom.  Perhaps let me know what you think of the shot.
Strelitzia reginae (bird of paradise)
Shot #2 of a "Bird of Paradise" flower was taken with my 18-200mm zoom lens.  I wanted to get as much of the bloom as possible in the frame and try to accentuate the spiky nature of the plant.  I'm not sure what I think of this shot ... a bit cluttered?  You may recall a shot I took earlier this year of a Strelitzia?  This was much more isolated from the background, but I think I prefer this for being just that bit tighter and closer.

Shot #3, again taken with the 18-200mm lens, and closed down to f11, shows a Telopea flower.  I find these very attractive and fascinating blooms.  The flower seems to lush and colourful, whereas the leaves seems to dry and bland.  Contrasts again!  Perhaps one day I'll do a series on contrasts taking inspiration from Johannes Itten.

Waratah Telopea