Sunday, May 20, 2012

Caitlin Smith

Caitlin Smith
If you're in Auckland you should really consider popping into Hotel DeBrett on High Street.  Each Sunday from 6.30pm through to 9.30pm you'll get the chance to hear the lovely Caitlin Smith the very pleasant atmosphere of Hotel De Brett.  I went down earlier today to take a few photographs, but must admit to finding the lighting more conducive to relaxing with a glass of wine and listening to fine music than photography.
Caitlin Smith
I'd taken my 85mm lens and was using this wide open at f1.4 with ISO at 3200 and shutter speeds down at 1/50 second.  The resultant images have noise, but not too bad.  Also, I thought the shots may look better if I converted them to monochrome.  However, I;m not really sure if I prefer them in colour or monochrome yet.  They both have advantages.  I think the greatest requirement is to have at least something in the shot sharply focussed.  Not something that was easy to do in the low light!

Anyway, perhaps let me know what you think of the shots in this post ... I'd love to know what you think.

Oceania Storm CD Release Party

Polynesian dance at the CD launch party.
What a great CD launch party!  Oceania Storm launched it's latest CD last night in Mangere.  A few other acts took to the stage in support of Oceania Storm and it was a wonderful evening of Polynesian entertainment.  There were dancers and musicians from all around the Pacific and I had a wonderful time.

Oceania Storm were the main act though and the band was in great form.    Strings were supplied by members of Auckland's Philharmonic Orchestra and I'm sure I recognised some of the brass section from other bands!  All up the band comprised sixteen musicians and three vocalists and they sounded very good indeed.  Good work by the guys on the sound desk.

Lighting was pretty good.  Way better than the last time I shot the band at the Bellbird in Manurewa!  The only problem now was the smoke machine gave a somewhat hazy and lack lustre appearance to a number of my shots, but I suppose that just adds to the atmosphere?

I'll close this post with a few shots of the Oceania Storm band members form the night.  The shots you see here are just a small selection of the ones taken and there's quite a few performers I haven't added to this post. If you think I may have some shots of you you'd like to see, please email me as I'm sure we can sort something out for you.

Friday, May 18, 2012


White camelia in the morning light
I must admit to finding white flowers somewhat challenging to photograph.  There's as much detail in the flower be it white, red or yellow, yet to get the correct exposure in order to have a recognisable flower instead of a white blob is a bit of a challenge.  I'm not saying these shots are in anyway perfect, just letting you know I don't find it easy and letting you know what I do.
Lots of contrasts and light levels.
I always use spot metering for flowers.  My camera has quite a few focus points that I may also  use to determine exposure.  For each of the shots in this post I decided on the part of the bloom I wanted to be in focus, used the back button to focus, then moved the "focus" point to the area for which I wanted exposure and took the shot.  Only recently have I started to use back button focussing, but I think it's great.  Half pressing the shutter release to do both focus and exposure isn't always what is required and I'd suggest, if your camera has an option for back button focus, to give it a whirl.

I usually shoot RAW as this gives me a little more latitude in post production to correct any slight exposure issues, but in the case of the shots you see here, very few changes were made.

So there you go.  A challenging subject?  Perhaps let me know what you think.

Distracting background, or does the repetition of circles enhance the shot?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Busy, busy, busy, ...

Opening dance sequence at the True South Fashion Show in Mangere

One of the gorgeous dancers at the True South Fashion Show.
Busy?  Well, yes!  Friday night I was down at Mangere to see the True South Fashion Show.  Tasha Lee had her RastaLee Collection on the catwalk and it was superb.  I think everyone was impressed.  Polyfabulous!!

Besides seeing fashion for the larger Polynesian lady, there were musical numbers by Rosita Vai and Bella Kalolo.  These two girls were superb!  I'll post a few shots below for your amusement.

Saturday I was at a video shoot all day.  I'd never been to one of these before and I had a great time.  So many very skillful people making movie magic.  Wonderful.  I met Cherie Mathieson on the set, and then popped out to see her again playing with Contagious at Botany's Cock 'n Bull.  She's lovely.

Today I've been in the garden and trying to sort through the many photos taken over the past few days.  Busy?  You bet!  Having fun? Of course.  Great fun meeting the people, taking the shots and processing them.

There's a few things on this next week too, so please check back regularly to check on progress.
Bella Kalolo 
Rosita Vai.
Cherie Mathieson.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gorgeous morning ...


Mono treatment of today's 85mm lens project shot.
I mentioned in today's 85mm project shot that I'm finding it rather awkward to use the 85mm lens for anything other than portraits.  This morning's shot of the toitoi seems better with the 24mm lens than it does with the 85mm, and my "rule" not to crop or modify the image is proving to be a real constraint.  I suppose if I had less to do during the day it'd be easier, but I don't seem to have the time to be creative with this gorgeous 85mm lens.

So, what a morning!  Very cold last night and a wonderfully clear morning today.  Bright, fresh and crisp.  The toitoi had a wonderful "glow" to them which I've hopefully captured in the first two shots.

Shot 3 is a tight crop of a bee making for the nectar on some lavender at Auckland's Botanic Gardens.  1/2000 second seems to have just about frozen the action.  Not that easy to shoot bees in flight and, to be honest, this shot is more of a fluke than planned!!
Homing in on breakfast.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sick ... again!

Autumn leaves at Conifer Grove.
The weather must be getting cooler as I've started with a cough again!  Off to the pharmacy to get some medication before things get worse.  Anyway, as I've been collecting my various pills and potions I couldn't help but be struck by the lovely autumn colours.  First shot in this post is of a Pin Oak.  It was those two green leaves side by side that really caught my eye ... hopefully they stand out for you too in the shot above.
It's not just the leaves that are changing colour though.  Walking past neighbours gardens there's a wide range of plants still in flower that seem to take on a special glow with the early morning or late afternoon autumn sun.  Banksias have always intrigued me.  These plants seem to have an amazingly complex flower that must be a nightmare to negotiate if you're a bee!  I mean, when you look at a hibiscus, it seems pretty obvious where to go to get the nectar, but with these flowers!!  Whoa!  Where do you start?!?!

Besides banskia there's a few protea in flower as well as some hibiscus.  I really must try to get up earlier to get more golden light into my shots ... perhaps after I've taken my pills :-)
Gorgeous protea.  Not a flower as such, just colourful bracts!
Autumn colour in some leaves at Conifer Grove.
OK, a monochrome shot to end with.  I just liked the textures in these "things".

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The season is changing ...

The start of the autumn colours.
Just back from a lovely walk around Auckland's Botanic Gardens.  There's a bit of a nip in the air, and you can see the autumn colours on the trees now.  Makes quite a change from the new spring growth we enjoyed back in the UK only a couple of weeks ago.  First shot in this post has the lovely green leaves of an acer interspersed with the occasional red or orange one.  In a few days I suspect the view will be quite special.  Perhaps I'll pop back with a tripod and a longer lens!
Silver Birch, losing its leaves.
Back home the leaves seem rather morte drab!  Take a look at shot two.  Looking up a silver birch tree the leaves are more of a dirty green or brown when compared to the lovely colours of the acer.

Looking at shot 2 you'll see a fair amount of lichen on the bark of the tree.  I was told that this is a good indication of air quality.  We seem to have heaps of the stuff on our trees, but can't recall seeing much of is at all in England.  Moss was the main thing.  Perhaps the air is cleaner over here after all!

The third shot in this post is of some small white flowers.  There's a but of a debate going on in our household as to what they are.  If you know, perhaps leave me a message.  To see what we presently believe these flowers are, take a squiz here.

Right, back to work.  I can't believe how many forms I've suddenly received that need to be filled in!!
Mystery blooms.  Perhaps leave me a message if you know what they are.