Monday, May 31, 2010

More from the weekend

This image is another of my favourites. Its simplicity makes it stand out from the crowd. I am thinking I might have to do a separate project on water drips at some stage.

The next two images are from the oak tree in the park at the edge of the bush. I spied the empty acorn cases as we were making our way back to the cars and had to stop and photograph them.

Finding the acorns themselves still on the tree was even better. Sometimes it is those last minute shots that often turn out to be the best.

Small stuff

I find it very frustrating at the moment not being able to get up close to most of the fungi. I have a bad back which makes it hard to bend for any length of time which I need to do to photograph fungi.

To combat this handicap I decided to use my 70-300 zoom lens and look for fungi that was up on banks so that I could shoot up towards it rather than have to get down to the ground. For the most part this worked. I tried using my tripod but it was just to restricting so I ditched it after the first 10 minutes and once again I was shooting hand held in low light.

I do like these tiny fungi with their long thin stems. They are about three inches in height and are incredibly delicate little things. Very easy to miss when walking through the bush, it was only because I was looking up the banks that I noticed them.

The fungi in the image below looked rather special with their almost satin like finish. I liked the contrast between the light colour of the top of the fungi and the dark chocolate colour of the stems.

The final image was the hardest to access. A couple of people who were walking through the bush told us of this cluster of fungi they saw further up the track. It was quite steep to get up to them and the track was very muddy so care had to be taken. I think it was worth the effort as they really were an amazing cluster fungi - this photo is just a small portion of them.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


A small group of photographers from our local camera club got together today to go into the local bush looking for fungi to photograph. It had been raining for the last week and it was still drizzling when we headed in.

I am trying to teach myself to be more observant of my surroundings, so instead of just concentrating on the fungi (of which there was plenty), I looked around to see what else there was that would make a good photograph. Each time I looked up I had water dripping onto my glasses. Annoying when you are trying to see things but it gave me an idea - I started to look at where the drips were coming from.

All around me there were ferns and trees with water droplets hanging from leaves and branches. I spent a bit of time just photographing the water droplets and totally ignored the fungi!

The image at the top of this post is my favourite of the day. It isn't as sharp as I would have liked it to be but when I tried to photograph it a second time, all the water drops had gone. The wind was also picking up and making it hard to get a still shot.

Just goes to show that even in a dull drab rainy Sunday there is something of beauty there to be seen. (I will post some of the fungi shots in another post.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Flower Power

The South Is. has some of the most beautiful scenery. We saw lupins in flower along the side of the road almost everywhere we went. Lake Tekapo where these photos were taken had the most lupins I have ever seen in one place. The photos really don't do them justice - they just seemed to go on forever. Fields of pink, blue, purple and white flowers.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Tui

For ages I had been chasing tui around with my camera. They land on the trees outside our house but by the time I get the camera out they are gone - sitting just out of reach of the lens calling out to me. I have even gone places where there were lots of tui in the trees thinking I just need to get close enough to get the perfect shot. However if they are in a fast moving mood that perfect shot is not going to be achieved.

So I was really surprised on a trip to the Auckland zoo, when I was NOT looking for tui, to see one sitting posing for the camera and luckily I had it ready. I finally had my perfect tui image and I didn't even have to go hunting to find it. These photos were taken while waiting for the rest of our party to catch us up and it was a sheer fluke that we were even at that spot waiting. We were not in an avairy, or enclosure of any kind, these birds are free flying natives of New Zealand.

New Zealand Scenery

We went on a road trip around the South Island of New Zealand, through some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. I am not really into landscape photography but I certainly gave it a try on this trip. This first image was shot from Knight's Point on the West coast. There was a lookout offering some stunning views.

We spent a bit of time at the glaciers, though the weather made it difficult for us to get much in the way of photos. We couldn't get to the Fox glacier because the road was closed due to slips and floods, but we did manage to get to the lookout at Franz Josef glacier. There had been huge amounts of rain just prior to our arrival so there was no way to safely get across to the glacier itself from where we were. I was happy to photograph it from a distance.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Multiple Exposures

I have run out of recent images to post here today, so I have delved back into my archives and found something interesting. These photos were taken at the old railway tunnel at the north end of Upper Hutt. The park surrounding it is called Tunnel Gulley for obvious reasons. I might have to head up there again soon as I am sure the bush will have some interesting fungi about now.

Anyway, these photos are of my husband walking in the tunnel. Multiple exposure images all done in camera. No photoshop cut and pasting in these images. It was achieved using the tripod, a long exposure and a black card to put over the lens when he moved positions in the tunnel. These were about 10 second shots which allowed for two moves (three different positions). They give the erie impression of ghostly people walking through the tunnel.

It's a simple but fun exercise to do and one I plan to have another go at. I would like to try it with two models at once, perhaps children playing to show a bit of movement as well. I can see it would be an awesome place to shoot a wedding photo too. If you can get your head around the mud that seems to always be there.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Family Portrait

Our living/dining room can be turned into an impromptu studio in about ten minutes flat. Furniture gets pushed to the sides of the room and the backdrop stand comes out. I have several different backdrops I use but I tend to favour either the white roll of paper or the black calico. I feel that they are the two backdrops that will never date.

Last Sunday we had family turn up for a portrait session. I have worked with Chelsea in the past and she is very photogenic. She wanted a photo with her mother for Mother's Day. I never just shoot one photo when the studio is set up, if we have gone to the trouble of setting it up we may as well have some fun with it - and we did!

Odd bits

Walking around the valley at Zealandia we weren't just looking for the birds and fungi. All around us there were wonderful photographic opportunities, all we had to do was see them. The tree trunk to the left is a perfect example of this. It's just a tree trunk but there were these delicate little leaves growing on the side of it and I liked the contrast between the old and the new, and the pattern that was forming from it.

There were a lot of tall trees towering over us, all majestic and straight in stature - well almost all of them. The image to the right shows that having an odd one out can make a mighty fine image. I loved the quirky way this tree was growing. The non-conformist.

I also like using black and white for some of the photos giving them more contrast and tone rather than colour. Sometimes the colour can be more distracting than good.

This last image is one of my favourites. I was waiting for Nga to finish photographing some fungi and just happened to see the toitoi with the light making it stand out from the rest of the foliage. I was playing with depth of field in this shot trying to get something that looked just that little bit whispy and mystical.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fungi at Zealandia

There was lots of interesting fungi in the bush at Zealandia. The weather has been perfect for it. Wet and warm. They look like little colonies of huts growing up the rotting tree trunks. Different types and colours make for interesting photos. I have no idea of the names of them - that doesn't really matter to me. What matters is that I can photograph as many different types as I can find. You almost need to look with a different type of vision to spot them, they blend so well into the environment.

Its not always easy to see the underside of the fungi but these little orange ones (below) always look better from underneath. We cheated a little and turned the log slightly to get the view we wanted.

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Zealand Robin

This little guy was so friendly I only just managed to get a photo of him. He kept coming towards me, almost right at my feet. Unfortunately I had a long lens on so the closer he got the worse it was for me. Just when he was in a good place to photograph a group of people came down the track and I lost sight of him. Definitely one little guy I will look out for again.

New Zealand Geko

The sun was shining and warm, just how these gekos liked it. These little guys were in an enclosure at Zealandia and because it was so warm they were clustered up against the glass. Getting a shot of them through the glass without having reflections showing was a mission, but thankfully one I managed to achieve. Nga and I took turned blocking off the sun so we could get the shots.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Kaka

We found the kaka at the same feeding station as the bellbird. To start with they were hidden well up in the trees but once they saw the bellbird getting all the attention they came down for their piece of the action. They are awesome birds to watch, very cheeky in their manner and they were not affraid of the cameras one little bit.

It was interesting watching the kaka feeding from the station. The had to land on a lever which in turn lifted the lid to a tray containing their food. Once they had taken the food they would fly off into the branches above and eat.

These images were shot at an ISO of 1600 which probably won't mean much to some folk reading this but the fact that the images look fine and haven't had any work done on them in photoshop, tells me that my new camera is way better than the old one. I am really enjoying using it. Like my trip to Barton's Bush, I didn't use a tripod for any of these photos, they were all hand held in low light and they worked!

The kaka took control of the feeding station and the bellbird had to wait his turn to get to the nectar.

There was a definite heirachy amongst the birds and the kaka were right up at the top and that is exactly where they liked it. At the lower end were the blackbirds and sparrows and they waited ever so patiently until the feeding station was free.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Bellbird

Today it was time to play with my new camera, to work my way through the new features and settings that it has. Ngahuia and I headed to Zealandia Bird Sanctuary in Karori. I haven't been there for a few years and there have been a few changes made since I was there last. There is an impressive new visitor centre that I spent about 5 mins in on my way through. I will have to explore that on another visit.

We found our way to one of the feeding stations for the birds and there a friendly chap who saw our cameras told us of an opportunity not to be missed if we were paitent enough to wait for it. I decided to sit and wait while Nga went to the top of the dam, and I wasn't disappointed. Within two or three minutes of her heading off the bellbird or korimako came out. These little birds are unique to New Zealand and for such a little bird they make a whole lot of noise!

This particular bellbird enjoyed the feeding station and fed from one of the bottles there. It hovered just below the bottle long enough to have a quick meal before heading back into the bush. There ended up with quite a few of us standing there with camera's poised waiting for the bird to return. Each time it would sit under the bottle (giving us time to focus our cameras) then it would fly up to the feeder and hover.

The bellbird was the highlight of the trip for me, and I am very happy with the photos that I managed to capture of it. The new camera performed beautifully!

Monday, May 17, 2010

More from the bush

There was more rain today and yet still it's not overly cold. This makes me want to pack up my tripod and head back into the bush again. I know that with a bit more time, and a steadier camera I could have improved on many of the images I shot the other day. Regardless, here are a few more of them. Different varieties of fungi once again shot over a fence and hand held. The white one to the left I am told is of the Tremella family of fungi.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Barton's Bush - Trentham

Barton's bush is a small block of protected native bush alongside the Trentham Memorial Park. It is so protected that there are fences along all the walkways to stop you going off the track. Probably a good move for me, less chance of falling down another hole! However as a photographer this also made it very difficult to photograph all the wonderful fungi that we found yesterday.

It had recently rained and the weather was warm. Perfect conditions for the fungi to grow in. I have never seen so many different varieties of fungi in this bush before and many of them I didn't manage to capture because of the fence. I didn't set out to shoot fungi so I wasn't prepared for it either. No tripod for a start! Photographing anything in the dark is a mission without a tripod and macro shots of fungi are even more of a challenge. The bush is dark and there just isn't enough light to get a steady clear photograph without noise showing in the image. I am sure there is a lens out there that could do it but it's not currently in my possession.

Most of my images are extremely noisy due to the bad lighting but I have put some up here anyway just to show you the amazing fungi that is growing less than a mile away from where we live. Photo fodder so close to home!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Where are the bears?

I usually find that going to the zoo early in the morning is the best time. The animals are much more active and the light is better for photography. Unfortunately from time to time this can backfire, especially if there is some you particularly want to see. For me it was the bears - I love photographing the bears and their antics but on this last trip this is all we saw.

There was a cleaner tidying up the enclosure who was more than happy to talk to us about the bears and why there was an electric fence up the top of the enclosure. Aparently the bears would be back out soon but I wasn't interested in waiting and we didn't go back. The bears will have to be another day.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back at the Zoo

One stop that is irresistable is the meercat enclosure. They are just too cute for words and are always there posing for their photos. People say they are standing guard over their territory but we photographers know different. Meercats just love having their photo taken. Why else would they look sooo cute and stand sooo still?

The meercats at the Wellington zoo are in for a treat sometime in the future because the zoo is building a brand new enclosure for them. It is almost finished by the looks of things and has some awesome glass viewing panels of the underground sections of the enclosure too. I look forward to seeing the meercats in it.

Animals and birds are not the only things to photograph at the zoo either. This next image is a part of the roof of a hut that is currently under construction in one of the new enclosures. I liked the lines and texture of it. It pays to look around to see what else is there that we often don't notice.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Photoshop CS5

Today I attended the Adobe CS5 Roadshow to see what exciting new features were in Photoshop CS5. As a photographer after seeing what they showed me today I am truely excited by the new features. One feature in particular is a lens correction feature that is based on CS5 identifying both the camera and lens and making adjustments automatically. It was very good!

The most exciting feature however was the Content Aware Fill. This was just amazing to watch, photoshop literally fills in the gaps as if they were never there. Better than the healing tool or the clone, this just replaces the missing bits as if they were never missing. You can remove a pole or a tree or even a person from an image and you can't even see where they have come from.

There is aparently over a hundred new features in Adobe Photoshop CS5, we only saw a few of them today. For me a few was more than enough - I want it and I want it now!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wellington Zoo

The weather wasn't great, the sky was gloomy and the wind was cold but we decided to go to the zoo regardless. There are lots of changes happening at the zoo since I went last. The first of which was a little blue penquin where there was usually an otter. They are in the process of changing many of the enclosures and from what I can see there is going to be lots of walk through exhibits coming. I am looking forward to being able to photograph the birds and tamarins from inside the cage!

This sad looking fellow is a dingo. I don't think I have ever seen dingos at the zoo before so perhaps they are also something new. Just after I shot this image a chicken ran past the side of his enclosure - he became very alert after that. The chicken was lucky it was on the other side of the fence.

We were at the zoo early and many of the animals were waiting to be fed. The wild dogs were pacing back and forth at the front of their enclosure. Thankfully there is a platform above to view them from and I could shoot this little standoff without the cage wire getting in the way.

The baboons were all sitting up close to the viewing glass - right up until they saw the camera. Then they all got up and headed for the hills. We wondered if perhaps they associate the camera with flashing lights that hurt their eyes. I don't use flash at the zoo but I imagine many people do. Whatever the reason they did not like the camera being pointed at them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Still with birds

Birds are never easy to photograph well because they are always on the move. For some reason as soon as they see the camera lifted they flit off in the opposite direction. Someone needs to educate the bird population to understand that the camera will not harm them and they should just pose and look beautiful for it.

This next image was shot at Staglands Wildlife Reserve in Akatawara, Upper Hutt. They have a feeding station for the waxeyes (and any other bird that chooses to feed there) and there are literally dozens of birds flocking to feed from it. Right up until the cameras are pulled out of course!

This one (below-I think its a canary) was captured in the walk through avairy. If you are lucky when you go through there, there hasn't been a bunch of children through before you scaring all the birds into hiding.