Monday, August 23, 2010

More from Butterfly Creek

On the way into the butterfly house there is a walkway that is pretty much in darkness. I assume the dark is to discourage the butterflies from escaping as they like the light and will avoid flying into the dark should the door be left open. I might be wrong but it does sorta make sense. Anyway along this short dark corridor are fresh water and salt water aquariums.

Each time I go to Butterfly Creek I have a go at photographing the fish. Most times I end up with a heap of blurred photos that do anything but resemble fish. This time however I managed to get it right. Please note I was not carrying a tripod which one would normally use in such low light situations.

I turned on the on camera flash and focused on something that wasn't moving in the hope that a moving fish would just happen to land in the shot. This only worked because of the image stabilizer in the lens that I was using. It helped to keep the camera steady and the flash helped with the faster shutter speed. I shot maybe a dozen photos of the fish and of that dozen I am happy with about 8 of them. A pretty good hit rate!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Butterfly Creek

The plan for our last morning in Auckland was to go to the zoo, but the weather didn't play nice so we ended up indoors at Butterfly Creek. I have been there a few times now and each time I think I have managed to improve the images I take. This trip I concentrated on getting good backgrounds that didn't require any photoshopping to correct. I am not great at fixing up backgrounds, so it's better if I shoot them right in the first place.

It was extremely hot when we first entered the enclosure, all the heaters were on and pushing heat directly down on us. Eventually the heaters went off and things became a little more comfortable. Definitely a useful place on a cold winters day! We spent about an hour with the butterflies before heading out to the cafe for lunch and a looksee at what we had shot so far.

The second stint back in the heat was somewhat harder, not just for me but for all of us. We were still in recovery mode from the day at the island, and the night of wine that followed, so were all a bit tired. We shot some more photos, saw a bunch of brand new butterflies released and then headed off to the airport for our flight home. It had been a good trip despite the weather.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Planes, trains and automobiles...

So we caught a plane to Auckland, then we were picked up by a car so there is two of the three. The next morning we caught the train into Auckland city to get the ferry out to the Island. It bought back many memories of my high school years where I used to catch the train to school every day. Back then we used to get a free pass on the trains if we were in uniform and on our way to school, I notice now that they kids have to pay. They do get a concession price but it is not quite the free ride that we used to get.

Once in Auckland I got to see the Britomart train station, the last time I caught a train to Auckland the main station was  not only in a different place but a different building. I understand that building is now student accommodation. It makes much better sense to have the main station where it is now, much easier to get to where you want to be. The ferry building was just accross the road so we didn't have far to walk in the rain.

Yep it rained. I am told the weather in Auckland will change in fifteen minutes and that is pretty much what happened the entire day. The sun would shine one minute and then rain the next. We didn't have any idea which way to dress, for the rain or the sun - either way it was pretty darn cold. I am amazed that there were any birds out for us with the weather the way it was.

Puriri Moth
There were a group of school children on the boat with us. They were on a field trip out to the island and they looked like they had a fantastic time there. I was impressed with how well behaved they were too, we moved among them and they were always focused on what they were supposed to be doing.

 It was nice though that on the way back home on the boat they kept all the kids downstairs and let the adults who were not connected with the school group relax in peace and quiet. By this time we were all exhausted from all the walking and were dozing most of the way home.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Flight times

When you are sitting on a plane waiting for take off and for some reason the hostesses are still fussing around and the doors are not shut until suddenly two late passengers come puffing their way into the plane. You know then why there was a delay and you frown at those two as they walk past you to their seats. I have done this many times in the past but I have never been that passenger that has held up and entire plane... until this week!

Tui in flight

Our flight to Auckland was at 3.00pm, our flight home was at 3.30pm and for some crazy reason we had the times back to front. So we sipped on a glass of wine while waiting for our flight, then sauntered down to the departure lounge making a stop at the toilets along the way. It was while visiting the conveniences that we heard that dreaded message over the intercom.
Male Stitchbird
 "This is the final boarding call for passengers....." It was our names they were calling! Well I don't think I have run so fast carrying all my camera gear before but yes, we were those two passengers who held up the flight for at least ten minutes. Ok so it wasn't a huge amount of time and the hostess later told us that they were still loading the luggage down below but it was extremely embarrassing walking down the aisle of the plane with everyone and I mean EVERYONE staring at us with disapproving eyes.

Bellbird singing

I don't care how early I get to the airport in future but I am not going to be that person again. The funny part of this story is yet to come. Our flight home started with a gate change, so everyone had to find their way to the new gate. Then there was the delay - two passengers had checked in and failed to show up for the flight. They were probably still back at the other departure gate waiting for the plane to arrive.
 Anyway we had to wait while the luggage was unloaded and reloaded so that their bags could be removed from the plane before we could take off. It felt like they were punishing us for being late on the way up. We had no one to frown at for the delay, they didn't manage to catch the flight at all - I felt a teeny bit sorry for them but was also a little smug because we made it to the plane on time - albeit without the glass of wine.

New Zealand Robin

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tiritiri Matangi

I have been in Auckland for the last few days with my camera and have been having a blast. We went over to Tiritiri Matangi Island which is a bird sanctuary. It is an awesome place that I would like to spend more time exploring - perferably when it is not raining! Yep you guessed it, we had rain, It did fine up from time to time but there were showers on and off all day. However even with the rain we managed to get some great photographs. I have so many to process that I will probably be working on them for the next week!

There were many birds that we saw but didn't manage to photograph and that was a little disappointing but I am more than happy with the ones I did get. The stitchbird was very pretty - I loved the yellow colour on the male bird. The female was less flashy with her colours but she made up for that with puffing up her feathers and dancing about. There were bellbirds everywhere and their song was heard all day long, The tui's were the bosses of the bush, the bellbirds would sit back and wait for the tuis to go before feeding.

I am very keen to go back to the island in Summer when the weather is better. There is so much I didn't get to see and so many birds still to be photographed. I will be adding photos from this trip over the next week or so.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wellington Waterfront

Today started off like most weekends, with a planned outing to do some photography. We did a little shopping along the way and bought a nice light and compact tripod that is going to be just perfect for travelling. I am amazed just how many different type of tripods there are. I found a really cute one and its going to fit perfectly on my backpack.

After that we headed to Te Papa for lunch and then out to the waterfront to take some photos. Well that was the plan anyway! I fired off one shot and then my camera gives me an error message. I have had this on and off lately with the lens and I was putting it down to the cold, but this time was different. The next time I looked through the lens it was dark, it wouldn't focus and the camera wouldn't fire. It was about now that I went into panic mode. Here am I planning a trip away and my camera isn't working!

We headed back to the shop we got the tripod from and pretty much confirmed that it was the lens causing the problem and not the camera. That was a bit of a relief but it still left me with a very expensive piece of glass that wasn't working. We ended up buying a new lens as well as sending the other one off to be fixed. I just can't be without a working lens, at least this way I will have a backup when I get the broken one back - assuming they can fix it.

Once the new lens was on the camera it was back to the waterfront to try it out. Had to test it and make sure that the camera was going to perform well for me in Auckland. As we were walking along we saw this guy swing himself up the side of a pole. It looked like he was hanging sideways. Being cheeky I  asked him to do it again and surprisingly he did! The rest of the images here are shot from along the back of Te Papa. The low cloud made for rather gloomy looking photos but I kinda liked them anyway.

The new lens worked fine, as did the camera. I am comfortable now that my equipment is not going to fail me on my trip to Tiritiri. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pukeko, Waxeye and Fungi at Nga Manu

We walked around the bush at Nga Manu, up to the lookout tower, past the eel feeding station and while we saw lots of birds flying about, the opportunity to photograph them just wasn't there. I surprised at the amount of fungi still about in the bush though and did take the time to capture that. There were some interesting fungi that I don't often see. The basket fungi is one I haven't see for about 6 years now, so I was rather excited not only to see it but to recognise what it was. The first time I saw it I had no idea and had to look it up when I got home. Unfortunately there wasn't a good example of the full basket, many of them were past their best by the time we got there and several others were still to appear from their buds.

There are plenty of pukeko at Nga Manu but none of them were keen to pose for me - that is until we entered the Kea enclosure and found a Pukeko. Funniest looking Kea I ever did see! I don't know why he was in there but he had no plans on moving from where he was so of course I took advantage of that. The sun was shining down through the trees on to him and he was soaking it up.

Just as we were about to leave the reserve, we passed a bird feeding station where there was a flock of Waxeyes (or Silvereyes). They were darting about so fast that I had to focus on the tree branch and just wait in the hope that one would land on it. I was lucky a few times thankfully.

This time next week I will be heading out to Tiritiri Matangi. I hope the weather is as good then as it is today.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kereru and Kea at Nga Manu

The sun came out to play for a few hours yesterday so we hopped in the car and headed out to make the most of it. A visit to Nga Manu in Waikanae was just the thing for a sunny Sunday morning. Spring is obviously just around the corner because there were new lambs in the paddocks on the way there and once there the tuis were busy flitting about singing to each other in a way to attract each other. It's amazing just fast they get about being such big birds in the dense bush.

We saw a few fantails but I didn't manage to get focused on them fast enough to get a good image - that is still a goal of mine - maybe at Tiritiri. The keas were very active too. A couple of them were chasing each other round the enclosure, one was posing on a branch and the other was trying to untie my shoe laces! He had no fear of humans and was not concerned about the fact that I was in his space.

The highlight of the day ( for my husband anyway) was the kereru. It was looking very healthy (read that as fat and heavy!) and it decided that my head was a good spot to fly to. It landed with a thud on my head and clawed in to stay there. I was not very impressed and had a headache for sometime afterwards but that didn't stop me getting some great shots of it before we left.

 I haven't processed all the photos that I took yet, these are just a few of them. I will add some more in the next few days. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


In a few weeks time we are heading over to Melbourne for a week. Photography is not the purpose of the trip but I certainly hope to make the most of any opportunity I can find while I am there to use my camera. The Melbourne Zoo is on my list of things to do and of course we are staying alongside the river so there should be something worth photographing there. Hopefully our hotel room will be sufficiently high to get some great night city scapes through the window - knowing my luck we will be on the wrong side of the hotel and staring out at a block wall or something.

Today's images are from another windy day in Wellington. This was a day when the conditions for surfing were great and there were crowds at the beach in websuits carrying surfboards. There were also quite a few people on the banks with cameras too, I was really surprised. These were taken with my 400D and the 70-300 IS lens.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Night Shoot

It's the middle of winter and the temperature is close to zero. All the cars parked on the side of the road were icing up and what am I doing? Walking down the beach front with my camera in the middle of the night. We had to do a late night run out to the airport and it was the perfect excuse to get the camera out and take some photos.

I played with different settings on my camera while I was out there, trying to see what would give me the look I was trying to achieve. Long exposures using my tripod worked the best. Unfortunately it was so cold that my lens just decided it was too cold and refused to work. So just when I am getting the photos that I was after, I had to change my lens to my zoom lens and suddenly everything was different - regardless I am happy with the results.