Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hikoikoi Reserve - Petone Estuary

The last post was from Sunday afternoon, so now we go back in time a few hours to Sunday morning. We followed the low tide to Petone and parked up by the boat sheds. One of them is currently for sale and it is an enticing possibility - however if given the choice of a boat shed or early retirement I am afraid the boat shed lost.

The light was not great with the sun shining in our faces and the birds were not playing fair either but I still managed to get a few shots.  We have positioned a new log for the kingfishers, hopefully next time we go down it is still there and the birds are using it. If they do it will make photographing them so much easier.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Kingfisher Tree

On the way home from the Guardians of Pauatahanui Inlet photo competition prize giving (where I received a Highly Commended in the Nature category), we stopped in to see the kingfishers. It was windy, the light was bad, so I didn't bother setting up the hide to get any close up shots. I just took the camera and went for a bit of a walk.

I so wish the light was better! I don't think I have ever seen so many kingfishers in the one place before! The driftwood branch (that another photographer had strategically placed) was covered in them. At one point there were six on the branches but by the time I had focused it was back to four.

The top spot is obviously the prime position because they squabbled over it frequently and as soon as one vacated it, another one moved up. Most of the images I shot were a bit noisy because of the bad light but they tell a pretty neat story so I am using them anyway.

Just as I was walking back to the car, one of the kingfishers flew up a bit closer and promptly coughed up a ball of left over bits. I thanked him for the offering and sent him on his way.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Reflections and Motion


Unlike the previous post where all the shots were taken up close, this set were taken while standing by the car as I was getting my gear out. The kingfishers were flitting about and not caring that I was there because I wasn't really in their space. Thankfully the long lens allowed me to capture their flight.

I don't know much about the techniques of panning with the camera to capture a moving image, I am not one for reading to learn. I like to learn by doing. The only way to get these shots is to pan with the bird and believe me when I tell you that it is not an easy task.

 In this particular set of images there are two things that I like. The motion and the reflections. It has to be a fairly still day to get the reflections in the water as the bird flits past, and there needs to be some sunshine to make it happen. When it does, it's magic!

These last two were taken in different light conditions to the others but they fit the post so I have added them also. 


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Getting closer

Usually when the weather is good and I head over to the kingfishers, and usually there are other photographers who have the same idea and get there before me. This means that they get the choice of where to set up and usually I end up at the same branch every time.  Not this time.  These images are shot from an area further down the beach where I could try to blend in with the environment better.

Being able to hide from the birds even a little bit, gave me the advantage of being able to get closer to them. I sat for a long time waiting but when they arrived it was worth every minute of the wait. Now that I have seen these shots I know I can still do better and will do next time I can set up in this spot. I just need to wait for the right conditions and get there first!

Seal Coast Safari Tour

Yesterday we took a day off work and went on a tour with Seal Coast Safari. Wellington was having one of it's good days, very little wind, brilliant skies and just perfect for the trip. We met our guide Kent at the Information Centre in Wellington and were also joined by a group of Aussie's who had come over for the AFL. Having been out in a 4x4 before I wisely chose the front seat knowing it would be better for going over the bumps.

We traveled out through the Brooklyn hills and over into a private farm. The views were amazing and we had an opportunity to take photos along the way. Our guide kept us entertained along the way and was a fountain of knowledge about the area.  We passed the airport radar station, a castle on a hill, ostriches and our next stop was at a paddock to feed the deer.

From there it was all down hill as we headed to the seals. The seals are out there all year round but the numbers vary throughout the year. We were lucky enough to see plenty of them slumbering about in the sun. One or two gave us a yawn or two and the odd one decided we weren't worth staying around for and slipped into the ocean and left us.

We spent a bit of time with the seals, had refreshments including some very yummy muffins and then we headed back to Wellington city via Red Rocks.  This part of the trip was where we really got to see our guide's skill as a driver. I was reassured when he told us he had been driving out there for seven years, experience is everything when driving in those type of conditions.

All in all it was a great experience and worth every penny we paid for it. I got to photograph the seals without having to do three hours walking to get there!  I am sure we will be doing this tour again and would recommend it to anyone else who is keen to see the seals in their natural environment.

The view of Wellington Harbour from the top of Brooklyn

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Even when it rains...

I checked the weather report - it said fine - I looked out the window and saw blue skies and sunshine, so I have to wonder where all the rain came from. It was like as soon as I take the camera out the rain comes down!

Well I beat the rain today, I had my coat and the camera had it's coat and we went in search of kingfishers regardless of the rain. For a short time anyway, then the rain go too heavy for me to want to be there kingfishers or not.

We spied a boatshed that is up for sale while we were there and the thought of having ready shelter, a handy toilet and somewhere to wait out the rain bought forth all sorts of ideas. Not sure if they will go anywhere but there is an opportunity to set up a really good base for budding photographers like myself.

Some of these images you can clearly see the rain, others just a drab day. Regardless of the weather there were a lot of kingfishers flitting about so I am happy that I achieved something for the effort.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Waiting on the sunshine

Since the weather has turned colder we have had so many more birds arrive in the garden. Yesterday I even heard the Tui again. I haven't seen him yet but I know he is around by his distinctive call. The waxeyes are now flocking together and visit in 'waves'. The feeders go from no activity to huge amounts of activity and the cycle seems to be quite regular.

The birds are all looking to be in great condition but there has been one notable absence. Broken-beak, as we named him, hasn't been seen at the feeders as yet. He used to be the one constant visitor and he hasn't come back this season. I am hoping that he has been able to survive without his beak being intact but I suspect not.

Each day the flock grows in numbers and with it the silly antics that they get up to. I have yet to manage to photograph the mid air squabbles but I did get one or two quirky shots as you can see.

Friday, April 19, 2013

It's like they never left...

During the heat of the Summer the waxeyes were scarce and so for the most part were all the other birds in our garden. Today you would never have though that. The sparrows are bouncing around, the blackbirds are splashing about in the bird bath and the waxeyes are here in numbers like I have never seen before.

I am loving listening to the chirping and twittering of all the birds as I sit working at my computer. It's better than having the radio on even!  I have established that this year's waxeyes prefer their bananas to be hanging from a tree, not lying flat in the feeding house. They are happy to go there for the sugar water but will leave the bananas alone unless they are hanging.

I wonder if the kingfishers will miss all the attention. I might have to head over and visit them over the weekend. Hopefully the weather man is wrong and this sun will hang around for a bit longer.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

They're back!

The long Summer days have left us and I suspect with all the current gloomy weather I won't be making that many trips over to the kingfishers for a while. So I picked up the camera and looked out the window. The waxeyes have been notably absent over the last few months but now they are back! Just when I needed something to photograph, there they were.

All of these image have been shot through the glass of the window because I wasn't willing to freeze for my art. I am hoping that now the waxeyes are back I might be able to get some better shots of them on the greenery. I haven't photographed them since I got the new camera.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Alien Balloon Strikes Again...

Content Warning:  This blog post contains images that may be challenging for those without an open mind. If this is you then please do not read this post.

 This time the alien balloon was supposed to be clear but this is as clear as they get. More of a yellowish tinge to them but at least we are able to see inside the balloon. We had three models with no brief other than to get all three into the balloon at the same time. I tried several different lighting techniques while shooting these images and for the most part struggled. We were doing it at night with no natural light using balloons that reflected flashes and continuous lights in much the same way.

Once inside the balloon there is plenty of air and room to stand or sit down depending on how inflated the balloon is. You can see a helpful hand here holding the neck of the balloon closed around the air hose.

Now we have one person in the balloon it was time to prepare for the second person to enter. Taking the neck of the balloon to the inside gave the models more control over the entry and made it easier to take photographs.

As you can imagine the logistics of getting three people in a balloon can be quite tricky. When the second person enters the balloon a lot of the accumulated air escapes making for some up close and personal moments for the two models inside. This image is during the re-inflating process just after the second model fully entered the balloon.

 Finally our third model enters the balloon. Again air is lost in the process so this is again an image shot during re-inflating. When fully inflated all three models were able to stand up inside the balloon.  It was not long after that the balloon popped leaving all three standing with bits of rubber about them laughing at the experience.