Thursday, February 28, 2019

A beach safari

There we were, on safari looking for driftwood. What do we see?

That is a real shot, btw, less than 10 K from the beach. No composite, no photoshop, no nothing, even though I was channelling Bonnie's shot during the recent Neil Z African safari as I hopped out of the car and hoped nobody would come along the narrow road.

Here are the beaches, in order:

You say those fast three times in a row. I dare you.

We were hoping to beat the tide for the first one to see a waterfall at the north end. We missed it by THAT much, and didn't want to scramble over rocks.

There was a bit of driftwood to look over, but mostly these are strolling beaches. Not many people on them, nice sand and water. Here's an assortment of shots. You decide which are which.

A week to go

For most of our trip we've spent a week in each place. We'd get there, full of things to do, places to go, and think we had lots of time. ZOOM!

We've had two weeks here, thinking it was a central place for lots of short day trips, and so it has been. But a week and a bit has gone by already in this apartment, and we have only a few days left here.

Then back to Auckland for a few days, then home to see our kitties that we've missed so much. We've had some photos from friends who very kindly dropped in and kept them company, and the sad face on Curtis nearly broke my heart. I'll take bets on if they're happy to see us, or if they're so pissed they turn their backs and ignore us.

I think today is another beach day, though the tide isn't favourable. At low tide you can walk to the north end and see a waterfall. High tide today is 2:15 or so. There are other things to do, places to go, however.

These are a couple places we've been along the way, and both of them are places I'd like to go back and have another go at in better light. These are both ordinary 'there we were' shots, but in the right light they'd be amazing. There's been a lot of that.

A scenic outlook on the road from Queenstown to Wanaka.

The wind turbine station near Wellington, which is right beside the back end of Zealandia eco park.

It's March 1 for me here, but not for you guys yet. In related news I'm working on Image of the Month.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

One shot, two lenses

Often you don't get a second chance at a shot in photography. The moment, the light, the scene is there and then it's gone forever. And you wondered why photographers are obsessed by light, and being there at the right moment ready to go.

Lately I've been shooting lots of driftwood, trying to find pleasing compositions. It's interesting to me, at least, and if you aren't interested, oh well. Some driftwood wouldn't change much day to day. It sits there above the high tide line, slowly decomposing in the sun. Maybe someone comes along and uses it for beach art.

Some driftwood is still in the water part of the time. The look of a photo of that could change second to second. Other driftwood might change day to day, depending on tides, the light, and the vagaries of the passing humans.

Lots of times I have to wander around some driftwood, looking for the composition. It's not always there and I move on. I have the suspicion that a better photographer than me could find interesting compositions that I don't see. Sometimes I'll find something interesting I didn't notice at first. Sometimes I'm not sure and I'll take the best shot I can, but when I see it on screen I say meh. Some compositions are so striking there is no doubt about which way to shoot it.

A bit of a digression now. One of the so called photography rules is that you only ever show your best shots. People (hopefully) go ooh and ahh, and think you're a genius, mainly because they don't see the hundreds and hundreds of not quite right (at best) shots, and the many thousands that are instant deletes.

So there I was, seeing a shot, and struggling with it. Well, struggling with the image of it. The rocks and wood were quite happy. My first go at it showed me the potential was there, I just hadn't been alert enough to capture it. The problem was depth of field. Picture two rocks in line, with a wood background behind them. Other stuff too, but start there. For this, everything needs to be in focus. I knew I was struggling with it at the time, and took 3 shots, thinking I might be able to merge them into one shot. When I looked at the individual shots, each worked out the way I thought. The problem was they didn't merge. Oops.

I knew I could go back there the next day, and hoped I'd get another chance. I was fortunate, I did, but the lesson I learned is that I really need to be on the ball for this stuff. Get it right the first time. This is one of the differences between a pro and an enthusiast. A pro would have realized the problem, and fixed it the first time. I had to see it on screen and think about it.

When I got there I got the shot I wanted, then shot a pair of surfers for a while, then went back yet again to get another shot. And another. Yes, those are all the same rocks.

This is the thing about photography. Sometimes you get on a roll and you get a bunch of nice shots in a row. The only downside of these photos is that the light was nothing special. But then, given the orientation of the log, I'm not sure what would create extraordinary light on the two stones unless I brought lighting. And that's against my rules for driftwood. Remember, as found.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mahanga happiness

There we were, on the beach again. We all know what she was looking for. Let's move on, shall we?

Today was up to the Mahia peninsula. Mahanga beach is awesome! Soft clean sand. Lots of pretty interesting driftwood. Toilets at one end, but no showers. Can't have everything, I guess. It's really long, so Linda didn't get to the end, but I probably walked 5K in the soft sand, and she went much further than me.

It was a long tough drive. Kiwi drivers have a nasty tailgating habit. You know it's bad when I dare not pass a big truck in the passing lane because there were lots of places it was driving faster than I would. I'm not often pulling into the slow vehicle lane at home, but I was there almost every time, and some places in between, to let people by.

 More Linda, looking for you know what.

Part of the view from the top of Mokotahi lookout. I thought I was doing well to climb up in under the advertised 20 minutes. Except a mom was coming down, bumping her kid in a stroller down the stairs. She called it a nice walk, to see the ocean.  Then while we were at the top, a mom with a kid in a front pack joined us. She liked to zip up and down, daily, while taking her dog for a walk.

Linda on the beach, going you know where.

One of the driftwood bits.

Can you see Linda? She is a speck in the distance. I think she's found what she's looking for. Meanwhile, I'm liking the face in the driftwood. Lots of that. I might have to do a blog called faces.

And there she is, on the way back from where she's been.

I was out for some night sky shooting on Marine Parade as an act of optimism. As expected, there was far too much light. Somebody went and put a whole bunch of street lights along the parade, aimed at the ocean. Standby lighthouses, I guess, not wanting a supertanker to plow into the beach or something. Plus there was a lot of salt spray coming off the ocean; I had to clean my glasses and camera lens after. If you squint really hard you can see the milky way above the driftwood. Hopefully I'll get out for another night where it's dark.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Now I find out I married a beach drunk

She gets high on the salty air, and walks like she's on a mission. Most of us know what that mission is now. She goes and goes and goes. It's a surprise to her when the beach ends. "I just get drunk on the sea air," she says.

Today we were both disappointed in Waimorama beach. The reviews were so good! We eventually found it, with some difficulty. It's a short beach at high tide, we discovered. We strolled end to end, I found a bit of driftwood, and we wandered off again. For walking on a sandy beach, Ocean beach is much better. For photogenic driftwood, the Napier beaches are better.

Later we strolled along the Esplanade, which is the Westbay beach. It's a coarse sand or fine gravel, however you look at it.

When I was out there last night I found some really nice driftwood shots. We were on a different section today, and the driftwood wasn't as photogenic. Oh well.

The skies are promisingly clear tonight. I don't want to go far because we have an early start tomorrow, so I will try to see if I can get a milky way over that beach viewing platform.

When the shark bites...

Aquarium today at feeding time for penguins and sharks. I saw the alligator but missed it being fed. I took about a bazillion shots during the shark feeding. They have this tube that goes through the aquarium so you are surrounded by water.

It's a bitch to photograph through. Its bad enough shooting through one layer of flat glass and plexiglass is worse. This is curved. With air to water refraction. With grubby kid finger smears. Dim lighting. Autofocus was impossible. I'm amazed I got any of them even close to focussed.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Odd stuff

We drove past these any number of times before stopping to check them out. There are two big vertical pipes in each, one about 2 m in diameter, the other much smaller.

I had assumed that the pipes were left over infrastructure from some old industrial site, and the sculpture was a cheap way to disguise them and prevent any danger to beach users.

They turn out to be stormwater outlets. When there's enough of a flood, 3 big pumps sequentially start and pump lots of water. The three outlets are in a bit of a depression that fills with water, then it gradually flows over a sill to the ocean, and some is absorbed into the coarse gravel. Beats flooding homes and businesses.

This rectangular outlet is a smaller version of the same thing for smaller flows of water. I would not want to be walking just there when the pump starts.

Then there's these, quite nearby.

As you might suspect, these are old costal defense strong points. They tried destroying some of them, but it was surprisingly difficult and expensive. Duh! They were designed to be functional under naval bombardment, so you'd expect them to be durable. Most of them just get buried to confound future developers. Out of sight, out of mind.

A smashed ceramic pot.

A guy fishing.

Why is that odd? Because I've never taken a photo of a guy fishing before. That's good enough for me to call odd.

In other news, it was a quiet day today. A very nice farmer's market. A stroll on two different nearby beaches. Shingle beaches, so lose the thought of golden sand and Linda marching for the clothing optional section. A lovely seafood dinner.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

That was a happy accident

I like rambling among the driftwood, thinking about composition. Again, my rule is touch nothing to compose a photo. It's even better if there's something besides wood in the image.

But consider this image.

I liked it when I took the shot, or so I thought, and I liked it more after editing. It was only after looking at it while thinking about what to write for the blog that I noticed. Did you get it?

Go back and look more carefully. Maybe start with the long rock in the lower right. Does it look a little odd? Don't scroll down just yet. Take a sip of coffee (or tea, or juice, or wine if it's that time of day for you) and look again. Your social media can wait a moment. There's a reason. Indulge me.

Maybe you figured it out, maybe not. Here's another photo to help you out.

And another.

In a theoretical sense I know one way of doing a double exposure in camera. It's a bit of a pain, and I haven't tried for a photo I'd be willing to show anyone. Of course it can be done in Photoshop, but I don't do that. What I've read says Lightroom doesn't do double exposures. So what happened?

I goofed, is what happened. I was trying to drop three different exposures of the bottom image into Photomatix for an HDR shot, and selected the wrong photos. My assumption was that the software used photo data to line up the images, and if it couldn't do that, no image was done. Except no, I think it just overlays the photos and lets you carry on.

Normally such a mixture would be an obvious mess. Maybe you think the first image above is such a mess. I applaud your finely tuned visual acuity. But as an image I'm still liking it. They line up remarkably well, and completely by accident. The double exposure adds some complexity to the wood, and doesn't look obviously unnatural, at least not to my eye. I'll have to try this some more.

What do you think?