Country Life

Coming home from a team afternoon out with work I snapped today’s image ‘Country Life’ from the passenger seat of the car. I have been giving a few of my older digital cameras a run this week, today being the Fujifilm Finepix J15fd. A very basic 3x point and shooter, I recall purchasing it as it came with an underwater housing, and is/was very compact for what it had to offer. Although a basic model, with a tiny sensor, and occasional struggle getting focus (comparing to the likes of my GRD and Nex), I do like the slightly sharp and saturated images it offers out of the box. Its one of those digital cameras I have no hesitation using in a ‘at risk to camera’ areas or when a basic documenting of the trip, without workable quality is needed.

Snapped in the Rodney District, just north of Auckland, I love and envy the real country surrounding the little house at the centre of the image has. Only edited for size for posting, the Fuji didn’t let me down in capturing the colour and tone I was looking for as we whizzed by in the car.

Sky, Earth and Sea

Today is the first day in some time that I have be dissatisfied with all the shots I took when out on a walk. I thinks its something that happens to all of us at times. I had taken out an older digital camera, and with the light being a bit challenging, it struggled to get focus on some of the more interesting shots I threw at it. Coming home I selected about five for post editing, but just couldn’t get any to work.

Feeling a bit stuck, I pulled out a shot I took earlier in the week of Motutapu Island. Cropping heavily and pushing contrast and saturations beyond usual limits, I have tried to give the image more of a ‘painted feel’ than a photographed image. I’m not sure if I pulled it off, but tomorrow is another day and will bring us another image!

Land Ahoy

Making the conscious decision to take the Nex and Jupiter 8 out for some after work shooting today, I found myself struggling to get anywhere before dusk set in (I thought I had said summer was coming). Coupled with a blistery cold wind and temperature I cast my eye out to the ocean, which looked/felt to have a storm brewing.

Snapping some images I tried to capture the cold isolation the ocean can arouse, and imagined the relief of early discoverers as they sighted land in the distance.

Taken from North Head, on the North Shore of Auckland – its a great spot (but dress warm on cold windy days) to get a panoramic view around Auckland and its harbour.

The Epiphytes

The other week I took a journey through Smiths Bush. To one side of Smiths Bush is a main highway, and on the other side of that is what I assume is the far ‘lost section’ of the bush. A very short 5min walk from one end to the other, its mostly used by school kids as a short cut from their school to the nearby road I suspect.  In saying that, it was well kept and void of any rubbish and litter some might expect to come from a bush area so close to a school.

Being such a short walk I started scanning a little closer to the ground and trees, looking for something to get a shot of. Like the larger Smiths Bush, the trees were full of an array of epiphytes- mostly way up in the canopy, well out of detailed reach of the 28mm Ricoh. Across the trunks of several trees however sprung a collection of smaller leaved plants. I framed them up and caught today’s image.

Using Gimp, I then pushed the contrast and saturation up one level each and resized for the web.

The Refinery

“The Refinery’ comes from yesterdays walk at the Chelsea Park – which belonged to the Chelsea Sugar works. Built in 1884, and added to later on, CSW is our biggest supplier of sugar. As well as being a bright orange in colour, I was drawn to mishmash of buildings, knowing that each serves a purpose in the production run.

Playing around in Gimp, I added a few cross-processing layers and slightly tweaked the colour balance. Lastly I added a light vignette.

Been a long day, not much more to add.

Black Swan

With a nice and clear, but cool sky, we took a stroll down to Chelsea Park. Walking a few tracks I didn’t cover on my last visit I brought along the Sony Nex and its new telephoto lens. When I tried it out earlier in the week the low sun, combined with hand holding and limited wildlife made me want to give it another go today. Down at the bottom of the reserve is a large pond full of ducks, seagulls, shags, geese and a few swans – so I was spoilt for choice and shot images of each.

I chose today’s image ‘Black Swan’ as I was drawn to the composition and the ripples of water softly emanating from the swan. In post production, using Gimp, I used the National Geographic filter set, making small adjustments to its use of sharpness, saturation and contrast. I also cropped the image slightly to remove the foot of the swan which interfered with the soft ripples of the water.

I’m quite happy with the result, and the performance of the lens at 210mm.

Pink and Blue

Each passing day sees more and more spring blossoms coming out on the trees. Around Auckland’s North Shore has seen a mass of these pretty pink flowers. I have been meaning to stop and capture them for the last week, so took the opportunity today when in Takapuna.

Shot on the GDR IV, in gimp I slightly bumped the contrast up and resized for the web.

I also took delivery on some fun mobile phone camera lenses today.A macro, wide angle and fish-eye, all found on ebay. A quick test suggests they are very capable for the price, so I look forward to the opportunity to get out there and capture something worth showing to you all.

Ice Planet

I had noticed a number of macro images used in artistic ‘landscape like’ was when surfing around recently and had a bit of a muck around this evening with my own version of it. Starting with a macro shot of real landscape, at the beach, I went about creating a shot that would not necessarily look like a close up of water running down into the sea. Removing the background, pushing contrast of the foreground, adding a red smudge to the background, and a cross-processing filter to the lot. I result has a bit of a weird Martian landscape feel to it.

Into the Storm

As I often state on weekdays, I just managed to get a bit of light after work on the way home. I had packed my Nex and its new lens into my bag, hoping to give it a test out. Whilst I did manage that, and got some nice shots (and some flat sundown ones) I wanted to post up something different to my usual nature/landscape. With the lens at 210mm I set about looking for some wildlife. It proved quite still and dull overall tonight.

Just as I was heading back to the car a few seagulls approached and I managed to get off a few shots. With low light and a long lens the autofocus just missed a number of shots, but I did like this one of the bird heading ‘into the storm’.

In post processing using Gimp all I did was push the contrast to make it look more menacing than it actually was. Shot at 210mm, 1/400sec at 1250iso the push also revealed the digital grain of the image. I’m a grain fan in photos (that old film appeal) so am happy letting it sit.

In about 3 weeks I’m off to Fiji for a week, which is pretty exciting as I have never been there. My current dilemma is do I take a bag full of cameras and lenses, or travel more lightweight (with the added benefit of not carrying so much money investment!). I’m leaning towards taking my Ricoh GRD and my Rollei 35. I’ll also have my smart phone to hopefully post a snap each day also. When I went to the South Island last year I only had my Ricoh and Mju 35mm – I think the compact allows you to travel with ease and think more about how to capture the image. What do you all do?

Serenity in the Mud of Eskdale

As I often do, I searched for a short bush walk to explore after work today. One great thing about the North Shore (or many areas of New Zealand really) is that you are never far from some form of nature walk. Heading towards the Birkenhead area I stopped at a place called Eskdale Bush. 10min into the walk and it became obvious that my flat soled leather work boots were not very well equipped for the completely sodden wet terrain. Dodging the muddy patches, I still managed to get ankle deep, remarkably without ending up on my backside.

Mud aside, Eskdale Bush is a wonderful walk with numerous tracks one can turn into. Surrounded by the suburbs, there is no real risk of being badly lost. Just as I hit one of the lower and deeper parts of the bush I came across a small, possibly newly formed, stream. With the Ricoh set to 800iso I positioned as low and stable as the slippery surrounding would allow and followed the stream into the forest.

In post production using Gimp, I felt a little lazy today and applied the ‘national geographic’ filter – one I often like the out of the box result with.

After the loss of my Olympus Mju over the weekend, I took delivery of a cheap as chips Samsung Fino 140 pocked film camera today. Although nothing special it looks to be a very nice late model film shooter with a 38-140mm lens. I’m not expecting much, but am looking forward to seeing how it performs with some B&W film…that’s after I finish the film already inside it!

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