Something a little different to a landscape for today. Just outside my front door there’s this rather pretty vine, commonly known as a bleeding heart vine. The flowers are not huge, so I needed to get quite close to get an image in which you’d be able to see the pretty red flower. Problem when you get close is that it’s difficult to keep all the flower in focus.
You may have heard of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography where a number of images are taken of a scene and then blended in a manner to avoid deep shadows and blown out highlights. Focus stacking is a similar concept, but instead of a range of exposures being blended, a range of focus points are blended.
The image below is made up of ten images, each focussed at a slightly different point on the bloom. In this instance the task was automated using an app on my phone called Helicon Remote. This is very easy to use. You just select the two ends of the focus range and it then controls the camera … modifying focus and taking the photos. Next, you’ll need something like Photoshop to stack the images together. Here’s a YouTube clip that might help explain how to do this.
So, here’s the photo. As I said at the start … something a little different to a landscape;-)
What an appropriate name for this wonderful beach here at Beachlands, Auckland, New Zealand. Such a lovely peaceful place to take a stroll or just sit and watch the waves. Surprisingly close to Auckland, yet it feels like a million miles away. The first image in this post looks in the general direction of Auckland City. In fact, around the headland to the left you will see Pine Harbour from where there’s a regular ferry service into the heart of Auckland.
But looking at the views (and did you notice how crowded the place is) it’s hard to believe you’re so close to New Zealand’s largest city! The second image shows the public boat ramp with Waiheke Island in the background.
Not got a large boat? No problem. Just bring your kayak and set sail from the beach. The owner of this kayak had been doing a spot of afternoon fishing from this yellow boat. Something nice for dinner? Hard to beat fresh snapper 😉
Really busy yesterday and didn’t manage to finish work until after midnight … then up at 4am this morning to head out to a rather special place. A two hour drive from my home led me to this rather lovely part of the country with million dollar views. This particular shot is from my drone. Seven images stitched together in PTGui Pro and then sharpened etc. in Photoshop. The sun was VERY bright to the right of the image, and if you look carefully you might be able to pick out the moon in the upper top left corner of the image. Glorious day here in Godzone today … even when you don’t have much sleep!
The car was packed and I was all set to head off to shoot a property in Takanini when I was told the property wasn’t ready. Being as it was a little cooler today we decided to take a stroll around Auckland’s Botanic Gardens. Not wanting to unpack the car I took my old Nikon D300 along with the first lens I bought for the Nikon, the Nikkor 18-200mm. The first thing I noticed was how light the camera felt in comparison to the ones I usually use. Rather pleasant to have less weight to carry.
After walking through the bush we arrived at the magnolia area of the gardens we almost missed these little cyclamen(?). No leaves and quite delicate colouration to the petals made these plants easy to overlook. I was quite intrigued with the “spiral stems” that you can just pick out at the base of the plant. I wasn’t aware that cyclamen were leafless, but perhaps some are. Anyway, if you know the name of the plant please let me know.
The next plant was just a mass of colour! Very pink indeed, but with a few yellow bits. I have absolutely no idea what this plant is, but it’s rather nice don’t you think?
So, the D300 still works. The dynamic range isn’t anywhere near that of my D800s and the 18-200mm lens lacks the clarity and bokeh offered by the lenses I usually use on the D800s. Looking at the first image, the bark in the background somewhat overwhelms the bloom … seems much too busy, and this was with the lens wide open and after adding some gaussian blur in Photoshop. All the same, it was a nice lightweight combination to take along for a stroll and the photos aren’t too bad … are they?
Well, not much chance to get out and take photos today. I must have picked up a bug or something ‘cos I’ve been sneezing all day. Hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow as I have heaps to do this week. With no new photos to play with I decided to look over a couple of shots taken over the past couple of days. Some of you may have heard that I recently made the move to Photoshop CC. I’ve been quite happy with CS5.1, but felt the time had come to get a little more current, so I “upgraded” earlier this week. I suspect, however, I’ll stick with CS5.1 for any pressing tasks as I’m still finding my way around the newer applications.
Playing with a couple of images in both Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC though has been interesting. I quite like the variety of crop overlays available now, and the Camera Raw options seem a little different to what I had before. Quite a bit to play with before I’m as happy with these new version as I was with the older release!
Below are two images that may amuse you. The first is of an old homestead close to Te Puru Park on the road between Beachlands and Maraetai. Quite a lovely old building and full of character. I’ve been meaning to get some photographs of the property before it falls down and only just managed a shot or two. This image was processed in Photoshop along with Nik’s Color Efex Pro plug-in. Hopefully you’ll like it.
The next image was processed in Lightroom CC and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2. I used to use Lightroom extensively a few years ago, but have to admit I’m feeling a little lost with the product now! I think with Lightroom, Bridge and Photoshop there’ll be a few changes to my workflow. Feeling rough though isn’t conducive to thinking about workflow changes however. The image is of a boat anchored just a little way off the coast close to Maraetai. I liked the horizontal lines and low contrast scene. Very bright sunlight and some pretty sparkling highlights on the water. Not altogether sure I’m that impressed with the image, but I’ll add it to the post and you can perhaps let me know what you think.
Back to Maraetai again today … wifey fancied a stroll along the water’s edge between Omana and Maraetai. There’s a lovely walkway called “Tracey’s Walk” from which there are some really gorgeous views. Needless to say I took my camera along for the stroll.
Most of my images of this area are in colour, but after reading a few books and articles by Ansel Adams I decided, just for fun, to try processing today’s images in black and white. I used to do a lot of black and white photography many years ago, before the advent of digital cameras, and still have a fondness for black and white. A few folks would argue that black and white isn’t the best choice for these views due to the significance of the glorious colours in the scenes. The shades of blue in the sea and sky were really quite lovely. Mind you, being as the camera takes colour photos I do have colour versions as well! What I did notice of interest as I processed the images was the significance of the sun’s rays in the photos. These “Jesus Rays” were not at all obvious in the colour images, yet seem to show up quite well in the black and white versions.
The first view is looking north towards Omana and Beachlands. The second view looks more south towards Maraetai. Quite a lovely gentle stroll if you’re in the area with the added bonus of some very pleasant cafes at Maraetai!
Back to Totara Park this morning. It’s been quite hot during the day, so an early morning walk is very pleasant. Especially when the sun is just coming up. There’s a lovely warm glow from the rising sun. Very special.
The first shot in this post has a significant sunburst effect in the image. I can recall years ago using sunburst filters to get starburst effects from highlights in the image. No filter used in this shot. The lens seems to do a nice job all by itself!
I’ve always had a special fondness for Rimu trees. I can recall a friend telling me about them many years ago, ” … make excellent chopping boards …” Looking at them, however, I can’t imagine how anyone would want to convert them into chopping boards! You can’t see the whole tree in this shot, just a few of the leaves and branches. It’s the weeping effect of the branches and leaves and the way they catch the light that I like … hopefully you do too!
Last shot for today. Shooting straight into the sun and despite all the clever coatings on the lens I still get flare. Does it matter, or does it add to the shot?
I suppose I’ve always liked looking at clouds, especially at different times of day. This morning as the sun was rising there were some rather lovely oranges and pinks. The first shot is at the Everglade Drive end of the Botanic Gardens here in Auckland. Interesting shot as to rely on the camera sensor would probably result in an overexposed sky and little detail in the grass and bush around the lake in the centre of the image. Exposing just for the sky would probably result in loss of detail in the shadows. Using Liveview and the histogram can really help here, but so can use of Ansel Adams’ Zone System.
Ansel Adams’ Zone System divides “exposures” into eleven “values” numbered from 0 through to X. Zone V (the middle value) is the average or close to an exposure for an 18% grey card. Values at the extremes (0 and X) are either black or white with no discernable texture. As such, I through IX are the extremes we really want to deal with. These would allow for slight detail retention at the extremes. Each zone is separated from its adjacent zone by one stop. So, carefully looking at a scene, you can decide on which zone each element in your frame falls and expose accordingly.
I’m just reading and experimenting and haven’t decided yet whether Liveview and histogram have replaced the zone system or if perhaps it compliments it. Remember, the Zone System was really created to ensure reliable and consistent creation of black and white negatives. We’re now working with colour and digital sensors.
If nothing else, deciding on which zone each area in your frame falls slows you down and makes you examine the shot you’re about to take. I suppose this makes the whole process of taking a photograph more enjoyable … certainly much more so than point click and shoot! You may also feel more in control and feel that you took the photo rather than relied on the camera to work things out.
Whilst walking through the bush I noticed in a nearby field a large family of rabbits. Up near the ridgeline was one rabbit obviously acting as lookout. Very cute! Hopefully you can pick out the ears!
Last shot from this morning’s stroll is of a new bit of growth on an more aged tree fern trunk. I quite liked the richness of the colours in this image. Often the bush can look a little “grey”, but this scene looked lush and vibrant.
I’ll play a little more with Mr. Adams’ Zones and perhaps mention them in more detail in a subsequent post.
I’ve been busy reading all day and decided to take a break and head out into the garden. I was going to buy a few books, but thought I’d check them out first from the library. I seem to get the books, get embroiled in something more pressing then frantically read them before the return date. Anyway, the garden. We bought these plants a few months back and they ready are rather lovely. The leaves are those “sword shaped” affairs but then, from the centre of the leaves, you get these beautiful yellow flowers on stalks. Well, I like them anyway!
Whilst shooting these flowers I noticed the seed heads on the lilies close by. I think I like these seed head more than the flowers to be honest. Lining up the camera to take the shot I noticed something move. Not sitting still for long was a very busy spider crafting its web between these seed heads. Quite a pleasant time looking around the garden I think.
I was due to shoot a property early this morning further south from my home and the agreement was to check the weather first. Forecasts indicated rain, but you can never tell in Auckland. Looking out the window the sky looked amazing with some wonderful cloud shapes and colouration from the rising sun. I had to get to the park and see how the sky looked with the trees. Needless to say, by the time I got there the sky was a pretty uninspiring grey. The trees, however, looked magnificent. The first shot in this post is of a Totara quite close to the carpark at Totara Park. When I saw this tree I thought of a black and white image; great shape to the tree and the texture in the bark is so lovely. We’re very fortunate to have so many beautiful native trees here at Totara Park.
Stepping into the bushwalk the rain started. Besides getting me somewhat damp it did have the effect of washing the foliage and providing a glisten to the palm fronds. So many shapes and textures here. Next time I’ll dress appropriately! Cameras were getting wet as was I, so I decided to head back home and contact the agent to check on the weather further south.
One more shot before I left. I liked the contrast between the bark on the tree and the soft fronds of the tree ferns alongside. This contrast needs more time to explore, but I was keen to get somewhere dry! Maybe tomorrow?