In the Hunuas

Sunrise in the Hunuas
Sunrise in the Hunuas

Well, what a treat! This is a really lovely part of the country with some gorgeous landscapes and views. There’s a section for sale and it was decided to take a look from this section, at dawn, at the views. I’d never visited the site before and the maps didn’t really prepare me for what I was going to see. Often when people rave about a view it’s because you can see the sea. From this section no sea views and sadly not a particularly spectacular sunrise … but I know where the place is now and will return!

We watched for a sunrise and took a few images until I decided to walk down the hill slightly to look round a bit of a bluff. Losing a bit of height and being able to see more of the valley presented some glorious misty early morning views.

Sunrise in the Hunuas ... complete with lens flare ... arrrggghhh!!!
Sunrise in the Hunuas … complete with lens flare … arrrggghhh!!!

Such a gorgeous place and I’ll be back to take more photos. These first images suffer from a bit of lens flare which is really quite annoying, but hopefully we’ll avoid this issue the next time I visit. Hopefully you like the view as much as I did.

Oh … if you like the views and fancy having a look with the intention of buying your own slice of paradise, contact Shona Brown at Ray White in Drury.

Early, misty morning in the Hunuas
Early, misty morning in the Hunuas

DoF!

Whilst enjoying this view towards Kawakawa Bay from Waitawa I noticed the flowers in the following shots.
Whilst enjoying this view towards Kawakawa Bay from Waitawa I noticed the flowers you can see in the following shots.

Out for a walk at the regional park I spotted a rather lovely looking bloom … is it a wildflower or an escaped exotic? I only had my 24-70mm lens with me … wifey not keen on me taking lots of gear with me when we’re supposed to be having a walk! The question then … do I shoot to isolate the bloom from the background, or do I let you see a little more of the view in the image as well?

Two images below for you to consider. The first image has the lens stopped down to f10 to get a reasonable Depth of Field (DoF). In this shot the clouds, the Coromandel Peninsular and the sea have a bit of detail, but not too much to detract from the bloom. By opening up the lens to have a larger aperture (smaller f-stop) it’s possible to reduce the detail in the background and can be seen in the second shot.

Flower shot with lens stopped down (f10, 1/250sec)
Flower shot with lens stopped down (f10, 1/250sec)

This second shot was taken with the lens wide open at f2.8. Now there’s significantly less detail in the background and the flower stands out more. Just a few clicks of the aperture ring, and two quite different images. Just curious, but which do you prefer?

Flower shot with lens opened up (f2.8, 1/2500sec)
Flower shot with lens opened up (f2.8, 1/2500sec)

Sunkist Bay

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.

Looking towards Auckland City from Sunkist Bay
Looking towards Auckland City from Sunkist Bay

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.

Boat ramp at Sunkist Bay
Boat ramp at Sunkist Bay

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 😉

Fancy a bit of kayaking? Maybe a visit to Sunkist Bay is what you need!
Fancy a bit of kayaking? Maybe a visit to Sunkist Bay is what you need!

Just for fun …

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.

View #1 from Tracey's Walk
View #1 from Tracey’s Walk

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!

View #2 from Tracey's Walk
View #2 from Tracey’s Walk

Up early again …

Sunrise in Totara Park
Sunrise in Totara Park

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!

Rimu in Totara Park
Rimu in Totara Park

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!

Flare ... but is it ok?
Flare … but is it ok?

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?

Clouds, Trees and Zones

Sunrise and clouds at Auckland's Botanic Gardens
Sunrise and clouds at Auckland’s Botanic Gardens

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.

Sunrise on Totara Trees
Sunrise on Totara Trees

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.

In a bit of bush at Totara Park
In a bit of bush at Totara Park

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!

One of the lookouts keeping the tribe safe near Totara Park.
One of the lookouts keeping the tribe safe near Totara Park.

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.

New growth
New growth

Trees

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.

Lichen laden Totara Park tree.
Lichen laden Totara Park tree.

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.

Rain washed palms and tree ferns
Rain washed palms and tree ferns

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?

Tree ferns
Tree ferns

Alpacas!

What a pleasant job today. Out shooting a property in Glenbrook that was the home to a flock of Alpacas. Mindful of Tintin’s experience of spitting alpacas (or were they llamas) I didn’t want to get too close! Just a few photos of these lovely creatures. Hopefully their expressions will make you smile.

One thing I learnt today was they go to the toilet in the same place each time. Is that right? Anyway, looking under the alpaca in the last image certainly suggests he’s been here before!

Alpaca #3
Alpaca #3

Alpaca #2
Alpaca #2
Alpaca #1
Alpaca #1

Back in the bush …

Well, this morning was quite different to yesterday morning. Today was rather more overcast and the light intensity was much lower. A more diffused light, so I failed to capture what I was looking for. Yesterday the sun poked its rays through the tree canopy and illuminated small areas in a very special way. No such luck today! Even so, the bush remains a wonderful place to walk and look and listen.

The entrance to the bush walkway
The entrance to the bush walkway

The bush area I was walking through was in Totara Park and there’s some really lovely large specimens of native trees. The next photo shows a lovely Puriri tree. The branches seem to spread out for ages and the main trunk has such lovely texture and form. A bit of a favourite for the kereru for the berries. We didn’t see any kereru today, but we could hear them. It struck me that the next time I go into the bush I should record the sounds and play them as a background track to the blog post. If I can get up in time tomorrow I might just try that.

A rather splendid Puriri tree
A rather splendid Puriri tree

I’ve always been fond of the tree ferns, not just their huge fronds as you can see in the final photo of this post, but the patterns in their trunk. This next image shows the trunk of a tree fern with the textures accentuated by moss and lichen.

Lovely patterns on the trunk of a tree fern.
Lovely patterns on the trunk of a tree fern.

Final image for this post is looking up through the fronds towards and brightening sky. It was quite noisy standing here taking this shot. Not from sirens, vehicles, aircraft, loud music or people talking, but from the cicadas. And then the whoosh of a kereru flying above. Quite a special place and well worth getting out of bed to enjoy if you get the chance. So much better than sitting in a queue on the motorway!

Looking up through the tree ferns.
Looking up through the tree ferns.

Rather special …

Sunrise at Sunkist Bay

It was a glorious morning and I was there to not only see it, but able to take photographs of it too. It’s not that many years ago that I’d see a glorious sunrise through my car windscreen on my way to work. No time to stop and enjoy, had to get into the office and start work. Thankfully those days are long gone! Now I have the opportunity to not only enjoy watching the sun rise, but photograph it too.

There’s an app I have for my Android Phone called Sun Surveyor. This is very helpful to decide times and locations for sunrises (and sunsets for that matter). Using this app I could see where the sun would rise in relation to the trees at this particular Beachlands location. There’s a number of trees, with a gap through which you can see the water, and … according to Sun Surveyor, the sun would rise through this gap. The next shot taken with a wide angle lens, gives a better idea of the trees that frame the view.

Sunkist Bay Sunrise

Somewhat tricky to determine exposure with scenes like this as some areas are very dark whereas other are extremely bright. In situations like this I always use LiveView and the histogram. Sometimes I’ll take several images at different shutter speeds and then blend the images together to ensure I don’t lose detail, but for this shot I was happy to have the darks as dark as they are.

Oh, want to see more of the house that has these gorgeous views?  Take a look here.