Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Archive for February, 2010

Lantern Festival

In every city in the world where there is an Asian population there will be a festival to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year.  A significant part of those celebrations is a lantern festival.  Auckland is no different. The Year of the Tiger marks the eleventh such festival in Auckland, and each year the visitor numbers grow larger.  The long hot summer that we have been experiencing this year provided perfect weather for this year’s event. Each new festival brings additional displays in Auckland’s Albert Park adjacent to the University of Auckland. Because of growing crowds vendor stalls have been moved out of the park to Princes Street, which is closed during the three nights of the festival.

Here are some images that were taken last night.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/15 sec, F 6.3, ISO 200, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 28mm

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/20 sec, F 8, ISO 200, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 35mm

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/8 sec, F 6.3, ISO 200, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 22mm

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/20 sec, F 6.3, ISO 200, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 18mm

All images taken hand-held.

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Potter’s Room

Matakana Village has become an arts and crafts centre on the Marhurangi Peninsula in Northland.  Surrounded by farmland and a growing number of vineyards,it has become  increasingly popular with holiday makers and weekenders from Auckland. In the basement area of the old Matakana Co-operative Dairy Factory there is a potter’s workshop.  Light from the windows picks up the warm colours of newly thrown and drying pots waiting to glazed and fired.  The ambiance of old timbers of the dairy factory, dust particles hanging in the air, and the aging concrete floor add atmosphere to the scene.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/2000 sec, F 5.6, ISO 400, Sony DT 18-70 mm lens at 24 mm

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Goat Island Marine Reserve

Near Cape Rodney on the Mahurangi Peninsula in Northland is the Goat Island Marine Reserve.  Throughout the year crowds of visitors are drawn to the area to snorkel and dive around the reef between The University of Auckland Marine Research Centre and nearby Goat Island.  Those unable to swim can enjoy seeing fish swim around their legs as they paddle knee-deep on the nearby beach or from the reef itself.

This group of young people were taking a rest while others enjoy swimming with the fish between the reef and the island.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/2000 sec, F 5.6, ISO 400, Sony DT 18-70 mm lens at 24 mm

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The Village Market Baker

A 60 km drive north of Auckland will take you to the delightful rural village of Matakana.  The village lies on the road from Warkworth to the fishing village of Leigh and the Leigh Marine Reserve.  In former times the village was no more than a dairy factory, general store, pub, a small church and a the local country primary school.

Over the last 30 years that has all changed.  City folk discovered the nearby beaches and built holiday cottages that drew weekend and holiday travellers into the area.  With them came the desire for some of the facilities they were used to in the suburbs so craft shops, cafes and coffee houses began opening in the village.  The Dairy factory has been taken over by a potter, craft furniture maker and a gift shop.  Nearby a boutique  cinema and shopping area has opened.  In the area between, behind the shopping area, a farmers market is held each Saturday morning throughout the year.

I captured this image while walking through the market.  Just before the shutter “clicked” the girl looked up slightly startled, then smiled and carried on with her work.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/20 sec, F 4.5, ISO 100, Sony DT 18-70 mm lens at 26 mm

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Early Morning Ride

This image was captured on the same morning as the one in the previous post.  To try something different I processed it as a split one image and am quite pleased with the result as, for me, it captures the mood of the moment – early morning, overnight rain clouds still hanging in the hills, small children being taken for a ride around the bay in an inflatable dinghy, and just plain peacefulness. Click image for larger view.

Sony Alpha DSLR A200 1/50 sec, F5.6, ISO 100, Sony DT 18-70 mm lens at 18 mm

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A Hint of Light

This time last year I was invited to accompany some friends on a fishing trip in the Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand.  Usually our annual fishing trips goes from Auckland to Great Barrier Island but the boat had engine trouble which resulted in a change of plans.  A storm developed as we drove north from Auckland and by the time we arrived at our charter vessel at Opua it was raining quite hard and the wind was increasing.  The charter boat was quickly loaded and we moved quickly to find as safe anchorage for the night.

During the night the wind howled through the rigging and the rain lashed the decks, soaking anything that was left uncovered.  By morning the wind had eased, allowing us to set sail and journey into the historic Bay of Islands for three days of fishing and cruising.

This image was taken at dawn on our last morning.  There had been light rain overnight and the cloud was still hanging low over the hills in the morning. A suggestion of sun and the fine day ahead shows in the distance.

Sony Alpha DSLR A200 1/40 sec, F4.5, ISO 100, Sony DT 18-70 mm lens at 26 mm

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This is the last of my White Island series of posts.  At the northern end of the island gannets have established a colony on a sloping area high on the cliffs.  The area around the island is rich in sea food which makes it an attractive fishing ground of birds and humans alike. As visitors leave the island and head back to the mainland they can observe these magnificent birds soar above the waters and then fold their wings and dive on their catch.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/250 sec, F14, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 200mm

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During one of the many eruptions at White Island in the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s North Island the eastern crater wall collapsed and allowed the lahar to spill into the sea.  This view is presented to you as you leave the island and look back at the crater from the launch. The remains of the ruined sulphur factory are behind the headland on the left of the picture. A video monitoring station has been mounted on this rocky outcrop to allow Geonet, the New Zealand geological survey organisation to keep watch on activity in the crater area.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A100, 1/80 sec, F14, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 18mm

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The combination of sulphurous fumes and salt air forms a toxic mix that will reduce steel to flakes in short measure.  Sulphur mining ceased on White Island in the mid 1930s and the factory plant abandoned to the elements.  The sculptural effect of some 70 years of steady corrosion presents some fascinating viewing for visitors.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/60 sec, F16, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 45mm

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Foot Prints

I think this image illustrates the fragility of  existence on White Island.  In several places on the walking trail you pass near mud pools.  At times the mud wells up and flows over the surrounding area and then returns to its previous semi-benign state, bubbling away quietly before the next release of energy.  These footprints were relatively fresh, the mud still damp but hardening rapidly in the summer sun.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/100 sec, F16, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 18mm

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I can only imagine what it is like to stand on the moon but I guess the scene before one would be somewhat like standing in the crater of a volcano.  There are several places in New Zealand where you can do just that, and White Island in the Bay of Plenty is one.  Another is on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – the Tongariro Crossing.  It’s an eerie feeling moving inside a scoria cone with sulphurous steam, acidic streams and boiling mud pools all around you, while you stick to the marked paths for fear of breaking through the brittle surface.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/80 sec, F16, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 26mm

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Snap That!

Nearly everyone travels with a camera these days, usually to capture images to remember their trip.  You see them everywhere, clicking at everything that moves.  Even I am guilty of that!  So it was when we arrived at the crater lake on White Island.  You stand on the lip of a steep drop into a green lake of sulphuric acid with steaming crater walls towering above you across the lake. Taking due heed of the warnings given by our guide about not getting too close to the edge, out came the cameras to capture the spectacle before us.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/100 sec, F16, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 18mm

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Although it doesn’t look very big, it is menacing all the same.  The roar from the steam vent gets louder as you approach.  Where liquid has occasionally spilled from the vent you can see the path that it has followed towards lower ground.  Tourists line up to get their photographs taken, often wearing their gas masks to save breathing in the sulphurous fumes, but also for the comic effect that the mask induces.  Tour guides constantly remind visitors not to get too close.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/160 sec, F16, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 18mm

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Sulphur, Black Water & Steam

Walking in the crater of White Island is an eerie experience.  You are very aware that this place is still an active volcano.  Moving away from the safety of the beach, wearing a supplied yellow hard hat and carrying a gas mask around the neck, you follow a milky stream along a well trodden trail towards the noisy steaming fumarole in the distance.  Running almost parallel to the milky stream is another stream – this one tarry black.  Such is the chemical composition of a volcanic cone.  One is constantly reminded of the instability of this place.  There is 24/7 seismic monitoring and an escape route if conditions change suddenly.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/125 sec, F16, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 18mm

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Ruined Ambitions

You have to admire the entrepreneurialism of the early settlers.  Having pitched up in a small island colony (New Zealand only obtained sovereignty as a nation in 1908), they set about creating new businesses where none had existed before.  Such was the case on White Island off the Bay of Plenty coast of the North Island of New Zealand.  Between the 1880s and 1930s there were several ill-fated attempts to mine sulphur for use in medicines as an antibacterial agent, in the making of match heads, and for sterilising wine corks.  The ruined remains of the sulphur works can be visited during a trip to the island.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/30 sec, F16, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 22mm

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Landed – White Island

There is no formal jetty at White Island where visiting boats can tie up – a history of eruptions has put paid to that.  Instead, the collapsed ruins of an old jetty provides the landing-place.  Galvanised pipes, now corroded from the sulphurous fumes, bolted to the fallen concrete structure offer hand-holds for landing passengers as the step from bobbing rubber dinghies.  At the nearby beach a white sulphurous stream created by the fumarole in the crater trickles into the sea.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/80 sec, F16, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 18mm

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Whakaari – White Island

New Zealand has a number of active and semi-active volcanos.  This is because our small country lies on the “Pacific Ring of Fire“. Whakaari “White Island” is one of these and is reached by boat as part of a guided tour from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. It was given its european name by Captain Cook in 1769 because of the white cloud of steam that lay over the island

Volcanic activity is evident even from the mainland, but the plume of sulphurous steam becomes more impressive as you get nearer to the island.  There are no permanent residents on the island.  Visitors can only land by permit and are required to wear a hard hat and gas mask. Only a small part of the island is lightly vegetated.  Between the 1880s and 1930 attempts  to mine sulphur were made but each was thwarted by the volcanic activity for which Whakaari is famous.

We were fortunate to visit on a sunny, windless summer’s day in January, 2010.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/125 sec, F16, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 18mm

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