Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Sony DT50mm 1.8 SAM Lens

Another Wet Day

Earlier today it looked as though the weather was about to change for the better. Logically this couldn’t be so as the forecast was for more of the same. And so it was.

Another Wet Day


Garden Ramble

It has been a while since I used my Sony DT 50mm F1.8 lens. Several weeks ago I took it for a ramble around our garden with the intention of experimenting with the F1.8 setting only so find out how shallow the depth of field was.  Here are some of the results.

White African Daisy

Potato Flower


Seed Heads


Love-in-a-Mist 2




Imagining Takapuna e-Book Project

This project started with a problem.  What do you do with your growing collection of photographs that have a common theme to them?  When you create the images you don’t necessarily have a specific project on mind.  The shot presents itself, you frame it and press the button.  Maybe you then post the resulting interpreted image on Flickr or a photo blog.

The idea of a photo e-book began to grow when some friends gave us a photo book of a popular local holiday spot .   Maybe I could produce one for our local area, I thought.  At about the same time one of my sons suggested that I look at Scribus, a piece of open source desktop publishing software.  He had used it to produce an in-house newsletter at his workplace.  Further investigation found that it could produce output in a PDF format.  This had some appeal as the final document could be output a PDF and sent to a book printer such as Blurb, provided it complied with their requirements, or it could be published as a viewable or downloadable PDF on the web. A project had been born.

Imagining Takapuna proved to be quite a learning experience, which can be broken down into the following stages:

  1. Learn how to use Scribus – This required finding and then following a on-line tutorial on page layout and import of text and images;
  2. Map out a book idea – Determine a storyline, themes, master layout, etc;
  3. Explore image portfolio to find image candidates for inclusion in the book;
  4. Build the pages with images and text;
  5. Edit, not once, but at least three times.  You can get too close to the project and overlook even obvious errors;
  6. Review – Have someone not related to the project to review the “finished” article and offer constructive feedback.  This will raise questions about why text or images have been included, and why others have not.  Maybe the text mentions something that is not represented by an image.
  7. Time out – Set the project aside for a few days to divorce yourself from it and clear your mind.  Then come back and take a fresh look.  It is amazing what you see (or not) after a break.
  8. Finalize – It is easy to tweak forever.  Reach a point of finalization and call it quits.
  9. Publish – Put your head above the parapet and await response.

This e-book “sort of ” follows the above process.  While it attempts to follow themes, it is by no means a comprehensive representation of Takapuna and what it has to offer.  It is more an experiment in production and a learning experience for the future.  It has helped to arm me for more intentional projects in the future that can be planned and deliberately executed.  If you view it in that light then maybe you will forgive me for any shortcomings in this first production.

Images in the e-book include sunrise and sunset, surfing, stand up paddling, Sunday and Christmas markets, Takapuna Criterium, cliffs and reef.

Imagining Takapuna can be viewed by clicking here on the cover image above. It is best viewed by downloading the file and opening it in Adobe Acrobat and following these viewing tips.

PDF Viewing tip
Make sure you’re viewing this in 2-page spreads if you want this to look its best.
In Acrobat go to: View > Page Display > Two Up.
Select “Show Cover Page During Two Up” to make sure the pages aren’t out of sync.
Select “Show gaps between pages” for the final touch.

Stand Up Paddlers

A noticeable trend at our local beach over the past 18 months has been the increase in the number of people who paddle large surfboards in a standing position.  I have come to understand that this “stand up paddling” (SUP) originated in Hawaii and has recently become a new opening for people who can’t surf anymore, or want to extend their surfing experience in a new form.  Non-surfers are also taking up the new “craze” as a different form of recreational activity.

Stand Up Paddlers - Takapuna Beach, North Shore City, Auckland, New Zealand

I was walking along the beach in the early evening several weeks ago when I saw these three SUP’s coming ashore after a late afternoon paddle.  What first caught my attention was the setting sunlight reflecting off the boards and the shading on Rangitoto Island in the background.  Mark, one of the paddlers, saw me take the photographs and asked for copies.  I was happy to oblige.  It turned out that Mark, the chap with the yellow board, imports and distributes stand up boards and is a prime mover behind getting more people involved in board paddling.  He has been behind promoting a number of community events for paddlers.

It seems that not all people in the surfing community are happy with this new phenomenon.  There have been dismissive articles in some surfing publications where SUP’s are accused of creating a danger in traditional surfing areas ‘especially beginners who cannot handle these new large boards in a responsible manner’.  This reaction reminds me of the debate that raged in ski areas when snowboards first came on the scene.  Unlike ski areas that are managed by ski patrollers however, surf areas are not regulated and the old and new breeds of surfer are having to find their way towards a manageable working relationship, perhaps with a few “understood” rules of the sea.

Nifty Fifty

A present I received last Christmas was a Sony DT50mm 1.8 SAM lens for my Sony Alpha DSLR – A200 camera.  The “nifty fifty” is a lens recommended by many photographers not only as a great portrait lens, but also as a lens of discipline to help improve the way images are perceived and conceived.  Up until recently I had not made great use of it, even though it was always in my bag.  A few weeks ago I took my walk around Sigma DC 18-200mm lens off the camera and went for a walk with the 50mm lens attached instead.

Cactus Flower Buds

I must say that the constraints of a fixed focal length lens make one very disciplined.  Shots have to be more carefully and deliberately framed as the luxury of being able to “zoom” at the camera is removed. Get closer, move further back, be totally aware of what’s in the frame, work at it.  This can be quite frustrating, but also liberating.

The other significant gain is the greater range of depth of field.

These cactus flowers were found near the water’s edge “around the rocks” near my home.  It was late afternoon and the sun was heading for dusk.  The cactus bushes were in the shade.  Spiders had made a home amongst the spines and buds.

Cactus Flowers

Cactus Buds