Blog Archive 3 - nathankphotography

Hamilton Gardens

Summer is a time to get out and explore, one of the places that has been on our list of places to visit was Hamilton Gardens. The award winning gardens are about an hour and a bit drive from Auckland. The themed gardens are worth every penny of the free entry fee, they are immaculate and worth all the awards they have won. 

I shot a few pictures that day mostly with a 10-stop ND filter to give the midday light some interest. There was a photo contest running at the gardens so I entered a few of my images but I haven't heard back so I guess that means nothing came out of that. I was expecting much because the light was not the best at the time of the visit. I just wanted to share my images for those who may be inspired to visit the gardens before winter sets in.



Magazine Bay Pier

I get inspired when I see other people's work. I could never claim that any of what I do is original to me. I get bits and pieces from different creative people and combine them to make something that hopefully looks original to me and gives me my unique identity. I follow a lot of tutorials and glean techniques from them, once in a while I find areal gem which I end up incorporating in my workflow. 

This week I sat in a presentation at my local camera club where a particularly talented photographer showed us her amazing work. I was inspired by her use of black and white and also her minimalist compositions. So I came home and trolled through my archives for photos that I hadn't processed that I could try her style on. I found this one that I shot at Magazine Bay, near Maraetai. At the time I had gone to try and shoot the Milky Way but as I waited for darkness I thought I would capture the pier. I really loved how the black and white processing worked on this one. I like it so much that I will probably be adding black and white to my work as often as I can find a composition that suits it.


Tawhai Falls

As you might know by now if you follow my work I am unashamedly in love with the panoramic format and try and shoot in that format as much as I can. Its not always that an image must be a panorama and this image of Tawhai Falls in Tongariro National Park is a case in point. I spent about an hour at this picturesque waterfall and kept shooting panoramas that I was not entirely happy with. Right at the end as I was about to leave I thought I would fire off this single shot and it turned out to be the one I liked more than my panoramic ones. 

If I have learnt anything about the 'rules' of photography its that there are no rules and the rules that we think exist are there to be broken. Don't ever feel you have to do things a certain way all the time. By the way with this image I tried an entirely different post processing technique as well. Happy shooting.


Kiwi Mountain

On a previous trip down to Tongariro National Park I saw this spot and really wanted to photograph it but the weather didn't play nice, the mountain was barely visible. Fortunately on our last trip down there late last year the weather was a lot better and I managed to get both the kiwi sign and the mountain. I wondered as I shot it whether this was deliberate by the road authority to place the sign at that location. 

Tongariro is one of those places where I could spend weeks just capturing the landscape. What amazes me about the place is how much it changes through the seasons. I have not been there mid summer but I can imagine how Martian-like the landscape becomes. 


Awaking the City

It's been a while since I got up to try and catch a sunrise. In the summer time the sunrise is around 6am which mean that for me I need to be at the location and setup an hour before the sun comes up which means being there at 5am. Factoring the drive and prep time means I have to be up around 4am, not a good proposition on a Saturday when staying in bed is much more enjoyable. I decided to not sleep in today and try and go back to the city and shoot the sunrise, it was so worth it. Almost every time I sacrifice and stay out late of go out early I am never disappointed with the results. Today I sort of had to go, Tsitsi even told me that it had been a while since I last caught a sunrise. Hopefully this is the beginning of more sunrise shoots during the summer because although the sunrise is much later in winter that comes with its own challenges.

Wynyard Quarter is a favourite spot for me. I like shooting the city and using the marina as a foreground. I was at this exact spot sometime in November 2015 but it turned out to be a grey day and didn't get much out of it. This time I knew exactly where I wanted to shoot from and in the hour and a half or so that I was in the area I only shot four pictures. This is a big change from the days when I would shoot as much as possible, now  I tend to ask myself that if I were to be shooting a 24 exposure film would I raise my camera to capture the scene in front of me. Many times I find myself not shooting at all but when i do I have found that I have more keepers than I used to. 

I really like the image from this morning, I will definitely be printing this one. Email me to order this print.


Happy New Year and an Announcemnt

2016 is here!!! Happy New Year, I pray that this year brings prosperity and blessings to all.

While I have been on leave my family and I have been doing quite a bit of discovering of the city, one of the places we went to see was the new Nelson Street Cycleway. The City Fathers and Mothers repurposed an inconveniently located exit off the motorway and made it into a cycleway, as if that was not radical enough they painted it a  bright magenta colour and lights that change colour as you walk past them. After walking the cycleway I decided to go back and photograph it from one of my old stomping grounds at spaghetti junction. Just for comparison on how the place looked before take a look at this image.

Now for the announcement, in the past many have asked how they could get prints of my images. In response I setup an option to buy them from my website but these orders are done by labs in the US and the UK and shipping alone made it rather expensive. I am all for affordable photography so as of today we can now print high quality at home and ship to anywhere in the world. I will be making some changes to the website so that payments can be made via PayPal. We can print on high quality Canson® Infinity PhotoSatin Premium Resin Coated photo paper up to a maximum of A3+ size (13 x 19 inches). As a rough guide a full size A3+ will retail for NZ$49.98 excluding shipping. Shipping to the US for example will cost around NZ$35. I will soon have all the rates on the website including a shipping calculator but if you cant't wait send me an email and I will send you a quote. If you send your own photos I will also gladly print them for you and you only get billed for the printing costs of course. I am excited for 2016, I will be introducing more and exciting ways to get beautiful images on your walls. 


Auckland at Christmas

It's my favourite time of the year. I look forward to Christmas time not just because I get to take some time off work and spend time at home relaxing but more so because of the festive nature of the holiday. So much happens in the lead up to Christmas, the lights go up and the carols are sung. The reason I really like Christmas is the reason for it's existence, it is a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus, whose birth reconciled man to God.

I first photographed this spot about a year ago but I wasn't happy with the result. I finally found some time to go back and photograph this spot in the city. I was glad to see the sky tower lit up in Christmas colours. I had hoped for more clouds in the sky as the sun set but you don't always get what you want. I was quite pleased with this one.

Many people stopped to look at what I was doing as I took the photo, most pulled out their cameras and also tried to capture the scene. Some asked me how I was getting a decent shot because their sky was blown out. I shot this as a 6 image panorama, each frame was bracketed -2, 0, +2 then blended everything together in Lightroom and Photoshop. If I didn't bracket the shot it would be hard to have the sky and the foreground exposed properly.  


Hidden Gem

If you have followed my work for any amount of time you will notice that there is a trend in my work, I love photographing water. Waterfalls and the coastline have a special spot in my creative heart. I enjoy capturing waterfalls so much that I will seek out new spots until I find them and when I do I get so much satisfaction in coming home with a good photo.

On a trip to the Coromandel we decided to take the long way home. I hadn't researched the route we were going to take so I had no idea what lay ahead. We took the 309 road from Whitianga to Coromandel Town, as we wove through the hills on the unpaved road we saw a sign for a waterfall. I drove past then thought about it, put the car into reverse and ended up capturing this image of Waiau Falls. I think this is a hidden gem of a waterfall, I am sure in the summer there would be a few people swimming in that pool.


Mt Taranaki

I haven't written a post in a while and I sincerely apologise to the two or so people who look forward to reading my rambling. A few weeks ago our family went on an epic road trip around the North Island, the trip took us to the Tongariro National Park, a dual world heritage site. 

I always do some research on locations before I head out to photograph them, this time was no different. More often than not I never come back with the images I thought I imagined capturing. 

With ski season over we hiked from the Whakapapa village to try and find some snow to play in. We bumped into a photographer who told me had been in the area for a few days and had another day to go. I set up my tripod next to him to capture Mount Ngaruhoe but the photographer motioned to me and turned my attention to the landscape to the west of Mt Taranaki. I immediately turned my camera around and captured the image above which was a much more compelling landscape. This reinforced one of the lessons I have learnt while photographing landscapes, which is to always look behind you. I like this image so much that this will definitely find a spot on a wall in our home, hopefully soon.

Mt Taranaki or Mt Egmont is an active volcano on the west coast of the North Island near the town of New Plymouth. The 2518m high cone bears a resemblance to Mt Fuji which led to Taranaki being used as a backdrop for the movie "The Last Samurai. 



A Narnian Adventure

There are some places that simply take your breath away, David Livingstone would agree with me, his breath was taken away after the locals had showed him the magnificent Victoria Falls . Ever since we landed in New Zealand there was one place I had always wanted to go and photograph. 

If you have ever watched the second of the Chronicles of Narnia movies, Prince Caspian. You will no doubt have seen the scene at the beginning of the movie when Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy go back to Narnia after having left there in the first installation of the movies. The siblings are in a train station when a train rushes through and as the train passes they find them standing before this surreal looking cove, with white sandy beaches and clear turquoise water. When I saw this scene for the first time many years ago I was sure there had to have been some computer graphics design involved to make the landscape so stunning.

It took me standing in front of the scene myself to become a believer. There are few places I have set my eyes on that come close to the beauty of Cathedral Cove on the east coat of the Coromandel Peninsula. The Cove is one of many in the area all almost equally as stunning, Cathedral Cove, however, stands out as the crown jewel. Being only a two and a half hour drive from central Auckland, I cannot recommend this place enough as a tourist destination. Allow some time because the walk down to the cove takes all of 35 minutes, the walk back might be a bit longer as most of it is uphill but definitely worth the effort.


A place to stay by the mountain

This photo and the one in my previous post were shot within minutes of each other and all it took was me turning the camera 90 degrees. The conditions change so quickly during a sunrise, you just have to be aware of what is happening in all directions. A case in point just a few minutes before I got this shot I missed a point when Mount Ruapehu was exposed by the time I turned the camera around the magical moment had gone.


The Chateau is probably the place to stay if you are heading to the mountain, you will also need a similar mountain of cash to pay for your stay. Unfortunately I didn't have the mountain of cash so I stayed at a much more modest place down the road.



Sunrise over Mount Doom (Ngauruhoe)

Last week I spent some time in the central part of the North Island. The scenery changes quite dramatically around there where the land is interrupted by the presence of three main volcanoes that are pasted with a generous helping of snow and ice around this time of year. I spent the weekend taking photos with members of the camera club that I belong to.

Of the three volcanic cones in the area my favourite has to be Mt Ngauruhoe, the cone shaped one in the picture. A few of us got up early on Saturday morning to shoot the sun rising over the mountains. The shot was challenging in that it was hard to get detail on the mountains as the scene was backlit. It was also rather cold, my watch was reading a temperature of minus 1 degree celcius. 

Mt Ngauruhoe got worldwide fame when it was the used by Peter Jackson in the Lord of the Rings as Mt Doom. Personally I like to call it Mt. Doom rather than its actual name. There was so much photography to be done down there that I think a few more trips there will need to be made.


Planespotting

Every job has it's little perks, not the ones that come as part of a formal contract. I am the unnamed one, for example if you worked at Cape Canaveral you get to have a front row seat for numerous rocket launches and if you happen to enjoy photography you would probably get to photograph a few of those. My job (which I wouldn't trade for anything, except maybe a photography contract with National Geographic :) ) means that I get to work around aircraft and since I am a bit of a shutterbug naturally I sometimes take my camera with me. 

Last week I was out on the airfield doing some investigative work. I took my camera with me and while we waited to be granted access I managed to get some shots of this Cathay A340 rotating out of Auckland for the long haul to Hong Kong. Of the few shots I managed to get, this was my favourite.

The question I get asked a lot is how far I was, actually quite far but the 70-200 and the 2x teleconverter did a fantastic job of getting me close to the action. I was also helped by the A340 which was taking off heavy and used up most of our runway to get airborne.


Mr Murphy comes to visit

A few weeks ago i had a bit of a misfortune, I dropped my laptop. As usual Murphy showed up in a big way, when you drop something so fragile you sort of hope it lands on a soft surface, a carpet perhaps. Because Murphy had a say in how things went it dropped and landed on a corner and of course it had to be on a rough concrete surface. I have sent it in for repair so I have been computer less for a couple of weeks.

I find that I miss taking a processing pictures, I think the shaking of my hands and constant headaches may mean that this photography thing must now be more than a hobby and probably more of an addiction. I realize how much I miss taking pictures, last weekend my daughter Samantha (I think she is catching the bug too) and I were in the garden looking to take closeup photos of flowers, those pictures are still in my camera, I can't wait to get them out and process them when my computer comes back.

A few weeks ago we went to Karekare and I posted an image of the waterfall, the area had a double treat. This picture is of the smaller cascade, you encounter this one first before you see the more majestic one. I enjoyed photographing this location and there are many more photos still to be taken there.



Serene

The Rat Race, what an apt name for the race that so many of us run. Many of us don't know it but yet we are in the race, some of us realise we are in it and yet find it hard to stop. I found myself stopping and just taking in the beauty of nature last weekend. The excursion almost never happened, it was cloudy and almost raining but we decided to go anyway and boy was it worth it. We took time to unwind and refresh, we really needed to, it's amazing how much we don't realise how much we need to rest and how much good it does for us. After a hectic few months at work I just needed to stop and smell the flowers. 

Whenever I find myself in places like this I find it calms me, my photographers eye scans the scene for the best angles and as I do that I shut out images of the rat race. This is one of those places that I would love to just come back to over and over again, given it's proximity to the city I am sure this won't be our last visit. I am already thinking of doing a portrait shoot there.

Karekare is a beach west of Auckland about 45 minutes drive. It's claim to fame is being the shooting location of the movie "The Piano". The waterfall is a short easy walk from the carpark. The cool thing about this spot was that there were two waterfalls I will do another post of the other waterfall.  

God Bless.


Urban Star Trails

Star Trails at the Marina

Going back to the same place over and over again makes you think about new ways of photographing it. Every Wednesday evening I have an hour and a half to kill while I wait for my kids to finish their weekly girls brigade meeting. Half Moon Bay Marina just happens to be the one place the is close enough for me to spend time with my camera. On a bitterly cold evening I tried to capture star trails, it was a challenge given the amount of light pollution is suburban Auckland. The image about is the result of my efforts. I have not quite perfected the art so I am sure another image with star trails will show up here soon enough.

It was so col that evening that I ended up leaving the camera to capture the images while I sat in the car a couple of metres away. A passerby saw me before I escaped to the car, his words to me were, "you are a very brave man to be taking photographs tonight" before he too made a dash for his car after wishing my luck. 

The image is made up of about 50 individual picture stacked one on top of another. Each image is a 25s exposure and starts to capture a bit of the movement of the stars. 

Hope you have a blessed week and God bless.


Shooting Amara

If you told me a year ago that I would be photographing people I would have told you no way. That I am not only capturing people and enjoying it still amazes even me. Of late I find that I am spending more time photographing people than landscapes, strangely enough I am loving every minute of it. I am getting more and more requests to shoot models, families and events. 

Last Saturday Gospel musician Amara asked me to capture the launch of her music video. What an evening that turned out to be. The evening started off with guests walking the red carpet, briefly posing for a red carpet photo. The rest of the evening was music, music and more music, being African Amara made sure the guests were well fed.

I really enjoyed covering the event and really appreciate being a part of Amara's event.


Owharoa Falls

The sound of falling water does something to you, whether it is the gentle patter of rain as you sleep or the rushing thunderous sound of a massive waterfall. For me it's more of the latter that draws me to it more and more.

A few weeks ago we drove from Auckland down to Katikati on the east coast. Part of our journey took us through the insanely beautiful Karangahake gorge. I had checked my photography map to see if there were any spots along the way that I may want stop and photograph, Owharoa falls was an easy pick. It's just off the road and an easy walk from the parking area to this gorgeous little gem.

There are many other spots that I will have to make time to go back to one of these days. I am told the entire gorge is quite a sight with numerous walking and biking tracks that allow you to be engulfed by the sheer beauty of the place.


Leaving on a jet plane

Working around airports has been my life for many years, despite my entire adult working life being around aviation I always find it fascinating. I have always wanted to photograph aircraft light trails. Many night photographers prefer to remove aircraft trails from their images but I think they can be quite an amazing subject. This winter I aim to capture more of these light trails. 

I shot this image from the public view point on Puhinui Road at Auckland Airport. I don't consider this my best effort at this but I wanted to share my first effort and hopefully be able to see how my images improve through winter. What I really like about this image is the Koru from the tail of an Air New Zealand plane holding for its turn on the runway.

How did I capture this. Well you shoot in manual mode, set your aperture, shuutter speed and ISO. Then you set your camera to continuously shoot. The result is many images, in my case about 60. Not all of these have light trails, so you sift through and find the ones that do and overlay these in Photoshop lots of masking later you come up with this image. One of these days I will record the process and post it to YouTube, watch this space.

ISO 100 | 45s | f11 | Canon EOS 60D | Sigma 18-200mm @ 125m | Manfrotto tripod and ballhead

Till next time, God Bless.



Boats under stars

There are times when I go out knowing exactly what I want to capture, I have the image in my head and all I need to do is show up at the location and get the shot. I usually come back home and process the image and get what I initially visualised. Sometimes this is a good thing,I have something to aim for, other times it's not so good because it can be limiting. Other times I get home an I get blown away by what I capture, I had one of those days last Wednesday when I captured the image I am posting today.

After dropping off the girls at Girls Brigade I had an hour to kill so I went back to Half Moon Bay marina. I had shot there before so I had an image in my mind. After spending 45 minutes shooting I headed back to pick up the girls. I opened the images on my computer and decided to work on one of them, I was blown away by it. What amazed me was the number of stars in the sky that the camera can capture, when I was standing I think I could only make out a dozen or so of them. This image has inspired me to shoot more night photos so look out for those soon.

I always think that my favourite image is always the one I shot last but I think this is one of those that I will cherish for a bit longer. 

God Bless

25s | ISO 100 | f3.5 | 6 image panorama | Sigma 18-200 f3.5-5.6 | Canon EOS 60D