Blog - nathankphotography

Darkness and Light

I learnt a valuable lesson yesterday, it had been raining most of the afternoon. I had planned to use some free time to go to my favourite spot on the west coast to capture some landscapes. As I drove there I couldn't help but think this would be a total waste of time but since I was going to be near the west coast anyway I decided I would keep going. I figured at best this would turn into country drive. 

As I parked my car the deluge hit. I decided to wait it out and see if it was just passing and sure enough it was. As the rain stopped I could see the sun peeking out, it was not going to be for long as the next storm was clearly on its way in. I grabbed my camera and took a series of shots that turned into this panorama. I love the contrast of dark menacing rain clouds to the left and sun giving a final farewell for the day.

So what was the lesson? Well sometimes you look out the window and think, it's raining is there any point going out? I say just do it, you just never know when you will get that short break in the weather and get that one image that you could never capture in any other conditions. So when in doubt whether to go out and shoot, just do it.

For this image I had to change my settings a little. I made a decision to shot at f/22, f/11 would not get me the star burst effect on the sun. The second decision I made was to change my bracketing from -2,0,+2 to -3,0,+3 so I could capture as much of the dynamic range as possible. The left hand side of the image was so bright compared to the left and with my normal bracketing sequence I would never have captured the detail on both sides. In hindsight I think I should have bracketed 5 shots.


Of the major Auckland west coast beaches I had been to all except one. I think I saved the best for last. We had a free Saturday, so we decided we would drive across town to the west coast and explore Anawhata. 

Located north of the more popular Piha beach, Anawhata is a little bit off the tourist trail only because it is not as easy to get to. Unlike Piha where you drive down to the beach, Anawhata requires you to trek down some rather steep terrain go get to it. The way down is hard on the knees and the way up hard on the entire physique. 

Once you get down there you will not be disappointed, the place has photography opportunities galore. A couple of see stacks are an immediate attraction, I had to scale a small hill to capture this image. The weather was overcast on the day so I decided to go with the 10 stop ND filter to capture a long exposure panorama. 

Other features are the hole in the cliff which could be used to frame the sea stacks. At low tide there are opportunities to capture the crabs and starfish hiding in the rocks. I would love to go back to Anawhata and do some milky way photography but the thought of the walk back up to the car park makes me think twice about doing it again.