Muriwai Sunset

There are times when you visit a spot over and over again and every time you do you don't seem to quite capture the epic feel of the place. It has been like this for me every time I go to Muriwai. I have tried to capture this composition before as a panorama and have not succeeded. I have tried to capture it as s single image and even that has not worked.

In order to capture a panorama here, I have found that it is difficult to lean the camera over the edge of the railing and I can never get the images to stitch the way I want them to. This time I had an idea, I contorted my tripod into all sorts of shapes to capture each image. I had to make sure that the horizon was as straight as I could get in every shot and prayed that the software would stitch the resulting images into a panorama without too much fuss. It worked! 

You can't really get a bad composition at Muriwai but what made this image for me was the sunset and how the sun kept peeking through the clouds and producing these magical rays. As soon as I saw the rays I knew I had to get a sun star, so I set my camera to f/22 to try and maximise the effect and adjusted exposure to suit. This is the result and I must say I quite like it.

Taranaki Falls

My favourite local national park is Tongariro National Park, we try and visit once a year in winter to enjoy the winter landscapes. If you have been following me for any length of time you will notice that one of my go-to subjects are waterfalls. Every time we have been to Tongariro I have wanted to photograph Taranaki Falls. I never got round to making the 3.1 km hike through Mordor to get to it, usually because the weather was not cooperating.

To get to the waterfall from the Visitor's centre you take one of two paths heading east towards Mt Ngaruhoe. We took the lower path thinking it might be the easiest, turns out that's the one that had more ups and downs, which you feel when you are carrying a backpack with camera gear. The track was a challenge but from a photography point of view, it was awesome. We went through forests and crossed rivers with snow that made them look like a scene straight out of Narnia. 

When you eventually get to the waterfall these pretty scenes along the way really feel like they were just the trailer. The river squeezes through a narrow chasm and plunges 20 m into an icy pool at the bottom. 

I opted to capture if both from the bottom and a slightly higher vantage. My favourite was this shot that captures the grandeur of the scene. My only regret is not shooting this in a better light, but that would have meant hiking through the forest in darkness and who knows what manner of beast could lurk in a forest in Mordor.

For the photo geeks who read this. I shot this as a panorama 9 images across. Each exposure is bracketed to get as much dynamic range from the scene. Click the info button to view my settings.

Adelaide, South Australia

Late last year I had a work trip to Adelaide, South Australia. I was only in the ground for a few days but I was fortunate to have a hotel right in the CBD which allowed me to find some good photo spots around the city. Whenever I travel I always want to capture a cityscape to remind me of the cities I have visited.

I found Adelaide to be quite a pleasant city. Getting around on the free tram was a breeze, a great way to explore the place. I didn't have to go far to get an image I liked.

Just outside my hotel was the Three Rivers fountain that I thought would make a good foreground. I like fountains because each is unique and identifies it's location. While I was shooting I was joined by a number of photographers from a local camera club. 

The image is taken from Victoria Square looking north. I had to use a long exposure to get the effect of flowing water on the fountain. The giant Christmas tree in the centre of the image is a giveaway as to the time of year this was taken. 


I bumped into an old friend the other day and they made mention of how long it had been since I had last posted an image. I fumbled around for an excuse which is a genuine one (more on that later) but it got me thinking that I really could not excuse myself. I enjoy photography and love sharing my work with the faithful people that take the time to visit my website.

Now to the excuse, moving into a new house earlier this year has given me the chance to give time to my other hobby, gardening. We moved into a house whose garden needed some love, I have spent many weekends digging, chopping, mulching and planting. A couple of weekends ago I made a conscious effort to go out and take some pictures.

It had been a long time since I had last visited the world-famous surf beach at Piha and even then I had not taken time to explore. This time around I decided to walk up the cliffs at the southern end of the beach and boy was I surprised. The track is quite steep but it's not long so you can take your time. The first viewpoint is called Tasman View and provides views of Lion Rock and the beach that are simply stunning. Take the track further and you end up at another beach where there is a gap that restricts the water and provides amazing wave photography but before you get there the views you get along the treck are spectacular.

Today's photo is shot along the track between Tasman View and the Gap. I was drawn to this composition because of how the trees to the right and left of the image almost provide a natural frame for the beach that snakes away into the distance. I was a little disappointed with the lack of clouds on the day so I plan to go back and hopefully get some wave action at the Gap and improve on this image.

Till next time (which hopefully won't be long), blessings.

Hobson Street

As a photographer I am always on the lookout for new compositions, even when I am doing something totally unrelated to photography my mind seems to just be thinking about how to take a photo. Call me strange but that is how I came up with this image. I was walking to dinner with my work colleagues one Friday night, I parked in the downtown car park and had to take the footbridge across Hobson Street when I visualised this shot in my mind's eye. It kept bugging me so I went back the next weekend and the rest is history.

What drew me to this composition was the light trails from the cars on the street and the Sky Tower in the background. I was not sure whether to shoot this long or wide eventually I opted for long and made it a vertical panorama. I had to use an ND filter to get exposures long enough to get enough light trails from the tail lights of the cars.

Veins of the city

One thing about me and I am sure it is the same with many landscape and cityscape photographers, I love going back to the same place over and over and see if I can outdo my previous attempt. I had a free afternoon recently and decided to go back to this spot which is one of my favourite spots to view the city.

I was hoping for a spectacular sunset but that did not happen, I decided to wait it out anyway and was rewarded with these amazing magenta hues in the evening sky. The photo itself was quite a technical challenge. I wanted to ensure that I got continuous light trails, so that is what dictated the 20s shutter speed. 

Many have written about the state of the Auckland skyline and how many cranes are working on construction sites strewn across the city. I debated editing some of them out but decided to keep them to document the skyline as it was on the date the image was taken.

I think I have done better than my previous image but I am sure I will be back to this location again to create a better image.

Road to Mt Cook

It has been a while since my last post. So much has happened since then. I am glad to be back sharing my images with regular readers of this page.

I took this photo on my last trip to the South Island. This is one of those spots where the view was breathtaking and the photograph does not do it justice. I normally arrive at photo locations and start shooting straight away but this time I took some time just to take in the scene and while I was there a few other people saw me and decided to stop too. 

I love this view of Mt Cook in the background with what must be my favourite lake, Lake Pukaki in the foreground. I remember the first time I saw Lake Pukaki, I couldn't believe my eyes (yes the water is really that colour, you can Google it).

With this image, I wanted to capture the landscape as wide as I could. I turned to my favourite format and shot just under 30 images and stitched them to make the final image.

London Sunset

Every time I travel, even for work, I always make sure to carry my camera and tripod with me. On most of my visits, I find time in the evenings to head out and do some photography. I had to make a quick trip to London recently. I had just over three days in the UK, the time was packed with stuff to do so there was a very real chance that photography would not find a slot in the schedule. 

I arrived at Gatwick at midday and thought that spending the afternoon would not be a good idea, after 27 hours of travelling I would likely fall asleep and not adjust well. So I decided to head to central London and at least try and get the iconic Big Ben shot, I had forgotten that I had heard somewhere that there was work being done on Big Ben. I arrived to see the place covered in scaffold, not so good for the iconic image I was hoping to get. So as the sun started setting I thought of capturing this shot. I had to chop the houses of parliament to avoid the hideous scaffolding. 

The image was shot from the Westminster Bridge looking south to towards Vauxhall. I was fortunate the sky lit up and produced a plethora of colour. This ended up being the only image I came back with from London.            

First light on Mt Sefton

A few weeks ago I had the chance to go back to one of my favourite photography locations in New Zealand, the majestic Hooker Valley. On this cold morning, I drove in the dark and got to the start of the Hooker Valley track before sunrise. I must have been the first person walking the track, the things we do to get good light. My aim was to photograph Mt Sefton with pink hues on the peaks, the colours were not quite what I saw in my mind's eye but I was happy with the image nonetheless.

I shot this as a two-row panorama. I worked from left to right for the top row then right to left for the bottom row. I had to work really fast to keep the lighting consistent across the image.

Cyril Bassett VC Lookout

I am my own harshest critic. Many times I take photos that never get seen beyond the camera's preview screen. I get home and just don't like them so they never get published. 

The opposite is when I go out and shoot and immediately fall in love with the image. I am always on the lookout for different vantage points to shoot cityscapes of Auckland. One such lookout was Cyril Bassett VC Lookout at Stanley Point on the North Shore. The reserve itself is a tiny piece of land named after the veteran soldier who frequented the spot to view the city.

I can understand why Cyril Bassett enjoyed this spot, it has become one of my favourite vantage points for a view of the city. This particular day I thought I might get some colour in the sky at sunset when that did not happen I thought I would wait till blue hour and that when I got this shot. I shot this as a two-row panorama. It is composed of 26 individual images for a total of 17212 x 5738 pixels, that's 98 megapixels. It's not quite as detailed as I would have liked but shooting a multi-level panorama in rapidly changing light is not easy so I decided to limit the number of images. 

I fell in love with the result so much that I will be making a large format print of my adopted city to go in our living room.

Auckland Harbour Bridge

I have shot a similar image before, I wanted to go back to this spot to see if the weather could make a different image. I was not disappointed, I think the clouds and the new lights on the harbour bridge made a real difference to the image.

I still have to go back one more time for a different composition that I did not have the time to capture.

The wonder and majesty

Space has fascinated me since I was about ten years old. For a few years growing up, we lived in rural Zimbabwe in the shadow of the Mavhuradonha mountains and the one thing I recall was how vibrant and vivid the night sky was. Looking up at the canvas of the milky way always filled me with awe. Three decades later I am still amazed at the beauty of the night sky.

We live in Auckland which is a fairly big city, this means light pollution, which means you can't really see the stars in all their majesty. To see the night sky I have to drive out of town to escape the city lights. The most accessible spot for me is Magazine Bay just south of the village of Maraetai.

The wharf at magazine bay provides good foreground interest for the Milky Way. I had been planning to photograph the night sky for a few months now, but the conditions just would not line up. If the sky was dark enough being Auckland, it probably would have been raining, or if the sky was clear the moon would be so bright making the milky way hard to see, let alone photograph.

Last Friday all the holes in the cheese lined up and so I went out with great anticipation. I have said this about many other genres of photography but astrophotography is very challenging. You are trying to figure out where the buttons on the camera are in pitch darkness and at the same time making sure that you have focussed the shot properly. 

As usual, I made a panorama of the scene in front of me, this one was seven frames across. I realised after I got home that I had made one major error, I had forgotten to turn off the image stabilisation on my lens and so the images did not turn out quite as sharp as I would have hoped. 

My fascination with space and the night sky will for sure lead me back to try my hand at this a few more times. My settings for the image above where f/2.8, ISO 2500 and a shutter speed of 20 seconds.               

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.

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