PhoTophe

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Photography has changed the way I see the world around me.

Through it I discover new things and rediscover old ones. Like my island, New Caledonia.

This blog is just me sharing my world through my photography.

Hope you enjoy.

PAIHIA - BAY OF ISLANDS - NEW ZEALAND

THE FALLS AND THE HOLE

Here are the photos from the last video. I think I added a couple more in there too. 

So to recap the third day of our New Zealand trip of the North Island, we woke up in Kaikohe, a town west of Kerikeri and made our way to Haruru Falls in Waitangi. From there we headed to Paihia where we had booked a ferry to visit the famous Hole In The Rock on Motukokako Island. On the way there and back, we stopped over at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island. The Hole In The Rock is just after Cape Brett, where you will notice a hut and lighthouse on the hill. Back in Paihia I took a photo of the beautiful stone building, the St. Paul’s Anglican church.

We hit the road back towards Auckland that afternoon and stopped for the night at the Sheep World Caravan & Camping Park. A wonderful place and so is the owner.

Again, I’d like to thank Alain, my friend, for letting me use a couple of his photos.

NEW ZEALAND: NORTH ISLAND

PAIHIA

day 3

Good morning and welcome back for this third video in a long series. I must warn though the quality of this video is… not great. Not as bad as day 1 but not as good as day 2 either. I tried to do slow-motion videos but I just couldn’t stop the focus from jumping around. So you may feel a little queasy sometimes. You’ve been warned.

Picking up from where we left off on the last video, where we decided to camp on a free site which led us to a town called Kaikohe. A town about 45 minutes west of Kerikeri. Today, we were heading to Paihia but I wanted to visit Kaikohe before doing so. I got up early and headed for Broadway, the main road. I bought a cup of coffee to accompany me on my little visit. A charming town and lot bigger than I thought. I saw these beautiful murals in a small alley. There are only a couple in the video but there were a lot more. I had a very nice conversation with a couple of retirees. A Maori woman and a Kiwi man, friends enjoying each other’s company, watching people walking by. They were sitting on a bench and said hello as I walked by. I said hello back and before we knew it, 15 minutes had gone by. Wonderful people and great conversation.

Once brekky was over, it was time to hit the road. We had one stop before Paihia and that was Haruru Falls. Not the largest of falls but worth a visit as the surroundings are beautiful and calm. You can kayak your way up to the falls and have a picnic, if you wish. A lovely little spot and worth a stop over.

We had booked a small cruise/ferry to Motukokako Island from Paihia. We were going to see the famous Hole In The Rock and with a little chance go through it. The return trip takes about 3 hours so we had lunch before the 12:30 departure. On the way up to and back from Motukokako Island, the boat stopped off at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island. A gorgeous little bay with a restaurant. Plenty to do on this little island. As you arrive at The Hole In The Rock, on your left side you can see Cape Brett’s hut and lighthouse. Then you notice the huge rock formation, Motukokako Island. It’s a tight squeeze but once up close and personal to The Hole In The Rock, the skipper will direct the boat through it. Unfortunate, the waters were choppy that day and thus weren’t able to experience that. Unlucky us. The return to Paihia is the same trip in reverse. So we headed back to Otehei Bay and just before arriving in Paihia, we noticed four dolphins afar. Not sure if they were playing or fishing. Lucky us.

Back on land we headed straight for St. Paul’s Anglican Church, just across the road from the beach. I’m not a believer but the stone building is just amazing. I had to photograph it.

Anyway, it was late afternoon and we had about three hours before sunset. We were having problems with our camper-van thus decided to make our way back towards Auckland and stop somewhere halfway down. We were heading to The Coromandel the next day anyway so the extra couple hours would be used to stop at the Camper-van Hire to get some help. We pulled up for the night at the Sheep World Caravan & Camping Park. A wonderful, funny and straight-talking old man was there to welcome us. Very helpful too. I didn’t film anything once there because of the problems with the camper-van and we were just tired from the long day. I got the last photo from my friend Alain. The quaint, little common-lounge. You could even exchange books. What a wonderful idea.

Well that’s it for now and thank you for watching. The next video has animals and… what problems? Goodnight.

Oh before I go, I want to thank my friend Alain for letting me use a couple of his photos in this video. Thanks mate.

KERIKERI - BAY OF ISLANDS - NEW ZEALAND

THE CLOUD & THE TOWER, THE STORE & THE FALLS

I thought I’d share the photos that were in the video of my last post. I’ve wanted to share them for a while but wanted to get the video out first.

You might have noticed that the first two photos are not from Kerikeri but Auckland (New Zealand). This was on our first full day in New Zealand, I got up early, before my friends, to check out the Piers at the end of Queen Street, where we’d eaten at the night before.

Later that morning we were picking up our camper-van and heading up to Kerikeri. We lost three hours at the camper-van company because of a problem with their system, which made us arrived in Kerikeri mid afternoon instead midday.

We headed straight for The Stone Store and Kiroripo Pa. A beautiful area along the Kerikeri River. We spent a couple hours there then visited the Rainbow Falls (Waianiwaniwa) a little farther upstream.

Unfortunately that’s all we had the time to visit. The next day we were off to Paihia. Kerikeri is a large town with plenty to visit and do, and absolutely beautiful. Well worth a visit.

NEW ZEALAND: NORTH ISLAND

FROM AUCKLAND TO KERIKERI

day 2

So for those who have seen my last video and are back, either it wasn’t that bad (I don’t believe that for a second) or you like to be tortured (naughty you). Well there could be a third option, that you’re interested in seeing how bad these videos can get (the option I would bet on). Nonetheless, welcome back to you and the newcomers!

Today we pickup our camper-van and make our way north to Kerikeri near the Bay Of Islands. I got up early to head down to Viaduct Basin near Downtown Pier 4 for some photos. It was an overcast morning with some breaks in the clouds on the horizon. I came away with two though. One of The Cloud convention centre and the other of the Sky Tower. Afterwards I went for a walk on Queen’s Wharf around The Cloud before heading back to the room. I was getting hungry and the others would be getting up soon.

Finding a place to eat at 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday was more difficult than we thought. Everything was either closed or opened around 8:30-9 o’clock. Except for The MLC Cafe & Bar, just down the road from us, who open there doors at 7 am. The coffee, food and service was great. I can highly recommend it.

After brekky it was time to pickup our camper-van. We thought it would take about a half hour to have keys in hand but it took a little longer… three hours! Yep, no joke. They apparently had a glitch with their system. We had planned to arrive in Kerikeri around 12:30-1 o’clock but we were just leaving Auckland. No matter, our trip around the North Island of New Zealand had begun. Destination Kerikeri, north of Auckland near the Bay of Islands, with a little stop-over in Kawakawa. A little town at the cross road where you can either head east to Paihia or north-west further up the island. I wanted to visit Kawakawa’s public toilets. Yes, you read me right. But not any toilets, the Hundertwasser public toilets. A beautiful work of art. I’m glad we stopped to check the toilets out because we would never seen the rest of the art works in this little town. Well worth a stop-over.

Moving onward, we’d planned to stop by a couple of wineries, a cheese factory, a chocolate factory and a honey boutique… but it was Sunday. Everything is closed on Sunday. So we kept going to our next stop, The Stone Store where we would also find the Honey House Cafe and the Pear Tree restaurant. All located along the Kerikeri River and all closed apart from the Pear Tree. But it didn’t matter because the area was just beautiful. We spent some time here exploring and taking photos.

It was nearing the end of the day and we wanted to visit the Rainbow Falls before sunset. And beautiful falls they are. I really like one that show the length of the falls. I took one photo from both lookouts and headed back to the camper-van. It was nearing dark and we hadn’t found a spot to stay the night yet. We’d decided to stay at a free campsite tonight and the closes one was in a town called Kaikohe. About a forty minutes drive west of Kerikeri. The campsite was just a parking area suited for long vehicles. 

Well, that’s it for day two. Hope to see you for day three. Goodnight.

NEW ZEALAND: NORTH ISLAND

A STROLL IN AUCKLAND

day 1

Before our New Zealand trip around the North Island, I thought I would start videoing my holidays. Maybe not the greatest idea after reviewing the footage but it’s too late now, I’m already back home. Sometimes I’d forget to record and other times I’d record things that were maybe not necessary. I quickly realised that filming on the go can be quite difficult. Nonetheless it was an experience that I will continue and try to improve upon. Well, I definitely have to improve. You’ll know what I mean if you decided to watch the video.

Now the video is very basic. There’s no narration or voice-over. That’s partly due to me not being comfortable in front of a camera and the other is, it would have taken me many takes before I would be happy with what I had to express. I’m hoping that will change as I try to improve my videos. The video starts at the backpackers place where we stayed our first night in Auckland. Yes, the video doesn’t start at the airport. I was so excited about the trip and getting to Auckland that I’d forgotten to even take out my phone out of my pocket. By the time we settle in our room it was nearing 6:30 pm. We decided to stroll down Queen Street to the waterfront. Along the way we stopped at Aotea Square for a quick photo of the beautiful arched sculpture. Mistake on my part, I used it for the thumbnail of this video but didn’t include it in the video. A reminder for next time. Then we walked through the night market where we stumbled upon a french patisserie. Once on the waterfront near Viaduct Basin, we settled for dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Frida Cocina Mexicana & Tequila Bar. A must if you’re ever there. We then strolled back up Queen Street to our room.

For those of you who are interested, everything was recorded with FiLMiC Pro on my iPhone and edited with LumaFusion on my iPad. They were the most recommended applications I found for filming and editing on mobile devices. Though I’m still in the learning curve, I really like the use of both of these apps. I didn’t have a gimble so the footage is quite (very) jumpy. Sorry about that.

If you haven’t been tortured enough, stay tune for my next video where we head up to Kerikeri.

COURBET PLACE ILLUMINATIONS

Courbet Place is a section of what most people refer to as La Place Des Cocotiers (Nouméa, New Caledonia). For a number of years now the Council has transformed this place with illuminations for Christmas. I had the chance to visit late on the last night.

I rushed around for a composition and took a few photos before the lights turned off. I was actually surprised they hadn’t done so already. This was the last photos taken just a couple of minutes before they did. I got down low to include as much of the arch as possible with the bells on the top third and the Fountain Celeste on the bottom third. The low ISO and small aperture gave me a long exposure of a few seconds. I didn’t want anyone in my composition thus had to wait a few minutes for people to walk out of my composition. I took this shot in the meantime and glad I did as the lights turned off shortly after. I would probably never have gotten the shot I was after so I’m thankful I got this one.

3.2 seconds @ ƒ/8, ISO 100, 28 mm

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019 !

I hope everyone had a fantastic end of year 2018 and I wish you all the very best for 2019.

Just thought I’d quickly share a photo of Noumea’s (New Caledonia) fireworks from last night. I headed up to the Mobilis tower to take these shots. Not the best idea as I couldn’t get close enough with my 28-75 mm lens. I used an app to trigger the shutter, to avoid touching the camera, but that too wasn’t a great idea either. My hands were wet from the rain which caused problems with the touch screen. I’m going to have to get a wired trigger release, I find them more reliable and easier to use. I put the camera in BULB mode and triggered the shutter on and off as I saw the fireworks explode. I took around sixty photos and this was only one that I really loved and successfully captured.

HAPPY NEW YEAR !

9 seconds @ ƒ/4, 75 mm, ISO 100

POURING A RIVER

I took a few photos along Route De Prony (Mont Dore, New Caledonia) heading back home from the Néocallitropsis refuge. I wanted to try out the welder’s glass as a filter on flowing water. I found this bridge interesting with it’s huge tube-like holes and as I headed down stream I found this composition. I love the way the water flows from the holes of the bridge and over the rocks in the foreground. And the mountain in the background adds depth to the image. I really like this photo.

The light was nice due the the overcast day. It helped to extend the long exposure with the small aperture used. I think I focused on the rocks in the foreground which I think was a mistake as I find the bridge slightly on the soft side. Not as sharp as I would have liked. Otherwise very happy with the exposure and composition. And the edit. You may not know but welder’s glass has a strong green tint which, I find, is very difficult to remove completely. Not impossible but more work than I’d like to do in post. The reason why I convert these images to black & white. Next to no colour correction needed.

10 sec @ ƒ/11, 55 mm, ISO 100

I’M BACK FROM MY NEW ZEALAND TRIP

I’m very sorry everyone for the lack of content for the past couple of weeks. A few friends and I travelled around New Zealand’s north island in a camper-van and we just got back yesterday. I took this opportunity to take a break from social media as well. I don’t have a laptop either thus can’t create and share content on the go. I did take photos and videos but couldn’t edit them and didn’t want to spend time doing that anyway. I used the time to relax, laugh with friends and appreciate the beauty of this country, New Zealand.

More bad news though, by the time I sort and edit my photos and videos, and with Christmas and New Year’s eve round the corner, I may not be able to share anything from the trip till after the New Year. In the meantime I will share photos I took before the trip.

The photo shows the route we took. We toured eleven days with the camper-van and, in total, spent three days in Auckland. Our trip started from Auckland and headed north to Kerikeri then back down to The Coromandel, Rotorua, Taupo, looping up to Waitomo and ending back in Auckland. Just over 1700 kms with no more than 3 hrs of driving per day (with was great) with the exception of the 6 hr drive from Warkworth to Hahei.

Before I go I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

NÉOCALLITROPSIS REFUGE FALLS

Cockington Miniature Village was the last of my photos from Australia. And even though I’m heading to New Zealand this weekend, I won’t be sharing photos from there but from home, New Caledonia. The reason being I don’t have a laptop to edit my photos on the go. I promise you’ll get to see them as soon as I get back in a couple of weeks though.

Néocallitropsis Refuge Falls is located in the Yate municipality in New Caledonia. A small waterfall ending in a nice waterhole, especially appreciated after a long walk. A few of us decided to hike the first stage of the GR NC1. Which is a fourteen kilometre hike that starts from the Prony refuge in Baie de la Somme (Mont Dore) and ends at the Néocallitropsis refuge (Yate). The refuge (hut) is located just off to the left of this photos. The hike doesn’t loop so either you retrace you steps back or drop a second car near the Néocallitropsis refuge to head back to the start once finished. I stayed the night in hopes of capturing a couple of sunset and sunrise photos. Unfortunately I missed out on sunset. I drove a couple of ladies and their dog, who thought the track looped, back to Prony refuge. By the time I got back, all the beautiful light had vanished and rain clouds were rolling in. It poured down pretty much all night so a shot of the stars didn’t happen either. I woke up to an overcast and drizzling morning. I want to pack up and head home but I didn’t know when I was going to be back here. I told myself “You’re here now, make the most of it. Go home with at least one photo.”. It stopped raining long enough for the ten minute walk back to the refuge (I didn’t anticipate the bad road to the refuge so I camped next to my car) and take a couple of photos before it started raining again. I got back to the car drenched but happy with myself for not giving up earlier.

Getting the long exposure time that I wanted for this photo wasn’t difficult with the lack of light from the overcast skies. The small aperture to get everything in focus helped as well. My aim was to get a silky smooth waterfall and it’s exactly what I got.

Never give up. You never know what lies in store.

1.3 sec @ ƒ/11, 55 mm, ISO 100

COCKINGTON MINIATURE VILLAGE

On the way back to Sydney from the Snowy Monaro, I thought the kids would love to see the Cockington Green Gardens in Canberra (Australia). It’s a miniature village of buildings, everyday scenes and activities from a round the world and even a steam train. A must visit if you’re ever in Canberra. Give yourself plenty of time though as there is a lot to see. Little details you don’t want to miss. I think it took us just over two hours. The kids absolutely loved it.

I think the photos came out quite nice. I’m very happy with this hand picked collection. I took many others but I didn’t want to bore you with fifty plus photos.

Again, if you’re ever in Canberra, take some time to visit the Cockington Green Gardens. The kids will feel like Gulliver in Lilliput and love you for it.

A DAY IN THE SNOW

My friend decided to kill two birds with one stone by visiting Sydney for the first time and keeping her promise to her daughters that they would see and play in the snow. So we headed down to Jindabyne, just south of Canberra (Australia). We stayed two nights there so as to have a whole day in the snow at Thredbo.

These are the only photos I took and I’m the first to admit they’re not very good. I was busy taking souvenir snapshots of the kids. The first couple of photos were taken on the beach at Jindabyne Holiday Park. The rest are from Thredbo.

NIGHT ZOO

As I mentioned on my last post we had dinner at the cafe in Taronga Zoo in wait for it to reopen just after dark for Vivid Taronga Zoo. It’s beautiful and amazing and a must do if you’re ever in Sydney while it’s on. And the kids will be inthralled.

A little challenging for photos especially for positioning and framing. You’ve got to have a lot of patience. Many times I had to wait for people to move and a few times for photographers as they had the perfect spot for the shot I wanted. Because there are a lot of people around, you need to be aware your surroundings. You don’t want someone bumping into your gear or taking a kid out with your tripod or backpack. Be careful and tolerant. And talking about the tripod, a must as all of my images are long exposures. It’s the way to go if you want sharp photos.

A big thank you to my friend and her kids for their patience. They endured the cold temperature for at least an extra hour, instead of being warm and cosy back at the hotel, to give me the chance to capture everything. Merci.

DAY ZOO

A must do in Sydney, especially if you have kids, is visit Taronga Zoo in Mosman (Sydney, Australia). It was a beautiful sunny day, so we (my friend and her two kids) took the ferry from Circular Quay to get there. It’s also a nice way to see the harbour and the city from the water. You get great views of the city from inside the zoo as well. There’s a lot to see there so give yourself plenty of time. At least four hour if you don’t want to rush to see the koalas, wallabies and wombats before closing time. Talking from experience.

I took a few photos but saw later that my focus was off for a number of them. I concluded that the auto focus was off about a third of the time. Not by much but enough to matter. I use single point focus for precision but as you can see on the lizard photo, I focused for the eye and it missed. I’m a lot more careful now and try to review the photos as soon as I take them but that’s not alway possible.

There are a number of photos that I particularly like from this collection. The giraffe about to enter it’s enclosure is one of them because it show the height of it on the frame. Another is the adult and baby elephant playing with the blue barrel. The little guy was so funny. The black bear, on the other hand, seemed so unhappy. I mean I don’t know if he was but that’s the impression I got. Love the majestic pose of the sea lion though. He got into position just as I framed him. The poser.

I can highly recommend the cafe at the entrance too. We had dinner there as we waited for the zoo to reopen, just after dark, for Vivid Taronga Zoo. Now you know what the next post will be about.

STROLLING VIVIDLY

Who remembers Vivid Sydney? Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to photograph the iconic buildings during this event and I’m sure you’ve seen them either in person or through social media already. I managed a few photos. We (my friend, her two kids and I ) had decided to check out the lights in Circular Quay on the way down from Woy Woy since it was the last day of Vivid Sydney. We had spent the day up there visiting my sister and her little family. It was thanks to a man that had struck a conversation with me, while I set up for my first photo, that I found out about the Botanical Gardens. Well, we had to check it out. I was disappointed I wasn’t able to take many photos along Circular Quay. It was just too crowded. There were thousands of people doing the same thing as we were. It was a lot better once we entered the Botanical Gardens though. And I’m so thankful to the man that approached me as the stroll was just magical. There is so much to see, hear and do during Vivid Sydney that I’ll have to dedicate a trip back just for that. The little we did was such a great experience.

Just a quick shout out to my friend and her kids for their patience. I know it was exhausting for them to wait while I set up my gear, waited for the right moment to capture an image, reviewed the image and do it all over again if I wasn’t satisfied. Especially after an already long day. Thank you very much to all three of you.

CHINESE GARDEN OF FRIENDSHIP

My friend’s eight year old daughter is captivated by everything asian. Especially the Chinese and Japanese people, cultures and languages. She was thrilled when she saw they were staying in Chinatown (Sydney, Australia) for their holiday. A must to visit, of course, is the beautiful Chinese Garden Of Friendship in Darling Harbour. We got there just after midday and, I think, because it was lunch time, there weren’t many people in the garden. And talking about lunch, they have a restaurant in there as well. You quickly forget your in a big city and I felt relaxed… zen?! the first few minutes I was there. I think we spent almost two hours wandering around and the kids had a lot of fun searching for the hidden Chinese Zodiac animals. I highly recommend visiting the Chinese Garden Of Friendship if you’re ever in Sydney.

PLATINUM VIEWS

After Melbourne, I headed back to Sydney because I had a friend joining me there. So the next few posts will be from there but I thought I’d share one last photo from Melbourne. One of my favourites. This is the view from the Paladio apartment the family and I stayed in. Magnificent isn’t it? If you’ve seen my previous posts, you’d recognise the pier below. Docklands is such a beautiful area and well worth a visit.

It was quite windy and very cold out on the balcony but I spend about half an hour or so taking a couple of panoramas and this photo. Though it was windy on the balcony, I noticed it wasn’t down at street level. This ten second exposure shows that with little movement in the trees below. Now if I remember correctly, I under-exposed this photo by a stop of light because I found the highlights were, otherwise, slightly over-exposed. I sometimes do this knowing I can recover the shadows a little without introducing noise in post-processing. Just a little though, I do have an entry level camera. I could’ve taken multiple exposures and blended them later but I find the images don’t come out right. And that’s my fault, I just haven’t yet mastered the techniques well enough. I’m working on it.

10 sec @ ƒ/8, 18 mm, ISO 100

FANNING BALLOONS

Just as I had finished setting up for my gear in the middle of Ron Barassi Snr. Park for my sphere photo, I noticed these two hot air balloons traveling through the sky. By the time I got my camera off the tripod and took the shot, they were farther from the Melbourne Star wheel then I would have liked. Still glad I got a photo to remind me where I was when I saw them, and give them a little perspective. I took a couple of other shots but they weren’t as nice.

The EXIF data shows that I really didn’t have much time to take the shot. I literally took the camera, zoomed and snapped. I don’t know how I got such a sharp image at that shutter speed. I should’ve bumped the ISO up a touch and opened the aperture a lot more. I didn’t need such a large depth of field as everything was far away but a higher shutter speed would’ve been better. In the end I got the shot and that’s what counts.

0.3 sec @ ƒ/8, 37 mm, ISO 100

RON & BOLTE

Seeing Bolte Bridge from afar everyday, I wanted to get up close to it. I wandered around Newquay towards the bridge and found myself in the Ron Barassi Snr Park. Which is, well, almost under neath the bridge. This is the park where I made my photosphere from.

I already had an idea of what I wanted to capture. The bridge coming from the right hand side and the pylons of the bridge on the left third of the image. Unlucky me though, as I was setting up, the spotlights lighting the pylons switched off. So I hurried before the others turned off too. Now that I’ve had time with the photo though, I find the power-line tower distracting and too much dead space on the bottom left corner. Anyway. You’ve got to learn from your mistakes. And I should’ve gotten up earlier.

2.5 sec @ ƒ/8, 18 mm, ISO 100

LANDING

From across The Last Dock you can see this magnificent building. I have no idea what it’s called nor it’s exact location. I don’t think it was finished long ago as I couldn’t find it on Google Maps but it looks like it situated around Wharf Landing Park in Docklands (Melbourne, Australia), not far from Bolte Bridge. No other buildings around it for now but I’m sure that won’t last long.

I took a few photos of this building at blue hour and in broad daylight. I preferred the later because it had a lot more contrast, which suits the subject better. This is one of those times I wish I had filters. I think this scene is perfect for a very long exposure to smooth out the clouds and the water. The image would’ve had an out-of-this-world kind of mood. And produce a cleaner photo. The filters are on my list of things to buy.

1/1000 sec @ ƒ/5.6, 55 mm, ISO 100