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.

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

THE LAST DOCK

So now that we’ve reached the end of Newquay Promenade (Melbourne, Australia), we arrive at the last dock. A quiet, little getaway spot. Day or night. With wonderful views of Bolte Bridge, Yarra River, Docklands piers and Melbourne’s skyline.

I had taken a couple of photos here very early one morning but, unfortunately, they came out slightly blurred. It was very windy and the movement of the dock on the water didn’t help either. So I though I’d come back and a get a day shot of the bridge. Just  snapshot for a souvenir.

1/1000 sec @ ƒ/4.5, 36 mm, ISO 100

REFLECTING ON NEWQUAY

The rain had stopped and left puddles everywhere. Nonetheless, it took me a while to find this composition. I like it because it reflects what is not shown. You can just see the Paladio building, the sculpture Silence and even the blue glass building.

I wanted to get down lower but my tripod wouldn’t let me. The centre rod was in the way. I ended up moving back a little farther and zooming in to get a lower perspective. And to bring the background a little closer too. I had edited this photo in colour and was going to share like that but something was bothering me about the image. I couldn’t put my finger on until I converted it to black & white. It was the colours. They weren’t doing justice to the photo. I reset the edit and started from scratch. Colour can be such a distraction in an image.

1/5 sec @ ƒ/8, 29 mm, ISO 100

RED MEETING

Another sculpture made up of multiple pieces. There are eight of these crouched, red men that make up this sculpture, titled Meeting 1. You can’t miss this red sculpture against the green synthetic grass. As with all the sculptures along Newquay Promenade (Melbourne, Australia) you can get up close and personal.

I wasn’t going to share this snapshot but the sculpture is quite prominent and a big part of the promenade so I felt it had to be included in the stroll.

1/500 sec @ ƒ/3.5, 18 mm, ISO 100

MELBOURNE CITY MARINA

Here is a different perspective of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. It looks much larger than my in last post, doesn’t it? Now that I post this photo, I wish I had taken it at blue hour. I think it would have made a beautiful photo with the buildings and the wheel lit up. Oh well, maybe next time.

I had edited this photo in colour at first but quickly realised it was more suited to black & white. The light wasn’t the best and there weren’t enough colours to make the image pop or interesting.

1/400 sec @ ƒ/5.6, 55 mm, ISO 100

NEWQUAY CENTRAL WHEEL

As I walked up to Spiky, I saw the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel between the buildings. All lit up. Beautiful! I tried to photograph the wheel once before but I was too late to capture it lit. This composition is much better too. Especially with the contrasting red light against blue hour makes it stand out. It was green at my first attempt. And I like the entrance as a leading line.

Though not all the lights on the wheel were working, I still tried to time my exposure to capture them all lit. It took a few trials and errors but I finally came away with this one. I could’ve close my aperture to ƒ/11 to gain an extra second of exposure but I find the images too soft at that opening. A one second exposure was enough.

1 sec @ ƒ/8, 36 mm, ISO 100

SPIKY & THE TWINS

A little farther down Newquay Promenade (Melbourne, Australia), I saw these wonderful buildings. The unusual architecture of the spiky, teardrop shaped tower and the leaning twins behind made for a great photo. I didn’t search for a composition here. I saw, I took the shot.

Another day shot so I went for a black & white edit. I darkened the blues to give more contrast to the photo. The sun and the buildings did the rest.

Not much to talk about here. I don’t know the names of the buildings but you’ll see more of them in the next couple of posts.

1/800 sec @ ƒ/5.6, 55 mm, ISO 100

SILENCE

More Sculptures to be found farther down Newquay Promenade (Melbourne, Australia). Actually, this is one sculpture titled Silence by Adrian Mauriks. It’s quite nice being able to walk around and in-between sculptures. You get a different perspective on the art and can interact with it. And your imagination just goes wild. I quite like this sculpture. I took a few photos with different compositions, this is the one I liked best.

This sculpture is huge and to show how prominent it is, I got down low with my tripod and used a wide focal length to take the shot (I’ve only got a kit lens anyway). Set to the lowest ISO to get the cleanest shot. Ten second timer (two seconds isn’t enough for this camera) to stabilise the shot. And closed down the aperture to get everything in focus.

0.4 sec @ ƒ/8, 18 mm, ISO 100

ARCHITECTURAL PLANK

Newquay (Melbourne, Australia) has many high rise buildings along it’s promenade. I’m guessing but I think many of them are residential apartments. We rented one of them in this building called Palladio. Secure building with modern interiors and stunning views. We were on this side and had views of Docklands, Etihad Stadium and the city behind it. Absolutely gorgeous! I took a panorama from our balcony which I will share with you on a later post. For the moment, we’ll keep heading down Newquay Promenade.

This plank looking structure is actually U-shaped and as soon as I walked underneath it, I had to include it in the photo. Quite difficult to get the right angle and I ended up with a sore neck for a few minutes afterwards. Hand-held shot taken late in the morning, which is the reason I went with black & white. The building has no colour and blue skies are just perfect for b&w. I just had to darken the blues, increase the contrast and voilà.

1/1000 sec @ ƒ/3.5, 18 mm, ISO 100