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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.

Posts tagged park
MIHARASHI'S BELL

Hitachinaka, Japan

This is one of my favourite images from Japan. This little girl was trying so hard to grab that rope and ring the bell of Miharashi no Oka Hill. Unfortunately, I have no idea what this bell is doing up here nor why people ring it. If anyone knows, drop me a comment over on Facebook or Instagram.

You may have recognised the ferris wheel in the background and the blue flowers from my last post. Miharashi no Oka Hill, from which I took both photos from, is located in Hitachi Seaside Park. And as I said in my last post, everyone should visit this place once in their lifetime. And bring the kids along too, there’s plenty to keep them busy.

I was hesitant taking this shot. Taking photos of children in public can be sensitive. But this little girl was so cute and trying so hard to grab that rope, I had to snap a photo. I have to say, I was very lucky not to have anyone else in the frame as there were a few people there. I was also lucky she was trying for a couple of minutes to grab that rope, it gave me the time to put some distance between us, to be less conspicuous, and to adjust my camera so that I just had to point and shoot. Because I was in Manual mode, my exposure was already locked in, I just had to change my focus mode to Auto and zoom all the way in. In regards to post-processing, I tried a black & white conversion but didn’t like it as much as the coloured.

75 mm, 1/3200th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100

HITACHI SEASIDE PARK

Hitachinaka, Japan

Hitachi Seaside Park is one of those places everyone should visit once in their life. Choose well your season though as these gardens change constantly throughout the year. Magnificent, colourful plains of flowers, herbs and shrubs depending on the season. Though we visited it kind of in-between seasons, it was still stunning. As you can see by the green patches which are normally covered by blue flowers, we were towards the end of the Nemophila season. But, it was the beginning of the Poppy season which are the orange flowers on the bottom of the photo though they are everywhere within these fields.

The Hitachi Seaside Park is more than just a massive garden, it’s also a recreational park for families. With different golf-like games, BMX course, air trampoline, athletics course, water/pool area, a 400 metre obstacle tube and not forgetting the ferris wheel. And of course there are restaurants, cafes and other specialised stores. You would have to spend the whole day here to take advantage of everything. A great place.

Now you may have noticed I shot this photo at ƒ/2.8 … and I have no idea why I did that. Apart from the bottom quarter of the photo and everything beyond the ferris that is slightly blurry, the image is sharp. I would’ve gotten the same exposure though using 1/200th sec @ ƒ/11 but with the added bonus of having everything in focus and sharp. Lesson learned from a silly mistake.

75 mm, 1/3200th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100

MIYAJIMA, HIMEJI AND KOBE

Japan

day three

Oyaho and welcome to day three in Japan. Today we spend the morning in Miyajima (Itsukushima Island) before leaving for Kobe, with a stop-over in Himeji.

We started our day with a Japanese breakfast which we had pre-ordered the previous day from the reception of the Hotel Kikunoya. A savoury breakfast which looked a lot like dinner, really. We’re used to a bit of sweetness to start the day but we did enjoy our Japanese breakfast, nonetheless.

The hotel has onsen (hot spring baths) which we just had to try before checking out. Unfortunately, you’re not permitted, for obvious reasons, to film or photograph inside the baths. If I’d known I was going to be alone, I wouldn’t have left my gear in the room and have some b-roll to show you. Let me briefly explain how onsens work, if you’ve never been in one. Men and women have separate onsens. That said, if you’re shy being naked in front of the same sex, this is not an experience for you. In the change room you strip naked and store your clothes, in this case, in a basket on shelves. You may keep a hand towel as you enter the bath area. Yes, a hand towel. Not enough to cover everything, if you know what I mean. Before getting into the baths though, you need to wash yourself. There is a small stool and bucket, soap, shampoo and conditioner provided next to the shower heads against the far wall. Once you're clean you can make your way into the hot spring baths. Without the hand towel, of course. That’s just in case you get a little too hot and need to wipe the sweat of your face. Let me be clear, these are not spas. There are no bubbles whatsoever. No soap either. Just clean, clear water. I see you, you see me. Here they have two baths, one very hot indoors and the other very warm outdoors. I quite enjoyed that little onsen.

The Hotel Kikunoya were very kind to mind our luggages after checkout, while we made our way up Mount Misen. Actually, they’re so great, they’ll pick/drop you and/or your bags off at the ferry whenever your ready. We just had our bags dropped as we made our own way there while visiting. We strolled through Momijidani Park to catch the Miyajima Ropeway to Shishiiwa Observatory. This park is beautiful and must be absolutely stunning in Autumn with it’s red and orange maple leaves. Along the way we saw the Shinomiya Shrine, walked by the closed Momiji-so restaurant and over a beautiful little bridge before reaching the Miyajima Ropeway. There are two different cable cars to catch to get to the observatory. The first is a six seater with views of Momijidani Park and Hiroshima. The second is a twenty standing place with views of the Seto Inland Sea and Hiroshima Bay. Once on Shishiiwa Observatory, you have stunning 270º views of Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Bay and the Seto Inland Sea. Magnificent ! That day was ethereal with haze and very thin, low lying clouds in the distance.

Our goal was the Misen Observatory. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t realised it was, at least, a half hour walk from the Shishiiwa Observatory. That’s not counting the time to get back and for photos once there. We just couldn’t spare the hour and a half. So we took the disappointing decision to head back down to town.

Itsukushima Town is very different during the day compared to last night. It was nice to see all the shops and restaurants open and feel the atmosphere of a busy little town. I loved walking down this street. It’s probably why I filmed so much of it.

Well, it was time to leave the beautiful island of Itsukushima and make our way to Kobe for the night. On the way though, we stopped in Himeji to visit the White Egret Castle as the locals call it or Himeji Castle for the rest of us. We didn’t actually want to visit inside the castle but rather see it up close from the surrounding grounds. Not only is it beautiful but quite impressive too. It was a easy ten minute walk from Himeji Station to the castle. You can even see the castle from the station and the single main road to get there. Well worth the stop-over.

Unfortunately, I don’t have anything in regards to Kobe, in this video. Apart from a brief look at the inside of the Meriken Park Hotel, where we stayed, and the view from our room. We splurged a little for this accommodation. We arrived late afternoon and exhausted. All we wanted to do was have a drink, eat and go to bed. We had a beer while taking photos of the gorgeous view. By the time we got ready to eat, it was quite late. We headed to the Mosaic on the Kobe Harborland. Unfortunately for us, most kitchens were closing so my wish for Kobe meat was out of the question. But meat I did have at the Brasiliano. And plenty of it. Skewers of perfectly cooked meats kept arriving at our table, carved right in front of you. Not forgetting the accompanying buffet of assorted salads, the service, the people, the atmosphere… made it an unforgettable experience. Not the Japanese meal we were hoping for but a memorable one nonetheless. To end the night, we headed to the hotel bar for a nightcap.

Sorry for the lack of b-roll of Kobe. We only spent the night and the next morning here. I have a little more for the next video. Until then, I hope you come back for the photo posts. Oyasuminasai my friends.

MIYAJIMA ROPEWAY

Miyajima / Itsukushima Island, Japan

There are three hiking tracks to the observatories on Mount Misen but if that’s not your thing, the Miyajima Ropeway is your only other option. It’s done in two phases and takes about twenty minutes. The first part are these cable cars that sit six people comfortably and the second, a larger car standing twenty people comfortably. Magnificent views from both of Hiroshima city and bay. Not to mention the beautiful Momijidani Park below. This ride must be stunning during the Autumn and Winter seasons. The ropeway stops at the Shishiiwa Observatory where there are gorgeous panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea and Hiroshima Bay. Unfortunately, to reach the Misen Observatory, you have a 30-40 minute walk ahead of you. There is no other way to get there. The extra hour walk, not including the time for photographs, was out of the question for us. A little disappointed but we had a long day trip ahead.

I can’t stop wondering what this park would look like in Autumn with it’s maple leaves canopy in tones of red, orange, yellow…

46 mm, 1/160th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

MOMIJIDANI PARK

Miyajima / Itsukushima Island, Japan

The Hotel Kikunoya were kind enough to let us store our luggage after check out so we could visit Mount Misen Observatory. You can hike there but we wanted to jump on the ropeway for a different experience. And it’s a lot quicker. There’s still a 20 minute walk to the cable cart but well worth it as you stroll through one of Japan’s most famous maple leaves valley parks, Momijidani Park. An easy walk with a couple things to visit along the way. Like the Shinomiya Shrine and the Momiji-so restaurant. Of course, you’ll have to cross couple of these uniquely beautiful bridges.

Approaching this bridge from the shade of the forest and seeing the sun light the middle of it and illuminating the leaves around it, was just beautiful and tranquil. I asked my friend, Géraldine, to stand in the middle to show scale. It also makes for a beautiful travel photo that could have been taken anywhere in Japan.

If it’s anything like what we’ve experienced on our little walk to the ropeway, I can only imagine the amazing hike to Mount Misen Observatory.

28 mm, 1/1250th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100

HIROSHIMA AND MIYAJIMA

Japan

day two

Ohayo my friends and welcome to day two of our trip in Japan. Today we leave Kyoto and head to Hiroshima. From there a local train then a ferry to Itsukushima Island, also known as Miyajima.

We had a late night and thus didn’t want to get up for the early train to Hiroshima. We decided to wait after peak hour to avoid the locals going to work and school. We had breakfast at Delifrance (of all places) but ate things that weren’t very French. Delicious though and their coffee brewing method is interesting to watch.

By the time we arrived at Hiroshima Station it was lunchtime. We left our bags at a luggage holder and went looking for something to eat. One of the dishes my friend, Géraldine, had on her to-eat list while in Japan was the famous Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. To our great surprise we saw advertisement for the dish everywhere as we were walking through the station. A couple of floors up and we found a corridor of restaurants with two or three of them specialising in okonomiyaki. We picked the one with the most crowd, Goemon Okonomiyaki, and sat right at the counter in front of the hotplates. A very memorable experience. From watching them prepare the dish in front of us, to tasting the meal, to seeing every single staff member saying goodbye to every single client leaving the restaurant. That was amazing. It was quick, delicious and surprisingly fun.

With our stomachs full, we started our long walk to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial or more popularly known as the Atomic Bomb Dome. Though long, it was nice to see a little of the city along the way. The landmark is quite impressive in itself but to see how everything has been rebuilt around it, is just a amazing. It makes you wonder if there ever was a atomic blast. Walking around the park felt like I was on religious grounds. I’m not a religious person but I felt an inner calmness and peace. A respect for what had happened here and the courage and strength the people of Hiroshima, of Japan, had to get through it. And build a park that evokes peace. A well named park.

On the way back to Hiroshima Station, we walked by Carp Castle, better known as Hiroshima Castle. Actually, it’s the castle’s second compound that you see here. The original castle was, obviously, destroyed in the atomic blast and a replica built in it’s place. Now though it serves as a museum of Hiroshima’s history before World War II. We didn’t get to visit as time was short to get to Miyajima before sunset.

Back in Hiroshima Station, we jumped on a local train to Miyajimaguchi to catch a ferry to Itsukushima Island, better known as Miyajima. This is a gorgeous place. Little town atmosphere on the shores of Hiroshima Bay. The old and the not-so old architecture. The Itsukushima Shrine is amazing and it’s Torii is just a wonder. We got here in time to drop our bags at the hotel before heading straight back down to the torii. We stayed about two and half hours taking photos of it and the shrine, and watching the sun set. What a beautiful sunset it was too. Then we made our way to the town to have a look around and find one of the very few restaurants still open. Both Géraldine and I loved the main street of Itsukushima Town for it’s old look and atmosphere. It gave us the impression of being in a different era. We chose to eat at Mametanuki restaurant. A wonderful little place where the owner is, I think, English but the cuisine definitely Japanese. Very friendly place with good service and delicious food.

Once full and warm we made our way back to our hotel, Kikunoya. A beautiful hotel with a restaurant and onsens. When we told the receptionist we weren’t going to have dinner there, they happily showed us the locations of restaurants that were going to be open and advised not to eat to late as their kitchens close quite early. Very friendly and helpful. Oh and they have a foot spa at the front entrance.

Well that’s it my friends. The end of another wonderful day in Japan. Hope to see all of you for day 3. Oyasuminasai.

ROTORUA - NEW ZEALAND

ROTORUA

Wish I had more time to visit Rotorua. There’s so much to see here. Click here if you haven’t seen the video of day 7. There are a few things on it that I haven’t taken photos of.

My morning started early with a stroll where I found myself on a sulphur plateau near the Puaranga Stream. It was overcast when I arrived but then golden hour just exploded through some clouds just long enough for me to setup and capture it. Not the best of compositions but better than nothing in my eyes. It covered up again for the next few hours. I saw a path heading into some bushes along the sulphur plateau and thought I’d follow it in hopes of capturing more photos. Not a lot to photograph but a very nice path nonetheless.

So once we all had breakfast, we headed to Kuirau Park & Mud Pools. I was surprised to find different hot water springs in such a small area. Black water, aqua water, green with white bubbles not to mention the light and dark brown mud bubbles. Very interesting. There was an area where you could dip your feet into the hot springs as well, which the girls took to right away.

After the park we took the Skyline to the Volcanic Hills Wine Tasting Room. The Skyline is a must just for the amazing views. Before the alcohol though, we visited the Jelly Belly Store where we tasted some very bizarre flavoured lollies. Then Alain luge raced before we all had lunch. I don’t have any photos of the wine tasting but check out the video or the link just above to see what the place looks like. The wines were very good and the whole experience was great.

NZ DAY 07 ROTORUA

Our last visit of the day was the Ohinemutu Maori Village. Here you’l find amazing carvings decorating the buildings. A very peaceful area on the shores of Lake Rotorua. My photos don’t do justice to these beautiful buildings.

Our stop for the night was the Cosy Cottage Thermal Holiday Park. We were supposed to do the Redwoods Treewalk that evening but it started to rain pretty heavy and didn’t stop till late in the night. Very unfortunate because it looks like an amazing thing to do.

Day 7 is over. Tomorrow we visit a wonderland before heading to Taupo. Hope to see you then. Goodnight.

p.s. thanks to Alain and his wife, Manu, for the use of some of their photos and videos.

TAMARAMA SUNRISE

I though I’d share some photos I took last year in December while on holiday in Australia. This first shot was taken at Tamara Beach (Sydney, Australia). I arrived around five o’clock as sunrise was due at five-thirty-five but I was surprised to see a steady stream of runners and walkers passing by. There’s a path that runs from Bondi Beach along the coast to Maroubra Beach. I don’t know how many kilometres long it is but with breathtaking views along the way, I’m sure it’s worth the exercise. 

I bracketed all my shots that morning. I usually do that when there’s a lot of contrast in the scene. Bracketing is when you take two or more shots of different exposures. Your aim is to get a good exposure of the highlights and the shadows within those shots so that you have a higher dynamic range to edit with. Sometimes the contrast in a scene is too vast for the camera to capture in one exposure thus you either loose detail in the highlights or the shadows. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, I only ended up using one normal exposure for this photo. I’m not thrilled about this image though. I like it but I don’t find it captivating. I was hoping for a more dramatic horizon with clouds on fire but as you can see, no clouds whatsoever.

As you know from my last posts, I’m not much of a morning person but when I have gotten up for sunrise shoots I’ve never regretted it. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve gotten the shot I wanted or not. The air seems fresh and crisp, everything seems calm and peaceful, there’s not a lot of cars or people… though, I did head down to Bondi Beach after the shoot for breakfast and to my surprise, no parking available anywhere. The beach and the promenade were busy with people working out. It was a marathon of people doing exercises. Unbelievable! Anyway, I had breakfast elsewhere and I always think to myself, my day is just beginning. I have so much time to do more things. And I’ve just spent two hour watching a sunrise and taking photos. For me that’s like meditating and doing yoga. Landscape photography taught me to slow down and appreciate my surroundings. The moment. To notice the details, the subtle changes of light, colours and mood around me. It relaxes me. It’s therapeutic for my soul. And I don’t do it often enough.

1/13th sec @ ƒ/11, 20 mm, ISO 100