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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 south province
THE MAN BETWEEN THE MILKY WAY AND TURTLE BAY

Bourail, New Caledonia

When I got my new camera, the Sony a7 III with the Tamron 28-75, at the end of last year, I was eager to try my hand at astrophotography. I wanted to capturing our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in all it’s glory. The opportunity came in early February when my best friend, Géraldine, was minding a house in Bourail. A two hour drive from Noumea. A beautiful little beach-house situated only metres from the Roche Percée Beach. So I stayed there over two weekends, wandering off in the middle of the night, shooting the stars. I was quite lucky to have clear skies and the Milky Way close to where I wanted it. Especially for an unplanned shoot.

The very first thing I realised was that 28 mm wasn’t wide enough. I needed a wider lens, 21 maybe even 18 mm, but it’s all I have so I had to make do. I didn’t count on the moon rising from that direction either. And almost a full moon too. Not to mention the very bright star/planet but, that, I actually like. It took me a few trials and errors to get the exposure I needed to avoid star-trails. For this scene it was around 5 to 8 seconds of exposure with an ISO of 6400 and a wide open aperture of ƒ/2.8. It’s the best image I came home with, out of the half dozen I took over the two weekends. It’s not a large portion of the Galaxy but I’m happy with it yet definitely not satisfied with the results. I had a very hard time editing it and had to do some research on post-processing these kinds of images. I need more practice and experiment more with astrophotography. Never stop learning, right?

The beach at the bottom of the image is Turtle Bay and behind the cliff is Roche Percée Beach (very popular with surfers). Both are well known for turtle hatching which we were right in the middle of. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any but Géraldine and her two girls did. Every year, hundreds of turtles lay their eggs here, which produce thousands of baby turtles. It takes 45 days for the eggs to hatch so both beaches are patrolled every night for about six to eight weeks. Making sure the turtles, the nests and babies aren’t interfered with in any way. Keeping this area a sanctuary for these incredible creatures.

Carved from the natural erosion of the waves, the weird looking rock formation at the end of the cliff is Le Bonhomme. A landmark in Bourail and New Caledonia. There’s a lookout at the top of the cliff but unfortunately part of it is closed off now due to erosion at the base causing the edge to collapse. Still worth the walk or drive up there as the views are just magnificent.

I haven’t had the chance to photograph the stars since but I hope to in the next month or so. Fingers crossed.

28 mm, 5 seconds @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 6400

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

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

POE-BOW

I was lucky the rain had stopped so that I could photograph sunrise and if you look back at my last post, I think I captured a nice image. Overhead though the rain had come back and I quickly packed up my gear, as it’s not weather sealed, and took cover under a nearby tree. I was hoping the rain would stop long enough for me to head back to the camp site for hot coffee and breakfast. I was starting to get very hungry. The rain had almost stopped and I was about to make a run for it when this beautiful rainbow appeared. With the dark clouds and the sun hitting the top of them it made for quite a dramatic scene.

I had to try to capture it. I hurried back to the water and quickly setup my gear in fear the rainbow would disappear. With the top of the image and the foreground very bright, and the bottom of the clouds and background quite dark, I thought the contrast might be too much for a single exposure. I told myself to just take the shot so I at least have something and if I have the time, to capture two different exposures. One for the bright areas, the other for the dark areas so that I can blend them together later. I timed the shots to capture movement in the water as it was retreating over the coral/rock. I only caught the end of the rainbow as it was already fading by the time I had setup. Everything happened quickly but I’m glad I was able to get my three exposures.

So this photo is the result of blending the highlight and shadow exposures. The blending and edits were very quick and the photo is fairly accurate to what I saw. I did edit the single exposure as well but I wasn’t able to reproduce the same results. Well not in the same time frame anyway.

 Anyway, another souvenir of Poe Beach (Bourail, New Caledonia) captured and a unique one at that.

1/16th @ ƒ/11, 18 mm, ISO 100

POE TO MYSELF

Even though my tent was only fifty metres away from Poe Beach (Bourail, New Caledonia) I set my alarm to wake an hour before sunrise. Hoping to capture an image during blue hour. Unfortunately the alarm woke me to rain. Now I’m not an early morning kind of person and going to bed late the night before didn’t help but rain?! Nooo!!! I was determined to capture images of Poé though so I stayed awake, hoping the rain would stop. And forty-five minutes later, it did. About ten minutes after that the clouds opened up. Time to shoot! Blue hour was gone and golden hour was in full swing so I had to hurry to find a composition.

I had to walk up the beach a little before finding this dead coral, I think it’s coral, rock? Anyway, it would make for an interesting foreground. All I had to do now was to wait for the water to wash over the coral/rock and snap a shot. The line of the water would lead the eye towards the surveillance cabin and then the sky. And it worked quite well. I’m very happy with the photo.

I wanted to take a few more shots but the rain came back and my gear isn’t weather sealed so I packed up and took cover under a tree. And guess what I saw?… Check out my next post.

1/60th sec @ ƒ/11, 18 mm, ISO 100

BEACH TRAIL

Following on from my last post, I walked over to Poe Beach (Bourail, New Caledonia) and tried to capture stars above the seascape. In this scene I really wanted to avoid trailing stars and try to capture pin sharp ones and lots of them. To do that I needed a faster shutter speed than my last photo Poe Trail, that is an eight minutes exposure and bring that down to eight seconds or round about. Doing that meant I needed to bump up my ISO and I thought about opening up the aperture but I wasn’t sure I could get the foreground and the stars in focus if I did. So I left it at ƒ/11 but even now I’m not sure if that I a good idea or not. Unfortunately the higher ISO introduce too much noise, the faster shutter speed gave me a dark exposure and a slower one, star trails.

So this photo is the best (of the worst) that I was able to capture. Again, a super long exposure of eight minutes and yes, star trails too. I light painted the foreground though in this photo. The image was a little flat and I wanted to give it a little more depth and hope it would balance the foreground with the billions of stars in the sky… yeah, that didn’t quite happen. I think the slow passing clouds prevented the capture of all those beautiful stars I could see. I like the light painting though. Not too much, not too little. It seems natural, no?!

Well, though I had a lot of fun trying to capture the night sky, there was tomorrow’s sunrise to photograph so back to the tent I went.

480 sec (8 mins) @ ƒ/11, 18 mm, ISO 100

POE TRAIL

So from where the photo was taken on my last post, this view would be about thirty-five/forty metres behind me. From this photo, the Camping de Némo is on the left, Poé Beach on the right and I’m standing in the middle of the road that runs through the Camping de Poé along the beach.

I wanted to use this road as a leading line to a night sky with billions of stars and use the full moon to illuminate the foreground but this was the best I could do. I experimented with different settings but all the images were either too noisy or too dark and all had a lot of speckles. As with this one and another similar photo that I will share on my next post. My entry level camera isn’t very good in low light and I haven’t got any experience in this genre either. But I had lots of fun and will definitely give it another go.

480 sec (8 mins) @ ƒ/11, 18 mm, ISO 100

NEMO'S CAMP

Back in April a friend of mine had friends visiting from France. They were going to tour around the island for a couple weeks. Their first stopover was the Sheraton Deva Spa & Golf Resort (Bourail, New Caledonia). It fell on a long weekend for us and my friend wanted to head up and spend some time with them. We didn’t stay at the resort as we are both saving money for an upcoming vacation. So we decided to try a camp site we had never been to called Camping de Némo.

It’s located just behind Camping de Poé and only a five minute drive to the resort. I must admit, upon arrival, I wasn’t to thrilled about the camp site. Though it’s limited to twenty or so tents, the area is quite small. Poé Beach is only fifty metres away, which is great, but you have to cross Camping de Poé to get to it. I would have preferred to camp closer to the beach but my friend had her two girls with her and the camping de Némo is family oriented. In the end it was a better choice. Not only because her kids met and played with other kids but because they have a fantastic bar/snack. Including the friends from France, we all ended up dining there that night and I think I speak for all of us when I say we highly recommend it. They have a nice variety of dishes to choose from that are well presented with a good serving and scrumptiously delicious. The service was good and so was the price. Well worth a try.

And talking about trying, I tried to take a photo of the camp site without annoying or disrupting anyone and this was the best I could do. You can see the elevated bar/snack in the background. I stayed up late trying to snap some photos of the night sky and though I’m not too thrilled about the images, I will share them with you in upcoming posts. Just to show you what wasn’t too far away.

120 sec (2 mins) @ ƒ/11, 18 mm, ISO 100

THREE BAY SUNSET

I notice this area couple of years back while scouting for another photo. It’s a small, waterfront park in Kaméré (Noumea, New Caledonia). I had found two very nice compositions but unfortunately their foregrounds were littered with cans, bottles, wrappers and even a tyre. It’s a shame to see such a beautiful area ruined like that. Luckily I found this bare tree overlooking the bay. 

Sunset was absolutely gorgeous! I took dozens of photos but this is my favourite out of the lot. I love it for three reasons. The colours in the photo, the long exposure effect on the clouds but my number one reason is the light painting. There are different ways to light paint but in this case I used a small torch to paint light on the tree and the bushes. It’s hard to get the right exposure the first time out but after the third or fourth try I finally captured a photo I was happy with. I will definitely try this technique again. It obviously won’t work on all photos but in this instance where my foreground is in complete darkness, light painting can, not only, light up your foreground but add mood to your images.

So there you go, my first light painting. I hope you like it as much as I do.

30 sec @ ƒ/11, 18 mm, ISO 100

NGÉA TREE

I came to Ngea (Noumea, New Caledonia) in hopes of getting a sunrise photo with the slipway. Unfortunately, there was a vehicle park on it when I arrived. I couldn't see a boat nor a trailer so concluded they were there to... watch the sunrise. I'm not an early morning person but now that I was here I wasn't just going to head back home because my intended composition wasn't possible. So I looked around and found this tree to use to frame the sunrise. I caught this fleeting moment of colour during the selfie shot and unfortunately didn't get a decent second image. High altitude clouds were rolling in and with the sky void of colour I decided to change composition. I'd seen a puddle on the sand a few metres away and thought if those clouds catch the golden light, it could be a great reflection to capture. So I’m all set up and waiting when I see a policeman on his motorbike stopped next to my car. After grabbing his attention and making him understand it was mine, he came over. He said I had fifteen minutes to move my car or be stuck for four hours. There was a triathlon that morning and the road was closed off for the running and/or cycling part of the competition. So after five minutes I packed up and headed back to the car. And what do I see catching fire? Yep, the clouds. It only lasted two minutes but it happened. A little disappointed but not ready to give up, I headed over to Magenta Beach. But that’s another story and photo.

3 sec @ ƒ/11, 18 mm, ISO 100

REFLECTING ON NAÏA

So this the last photo I will share from Naïa (Païta, New Caledonia). Taken from almost the opposite side of the panorama I took, here I tried to concentrate more on the reflection off the water. I went with black & white here because I tried something very different. I went for a long exposure using a piece of welder's glass as a filter. The image comes out with an extreme green colour cast which can be dealt with in post-processing but since I was converting it to black & white, I didn't need to do that. I'm quite happy with the photo. A little on the soft side but that's the kit lens' fault rather than the filter (welder's glass).

30 sec @ ƒ/11, 18 mm, ISO 100

CLOUD FOLIAGE

Another photo taken at Naïa (Païta, New Caledonia). We strolled down to the beach just before sunset. It was a little windy and sun was setting just behind the tree line at the end of the beach. I took a couple of photos and started to head back when I saw this beautiful, leafless tree. And those fiery orange clouds against the blueish almost purple sky were just as gorgeous. It was then I realised the clouds were acting as foliage to the tree. I setup as quick as possible but by the time I took the shot, the clouds had moved slightly and the alignment wasn’t as I had seen. Nonetheless, I am very happy to have captured this unique photo.

Camera settings; 1/30 sec @ ƒ/11, 18 mm, ISO 100

BRUSHTAIL

I mentioned on my last post that I was in Naïa (Païta, New Caledonia) a couple of weeks back. This is another shot I took over there. What attracted me to these… bushy tailed stems was, well, exactly that, their bushy tails. The sun was still fairly high but was slightly backlighting the stems. Which made them glow against the dark background. I aimed for a shallow depth of field so as to blur out the background and whatever was closest to the lens. I wanted to isolate just one stem but it proved to be a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. The breeze wasn’t helping either. 

After finding a satisfactory point of view, I zoomed all the way out to 55 mm on my kit lens and stopped down as far as I could to f/5.6, ISO 800 and shutter speed of 1/4000 sec to make sure there’s no motion blur in the stem. 

I’m the first to admit it’s not a captivating photo but it doesn’t matter. It reminds me of a place and time and the people I was with.

NAÏA POND

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to Naïa (Païta, New Caledonia) to celebrate a friend's birthday. Naïa is a private waterfront residential suburb. It's about a half hour drive north of Noumea. A couple of friends bought land there but haven't started building yet. You can't really see it on this photo but there's a large pavilion on the right of the pond amongst the trees. That's where we settled for a little BBQ picnic. Just beyond the pond, you’ll find the beach with Angel Island in the distance. There are some gorgeous views as you arrive toward Naïa. I’ll have to plan a couple of sunrise/sunset shots.

For those interested, this panorama was made with 8 vertically shot photos. All taken at 18 mm, f/11, 1/320 sec, ISO 400. Stitched and processed in Lightroom.

ST. JOSEPH CATHEDRAL

My little cousin's baptism was held at the St. Joseph Cathedral at the beginning of April. I'm lucky it was held then because they're closing at the end of the month for some much needed renovations and I had never been inside it. The cathedral is just magnificent! Inside and out. I was asked if I could snap a few photos of the ceremony for souvenir and I'm glad they did otherwise I may not have brought my camera inside with me. One thing I love to do is show the environment where the event is taking place. They chose the St. Joseph Cathedral for a reason. Thus why not show the grandiosity of it's architecture. These are just a handful of photos taken before and after the ceremony (with a couple of exceptions). I wish I had more time and my tripod. I would have taken more detail shots and angles, and I think the photos would've been of better quality too.

St. Joseph Cathedral is located in Noumea (New caledonia) on the east side of the city and just above it's skyline. If you'd like to know more on the cathedral, here is a link to it's Wikipedia article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouméa_Cathedral

SCOUTING THE DAM

I went down to the Barrage de Yaté (Yate Dam, New Caledonia) to scout the area for a possible photograph for a photo contest I'd like to participate in next month. The Easter weekend seemed to be the perfect time because there was going to be a Blue Moon. I decided to camp overnight in hope of getting a photo of the dam at sunset, at midnight lit by the moon and sunrise. Multiplying my chances of capturing at least one photograph for the contest. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't quite up for it.

Sunset was ok but very cloudy and not a lot of colour in the sky. The sun barely broke through the clouds and, I think, those were the best shots I came home with. After a couple of hours of sleep, I got up for the moonlight shots. I was hoping the full moon would illuminate the lake and maybe capture a few stars at the same time but that wasn't to be. Too many clouds over the lake. Though the full moon was in site where I was, she wasn't illuminating the lake. I waited a while in hope that would change but it started to cover up and rain. So I headed back to my campsite. Four hours later I got up for the sunrise shots but ended up staying in my sleeping bag. No, I wasn't lazy. Strong wind and heavy rain was pounding my tent. It stopped almost three hours later, which I took advantage to quickly pack everything up. Though I missed sunrise by an hour, it looked like there was going to be a few breaks in the clouds so I headed down to the dam and setup my camera just in case. The sun briefly popped it's head out and I was able to capture a small rainbow but the clouds came rolling back in. I was about to head home when I remembered I had couple of welder's glasses. But that's a story for another time. Suffice to say, shortly after it started to pour down and that was that.

This photo was taken just after sunset and just before blue hour. I was using a remote I had just bought and though I'd take a selfie with it. I think you might see me in more photos.

HOT DAY AHEAD

I was in a hurry to get to work on time until I drove by this beautiful view. It's so rare to see the sun like this at sunrise, here in New Caledonia. A white sphere in the sky that you can actually look at without hurting your eyes. And the sky, a beautiful orange colour and the silhouette of those trees... how can you not stop to appreciate it. OK so I arrive 5 minutes late for work but what a rare site to capture. I admit, it's not the best of photographs but it's a nice memory nonetheless.

RANDONNÉE SENTIER DE NETCHA
Hiking Netcha Trail

A couple of friends and I hiked the Sentier De Netcha (Netcha Trail) down in Yate. It's about an hour and a half drive south of Noumea, New Caledonia. The roads are good enough for a small car to make the journey. The scenery changes dramatically and is quite beautiful on the second half of the drive. There's plenty of free parking at the base site where the trail begins and ends. You can hike to the Chute De La Madeleine (Madeleine Falls) from here too.

The Netcha Trail is a loop that follows the peaks of the mountains situated on the opposite side of the road from the base site. It's a 9 km hike with a gradual elevation of about 550 m. On the South Province website and app it's considered as a "difficult" hike but my friend spoke to them and apparently they'll be changing the status to "average" difficulty. It took us 4 hours to do the loop and we stopped a number of times to takes photos, rest and eat.

Now, there's no shade nor water up there so be prepared. Take plenty of water and something to eat or snack on along the way. And never forget your hat and sunscreen. Even if it's cloudy. Trust me, I'm talking from experience. It's the number one mistake people make. They think just because it's cloudy and there's a nice breeze they won't get sunburned. Well think again. You may not feel it on the hike but once back home, you'll regret it.

So the hike takes you along the ridge line of the mountains and, as you can see, the views are just stunning. The wide expands of the plains, scattered lakes and the river, photo opportunities are endless. I would love to see what it's like here during sunrise or sunset. Oh and you can actually camp at the base site if you want to take a couple of days or more to visit the area. Anyway, I highly recommend hiking the Sentier De Netcha (Netcha Trail). I'll definitely return.

MODERN HUT

I took this shot for a photo contest in 2017 but didn't end up using it. A modern building based upon the Melanesian huts found all around New Caledonia. I'm not 100% sure but I think it's a one of a kind. It's situated on the grounds of the Sénat Coutumier in Nouville (New Caledonia). The grounds are on the waterfront and the hut is placed near the water on the opposite side of the main entrance. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to walk in and start napping shots so I didn't wonder in. I noticed it was low tide though and soon realised I could walk along the, usually underwater, rocks to get up close to the hut. I took a few photos through the fence and done.