16 March ’13
For the last few years the Palmerston Festival of Cultures has kicked off with a community Lantern Parade. We went as a family a couple of years ago – I don’t know why we didn’t attend last year, we must have had something else on that weekend.
There are many different beliefs about the origin of lantern festivals, however, it is likely to have had something to do with celebrating and cultivating positive relationships between people, families, nature and the higher beings that were believed to be responsible for bringing or returning the light each year.
Billy (with a bit of persuasion – it’s hard to prize him away from a ‘screen’ sometimes) came with me to check out this year’s parade.
It’s the Chinese Year of the Snake, so the parade was lead by a fabulous snake lantern named Gerald. Not a very Chinese name, but I guess he is a Kiwi snake.
Gerald the Snake Lantern
Amongst the community lanterns that followed Gerald were the zodiac lanterns from the previous years. I’d love to know where these fabulous paper creations Continue reading
26 Feb ’13
In our quest to Live More Awesome (while we’re not trying to beat depression, this seems a good way to live one’s life) we’d found this event and decided to attend. The lighthouse at Castlepoint has been a Beam of Bright Light for 100 years, protecting ships and sailors from the rugged coast. To celebrate this milestone the Centennial Committee organised a weekend of activities, including the chance to walk up the lighthouse. Cool!
Saturday I’d baked up a storm so we’d have goodies to take for a picnic lunch on Sunday.
The Courgette Tart was inspired by a recipe I’d read in the Herald, and by a glut of yellow and green courgettes in our garden. The sausage pie was the very first thing I cooked at Manual (now called Technicraft) at school. It’s a family favourite and really easy to make.
When we arrived the sun was shining and a light breeze was blowing. I’ve never been to Castlepoint, or spent much time at all on the east coast of the Wairarapa. The coastline is very different from our side of the island. The sand is golden, it is more rocky and a devilish wind blows up from the South. We decided to slog up the hill and join the queue to enter the lighthouse.
Queueing at Castlepoint
After standing in the queue for about 20 minutes, a queue that didn’t seem to be moving despite a few people popping out on the lighthouse balcony above us, the Lovely Man went to see what was going on. It turned out that only 36 people an hour were able to get through, and there were about 50 people ahead of us. We figured it just was not going to be worth standing there for and hour and half with bored and grumpy children, so we went exploring instead.
I love it. No fences. There’s a handrail for people climbing up the path to the lighthouse and the lookout, well built stairs and rails down the other side. But after that there are no restrictions. No PC, wrap-us-up-in-cotton-wool-we’re-too-stupid-to-not-fall-off-the-side nonsense. How very refreshing. So we explored, climbed over rocks, discovered fossils and watched the seagulls and terns soaring up the steep cliffs from the Pacific Ocean below. Continue reading
26 Feb – 3 March ’12
Another week of experimenting. This time the point is to illustrate how different intensities of light can affect ‘depth of field’ of the light captured. That is, keeping the subject correctly exposed, but varying the amount of light which hits the background.
Billy - Losing it
Though I understand the concept, I don’t think the execution was much good. The background barely darkens through the series, and the subject is not well exposed in any of the shots.
Something I do notice is that the closer/brighter the flash the more significant it is in the picture. Which makes sense. The first shot (far left) is almost completely lit by the flash at camera right, whereas the last shot (far right) is influenced to a far greater degree by the window light at camera left. Again, this is obvious in theory, but nice to see in practice.
I need to find myself a new model. This one slowly lost his grip on reality as we went along….
12 – 18 Feb ’12
We took the kids to the stock cars on Saturday night. We go several times each season, it’s always a fun night out. A friend of Cat’s was there too, his family is involved in the local speedway scene. Andrew came and sat with us for a while and chatted in a very animated fashion!
F-stop f/5.3 and f/5.6
Exposure time 1/60sec
ISO speed ISO-640
Focal length 86mm and 112mm
Andrew - teen stockcar enthusiast
The photos were very underexposed. I was able to bring them some, but the shadow under his hat in the center shot was completely void of information. Shooting with nothing but the track lights is less than ideal. Still I like this triptych. And I like his hat – I think that may be the signature of Wayne Hemi…
23-29 July ’11
I’ve been in a bit of a photographic slump the last few weeks. Maybe a touch of the winter blues. I just seem to have lost the excitement I usually feel for taking pictures, and seeing what I’ve got once I get to the processing stage. It was this mid-winter lack of interest that caused the demise of my 365 project last year. It took me most of the week to get around to processing these shots. Meh, I’m sure this funk will pass. Just have to keep plugging on and wait for spring. I’ve finally got my zoom lens back from the repair shop, so maybe this will give the injection of enthusiasm I need.
This weekend we made for Mangaweka – middle of the school holidays, no rugby, no other commitments. Trev collected the kidlets early on Friday morning, the Lovely Man and I traveled up after work.
The children have small pot-belly stove in the garden that they are allowed to light and use to cook snacks. They seem to have learned a healthy respect for fire, whilst learning how to control it and put its power to good use. Handy skills to have, and ones that many kids probably miss out on. Later in the evening the opportunity arose to play around with some longer, night-time exposures. Light writing using a glowing stick, Billy had loads of fun making squiggles in the darkness. I hadn’t taken my tripod with me, so I rested the camera on the back of a chair for stability.
Drawing with light
Cat found herself a stick to light, too. It needed a little extra oxygen to get it glowing.
Exp time 1/60sec
ISO speed ISO-800
Focal length 50mm
Cat in the stars
The low light made this a very noisy image. I liked the starry/sand effect, so I pushed it further. I’m pleased with the results.
Lighting a Fire
The middle of a damp winter is the safest time for a bonfire. We had a pile of prunings and clippings from various garden tidy-up projects to dispose of. The Lovely Man will take any excuse to have a play on Oliver the li’l’ bulldozer. He pushed all the old branches and bamboo in to a heap for burning. Continue reading
9-15 June ’11
Wow! After the mildest autumn on record, Mother Nature has decided to make her presence felt. We’ve had a week of the wildest weather – storms, tornadoes, thunder and lightening, power outages, the biggest hail stones I’ve ever seen, endless rain and mud! This all added up to ‘indoors’. The Lovely Man and I spent the weekend building a display cabinet for my silver collection (mostly silver, there’s a few other bits that aren’t silver, but are interesting and old). These are things that I collected about 20 years ago, some I bought and others were gifts. The collection has had several different homes, but for the last couple of years they’ve languished out of sight. It was time to bring the old treasures back in to the light. I was inspired to try a little product photography after I’d polished everything up.
Bits and Bobs
Lighting. I still haven’t really got this sorted. Two incandescent bulbs plus my pop up flash, this is what I had to work with. And it turns out that shiny polished silver has a penchant for reflecting every random colour within camera view. So again I was faced with a challenge. A whole lot of tweaking and Photoshopping has removed the weird colour casts. These are a selection of the best from my collection.
The Silver Collection
Some of the shots I’ve simply converted to black and white to remove the weird colours. The brush required a layered approach, blending in a colour layer for the bristles, but using the conversion for the main body of the shot. The perfume bottle simply had the colour removed from the background – the white backdrop took on the colours from the bulbs. The pocket watch took three separate layers. One for the coloured face, one to get the exposure of the case front right, and another for the background.
I had a little note book in which I’d recored all the information I had on these pieces as I bought them, and the prices I’d paid. Sadly I cannot find the note book, so that information is lost. I’ve done some internet research to see what I can find out about my treasures.
A – Table and Chairs. A gift from my Mum. The chairs are made from 925 silver, the table I think is nickel plated brass. So not originally a set, but they’re very sweet. Continue reading
28 May – 3 June ’11
My Lovely Man is the training officer for the Ashhurst Volunteer Fire Brigade. This week he needed some ‘victims’. Our kidlets volunteered.
Where there’s no smoke, there’s no fire
7pm, it’s dark outside. Dressed in warm clothes, camera packed, we wait at home for the call. SSO Loach phones that he’s ready, the kids and I jump in the car and head to the site of the ‘rescue’.
The scenario – the changing rooms at the Domain are on fire, filled with smoke.
The call goes in to the station, in short order the fire engine arrives and the fire men leap in to action. A witness (who also happens to be a photographer 🙂 ) explains in a rather vague fashion that some children, “three or four of them, about ‘this’ high” , might have been inside the building.
Running out hose
The first team dons BA (breathing apparatus), the visors of which, for the purpose of the excersise, have been covered. Now, when they enter the site they Continue reading
Sadly I have had to remove all my images of the Barn Dance. Which is a shame because the opportunity to sell them might have been a great further fund raiser for the Scouts.
7-13 May ’11
This is the second year that Ashhurst has hosted a barn dance. Hundreds of people turned up, dressed in checked shirts, jeans and cowboy hats. Families had a blast, the kids and adults alike having a great time learning the steps to the folk dances guided by Elayne of the Battered Hats band. Proceeds from the ticket sales are going to the Ashhurst Scouts and Cubs.
A few days before the event I’d asked Jane, the organiser, if they had a photographer lined up for the dance. She hadn’t, so I volunteered my services on a purely ‘no pressure, get what you can’ basis, with thoughts to publish in the Village Voice. And of course as something interesting to use for my blog.
I have avoided any type of flash photography up until now. I know that the built in flash on my camera is virtually useless for flattering portraiture. But I figured I’d give it a go and see what I could get. I had read about rigging up a home made diffuser to soften the light from the flash. Hunting around the house on Saturday I found a nice little square of opaque white plastic that sits on the front of a little slide viewer. With a bit of a twist and gentle pressure I managed to remove the front bit from the viewer. It’s the perfect size and shape. A further hunt turned up a couple of rubber bands. So, after a bit of fiddling about with rubber band placement I have a make-shift diffuser.
D90 with home-made flash diffuser
Consulting my camera’s manual I discovered that I can dial back the power on the flash – who knew?! I really need to read more of that book…
I also carried out a little research in to the use of a bounce card. The idea is to mount a piece of white card under the flash, bent at an angle upwards, to bounce the light from the flash up on the ceiling, or sideways to a wall, and then back to your subject. I would have liked to try this out, but I knew that the ceiling in the Village Valley Center is VERY high. And the dance action was going to take place in the center of the auditorium, with the walls too far away. I really did not think there was much chance of success. I will give this idea a go one day when working in a room with normal height ceilings.
Off to the dance we went. I am pleased with the shots that I was able to get. The sharp shadows on some of the pictures are bad, but unavoidable with the gear Continue reading
26th March – 1st April ’11
I’ve cheated a teeny bit this week. The first part of the blog is about an event that took place on Friday – so technically it’s part of last week. But Week12 already has two parts, making a third seemed a little over the top. And the Lantern Parade really needs to be in the same post as the Fair, they’re both part of the Festival of Cultures.
All of the shots in this post were taken with my nifty-fifty. To avoid endless repitition I haven’t included focal length in the EXIF of the following photos.
To see all my shots from the Parade and the Festival, please go to Valley Photography
Community Cultural Lantern Parade
Friday evening turned out to be a perfect for the Parade. The forecast rain held off, it was mild and there was no wind. Hundreds of people gathered around the clock tower to enjoy the show.
Shutter Speed 1/160
ISO Speed ISO400
The Clock Tower - Palmerston North Square
While I like the composition of the shot, I’m not too happy with the technical aspects. The clock face and tower are sharp, but the statue is rather soft. I guess this is due to a combination of wide aperture/narrow DOF and the low light. Lesson learned.
The Parade around the Square was lead by the Rabbit (it being the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese calendar)The Tiger from last year followed, and then the lanterns made at various workshops by members of the community.
Shutter Speed 1/160
ISO Speed ISO400
Rabbit Lantern - accompanied by Carrot Lantern
Shutter Speed 1/160
ISO Speed ISO400
Tiger Lantern - 2010 Year of the Tiger
Shutter Speed 1/160sec
ISO Speed ISO400
Shutter Speed 1/160sec
ISO Speed ISO400
The Parade was joined by the Massey University Fire Club. This is a group of Massey students who get together once a week to practice fire spinning, breathing and eating. They wowed the crowed with their tricks. Continue reading
22 – 28 Jan ’11
Wellington Anniversary weekend – a chance for my Lovely Man and I to get away, spend some quality time together while my Mum took care of the kids. “Thanks, Mum!”. This is a treat we’ve often indulged in. Late January, you can almost guarantee the weather will behave – almost. This year we were not so lucky. The whole of the North Island was inundated with a massive down pour caused by a huge low pressure system. My plans to get loads of pretty shots of the Art Deco City were quite literally washed away. Fortunately Napier was not as badly affected as some areas of the country. But still I had to opt for indoor, out-of-the-rain photography.
… should you choose to accept it… – no, not really. We’d booked ourselves on a guided tour of three wineries and a brewery for Saturday afternoon. We were collected promptly from our accommodation by John of Hawkes Bay Scenic Tours * and whisked away, through the imposing gates of The Mission and to our first stop.
The Mission Estate Winery is the oldest winery in New Zealand, started by French Missionaries in the 1850’s. There’s an interesting video that tells the story of the winery.
The Estate is still owned by the Church, but the site is no longer used as a seminary. It’s now a restaurant, wedding and conference venue and the host of regular concerts by international artists.
John introduced us to a lovely young lady (whose name I’ve forgotten) who guided us through tasting a range of the Mission’s excellent wines. And it was thanks to John’s suggestion that I set up and took this shot. Continue reading