Getting Stuck

Initially I planned to stay for two nights inside the Tongariro National Park but now I am here for five days already. I simply am taken away by the beauty of this place and the things you can do and discover!

And with such a breathtaking environment you of course have enough opportunities to take great photographs. So I got up very early the last couple of days – sunrise is around 5:30 – and also tried to be on location at sunset, which is at around 20:30 around here at the moment.

I have taken that many photos that will take me a long time to post process and publish but that is not a bad thing as I am sure that there are a lot of keepers on my hard drive by now.

Here are two of those that I have already processed:

1. Moonrise over Mount Doom

Moonrise over Mount Doom
Morder looks inviting today! Normally called Mount Ngauruhoe it became famous in the Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson as the setting for the final scene where the One Ring is being cased into the fire and undone liberating the world.

2. Downhill through Golden landscape

Downhill through golden landscape
At the end of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing after leaving the bare volcanic alpine landscape behnd you are making your way downhill for approximately six kilometers on a winding road that is framed with beautiful golden grass and other vegetation while having an awesome view as far as lake Taupo.

 

In between photo shooting I have bought myself a new book by one of the Greats of Photography: “Light, Gesture, and Color (Voices That Matter)” by Jay Maisel.

(Check out the price of Light, Gesture, and Color (Voices That Matter) on amazon.com)

I will share my thoughts on this book here once I have completed reading it.

If you want to learn more about Jay Maisel and his work, you can explore his work at: www.jaymaisel.com.

 

Inside the Tongariro National Park

Slowly making my way north to Auckland I have now stayed a number of days at a small town called National Park within the Tongariro National Park itself. It is an awesome mountain environment with breathtaking scenery wherever you go and look.

Two days ago I made my way over the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing and I am very happy that I bought the new Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) lens prior to my trip to New Zealand to be able to take wide angle landscape shots.

(You can read about my first impressions with this lens here.)

I took a large number of photos during this 6-8 hour tough hike and will publish them over the cause of the next days and possibly weeks (due to the large amount).

On this first one you can see the Blue Lake in front of the surrounding mountain range. Due to the nice contrast between the dark volcanic ground and the bright snow and ice I am planning to work on a dedicated black & white series documenting the crossing and the awesome surrounding environment.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Making my way up north from Wellington to Auckland I stopped at Wanganui to check with the local tourist information office if they can assist me in booking a canoeing tour on the Whanganui River. Looking at the weather forecast however they recommended not to go on the river but to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing as it seemed that one of the few days were ahead with perfect conditions for the hike: And they were so right!

Cape Palliser Lighthouse

Having bought a car in Wellington and after completing the initial provisioning (food, clothes, gear) I now have started my journey to explore the North Island of New Zealand.

I decided that the first stop should be Palliser Lighthouse at the southern end of the North Island. The trip there alone is already breathtaking, especially after reaching the coastline. The sea is very rough down here and with the strong winds prevailing I was happy to have a good jacket protecting me from its chill.

But the nature and landscape you are able to experience down here reward you for the cold: On my first day out of town I already saw penguins, seals and the beautiful Palliser Lighthouse standing tall on the rocks above the sea:

Cape Palliser Lighthouse
Leaving Wellington I decided to explore the south-east cost of New Zealand’s North Island, an area which is not very touristy and only lightly populated. I was not disappointed: On my way to Cape Palliser Lighthouse I could experience a great rough costline, seals, penguins and at the end – after climbing up a lot of stairs – the Cape Palliser Lighthouse.

To get to the lighthouse you have to drive the coastal road right to its end where you can park your car and then you have to climb up a long staircase to reach the foot of the lighthouse.

To take this photo and actually have the lighthouse together with the ocean in it, I climbed up the rocks behind the lighthouse to set up my tripod there.

New Zealand Adventure Started

After a truly shaky approach into Wellington airport the second part of my journey – after exploring Australia – has started. And upon arrival I already learnt why Wellington is called the Windy City: Our pilot performed a touch & go on his first attempt to land the aircraft and I can honestly say, having flown more than a thousand times, it was by far the most shaky approach I have ever experienced. Nevertheless we made it safely onto the runway the second time and I am by now here for six days.

Getting all set for my three months journey through new Zealand I did not have much time yet to take photos being busy with buying a camper van (rental fees in the high season are ridiculous), buying some warmer clothes and planning the rough routing for the entire trip.

Nevertheless I was delighted to see the MY Sam Simon of Sea Shepherd at Wellington Harbour and I was able to tae this photo:

 

MY Sam Simon at Wellington Harbour
Arriving in Wellington I am delighted to see the MY Sam Simon in the harbour. It is part of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Fleet dedicated to disrupt or hinder illegal whaling, fishing and sealing operations. I find it quiet amusing that it was actually built in Japan, the very country who’s whaling fleet is now facing it when trying to perform their illegal whale hunting.

Even though the colours were nice with the shot taken close to sunset I added a texture to the image outside of the MY Sam Simon to add some more interest to those areas of the photo as well.

The photo was taken with my new Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) lens for the Sony A7r and you can read about my first impressions of this lens here.

I hope you like it!

Enjoying the Milson Point Waterfront

Sunset at Milsons Point
Exploring Sydney by Harbour Ferry is so convenient to get to places. It really is a comute with view. This photo was taken after taking one of the ferries to Milsons Point wehre also the famous Luna Park is located. You can walk very nicely along the water and enjoy sitting down on one of the many piers.

Even though I have arrived in Wellington in the meantime, I am still working on the backlog of images take in Sydney during the last couple of days.

Here is now the second image having finished the post processing taken with my new Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) lens for my Sony A7r camera. You can read more about my gear here and about my first impressions with this new lens here. (Please note that I had to update my first impression post already having to exchange my copy of this lens before leaving Sydney.)

But now I hope you enjoy the image above taken from Milsons Point in Sydney with Luna Park in the back. I find it actually quiet surprising that there were not many tourists or locals enjoying this amazing view. Somehow I could imagine having a coffee table down on the pier quiet well. Instead of coffee I would prefer a red wine though…

f

Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) for the Sony E-Mount is finally there

Update December 11, 2014:

Please note that I wrote a first review about this lens, which you can read here.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Update November 26, 2014:

I just exchanged my copy of the lens against a new one! Having used the lens intensively during my three day visit to Sydney I more and more got the feeling that I am not getting as sharp images as I should get with the lens so I decided to go back to the store and following an intensive test together with the store manager, it indeed turned out that my initial lens was at least an underperformer. Now I have arrived in new Zealand and will continue using the new copy extensively and keep you updated about my experience. But as you can see: Make sure to test your lens carefully after receiving it!

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

November is there and with it the Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) wide angle lens for the Sony E-Mount full frame cameras.

Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z)

(Check out the price of Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS E-Mount Lens on amazon.com)

And since yesterday I am a proud owner myself and took it for shooting at sunset around Sydney Harbour.

Here are some samples of photos taken, which are not edited, so you can get an understanding of the quality coming right out of camera. The camera I have been using for these images is the Sony A7r. You can read more about my gear here.

(Check out the price of Sony a7R Full-Frame Interchangeable Digital Lens Camera on amazon.com)

If you click on a photo you will be taken to the image gallery and you can view these images in full 36 MP resolution. EXIF data is also visible.

 

Please note that the following image was taken in Bulb mode with a shutter speed of 84 seconds and an aperture of F22 at ISO 50:

 

 

It is obviously far too early to draw any conclusions about the quality and performance of this lens after just 24 hours but I will continuously share my experience with this lens here. Expectations are certainly very high!

(Check out the price of Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS E-Mount Lens on amazon.com)

The Archibald Fountain taken with my new Zeiss 16-35mm, F4 lens

Continuing to explore Sydney with my camera and especially with my new toy, the Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS (SEL1635Z) lens, which I wrote about here, I came across the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park:

Walking back to my temporary home at the southern end of Sydney’s Hyde Park, I discovered the Archibald Fountain with it’s calm waters in the early morning – the sprinklers were not on yet – nicely reflecting the sky, the fountain as well as St. Mary’s Cathedral in the background.

Now, the fun thing is, that i passed the fountain already a couple of times but never found a good angle for an image but this time, coming back from an early morning sunrise photo shoot at the Opera the sprinklers were not switched on yet and the sky was beautifully reflected in the still water. So I set up my camera with the new lens and managed to get the shot you can see above.

Today in the afternoon I also want to explore St. Mary’s Cathedral which you can see in the background and see if it is possible to get any nice exposures shooting in low light inside.

Surf’s Up Ace – Time is running fast

I can not believe that it has already been 3 weeks that I am in Byron Bay, enjoying the beach, the sun, going surfing and taking photos of this amazing place two hours south of Brisbane.

Tomorrow I will board a flight back to Sydney where I will spend three nights, which is not the worst thing to do, before the second part of my trip starts: New Zealand. I am really excited about it as it is going to be the first time for me down there and I can not wait to explore the country I have heard so many great things about. I will fly to Wellington from Sydney and spend a couple of days there to get organised and I am sure that there will be a lot of great photo opportunities on the way.

But before my New Zealand adventure starts I have to say Goodbye to Byron Bay and am looking forward to continue my exploration of Sydney and surroundings. I am sure there will be one or the other photo opportunity and I will share the results with you here.

In the meantime here is one of the photos I took three months ago when I started my Australian Adventure in Sydney:

When the Sun Sets
A beautiful view marking the end of a beautiful journey with the Sydney Harbor Ferry out of the City Center. Just before going back I took one more photo of the Opera House below the Harbour Bridge and then enjoyed the short jounrey back to Circular Quay.

You can explore my entire photo collection of Australia here: http://kridpics.smugmug.com/Galleries/Australien

If you have any suggestions for activities, photo spots, accommodation or others in New Zealand, please drop me a line as I am still working on putting together my itinerary and knowledgeable advise is much appreciated!

Exploring Byron Bay

On my journey down the Australian East Cost there is one little town where I knew I had to spend a little longer: Byron Bay!

I have been visiting this awesome place twice before and I knew it is awesome so I rented myself a small room for approximately four weeks to enjoy the beaches, the people, to improve my surfing skills and to take my camera around to take photos in and around Byron Bay.

Cape Byron, which marks the north-east borer of Byron Bay is the most easterly point of Australia and a great starting point for a photographical journey through this amazing place:

The Power of the Elements
Very close to the most easterly point of Australia in the Cape Byron Conservation Park you have an amazing walking track along the shoreline with great views of the ocean the beaches and the vegetation. On this particular day in October 2014 strong winds were pushing the waves against the rocks below and made for nice dynamics in the foreground plants while I was fighting to get a sharp shot.

When continuing walking around Cape Byron to the South you arrive at the beautiful lighthouse from where you have an amazing view over the town and can enjoy magnificent sunsets:

Byron Bay Sunset
Overlooking the Cape Byron State Conservation Park and Byron Bays beautiful beaches this sunset photo was taken from the parking place of the Byron Bay Lighthouse. I really liked the vivid colours in the sky with the mountain in the foreground setting a nice contrast with its silhouette.

While the sun is setting over the town and the main beach the more quiet Tully Beach, which you can nicely overlook when following the Lighthouse Road, is being casted in awesome pastel colours while the sun has gotten too low in the west to touch its sand:

Tully Beach Sunset
While the sun was setting in the west I walked a little bit away from the Byron Bay Lighthouse to see if there are any other nice composition out there. A little bit further down the road one has this beautiful view over Tallow Beach facing due South and I very much like how the last sunlight is coming in from the side giving it this pastell toning.

The biggest challenge that you actually have as a photographer at this amazon place is that the weather is literally too good! There are often no clouds in the sky so when composing your shots you have to pay attention not to include too much blue sky in many cases. During my remaining time here in Byron Bay I want to get up early to see what the sunrises are like on the east facing Tully Beach. Let us see what I can come up with.

Please have a look at my entire photo collection from this amazing place here or check out all photos I have taken during my trip through Australia here.

Book Review: “The Digital Photography Book: Part 1″ by Scott Kelby

Part 1 of Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book series has been published in 2007 and is the best selling book on digital photography of all times. As of November 2014 the series consists of five books.

Scott Kelby is not only an awesome photographer who is sharing his expertise in this book series only but also, as I would call it, a very successful online-media entrepreneur.

Please have a look at the following resources to learn more about his work:

Blog: www.scottkelby.com

Kelby Media Group: http://kelbymediagroup.com – His company providing training, education and information around digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop

Kelbyone: http://kelbyone.com – Online courses, videos and tutorials around digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop

Kelbyone on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kelbymediagroup – Youtube channel providing a number of shows, such as “The Grid” & “Photoshop User TV” and “Photography Tips & Tricks” and other resources around digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop

 

Now looking at the book itself:

(Check out the prices of The Digital Photography Book: Part 1 (2nd Edition) or Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5: 1-5 on amazon.com)

The book is 264 pages strong in its paperback version and is also available as an e-book.

It is structured in eleven chapters covering the following topics:

  1. Pro Tips for Getting Really Sharp Photos
  2. Shooting Flowers Like a Pro
  3. Shooting Weddings Like a Pro
  4. Shooting Landscapes Like a Pro
  5. Shooting Sports Like a Pro
  6. Shooting People Like a Pro
  7. Avoiding Problems Like a Pro
  8. Taking Advantage of Digital Like a Pro
  9. Taking Travel & City Life Shots Like a Pro
  10. How to print Like a Pro and other Cool Stuff
  11. Photo Recipes to Help You Get “The Shot”

Each chapter starts with a more or less entertaining introduction, which has become one of Scott Kelby’s trademark over time. This does not really add to the knowledge you gain but for some readers it might make it easier to focus on what is to come. I simply skip them.

And then you dive right into the topic. There is no repetitive outline for the individual chapters but each of them is addressing a number of topics falling into the respective category. Looking for example at chapter 5, Shooting Sports Like a Pro, the following topics are addressed:

  • Set Your White Balance For Indoor Sports
  • Shoot at 1/640th of a Second Shutter Speed or Faster
  • Pro Sports Shooting is Dang Expensive
  • Don’t Plan on Changing Lenses
  • Which Lenses to Use
  • Pre-Focus to get the Shot
  • Raise Your ISO to Get the Speed You Need
  • The Pros Know the Game
  • Don’t Always Focus on the Winner
  • Shooting in Burst Mode
  • Stability for Shooting Sports
  • Shoot Vertically for More Impact
  • Pan to Show Motion
  • Shoot Wide Open
  • Go for the Faces
  • RAW or JPEG for Sports Shooters?
  • Composing for Sports

You can already see from the headlines that they are very genre specific and that is what you get: Hands on advise that you can immediately try when you are going out the next time to shoot a baseball or soccer match.

Except for chapters 1, 10 & 11 the above holds true, with the only difference obviously being the different challenges being addressed for each photography genre.

I specifically would like to mention however chapters 1 & 11 here, which I find very useful.

Chapter 1 exclusively deals with the questions, as to how to get the sharpest photos possible and that is – in my personal experience – the most important skill to master when it comes to photography and also Scott Kelby says; “If your photos aren’t sharp, the rest doesn’t matter!”

Now everybody will understand that using a tripod will significantly improve the sharpness of your photos but do you know what mirror-lock up means and what it does or what the advantage of a wired remote shutter control is? Not to speak about image stabilisation featured by some lenses out there. You have no idea what I am talking about? Then this chapter alone is worth looking into the book!

Last but not least the book concludes with “Photo Recipes” in chapter 11. That means nothing else than that the reader is being introduced to a professional photograph and how it was taken. This includes a detailed description of the shutter speed, the aperture, ISO and other camera settings used as well as possibly used other equipment such as filters and/or flashes and strobes. You get an insight into the photographers idea behind the composition and a short run down on the post processing applied in Lightroom and/or Photoshop.

These “Photo Recipes” chapters have apparently been so popular with readers that in 2014 part 5 of the Digital Photography book was published, solely containing guess what: Photo Recipes.  You can read my review of book no. 5 here. (Or check out the price of The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes on amazon.com directly.)

 

For whom is the book?

It is a book for beginners but you have to be willing and able to read through your camera’s manual and possibly been out with a dSLR camera shooting at least once or twice before to find out what aperture, shutter speed and ISO are and how to set them in manual shooting mode. This book does not provide you with detailed technical explanations but hands on advise!

I think the book is useful for those who want to move away from using their camera in automatic mode and unleash the full potential of their expansive dSLR camera. If that sounds like yourself, then this book is for you!

I can highly recommend this book and the entire series. I am still happy that these were the first books I bought when getting my first dSLR camera and they have helped me to become the photographer I am today.

Enjoy reading!

(Check out the prices of The Digital Photography Book: Part 1 (2nd Edition) or Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5: 1-5 on amazon.com)