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Archive for the ‘Photography Challenge’ Category

I love travel photography. That’s no surprise to those of you who know how much I love to travel. But I’m a bit shy, and I’m not very good at asking people if I can take their photographs. My husband is much better at it than I am, and he is especially good at getting children’s photos. Neither of us, however, like getting our own photographs taken. So when last week’s photo challenge was to take a portrait of someone in their natural habitat (work, hobbies, for example), I groaned. I had great plans of snapping the builders putting an extra storey on the house next door, or the road workers just down our street. But I didn’t. Then I thought that a photo of myself sitting at the computer, or my husband reading on his iPad, would be a good example of an environment. But that wasn’t going to happen. So, on my walk the other day, I sneaked this photo of a mailman, as he turned the corner ahead of me.

P1020635 mailman web

The other challenge at the time was for perspective. This could be something as simple as a scene showing perspective by distance, or a forced perspective (the classic “holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa is an example of this), which I have always felt are … well … forced. The idea of showing the perspective of distance is easy when you live in the hills. So I was lazy and didn’t go out actively seeking shots. On the same walk that I found the mailman, though, I came up the stairs that deposit me (puffing) near my house. Maybe the difference between the stairs at the bottom and top would be perspective, I thought. And so I snapped away. I’ve since discovered that there’s a name for this – vanishing point perspective. I hope you’re impressed, not with the photograph which is very average and quite boring, but with the fact that I regularly climb these stairs (I’d already climbed about 20% of the stairs to be able to even see the top) at the end of my walks around this hilly suburb.

P1020645 stairs sm

 

Those were both last week’s challenges, and I haven’t even begun to think about this week’s subjects, so I’m slipping behind. Last weekend I finally completed the book of my blog Lemons to Limoncello as I noticed there was a 40% savings offer to get it printed. It required detailed proofreading and polishing the formatting, and I am delighted that I have finally ordered it, even beating the deadline for the discount. I’ve been shopping for the trip – a cheap tripod (though my husband has suggested I’ll have to leave some shoes behind if I want to fit it in my suitcase*) – and researching and reading about my destinations, figuring out where I can see particular species of wildlife, and trying to learn how to photograph in different conditions.

Real life seems to have taken over – now that’s perspective for you!


* Needless to say, I was not amused.

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I have a confession to make. I had a two-month break from going to the gym. I was disrupted by Christmas and New Year, the terrible weather, and an appointment with a surgeon about my knee (though surgery was discounted, that makes it more difficult in some ways), and then basic inertia set in. I’ve been back the last few weeks, but I’m procrastinating about a decision I have to make about the gym. To stay, or to leave. I have an emotional connection with this small, quality group of gyms – one of the owners was my personal trainer when he was still qualifying as a physiotherapist, back at the turn of the century. And I enjoy the therapy of the drive around the bays to the gym, always different, always dramatic, regardless of whether it is fine or stormy, whether the sea is rough or calm.

These days I am taking my camera with me more frequently. So this morning, driving home after a good workout, I was pleased to see some yachts out on the water, with a large container ship moored further away. I braced myself against the wind, and tried some photos. But the sea, the hills and the sky all blended together a little too much, on this colourless morning.

Yachts on Wellington Harbour

I drove on, and as I came around into the inner harbour, I decided to try again. This is our little city on a cloudy morning, where the buildings hug the water and are framed by the hills. (I’m pleased to report the sun is out and the sky is now blue! But no, I’m not driving back to repeat the photo!) There were no cruise ships in the harbour, though there were two yesterday when it was warm and beautiful, so today we locals had it all to ourselves.

Wellington waterfront

 

In case you hadn’t already guessed, one of my photography challenges this week is to take a panorama. The other challenge was to take just one shot and use that. I guess it is supposed to encourage careful planning, deliberate framing, and accuracy. In keeping with the beachy theme, my one shot is below. I have to confess though that it involved no careful planning, only a little deliberate framing, and happily some accuracy! The husband and I headed north to an estuary one lunchtime this week, determined to make the most of a warm day, and enjoyed a picnic by the water. On the menu was bacon and egg pie, of course, and afterwards, I got my camera out. This little fellow was not upset that we didn’t share our lunch with him, and posed nicely. What could be more summery? Green grass, sand, and a seagull.

Seagull on grass

 

 

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This week’s photographic topic is Forgotten. It seemed made for me, not because I wrote this (I’ve since found my camera and my spare cellphone), but because Wellington is truly the land summer forgot.

Here is what today looked like from my house:

Sigh. Though in the Pollyanna tradition of making the most of what I have, I was quite pleased with myself that I could capture the bouncing raindrop!

But the other evening, when it wasn’t raining and wasn’t cold and wasn’t even too windy, I walked down my street to photograph this house.

Forgotten House

It’s by far the worst I’ve seen in our hilly, only-ten-minutes-from-the-city neighbourhood, which is full of lovingly maintained and modernised homes. There is evidence that it is probably occupied, but it certainly receives no outward TLC. I couldn’t get a good angle on the house due to the slope of the street, but the fence was I thought, quite photogenic, and has certainly been forgotten. I played around with it, and quite liked this posterized version.

Forgotten Fence Poster

 

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I have a sweet tooth, but for chocolate and ice-cream and desserts rather than for confectionary (lollies/sweets/candy). So I wasn’t wildly thrilled at the photo challenge for candy this week. As I’m doing both last year’s challenge and this year’s, the Candy challenge required both photos of candy, and photos that implied candy. The first photo speaks for itself.

The chocolate is just asking to be made into a chocolate mousse, in the very glass I’ve used to serve chocolate mousse. I can’t remember the last time I made chocolate mousse. Yet it was one of the first ever fancy desserts I would make for guests. At least one person reading this will remember how I used to make chocolate mousse, and decorate it with chocolate palm trees. I need to try that again, and show you, although it has been years since I made chocolate mousse. Just talking about chocolate mousse makes me want to make chocolate mousse. I love chocolate mousse.

p1020262-chocolate

The second photo is really about my opinion that tomatoes are the candy of the vegetable world. I’ve written about tomatoes before. When I was in the Middle East, I adored the cherry tomatoes that I ate in Israel and Jordan. In our hotel in Amman, we were served a small bowl of cherry tomatoes, along with a small bowl of olives, with our drinks. Perfect!

p1020228-tomato-candy-ed

Photographically speaking, this challenge taught me a number of things. I played with light, and with different backgrounds. I realised that I should have done this challenge with traditional round cherry tomatoes, as the oval ones look as if I distorted the photo. I learned that I should not always go for a very wide aperture, as it can blur too much of the photo. And I learned that I should take more time for my challenges, and not try to sneak in five or ten minutes of photography when I’m waiting for my husband to get home with the takeaways for dinner.

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I have already complained about summer so far this year. By yesterday, we were fed up of hiding inside, and ventured out for a relaxed lunch at a local café. I didn’t realise I would get to wear my raincoat – recently purchased for inclement weather and temperatures later this year – would get an outing so soon. But it did. I am pretty sure that I could literally count the number of fine days we’ve had this summer on the fingers of one hand. Maybe that’s exaggerating – but I’d be confident in saying I could count them on the fingers of both hands. The combination of a fine, sunny day and a temperature of above 20 has been rare this year in Wellington. And whilst a few days ago I thought I was resigned to it, by today I’m feeling fed up and frustrated. Ironically, it is sunny and there is blue sky outside as I write this (although the temperature is under 20C), and it was fine enough (and the winds were mild enough) that I could go for a walk this morning too. The one thing I know is that it won’t last.

(We’re told that the excessive winds we’ve been experiencing this year, along with the dismal temperatures, are because the ocean temperature east of Australia this year is 4 degrees C above normal. That is so depressing.)

So when my photo challenge this week involved mirrors, I had an idea what to do. Yesterday, I took a shot of the reflection in the mirror in our dining room. I love that we can look at the mirror, and see the view outside. But yesterday, you can see, it was dark and gloomy. Today is much brighter, so I’ve superimposed yesterday’s shot onto a mirror, under the direct view outside the window today. It hasn’t quite worked the way I wanted, but here it is.

p1020148-mirror-composite

Oddly, as I was playing around, I caught this shot.

p1020143-bevelled-mirror

It turns out the bevel on the edge of the mirror reflected the reflection from the centre of the mirror of my much loved dangling birds from Vermont that hang in the middle of my window. If you look closely, you can see that the birds are also faintly reflected in the window. Dangling birds times three – bonus!

So I’m not sure of the two photos I prefer, and I know neither is perfect. I can also see that my windows need to be washed, but given the blustery storms we’ve been having, what’s the point? Anyway, both photos reflect life at my house.

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I frequently wax lyrical (or not so lyrical if I’m honest) about my love of the red splashes I see throughout our city at this time of year. I love the brilliant red blooms, and the promise they bring that summer is here and should stay awhile, and so always feel sad when I see the blooms fade and disappear, or drive past roads that have turned crimson as the flowers fall.

I think I’m appreciating them even more this year, simply as summer seems to have forgotten us, I’ll take whichever features of the season I can get.

So when my photo challenge for this week was “red,” I knew that I should take some photos of pohutukawa. I wanted something a little different, and I knew that taking a typical, close-up photo of the flowers wasn’t going to be possible, not with the winds that have been buffeting us all “summer” so far.

The view I’ve chosen is far from perfect. It’s not the perfect composition, or clarity, or light, or focus (it was very windy). I’m predominantly a travel photographer taking photos when I see them (or regretting it when I don’t) because it is very rare that I can (or will) return when the light is just right. (The only time I’ve done this is in Rome when we had the time to choose an evening to go back to the Colosseum just as the late sun hit it perfectly, causing it to glow.)

So I snapped this photo, as it is very representative of Wellington, showing pohutukawa blooms nestled among other buildings, rather than lining a northern beach. The fact that it was on the marae grounds (over the road from a shop I’d just been visiting) made it better, with the carving at the head of the wharenui, or meeting house, in the traditional red.

p1020095-red

I liked the combination of the Maori tradition and the pohutukawa (even though pohutukawa are not native to Wellington, they flourish here) for another reason too. The other challenge for the week was “land.” Maori have a very deep relationship to the land, and it is extremely important in their culture. The land I have a strong connection to is the land where first my parents and then my sisters and I grew up. It was flat, green and fertile, edging the ocean. As much as I love Wellington, I don’t have the same relationship here with the land. But the Maori do.

And for a bonus, third dose of kiwiness, I leave you with Split Enz singing “I see red.”

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This week’s photo challenges were to take an image straight out of the camera, with no post-camera editing, and to take a landscape. So obviously, I decided to take a landscape, and use it straight out of the camera. I took a lot of landscapes on our trip around the South Island in November, but the purpose of this challenge is to help me improve, so I thought I’d try something new.

The Husband and I have effectively hibernated since Christmas. The weather has been pretty miserable, with only one or two nice days that feel like summer, and we’ve just vegetated at home, not doing a lot. We’ve seen a movie, taken a trip on one nice day over the hill to have lunch at a vineyard and visit friends, and have visited other friends up the coast, though once again then the weather was miserable, and we didn’t even get to walk on the beach.

This morning, though, the sun was out and I suggested we take a drive together to make the most of it. Armed with my camera, we decided to head out southwest of the city, to an area we haven’t visited for several years, with a wild beach and farmland and windswept hills scattered with windmills, a result of – my electrical engineer husband informs me – the best conditions in the world for wind generation.

We stopped at the beach, but the wind was diabolical, the seaspray was misting up my lens (fortunately I have a protective filter on it), and I didn’t realise some of my shots had been taken when a lever had accidentally been moved to disturb the focus. We’ll go back one day when we don’t have gale force winds to take the walkway around the coast, and when it isn’t the height of mid-summer and mid-day, which always requires full protective SPF coverage. So I’ve eliminated my wild sea photos, even though one of them very conveniently has a seagull nicely placed in the foreground.

We drove up to the recreation area through the windmills, the first time I had ever  been, though the Husband has been for work. The views up the coast were stunning, showing Mana Island and directly behind it Kapiti Island, neither of which we could see earlier in the week when we drove down the coast road past the islands as the mist was so low. I snapped many shots, trying out different things, though I was a little lazy and didn’t get around to changing my lenses. I also took some photos of the windmills, and these were okay too, but they didn’t grab me, and in the wind I couldn’t be bothered changing to my telephoto lens.

The landscape I chose could, it turns out, have been taken anywhere in New Zealand, and maybe that’s why I like it. We both loved the seagulls sitting out on the grass (the white spots – no, they’re not sheep!), grounded no doubt by the ferocity of the winds. I liked the macrocarpas, a feature of New Zealand farmland (and two of which we have here on our own section), and the native bush behind it, and the farm buildings and animals at the left, although the horse didn’t come out fully into the shot.

Then we drove down back into the city, finding a small café for lunch and a welcome coffee.

p1020050

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