Kaihoka by moonlight, Westhaven

Kaihoka by moonlight, Westhaven Inlet
Sample calendar image: Kaihoka by moonlight, Westhaven Inlet

This is the September image in my North by Northwest 2017 Golden Bay calendar, of which only a small number remain unsold (see earlier posts for ordering details). This late night, full moon scene was taken at high tide, on a small creek on the northern arm of the inlet, in far Golden Bay. The picture also features in my next publication, Perfect Evenings: Long exposures from dusk to dark, which is now in preparation. A sequel to Night Visions: Reflections for the moonlight hours, the new book will round out my twilight & night photography, with the addition of a text explaining my approach and a technical section for those interested in the finer points of camera work at night.

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Moonlit Mordor

2537 Moonlit Mordor

2537 Moonlit Mordor, from Arawhata Rd, Opunake. 8.57pm, 25 April 2010.

My 36 Views of Mt Taranaki has sold out. The book used mainly daylight images, just to prove there’s more than one string to my fiddle. Nevertheless I continue to find twilight and night imagery more interesting because of the greater creative possibilities. This is a Lumix LX3 image, converted from colour: a desolate, snow-free mountain, as seen from from a desolate sector of the ring plain. In contrast to the more settled appearance of the other side of the mountain, this is rougher, harder country.

On a personal note, this is a belated coda to my Taranaki series, as this year we have returned to live in Nelson. Despite the hiatus I have been occupied in reviewing my extensive transparency collection, compiling a second book on evening photography and putting together a 2017 calendar, one without a volcanic theme. But about that, more shortly.

“60mm”; ISO 400. 60 secs at f2.8

 

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Te Henui ti kouka, 1 & 2

2791. Te Henui ti kouka

2791 & 2794. Te Henui ti kouka in flower, by moonlight. 25 October 2015

Usually I try to avoid subtlety, but these two images a short interval apart demonstrate the use of flash. In the scene above – the steep flank of an old pa above the Te Henui in New Plymouth – the flash has a fill-in function but also highlights the central tree trunk. The image below gives away my vantage point, one of the two new (2013) footbridges on the walkway. Here the flash illuminates the railings but is not strong enough to highlight the background. It’s a startling shot but I prefer the straight one above. A perfect spring evening, it was quite still in the sheltered valley, with the rising moon waxing at 90%. This was our most enchanting pause on the walkway, one open to the moonlight and enhanced by the heady scent of the cabbage trees.

DSC_2794.16x10

28mm; ISO 500 & 1000. 30 seconds @ f5.6; @ f8.

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Moonlit margin, Taranaki

Moonlit panorama, Taranaki

Moonlit margin, Taranaki. 27 August 2015, 9.50 – 9.51pm

In Taranaki a calm, clear night with a waxing moon is not to be ignored – but rather than drive around, I sometimes prefer to walk out and see what turns up, as pastoral peace on the city margins is not too far away. This two-frame panorama of contented cattle sums up my evening, although my cold, wet feet also made themselves felt by this point. My new photo book on Mt Taranaki will feature day and night photography, but only in standard frame images – no scope for panoramas! Double click on the image for a larger view.

50mm, ISO 250. 30 secs at f4 for each.

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Beach Rd twins, Collingwood

0440 Beach Road, Collingwood

0440 Burnett Range from Collingwood

A cool southerly breezed down the Aorere valley as dark descended on the chief settlement of western Golden Bay. Heading out on Beach Road, away from the village, soon demonstrated the power of microclimate, as around the corner, in the lee of the hill forming a backdrop to the township, there was utter calm. The two photos were taken about 100 metres apart, but with telephoto (135mm) and wide angle (28mm) lenses. Above, 30 seconds; below, 15 seconds – almost too slow to hold the cloud formation. Not surprisingly, clouds move faster on telephoto images than on wide angle ones.

0430 Beach Rd, Collingwood

 0430 Beach Rd, Collingwood

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Brewster’s Best Assorted

0085 Brewster's Best Assorted

0085 Brewster’s Best Assorted. 9.28pm, 4 February 2015

I believe this is more biscuit tin than chocolate box, which is an elevation of one step in the Brewster Heirarchy of Fine Art. At least it is free of ferns and magnolias. From notes made some years ago I see that the three levels above “Biscuit tin” are deemed as Classic, Iconic and Sublime (also known as “Shock & awe”). In approbation these 5 levels correspond to good, very good, excellent, fave and absolute fave… Moonlight reflections have the same exposure value as clouds typically – that is, higher than city glow, which is minimal here. With a telephoto you can reach into a well lit landscape even when from my own position the moon was completely clouded. The long shutter speed has given clear images of the boats, which surprises me as they usually blur with sea motion.

200mm, ISO 1000. 2.5 sces at f8

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The golf course after dark – pano

Fitzroy Pano, 2 Feb 2015

9978-79 The golf course after dark, New Plymouth. 10.36pm, 3 February 2015

In post-processing I chose two frames which looked doubtful for the auto program to handle, so was agreeably surprised to have them adroitly merged, despite the likely dislocation of fast-moving clouds. I had stopped these on each frame with short exposures; faster shutter speeds were possible but only at wider apertures, which would sacrifice depth of field. City lights fill in the moon-shadow on the left and highlight the macrocarpa trunk and offshore clouds, but to the right is sodium-free, being leeward of the ridge. Human silhouettes would add further interest – one day I must duplicate some people by having them move from one frame to the other in the pause between exposures. Double-click on the image for a closer look.

50mm, ISO 2000. 2.5 secs at f4 for both frames

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On the links, Fitzroy full moon

9940.16x9 On the links, Fitzroy

9940 On the links, Fitzroy full moon. 10.05pm, 3 February 2015

Sited as it is on old dunes, the golf course has some pleasant undulations; two stiles on the street suggested a ramble. A potential problem for moonlight photography was the row of sodium nearby – moonlight can’t compete with city lights, but when they are at a good distance some balance can emerge. The two light sources are also far apart in their colour temperatures so an either/or selection must be made on your camera setting (actually not quite true – an intermediate choice is possible, but not as a preset). In this case the warm sodium glow was acceptable and a higher colour temperature ensured a natural look to the clouds. I asked my wife & companion Narumon to stand on the rise and she held her pose very ably while the clouds moved into position. The image has been cropped to 16×9 and now graces my own screen as wallpaper.

50mm, ISO 2000. 2 secs at f4.5

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Moon force attack, Waiwhakaiho

Moon force attack at Waiwhakaiho

9428 Moon force attack, Waiwhakaiho, 10.26pm, 5 January 2015

New Zealand flax again, plus full moon and scuds, in an image combining flash with background moonlight. To use flash in this way, start with aperture selection. This means finding the f-stop that fits your camera distance, as the flash has its own inherent shutter-speed. Then extend your actual shutter speed until your foreground/background balances out in a nice Goldilocks exposure (not too bright, not too dark). Unusual effects will show, for example, when your foreground sways in the breeze in the post-flash part of the exposure. The resulting slight double-image is just one more random element in long exposure photography, adding to its interest and creative potential.

85mm, ISO 2000. 1.3/sec at f9. Flash

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NZ flax with moonrise

9289 Flax with moonrise

9289 NZ flax with moonrise, Ahu Ahu Rd, Taranaki. 8.59pm, 4 January 2015

My previous post left out another great NZ silhouette, Phormium tenax, now in summer flower and shown here in only semi-, thanks to flash. Taken at a sheltered  location south of Oakura, one of the few north-facing beaches along the western North Island. The coast here is very walkable, as two footbridges link the Ahu Ahu, Weld and Timaru road ends with Oakura resort. To get the moon this size I used the long end of my zoom, and then self-timed the shutter to reduce shake (hand-held being quite marginal for this focal length). While big moons always mean big, telephoto lenses, the whopper moons often seen in popular media are invariably double exposures or superimpositions.

300mm, ISO 2500. 1/250th sec @ f8. Flash

.

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Te Rewa Rewa silhouettes

9396 Te Rewa Rewa cabbage trees

9396 Te Rewa Rewa silhouettes, New Plymouth. 9.58pm, 5 January 2015

For the night photographer New Zealand has some distinctive silhouettes to add to sky & cloud studies. Shown are cabbage trees (ti kouka) but tree ferns, pohutukawa and the nikau palm also come to mind. Puriri, young kauri and kahikatea have great profiles in specimen too. However the usual problem is to find one or several on their own, handily arranged for your viewpoint. Here the sky is moonlit blue while the low cloud reflects city lights to striking effect. Jupiter and Venus for the top corner were unfortunately not available.

50mm, ISO 2000. 3 secs at f5.6

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Winter roadside, moonlit mono

DSC_8301

8301 Winter roadside, moonlit mono. 10.32pm, 13 July 2014

I find myself more drawn to formalist compositions as I grow older. They are by no means easy to do, especially after dark. This one surprised me on a pleasant roadside. Intrigued by its depth, I used the last of my battery to highlight the foreground. In post-pro I have discarded the original colour elements, then chosen a brown and black duotone from a long list of possible combos. Digital duotone is “an imaging process that computes the highlights and middle tones in a black and white image, then allows the user to choose any color ink as the second color” (Wikipedia). In print, duotone (or tritone) is the best way to present half tone (B&W) fine art, and also historical photos.

28mm, 500 ISO. 15 seconds at f8. Flash

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Marahau finale panorama

2014.Marahau.Pano.2

Marahau finale panorama, 7.15 – 7.16pm, 8 September 2014

Moonlit clouds – how I know these well, as a pleasant pillow for my head. Here’s another practice shot, complementing my earlier Marahau post, in the art of stitching up two wide angle frames. Each was exposed for just 5 seconds, in order to keep the clouds well-defined. In silhouette are the headlands and islands of Abel Tasman National Park, on the western side of Tasman Bay, Nelson. Double-click on the image to see a larger version.

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Stony River wide

2010.Stony.Pano2a

Stony River wide, 28 February 2010

Mt Taranaki is bare of snow and ice for 4 or 5 months of the year; this view from the Blue Rata Reserve is a sandwich of two frames, taken on a full moon evening, the last of summer. The Stony (Hangatahua) is a fast-flowing stream, one prone to flooding with dramatic effect. In shooting for panoramas there are two main hitches: securing enough overlap of the frames (for auto alignment in post-processing), and ensuring a level track in your arc of view, on the tripod.

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Hauraki Gulf moonlight: A cautionary tale

8075 Hauraki moonlight

8075 Hauraki moonlit selfie, to tow truck soundtrack

This is the last frame from a series I took from Achilles Point, a suburban vantage point at St Heliers, Auckland. The view is east, towards Brown’s Island (Motukorea), with Great Barrier Island on the far horizon. More a matter of record than any artistic statement, this was the last frame because during the 30-second exposure I heard unusual truck noises. I was unaware that I had parked in a verboten zone, and the Draconian Guard from Auckland Council were preparing to tow my car away. Fortunately I got back there before its wheels left the ground, but this is probably the most expensive photo I’ve taken, and one with potentially the greatest inconvenience. Parking hazards are now added to an impressive list of other challenges for the night time photographer.

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Marahau moonlight, Nelson

8254. Marahau moonlight, Nelson

8254. Marahau moonlight, Nelson. 9.21pm, 13 July 2014

While the others snuggled down to watch rugby on TV, I ventured out into the cool evening and walked towards the Abel Tasman. I followed a shoreline lapped by tiny surf, and set my tripod in the sand every few minutes, only to discover that my lens cap was missing. Retracing my steps along the deserted beach, I saw the moonlit reflection shimmy alongside Adele Island (Motuareronui, big island of the swift moving clouds, is its original Maori name). The view east across Tasman Bay made for a brilliant evening, but the outing came to an early conclusion when I found my backup battery was uncharged. However I did recover my lens cap.

105mm (70-300 Nikon zoom), ISO 500, 30 seconds at f11 

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Rangitoto from Achilles Point panorama

Rangitoto from Achilles Pt

Rangitoto from Achilles Pt, Auckland

Two frames merged into one, so same ferry twice – each exposure is 30 seconds, by moonlight. The Point is at St Heliers; it’s a good lookout as long as you don’t get caught (as I did) by the local council’s draconian parking restrictions. Park well down the street!

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January 2014 Nightscapes

5295 Moonlit squall over New Plymouth

5295 Moonlit squall over New Plymouth

5307 Mt Taranaki by moonlight

5307 Mt Taranaki by moonlight

6642 New moon at Arrowtown

6642 New moon at Arrowtown

5899 North from Breaker Bay, Nelson

5899 From Breaker Bay, Nelson, high moon

Copyright images in 16:9 wide screen ratio, posted for free download as background wallpaper on your desktop (a right-hand click of your mouse over any image will show this option). Downloads are for personal use only.

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November 2013 Nightscapes

DSC4086 - Mokau Highway

4086 Mokau Highway, Taranaki

 

_DSC8542

 8542 Moonlit horses, Awhitu Peninsula

 

2010-10-20_9308

9308 Tank farm, New Plymouth

 

2-28-1128 Moonrise angel

 1128 Angel at Puniho, Taranaki

Copyright images in 16:9 wide screen ratio, posted for free download as background wallpaper on your desktop (a right-hand click of your mouse over any image will show this option). Downloads are for personal use only.

 

 

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October 2013 Nightscapes

4478 Motunui rustic, Taranaki

4478 Motunui rustic, Taranaki

4500 Onaero Beach, Taranaki

4500 Onaero Beach, Taranaki

4613 Moturoa from Back Beach

4613 Moturoa from Back Beach

 

3718 Twilight at Turakina Cemetery, Rangitikei

3718 Twilight at Turakina Cemetery, Rangitikei

Copyright images in 16:9 wide screen ratio, posted for free download as background wallpaper on your desktop (a right-hand click of your mouse over any image will show this option). Downloads are for personal use only.

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September 2013 Nightscapes

12.2011.31  Moonlit sheep, Golden Bay

 12.11/31. Moonlit sheep, Golden Bay

 

Motunui twilight, Taranaki

4391. Motunui twilight, Taranaki

 

3571. Kai Iwi Beach, Wanganui

 3571. Kai Iwi Beach, Whanganui

 

3254. Crescent moonlight, Omata, Taranaki

3254. Crescent moonlight, Omata, Taranaki

Evening images in the 16:9 wide screen ratio, posted for free download as background wallpaper on your desktop. Downloads are for personal use only.

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August 2013 Nightscapes

0780 Moonlit grass

0780 Spring grass by moonlight

 

3002 Last glow over Mt Taranaki

 3002 Last glow over Mt Taranaki

 

3512 Tank farm, Taranaki

3512 Tank farm, Taranaki

 

3372 Outlook on Saddleback

3372 Outlook on Saddleback

Evening images in the 16:9 wide screen ratio, posted for free download as background wallpaper on your desktop. Downloads are for personal use only.

 

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July 2013 Nightscapes

Cook Strait twilight

5091 Twilight Crossing, Cook Strait

 

3014

3014 Last light from South Taranaki

 

143.2044

2044 At Pukerimu, near Cambridge

 

150.3133

3133 Moonlit mountain from Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth

 

Evening images in the 16:9 wide screen ratio, posted for free download as background wallpaper on your desktop. Downloads are for personal use only.

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June 2013 Nightscapes

145.2481 Moturoa hilltop, New Plymouth

2481 Moturoa hilltop, New Plymouth

 

 

 

 

 

144.2408 Outskirts, Eltham

2408 Church camp, Eltham, Taranaki

 

 

 

 

 

147.2930 High tide at Mangawhai

2930 High tide at Mangawhai, Northland

 

 

 

 

 

143.2039 Angel at Waikato

2039 Angel at Pukerimu, Cambridge

 

 

 

Here begins a new series of recent images in the 16:9 wide screen ratio, posted for free download as background wallpaper on your monitor. (A right-hand click of your mouse over any image will show this option). Most of the work I have yet to show for this must be cropped from 24 x 36 frames, but those to come from my Lumix LX3 are taken in 16:9 ratio. Downloads are for personal use only.

 

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297. Up 233 moonlit steps

233 steps by the moon
Up 233 moonlit steps, Back Beach, Taranaki. 10.07 pm, 27 March 2013

To Barney’s pulpit rock I climb / Where the sea aisles burn cold / In fires of no return / And maned breakers praise / The death hour of the sun.

James K. Baxter, In fires of no return

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f11

 

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296. Perfect evening, Ngamotu Rd

Perfect evening, Ngamotu Rd
Perfect evening, Ngamotu Rd, New Plymouth. 10.17 – 10.21pm, 25 March 2013

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow / Out of this stony rubbish?          Son of man, / You cannot say, or guess, for you know only / A heap of broken images    – T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

85mm; ISO 500. 4 minutes at f16

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294. Illumination, Ngamotu Rd

Illumination, Ngamotu Rd
Illumination, Ngamotu Rd, New Plymouth. 9.51 pm, 25 March 2013

 You should listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head.  –  Marge Simpson

50mm; ISO 2000. 2 seconds at f5.6. Sodium vapour light balance

 

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290. Just the ash, Taranaki

Poetry is just the ash
Just the ash, Taranaki. 11.12 pm, 27 February 2013

If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.  –  Leonard Cohen

50mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f11

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289. Moonlit mudra

Moonlit mudra, Golden Bay
Moonlit mudra, Golden Bay. 10.54 pm, 7 February 2009

 Let us live most happily, possessing nothing; let us feed on joy, like the radiant gods.  –  The Buddha

24mm; ISO 200. 60 seconds at f2

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288. Whither Michael Smither?

Michael Smither country
Whither Michael Smither? Waiwhakaiho River at Alfred Rd. 10.56 pm, 27 February 2013

 In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.  –  Alfred Stieglitz

85mm; ISO 2000. 25 seconds at f8. Incandescent

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287. Rising moon on Razorback

Rising moon on Razorback
Rising moon on Razorback, Taranaki. 9.14 pm, 27 February 2013

 All of us must indulge in a few small follies if we are to make reality bearable.  – Marcel Proust

28mm; ISO 2500. 30 seconds at f11. Flash

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284. Moonlit minutes at Morere

Ten minutes of Morere moonlight
Moonlit minutes at Morere, East Coast. 10.31 – 10.41 pm, 25 January 2013

 Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.  –  Dalai Lama

28mm; ISO 2000. 629.4 secs (10.5 minutes) at f11

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279. Nelson twilight, rising moon

Rising moon, reflected
Nelson twilight under rising moon. 9.50 pm, 28 November 2012

The most powerful force on earth is the human soul on fire  –  Field Marshall Foch (adapted)

85mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f16

 

 

 

 

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275. My meditations, my musings

Maitai moonlight, Nelson. 10.08 pm, 28 November 2012

My meditations, my musings are never more enchanting than when I am able to forget myself.  –  Jean-Jacques Rousseau

NEWS: My 2013 Night Visions calendar has now sold out. The NIGHT VISIONS book is still available direct, at $40 post-free (signed copies, with 4 x greeting cards as a bonus). The book has had some favourable notices: “A unique, often eerie, new perspective” (D-Photo magazine); “Enchanting” (Nelson Mail); also in North & South magazine (November issue: “a bewitching mix of rural and urban landscapes”).

85mm; ISO 2000. 5 seconds at f8. Flash

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269. Still round the corner

Still round the corner, New Plymouth.  10.49 pm, 30 October 2012

Still round the corner there may wait / A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by / A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run / West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

                                                                                                            – J.R.R. Tolkien

85mm; ISO 2000. 20 seconds at f16. Sodium vapour light balance

 

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268. Mother ship obviously poised

The mother ship is obviously poised. 9.20 pm, 26 October 2012

For the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will, and with equal joy they would lift a Lazarus in his rags to Abraham’s bosom, or be a chariot of fire to carry an Elijah home.  –  John Newton

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f13

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267. Beam before landing

Beam before landing, Taranaki.  9 pm, 26 October 2012

Miracles occur, / If you dare to call those spasmodic / Tricks of radiance miracles. / The wait’s begun again, / The long wait for the angel, / For that rare, random descent.
Sylvia Plath

50mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f9. Incandescent light balance

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263. Cable Bay moonlight, Nelson

Cable Bay moonlight, Nelson. 7.55 pm, 6 May 2012

Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together. – Vincent van Gogh (attrib)

85mm; ISO 2000. 15 seconds at f11

 

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260. Moonlit gums, Cambridge

Moonlit gums, Leamington, Cambridge.  9.36 pm, 31 August 2012

Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?  –  Mary Oliver

85mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f6.3

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256. Almost spring, Westown

Almost spring, Westown, New Plymouth. 7.54 pm, 29 August 2012

 There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.  –  Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

85mm; ISO 1000. 30 seconds at f11. Sodium vapour light balance

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251. Moonlight in May, Cheviot

Moonlight in May, Cheviot, North Canterbury. 9.03 – 9.06 pm, 2 May 2012

There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness, but there is the discovery of joy.  –  Joyce Grenfell

28mm; ISO 2000. 192 seconds (over 3 mins) at f11

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246. Desolation Row, Waiuku country

Desolation Row, Waiuku country. 9.18 pm, 28 July 2012

And the only sound that’s left / After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up / On Desolation Row.  –  Bob Dylan

28mm; ISO 2000. 68 seconds at f8

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243. Winter in Waiuku country

Winter in Waiuku country, South Auckland. 11.51 pm, 28 July 2012

Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinite photographic possibilities.Michael Kenna

 28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f5.6

 

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239. From our balcony, after midnight

From our balcony, after midnight. 12.04 am, 6 May 2012

[Only the camera can express] the full majesty of the moment. –  Paul Leopold Rosenfeld

Looking down on the tops of the persimmon. You can only do this on a very still night, as the slightest breeze blurs the detail. However, to get a really creative blur, you need a gusty evening – nothing in-between is very satisfying. An aperture of f16 is the smallest on my telephoto lens; at close range the depth of field is minimal even at this setting. The light is a mixture of moonlight and ambient city light. The cool tones of the background roof show mainly moonlight (it is leeward of city light), while the warmer leafage shows it was more exposed to the street lighting.

85mm, ISO 2000. 108 seconds at f16. Sodium vapor lamp light balance

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