Saturday, 3 March 2018

Brit Euro Car Show 2018

Into it’s 3rd year the annual Brit Euro Car show held at Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakurang;  is an event which  is showing great signs of growth. In 2016 there where approx.  250 cars, today just short of 800 classic and modern vehicles on show.
Cars can pose a series of interesting challenges when photographing. The most common one is reflection and even more so on some of the much older cars where chrome played a pivotal part in adding to the appearance.

The conditions where slightly overcast to start with so I decided to include a polariser on one of the lenses.  I had my trusty Canon 7D equipped with a 28-300mm L Lens, and as backup a Canon 700D with the EFS 10-18mm wide angle.

Having two cameras’ with different lenses provided the variation I required.
As expected the public where out in force so you need to be patient. There are many car enthusiasts who love to get close and personal and this in itself can provide plenty of additional opportunities.

As the show was familiar to me, I knew in advance what to expect and therefore new what I wanted to try and achieve. My goals for today;

 (1)      Close-up shots of key features of the cars
 (2)      Capture the cars in motion as they left the venue.
 (3)      Focus on elements for use in a digital composition project.

First up close-ups. This I predominantly used my 7D with a Canon 28-300m L series Lens. This gave me good reach and provided shallow depth of field (F4.5) to soften or blur some of the background.  

My first shot was of an old dashboard from a Bentley. I decided to shoot this in black and white with only a few minor tweaks in Photoshop. The photo is ok but struggled to get a good angle due to so many objects around. Perhaps I should have gone with my Wide angle?
F7.1 iso200, 1/120sec -1ev, 200mm
f4, iso200, 1/100, 135mm

Next up, capturing cars leaving the venue. I think this was the easiest part. I knew where to sit and decided to work towards capturing a little more motion. This meant a slower shutter speed and focus on tracking the vehicle.
f7, ISO200, 1/80, 70mm

I like the results, not to sharp but just enough softness to give the effect of motion. Besides most of these classic cars are driven with the care and attention they deserve so no high-speed hoons here.

I’m always mindful when capturing photos of general public and where possible I try to make myself known that I am photographing. The following shot shows a group of old car enthusiast obviously talking about the good old days very natural and I like the connection with the car.
f16, ISO200, 1/80, 135mm
In contrast just over the way, a new budding enthusiast admiring a car which must look like a space ship to him.
f8, ISO100, 1/100, 200mm
My last challenge will be revealed in a few weeks, but I can tell you I did find a great subject and will be working towards creating a digital composition for show and tell.
Will be the subject of my Composition
So no real issues in terms of shooting conditions. ISO ratings pretty steady staying between 100 and 200 mark. Exposure needed to be tweaked on a few occasions (-1ev) where I faced semi-in direct sunlight or heavy glare. My shutter speeds tended sit around 1/120 as I shot mostly using my AV setting.

The only thing I did consider midway through the day was adjust my white balance from Cloudy to Sun.

So only a small amount of photography today, 240 shots, and thus turned out to be a nice easy relaxing day photographing some wonderful cars.

Enjoy and keep on clicking.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Fast and Furious on water

NZ HydroPlanes GT

Whenever you decide to photograph a new subject, especially motorsport events, it always helps to understand your subject. This will provide you with good insight into where the best place will be to capture the action. 
For me this weekend offered a subject I had never contemplated watching let along photograph….It  was the NZ GT HydroPlanes.

Lake Karapiro, is a little under a 2 hour drive from Auckland.
The venue is actually synonymous with New Zealand Olympic rowing greats and is the home of NZ rowing, but for one weekend only this peaceful, tranquil setting was the home for the NZ Hydroplane GT Nationals.

Now I’m not terribly technical when it comes to Motorsports, and I can assure you that I’m not an honouree petrol head, however theses hydroplanes where something to behold and I encourage anyone to at least go and see a race if you get the chance.

Each boat had to be lifted into the lake by a crane. Their hulls are extremely streamline with the rear section being not much more than a metre in height.  These craft basically rise out of the water and are driven directly by a 3 or 4 bladed prop. The engines are huge with most running methanol and packing upwards of 2000hp.  I understand from talking to a pit crew it’s the most demanding motor sport for engines.

So what did I do in terms of photography?
Well the first challenge was the weather, Sunny with the sun directly in my face…nevermind a quick rummage through my bag I decided to pop on the Polariser.

Next was my positioning.
Due to very strict safety standards I had to positioned myself in the main stand. Not an issue as this provided great coverage of the course as well as  the corners.

First challenge: The composition
These boats generated huge wakes behind them, so i opted to get away from my large zoom and run with a mid lens (135mm).  The idea being that i also needed to capture the water spread as they came around the corner.
Next I opted to go with tripod.  These Hydroplanes moved at incredible speeds (160mph + ) so by using a tripod I could fix my X axis which allowed easy pan of the subject as they came down the course.

Camera Settings
As with most of my sport shots, I opt for Aperture priority, so 1/250 – 1/300 was a good setting to work with. My ISO was set to 400, but I compensated the light sensitivity by reducing the exposure by 1.5 stops.

For focusing I decided to go with a single focal point directly on the craft (5AF) which reduced the chances of getting blowout due to the whiteness of the water which surrounded the craft.
For the wider shots i selected 19 AF.

An amazing fun day, which provided an excellent opportunity to photograph something completely different.

Big thanks to the GP Lucas Oil team Pilot Ken Lupton who was friendly and happy to answer my novice questions

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Going Local

Having recently returned to my local photography spot, I became aware that it can be too easy to believe we have to go far and wide to find that special location...when actually it's often right on your doorstep.

It doesn’t matter if you are smack in the middle of a busy metropolis, or perhaps out in the suburbs. If you look hard enough, inspiration can be found only a few short distances away from where you live.

Panmure estuary,  (or Tamaki Estuary) situated in East Auckland is deemed a pretty average destination. In fact I would wager that most people who commute across the estuary every day wouldn’t bash an eye lid if you said.. ”Have you spent time down at the Tamaki estuary lately?”

Yep it’s pretty average but then again you can become complacent but this place, at certain times of the year can offer budding photographers new or experienced, some great photo opportunities.

......You just have to be prepared to get up early.

During my last visit  I became acutely aware off how busy this little estuary can actually be;

  • Small inflatable boats trundling up and down the bank ferrying peope to catch the city bus.
  • Local school rowing teams out early morning for their training sessions.
  • A wealth of local bird wildlife including but not limited to, Grey Herons, Kingfishers,  Pied oyster catchers.  
  • Boat builders starting early as they work on their pride and joy

So rather than babble on any further here are a few recent shots with supporting descriptions.

Grey Heron

This shot was a long time in the making. Nearly 30 minutes waiting for the heron to take flight, and not knowing if it would actually head my way.
I decided to convert the image to Black and white as the sunrise was directly in front of me and the exposure was slightly blown out.

Man in Boat

Every day around 7:15am this guy trundles up the estuary. I can hear him coming and noted that his approach to the wharf was pretty much the same every day. 
So I setup my tripod and got my remote ready and prayed the sun would just peek as he trundled on by. 
Again placement and timing paid off and I actually like this Photo.

Fog Wisps

The fog had been eluding most days, and the day I decided NOT to go it’s as thick as pee soup!!. However not being put off I kept all my gear in the car, and with only a slight 5 minute detour most days I swung by to keep a close eye on developments.

On this morning no real fog, but interesting little wisps which on closer inspection created very interesting effects when they passed by the dry dock lamps (left side of image).
I also noticed a dingy moored and along with the stillness of the water, and the sun just rising, I worked this into the composition.


Well the jewel in the crown. Who would have thought mudflats could be so interesting.
Not only was this position ideal for the ensuing sunrise, but the tide was out with just enough tidal pools left to add some character. This spot I will visit again once the tides change.


I knew it!!! and after confirming my suspicions with an old "seadog" who lives in a caravan close by, completely wrapped in tinfoil, I can confirm that boat owners are actually aliens from out of space and yachts are vessels to get them to the unknown.

Que science fiction soundtrack…..

If you would like to know more about the technical, side then drop me a comment.
Until next time happy clicking ;)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Rose Pedal

Gosh it has been a while since i last posted anything of note, but today while cruising around Ardmore airfield I came across a great little box car.

"Rose Pedal" is the carts name and is owned and operated by a local groundsman who runs the lawn mowing business for all the private owned hangers at Ardmore.

Great little cart and a great way to move around the airfield with your lawn mower in tow. speed 35km when he gets it cranking :)

f8, 1/250, ISO200, 50mm

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Clear skies in the Far North

During a recent visit to the far north of New Zealand, i was blessed with clear sky's during both the day and the night. 
This provided me with a great opportunity to have a crack at some starlight photography. 
The area I stayed in had no street lights which was fantastic, and being the middle of winter the population was down to just a handful of local residents so it was extremely quite and peaceful.

However mother nature did provide good natural moonlight, which may be what you want for star photography, but i wasn't phased really otherwise I would  not have been able to see where I was walking :)

Taupo Bay has a wonderful cliff face which wraps itself around the bay and provided me with the perfect backdrop to complement the night sky. 

My equipment

Canon 7D
Benro Tripod, with centre 2kg weight bag (just in case the ocean winds picked up)
Lens 17-50mm Sigma DC  f2.8 
-2 and -4 ND Filter
Remote trigger
Head torch
glasses (i'm getting old :)

Shot 1 - Moon Light on the Bay (time 7:00pm NZT)

An important thing to do is always review and understand your surroundings before you start. As i had 4 nights at this location, I could afford to do a reconnaissance on my first evening. This provided me with the knowledge on where to position myself, the direction of the moon movement and the tide line.

My first shot I focused on the effects of the moon reflecting across the bay.
This final shot is actually 2 images joined together. My first shot was under by -1 exposure, the second over by +1. Exposure time variation was minimal and i used manual focusing and Live View for accurate control of my composition.

f2.8, ISO100, 24mm, 3.2secs, +1/-1 ev ( digital cropped)
In terms of post processing I kept it to a minimum. The only adjustments made where to the wave caps where the moonlight reflects off. The exposure time was enough to smooth the water flow to a point where it still had detail, so using the sharpness brush, and focusing on the highlights only i brushed a little more detail in.

Shot 2 - Stars (time 1:30am NZT)

With the temperature dropping just after midnight it was time for a stiff brandy and after warming up it was  star time. I popped on my -2 ND to assist with reducing the amount of light the moon was projecting just behind me. 

Again using the rock formations as my backdrop, and holding my current position as the tide was retreating, I refereed to my pocket exposure reference table to make sure i was using the right settings.

As my 7D is a crop sensor, a focal length of 17mm is equivalent to approx 27mm on a full frame camera. I also had to take in account the amount of natural light generated from the moon, and factor the reduction of light infiltration to my lens from my ND filter to gauge what settings i will need to use to avoid star streaks (natural earth rotation)

After a series of test shots I opted to use the following;

Focal:  17mm   AV: 2.8.     Exposure Optimum ranges Min18 secs - Max 28 secs
ISO between 400 - 800ISO  Focus: Manual

f2.8, ISO800, 17mm, 25secs,

I'm happy with my results and liked the fact i had a good backdrop to work with. I realize that I might not be show casing any amazing galaxy or nebula images but this was not my approach, for me it was about the landscape at night and Taupo Bay certainly provided a wonderful backdrop.

A fantastic few days and having been blessed with excellent conditions I certainly learned a lot around how I will approach this photography subject in the future. thank you for stopping by my blog.

See more  visit our website

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Weighing In - Stability

With our winter months creeping up, our nights are drawing in and the temperature is getting cooler, Excellent!!!, so it's time to head back into our city and tackle some night photography.

Over the course of the next couple of months I'm going to work clockwise around the city, and look to capture images from as many aspects as possible. To mix it up a little I will look to work across both high and low ground so as to bring variation to the subject matter.

My key focal point will be centred around the sky tower. Nothing unusual here as I'm sure there are 1000's of other photographers who have done the same thing, but the sky tower does add depth to the skyline and is a predominant feature of our city.

f11, 20secs, ISO100, 20mm, (Cropped) custom WB
So what's with the title "Weighing in - Stability"?,  good question, well on Wednesday night I headed into the city, and during my walk I came across a nice vantage point on a motorway over bridge. Visibility of the city skyline was good, the motorway lanes provided additional subject matter (as well as light trails, albeit the traffic was low at 9:30pm), the Sky tower could easily be placed in the frame, and as a bonus the new cycleway was lit up providing a nice contrast.

However I had a problem....While standing on the bridge looking for the ideal composition a bus and several cars went by. 
Vibration and wind!!!!, the latter I'm not referring to myself!!!, I was slightly in an exposed place and obviously on a main transport route, and I did not have anything to weight my tripod down.

This did not deter me from completing the task, all I had to do was re-align myself on the bridge and move down slightly so that my tripod sat above one of the bridge foundation poles, and being slightly lower the effects of the cross wind would be reduced slightly.
To compensate further I had to flick on IS on my lens, and be extra vigilant around my exposure times just in case the number 54 bus came roaring back across again :).
Here is an earlier shot taken from a higher vantage point. Zooming in on a section of street lights, you can clearly see the issues the environmental conditions can have on long exposure times. Even on a tripod.

f7.1, ISO100, 20sec, 70mm

Although this might have been a minor hindrance it did prompt me to always remember to check conditions before leaving and carry my make shift weight bag....a 3kg dumbbell on a string.

make shift weight bag

Friday, 22 April 2016

Three Kings United Res vs Tauranga City Res

Winter is on it's way so it is back into sports photography mode.
This week I covered local Three Kings United Res vs Tauranga City Res.

Weather was outstanding so glad I took my polariser to help keep the glare in check.
Three Kings eventual winners 5-2, with a well taken penalty by Three King player in the dying seconds.
Tauranga will now have to face a long 2 hour drive back to Bay of Plenty, so plenty of time to contemplate what might have been.

For those interested in the Camera tech details:
pretty much all photos used the following settings

f5.6, ISO800, 1/500 (average), -1 ev, 50 - 300mm, custom WB.