Monday, January 30, 2012

Just off the Road to Milford Sound

There is a tunnel on the way to Milford Sound and off to one side is a craggy mountain capped with snow and ice.  Many tourists were off to the side of the road taking photos.  I'm usually a 'photo rebel' so I turned in the opposite direction to see if I could find a more unique photo op, and here it was.  I had to walk back up the road about 10 yards.  Nestled just off the road and down a little incline, was this tiny patch of lupine.  I walked all around, trying to find the very best shot, and finally saw this, with the diagonal line of the flowers matching the line of the mountain.  When I was through, I walked back to our car in the parking area where all the other tourists were taking photos in the opposite direction.  I couldn't resist talking to a few of them and pointing to the much better scene I had found.  Some looked surprised, thanked me, and walked back to the lupine, others didn't want to be bothered and left.  I know there are a few who were willing to take the time and will go home with some lovely travel photos!

P.S.  Who says you can't take a nice photo in the middle of the day in the bright sun!!!  (Incidentally, the direction everyone else was shooting was washed out and glaring because of the sun hitting all the white snow.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Milford Sound - #5

Travel Brochure Picture

This is the view you see on many travel brochures for Milford Sound.  What do you think?  Does this make you want to come visit the 'land of the long white cloud'???
Every morning I wake up wondering how we could be so blessed to have these amazing experiences!  Right now I'm posting this photo of a beautiful New Zealand landscape from our hotel room in Tahiti!!!  We will be here for a week, and yes, we are here on assignment, but will have time to see this tropical paradise.  We had a very productive meeting last night, but today we've been invited to the birthday parties of three of our host's grandchildren.  They live on the far end of the main island and we have to get there by 4 wheel drive.  He said we will be part of their family birthday traditions and learn how they cook their traditional food.  We are so excited to step away from what the tourists see and have a glimpse into real Tahitian culture.  I have only begun to post our NZ trip to the south island, and by the end of this week I'm sure I'll have a gazillian photos of Tahiti.  I think I already have enough photos of beautiful places to post for this entire year, and the year has just begun!!!  

I need to add a 'footnote' here.  Because this is a photography blog, I mostly post the beautiful places and beautiful people we see and meet.  But I want you all to know, that our reason for being here is because we are missionaries for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We serve here because we have been asked to serve here, but we would have gone anywhere willingly.  I want you all to know we have had amazing spiritual experiences;  in seeing the beauty of God's creations, but more importantly, in amazing faith building experiences and our own spiritual growth.   These things, rather that photographs, will become part of us forever.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Milford Sound - #1

We spent New Year's Eve on an overnight cruise in Milford Sound.  I woke up at dawn on New Years Day and was greeted with this view.  It was a lovely way to welcome 2012.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On the Way to Milford Sound

Magnificent Mountains

On New Year's Eve we flew to the south island to spend a few more days of sightseeing while most of the office was still on vacation.  These beautiful mountain vistas were on the drive to Milford Sound, our first stop.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A New Zealand Northland Christmas - Post #13


The Bay of Islands is a tourist mecca with every type of water sport available in addition to a landscape that every photographer would die for!  Unfortunately, the day we were there turned out to be cold, windy and gray, so I didn't take photos.  Instead, we took a ferry across the bay to the town of Russell, which has a jaded past.  In fact, it used to be called "The Hell Hole of the Pacific" because it became a gathering place for ex-convicts, escaped convicts, prostitutes, and other shady characters.  Now, of course, the town plays upon its past as a tourist attraction.  
The bay was lined with cafes, quaint hotels and shops and musicians entertaining the diners.  We ate dinner here and enjoyed the tourists, the musicians and the sounds of the water and birds.

 Waiting for dinner.  I liked this composition of 'white on white' with the neutral color of the water bottle and glasses.

  After a dull, gray sky all day, the clouds cleared just long enough to give us a beautiful sunset for the last night of our Northland Christmas.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A New Zealand Northland Christmas - Post #12

Best Friends are the Best!

While on the tour (photos on previous post), these two little girls had their arms around each other the whole time.  They had so much fun together. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A New Zealand Northland Christmas - Post #11

Waitangi Treaty Grounds
We spent some time touring the sacred Maori grounds where the Maori and European white men learned to live together despite their very different cultures.  The Maori called these new people 'Pakeha', meaning the others.  Today, European New Zealanders often call themselves Pakeha along with the Maori people.  Someone told me there are very few cultures where one group of people gives a name to another people and both accept it.

This is a waka, or a Maori canoe.  This one is very large and ornate and I can't remember how many men it holds.  It is still 'launched' for special holiday ceremonies.

The Marae is a Maori meeting house and is also called Te Maraenui-Atea-o-Tumatauenga.  It is a sacred place that serves religious and social purposes.

Inside the Marae are beautiful carvings and intricately woven mats.  Every part of the structure of the Marae has symbolic and sacred meanings.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

A New Zealand Northland Christmas - Post #9

Along the Way - Part 2  (Fun Stuff)

I want to know the people who live in this house.  I bet they are artistic and fun people, and maybe a little bit quirky!

The famous jandal fence.  People here call flipflops, jandals, and everybody wears them.  We decided the reason everyone wears them is because no one can afford shoes (VERY expensive here)!

They really cater to tourists here in many ways.  Almost every little town or village has an 'i-site' where you can pick up brochures about all the local attractions, accommodations.  There are helpful people that will answer questions, plan activities or make reservations.
Another very convenient thing is that every small town (or large town for that matter), and every beach we have been to, has clean, public restrooms that are very easily found.  In fact some are very unique, elaborate and fun.  Here is one that was actually designed by a famous architect.  

  Lovely and fun wall painting.

We found this sign outside a city building.  I think it is the most accurate weather predictor the Kiwis have! Here in NZ the weather is VERY unpredictable.  People often say that one can experience all four seasons within a matter of minutes.  We have large windows in our office and it is fascinating to watch how fast the clouds move by.  One minute there is bright sunshine and it is warm, the next minute there are dark clouds, the wind is howling and it is pouring, then within another few minutes the sun is shinning again.   

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A New Zealand Northland Christmas - Post #8

Along the Way - Part 1

Along the way we stopped at a museum....of sorts.  A retired sheep farmer had collected not only cars, but a variety of other junk stuff, from old farm equipment to pianos to sewing machines, telephones, tools, dentist chairs, typewriters, etc. etc. If you are a  pack rat, (hoarder??),  you can legitimize your affliction by building a big warehouse out on the 'lower forty' and sell tickets to gullible interested tourists to see it all. Then you can call yourself a businessman.  When Jeff saw that he had cars, of course, we had to stop, and even though none of the cars were the type he is interested in, he was still in heaven talking to another old vintage man about old vintage cars.  I didn't realize how much of a car withdrawal he has been in since coming to NZ until I saw him with this guy, chatting away just as if they were long, lost buddies (or mates as they would say here.....right Diane?).  I could hardly drag him away!! Check out a few more impressive (?) collectables...........

O.K., I'll stop, I know I'm boring you to death!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A New Zealand Northland Christmas - Post #7

Christmas Day - Part 2

It seemed that around every other bend in the road we discovered yet another beautiful vista composed of deep blue sky, crystal clear turquoise water, and blooming pahutokowa trees.

Close to the northern most part of NZ we came to 90 mile beach, long, flat, green waters and sand that never stops.  Some vacationers were sun tanning, or playing in the water, others were driving their cars and four wheelers VERY fast along the edge of the water and yet others were sand surfing on the dunes.  There was a vast and seemingly endless view in all directions.

We finally arrived at the northern tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga.  To see my favorite shot and read about the Maori tradition of this sacred spot, click HERE.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A New Zealand Northland Christmas - Post #6

Christmas Day - 2011

Who is that lady with her arm around Jeff?  Oh, it's me!  Not too often do I appear in front of the camera.  If you want to read a fun story about who is taking this photo, click HERE.

Moving on, Christmas morning was beautiful.  Since it was Sunday, we found a church to attend in the next little town.  It was a tiny congregation and all were either Maori or Polynesian. 

After a lovely service celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we said our 'goodbyes' and headed down the road to the next little village.....

.....and found ourselves in a quirky little hamlet called Rawene.  Of course it was not pronounced 
Raw we' knee, like I would guess.  
It is Rrrrrrrrrrrah' wha knee, with a definite roll of the 'r' and emphasis on the first syllable.  It is a sleepy little place with a few quaint and colorful seaside stores, and a mixture of local fishermen, shop owners and traveling tourists.

The road ended here in Rawene.   We had to take a short ferry ride to continue our trip north.  As you can see, our beautiful, sunny morning was starting to cloud over, turning dark and transforming the beautiful turquoise/green water to a dull gray/green.  

When shooting travel photography or landscape photography, it really doesn't do any good to be disappointed because conditions aren't what you hoped for.  If you are, then you'll spend a good amount of time being disappointed.  Either the weather will be wrong, the time of day will be wrong, you didn't have time to look for the perfect composition, interesting people turn their backs to your camera, etc. etc.  I'm trying hard, (and not always succeeding), to look at the situation I'm given, and try to find and isolate something interesting to shoot, even if it's not what I really wanted originally.  Here,  I tried to shoot in the direction of the clouds, because they were more interesting that the water.  And as I looked around the little town, my eye caught the single rose that stood out from the backdrop of weathered old building and dead branches.  This was my artistic shot and I edited it using PW Action Old West.  
(I love this action, and if you are not familiar with it let me know and I'll tell you where you can download it for free.)

(Part 2 of Christmas Day to be posted tomorrow)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A New Zealand Northland Christmas - Post #5

The Boat in the Bay

Whenever we are traveling and staying in a place even remotely photogenic, I always set the alarm to be up at dawn to see if there is a photo op to be had.  Usually there isn't and I go back to bed, but once in awhile I'm rewarded for my efforts.  Our motel was right on the shoreline, so I was up and out in just a few seconds.  

If you want to improve your photography, they say to pick a subject and see how many different and interesting compositions you can find.  Here is a lonely boat anchored in the bay and several of my compositions of it.  As you can see, it is still quite dark so lots of blues and muted colors.  (I wish I had had my tripod with me.)

By the time I walked up the beach a ways, there was a hint of color in the clouds and water, and reflected light on the pahutukawa tree.

 The first light was golden, not pink, and here is a third composition with boat.  Love the clouds in this one.

And finally, after many photos in between the one above and this one, the sun came up, the clouds are almost gone, leaving streaky reminders of what was once a beautiful dawn and a lovely beginning to the day.   Now it was time to wake up Jeff and be on our way.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Zealand Northland Christmas - Post #4

We stopped for the first night in a little town called Omapere.  You can see our motel in the distance on the left side of the photo.  After getting settled in we explored this beautiful peninsula at the end of the bay.

Looking in the opposite direction and across the bay was this sand dune.  The variety of landscapes here in NZ never ceases to amaze me!

We sat on a bench to watch the sun set on Christmas eve.  I used my telephoto to capture the peachy glow on the sand and clouds, and the mist as the waves rolled into shore.  This was just before the sun set,  with the sun out of the frame on the left.

After sunset we waited in hopes that the color show would continue, and we were not disappointed.