Getting the best shot around home

As life ticks along and goes in unexpected directions (as always) I find myself more and more drawn to photography.

Hokianga Harbour - home
Hokianga Harbour – home

I am surrounded by amazing landscapes and with the Ocean and the forest at my doorstep with their ever changing colours it would be a sacrilege not to take photos and share them with the wider world.

Koutu Boulders - Hokianga Harbour (10 min from home)
Koutu Boulders – Hokianga Harbour (10 min from home)

I always loved taking photos and I thought I had at least a good eye for a good motive and how to frame a shot properly – mostly landscape and architecture – I am not good at taking photos of people. But I was never 100% happy with some shots and therefore decided to take a on-line class last year in DSLR photography.

Tane Mahuta - Waipoua Forest
Tane Mahuta – Waipoua Forest

In addition to that I also have been privileged to get some great advise from Aerial Cam photographer Adam Stanford during two of his master classes over the last two years. However – I am still nowhere nearly as good as some other amateurs I know but I have definitely improved quite a bit over the last few years.

4 Sisters - Waipoua Forest
4 Sisters – Waipoua Forest

I recently found some old photos that I took on my first Australia trip back in 1996 I think. I had them blown up and they hung in my living room for a few years – I am still immensely happy with them – considering back then it was still film and a cheap point and shoot camera…. I am not sure I could take much better photos today with my DSLR in fact (in terms of subject matter and framing).


Kai Iwi Lakes
Kai Iwi Lakes

So with all this in mind I normally never leave the house without my camera these days – one never knows what the clouds or the sun or the ocean or indeed nature as a whole brings…

Perfect Picnic Spot - Hokianga Harbour
Perfect Picnic Spot – Hokianga Harbour

Doing a bit of post – processing also helps with the quality of the shots getting up to the standard that I want. People always say that this and that photo is “photo shopped”. In fact these days it is hard not to use some kind of editing software or the results will just not be what you thought you saw in the first place. Especially since I (like most others I know who use a DSLR) shoot in RAW format. In simple terms when you use your point and shoot or phone to take a photo – the little computer chip in there takes measurements of the whole scene and will “develop” a JPEG photo that the chip thinks is what you want…. that works well if the light is perfect or the person is standing still…

Kemp House - Kerikeri Mission Station
Kemp House – Kerikeri Mission Station

However – I am sure most of you will have had that experience – when you see a nice landscape – lets say a tree in a forest – more often than not some part of your photo will be darker or lighter than the rest (instead of having the real light conditions showing on the photo) – or some detail can’t be seen despite the fact you saw it in real life… so that is when RAW and post processing comes in. The camera still “sees” the other blown out or under lit features in your photo but only when you run it through some sort of post processing will you see all of it in the final photo.

Perfect Nesting Place - near Kai Iwi Lakes
Perfect Nesting Place – near Kai Iwi Lakes

So yes – I am using Lightroom (from the same family of programs like photoshop) to tweek my photos to the closest to natural as possible. Yes some phone camera’s do take amazing shots – and I sometimes wonder why I ever bother with my entry level DSLR and the two lenses – its heavy to carry around, need to be cleaned on a regular basis, takes ages to download, run through post processing and then they are so large that most sites that one wants to publish them on won’t accept them so they have to be down sized again…

In between
In between

BUT – I love it – I like it when I can look at my photo and it looks exactly how I saw the actual natural image – it is nice to think about each shot and not just “shoot” . It makes one sit there for the perfect light or the perfect moment. It’s almost like meditation in some way. And of course it gives me the ability to take a wide angle shoot of the whole Hokianga Harbour or the whole of Tane Mahuta rather than being disappointed that the phone camera has its limits…

So when I travel to and from home (or further away) I try to look at my surroundings with a “photographers eye” and sometimes stop to take a photo – though it might not always make it trough the final processing. I hope I can learn much, much more and combine this old hobby with the new ones and any that are still to come:-). I’ve attached some of the shots I took over the last 3 months here around home that I personally like – enjoy!

Stairway to Heaven
Stairway to Heaven





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