Sunday, 31 October 2010

Travel Day to Wellington

After 3 quite strenuous mountain days around Tongariro today was a restful travel day. We travelled south to Wanganui for a few beach shots. Black sand with lots of old tree trunks lying around. Not usually the best subject to take but as the tree wood was all bleached white it was spectacular with everything in true black and white.

From here we thought we would try and make it to Castlepoint lighthouse and distinctive rocky coast on the east coast but time was against us and we went straight to Wellington. Had a nice Indian at Little India before a nightcap of Black Mac at Mac's Brewery. Oh, and I took a few night shots around the shoreline and harbour, including some illuminated trees on the seashore promenade - anyone would think it was Christmas!

Tomorrow I have arranged to drop off all of the film I have taken so far for processing; 99 rolls of Ilford FP4 120. I'm going to use Image Lab here in Wellington, never used them before so hope they do a good job for me. They will ship to their lab in Christchurch for me to collect in a couple of weeks time.

Tomorrow afternoon we take the ferry to the South Island. Hope the wind drops!

Don't know what the hell is wrong with my blog posts, I have to edit them all to get the text to show.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Great Day In Tongariro

Today we woke up to wall-to-wall blue sky and our first view of the top of Ngauruhoe (seems to be pronounced locally as Nora-Hooey), the local shapely volcano.

On such a nice day we decided to walk Mount Tongariro, a local big peak with great views from the top on a good day. This also gave me the chance to retake shots that I took on Thursday on the Tongariro Crossing but in the sun. We retraced our tracks as far as Red Crater (yes it really is red but with quite a bit of snow at the moment). From Red Crater we made our way up to Tongariro summit. What a great little peak, just under 2000m. Lots of snow on the top.

The light was good too. Still a lot of snow near the summit, steep snow slopes to reach the top of the ridge. Then along to the summit. Great views to Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu with snow in the foreground.

Retraced our route to return to the car, re-took a few shots with different light.

On the summit we met Stuart, a guide who runs Adrift trips. Had a few words but he soon moved off with his group. Back in the car park we met him again waiting for one of his groups to return. He needed some promo shots of the Whanganui River and offered all 4 of us a free day canoeing down the river tomorrow in return for some images. Not sure my back or camera would survive such a trip but would have been nice to accept. Seems like a very nice man!

Tomorrow we leave Tongariro Chateau after 4 days and head for the Wellington Ibis for a complete contrast to the pampering we have received here. Monday I drop off my films in Wellington before catching the ferry to the South Island.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Taranaki Falls and Tama Lakes

We awoke to blue sky everywhere except the 2 mountains we walked over yesterday. Surprisingly the highest peak, Mount Ruapehu, was clear, it also has a good covering of snow.

I had planned for us to go to Tama Lakes, a 12 mile round trip which would give us good views to the mountains in both directions. On the way we also passed Taranaki Falls. We took the high route across the open moors rather than through the trees. Good views to Ruapehu but not to Tongariro. Also good light on Taranaki Falls, must be 60 feet or so high and I was able to take from the front, side and from behind the curtain of water. It was a touch damp so I had to cover the lens except when taking the shot.

Quite a long walk up to Lower Tama Lake and then up steeply to Upper Tama Lake. The top of Ngauruhoe was in clouds but still made for moody images. Then retraced our steps back to civilisation. My back was painful on the way back so Rob and Jan took all of my gear except for my camera. Diclofenac wasn't enough today. The alcohol in the bar back in the village seemed to help, as did the hot belt after I had showered. They seem to have the hang of serving me a warm beer although they seem to think me strange for some reason!

Great clouds over Ngauruhoe while in the bar so I raced up to our room to get my camera and tripod for the last few shots of the day.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Yesterday we spent a couple of hours wandering around Auckland taking photos then loaded up and drove to Whakapapa village and our hotel, the Tongariro Chateau.

Mountains were in the clouds but the forecast was reasonable for next day. We decided to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing past 2 volcanoes. We caught a bus from the hotel at 7pm and started by 7.30am. It was dull but dry. We made our way up, not too chilly but no views.

As we made our way up the clouds cleared a bit and it was good enough for photos. Not too many people either. Then we came to the bit where the volcanoes were venting gases (mainly hyrogen sulphide). Jolly smelly (bad eggs smell). There were several flat craters with snow to cross but easy enough. Lots of gases venting near Emerald Lake, which is bright blue and surrounded by gas vents. All the liquid is not water but sulphur. Then up to Blue Lake- totally frozen. Few shots until it brightend later. Nice on walk out. Down to bus shortly after 3pm. Tomorrow we visit some lakes and waterfalls.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Auckland at Night

We left Sydney this morning in the sunshine and flew to Auckland in New Zealand, also sunny but a bit cooler. Both airports did hand-checks on my film to avoid x-rays; jolly decent of them as you don't get this in the UK no matter how much you ask.

After sorting out the car hire we drove in to our hotel in Auckland city centre. Then down to the harbour for food before I went off taking photos of the harbour and the Sky Tower. Back to hotel about midnight ready to sleep!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sunshine In Sydney

We have had a great day in Sydney. The sun arrived early afternoon and have retraced my steps re-taking shots I had already taken when it was overcast.

Now on ferry from Circular Quays to Darling Harbour to meet our friends - Rob had to go to dentist this afternoon otherwise we would have spent the day together. Hope we find a decent bar tonight!

More Photos in Sydney

It eventually stopped raining in Sydney last night and I took lots of night shots around Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Bit of a relief to have some of the 'must have' images in the bank! Ran off 7 rolls, 10 shots on a roll.

Today is brighter, still grey but no sun. We are just having a coffee in Darling Harbour having taken some photos here, 5 rolls so far.

Off to catch ferry to North Sydney in a minute or two, just across the bay.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Wet day in Sydney

We landed in Sydney yesterday, blue skies and hot. Walked in the park and out to Mcquarie Point for photos of Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Didn't feel well and had to return to hotel, got back just as rain arrived.

Had a nice Thai meal in evening having met up with Junette, my cousin from Adelaide. Photos around Darling Harbour at night and a nightcap at a suitable pub.

Today (Sunday) is wet. Cameras becoming waterlogged! Have run off 4 rolls in rain around Opera House and picked out locations to return to if sun comes out. Just sitting having a coffee before round 2.

Friday, 22 October 2010

No Symphony in Hong Kong

We have been in Hong Kong a bit under 2 days and are getting ready to leave for the airport, it is mid-afternoon Friday 22nd.

We arrived Wed evening and had a short walk but my back was too painful to do any photography.

Yesterday my back felt quite a bit better after a good nights rest and a cocktail of several drugs. We walked all day, went up the Peak Tram in daylight and for twilight/night shots of the Hong Kong skyline. We also went across to Kowloon to take the Hong Kong skyline during the day and at night. We expected to see the Symphony of Lights from here too but they were cancelled because a typhoon was forecast, but it was just a strong breeze in the end.

Today we have wandered around taking pictures of buildings and a few of the boats in Causeway Bay; a mix of semi-derelict house boats and millionaire yachts. It tried to rain at one stage, jolly warm and humid. Grey skies since we arrived, no blue sky at all. Doesn't matter for night shots and some of buildings but would have been nice for some of the wide shots.

Next stop Sydney early tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Off and Running

We are just in the Virgin lounge at Heathrow airport waiting for our flight. After a light meal we are ready for a relaxing wait. My back is quite bad, I have done too much in the last few days and should have known better. Am now in the spa pool room on a sun lounger with a hot pack on my back. Hope it frees up soon, feels quite weak though so just as well I can lie flat once aboard plane. Voltarol and Diazepam don't seem to be touching pain or loosening off at moment so may resort to alcohol instead!

It's a 13 hour flight to Hong Kong, arriving late afternoon tomorrow. Hope the weather has improved, they were having heavy rain and we get enough of that in the Peak District without travelling half way around the world for the same.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Problems using Blackberry for Blog

Still having problems using Blackberry for doing my blog. The Blackberry browser keeps hanging so it doesn't load complete web pages. Opera Mini seemed a better option to start with but the more I use it the more it plays up. Now it drops the text completely and clears the clipboard too, this was where I had started to put the text before publishing in case it crashed. Had to step back through the web history to find the text for last blog. This is not a reliable way to blog! Also not what I need before a 4 week photo trip.

Weekend of Courses

We just had another busy weekend with landscape photography courses on Friday and Saturday and a darkroom printing course on Sunday. The two photo courses were full, with 5 on each 1 day course to keep Jan and I busy. It was dry the whole weekend and the Friday forecast was reasonable for the afternoon - sun from 1pm. Well, we didn't have any sun but the mist gave us a lot of atmosphere.

Friday started, for Peter, John, Abi, Anya and Geoff (on his 13th course with us) at Pilsbury Castle for some misty shots along the valley as well as a very shapely tree and limestone outcrop. Then on to Chelmorton Low for shots of the dry stone walls and the village from the hillside. Unfortunately, the church steeple was cloaked in scaffolding and green sheeting, not that photogenic. We lunched in the Church Inn just below the hill, always a reliable stop for us. After lunch it was a short drive to Monsal Head for views over the viaduct and then down to the waterfalls at the weir. They were in spectacular form with loads of water from the recent rain.

Saturday was almost entirely a ladies day, with Abi back again for her second day, Margaret, Sally and Rachel. Rob made up the group. We first went to Castle Naze for some big views, bit grey though but with a few patches of muted sunshine lifting the shots across the valley. Then down to the Goyt for a 25 foot waterfall and a river and packhorse bridge. Unlike July and September there were no midges here. Lunch was at the Rose and Crown at Allgreave. We are always well looked after here by the new landlord and landlady. The last location was 3 Shire Heads. This needs a walk of 1.5 miles each way but it is worth it. The waterfalls are always great and often spectacular. They didn't disappoint there was lots of water everywhere.

Sunday was a 1-to-1 printing workshop with Alan from Kent who came on a 3 day landscape course in Eskdale in March, now 2 weeks into his retirement from the Met. It was good to see him again. We managed 6 large prints which is about the most we could reasonably expect and all good shots. Also managed to set Alan up with a darkroom as I had arranged for someone to drop off their complete darkroom while we were printing. They just wanted it to go to a good home so no charge. Alan's little car was pretty full as he drove away!

All 3 days were very enjoyable with easy going folk, lots of jokes, wisecracks and interesting stories. Lots of good pictures were taken, mostly digital, and printed too.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Damp Last Course Day in Lakes

The day started wet but the forecast was better for later in the day so I gave a demo of Photoshop Elements and ran through the workflow that I use from scan to final file saving. It was still raining so I ran through some prints of Yosemite and assorted cities, hopefully a bit more inspiration and generated some interesting points.

It was approaching 11am and brightening up - the rain had eased. We loaded up the car and drove to Drigg beach for some rock pool, sea, sand pattern and various other subjects. All were soon engrossed, the sky started to brighten, no direct sun though.

Next stop was Saltcoats and a half mile walk to Ravenglass village. Here it was photos of the salt flats and the shapely estuary with the village and Black Combe hill in the background. Quite nice light for some good shots. A short walk later we were in the Ratty Arms for a late lunch.

It was too late to go to St Bees Head so we returned to Boot village and the waterfalls behind the Mill. They were in full flow and very impressive. The rocks low down were wet and slippery so all shots were taken from above, surprising what a little bit of zoom can do to help in these situations..
That was it - 4pm and the end of a very enjoyable course, now in bright sunshine and blue sky. We are looking forward to seeing the photos from our 4 intrepid photographers; Chris, Yann, Alastair and John.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Jolly Nice Day in the Lake District

Day 2 of the landscape photography course in the English Lake District. Today was spent in Eskdale. The forecast was for good weather in the morning and rain after lunch. We started with Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall to avoid the crowds. The rocks were a bit slippery but with a bit of care good shots were taken.

From here we returned to the car and made for the Hardknott Pass as the sun was shining. Then we walked up the steep slope towards Border End to a small pool of water that reflects Coniston Old Man across the valley on a good day. Unfortunately, Coniston stayed in the clouds but it was still a good view and made for some interesting shots. Then down to the Pass and some shots to the valley below, very nice light in the valley.

It was closing in a bit so we drove back to the Hardknott Roman Fort which dates back to about 120AD. Lots of pattern pictures with the remains of the walls and nice views to Eskdale below and cloud-capped Scafell in the other direction.

It was lunch time so we went down to the Brook House Inn in Boot where we had a hearty lunch. There was some brightness now so we went to Devoke Water for tarn and boathouse images.

We finished the day with shots of the River Esk in Boot. Not a lot of light but this added to the shots for Alastair, Yann and Chris who all wanted to try Neutral Density filters in order to use very long exposure times. Yann was using a 10 stop ND filter to give 30 to 60 second exposures for 'milky water'. Very interesting effects.

Tonight we returned to the Brook House for dinner, and very nice it was too. The Darkest Ennerdale beer was good while it lasted. Then it was a walk along the road for 7 minutes in very light drizzle.

It was a good day and all took good photos of quite varied subjects. Tomorrow we go to the coast near Ravenglass. Dave

Friday, 1 October 2010

Landscape Photography With Lots of Atmosphere

What a damp day! Heavy rain this morning so photography was done from underneath umbrellas around Wast Water. An early extended lunch at the Strands Hotel in Nether Wasdale followed. Then after a quick vote we resumed our day in Wasdale by returning to Wasdale Head for Ritsons Force waterfalls. They were spectacular, so much water. I was wishing I hadn't left my camera in the b&b as there were some unusual shots with so much water.

It stopped raining at the falls and we took lots of waterfall shots and some landscapes across the valley on our return to the car. We stopped part way down Wasdale for the last shots of the day. The return of the rain at 5.30pm prompted us to finish.

For those interested I am now using Opera Mini software for blogging. It actually works unlike the Blackberry browser.