Memory Lane

Here is a photo of Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levin that I took about five years ago. Danny and I were on one of Trey’s New Zealand photo adventures.

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Memory Lane
Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levine on Lake Hayes in New Zealand

That seems like such a long time ago, but I still have a ton of photos and memories. I shot this on the original Sony A7R which was relatively new at the time. Now, I’m on the third generation of that camera, but I still own the original. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

see more from New Zealand in the gallery

Actually, I processed this with the latest tools. In this case I Aurora HDR 2019 and Luminar 3. Those are also the third generations from Skylum, and I’ve been using them for three or four years now. Every time they come out with new versions I go back and find old photos like this to process. When I do that, it’s like taking a trip down memory lane.

Queenstown Bridge

This is the bridge where Lake Wakatipu ends and enters the Kawarau River. Or, at least it was. Since I took this, they built a new bridge that’s not nearly as photogenic.

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Old Queenstown Bridge
This old bridge in Queenstown has been replaced

I took this on my first day in New Zealand as I was walking around getting the lay of the land. The bridge was next to the hotel. I must say, that trip was probably the most fun I’ve ever had. It was a photography workshop with Trey Ratcliff, and it was a doozy. Everything, from the scenery to the food was over the top.

See the New Zealand gallery

I’ve been looking at some of the photos I took while there and am post-processing them with the newer software. At the time I was using the A7R which was relatively new at the time and, the choice of lenses was limited. That was two generations of A7R ago, and the RAW files are holding up quite nicely. But boy, what I could do now with the newer camera. Without a doubt, I very much want to go back.

Old Photos New Software

This is an HDR image full of fall colors that I took four years ago in New Zealand. It was the first morning of a five-day workshop with Trey Ratcliff. In the southern hemisphere, April is in Autumn so the leaves were turning.

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Old Photos New Software
This is an old photo I processed with Skylum’s Aurora 2018

I had recently purchased the Sony A7R and now, four years later, I’m still impressed with the images. Since that time Sony has created two new generations of that camera so I now use the third generation A7R III. Also, since that time Trey and Skylum introduced HDR software known as Aurora HDR. Now Aurora is in its second or third generation as well. As a result, I’m revisiting these old photos with the new software. The software has improved to the point that it’s very easy to make old photos look amazing.

New Zealand gallery

Four years seems like such a long time, I would go back in a heartbeat. For a photographer, New Zealand is a dream. But I did take thousands of photos while I was there so even if I don’t get back right away I still have these photos to look at and enjoy.

Walk Through the Forest in North Carolina

This was taken a couple years back on a walk through the forest in North Carolina. It was supposed to be a short two-hour hike but ended up taking twice as long and was more difficult than we thought.

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Walk Through the Forest
Walk Through the Forest in North Carolina

Apparently enough people get caught in the same mistake that the rangers and locals have formed a small rescue industry. I felt bad because it was my idea and my wife and sister-in-law were following my lead. But in the end we made it back before dark with a story to tell. We were hungry but too tired to go out so we ordered room service when we got back to the hotel.

As far as photography goes it couldn’t have been better; I’m still finding photos I had forgotten about. Coming from a flat place like Florida it was a big change to be in the mountains and hills. I think that also contributed to our misjudging of the hike, it was downhill going in and an uphill climb coming back. Florida has no hills so elevation never crossed our minds.

I just looked up the step history for the hike on my iPhone; it was 14,000 steps and the equivalent of 43 stories climbed. That may not be Mount Everest but it’s a lot of uphill walking for someone from Florida. When I’m taking pictures I get carried away and it’s probably not fair to the people I’m with.

other forest images from the gallery

I consider myself tech savvy yet I only learned about the iPhone step tracker about a year ago. My phone has been tracking steps for years; who knew? Now I can match it up with some of my photo hikes and see how far I walked. There are a few in there that I can recall very well. But having sore feet is a small price to pay for good pictures. And I’m sure I’ll do it again and again; only now I can check my steps for an added degree of satisfaction.

Queenstown Reboot

This is an image I took on my first day in New Zealand about two years ago. As you can see from the colors it was autumn in the southern hemisphere. If I recall I was so happy to see all the fall colors that I quickly processed the photo and posted it a few hours later.

Queenstown Reboot
This is an image from Queenstown that I’ve just reprocessed, I think it turned out better than the first time.

Now when I look back on that image I realize my tastes have changed. That’s a nice way of saying the other picture makes my eyes bleed. The colors of the original are amped up quite a bit and appear too bright and unrealistic.

And so as I was looking at some of my old photos the other day and I thought to myself, why don’t I reprocess this? Since I have the original RAW files I did, only his time I used different tools and techniques I’ve acquired over the years.

More New Zealand images from the Gallery

This is a three image HDR that I originally combined in Photomatix Pro, this time in AuroraHDR Pro. Last time I wanted the colors to blast so I oversaturated them, this time I wanted it to be a little more realistic. I think both versions have their pros and cons, (I’m being kind again). The old image looks pretty good as a thumbnail or on a phone, this one looks better on a large screen or print.

Each image has its place, but as I continue to evolve as a photographer and artist my taste change and so do my techniques. This is just another example of that. I plan on reprocessing a few more from that trip so stay tuned.

Gardens Sunrise

Gardens Sunrise
Queenstown Gardens Sunrise in the heart of an amazing little city                                            Buy a fine art gallery print

A couple of years ago in New Zealand I was here for a Queenstown Gardens sunrise. It’s an oasis of nature in the middle of the city, except for one thing. The city is an oasis in the middle of the wilderness. If that sounded like a contradiction it is. Queenstown doesn’t need an oasis, it’s already surrounded by beauty and awesomeness on all sides. This park is just the cherry on top.

I was here on one of Trey Ratcliff’s photo adventures. This was our first day. There were about twenty of us and I really didn’t know anyone except one other guy I met on G+. So here we all were on our first morning doing our best to capture the light and such. Now fast forward to the end of the week. Now we are all best friends and feel like we’ve just been through the most amazing experiences together. Big change from beginning to end.

I’ve had this image in my backlog for almost two years. I tried a few times to process it but wasn’t pleased with the results. This time I have some new software called AuroraHDR made by MacPhun and the very same Trey Ratcliff. Now, what was once a challenge has become easy. For HDR images like this, I find it much easier to get the results I want. I guess the moral of the story is, the longer you wait, the better the software gets, the more you can do. That sounded kind of lame, but you know what I mean.

More photos from New Zealand

Standing on a Hill in New Zealand

Standing On a Hill In New Zealand
Standing on a Hill in New Zealand early one cold morning                                      Buy a fine art gallery quality print

A couple of years ago I was standing on a hill in New Zealand with twenty other photographers. It was early in the morning before dawn and everything was quiet, still and overwhelmingly beautiful. I had to pinched myself to ensure it wasn’t a dream. Well, I made that last part up, my fingers were to cold to pinch anything, but I was pretty happy nonetheless.

Its great I have this image because it helps me remember. I wonder what it wold be like if I could remember everything with vivid clarity. I think it would be a double edged sword. Truth be told I’d, only I’d only want to remember the good things, but if I had that memory I might not have a choice. Maybe that’s why we are the way we are. Our memories fade so we have a chance to move on, start new, live another day.

I’ve heard that when we die we have a life review. That we see everything we’ve done that affects other people. If that’s true, then that will be one heck of a memory machine. Or, maybe that’s how we remember when we don’t have our aging brains getting in the way. Maybe our minds are really that good, it’s an incredible idea. I think it’s true, we have hints of it throughout our lives and society.


Now if I could only learn how to tap in to my unlimited memory, I could tell you what I had for dinner last night and, I could remember my e-mail password. I had one more point to make but I seem to have forgotten what it was.

I’ve heard that when we die we have a life review. That we see everything we’ve done that affects other people. If that’s true, then that will be one heck of a memory machine. Or, maybe that’s how we remember when we don’t have our aging brains getting in the way. Maybe our minds are really that powerful, it’s an amazing idea. I think it could be true, we have hints of it throughout our lives and society.


Now if I could only learn how to tap in to my unlimited memory, I could tell you what I had for dinner last night and remember my email password. I had one more point to make but I seem to have forgotten what it was.

Queenstown Gardens

Queenstown Gardens
Queenstown Gardens in autumn just after sunrise                             Obtain a gallery print

This was taken inside Queenstown Gardens which is situated right in the middle of Queenstown. It’s kind of like Central Park for Queenstown, yet even as I write that I know it’s not a good analogy. Surrounded by mountains, Queenstown has nothing in common with New York City. Maybe a better analogy would be Stanley Park in Vancouver, yes, I think so. Only Queenstown is not as commercial as Vancouver and is many times smaller. So if Vancouver were one-tenth its size then the comparison might be truer; so much for analogies.

I came here with a group of photographers on the first day of a workshop with Trey Ratcliff. We arrived before dawn along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. We then walked and took photos for several miles, ending up here still quite early in the morning. The shadows were long in the morning sun and the clouds were puffy; all elements to consider in composition, which was one of the themes of the workshop. As compositions go, this is so-so, not one of my best. Even so, looking at this now brings back fond memories of the chilly autumn morning.

After about an hour here we loaded onto a bus and headed for a well-deserved breakfast at a hotel overlooking the lake. After almost two years, I still believe that New Zealand has some of the most scenic landscapes on the planet. I also think they make a pretty good breakfast. So if you can put those two concepts together, that amount sums up my first morning.

Queenstown Sunrise

Queenstown Sunrise
Sunrise in Queenstown New Zealand                                  Purchase fine art print

On my first day in Queenstown I crossed so many timezones I didn’t really know what time it was. Nonetheless I woke up wide awake sometime well before sunrise and so started walking around the hotel. At around dawn I was greeted with this scene near the bridge at the end of Lake Wakatipu. New Zealand has a kind of magic in its landscapes that have to be seen to be believed, and this is one of those cases where it hit me head on just after arriving. The week would have many more amazing landscapes to witness such that I will be powerless to resist another trip.

Shore of Lake Hayes

Near Queenstown New Zealand is Lake Hayes which has homes and cottages around its perimeter. Most had kayaks or rowboats laying along the shore. As you can see I was here in the autumn when the leaves were changing and carpeting the ground. Off in the distance to the South is the Remarkables, a mountain range that had already started collecting snow. We were here midday and it was fairly warm without much of a breeze, thus providing a glassy surface to the lake. These still waters are more common first thing in the morning, but in this case we had a rare occurrence in the afternoon.
Still surface of Lake Hayes in the Autumn                                               Buy print

Near Queenstown New Zealand is Lake Hayes which has homes and cottages around its perimeter. Most had kayaks or rowboats laying along the shore. As you can see I was here in the autumn when the leaves were changing and carpeting the ground. Off in the distance to the South is the Remarkables, a mountain range that had already started collecting snow. We were here midday and it was fairly warm without much of a breeze, thus providing a glassy surface to the lake. These still waters are more common first thing in the morning, but in this case we had a rare occurrence in the afternoon.