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.
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.
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.
Nearly five years ago I flew to Queenstown New Zealand to participate in a workshop with Trey Ratcliff. Due to jetlag, I woke up on the first morning at an ungodly hour. But after a couple of hours walking around the hotel, dawn began, and we had the most amazing pink sky. It was an excellent start to a week of photography.
I’ve had this in my backlog for a very long time. The biggest challenge was that the sky was so red and orange that it did not seem real. In the original RAW images, it looks like I photoshopped the colors. To make it seem a little more realistic, I’ve desaturated the glow. Usually, it’s the other way around; I might saturate or add vibrancy to give a photo a little extra pop. Not this time.
In the grand scale of things, five years is not a long time, but for me, it feels like a lifetime. It was a life-altering trip; it moved me in ways I can’t even begin to describe. I had such a fantastic time that it almost didn’t seem real. Life is rarely perfect, but that week came about as close as I’ve ever known. And it all started on the morning of this sunrise and continued building from there.
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.
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.
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.
This is from my trip to New Zealand a couple of years ago where I participated in a photography workshop. After all of the time that’s gone by I still have a lot of photos in my backlog to process. Here we were standing on a hill one afternoon overlooking Queenstown. That trip went by so fast I’m glad I have photos to re-live it in little increments later.
Whenever I go somewhere new it can be a little disorienting. By that I mean I’m never to sure which way is north south east or west. I remember having that feeling when I was here and struggling to sort it out in my mind. I love going back to Google Maps or Google Earth to look at places I’ve been and get a proper sense of direction and location. It’s helps me to integrate the experience after the fact.
For instance, with this shot I keep expecting to see the river, but it’s to my back as I was facing south. When we headed to Glenorchy, I thought we were driving south but it’s actually north. And if all that isn’t enough, on the last day I took a helicopter through the southern alps during which I had zero sense of whereabouts. Thankfully I was geotagging my photos, so now years later I can go back and begin to piece the locations together into some kind map of the journey.
Perhaps the sense of not knowing where we are in a new land adds to the sense wonder and excitement. I think perhaps, there might be something to that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the Remarkable Mountains as viewed from Kelvin Heights above Queenstown New Zealand. Kelvin Heights is the name I get when I Google it, however the locals call it Deer Park Heights. There is some kind of family dispute over this land, maybe that has something to do with the names, but I digress. I posted this image about a year and a half ago without the clouds but I thought I’d update the image because I prefer clouds in the sky. That morning the sky was rather dull, it was just after sunrise and it had snowed the day before. So, as I do with many of my images, I made it look a little different, the way I wished it had looked. Its like doodling with an image to see what works. For me this is better than the original. At the time I was in New Zealand on a workshop with Trey Ratcliff and I was just beginning to learn how to work with new tools for this kind of thing. I made many friends there as we all practiced composition and post processing with beautiful landscapes like this from all around Queenstown. Since then I’ve learned quite a lot and have developed a preference for a more imaginative style that at times is not at all realistic. If you’ve followed my work you know what I mean. I’m more into creating images from my minds eye, using photography as a tool. So, having gone back to this image I think I like it better than the first version which was more true to life. You may not agree, but that’s okay, on any given day I might just change my mind and agree with you.
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.