The Wine Barrels at Gibbston Valley Winery

A great Wine Tour!

If you’re looking for a good wine tour here in the south island of New Zealand, I recommend Appellation Central Wine Tours! Even though I live here, this was still a great way to do it. Philip showed us a bunch of great wineries with a stop for an incredible lunch. I took a ton of photos that day… here is one of them below!

Daily Photo – The Wine Barrels at Gibbston Valley Winery

This is a cave that was dug into 80 meters into the side of the mountain here in Gibbston valley. It keeps the wines at a constant 12-14°C (53.6-57.2°F) without the need for any other refrigeration. Even better, these kinds of places were made for photography! I got a few different angles… they are all interesting, but thought I would post this one first.

The Wine Barrels at Gibbston Valley Winery

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time13
  • Aperture8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length13.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+1

Looking down on Beijing

China Next Year?

I’ve gone to China every year for the last four or five or so. But I may skip it this time. The pollution in the cities is so bad that it literally makes me not feel good towards the end of the trip. Of course when I arrive, I am so excited to go! And I keep that excitement for a long time… but then the last few days I’m just dragging… it’s too much for me… so maybe I will fill that hole with something else – maybe like just staying at home in New Zealand where there is negative pollution! :)

Daily Photo – Looking down on Beijing

Here is a view of the master-planned roadway system from the top of one of Beijing’s tallest buildings in the CBD (Central Business District). I notice something funny about the way Chinese governments name areas. They are always so literal and formally translated that there is no magic in the names. One building might be called “Tower of Office” and another would have the name “Newspaper Building”.

Looking down on Beijing

Looking down on Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time5
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length84.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Endless Skies

Teaching my little girl to ride a bike

I just did this yesterday and decided to record it with Google Glass. I wish I had this for my Ethan when I taught him about five years ago!

Your Desktop Wallpaper

I actually liked this photo so much I made it my new background, but I change it out at least a few times per week. How often do you change yours? (your wallpaper, that is)

By the way, you are of course welcome to grab any of my photos and use them as background photos. Just pop through to the SmugMug site and select Download. Enjoy! :)

Daily Photo – The Endless Skies

I’ve only taken two Disney cruises, but I’ve developed one good habit. Note it is only one. Anyway, it is getting up around 4 AM on the last day to take photos as we roll into port. I woke up extra early and took out both my cameras (the NEX 7 and 6) to collect as many photos as I could. I took a ton! In fact, I blew through an entire card and had to pop in a backup!

The Endless Skies

The Endless Skies

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-6
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO2000
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Crossing the road in Roppongi

How I get light trails

I’ve taken to putting my NEX-7 into Manual mode AFTER I get my HDR sequence. Manual mode is pretty easy to get into on the NEX. After I’m in there, I just keep playing with the Aperture and the Shutter Speed until I get the length of the light trail exactly how I want it. I keep the ISO down at 100 (unless there is strange lighting) — so that keeps the noise down. It all depends on the speed of the traffic, so there is no rule of thumb. The best rule of thumb is just a lot of experimentation and then looking at the results!

If you want the light trail to be longer, just make your f-Stop a bigger number, which will allow you to increase your shutter speed without the rest of the photo getting too bright.

Daily Photo – Crossing the road in Roppongi

This area of Tokyo is great for photography, but it can be a little scary. I’ve been here about five times over five different years, and the kind of people that hang out there keep changing. There are a lot of international people, which makes it interesting… but there is always a bit of a dangerous edge there. Several years ago, every corner had these scary Nigerians who looked mega bad-ass and they would just kind of glare at you… they were involved with some sketchy clubs and whatnot… It always made me mega uncomfortable. Generally, I don’t like people glaring at me, especially when they are huge Nigerians. Call me crazy.

Crossing the road in Roppongi

Crossing the road in Roppongi

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.8
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Driving through the Desert – Destination Vegas

How to get a red road at night

Usually I light up the road at night with my headlights, but I figured out this strange trick by accident! I was parked, facing the other way, and the tail lights were illuminated because the headlights were on. There was barely any red visible on the road itself, but the long exposure ended up making everything on the ground and walls a wondrous red!

Daily Photo – Driving through the Desert – Destination Vegas

Here is another recent photo from my trip to the desert. This was a very long exposure from a beautiful road in the Valley of Fire. Those glowing lights in the far distance? Those are the lights of Las Vegas, plainly visible even though it is still 60 miles away!

Driving through the Desert - Destination Vegas Valley of Fire

Driving through the Desert – Destination Vegas

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time15
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

The Clubhouse at Jack’s Point in Queenstown

What is Uber?

I know some people in big US cities already know what Uber is, but I was so excited to finally use it, being an outsider…

I tried to use it a few months ago in Vancouver, but it was outlawed there! :( Instead, I had to take a taxi with my family — wait – let me modify. No, I couldn’t. I was leaving the Ferry Building with my wife and three kids, but the taxi would only let four people in the taxi! Madness. So, I walked back to the hotel while they rode. This was confirmed when I got to the Four Seasons and they said they are not allowed to put five people in a taxi. These unions drive me nuts…

And, actually, speaking of unions, when I got this Uber below, the driver asked me to sit in the front seat with him because I was being dropped off at the airport. He showed me a ticket he had just gotten from a policemen because they have made it illegal for Uber to drop off at SFO. Crazyness!

Daily Photo – The Clubhouse at Jack’s Point in Queenstown

I went with my friend Eden to shoot the supermoon one night over in Jack’s Point. I thought it was a great idea, but it turned out to be a horrible idea because the mountains are so dang high that it took forever to crest! Anyway, while we were waiting, we got lots of chances to shoot around Jack’s point, including this one of the clubhouse at the end of the lake… it’s a great restaurant — I always have wonderful food whenever I go there!

Jack's Point in Queenstown

The Clubhouse at Jack’s Point in Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time15
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Monuments of the Earth

Benedict Cumbarbatch-athon

So, ever since I started recently watching the BBC Sherlock, I’ve become a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch. Either you know who I’m talking about or you don’t! If you haven’t seen this amazing series, I cannot recommend it any more. I’ve since been watching more his work. Of course he was in the new Star Trek, but many people know that. Two other great recommendations are a Vincent Van Gogh series from BBC called “Painted with Words” and another is Stephen Hawking BBC movie. I’m now kind of hoping that Benedict appears in every show I watch!

Daily Photo – The Monuments of the Earth

Here’s yet another amazing place in Utah that I’ve never been until just recently. You know how politicians try to gerrymander the county lines so they get votes from certain kinds of people? I think Utah did this back in the day to make sure all the awesome geographical anomalies were inside their borders! They are kind of spread out, however. I did spend a small eternity driving from one place to the next, so they are not exactly tightly packed together.

Monument Valley

The Monuments of the Earth

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/50
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length30.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Tips for Shooting Out of a Helicopter

How to shoot out of a helicopter

I’m not at all an expert on this, but I have taken a lot of photos out of choppers, including the one below.

The two most important things to keep in mind seem to be shutter speed and window glare. Experiment with the lighting conditions before you get into the chopper and set your camera into Aperture priority (or Manual if you wanna go mega hardcore). Get the F-Stop nice and low since everything you’ll be shooting is far away and you won’t have any focus problems. Also, get your ISO around 100, but you may need to increase that if you feel your shutter speed is dragging a little. If it is super-bright, you may not want to be at the lowest F-Stop, because then everything will be blown out.

When I was doing this shoot below, I felt like the shutter was dragging a little bit, so I kept increasing the ISO. When you are in Aperture Priority, doubling the ISO makes your shutter speed drop in half.

The last thing to keep in mind is the glare. You want to minimize this of course, and it is very hard when the chopper is always turning this way and that. Just be mindful of it and get very close to the glass to minimize the effect. You can fix some of it in post, if it is not too terrible!

Daily Photo – New Zealand with Choppy

There are more valleys and rugged mountains around here than I could ever explore. I’m starting to really believe this! I know there is a lot of cool stuff around me, and, in the beginning, I had a confidence that I would be able to explore it all — but maybe not! Whenever I get up in a helicopter and fly around, I’m reminded how vast this place is. Vast and mostly empty. It’s like scary-awesome-empty… it’s really kind of a strange feeling flying over it in a way… so remote and beautiful and empty…

NZ

New Zealand with Choppy

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-6
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Driving through the Valley of Fire at Night

Google Drive Woes

Anyone else out there use Google Drive? I’m having a pickle of a problem where I’m getting duplicate folders… I can’t figure it out. I only have one folder on my computer, but inside the web interface I have duplicates. It’s so confusing and it gives me a headache whenever I try to work out what is happening and then reverse-engineer the whole thing so everything is synced. Maybe I am alone with this problem!

Daily Photo – Driving through the Valley of Fire at Night

This was my first time through the Valley of Fire just north of Las Vegas, and I spent so long taking photos through the day and into the night that I ended up staying right through the dark. When I drove through here, the headlights looked so magical against the rocks that I threw it into reverse to back up and take a photo. One of the strangest things about this place is that after the sun set – it was completely empty and I never saw another car.

Driving through the Valley of Fire at Night

Driving through the Valley of Fire at Night

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time25
  • Aperture4
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

High Atop Tokyo

Help with Leica Lenses from savvy People out there!

Okay, so I want to start getting some Leica lenses, but I have never felt as clueless as I do when I go Leica lens shopping. I know that there are many very intelligent and practiced Leica experts and collectors out there. I respect you greatly! Maybe I can just have a small iceberg of your knowledge from the wide and deep glacier. I need some advice:

1) What are the first four lenses I should get?
2) There are so many different prices even for the same lens – how do I know if I’m paying for quality or a collector’s item? (I’m more interested in quality of course!)
3) Where is the best place to buy them online?

I think I’d like a good wide-angle lens and then two good ones for portraits/people/things and then maybe a good telephoto lens too. Thank you in advance!

Daily Photo – High Atop Tokyo

After the fun Tokyo photowalk in Harajuku, we had a big dinner for everyone at an Italian restaurant on the top floor of pretty tall building. Somehow, we managed to get ourselves all the way up onto the roof for a bit of night shooting. It was so awesome up there, and I was immediately reminded of the blade-runner-esque feeling of Tokyo.

High Atop Tokyo

High Atop Tokyo

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time3.2
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

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