Speaking of the Flight School
Here’s a full video about me learning to fly at the place depicted below!
Here’s a full video about me learning to fly at the place depicted below!
I figured out a new strange way to take photos with my Sony A7r — actually this will work with any camera that has a flip out screen that points at least 90 degrees upwards.
As you may have tried before you know that looking straight up with a wide angle lens often produces really interesting results. The problem is actually the “looking straight up” bit! It always hurts my neck, especially when on a tripod. So now what I do is just aim the camera straight up and walk forward behind it, normally, but I keep the screen flipped up to 90 degrees so it is right in front of my eyes. It makes it super-easy to find the shots you might normally miss!
These trees were the first to lose their leaves this season, but I wanted to see if I could still make an interesting photo from them. That trick above helped. The colors maybe came out a bit dull initially, but I do like the way everything turned out when I added some of my Lightroom Presets to them. These are from the latest edition of the package, and I'm secretly working on a few more… will let you know!
Don’t forget that if you come to this area here in Queenstown and Arrowtown that you should totally stay at “The Barn at Lake Hayes” — it’s just incredible there as it backs onto the shore of this majestic lake. I took this photo from there!
Doesn't this view make you want to go out and do some paddle-boarding? I still haven't done it, but it looks so fun. And whenever I see people do it, they make it look so easy. Maybe it is easy! I want to try, and it's super popular around here. A lot of people even have their own paddleboards… Maybe I will borrow one and give it a whirl. It would be really cool if I could get good enough where I could take my camera out with me.
Oh, there is this one curious thing about this photo I noticed when I was done with it. It looks like there is sort of one of those glass spheres, huge, right in the middle of the photo, eh?
The photo below is a good example of this, seeing as it is from a helicopter! It’s best get out of Aperture Priority mode (which I contend is just fine when walkin’ around) and jump into Manual Mode. I amp up the shutter speed to at least 1/250s if not faster. This ensures there will a sharp photo, which is most important. I also drop down the F stop very low. This allows a lot of light in quickly and can get you through any dirt or spots on the window. You don’t have to worry about distant things being in-or-out of focus as long as you don’t have on some kind of a crazy 200mm+ lens.
Last, I let my ISO float (with Auto-ISO), so that I don’t have to constantly be adjusting it as the vehicle turns and there are bright bits and shadowy bits — I think it is smartest to let the computer inside the camera figure out the ISO!
We recently had Choppy fly us over to an amazing campsite near the Greenstone river. Along the way, we flew over these breathtaking mountains. I was taking photos like a man possessed. In addition to the tips above, I also did one other thing. I set up auto-bracketing and had it step by 1 (so it was -1, 0, and +1). I didn't do this for HDR, but just so that I would have a bit of variety in the light levels in my shots. I'm glad I did it, because sometimes the darker one is better than the 0 exposure! For this one, I set the exposure compensation down a bit, so this is actually shot at EV -0.7. It was also SUPER bright outside, so I the aperture was F/10.
Other than New England and down here, where else in the world is know for colorful and beautiful Autumns? There must be a ton of them, but I don’t hear about many of them… let us know!
I took this in the middle of the Autumn Festival here in Arrowtown, which is about 10 minutes from my home. If you're looking to come to New Zealand in the Autumn (or perhaps will join one of our workshops), then this is a highly recommended festival. It goes for the full week and is a great family event. We go every year, so maybe we'll see you down there!
Have a good Easter, or, at least have a lot of chocolate! Here’s some super-fresh photos from our Easter egg hunt here today. We go up to The Hills and Sebastian dresses up as this huge bunny. The kids chase him all over the place, over the hills, through the forest, and beyond… he throws out eggs and the kids go crazy for it!
I think this last year has been my Soggiest Foot-Year On Record.
I do end up out taking a lot of photos as usual, but there just seems to be a massive amount of soggy ground around this area lately! It has been an extremely rainy summer, which I hear is unusual around here. I’m not enough of a local to know what is normal yet!
I’ve seen some questions too about the weather here in the summer — does it get hot? No! A good summer day is usually somewhere in the 70′s, and it rarely gets above 75. There is a ton of sun, and no one even has air conditioning… whenever it gets above 75 (which is super-rare), everyone just opens their windows!
Here's another scene from Bendemeer Estates between Queenstown and Arrowtown. There are about half a dozen lakes, and the morning seems to be the best time to shoot them. The air is very very still, and as soon as the sun hits them, a little mist starts to rise then slowly drift across the surface.
I’ve taken to carrying the Sony A7r and just two lenses on these hikes. I think you can take a big DSLR too, of course, but it’s so much easier to take this light little system around! I hardly even notice it’s there… almost just a fraction of my water bottle. I’ve now probably hiked 130 to 150km carrying the Sony A7r, and it never felt like a burden even once!
Just in case you have not seen it, be sure to check out the Sony A7r Review on the site. I’m always adding new photos there!
This is one of my favorite hikes / running trails in the area. It's right behind Arrowtown, and it's a tough 8km up&down trail. Walking it can take about 90 mins, and a good run can be around 50 mins. That's about my record… much of it is so steep and rocky that it's basically impossible to run up unless you are one of these crazy Kiwi-running-gods, which I am certainly not! But it is a great hike that I recommend if you are ever in the area. On this day, I went with Pete (pictured) here, and Curtis, who is off to the side resting on a rock.
Just after we were done with this hike, we went over to Mt. Difficulty for a lunch a wine tasting, which is a photo you probably remember from a previous post!
Whenever I take photos of objects that are defined by their shapes, I do my best to position my body (head) so that the objects do not overlap one another. I want each to have its own space. So, here in today’s photo, you can see the two horses with a nice separation between their heads. But you can also imagine that if I had been about 10 steps to the right or left, the heads might have overlapped one another. It’s a little thing to notice, but one of those little things that makes for a better photo.
We walked through The Hills near Arrowtown one morning and went all the way down to where Max Patte's huge horses dominate one of the fields. I like how these look wooden, but they are actually made out of iron. There was a small group of us taking photos here, and we talked a little about the composition notes above, and this is what I came up with!
I guess I’ve taken to calling them pubs because everyone uses that word here… but if you have a favorite secret haunt, please be sure to share it below!
My favorite place in Arrowtown?
Should you go there?
There is not even a sign for this place… you kind of have to keep walking down tiny little streets until you see a little blue door. Go inside – you must! It's probably the best secret pub in the world… It's amazing and there is an incredible fireplace that is super-cozy. It's a little bit underground too, which makes it feel ultra-cozy.