High Above the Southern Alps and Tips for shooting from fast-moving vehicles

How to take photos from high-speed vehicles in the daytime

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!

Daily Photo – High Above the Southern Alps

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.

High Above the Southern Alps

High Above the Southern Alps

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture10
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length38.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Way above and behind Wanaka

A great flight with Choppy!

If you ever come to the Queenstown area and want an absolutely incredible helicopter ride, be sure to contact Choppy at Over The Top. She knows all the best spots, and she’s a photographer at heart too… so she’s always thinking in those directions!

Daily Photo – Way above and behind Wanaka

Choppy told me that in the winter, people get dropped off by a helicopter here and then ski all the way to the bottom. How awesome does that sound? I guess it also sounds a bit scary… I wish I was super-good on a snowboard so that I could take all my camera stuff along… even with traveling lighter, there are still several guaranteed crashes till I get to the bottom!

Way above and behind Wanaka

Way above and behind Wanaka

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture10
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length37.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

From Queenstown to Glenorchy

A behind-the-scenes video — first here on the blog

Hey everyone — I thought it would be fun to put this here first. Two days ago, I was driving back to Queenstown from Glenorchy (which is about 50 mins down the road), and the water was so smooth, I just had to jump out of my truck to take this photo! Anyway, here’s a little about the need to get down low… I make a lot of these videos for The Arcanum, but wanted to release this one here for y’all! :)

Daily Photo – Across the Crystal Lake

Those islands you see in the middle of the lake there are Pig Island and Pigeon Island. You can actually take a little kayak over there and there are huts where you can sleep for the night. No one lives there, and they just sit there empty almost all the time… I never see anyone on the lake at all… this is quite a remote area, really, even though it is quite easy to get to. This whole road to get here was only paved about 10 years ago, so it all still feels very fresh and undiscovered!

Lake wakatipu

Across the Crystal Lake

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length0.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

One Surprise Slot for Namibia!

An opening!

We just had my friend Javier (sadly!!) cancel for our upcoming Namibia trip, so here there is one more opening. Find out more about it on the Africa Adventure Page!

Daily Photo – Happy Mother's Day!

To all the moms out there, including my own and Tina below, Happy Mother's Day! I took this photo yesterday when we went out on a little family Mother's Day walk around New Zealand. The youngest one, Scarlett, has run off ahead down the path… if she can't be the center of every photo, she wants no part of it! :)

Happy Mother's Day!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Beginning another hike

Your Favorite Hiking Trails?

What is the best hike you’ve ever done? I’m not exactly some kind of a super-hiker, but I think now the best one was last week along the Greenstone River near Glenorchy.

Daily Photo – Beginning Another Hike

Yesterday I mentioned one of the long hikes, and here we are starting out on another one. That's Bel and Bas there, leading the group. Every day for a week, we did a 10-16km hike through some of the most beautiful trails in the world. This was part of my week at Aro-Ha, which was absolutely fantastic. I could not recommend it any more!

The whole time I took my Sony A7r with me, and I grabbed a ton of photos. I'm just getting through processing them right now. Here's one of the ones taken with the 55mm F/1.8.

Beginning Another Hike

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture1.8
  • ISO80
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Docks at Glenorchy

Trying the 70-400mm Alpha Lens

Here I tried using the Sony Alpha Adapter on the A7r with the 70-400mm lens. I backed up quite a bit away because I wanted to get the compression thing working. It worked pretty well, but I was kind of ridin’ dirty with the way I attached it to my tripod. If you don’t know, these big lenses have their own little tripod attachment because they become the new center of gravity. But the foot of the tripod attachment is approximately the exact same width as the standard shoe-size that attaches to most tripod heads. But it doesn’t have those little ridges that secure it inside, so actually attaching it to your tripod head is a mistake! I don’t know why they made it so similar… I imagine that a lot of people have broken lenses because of this! Anyway, for this shot, I didn’t have another little shoe to attach, but I decided to go for it anyway. I KNEW that it wasn’t really attached, but I still put it in the tripod head just to keep it balanced. This worked out pretty well while I was taking the photos, but then I jerked it a little bit and it fell right off! Luckily I had the strap around the back of my neck, so the only thing that got hurt was my pride and my stomach when the lens swung down with full force!

Daily Photo – The Docks at Glenorchy

This is one of the most famous little landmarks in the small town of Glenorchy. There is a dock here that juts out into Lake Wakatipu, and it ends up being a little destination for most people who first visit the area. In a way, I suppose, it's kind of the “end of the road” because there are not really many paved roads that continue on past Glenorchy. Whenever you have these old fjord-based road/lake/river networks, you end up with these sorts of towns that are formed at a terminus. It is a strange feeling, and I know I've commented on it before — but this idea that there is a town with only one road into it. It's kind of a comforting, albeit discomforting, sensation.

The Docks at Glenorchy

The Docks at Glenorchy

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time15
  • Aperture6.7
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length150.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Grasses along the Trails

Amazing Intro Video from Varina Patel!

Many of the Masters in The Arcanum made little intro videos to introduce themselves to others. I love watching these, and hers is particularly fantastic! You can see even more of her on her website at PhotographyByVarina.com. We’re so honored to have her around for the big show!

Daily Photo – The Grasses along the Trails

I've gotten really into all the different grasses that grow around here. I do a lot of hiking and sometimes some trail running. All the little grasses that rub up against my legs are like cats rubbing up against you under the table. It's a very nice feeling! Even better, you don't have to worry about snakes or anything here that might jump out and zap you… that means that you can just kind of pounce through the grasses without a worry in the world!

The Grasses along the Trails

The Grasses along the Trails

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length55.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Hiking Through the Low Hills

Favorite Recent Documentaries?

I’m on a hunt for more good documentaries! Let me know if you have any recent winners! :)

Daily Photo – Hiking Through the Low Hills

Last week I mentioned the quality of some of the hiking trails and thought you might like to see a sample. They are all very nicely maintained, and when in these lower hills with the big grasses, sometimes I like to run my hand through them like I'm Maximus from Gladiator…

hiking through the low hills

Hiking Through the Low Hills

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Going back into the Spa at Aro-Ha

Did you Lose the Overall Categories Bit?

On the old design of the site, we used to have that over there on the right. Now, there is a link on the left that says Trey’s Travel Locations — just click on that and you are good to go!

Daily Photo – Going back into the Spa at Aro-Ha

I saw this view many times per day during my week there! Outside, they had this rather evil “cold-dip” that was slightly above freezing level and then the panacea of a nearby hot tub. So I would go back and forth at least three times to make sure my legs and general soreness got that bloodflow it needed. I was not really a believer in this till I tried it. I thought it was just something athletes did to pretend to be tough or maybe it was some old wives' tale — but no, it really works! Anyway, this is the view I would see when slowly sinking into the cold dip…

Going back into the Spa at Aro-Ha

Going back into the Spa at Aro-Ha

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture13
  • ISO2500
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Through the Forest Path

Light Trough Trees

I take a lot of photos in forests and along paths, but they don’t always turn out well. In fact, I would say that shooting in a forest is one of the hardest shooting situations ever! Everything gets really muddled up if you don’t watch out. So, to get this photo below, believe me, I had to take over 100 different ones that just came out, well, kind of “blah”!

Daily Photo – Through the Forest Path

Yesterday I showed a shot from a hike, and here is yet another one! This one is along the Greenstone river further south towards Glenorchy. It's a great walk, but you have to drive a long way before you can start it. However, even better, you can take a boat over to the start of the trail. That will save you many hours of driving time and bumpy roads. I suppose it's a bit strange to arrive at a hiking trail by boat, but it's worth it because you're so tired after this little 16km jaunt!

Through the Forest Path

Through the Forest Path

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture8
  • ISO500
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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