The Paragliding Flight School in Queenstown

Speaking of the Flight School

Here’s a full video about me learning to fly at the place depicted below! :)

Daily Photo – The Flight School Cafe

You have to come here after having Swanny all up your backside while teaching you paragliding for the day! Be sure to tell them Trey sent you! This is an amazing place for food… breakfast or lunch. You might just see me landing there… Have fun! :)

The Flight School Cafe

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture10
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.7

Walking to Glacier Isobel

Environment-sensitive Quadcopters

I’ve been thinking how awesome it will be when quadcopters have built-in lidars so they can sense when objects are nearby and automatically avoid them. My vision is not that great (since I only see out of one eye), and so sometimes it hard for me to have depth perception once I lose parallax. Anyway, I’m looking forward to that collision-avoidance soon!

Daily Photo – Walking to Glacier Isobel

Here's my friend Curtis walking towards Glacier Isobel there in the distance. We landed the chopper (with Choppy!) about 100 meters behind us and we walked up as close as we could. Well, we didn't actually get that close because there was a super-steep cliff where we called it quits.

I came to this place back in the summer, and the ground was covered in these bright red tussocks. But now in the Autumn when it starts to snow, it looks like a totally different place!

Walking to Glacier Isobel

Walking to Glacier Isobel

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/320
  • Aperture10
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Morning Scramble in Queenstown

We’re hiring a Wizard of Web Development for The Arcanum

Come see more at http://thearcanum.com/web-development-wizard/ – maybe it’s a good fit for you? No wizard-robes required, although they are encouraged…

Appreciating Sunsets and Sunrises When I Don’t Have My Camera

Yes, I can still appreciate them, but it is a bittersweet appreciation! It’s a complex series of emotions that are in some kind of a spinning yin-yang in my mind. There’s this Brownian emotional motion that makes things all a bit weird… I don’t know if that makes sense!

Daily Photo – Morning Scramble in Queenstown

I woke up one morning while Curtis was here and there was this crazy sunrise just starting. I was still in bed (one of my favorite places on cold mornings), but I knew I had to get up. I'm usually quite incoherent after I wake up… so there were many different socks and shoes combined to get myself somewhat mobile. I scrambled around and found my tripod and camera and everything. I clumsily put on the right lens and got in position. And then I realized I had no battery. So I had to do a sprint back to my studio to get a fresh battery. That morning sprint will wake you up in a rude way, but you are certainly awake by then. Anyway, after all that mess, I got this shot. Yay! hehe…

Morning Scramble in Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/8
  • Aperture8
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1.7

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

Queenstown Gardens in the Autumn

Backlit Trees

When shooting in the Autumn, be sure to get lots of photos of the sun behind the trees. And if you end up doing HDR (you don’t have to), then you can even show the sun itself without things blowing out too much. Backlit leaves that are going through color changes really adds a nice X-factor I think!

Daily Photo – Queenstown Gardens in the Autumn

I should get over to Queenstown Gardens more! I don't know why I don't visit more often… it's really kind of a shame! I guess, honestly, I spend so much time in front of the computer that it limits how much I am out shooting. But I also love the post-processing… ahh… well… no regrets, right? I like doing both, and I'm only one person! I do all the post-processing myself. I know some other people farm it out to others, but I just can't bring myself to do that. Anyway, when I see how pretty these gardens are in the Autumn, maybe I'll shift around some things to make it here more often!

Queenstown Gardens in the Autumn

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/15
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length25.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

New Zealand Autumn Workshop Announced for 2015

Announced here first on the blog!

We’ve only announced and planned one workshop for all of 2015 so far, and it’s going to be in the Autumn here in New Zealand! We just finished this one here, and it was absolutely amazing. The colors are just incredible. Don’t forget that Autumn here starts at the end of April, so I know it is a bit of a mind curveball!

Find out more on the New Zealand Autumn Adventure!

Daily Photo – Unbelievable Colors in Queenstown and Arrowtown in the Autumn

This place is just beyond belief! It's spot after spot after spot and the colors are on fire everywhere. They play so well with the blue above and the amazing quality of the light here in New Zealand. Last year I missed it because I was in China, so this was my first full proper Autumn in New Zealand and I was transfixed! You can pop over to the page above to see even more photos. And I hope you can join us for one of these events! :)

Unbelievable Colors in Queenstown and Arrowtown in the Autumn

Unbelievable Colors in Queenstown and Arrowtown in the Autumn

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length47.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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

Autumn in Queenstown, Speargrass Flats Road

First on the blog – What does the fall look like here?

I wanted to release this video here first to you all… just a little segment of my day — what I saw yesterday. So I’ve been going out every day here to take photos. I’ve gotten some great ones, but then I realized one of the best things about the Autumn here is the soft movement of everything. So I set my Sony A7r to video mode to get a few scenes from the day. There’s no instruction or anything —- and you might even find it rather boring! Also the audio is not so great because of the wind. Sorry about that! Haha… anyway, you can at least see a bit of what I saw yesterday.

Daily Photo – Autumn in Queenstown, Speargrass Flats Road

This is a lovely road here in my neighborhood called Speargrass Flats. I was just here yesterday when I took this photo. It's where I go on my jog, and very close to my turnaround point. What a great place! I love the feeling of running through here while listening to music. And just now, everything has started to change colors… and it is so beautiful!

Autumn in Queenstown, Speargrass Flats Road

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

Happy Easter from the Ratcliff Family!

Have a great Easter!

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!

Easter-in-queenstown (37 of 180)

Daily Photo – My Daughters in the Autumn Forest

Here's my two girls, Isabella and Scarlett. They are walking through the forest here looking for any hidden Easter eggs! The colors have just started to change down here in New Zealand, and it looks like it's going to be a beautiful Autumn.

My Daughters in the Autumn Forest

My Daughters in the Autumn Forest

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/350
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length300.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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