The Spa at Aro-Ha

Cold Dip and Hot Dip

I got into doing this cold-dip thing. You dunk your whole body in water that is just above freezing for one minute, and then you get into a hot tub or a Finnish sauna, then rinse and repeat three times. It’s kind of a sweet torture, but you sure do feel better inside after. But I’m not sure if it is just in your brain or not… it reminds me of that joke by Stephen Wright: “I love hitting myself repeatedly in the head with a hammer because it feels so good when I stop.”

Daily Photo – The Spa at Aro-Ha

Hey, that rhymes! And it's one of my favorite places after a long day of working my body and mind. This is an absolute gem of a place, by the way. It's a spa and wellness retreat in New Zealand called Aro-Ha, and it gets my absolute highest recommendation. The hiking trails are amazing, the food is super-tasty (and healthy!), and even better, you get a massage every single day. Maybe I should capitalize that. Massage Every Single Day.

In fact, right there in the hot-tub on the left (you can't quite see him) is Michel. He's was one of my favorite masseurs. He's French and his hands were like Jean-Claude Van Damme in his prime. Well, probably twice as strong. And no, he did not massage me in the hot tub, although now that I think about it, I should have asked him to! Haha oh yeah! :)

The Spa at Aro-Ha

The Spa at Aro-Ha

Photo Information

  • Date TakenJanuary 13, 2014 at 8:54pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/60
  • Aperture13
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.3

Tasting Wines at Mt Difficulty Wines

New Photomatix Release

In a world of auto-updating software, sometimes we miss little revisions, like THIS one! You can go grab the new Photomatix Pro release that lets you use your Sony A7(r) RAW photos directly. There’s a bunch of other changes I will list below too. If you don’t know much about it, see the Photomatix Review here on the site.

- Added support for RAW files of recent camera models such as the Nikon Df, Pentax K-3, and Sony A7 and A7R.
- On Batch Bracketed Photos, added a “Previous Session (non-batch)” item to the list of the Preset pop-up menu.
- Changed the item selected by default on the File Format combo-box for saving tonemapped/fused images from TIFF to JPEG (selected item is “sticky”, so change only affects first use).
- Bug fixed: When using the Lightroom Plugin to export to Photomatix Pro on Mac OS 10.9, Photomatix Pro would sometimes not open when the OS is set to a language other than English.
- Bug fixed: Alignment for the “taken on tripod” option did not support 64-bit addressing, which resulted in a crash when aligning a bracketed set composed of a very high number of bracketed photos.
- Bug fixed: On Batch Bracketed Photos, separators disappeared from the list of the Preset pop-up menu when the Filter was used.
- Bug fixed: On Batch Bracketed Photos, the dialog for entering custom settings or multiple presets referred to custom settings as “User Preset” in the ‘Settings Type’ column of the Preset list box.

Your Favorite Winery?

Do you have a favorite winery that you’ve toured somewhere in the world? Where is it? Do tell! :)

Daily Photo – Tasting at Mt Difficulty Wines

Out in Bannockburn, which is basically in Cromwell, about an hour from Queenstown, is a hotbed of wineries. There's many great ones around here! One of the only ones that serves lunch is Mt. Difficulty Wines, and they have a beautiful wine-tasting as well. It's fairly well-known around the world, and they have a wide variety of wines. I've now had two meals here and two wine tastings – both have been amazing. Anyway, I highly recommend this place.

Tasting Wines at Mount Difficulty Winery

Tasting at Mt Difficulty Wines

Photo Information

  • Date TakenFebruary 1, 2014 at 2:33pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/5000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Peter Giordano from The Arcanum

The Arcanum Critique Session

And here is the critique session we did as a fun event for The Arcanum! It was a great group of people that did the critiques and participated. We had Varina Patel, Rick Sammon, and Dave Cross. It was all hosted by Peter Giordano, who you can also see in today’s daily photo!

Daily Photo – Peter Giordano from The Arcanum

Here's Peter the Great, here in New Zealand from a few days ago. Pete is the CEO of The Arcanum, and he ends up spending a lot of time out here in New Zealand with me and the team doing all the creative work and planning! We also had a recent workshop while out here, and he joined us for the whole thing. I took this photo of him one morning. That crazy lens flare you see is because of the Leica f/1.4 50mm lens on the Sony A7r. I love that effect! It takes a little practice to get yourself in the right relation to the sun, but it's easy to nail the shot using the manual focus.

Peter Giordano from The Arcanum

Photo Information

  • Date TakenFebruary 7, 2014 at 8:09am
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/800
  • Aperture
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Ethan on his first day of high school using Google Glass

Don’t forget about the huge Arcanum Critique hangout today!

See the Event Info and Times Here!

This will be a great event with me, Lisa Bettany, Rick Sammon, and Dave Cross.

As we march toward opening the doors to The Arcanum, you’re invited to participate in this special event just for our community!

Through participating in this event our community will get a taste of The Arcanum Experience: Learning through constructive critiques, which is just one of the many things that happen inside the hallowed magical doors!

The Arcanum Photo Critique and Make-Over event is a Google+ Hangout On Air, open to the public, scheduled for Monday February 10th at 7pm.

To Participate:
You must submit a single candidate photo by Sunday, February 9th to be considered for the random selection. You can submit any photo to The Arcanum Google+ page.

If you already applied to The Arcanum – we truly hope you’ll submit a photo to be critiqued. If not, no worries at all! Either way, you can watch the live event! :)

And if you’re wondering when the doors will officially open for The Arcanum, the answer is as soon as magically possible! We’re doing a test run right now with all the Masters to work out any kinks. Also, we are a bit (!!) overloaded with Apprentice applications, so it will take a while to ramp up. It may be a good opportunity for you to pop over and update your application at www.TheArcanum.com !

HDR Photo

Daily Photo – Ethan on his first day of high school using Google Glass

Ethan just started at Wakatipu High School here in Queenstown and he wore Glass on the first day. There was a special event that afternoon where the parents came along too, so I decided to snap a few photos! See the full album here on G+.

100% of the kids and teachers found the Glass to be fascinating. No one asked him to take it off, but of course he was not taking any tests on the first day! I had him also record a lot of videos and take photos so we could look in and see what it all looked like from his perspective. My wife Tina also has Glass, so next time we're going to do a live Hangout so she can see exactly what he's seeing… this “shared vision” thing is pretty cool, especially for moms who really like to see what their kids are doing! :)

BTW, if you're wondering, all the photos in the album were taken with the Sony A7r and the Leica f/1.4 50mm.

Ethan on his first day of high school using Google Glass

Ethan on his first day of high school using Google Glass

Photo Information

  • Date TakenJanuary 31, 2014 at 2:35pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Sheep Station at Walter Peak

Sheepdog Television Shows

You may or may not be surprised how much sheep-related programming is on television here. There are these competitions that are kind of addicting to watch where these dogs are running around and getting sheep to do one series of sheep-cloud manoeuvres or another. The shepherd is always scuttling behind them using some strange whistle sounds to move things here and there and it all just looks like magic. I have no idea how they do it, even though I’ve now watched it many times…

Daily Photo – The Sheep Station at Walter Peak

This is the beautiful and fully functional sheep station just across the lake from Queenstown. There's no doubt that this country definitely has a sheep-culture around it, and I'm slowly starting to become one with it. Here's a little funny (in retrospect) story.

My neighbor, John, has several sheep on his farm. One day, he decided to take one of the cute baby lambs up to the school for all the four and five year-olds to play with. My daughter was there, as was his son. So he dropped off the baby lamb to play all day. A few hours later, he got a call and had to go back up to the school to get the lamb. It just plopped over dead while all the kids were playing with it! So then he had to go back up there and get the dead sheep and carry it about a kilometer down the road back to his truck, leaving the kids aghast and shattered!

The Sheep Station at Walter Peak

The Sheep Station at Walter Peak

Photo Information

  • Date TakenAugust 15, 2013 at 4:19am
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/80
  • Aperture5
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.7

The Bathroom Selfie for Charity

Anything for Patrick and Worldbuilders!

There is less than a day left to raise money at Worldbuilders.org, and we all just passed $600,000! Great! :)

I told Patrick Rothfuss (as many of you know, he is one of my favorite authors who wrote “The Name of the Wind”) that I would do a stretch goal of an “ill-advised bathroom selfie” — which I just delivered on. You can see the redonkulous “making-of” video below and the final shot below that. I think I have both traumatised my son and that fake sheep.

Here is an update with more info on Pat’s Blog!

When Trey told us he’d take a selfie for his stretch goal, we thought it was a brilliant idea. After all, he’s a world-famous photographer. Seven million people follow him on Google+ to look at his pictures.

Then we saw what he did, and it was so much better than what we’d imagined.

Pete is coming back to New Zealand in Style!

Following The Arcanum on Social Media

Pete is running the big show at The Arcanum, but we wanted to make sure we point you to the social media pages for them on Google+ and on Facebook!

Daily Photo – Pete is coming back to New Zealand in Style!

We’re having good man Pete Giordano back to New Zealand for another big event! We have the workshop (only 1 of 2 this year), but Pete is going to stay a little extra. It will give us a chance to hang out, take photos, party, visit wineries, explore, and, oh yes, do some work! Actually, the whole time we are doing all this stuff, we are doing Arcanum stuff, even late into the night! Curtis and I feel lucky to have him around!! :)

This photo is of Pete jumping out of a helicopter that Choppy was flying! He looks so awesome I think! It also kind of looks like he’s carrying a dead body, if you look at it the right way.

Pete is coming back to New Zealand in Style!

Pete is coming back to New Zealand in Style!

Photo Information

  • Date TakenNovember 5, 2013 at 6:48am
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Chivas Regal

Bokeh Quality

I’m still trying to get my head around the difference in quality levels in the bokeh area of photos. This photo below was taken with the Leica 50mm f/1.4 on the Sony A7r. This one was taken with the Sony 55mm f/1.8 (one of the new native FE lenses for the A7r). Anyway, when I go back and forth between the two, they both seem pretty magical! But the Leica one is about $10,000 whereas the Sony one is about 10% of that. I’ll keep shooting with both for a while and see if I can tell the difference… but currently, I am struggling!

Daily Photo – Chivas Regal

Stu’s studio 55 is an awesome collection of stuff to take photos of with Leica lenses. I don’t know what came first… the studio with knick-knacks or the Leica lenses… or maybe they just self-organized around one another.

Chivas Regal

Chivas Regal

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Best paragliding school in Queenstown

Learning to Paraglide in Queenstown?

This is an amazing experience and ANYONE can do it. Honestly. You should contact my master, Alan Swann, at Infinity Paragliding – the best paragliding school in Queenstown! I used to look up at people paragliding and thing, whoa I bet that is fun but they are CRAZY! But they are not crazy! It is something that anyone can do, and you can learn it in just one day.

In fact, and you may not believe this, but it is true, on DAY 2 of training, I was flying alone off the top of Coronet Peak, one of the taller mountains in the Southern Alps. I landed several kilometers away at the flight park in Arrowtown. It was fun remarkably easy!

If you’re planning a trip to Queenstown, be sure to come enroll in his school. It’s the kind of thing you’ll never forget, and you’ll have a view of the area that you won’t believe!

My latest flight – and +1 / Like them on Social Media

Here’s the view and what I saw on my most recent flight! Give them a +1 on Google+ and a Like on Facebook for keeping me safe! :)

Daily Photo – Learning to Paraglide in Queenstown

When you go to Infinity Paragliding, be ready for Swanny here to take good care of you and teach you how to sail around with the greatest of ease! He’s amazing, and in this scene, you can see him commanding the mountain and reading the wind before sending me off on my first solo flight. Remember, I was doing this on day 2 of training! Amazing that he was able to teach me (and anyone!!) so quickly!

http://www.infinityparagliding.co.nz/

Learning to Paraglide in Queenstown

Photo Information

  • Date TakenDecember 10, 2013 at 12:22pm
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture11
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Spring Mountains

XBox Fitness

Has anyone tried XBox Fitness on the new XBox One? It’s cool but there are many problems! Even though my bandwidth is totally incredible, I still get “Low Bandwidth” warnings and it pauses quite a bit. Many times, I’ve lost connection and my whole workout has gone down the tubes! It’s quite demotivating for some strange reason! I hope XBox fixes that soon, or at least lets me cache everything locally.

Daily Photo – The Spring Mountains

Choppy landed here on this remote lake for a bit while I jumped out to take photos with Curtis, Luke, Pete, and Scott. It was so fun, and I felt lucky there was a bit of snow up high to give some more colors to the scene. You can also hike to this point, but while we were sitting there in the chopper, all we could think was, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

The Spring Mountains

The Spring Mountains

Photo Information

  • Date TakenNovember 5, 2013 at 5:39am
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length35.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

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