End of the Journey

10 September 2017

This is the final part of my musings of the road trip #2.

Two weeks in the South Island , on my own, in a rental car. I got some great shots, so I am happy. But there was one camera I took along and it recorded nothing significant so I should be really grateful to be alive....

I recently bought a dash cam and I decided to bring it along and mount it in my rental car. The news is awash with reports of bad drivers on the road and frequently on the wrong side of the road so I thought I should record that event before my demise.

Maybe I was lucky but I didn't have the chance to yell out an expletives even once!

One thing I did notice though is that when you give way to drivers on a one way bridge it is customary for the on coming driver to wave at you in acknowlegement of your courtesy.  This didn't happen much- unless the driver was local.  How did i know he or she was local?  Well  not many tourists drives Utes with a dog(s) in the back!

I was probably the slowest driver on the road bumbling along at 90 km /hour.  Even the camper vans of which there were as many as sand flies caught up with me. However I was one of those considerate drivers who went to the left or even stopped to let people pass. I wasn't intersted in speeding (not that the Nissan Tiida could ) but scouting the scenery for a good shot. it really is a holiday when you don't have to rush anywhere.

Along the way to Haast I had to stop at a bridge for 20 minutes as it was under repair. So I had a nap and was awoken by passing cars. I looked behind me expecting to see a queue of backlog traffic. There was about 6 cars behind me in over a 20 minutes wait. Thats what I like about driving in the South island-empty roads.

Here are some of my observations  of the South Island trip:

1.  I met and talked to more foreigners than travelling overseas.

2.  Every one I met had a positive experience of the journey and go home happy.

3. Queenstown is like another planet compared to other towns in the rural south.

4. Good coffee is everywhere. Even in the remote places there is a caravan with an expresso machine.

5. Good food with healthy choices are rare-mostly pub grub, meat plus fries 

6. Craft beer is rare. 

7. Westcoast white bait is the best. A lot fatter than what I'm use to get in Blenheim (east coast white bait). So big it can be filleted.....only joking.

Lastlight Cafe at Tuatapere had the best white bait fritters on my journey.

8. Why does every eating place wrap the cuttery in a serviette . It s tighter than a Singaporean air hostess uniform-yes that tight.  I end up ripping it off just to get at the cuttery and I destroyed the serviette at the same time!

9. Very few Japanese tourist nowadays. Mostly, Chinese, Dutch and Germans.

10. Steam punk has changed the face of Oamaru

11. No meals are served after 9pm. The problem was the Sun set at 8pm.

12. At the Haast Pass Hotel I got the second mornings breakfast at no charge , because NO one stays more than on night at Haast! That is a great shame as there is lots to see around the area, Jacksons Bay for example.

13. Magaret Mahey Playground is worth a visit when in Christchurch. Infact I will be returning with my adult children after Christmas.

14. The South Island is still a very special place which wants to make me return again and again. its great to be a living in NZ !

1.  24 March 2017     Surat Bay     Nikon D800     iso 200     165mm     f5.6     1/640sec     70-200mmf4

2.     25 March 2017     Slope Point     Nikon D750     iso200     300mm     f8.0     1/250sec     Nikon 300mmPF f4

3.     25 March 2017      Mc Clean Falls     Nikon D800     iso200     14mm     f3.5     1/40sec     Nikon 14-24mm f2.8

4.     26 March 2017     Cannibal Bay     Nikon D750     iso 200     24mm     f4.0     1.0sec     Nikon 24-70mmf2.8

5.     26 March 2017     Jacks Bay     Nikon D750     iso 200     24mm     f8.0     1/4  sec      Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

6.     26 March 2017     Jacks Bay     Nikon D750     iso 200     24mm     f4.0     1.0 sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8     

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Go West "Young" Man

9 July 2017

Well that's what they say in the movies. Somehow Go West Geriatric Man doesn't quite work unless the toilet is in that direction.

To continue from my previous blog, I picked up my Nissan Tidia from Apex rentals and headed off into the sun set (and you will see many in my photos).

Fortunately the car radio had an Aux in socket so I could plug in my Sony Walkman and play the contents of my CD library from one device. HA ! you exclaim people have been doing it for years with their MP3 players so, whats so special about even mentioning it in your blog?  Well for a start I'm very new to this personal audio business. I just learnt how to use Bluetooth and this tooth doesn't need root canal treatment !  In fact I'm only  6 months into the personal audio scene. It all started when my wife left me all alone in a shopping mall in Hong Kong last Christmas.  So after all this hapless wandering I discovered this Sony Shop. I discovered a new Sony Walkman.

I dicovered FLAC files. I managed in the next few days courtesy of internet a quick catch up on digital audio over the last 20 years. Not bad for a Vinyl man.

Personally I can't stand MP3 sound as too much is missing and it hurts my ears.  FLAC  files contain all the audio detail, just like comparing JPEG to Raw files and we photographers know what thats all about !  So now I can finally enjoy quality audio similiar to my last walkman which had a cassette tape containing only 1 album in the machine. Now I have over 150 ! And no tape hiss....

So gotta get some good road music playing to set the mood.

When I use to travel from Dunedin to Blenheim in my Mini during term breaks a constant favourite was "Born to be Wild" (Stepphenwolf -Easy Rider theme)

"looking for adventure, travelling down the highway" as the lyrics go.

Hey that's the story of my life looking back over 60 years. Born to be Mild. 

That reminds me I only got the vinyl, or else my brothers got it. Need to get the CD and "rip' it into FLAC files for safe audio consumption. 

So what do I play instead?  The soundtrack to "The Guadians of the Galaxy".  Great movie and he had a Sony Walkman!

So the sounds of Blue Swede  "Hooked on a Feeling"  permeate the "luxury" cabin of the Nissan competing with the road noise.

But wait  something else is missing.... Fortunately  I come to Darfield and there is a Sign, one of many along the highway.  These Signs or Shrines have been providing solace for many a road side traveller. What is this vision that comes before me.....Tip Top

There I buy my Hokey Pokey ice cream and now my provisions for the journey are complete. I am and my palate are fully prepared for the adventure that lies ahead .

Hooked on a Feeling and the crunch of Hokey Pokey.

1.     19 March 2017      Pororari River track    Nikon D800     iso200     50mm     f9.0     1/15sec     Nikon 24-70mmf2.8

2.     Pororari River track, Punakaiki.   Nikon D800      iso 200    62mm      f4.0      1/160sec  

3.     19 March 2017     Hokitika    Nikon D800     iso200      300mm      f11     1/250sec     Nikon PF300mm f4.0    

4.     19 March 2017     Hokitika     Nikon D800     iso 200     50mm     f5.6     1/50sec

5.     20 March 2017     Okarito     Nikon D800     iso 200     56mm     f11     1/800sec

Comments

Eve Law
Posted: 11 Jul 2017

Love the new photos and blurb. My favourites are the ones with the geese in and the landscape with the powerlines. Your cake photos are fantastic!

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Eve, you are my number one Fan! Great to see you enjoy some of the photos I relegated to the Gallery. Yes the geese were cute and pretty tame. Little did they know that my favourite dish in Hong Kong is Roast Goose. For those who are wondering where are the cake photos, they are on my occasional newsletter which you are welcome to subscribe to by contacting me.
 

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Road Trip #2. Two weeks in the South Island and avoiding the Tourist Attractions. Really?

Well the wifes not back  but the children are.

You had previously crossed out 2 weeks in your appointment book  to  go to Germany for a Dental trades show in Cologne. Then you decide not to go. So what do you do instead?

You go on another road trip  and leave the children at home-they're old enough to look after themselves.

This time I fly to Christchurch and pick up a rental car for me and my three legged companion and we drive away into the sunset. Yes we are heading for the West Coast.

But wait, did I have an itinerary?  Did I know where I was going? Nope, not really, I only booked the first night in Arthurs Pass.This was the beauty of my plan and a long time dream. Just go and photograph with no time constraints or any other obligations -like wife waiting in the car!  You only need  fuel in the tank, and fresh water in the car. I did buy some fruit and a muesli bar as part of my survival kit if I did get stuck somewhere.

Just after picking up the car I dropped in to see my friend and mentor John Foster. He gave me lessons in the past on portrait photography and wedding photography. This time we sat in front of his laptop and John gave me a list of places  that I should visit. Most of them (should I say all) I had never even heard of. Places like Jacksons bay (below Haast), St Bathans (Central Otago), Hooker Valley (Mt Cook), Nugget Pt (Catlins) and the list goes on filling up the pages in my note book. John is a real expert on NZ and photographic locations as he runs photo tours  regularly. I am especially grateful for John's  willingness to share his knowlege. 

To cut a two week story short, I had a great time, met wonderful people and other photographers along the way. You can tell the photographers from the tourist by their big cameras and long lenses. They also have their three legged companions and of different breeds. I took around 2400 shots but just a few made it to the website. My 5 and 4 star ratings (personal) make it to the Home page and Blog. The 3 star into the gallery. And the rest wait on my hard drive for their ultimate demise-"delete" or "reformat". Actually its not really death row for the leftovers as I tend to keep then and eventually pass them over to another drive. As mentioned in a previous blog its amazing how you discover a "keeper' months after or years down the track which you had previously passed over. 

I have divided all my photos for the website into 3 separate subjects and release dates. The first being Aoraki/ Mt Cook and the Mckenzie Country area.

The second being The West Coast. And the third the Catlins.

You may also notice  that a lot of my photos are of insignificant objects or scenes. These are definitely not the beautiful great sweeping landscapes you see in the bookshops by famous NZ photograhers like Andris Apse and Petr Hlavacek- I visited both their galleries. The images I do are more what I call a photostudy  with a leaning towards photojournalism. This is an exercise in Light and how in just a few seconds it can change the scene, turning it from something mediocre into something magic. Its a bit like passing a South Island town- don't blink otherwise you will miss it!

1.     Hooker Valley Walk. Mt Cook/Aoraki.

30 March 2017     Nikon D750     iso 200     f4.0     1/750sec     Nikon 24-70mmf2.8

Omarama-pull your socks up!

On my road trip I stayed in Omarama  3 nights. The reason being I wanted to photograph the Lindis Pass and it was close to other places of interest. It  was these three days that  experienced the best times and the worse time of my two weeks.

Lets start with the best. I had a whole day with nothing on the agenda so decided to go to Mt Cook. I was thinking it is a bit touristy but I haven't been to the Hermitage for a least 20 years so I will see whats changed. Short answer everything! I asked at the Hernitage if there was one walk I should do what would it be. They recommended the Hooker Valley walk as it was the most popular and relatively easy (ie no steep climbing necessary) . Well they weren't wrong.  Even though the carpark at the beginning of the walk was full of cars, the length of the walk seemed to have absorbed all the visitors so it wasn't crowded. I even came across a chinese couple having their wedding photos at the first suspension bridge.

This walk must be one of the most beautiful walks in New Zealand .  Not beautiful in the sense of "pretty" (as discussed in a previous blog I don't do pretty) but very dramatic. Three suspension bridges, wild rivers, tall mountains, and a glacier at the end with ice bergs floating in the lake. All we needed was some penguins or artic kiwis......But what makes this walk truly amazing is how accessible it is -providing you have a vehicle! Once you leave the carpark and head over the first rise you are there! The closest experience we get in Wellington is coming down the Ngauranga Gorge and seeing the view of the harbour.

When you come upon the first scene your jaw drops and you say "wow!" It was so impressive the first camera I picked up was my cell phone and I hate using cell phones as a camera. But I got this new HTC phone (HTC10) and its the first camera I got that takes those instant panoramas. So I shot the scene with a 180 degree twist of my waist . The shot was acceptible and ready to export it around the world with the limited social media skills I have. I really wanted to show everyone what a great place I'm in and hopefully make them just a little envious.

But back to the description 'accessible." How many other walks do you know where it starts being fantastic just a hop, skip and a jump from the carpark and continues being amazing for the next one and a half hours ending at a glacier? I did the Tongariro crossing and even with some training it took a bit of effort to get to the top (ie bloody tiring) and to top it off , it was so foggy I didn't see a thing!  This is so accessible that there is a chinese bride all the way from China wearing a wedding dress and her husband in a suit. Not exactly tramping attire!

It takes a lot to impress a cynical old curmudgeon  like me but this place did. I have even booked to stay in Twizel (not Omarama ) in January to take my family on this walk. And I would like to see it in the middle of winter with snow everywhere and hopefully spot some Artic Kiwis.... Maybe that would be my next road trip.

Before Omarama, I stayed in Ranfurly as it was convenient to St Bathans and Danseys Pass.  Ranfurly has come a long way since I last went through as a student. The motel (of the same name) was very clean and nice. The local hotel restaurant had great food and the place even had 2 Four Square  shops. Well thats progress .....competition.  Anyway I met this girl called Rose (aka Rose from Ranfurly) and my opening line was "when's the baby due?"

She wasn't pregnant...... great start Chris-how to win friends and influence people. She's probably thinking who is this rude Asian. Hopefully she can tell from my accent  and limited English I'm not from NZ  but just another (rude?) Asian tourist. Lets blame the Chinese from Mainland China again. They seem to be the scapegoats for a lot of NZ woes like bad driving or Auckland house prices (both not true). At least they don't freedom camp! We Chinese prefer hot showers and flushing toilets. However I digress....Yes the situation wasn't good. One lone Chinese man in a bar full of burly farmers and he is insulting one of their locals. Where is Winston Peters when you need him? He should have the power to get (send) me home safely without getting hurt....

Anyway Rose from Ranfurly took it well after my apology and said she considered it a compliment as she was pass child bearing age. Whew, live for another day. And Rose did look young...... Anyway turns out Rose is a foodie and that explains the misdiagnoses. She asked me where I was heading and I said I got 3 nights in Omarama. Then she was less complimentary about the food in Omarama and apparently she had tried everything there. But she has a friend who runs a kebab place called "the Love Shack" and its the best food in the town as the owner makes all the sauces herself and is passionate about her food. Unfortunately I didn't get to try her food as she wasn't open in the morning near breakfast time, and I returned from my hunting late at night.

I did notice one thing though, I went to breakfast at this cafe that had a lot of Asian bus tourists visiting looking at souveniers. I needed to feel at home after the Ranfurly incident and it would be nice to feel anonymous again amongst a sea of black hair and brown eyes. Unfortunately I can't speak mandarin but I can read english.

 On the menu was Eggs on Toast $12 -that sounded steep for me , but hey I'm Asian I can afford it!  But the Scottish in me (must have rubbed off in me when I was training in Dunedin-epigenetics) said to check out across the road. There I had breakfast 2 days in a row. The cost of the  Eggs on Toast, $8.00! Wow, a 50% mark up just by crossing the road. Is that why the chicken crossed the road? To get more money for her eggs? Still to be fair I didn't order the more expensive eggs on toast so I can't compare the dishes directly, only menu prices. Maybe the expensive option had abalone, or manuka honey sprinkled on the toast or even served with a dash of XO brandy?

But the main point of this article is to let you know I stayed in the worse hotel room that I can remember since Kathmandu (35 years ago , Lonely Planet recommendation!). I have been in a few seedy motel rooms (really?) but this one takes the cake , or should say rotten eggs on toast?

All the bad reviews on Booking .com  were correct but I didn't read these till after my stay. I chose this on price $120 a night instead of $160 upwards. Accomodation is expensive outside the main centres in the South Island -blame the epigenetics again. I tend to ignore negative reviews of accomodation in NZ as overall Kiwis have a high level of cleanliness and functionality. The room may be basic but still functional. Sometimes a lot of negative reviews are from tourists who expect 5 service and amenities  on 3 star prices. But boy was I wrong! Teach me to read the fine print next time.

First hint of things to come. On checking in the service was very matter of fact and on finishing registration she just pointed my attention to the Wifi number. No little piece of paper given to me with the number, no pen or paper offered to me to write it. She just expected me to remember it. Maybe seeing I was Chinese she expected me to be good with numbers, after all we invented the first calculator -the abacus, not the Casio.

Then when I climbed up to the room and opened the door , the smell. The room was so musty and warm. It smelt old, very old. I quickly opened the windows but they had no insect screens  so all the bugs can fly in. The carpet looked like an argument for decreasing biodiversity.... when was it last shampooed or vacuumed?

The sheets on the bed were unpressed and gave the impression the sheets had not been changed. So I had to apply the snift test. I wasn't quite sure but it seemed clean. At least it wasn't a sauvignon blanc with the the hint of gooseberry and cats pee....

The thought was would I survive my 3 nights here without oxygen? Would I be the first human to die in NZ from global warming and the green house effects?

Obviously I lived to tell the tale. There was no aircon or internal ventilation. But was there hot water? One review said there was no hot water.  But I waited and waited  and literally 5 minutes later we got hot water. So every night and morning the first thing before doing anything was to turn on the hot water first.

I can see why there is a water problem in Central Otago. Everyone in the hotel (ie survivers) were leaving the taps running to wait for the hot water!

But at least the wifi worked.... 

I tried to go to the restaurant for dinner but it was empty and it didn't exactly set the gastric juices on fire. The local pub was much better and friendlier.

On the morning of departure I was thinking what to say when on checking out as they normally ask "how was you stay". I had my answer all ready with a list of issues. But again I was disappointed . The question never came  The lady just talked about the weather and said see you later. I wonder why?

Next time I go through Omarama I must check out the kebab place but  I definitely won't be staying....

2.    View from Hooker Valley walk.

30 March 2017     Nikon D750     iso200      200mm       f11     1/45sec    Nikon 70-200mmf4 

3.      Lindis Pass /Omarama Rd

   28 March 2017     Nikon D800     iso200     200mm     f16     1/20sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4

4.    Tekapo/Twizel Rd

31 March 2017     Nikon D800     iso 200     116mm     f7.1     1/160sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4

5.     31 March 2017     Nikon D800     iso200     70mm     f9.0     1/160sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4

6.    Naseby Diggins Rd

28 March 2017     iso200     24mm     f10     1/250sec     Nikon 24-70mmf2.8

7.    Loop Rd  St Bathans, near Cambrians

27 March 2017     Nikon D800     iso200     160mm     f7.1     1/160sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4     

8.    Ranfurly Wedderburn Rd

27 March 2017     Nikon D800     iso200     35mm     f3.5     0.6sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

Central Otago Evening Skyline      Ranfurly Wedderburn Rd

9.     27 March 2017     Nikon D800    iso200     95mm     f4.5     1/6sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4 

Comments

Eve Law
Posted: 19 May 2017

I absolutely love all you're photos. The scenery is stunning. Your blog posts always make me laugh. I know the writing is a challenge at times ,but you write so well and your wonderful sense of humour really shines through. The photos show big skies and dramatic landscapes. I particularly like the one-of the sheep and the one with the gate. Actually I'm not sure which one I'd choose as my favourite. Don't fancy the motel though!!!!!

Chris Bing replies: Thanks for the compliments Eve, now I'm really blushing..... Glad you appreciate the views of the South island. Yes I really love the South Island and the sense of space and hopefully it shows in my photos.

Richard
Posted: 13 Jul 2017

Some absolutely beautiful shots here Chris. Wonderful! Yes the gate and the sheep in that order!

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Richard. Initially I was asking myself at the time why I was taking a picture of a farm gate. After all NZ has millions of them! But at the time it just looked right!
 

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Laos

15 March 2017

Well folks, another Christmas Holidays has gone  just like that.  We plan our holidays well in advance. spend  a lot of time planning, booking and paying. Christmas takes a long time to come as we labour towards it . August (my birthday-that came quick), September, October, November, and a very slow December. Then bang! Christmas in Hong Kong, early January Bangkok, 5 days Laos, then back home again at work. Time has the ability to accelerate when you are on holiday. Thankfully I have photos otherwise the experience of travelling would slip into the distant memories folder faster than it takes the Donald to tweet.

Laos is a wonderful place and well worth the visit. Chiang Mai represents to me the peaceful part of Thailand especially when compared to Bangkok. Laos is similiar on the grander scale. it represents the peaceful side of Asia, pre commercialism and  grand urbanisation.

By all accounts Laos shouldn't exist. History shows it was always invaded by the Thais or Vietnamese, then the Westerners and Japanese came along. Laos does not appear to have been strong enough to stand on its own feet. It's a landlocked  country as well with the skinny leg of Vietnam preventing it from reaching the sea.  Apparently the present day borders were established by the French in an international treaty in 1907.

From my limited 5 day experience, what makes a visit to Laos is not the scenery or the food but the people. This is probably the most relaxed place in Asia and the people are so laid back and honest. 

The official title  for Laos is Laos People 's Democratic Republic or LPDR. Funny how when ever a country has democratic in it name, its actually not. Laos is communist. Its amazing how prescient George Orwell's "1984" is.  However I digress.

But as our guide explained the acronym actually means Laos People Don't Rush!

And it is true.

The lonely planet quotes a french description:

"the Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians tend to the rice and the Laotians listen to the rice grow!'

This to me sums up my impressions of the people. They are not lazy, but just more laid back . In someways their lifestyle is more like Western (NZ?) values- finding a balance between work and play. Unfortunately the Lao are among the poorist of the asian people.

Hopefully future progress will benefit the every day people and not at the expense of their values or environment. That is if they get the money as corruption is rife here although I never experienced it as a tourist.

One thing I found eerie is on the river boat trip- their were no birds anywhere.

Even in crowded Hong Kong there are birds along the waterways as evidenced by my photos. But in Lao, zilch! I asked my guide why are there no birds along the Mekong river?

He said it is because the locals shoot them and eat them. I suppose because the people are so poor any protein source is fair game (no pun). This also can be evidenced by dead bats  for sale at the market for consumption. 

This may also explain why this one lone fisherman in Vientiane spends all day catching these tiny river fish. 

One of my patients Eve (and one of my few fans!) complained to me that there weren't enough photos on my website. She was lucky she mentioned it after treatment and not before..........ouch!  

Only kidding we practice painless dentistry in Tawa.

I made the excuse (and it is reality) that it takes me time to post process the photos and load them onto the web site. Its not as easy to post photos as if it were social media like Tinder.

Also I'm definitely not a wordsmith when it comes to writing. It takes me a lot of time to even think of something to say, let alone put it into words coherently.

Anyway for Eve, here's a bunch of images for ya!

Vientiane Fisherman

1.     9 Jan 2017     Nikon D750     iso 180     70mm     f8     1/500sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4

2.     iso 1600     200mm     f16     1/500sec     

3.     iso 220     200mm     f16     1/250sec

4.     iso 640     200mm     f16     1/500sec

5.     Waiting quietly for the tiny fish to come.

    iso 280     200mm     f11     1/1000sec

Laos Children

 11 January 2017     Luang Prabang Night Market

Nikon D3s    iso 6400     200mm     f4     1/60sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4

Laos Wedding

Laos Street Scenes

1.     11 January 2017     Luang Prabang     

Nikon D750     iso 5000     92mm     f5.6     1/180sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4

2.     11 January 2017     Luang Prabang

Nikon D750     iso 200     35mm     f4.0     1/125sec     Nikon 35mm f1.8

3.     11 January 2017     Luang Prabang Night Market     Tribute to Monty Python

Nikon D3s     iso 6400     200mm     f4.0     1/125sec     

4.     9 January 2017     Vientiane Night market

Nikon D3s     iso 6400     95mm     f5.6     1/125sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4

5.     11 January 2017     Luang Prabang Night Market     Little girl helping mum with the drink orders

Nikon D3s     iso 6400     35mm     f2.0     1/125sec     Nikon 35mm f1.8

6.    11 Jan 2017     Kuang Si Waterfall Market Place  Luang Prabang

Nikon D750     iso 450      20mm     f4     1/125sec    

7.      10 Jan 2017     rush hour Vientiane.

Nikon D3s     iso 200     200mm     f8     1/180sec     

Comments

Eve Law
Posted: 11 Apr 2017

Fantastic photos as usual Chris. I particularly love the ones of the lone fisherman and the 2 little girls playing on the iPad. The fishing method looks interesting. Is she surrounded by a net? I like your sense of humour which always comes through in your writing. Thanks for posting them. How nice to see all the family at the end.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Eve for your feedback which is always welcomed. No the fisherman has the net in front of him. He or she? I thought it was a guy when I was doing the photography, but looking at the photos it could be a she?
 

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Tak Bat

27 February 2017

Its a daily tradition for all buddhist monks to seek food from the surrounding population in order to support their vow of poverty. I also have a photo of a monk receiving some food from a little boy in Bangkok. In Luang Prabang, Laos, this is done at dawn and "enmasse". The sight of columns of monks walking the streets in procession is a beautiful moving experience and because of its rarity has become a bit of  a tourist attraction. Hence I was there as part the paparazzi who gather every morning. Contrary to all the other tourists I did keep my distance and did not shove cameras,cell phones or tablets directly in the monks faces and then have the flash go. I saw one tourist stand directly in fronf of the procession and ask the monk to stop for a photograph. These Asian tourists.......

As you can see from the photos the Tak Bat started at dawn and it was still very dark. There was limited street lighting so I had to rely on the shop front lights to illuminate the monks. My D3s is my back up camera when travelling and because of its weight tends to be in the Hotel safe. However in extreme low ligh situations it  is the weapon of choice.

The weight helps prevent camera shake. VR anti shake reduction on the lens is also important. And a full frame low pixel sensor enables shooting at high isos giving limited noise and adequate colour information. This has all been discussed in a previous blog (12 Dec 2016).

1.     13 Jan 2017     Nikon D750     iso 6400     20mm     f2.4     1/30sec     Nikon 20mm f1.8

2.     Nikon D3s     iso 12800     200mm     f4     1/60sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4

3.     Nikon D3s     iso 12800     160mm     f4.0     1/60sec

4.     Nikon D3s     iso 12800     116mm     f4     1/90sec

5.     Nikon D3s     iso 12800     72mm     f4.0     1/90sec     

6.     Nikon D3s      iso 12800     135mm     f4.0     1/90sec         

7.     Nikon D3s     iso 12800     200mm     f4.0     1/90sec

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Road Trip Highway 43 "the Forgotten World Highway"

26 February 2017

 

The Wife's away and shes taken the children (actually young adults) away and you are home alone. So what do you do?

You go on a road trip, thats what you do. And you take your best friend (camera) and your three legged companion with you.

This was the chance to take my 2001 SLK for a long drive and hopefully do some heavy braking  before the many curves to try a get the squeech out of my discs brakes.

The plan was to leave Wellington in the morning, travel to Whanganui then take Highway 4 (the Para Paras) to Taumarunui.

That went well and I visited Raetihi on the way.  I stayed a night in Taumaranui and that was an experience. It was a bit like NZ 50 years ago. Every thing closes early and there are only a few restauarants catering for travellers. There's no pub and the only concession to the 21st century is a Scottish restaurant that is open 24 hours. Personally I'm not into big macs for dinner so I ate a typical kiwi meal as if I was in Wellington. I ate Thai and that was the only restaurant serving food after 7pm! It wasn't bad at all and had some genuine flavours and genuine Thai women there as well.....  I had just got back from Bangkok 3 weeks before having done another cooking course so I did approach the meal with some trepidation.

The next day I took highway 43 back to Whanganui. And what I drive it was! Lots of bends and no traffic-not bad for a Saturday. Even though there are some gravel surfaces, overall it would rate as one of my best driving experiences in NZ. I can say that because I don't get out much. It was better than the Kaikouras in the South Island. It helps that my companions don't  get car sick as well. It was a sunny day so I had the top down, zooming along the straights and braking hard into the corners leaving a plume of dust clouds behind me. The Mercedes 320 slk is more suited for long fast bends than these short bends. A Mini or Subaru WRX would eat my car and a better driver would have far more smoothness and speed than this old man. Anyway I wasn't trying to get the fastest A-B times and managed to stop to get a few photos as you can see next. These photos are more for a travel log and not intended to be photo studies.

At the Taumaranui side I discovered this lavender farm - Laurens Lavender farm. I had not been to a lavender farm before and purple is a colour I don't wear very much. But I think I have a Deep Purple vinyl somewhere, "smoke on the water , fire in the sky...."

I dedicated a separate section to this farm as I did try to get some photostudies but it was difficult as I had the  mid day sun and its bleaching effect with the overhead lighting didn't help. The food, coffee and service was excellent and I recommend a stop here. My Host, Lorraine was very helpful allowing me to get up close and personal (to the flowers that is) as there had been cases of certain tourists damaging the plants. She also pointed out the wood pigeons to me in the near by tree which I managed to shoot....with my camera. Being a passionate Bird photographer....not.

Will it was a successful two day trip and I arrived back in Wellington 10pm the next night. I had another kiwi dinner at Whanganui. I ate Japanese....

The brakes don't screech as much now and I probably will repeat the trip sometime later in the year, but going along the Whanganui river next time visiting Jerusalem.

.

1. 4 Feb 2017     Nikon D800     iso200     200mm     f13     1/125sec     Nikon  70-200mm f4

2.     Moki Tunnel

3.

4.

5

6

7

8.

9. Notice board in the Hotel.  Definitely not politically correct! 

Laurens Lavender Farm

1

2

3

Laos Wedding

4

5.    Nikon D800      iso 200     200mm     f4.5     1/400sec       Nikon 70-200mmf4   

6.

7. This was manipulated in Nik software Colorefex Pro  to give a japanese woodcut painting effect.

9.     Nikon D750    iso6400     420mm     F8     1/2000sec     Nikon 300PF +TC1.3

10.     Nikon D800     iso 200     300mm     f5.6     1/1000sec     Nikon 300mmf4 PF

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Why I love using a Full Frame Camera, Raw Mode, and with a Real Viewfinder.

12 December 2016

My point and shoot camera is a 1" sensor- Canon Gx5. I used to use an Olympus OMD as a walk around camera. I use APSc cameras for my dentistry-Fuji 5s pro and Nikon D7200. But when serious, nothing beats using full frame cameras for predictablility of image capture. These include my Nikon D750 which my jack of all trades (24mp). Nikon D3s (12mp) for anything that moves and in dark places. Nikon D800(36mp) for slow work on a tripod-landscape photography.

In good lighting conditions and accurate exposures all the above cameras will give great results and  images enlarged to at least 16 x 20 inches. So for passports, selfies, holiday shots you should be fine. And you probably would find it hard to distinguish which camera was used.

However when the going gets tough, bad weather, poor lighting, everything happening at once, we can't always get ideal framing, composition or exposure-especially me. As explained in a previous article I am more a snatch and grab photographer ( unless doing landscapes) and especially when travelling with tour groups when one doesn't have much time. Often I get the settings wrong in the excitement. For example, forgot to adjust the iso, used too fast a shutter speed resulting in under exposure, paying so much attention to the subject and forgetting to zoom in! Yup thats me , I need lots of latitude. People say that about my behaviour as well!

Using an electronic viewfinder can sometimes artificially enhance the scene. I found that a lot with the Olympus. I see the image in the viewfinfder (EVF) and think , wow thats gonna be a nice picture. Put the image on the monitor later and its pretty boring. With a large viewfinder (35mm equivalent) its amazing how much of the scene you really see and there is less chance of disappointment later.

Also, when the surroundings are very dark the EVF doesn't do as well as the optical viewfinder like in my ballerina shot.

The  following 2 scenes will hopefully illustrate what I mean.

At the wedding I only had the 85mm lens and was shooting in availble light. My white balance is always set to daylight and it doesn't really matter when shooting in raw. But from a post processing point of view it is always good to start from the same baseline. No auto white balance for me (unless you shoot in Jpeg). Notice  with the severe cropping,  detail and especially colour is preserved. Most camera reviews go on how good the noise (or lack of ) at high isos. But what is more important is colour information, especially when underexposed. The Olympus, and even the new Nikon D500  (APSc) lacks the colour information which I desperately need to "make' the shot. I included the balanced colour crop for reference , before turning the picture into B&W using SilverEfex pro. The decision to use B&W is because the medium conveys emotion well with out the distraction of colour. I see a lot of photographers using B&W for gimmicky reasons (as it is trendy now-like vinyl records) or to hide the noise from using high iso. But in my view the content of the image should help decide how one is going to present it and not because I decided to cover the wedding in B&W because  I can or own  a Leica M  Monochrom (I don't).

The second scene I was covering a ballet concert  from a behind the curtains point of view. It was very dark and the kids were moving all over the place.

Initially when I saw the under exposed image I was going to discard the file. But I decided to boost the exposure in Lightroom by at least 2.5 stops as a matter of interest. What a surprise, I got a "keeper"!  There was a little noise, but that added to the impressionistic effect. But what is amazing is how much colour I manage to recover. That is the advantage of the Nikon D3s. Only 12 mp but sensors with "large buckets" to collect the light and all visible wavelengths.  This picture won me a Bronze medal in the 2011 Better Photography competition in  the "Creative Flair category. The moral of the story is don't delete your photos in a hurry. So when you go on a photo expedition or safari, don't spend the evenings on your lap sorting and editing your days work. I don't, then again I don't have a lap top just lots of memory cards !  Sometimes its best to revisit the images after a month with fresh eyes. Its amazing what you can find which if in a hurry, you may have previously discarded.

The Original

The Original

5 November 2016     Nikon D750     iso 4500     85mm     f4.0     1/125sec

Cropped

Cropped

The Final Image

The Final Image

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The Original Image

The Original Image

Award Winning Image

Award Winning Image

2.  5 December 2010     nikon D3s     iso3200     14mm     f2.8     1/45sec     Nikon 14-24mmf2.8    

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Confessions of a Wedding Party Stalker Part3

11 December 2016

Wedding party stalker?  Sounds rather ominous and the potential to ruin a good day or evening. Check out my previous blogs to get a background into this guy. Be afraid, be very afraid. I use to specialize in incriminating and  embarassing photos in my past. And the photos weren't of me either.

Sally and I had the honour of being invited to our good friends , Sons wedding. Got that?

Justin is from Hong Kong and his new wife Cheryl is from Singapore.

Normally as I was the guest and not the photographer I wasn't planning on bringing a "decent" camera to Hong Kong, probably just my point and shoot. However because I was buying a big lens (see previous blog) I thought it best to bring a SLR to test the lens before purchasing. To keep the weight down I brought 2 prime lenses. My Nikon 35mm f1.8 and the Nikon 85mm f1.8.

So at the church I brought the 2 lenses plus my newly acquired wild life lens (Nikon 300mm). Definitely not the best lens for weddings unless you want to examine the teeth..... At the reception at the Grand Hyatt  I took the two prime lenses only and was only going to whip them out if I saw something (or someone) interesting. Well you can see by the photos the camera was out alot! I have a weakness for beautiful women.

So what does a wedding party stalker do when he is actually invited to partake rather than shoot from the outside. Well as the title of the movie says, get "Up Close and Personal". It wasn't that hard in my case and quite a pleasure. No doubt helped by the fine French champagne and the New Zealand riesling. At least I was in good company. The wine and I come from the same town-Blenheim. The wine?  Fromm Spatlese Riesling. We came on the same plane. 

The company, food , wine, music and service was also excellent at the Grand Hyatt. (Did I mention that before?)

Hopefully you may find I managed to capture the atmosphere of the occasion at the .... Did you know its a 5 star hotel?

Congratulations Justin and Cheryl on your marriage and I hope you have lots of happy memorable occasions ahead of you both.

ps I don't do baby photos.......

1.

2.   iso 6400     35mm     f9.5     1/250sec

3.  iso 5600     300mm     f4.8     1/350sec

4.  iso 1400     300mm     f11     1/1000sec

5.  iso 3600     85mm     f1.8     1/60sec     Enhanced in Color Efex Pro 4

6.  iso 5600     85mm     f2.8     1/60sec

7.  Me, Joseph (Justins Dad)

     Sally    Elizabeth (Justins Mum)

8.  Joseph and his two Sons, Jonathan and  Justin

9.

10

11.  iso 6400     85mm     f4.0     1/125sec

12.

13

14

15

16

17.   iso6400     35mm     f9.5     1/250sec

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Nikon 300mm F4 PF lens

11 December 2016

I went to Hong kong late October to attend a wedding.  I had pre ordered the above lens from a shop I have dealt with for over 35 years! The shop is Kowloon Photo  Service  based in Yaumati, Kowloon. Yaumati was my "hunting" ground when I worked in Hong Kong.

Previously the maximum focal length I had was 200mm.  I did purchase a Tamron 150-600 but I found  my images were too soft and not worth the effort of carrying around as my percentages of "keepers' was less than 10% from a technical view, and not even photographic merit considered.  So I decided to spend even more money on the Nikon.

The advantage of the PF (phase fresnel) was that it enabled the lens to be half the weight and size of its predecessor making it easy to walk around with. Optically it was very sharp even at full aperture.

Bird photography as mentioned in previous blogs is not my passion but when you are in Hong Kong and wake up 5 hours before anyone else because of jet lag,  what do you do?  You get out before breakfast, head for the fields surrounding Sally"s village and take some photos to try out the new lens.  i also bought a Nikon teleconvertor 1.4x. This brings the focal length to 420mm at F5.6. I'm not normally a fan of teleconvertors but overall this one is acceptable. It is a fraction soft at F 5.6 (I had to use more Sharpening in Lightroom) but the auto focus is still fast and it doesn't appear to compromise my photography too much. Its not a bad way to double ones previous focal length which was my original intention. Flare control in direct sunlight is also good as you can see from the photos.

All my shots were hand held and because the "VR" on the lens is also very good my only poor shots were the mis focussed ones from  when I tried to pan and capture a flying bird. This is obviously down to technique and no reflection on my equipment!

1.     29 October 2016     Nikon D750    iso 1250     300mm     f5.6     1/1500sec     Nikon 300PF f4.0

2.     29 October 2016     iso900     420mm     f5.6     1/1000sec     Nikon 300mmPF f4  + TC1.4E111

3.     29 October 2016     iso 1250     420mm     f5.6     1/1000

4.     2 November 2016     iso1800     420mm     f8.0     1/2000sec

5.     2 November 2016     iso 400     420mm     f8     1/2000sec

6.     Photo Bombing     2 November 2016     iso200     420mm     f8     1/2000sec

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Last Visit to Blenheim.....for a while

26 November 2016

Normally on my birthday I usually spend a long weekend going to the South island doing some landscape photography as previously witnesed on this very website. i had already planned to go to Hokitika and do the Westcoast with Sally. Flights had been booked, rental car arranged and accomodation organised. However my dad died unexpectedly and we had to go to Blenheim instead for his funeral.  This year is definitely one for the books. It represents for the Bing family (my siblings) the end of an era with dads passing and the sale of our motels. Bings Motel has been on the travellers list for 50 years in Blenheim and its surprising how many kiwis  throughout New Zealand had stayed there. And of couse there was Brexit, Trump, Wellington earthquakes, floods- what a year!

Anyway I still had an airticket to visit dad booked early October. So I arranged to meet my brother there to tidy up a few remaining things at the motels and also spend a couple of days doing photography as i was suffering from Landscape Photography withdrawal symtoms. Common symptoms include an itchy shutter finger, squinting one eye and a weeping camera trying to get out of the camera bag. So i booked a car to go to Mapua one night (Friday night) and spend the next 2 days in Blenheim. As there was nothing to do on the Sunday I took a day trip to the Nelson Lakes and flew to Wellington on the Monday.

Mapua


What a great place . its always been my favourite spot of all NZ. Memories of the tranquil estuary, smoked fish have always been with me but I have never seriouslly photographed that place. I did a music video previous to my digital camera days but I hadn't returned for many years.

After flying into Blenheim on Friday morning i picked up the hire car (Mazda demio) and drove to Mapua. I stayed outside Mapua  at this wonder B&B called Cats Pyjammas which was rated 4 stars but my travel experience was definitely 5 stars (see my Tripadvisor review). I don't normally do surveys or reviews but who could refuse the wishes of an attractive Scandanavian lady.... (oh Chris you never change). I photographed the late afternoon till sunset at Mapua. Bought my smoked fish and fish and chips at the local takeaway in the Village. I ate the meal and sampled the wonderful wine at the Rimu Grove wine bar. Normally I'm not a fan of Nelson wines (parochial  Marborough Man) but I was amazed at the quality of the Rimu Grove wine and even bought 6 bottles of Pinot Noir. I'm  not even a fan of Pinots! I met some very nice people along the waterside and I had great converstions with Rimu Grove wine maker, Patrick Stowe. I even got to sample some of the other wine they produce and the chadonnay was also excellent-I'm not even a chardonnay drinker as well and I am a life member of the ABC club. For you non winnos out there that means "Anything But Chadonnay".

But to change the subject slightly you are reading from the blog of one of the greatest contradictions, or even hypocrites (I think that is too strong a word) of all time! I don't drink Sauvignon Blanc (I get tired of all the  cats pee and gooseberry) but when I go to Blenheim I buy the most expensive white wine in my cellar. Its a Sauvignon blanc! Brancott Estate Chosen Rows. I don't drink chandonnay much but my cellar is full of quality Chadonnay- and none of it is that oakey buttery crap. With Pinoir a lot of the time they are overpriced compared to other varietals. You pay good money for a decent pinot - over $50nz. Where as you can often get a very good Syrah that exceeds it price range. I told Patrick that this is the first time i had a pinot that exceeded its price point in quality and taste-the "Bronte". Thats why I bought 6 bottles. I took 2 bottles to Hong kong recently for my sister in law Winnie who is a wine expert and retailer. She confirmed my tastebuds or judment weren't 100% stuffed. Although she has reservations on my lack of appreciation of sparkling wines especially expensive Champagnes. This inconsistency extends to all my loves in life. I like fast cars and buy a Skoda. I appreciate great movies but enjoy watching a lot of crap B grade or worse and, with repeated viewings! Even some Tom cruise movies....  I have a beautiful wife and look at me. Must be my charishma. I have Nikon cameras but rave and recommend Fuji to everyone. Whew, the bugger finally gets back to photography. This is not a wine blogg you might say.

Back to Mapua- sorry the wine got to my head. The next morning I got up before breakfast to capture the sunrise. Unfortunately it was cloudy but I still got some lovely shots.  Hopefully from these photos you can experience the reason I love to visit Mapua.

Nelson Lakes

On Sunday I drove to Lake Rotoiti. On the way I managed to go to the Tophouse for the first time and had a lovely lunch there and great converstions with the owner (who knew my sister) At the lake I forgot about one thing........ the sandflies!!!!. Soon as you are out of the car, bang you get bitten. Go back into the car and its full of sandlflies. I was itchy for a week. The weather all day was intermittent rain.  There wasn't much to photograph at Lake Rotoiti so I drove on to Lake Rotorua which is a lot more isolated. I forgot how long a drive it was as well. Anyway the lighting wasn't much so I stayed in the car a slept for an hour. You can do that mucking around stuff when travelling alone. Then the rainbows came out. No pot of gold though, only flying ducks.

Mapua

Mapua

1.      30 Sep 2016     Nikon D800     iso 200     32mm     f11     1/250sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

2.     30 Sep 2016     iso 200     24mm     f13     1/250sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

3.     30 Sep 2016     iso200     64mm     f7.1     1/200sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

4.     30 Sep 2016     iso 200     70mm     f7.1     1/200sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

5.     30 Sep 2016     iso 200     38mm     f6.3     1/60sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

6.     30 Sep 2016     iso 200     70mm     f3.5     1/80sec     Nikon 24-70mm  f2.8

7.     1 Oct 2016     Nikon D800     iso 200     135mm     f5.6     1/4sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4

8.     1 Oct 2016     iso200     14mm     f6.3     1/60sec     Nikon 14-24mm f2.8

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Lake Rotorua

Lake Rotorua

1.     2 Oct 2016     iso200     24mm     f11     1/200sec     Nikon 14-24mm f2.8

2.     2 Oct 2016     iso200     22mm     f8.0     1/200sec     Nikon 14-24mm f2.8

3.     iso200     14mm     f11     1/200sec     Nikon 14-24mm f2.8

4.     iso 200     56mm     f8.0     1/200sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

5.     iso 200     120mm     f10     1/250sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4

Comments

Sally
Posted: 13 Dec 2016

This place is so peaceful and untouched. Chris and I came here years ago when I was young. 30 years later still the same and bringing back the fond memory of mine. Thank you Christopher:)

Chris Bing replies: The company was great as well xxx
 

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Greg White

5 September 2016

Greg is a patient of mine and a very good musician. He sings regularly in Pubs and we even hired him to sing at my 25th Wedding Anniversary-sorry girls but I'm married.... 

Anyway Greg said he was preparing a new Album and I offered to do some cover shots for him. That was a year ago and he did remember my offer. At the time he couldn't refuse as I had sharp implements in his mouth! But the passing of time dulls the senses.....

So when Greg had the album done (draft version) I said I needed to listen to it to get some ideas. If I chose a rubbish dump as a location would he get the hint?  Actually the album was very good and it was a constant companion when I was driving.

Yeah I know railway lines are a bit of a cliche but I wanted to get a "gritty" image  and a piece of life rather some abstract image that appears on a lot of CDs and Vinyl.

So why not do a  night shot? -yeah thats something different. But not with slow shutter speeds with camera on tripod. The D800 was on a tripod, but I didn't want any of that blurry motion  stuff that is associated with low light photography. With the latest generation of cameras nowadays we can shoot at high isos with minimal noise and great colour. This enables us to capture life as the eye sees it. My D3s is 5 years old. Now there is a D5 that can shoot at ridiculously high isos. I'm still happy with the D3s as I don't get out much nowadays. Notice the date of the last Blog?

It was winter though and I was waiting for a still night which is rare in Wellington. The downside was that it was very cold. We did get a couple of bystanders who saw us shooting at the station and came to watch. Didn't ask Greg for his autograph though.

The number '1' shot I would have chose for the cover as there is an element of mystery there. But Greg chose number '2'. Maybe he didn't like the profile of his nose showing.

Check out the Album here:

https://gregwhite1.bandcamp.com/releases

 

1.     Nikon D3s     iso 6400     200mm     f4.0     1/125sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

2.     Nikon D3s     iso 3200     60mm     f4.0     1/125sec     Nikon 24-70mmf2.8

3.     Nikon D3s     iso6400     130mm     f4.0     1/125sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

4.     Nikon D3s     iso6400     165mm     f4.0     1/125sec     

5.     Nikon D800     iso800     200mm     f4.0     1/30sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

6.     Nikon D3s     iso6400     200mm     f4.0     1/125sec     

7.     Nikon D800     iso800     90mm     f4.0     1/10sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

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1.    2 April 2016     Thailand Silom Market.     Canon GX5     iso500     8.8mm (equiv24mm)     f4.0     1/250sec

Canon GX5 User Review

2 May 2016

I am holding a glass  of armagnac in one hand and typing this review with  with one finger on the other hand.

The alcohol helps loosen the tongue and frees my inhibition so I can write an "honest" report of my experiences in Bangkok and  Singapore. Every photographer I have met or heard of, is always looking for that something smaller to replace his/hers heavy SLRs to take on holiday or just as a walk around camera. Ultimately we end up frustrated with the lack of control, poor viewfinder or lack of, and the image quality being barely adequate especially in poor lighting conditions.

That is until now......did a Nikon photographer have to go to Canon for the answer? In the past I always had a fondness for Canon point and shoots and we were the proud owner of the Canon S90.  This produced amazing results and at first glance in Lightroom I couldn't tell the difference between my Nikon D3 files and that of the Canon.

I did use a Samsung EX1 in the past to take to Lectures, but for serious use the sensor was  disappointing.  I had an Olympus OMD for a few years and had all the good lenses for it. But I found the ergonomics  frustrating and the sensor just ok especially with colour depth - I guess I was unfairly comparing to full frame files.  When I got my Nikon 750D and it was relatively light, I never picked up the OMD again.  I sold all my 4/3rds gear leaving me with full frame cameras only at home.

Anyway I was off to Singapore on the Friday to attend a three day dental conference. Normally I like to have a point and shoot to record the power point slides in jpeg-saves writing lots of notes. I tried using the D750 at my last course in Sydney but the shutter was still noticeable and I didn't want to disturb my colleages with any "clicks' or beeps'. So on the Monday before, I walked into the camera shop in Wellington with the intention of looking at the Panasonic TZ 100. I did find the small viewfinder frustrating, and the shop assistant suggested the Canon GX5 which I had never heard of.  The viewfinder was amazing and comparable to an SLR with a EVF like my old OMD.  But the clunkiness of the design and the exposure control with 3 separate buttons really appealed to me. It really felt like a mini SLR as opposed to a slippery bar of soap which the competitors manage to achieve with their sleek designs.

But that tactile clunkyness really appeals to me . You should see my car ......

Skoda Roomster

Voted one of the top 5 ugliest cars in the world. 

So whats so special about this clunky baby.  What made me choose this over the other cameras in the store. See article:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/2016-roundup-compact-enthusiast-zoom-cameras

Firstly this article came out after  I bought the camera- oops too late!  Secondly the features of the top cameras namely the Sony and Panasonic didn't fulfil my criteria as well as the Canon. What I look for in a compact:

1. Decent Viewfinder                                                                 

2. Shoots raw                                                                                  8.  Separate charger

3. Instant start up                                                                           9.  Excellent image quality

4. Flexible monitor screen                                                               10.  Diopter control for viewfinder

5. Built in flash                                                                                11.  Robust

6. Full manual control                                                                      12. Minimal Shutter lag

7. Silent Shutter                                                                              13.  Fast Lens with good range from 24mm upwards

So why the Canon?

First thing is tactileness.  That is very important to me (not just by being a dentist) but in everyday life.

Thats why I love the Toyota Gt 86 and Subaru WRX. That why I respect Fuji Cameras. Thats why I love my Nikon D3. Its all about the feel and then the vehicle or camera becomes an extension of your body. The Canon feels like a Professional camera. Its clunky and grippy.The knobs are clicky and the wheels on the bus go round and round....

1.  The Canon has a very good view finder and its ready to use. The Panasonic is too small and the Sony requires an extra step to raise it. And it is          more fragile than that big bump on the Canon's body.

3.  The Canon starts up from sleep mode or dead mode within a few seconds.

4. The Articulating Monitor  is very important in lectures as often I need to shoot pass some heads in front.

5.  Nice to have for the occasional people shot. Hate having to carry around a separate dinky little flash as on my Olympus.

8.  Canon and all cameras with EVF have a limited battery life. When I am in lectures all day one battery isn't enough. I bought 2 extra batteries and another     charger so I can charge 2 at once. If I had the Sony with its in camera charger I would have to get up every few hours to charge each battery instead of      sleeping.

11. I hate carrying dainty fragile things. The Canon is robust enough to withstand being tossed around in my man bag.

13.  I need a wide angle for group shots at a chinese banquet (12 around a table) and a 100mm to zoom in on the slides if I am at the back of the room.

My carry around cameras...depending on purpose

My carry around cameras...depending on purpose

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d

e

Conclusion

What don't I like about the Canon?

The main thing is the camera processing time when shooting raw. You have to make the first shot count!  You won't be able to take the next shot till one second later.  Thats one thing I like about the Sony is that it can shoot and process Raw files 5 fps!.

The battery life is very limited.

I would like a 2 memory card slots but we will have to wait for a compact true professional camera.

Zoom lever not linear in action -hard to zoom to correct focal length when in hurry.

Need Phd or extensive photographic knowledge to program the camera in menu settings.

What do I like?

Focus peaking in manual mode is really cool. But it works only once after pushing the manual focus button. If you recompose and need to refocus you need to push the manual focus button again. You can't just keep turning the info dial.

The lens quality appears ok to my eyes and not too soft as DP review state.

The ability to assign different functions to the individual controls.

Another great review is:

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Canon_PowerShot_G5X/verdict.shtml

So bought the camera as a portable Jpeg photocopier for my dental courses.

But I have also been trying to see if it could replace my D750 as my walk around camera for less serious occasions but has the potential to record something special.

My trip to Thailand and Singapore proved a good testing ground. As I was going for Dental and Thai cooking lessons I was reluctant to take my heavy SLRs. Also it was very hot (37 c) . So I took the Canon only and used it not just as a happy snappy camera but a serious tool for photo studies.

I will let you be the judge with the images displayed whether this camera can be taken seriously....

2.    3 April 2016     Salt Farm on the way to Floating Market.     iso 125     36.8mm (equiv 100mm)     f11     1/500sec

3     6 April 2016     Silom Rd  Market     iso5000     16mm (43mm)  f4.0     1/250sec

4.     2 April 2016     Silom Market     iso320     36.8mm  (100mm)      f4.0     1/125sec    

5.   5 April 2016     Silom Market     iso250     36.8mm (100mm)     f4.0     1/125sec     

6.     6 April2016     Silom Market     iso 1250     11.6mm (31mm)     f3.5     1/250sec          

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Boggy Pond Redux

1 May 2016

I always wanted to return to the swamp in summer time with the hope of having shallower waters so I can wade acroos the pond and enable me to photograph different viewpoints  from my last visit.

Unfortunately the bottom of the pond was still very Boggy (hence the name) and I literaly got stuck and had the feeing of being sucked down in quick sand!

So I had to retreat back to the shore, remove my waders, and just photograph from the shoreline.  Luckily I managed not to lose balance in the sticky mud otherwise all my expensive camera gear would end up submerged in the bog !

1.     21 Feb 2016     Nikon D3s     iso 400     200mm     f6.7     1/1000sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

2.     Nikon D800     iso200     160mm     f5.6     1/500sec     

3.     Nikon D800     iso 200     95mm     f5.6     1/500sec

4.     Nikon D800     iso200     31mm     f3.5     1/15sec     

5.     Nikon D800     iso 200     135mm     f5.6     1/1000sec     

6.       Nikon D800     iso200     24mm     f2.8     1/6sec     Nikon 14-24mm f2.8   

7.     Nikon d800     iso200     14mm     f4.0     1/6sec

Comments

brent higham
Posted: 1 May 2016

a very interesting place to photograph,one of contrast between the stark limbs of the dead trees with softly swaying green reeds,but this is a place of danger luring the adventurous into the dark waters to where the bog waits for its next victim.

Chris Bing replies: yes you are right Brent. As mentioned in my Blog I was nearly sucked in to the muddy depths.
 

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Europe is Hell for Landscape Photographers

25 January 2016

Well that's a sweeping generalisation and no doubt would attract lots of criticism from thousands of European photographers.

Especially when I only went to the top of Spain, South of France and North of Italy.  But I did have my own car and that gave me "freedom"of movement and the ability to go anywhere at any time. If you were travelling by Bus or Train,  life would be even more difficult for a landscape photographer. If this was the case then  stick to street photography or just be the tourist with the sharpest, highest resolution picture of the Eiffel tower -50 megapixels if you have a Canon 5Ds!

Let me give you an idea of my frustrations of trying to get a decent shot in Europe. Take the first photo of the seaside village called Comune di Sori in Liguria.  Driving down the coast of Italy from France we saw lots of beautiful seaside villages.  But geographically you had the sea first, then the village, then the road you were on. Could I stop to take a photo?  Nooooo. No parking and a narrow road. Hence the first picture to illustrate the road. Then you exit to go to the village to find even narrower, sometimes one way roads and any car parks were taken. Well what should you expect? These villages were built 500 years ago and catered for foot traffic and the odd horse and cart. Unfortunately the town planners didn't anticipate me coming along  with hundreds of other vehicles driven by curious tourists. So you end up meandering through the village looking for the exit back to the motoway or non toll road. The only photo taken was by my wife sticking her I phone out the window!

I did manage to get the lovely tourist shot of  Sori  by illegally parking, walking quickly to a vantage point and shooting a few shots. Sally was riding shotgun so to speak-ready to drive off if the traffic cops come along.

The same in Tuscany. Where are all those lovely postcard shots of the vines and cypress trees. Well it didn't help to be travelling in the wrong season, but again the roads were narrow with no room on the right to park the car. Also most of the classic scenes had power lines and modern structures as part of the scene as well. But hey the locals need electricity and modern farming practices.  They are not there to satisfy the needs of people seeking romantic scenes of the distant past. But the odd horse and carriage might help..... The closest I got was a broken down Fiat Bambina. But I didn't have the heart to stop and take a photo as that would definitely be "schadenfreude".

I took over 5000 shots in Europe and its taking me ages to find something decent to publish! I got more interesting stuff over 2 weekends at Boggy pond and the locals spoke the same language. An analogy to my situation is like if someone sends you an image with a huge file size. This blocks up all my incoming E mail. All this work is stifling my "creative juices" !

I am still making my may through the long narrow bottle neck -just like the sea side village!

Foot Note :  What does a Landscape photographer do in NZ?   Easy, spots the scene. stops the car (after checking the rear view mirror) on the left where theres normally plenty of room. Grabs his camera and tripod, apologizes to his passenger for the inconvenience, sets up the camera, checks the Iso, places the controls to manual, then reels off a few bracketed shots (probably 100?). He then reviews the landscape, waves to the passing cars, and when satisfied packs up the gear, hops into the car , apologizes to the wife (in my case) again and promises he won't stop again .... until the next scene!

1.     2 October 2015     Nikon D750     iso 220     20mm     f4.8     1/125Sec     Nikon 20mm f1.8

2.   Comune di Sori   Nikon D750     iso 200     35mm     f6.7     1/125sec     Nikon 35mm f1.8  

Tuscany in one day

Photo 3 . The start of our day. This is a view of Siena from our hotel -Sangallo Park Hotel.

Great stay and the receptionist was very helpful and planned the photographic route I should take.

Photos 4 to 11.  Tuscany landscapes.

Photo 12  Assisi at sunset where we stayed that night.

3.     11 October 2015     Siena     Nikon D750     iso2oo     200mm     f11     1/350sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4.0

4.     nikon D750     iso 200     78mm     f5.6     1/500sec

5.     11 oct 2015     Nikon D750     iso 200     200mm     f8.0     1/250sec     

6.     Nikon d750     iso 200     102mm     f9.5     1/180sec

7.     Nikon D750     iso 200     130mm     f8.0     1/125sec

8.     Nikon D750     iso 200     116mm     f11     1/125sec

9.     Nikon D3s     iso 200     70mm     f9.5     1/250sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4

10.     Nikon D3s     iso 200     165mm     f6.7     1/250sec     

11.     Nikon D3s     160mm     f6.7     1/125sec

12.     11 October 2015     Nikon D750     iso200     145mm     f4.0     1/180sec     

Comments

Richard
Posted: 5 Apr 2016

Some really nice shots here Chris.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Richard, but my comments still stand. I had to squeeze a lot of juice out of my camera and processing to produce a presentable shot! I like it when I come across a scene and I automatically say "wow". Then a take a series of bracketed shots look at the screen at the back of the camera ("chimping") and say "F..k that looks good!" Rush home to process the images in lightroom with the hardest decision being which one to give 5 stars and put on the Home page. That my man is the feeling of a satisfied fisherman and of a journey well spent and worth its weight in gold- ie worth the effort of carrying kilos of camera gear.

Eve Law
Posted: 6 May 2016

I love the Tuscan landscapes. I know that as a photographer you prefer the more unusual scenes but some of us still like the traditional picture box pictures as well. I love the great expanse of green in the Tuscan ones interspersed with the trees and the golden buildings. The colours are beautiful and remind me of my favourite novel 'Under the Tuscan sun'.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Eve. I do like the picture box pictures (otherwise I wouldn't have posted them) but you are right, photographers do seek to get that point of difference and it is hard to avoid that cliche image.
 

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Palau Dalmases Barcelona

6 December 2015

We discovered this venue on the same street as the Picasso Museum.

We booked the early evening show. Even though the audience was sparse the dancers and musicians performed with great emotion and energy. They were very friendly and professional. One advantage to me as a photographer was that I could freely walk around the room changing my angles and not get in peoples way.  The dancing was very fast moving and I had to work quickly.

The lighting was very difficult to work with as well. It was a very dark room and one single stationary spot light. The dancers moved across the stage from darkness to bright light then back to dankness. I used spot metering  (to avoid overblown hightlights) and had the camera shooting at 9 fps.

I kept my iso fixed at 6400. I could have gone higher but I would lose precious dynamic range and colour information.  Many of my shots were at least 2 stops under exposed but I managed to recover alot of detail and colour thanks to the D3s large sensor recepticals. There was a bit of noise though (mainly because of the under exposure) but this was reduced using Nik software (D fine).

Because I was impressed with the emotional intensity of the performance I also made a series of Black &White studies to illustrate this .

And, how many times have you seen real Flamenco dancing in B&W , let alone in colour?

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Inside La Sagrada Familia

15 November 2015

If you go to Barcelona this place should be the first on your list.  I first encountered Sagrada Familia over 30 years ago on a Contiki Tour.

I remember it as looking like an impressive sand castle. You couldn't go inside at that time.  But you must go in as the interiors are truly amazing and so different to all the other basilacas and cathedrals in Europe. The lighting is also amazing late afternoon as you can see in the photos.

But what can a frustrated photographer photograph when the building is surrounded by cranes and the inside full of tourists? You guessed it, photograph the people instead, make them the subject, especially the attractive ones.....

To see actual photos of Sagrada Familia head for the Special Projects/Europe page.

1.     Nikon D750     iso 3200     170mm     f4.0     1/125sec.

2.     iso 400     110mm     f4.0     1/125sec     

3.     iso 800     135mm     f4.0     1/90sec

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People and Selfies

People and Selfies

1.     Nikon D750     iso 320     20mm     f8.0     1/125sec     Nikon 20mm f1.8

Comments

Eve Law
Posted: 6 May 2016

What a great quirky study these photos are of people doing their selfies. I love the way you capture people's facial expressions in all your people shots, both here and the ones from Singapore and Thailand. The man sitting in contemplation while his daughter sleeps at the Sagrada is superb. Did he know you were taking the shot?

Chris Bing replies: No he didn't but as explained in the text the wife "caught" me. I have since communicated to him after the Paris bombings. He was there at the time but the family is safe.
 

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Lake Coleridge

14 September 2015

Well my birthday came around again. As predictable as the Sun revolves around the Earth, another 365 days then Whamo! Another year older, a few more holes drilled, a few thousand more shutter actuations achieved and just a few more "keepers" for the photographic website.

This year my Geraldine Guide, Wayne Keenan, recommended I visit the above poets lake and do some photography there as he knew I prefer the wild sparse landscapes to the pretty scenery (wife and sister in law excluded!).

So on Dr Googles advice I discovered  "Lake Coleridge Lodge".  They provide comfortable accomodaton, hot meals and warm friendly  service.  Toni and Dean are excellent Hosts and if anyone wants to spend a relaxing few days in the middle of great South Island scenery I can unreservedly recommend this place.

So for my significant birthday I arranged a "threesome" comprising of my wife Sally and her sister Winnie.  The third part  was Mrs Hyundai i35 which we hired from Go rentals.  It performed well managing the snow and gravel with great stability. In fact my favourite words on the trip were "Thank God I got a rental!" This was in response to the amount of mud and dirt worn by the car. The girls performed admirably as well....... that is being extremely patient and letting me stop anywhere to take lots of photos. They were great company as well.

The Lake itself is hard to see. There are only 3 or 4 access roads to the lake as it is surrounded by hills. None of the photos here are of the lake but on the other side of the hills.  But once you see the lake it is amazing as it is so undeveloped. Not one holiday home or batch to ruin the sense of isolation. Sorry you will have to see the lake yourself as there are no photos of the lake on this website. I took a few but the images were too postcardy for me.

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Comments

Toni
Posted: 29 Sep 2015

Hi Chris - just seen your blog with more gorgeous photos! I assume they're all of the Lake Coleridge area? I'm currently on the search for river photos from our area and see you've posted two stunning shots here. I'm wanting to put river photos in our rooms (all named after the local rivers). Do you remember which rivers photo 3 & 6 are of? Is 3 the Harper River?

Garth
Posted: 12 Nov 2015

Hullo Chris These are most impressive images of the winter scenery in the Lake Coleridge district. You have certainly captured the bleak conditions with the sheep. My father and I used to trout fish here in the summer months.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Garth. I glad I refreshed your memories of time with your father at Lake Coleridge. I love the wild emptiness and I'm sure it was pretty empty in your day!
 

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For Sarina who prefers my people shots to the rice terraces.

2 August 2015

On the  4 June in this Blog section Sarina made the above comment. I would agree with her but was surprised as she had only seen a few of my shots I posted on our Whats App group page.

Anyway she asked for it and now she's going to get it "in Spades" as the expression goes.

Its easier to get a unique image when photographing people as opposed to landcapes. With landscapes you have anything from a few seconds to a few minutes to get the shot. If you have someone (or many people)  next to you then they have probably captured the same image.

With people its that microsecond that counts. That fleeting glance or expression is all it takes to elevate the image from just ok to something special. Hence the term "decisive moment".

But the trouble with photographing people is that it requires one to be "Thicked Skinned" as there is the occassional verbal abuse. Landscapes are generally passive unless the weather plays up.  A lot of my group were mainly photographing scenery, themselves, food and the odd child. It takes a rude  "banana" (slang-yellow on the outside, white on the inside) like me to put cameras in strangers faces and recording their everyday activity.  My daughters accuse me of being a stalker.....

However it is important to be respectful with the image and hopefully it doesn't embarrrass them if they saw it. To me its the people that I see and meet that makes travelling enjoyable and rewarding. Hopefully through my images you have a chance to see the real people of China and realise how bloody hard they have to work just to survive.

As mentioned elsewhere in the Blog sometimes its the journey that can be more rewarding than the destination.

1.     14 Jan 2015     Nickon D3s     iso6400     56mm     f2.8     1/30sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

2.     15 Jan 2015    Nikon D3s      iso 200     180mm     f4.0     1/180sec  Nikon 70-200mm f4        

3.     Nikon D3s     iso 12800     32mm     f2.8     1/10sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

They're doing our dishes out there!  And it was very dark. They were actually doing the dishes in the dark. Sally shone a torch to illuminate the dishes!

4.     16 Jan 2015     Kunming    Nikon D3s     iso800     28mm     f6.7     1/250sec     Nikon 24-70 f2.8

5.     Nikon D3s     iso800     70mm     f4.8     1/250sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

Comments

Sarina Wong
Posted: 3 Aug 2015

Hi Chris, Finally, I’ve had a chance to look at every single shot of the Yunyang people. I knew they would be beautiful, but they are really amazing! Thank you so much for posting them on the blog for me. You're such a pro at sneaking in those decisive-moment shots! The emotions, details and background stories were truly captured on your photos. They all bring back memories of the way the people there live their lives. It was the famous photojournalist Robert Capa who once said “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” But as you said, photographing people candidly from close distance is more or less invasive and can easily incur an angry look or even curse. You’re very right that the most important thing is to be respectful of others and avoid photographing people in vulnerable or embarrassing situations. Yes, most of my friends, too, are photographing scenery, birds, butterflies, flowers, insects... Sure enough, I’d love to see more people shots on this platform.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks again Sarina. Your prose is excellent as well. Maybe you should write my blurb! You will see some more people shots as my next gig will be HK street photography- and I'm not your typical Street photographer, no Leica for a start, and so dam obvious like a tourist!

Toni
Posted: 13 Aug 2015

Agree with Sarina (2 Aug Blog) - your people shots are superb! Understand the awkwardness of taking photos of strangers though. Have enjoyed looking at your lovely landscapes too. We're looking forward to seeing what must be very snowy shots from around Lake Coleridge when you get around to posting them :)

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Toni, I really enjoyed my stay at Lake Coleridge Lodge and look forward to seeing you again. About those snow scenes at lake Coleridge..... Still waiting for the mood to get around to it. Still recovering from all that wonderful weekend!

Garth
Posted: 12 Nov 2015

Superb images of the Yunyang people. Your Kunming photo of the young lady feeding the seagulls is an example of how to capture all those seagulls in mid flight. Amazing. A wildlife entry.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Garth, but there definitely was a lot of luck involved and it helps to have a lot of hungry seagulls.
 

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House Construction

2 August 2015

I finished lunch early and wandered around outside.  I noticed down the road a house being built so off I went.

My only regret afterward was that maybe I should have used my Nikon D750 with 24mp rather than the D3s which only has 12mp. Then I could have had more detail when  cropped .  However the D3s and the telephoto lens is very well balanced and great to hold steady especially when shooting fast in the excitement of the scene. Do I sacrifice the increased chance of camera shake for more pixels?

The subjects were heavily back lit with the sky in the background.  This is where fill in flash or reflectors are useful. Obviously impractical in this situation so I had to expose for the shadows.  The Nikon 70-200mm f4  is a very sharp lens but more importantly great flare control with the lens coating. This is what separates the "Men from the Boys" when it comes to deciding whether to buy a budget lens or professional level- sharp wide open and resistant to lens flare. VR helps a lot too.

1.     17 Jan 2015     Nikon D3s     iso400     24mm     f4.8     1/125sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

2.     iso400     48mm     f4.8     1/125sec     

3.  iso 400     200mm     f4.8     1/180sec     Nikon 70-200 f4

4.     iso 400     200mm     f4.8     1/180sec

5. iso 400     200mm     f4.8     1/125sec     

Comments

Garth
Posted: 12 Nov 2015

Very graphic and powerful. These men should be proud of what they do in such difficult circumstances. Nothing posed here. Again, excellent people images.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Garth. It is a real privilege to have someone like you with your background and experience (painter and art teacher) to critique my work.
 

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For your interest.....

6.  Before

7.  After

Comments

Garth
Posted: 12 Nov 2015

Impressive image of a humble man.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Garth. This is a tribute to the style of Michael Ponder who did many oil paintings of stockmen.
 

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But wait theres more......


Boggy Pond

22 June 2015

On the 25 April I was off to Ngawi with my photographic friends Brent and Iris.

Brent showed me a picture on his cell phone of these dead trees in a swamp. The image is on my Guest Page. I made a very positive remark (for a change!) and asked it whereabouts- "Boggy pond", they replied. Then I replied in my usual, cultured, tertiary educated manner, "where the F.... is that?".

Well it was in the direction we were heading with a slight detour to Lake Ferry. The lighting wasn't ideal at the time of arrival so we decided to return late afternoon.  Unfortunately late afternoon the lighting wasn't ideal, so I vowed to return again and spend more time there.

In the following 5 weeks I returned 4 more times, thats how inspired I was by this place. It was also a 90 minute drive over the Rimutaka Hills so dedication was required. The second time Brent and I returned with gumboots on. We both got stuck and fell in the mud! Fortunately it wasn,t like quick sand otherwise we could end up as fossilised fotographers only to be discoved thousands of years later as strange animals with unusual glass like appendages!

But the bog continued to beckon me, so much so I decided to get some waders so I could travel deeper into the centre and go past the dead trees.

There was so much interesting photographic material gathered in this short amount of time and in this small area of space (less than a square kilometre ) that I divided my shots into 4 themes as you will see in the special projects section.

Yes Boggy, you're an amazing place and I shall return again and again.

1.     31 May 2015     D800     iso200     100mm     f/9.0     1/250sec

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Its Hard Getting a Unique Image Nowadays.........

24 May 2015

In January 2015 I knocked off another "must photograph" place on my list for China.  The Lonely Planet rates the Yuanyang rice terraces as number 22 of the places to see in China from a list of 30.

We took a five day "Wing On" tour from Hong Kong.  The company on the bus were all very nice people and all keen on photography-afterall the tour was advertised as a photographic tour. We all got on so well that a "Whats App" group was formed and even now its still going! The sights and scenery were very good although most of the rice terraces scenes were from viewing platforms and we were surrounded (literally) by hundreds of fellow photographers all shooting the same scene!  It seemed that sunset and sunrise were the best times and we waited for hours just to watch the sun go down.  Dynamic range (too much) was a big problem and it would have been great to have a 400mm lens. 

I took hundreds of shots and there were very few "keepers".  My "Whats App" group have published no photostudies either.

So with the hundreds of photographers shooting the same scene in extreme lighting, or flat boring lighting, it may become a battle of the "Post Processers"- to squeeze something out of the files with Photoshop or similar software. Glad I was shooting Raw files from the start and using a tripod.

In future should I return, I would like to spend time in the town of YuanYang and maybe walkup to the terraces or have a private driver. Sunset scenes would be best from the sides of the terraces rather than looking down.  Unique scenes can often occur on the way to the destination rather than at the end point. I also believe you can get "nice' photos from a view point but not really exceptional or unique images.

So this is not the "Game of Thrones" but the game of the photoshoppers to win this crown!

1.  15 January 2015     Just some of the 100s of photographers

2.  14 January 2015     Nikon D3s     iso 200     24mm     f9.5     1/125sec

3.     14 January 2015     Nikon D750     iso 800     70mm     f16     1/250sec     70-200f4

4.     15 January2015      Nikon D750     iso 200     200mm      f5.6     1/180sec    

5.     15 January 2015     Nikon D750      iso 200     200mm     f5.6     1/90sec    

6.     15 January 2015     Nikon D750     iso 200     200mm     f5.6     1/250sec     

7.     15 January 2015    Nikon D750     iso 200     145mm     f4.8     1/180sec      

8.  The original capture

Comments

Sarina Wong
Posted: 4 Jun 2015

Chris, you’re right. Experienced photographers can easily get nice photos but not necessarily exceptional or unique images. And about your Yuanyang pictures, I like the people shots more than the rice terraces' ones.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Sarina, I should get around to putting my people shots on the website.
 

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Shaanxi Little Plum Blossom Qinqiang Opera Arts Group

16 March 2015

The preparation before the big event can sometimes be as interesting as the show especially from a photographic view.

The opera group were all very nice people and appeared to really enjoy their time in Wellington.  They were especially tolerant of this geriatric photographer poking a big lens into their face!

Thank you  for the privilege of photographing you all and I really enjoyed the concert as well.

3.    14Feb2015     Nikon D3s     iso1600     200mm     f9.5     1/90sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

4     iso 800     92mm     f5.6     1/125sec     

5.     iso 800     200mm     f4     1/125sec

6.     iso 1600     70mm     f4.0     1/125sec     

7.     iso 1600     125mm     f8.0     1/90sec     

8.     iso1600     200mm     f6.7     1/90sec     

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Bird Photography in Hong Kong

5 February 2015

Bird photography is not really my thing. I don't have the long lenses to get in close or the patience to sit a wait. Then, when a feathered friend takes flight, spray and pray as the camera fires up at nine frames per sec. Some photographers accumulate well over a 1000 shots in one session, then spending all the time in the evening sorting out the shots.

However where I stay in Hong Kong is next door to some wet lands and a favourite bird  photographers spot, attracting people from China and Hong Kong. Here are a few photos taken with my puny 200mm lens -compared to the NZ$14,000, 600mm f4 which is the de rigueur for serious birdies. Oops I forgot the 1.5x extender as well!)

Also I have included photos from my good friend James Fung who also lives in Sallys village and drove us around various sites in Hong Kong on our last visit. James is a passionate photographer and a very good bird photographer. He is a good example of what can be done with Sony cameras and old Minolta lenses. James's photos are in the Guest section.

1.     29 December 2013     Ho Sheung Heung     Nikon D3s     iso200     200mm     f4.0     1/750sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4

2.     29 December 2013     Ho Sheung Heung     Nikon D3s     iso200     200mm     f4.0     1/1000sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4     

3.     22 March 2013     Ho Sheung Heung     Nikon D3s     iso800     200mm     f4.0     1/500sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4

4.     29 December 2013     Nikon D3s     iso 200     190mm     f4.0     1/750sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

5.     5 January 2014     Tsing Yi nature trail     Nikon D3s     iso 1600     200mm     f5.6     1/500sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4     

6.     29 December 2013     Ho Sheung Heung     iso 200     200mm     f5.6     1/500sec     Nikon 70-200mmf4     

7.     29 December 2013     Ho Sheung Heung     Nikon D3s     iso 200     14mm     f11     1/250sec      Nikon 14-24mm f2.8    

Comments

Richard
Posted: 3 Mar 2015

What do you mean, you are not a bird photographer? Some of these ones you have taken are lovely!

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Richard, you are too kind. personally I tend to photograph the non feathered variety!
 

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Abercrombie & Fitch

23 November 2014

The clothing stores have three recurring themes in Japan and Hong Kong: Atractive store front people to lure the customers in; dark stairway to lead the customers up and they then make there way down via the shop floors; moody dark lighting to provoke that nightclub "hip" feeling.  In Hong Kong the marketing seemed to work judging from the number of "Hollister" bags leaving the store.

The Japanese store was amazing with the number of floors for shopping and the beautiful people inside. All that was missing was the alcohol!

1.     27 March 2013     Ginza     Nikon D3s     iso200     24mm     f2.8     1/4sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

2.     28 March 2013     Ginza     Nikon D3s     iso6400     38mm     f2.8     1/45sec     Nikon 24-70mm f2.8  

3.     4 April 2013     Hong Kong, Causeway Bay     Nikon D3s     iso 6400     24mm     f2.8     1/30sec     Nikon 14-24mm f2.8

4.    4 April 2013     Hong Kong, Causeway Bay      Nikon D3s     iso6400     18mm     f3.3     1/30sec     Nikon 14-24mm f2.8    

5.     4 April 2013     Hong Kong, Causeway Bay     Nikon D3s     iso6400     14mm     f3.3     1/30sec     Nikon 14-24mm f2.8      

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China Dreams Concert

27 October 2014

The Capital Performing Arts Orchestra (known as CPA) and the Confucius Institute (Victoria University) performed a combined concert on September 9th 2014 at  "The Pines" Houghton Bay Wellington.

It was a great night out and I enjoyed listening to a variety of very talented musicians.

A well known person busking on the streets of Wellington is Mr Huang playing the Erhu.

Here is a link to a  National Radio docomentary about him:                                         http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/voices/20140804

Here is a link to photos of the concert which I discovered when I googled CPA to discover what the abbreviations meant !        http://www.wellingtoncpa.org.nz/cpa_photos_concert_september_2014.htm

My Daughters music teachers invited us to the concert as they were performing with their traditional chinese instruments.

I brought my traditional japanese instrument with me, Mrs Nikon.

1.  Yid-Ee Goh     Violin     Nikon D3s     iso 6400     200mm     f4.0     1/60sec     Nikon 70-200 f4.0

2 Zuo Ruoyan  (Athena)  Guzheng     Nikon D3s     iso 6400     86mm     f4.0     1/125sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

3.  Huang Xin Gang     Erhu     Nikon D3s     iso6400     200mm     f4.0     1/90sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

4.  Kong Jingyuan  (CiCi)    Pipa     Nikon D3s     iso 6400     200mm     f4.0     1/90sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

5.  My Daughter Hannah is learning the Guzheng from  "Athena" who is on her right.

     Abby, Hanna's twin sister is learning the Pipa from "Ci Ci " who is on her left.

Comments

Kim Anh Mumford
Posted: 14 Dec 2014

Hi Chris, I prefer the photo of CiCi with the full image of the Pipa here. I could feel the music more in this one. Love the B & W one of the violinist.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Kim, I think you do have a point. There is some blur in this image that shows movement as well.
 

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Clouds

14 September 2014

Personally I don't photographs clouds as a specific subject for an image. But..........

We were leaving Geraldine before sunrise when we spotted this unusual cloud formation. It reminded me of a big mothership in a sci fi movie. Having never seen anything like this before I decided to set up the tripod and photograph the cloud as the sun rises.

My dilemma in post production was how to present the cloud- preserve the shape and lose the fine detail or crop.

I couldn't make up my mind so here are a few variations of the scene.

Also in the gallery I have shown how the lighting changed as the sun came up.

1.    10 August 2014    Nikon D800    iso200    50mm    f4.0    1/60sec    Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

2.    Nikon D800    iso200    50mm    f4.0    1/60sec    Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

3.    Nikon D3s    iso200    200mm    f5.6    1/125sec    Nikon 70-200mm f4.0

4.    Nikon D800    iso200    50mm    f5.6    1/125sec    Nikon 24-70mm f2.8  

Comments

Kim Anh Mumford
Posted: 18 Sep 2014

Each one has its own beauty. Love them all. Nice capture Chris.

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Kim

Richard
Posted: 29 Oct 2014

I like the second image with the closer crop and the fine detail showing. (Just my preference) But all are good. Well done Chris.

Richard
Posted: 29 Oct 2014

The BW image has great lighting and is my preferred image. But all are good. Well taken Chris

Chris Bing replies: Thanks Richard, are you referring to the violinist?
 

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Confessions of a Wedding Party Stalker Part2

14 July 2014

Next stop Tokyo, Japan.  Rumour has it that the Meiji Shrine had traditional  wedding ceremonies every weekend.

So off I go onto the Yamanote line getting off at Harujuku Station. The park containing the Meiji Shrine is immediately adjacent to the station.  It is interesting how the two extremes of Japanese fashion, Harujuku girls and kimino clad girls are right next door to each other.

And the rumour was correct. There appeared to be a wedding party every 30 -40 minutes. All lining up like ducks in a row.

With the variety of different coloured kimonos it was more like a tray of sushi.  My camera couldn't stop clicking.....

1.  28 March  2013     Nikon D3s     iso 200    24mm    f13     1/350      Nikon 24-70mm f2.8    

2.     30 Mar 2013     Nikon D3s     iso 400     200mm     f16     1/90sec     nikon 70-200mm f4

3.    30 March 2013    Nikon D3s    iso 800    200mm    f4.0    1/180sec    Nikon 70-200mm  f4

4.     30 March 2013     Nikon D3s    iso 800     200mm     f6.7     1/180     Nikon 70-200mm f4

5.     30 March 2013     Nikon D3s     iso800     110mm     f4.0     1/125sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4

6.     Koishikawa Korakuen     1 April 2013     Nikon D3s     iso 200     200mm     f6.7     1/250sec     Nikon 70-200mm f4

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Confessions of a Wedding Party Stalker Part 1

1 July 2014

I love to photograph weddings, especially of different cultures.

The whole theatrical experience is so interesting. All that preparation, expense, for that one day when two separate families come together to celebrate the marriage of their child. The emotion of the occassion is palpable and waiting to be bottled as a timeless image. Personally its great to be a photographer bystander rather than "the wedding photographer"-far less pressure. This allows room to be more creative or  nonchalant. From an anthropological view weddings are facinating and I like to record the event even if they are perfect strangers. I referring to me and the couple. not the couple themselves although it does happen..... Every wedding is different in theme and dress. But everyone  looks beautiful on the day.

Photographing strangers weddings also gives me practice honing my skills to capture a beautiful moment. This is particularly important when I do have a future wedding  to photograph as the sole photographer. Getting that Eye- Hand  coordination in sync is  important as I am only an Occassional (wedding) photographer.

The first three photographs are a continuation of Gulangyu island.  The third one was taken in Hong Kong at the 1841 heritage site. This is a popular venue especially in the weekend for the Hong Kong wedding scene. Its a bit like a watering hole in the jungle. Hunter and prey converge.....

1.    23 Dec 2009   Nikon D3   iso 400    70mm    f6.7   1/60sec    Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

2.     23 Dec 2009    Nikon D3    iso 400    180mm    f5.6     1/500sec   Nikon 180mm f2.8

3.    23 Dec 2009    Nikon D3    iso400    180mm    f8    1/500sec    Nikon 180mm f 2.8  

4.    23 March 2013    Nikon D3s    iso200    24mm    f6.7    1/250sec    Nikon 14-24mm f2.8

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Surfing Ngawi*

9 June 2014

* sung to the beach boys song "Surfing USA"

Some how that doesn't work.  Apart from having a syllable less (pronounced "Nar we") it was cold with no sandy beach, no bikinis, no tanned muscular bodies, no Pamela or David, no Sun, and little waves.  But there are seals- how many seals do you see in Baywatch?

I admire these guys surfing all day and into the night with such inclement weather.  Dedication and passion following the wave.  They all are the "salt of the earth" I say.

Low carbon footprint as well.  Compare this to skiers with all the demands of a ski field, fancy 4 wheeled vehicles, fancy gear and skis, and of course '"apres ski".  The creature comforts for these guys is a warm fire on the beach with home made sandwiches.

Ngawi is a small fishing village at the bottom of the North Island.  Its about a 2 hour drive from Wellington.  Brent knows the area well and often goes there for photography.  I decided to accompany him on Queens Birthday as I haven't been there before.  Its also great to have him driving then I can concentrate on spotting the potential targets for our cameras.  It was a great day and thankyou Brent for taking the time to show me the wild Wairapa coastline.

1.      2 June 2014       Nikon D800  iso 200   70mm   f 10  1/320sec  Nikon 70-200 f4    

2.    Nikon D800    iso200    165mm    f 5.6    1/1000sec    70-200mm f4.0

The mountain in the background is featured in "where did you have lunch"  Yealands Estate Seddon.

3.  Nikon D3s    iso200    24mm    f11    1/180sec    Nikon 14-24  f2.8

4.    Nikon D800    iso200    92mm    f 9.0    1/250sec    Nikon 70-200 f 4.0

5.    Nikon D800    iso 200    200mm    f 5.6    1/500sec    Nikon 70-200 f4.0

6.    Nikon D800    iso 1600    70mm    f 4.0    1/125sec    Nikon 70-200 f4.0   

7.    Nikon D800    iso 3200    110mm    f 7.1    1/125sec    Nikon 70-200 f4.0

9.    Nikon D3s    iso 800    24mm    f2.8    1/180sec    Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

10.    Nikon D3s    iso 6400    24mm    f2.8    1/125sec    Nikon 24-70 f2.8

11.    Nikon D3s    iso1600    38mm    f3.3    1/90sec    Nikon 24-70mm f2.8

Comments

Richard
Posted: 24 Jun 2014

I like the evening shots 6-11, but particularly 6 & 9. 2 is rather good also!

 

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Masks & Sparks

26 May 2014

The "C" word is something nobody wants on themselves, family or friends. Having Cancer changes everything and forces one to re-evaluate the future. Everyday worries and problems of the past get put into the boot when this new front seat passenger comes along. Marjorie is one of those people. She is my patient, friend, and photography enthusiast.

Marjorie rang me the other day before her appointment and wanted a favour of me.  She had previously two separate treatments for two unrelated cancers. Now a lesion has appeared in her brain. She is to undergo radiotherapy on her brain daily for a period of 2 weeks. The preliminary treatment had been completed. This included counselling, premedication, and a mask made. This mask is designed to keep the patient in exactly the same place so that accurate repeatable radiation doses  can be applied. This is  helped with laser guidance. The sparks refer to fireworks but in this case, laser pyrotechnics.  Majorie was fascinated with the masks, the machinery and the lasers.  She wanted to record the esthetic element of her treatment as the mask and laser lights looked surreal to her. It felt like a theatrical experience even though the procedures were very serious. 

Marjorie asked whether I could photograph her experience. Luckily the first day of treatment was my day off.  The radiotherapy department were also very obliging and allowed me to be present.

On Monday morning I picked up Marjorie (normally the cancer society can provide volunteers) and we had free parking at the cancer society carpark  across the road from the hospital.

Before treatment began Marjorie had a pre radiation interview. After that, the theatrics began as Marjorie lay herself down with the mask on. I started clicking. But the real action started after we evacuated the room. Then the intense radiation began (25Gy/10#). If you received 4 dental xrays, the dose is equivalent to 5 million of these! 

Marjorie is a health professional and famliar with hospital protocols. We were both impressed with the care and professionalism of all the staff. They were all friendly too!

But what most of us fail to notice is the amount of work that leads up to the treatment. We tend to notice the million(s) dollar machine but forget all the people that make successful treatment possible. A medical technician made that mask. We have a Medical Physicist  who calculates the dose. The Oncologist, Radiologist and a whole heap of other people who also have contributed to Marjories care. Last, but not least, we have the radiotherapists who are with Marjorie during the treatment. Thanks to Clare and Shelley for very good, caring  service.

Getting cancer treatment is not just about  getting the surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Its also about getting the support from the community and letting the patient know that we as a society care for them. The volunteers who help with the transport, the free parking, the wonderful staff, the comfortable ward, all help to make the difficult journey tolerable.

I will finish off with a question. What's Marjorie going to do with the mask when treatment is completed? A patient turned his into a lamp shade. Maybe it could be a cheese grater? Personally I thnk Marjorie will take up fencing -she is such a good battler.

1.

2.

3.

4.    Clare and Shelley

5.

6.

7.

8.     Mission Control

9.

10.

Comments

Ruth Reid
Posted: 2 Jul 2014

This woman is amazing and brave and I am so proud to have her as my sister

ruth reid
Posted: 10 Jul 2014

Not only is this woman amazing, brave and beautiful, she is my sister and I am so proud of her. Love you Marj x

Ruth Reid
Posted: 12 Jul 2014

Not only is this lady amazing, beautiful and brave she is my sister, love you Marj x

Chris Bing replies: Sorry Ruth for the repetition. I didn't see your comments till now 13 July 2014.

Suzanne
Posted: 19 Jul 2014

I feel very privileged to see these photos. Thank you Marjorie and Chris.

Chris Bing replies: Thank you, it was a privilege for me as well.
 

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