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Milford Magic

It has been quite some time since my last post. Work life getting in the way of creativity should really never be an excuse, unfortunately, this is part of the reason why I've been absent. This fact, along with a fairly involved travel schedule.

Alas, i am back, for now. I thought I'd share one of my favorite moments from a Great Walk myself, Angela, and our friends Susan and Rory set out on back in early March. The photo is one I took while standing in the middle of a river. Mind you, the river was quite low at the time. The extra time in the water finally gave my waterproof boots their first true test. They were not all that waterproof after 20 minutes. This left me with wet feet for the remainder of our walk, which was fortunately only an hour away from being complete.

If you have an opportunity to hike the Milford Track (need to reserve this July 2017), I highly recommend doing so. A winter, or early spring excursion might be fun as well.

The photo below is from Giants Gate Falls. Happy exploring!

Sony A7rii - 24-70 2.8 f4.5 | 1/60 | ISO 500 | 30mm

Sony A7rii - 24-70 2.8

f4.5 | 1/60 | ISO 500 | 30mm

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Milky Way Photography

The Milky Way photography season is upon us, and I couldn't be more excited. From November until February, the core isn't visible, so there is less effort made to head out in the middle of the night to shoot. Fast forward to March, and we are back in business.

The new moon, over the past few days, has allowed for brilliant night skies. It should also be noted that the weather has been fairly cooperative. The first shot below was from March 23, 2017, at Hoopers Inlet. The benefit of Hoopers is that it is surrounded by reasonably-sized hills, which prevent most of the Dunedin light pollution from affecting the briliance of the starry night sky. After locating the Milky Way, with the PhotoPills app, I proceeded to find the best spot to capture it with the most interesting foreground. It turns out this was actually in the water at Hoopers. I've included screen captures from the PhotoPills app, the planner and night AR.

 

Hoopers Inlet

Sony A7Rii - 16-35 f4

15 sec | f4 | ISO 6400 | 16mm

PhotoPills Planner

PhotoPills Night AR

My most recent astrophotography mission was this morning at 5am. A planned Aurora Australis shoot didn't materialize due to heavy clouds invading the night sky over Dunedin. The orignal plan was to shoot the Milky Way from the top of Mt Cargill, looking down over Mt Chalmers, and Blueskin Bay. All looked good (clear skies) until I reached the top of Mt Cargill, where a thick cloud bank was waiting for me. There was zero visibility at the top, so down I went. Fortunately the cloud clover was located primarlly at the top of Mt Cargill, and not much lower. This photo was taken on Mt Cargill Rd, just above a beautiful green farm pasture. The wind was far more powerful than I was expecting, and nearly didn't get a shot without tripod movement. Like the previous mission, this one was also planned out using PhotoPills.

You are a stunner Dunedin!

 

Milky Way rising over Port Chalmers

Sony A7Rii - 16-35 f4

15sec | f4 | ISO 6400 | 16mm

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Teleport Yourself

Often when I look up at the night sky I think back to old Star Trek movies, and how wondrous they made space travel appear. Moving between galaxies, interacting with alien life forms, and exploring the 'great beyond'. What young kid wouldn't want to be a part of those endeavors.

When shooting astrophotography I am filled with that same sense of wonderment, and intrigue. Until we find a way to travel at the speed of light, this will most likely be the only way to experience other worlds in their most raw form. Then again, if Elon Musk has his way, there is a chance we could be colonizing Mars before the end of my lifetime.

Focus on where your feet are planted now, but don't forget to look up and dream about where life could take you. Often celestial bodies can help remind us that our hopes do not have to be bound to a terrestrial mindset.

Thankful for each day on this beautiful blue pearl we call Earth. Peace, and love, to all my fellow earthlings.

 

Sony A7ii - 16-35 f4

20sec | f4 | ISO 6400 | 17mm

 

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Ride the Wave

This beautiful planet we call home, offers us so many joys. The water we surf is just one of those treasures most take for granted. If we assume someone else will take up the call of protecting the places we hold sacred, most likely those places won't exist, as they once did, for much longer.

Natural beauty surrounds us in New Zealand, with some of the most beautiful mountain lanscapes just a 3-hour drive away. The east coast of the South Island is also home to some of the most pristine beaches in the world. Instead of going off on a long rant about how global warming will adversely affect these natural wonders, I am going to just make a simple request. Stop and think about how you live your daily life. Most likely, if their is room for improvement you will find it quite easily. In the end, my hope is that this extra thought about "the world" will help you consume less. By consuming less, we can hope to take pressure off the earth's finite resources. If we do this now, there will stil be some left for future generations (I hope!).

By all means go out and enjoy every wonder this amazing planet has to offer. Please just be mindful of how you treat it when you're done playing.

 

Sony A7rII - 24-70 2.8

1/160 | f9.0 | ISO 125 | 53mm

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Cloud Sea in Paradise

If you've ever wondered what heaven looked like, this might be one of the closer renditions the earth has to offer. The photo does offer a good depiction of what I saw in person, but there is something to be said for having seen it in person.

In the two years I've been in Dunedin, this is the first time I've ever seen this phenomenon. Potentially the weather patterns from the north clashing with those from the south? A few hours before, where I was standing to take this picture, was covered in cloud. I feel quite fortunate to have seen this cloud sea while it was still flowing over, and around, the hills of Dunedin.

 

Sony A7Rii - 24-70 2.8

1/80 | f4.0 | ISO 1000 | 45mm

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Peace on the Highway

Often those two words, peace and highway, do not co-exist. Well, in New Zealand, the land of enchantment, anything is possible.

The number of times I have passed through this same stretch, without a photo, was approximately 100%. That is, up until a week ago. It was getting late, and my mind was focused on getting home before I fell asleep at the wheel. This would have gone as planned had I not passed through Cromwell just as the sun was setting. Watching this scene unfold in front of my eyes was quite exhilirating, but it was also frustrating. You see, those driving towards Alexandra (from Cromwell) have zero places to stop along the highway. I did what any photography would have done, cross over the center line and park on the other side. This might not be the safest idea, but during the time I was shooting (5 minutes, max) I didn't see a single car.

What you see below is the result of 2 years of contemplation. Hoping to be back here again, and soon, to take some proper photos.

Keep on making those great photos(and getting outside, as well)!

 

Sony A7RII - 24-70 2.8

1/40 | f2.8 | ISO 1000 | 32mm

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Feeling One's Surroundings

The above can be taken literally, or figuratively, when exploring the outdoors. Both should be exercised often.

When hiking I forget to actually feel my surroundings. Tonight I took the time to feel the rocks, feel the flax, and imgaine what it would feel like to dive into this huge bank of clouds. One's interaction with the natural world is all based on perception. How do you perceive the woods you are standing in, the mountain you are summiting, and the ocean water you are swimming in?

In my younger years I was a competitive cyclist, triathlete, and mountain biker. There is no doubt in my mind, when biking, running, and swimming, the only thing I felt was the sweet pain of the competition. There were very few times I actually took the time to take in my surroundings, and truly feel what it was like to be in some amazing places. I still love to push my physical limits, but if there is an opportunity to immerse myself in the moment, I will wholeheartedly take it.

One such instance is pictured below. While riding up at Coronet Peak, with my friends Rob and Tamara, I decided to stop and capture them descending. After they were out of sight, I took another 5-10 minutes to process the beautiful views all around me.

Get outside and feel your surroundings (just don't pet any skunks)!

 

Sony A7Rii - 24-70 2.8

1/200 | f7.1 | ISO200 | 45mm

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Time

We all have a finite amount of it, and what we choose to do with it is completely up to us. For some there is not much choice, other than choosing to survive. Those of us who were born into first world families have an unlimited amount of options available to us, but believe most often the freedom we have been blessed with is squandered by preconceived notions of what we should do to conform.

In most cases it is often best to take that time and be unconventional with it. Instead of slamming head first into a job out of college, take time to truly find out what you want to do with the expensive degree you worked so hard for. You (and your parents) deserve as much! I would say travel, but that may not be the best option for everyone.

After having slowly crept towards what would be considered middle age (40 :( ), i look back and wonder how I could used my time more wisely.  First and foremost would have been spending less time at my job, and more time traveling the globe. I have no regrets, just advice for those who come after me. My life right now is quite beautiful, and I needed all those lessons in time along the way. They are now of great service to me when I slowly see my time on this brilliant blue gem as much shorter than I thought when I was in my 20s.

The person below has the right idea on how to utilize one's time. Catching those last waves, and rays, of the day.

 

Sony A7Rii - 70-200mm 2.8

1/60 | f13 | ISO 100 | 70mm

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