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Stars, sun, and earth

When I make my way out to photograph the stars, I am always in awe of what I see when I look toward the sky. There are too many stars to count, many of which may have gone dormant long ago. While shooting I do my best to stay in the present, and be as much a part of the surroundings as I can. Though, when staring at the star-filled sky long enough, I can't help but think about the those distant stars, and galaxies, and where they are in their lifecycle. The light I am seeing could be from decades ago, but it is just now reaching earth. I then think about the stage of life of our home star, the sun. It has a finite life, but when will it cease supporting life on Earth? There are so many things I can be thankful for, the sun being there for us each day has to be number one. Without it, there is no life on this beautiful blue gem.

Sony A7r2 - Sony G-Master 24-70

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Back Again!

When life moves fast, it moves real fast. This is especially true when you break your fibula. I wasn't planning to break my fibula, but a late night mission to Nugget Point had other plans. The astro shoot was over, and I was ready to head back to Dunedin. The perch I found was a few precarious meters from stable ground. When I stepped to make my way over, the foothold wasn't as stable as I would have imagined. My foot slipped, and I feel a few meters. While on the way down, my foot caught a tree root, which forcefully pushed it into inversion. I thought I heard a snapping sound, but was hoping it was a tree branch.

This wasn't the experiencing I was planning on having while visiting Nugget Point, due to the fact that every other mission was a fruitful, and positive one. After assessing the damage, I climbed my way out of the brush I fell into. I then proceeded to hike my way down to the car. At the time, I had hope I hadn't broken my ankle, but I wasn't too confident. The two friends I was with were hesitant to let me drive the 1.5 hours back to Dunedin, but convinced them I was alright. If I hadn't had a hiking boot on, there was little chance I would have been able to drive home with my foot the state that it was in. As soon as I arrived home, Angela was there to greet me on the road. We were both hopeful it wasn't a break, but after she assessed it, we believed it could be worse than a simple sprain. Needless to say, there wasn't much sleep to be had that night.

Fast foward 12 weeks, and I have since had surgery to fixate a spriral fracture of the fibula, a Weber B to be exact. It all happened quite fast, from the initial casting (thought surgery wouldn't be necessary, after intitial doctor visit), to the call from the doctor requesting I head to the hospital immediately for surgery, to the quick hospital stay for the surgery, to the removal of the cast, which was then replaced by a boot. I will say, that my first experience with socialized medicine was a very positive one. Each stage of treatment was handled quite well, and all the care I received was top notch. The United States could stand to learn a great amount from the New Zealand model. Good health care should not be privelege, it should be a right.

At the 4 week mark I went across to the US for a work trip, crutches and boot in tow. While there I made it a priority to perform my rehabiliation (prescribed by the best physio in the world, my wife, Angela;) each and every morning. This has paid true dividends in the form of returning to full function a good bit ahead of schedule. We just returned from a tour of the South Island, and I was able to hike all the trails (including Isthmus Peak) without issue. It was such a liberating feeling after so many weeks of immobility, and limited function.

The scene below is from the trip. It was taken at sunset, while on our way down from the Ben Lomond saddle. The fresh air, and uphill climb, were therapy for my soul.

 

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Moke Lake

One often heads to Moke Lake for the reflections, and today was no different. However, after I got my fill of reflections, I decided to climb up as high as I could before sunset. The hills around the lake had always intrigued me, so I thought it was time to explore them. Below is what I saw once I had reached a good vantage point. There was still more climbing to be done, but there wasn't enough light left to guide me to the top. This allows me the opportunity to head back for a true summit.

Adventure fitness is for everyone! Get out and play!

 

Sony A7rII - 24-70 2.8

6 sec | f5.0 | ISO 100 | 40mm

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Stargazing in Dunedin City

We are quite fortunate to live in a city where light pollution doesn't completely obscure the stars in the night sky. I often head out into darker regions of the surrounding countryside, but thought it would be fun to test the limits of my camera with city lights in full effect.

As you can see, the skies are still dark enough to allow almost a full view of the Milky Way. If I had gotten up a little bit earlier, I could have captured the complete arch. Saving something for next time!

I hope you enjoy the photo!

 

Milky Way over Dunedin City

Sony A7RII - Sony Zeiss 16-35 f4

30' | f4 | ISO 8000 | 16mm

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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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