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The Good Church

The Good Church

There seem to be two things that attract photographers to Tekapo in New Zealand—the incredible dark sky and the Church of the Good Shepherd. These can of course be combined, with some very famous images of each.

The township and lake, and the church, are photogenic in themselves, and daytime images are worthwhile.

The biggest problem with this scene, in the daytime, is the people. I setup and waited for quite sometime with the composition I wanted. I shot whenever the crowds were few, and eventually got an image with only half a dozen people or so.

I will admit I then did something I rarely do—I Photoshopped the people out1.

Although I prefer not to remove elements from an image, in this case my photographic vision, and the story I wanted to tell, was of the stunning location, the peace and the isolation. These are all true things, so I happily removed the people from the image.

The composition is similar to one used in one of Elia Locardi’s Photographing the World tutorials, which I highly recommend. I liked Elia’s composition, and spent time to find a similar composition. It is a learning technique to try to get inside the head of other photographers.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr


  1. I occasionally remove elements from an image. I don’t add things that weren’t there. 
Lookout

Lookout

This image was made in the same general area as my Wanaka Wandering image, and apart from demonstrating the value of getting to some unique, off-the-beaten-path locations, it also demonstrates another value of a photo tour.

In this case the tour guide not only volunteered to be a model, but new a great spot that could use a human element to bring perspective to the immense landscape. There’s a reason that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in NZ, including in this very area.

People don’t feature in many of my images, but I have to admit that in this instance the human element added to the image, significantly.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC Classic, Photoshop, Nik Collection
Wanaka Wandering & the value of photo tours

Wanaka Wandering & the value of photo tours

Wanaka Wandering

A photo tour in Wanaka, NZ, took us onto private property in the hills high above Lake Wanaka.

It was a magical location, off the beaten track, that provided for some unique images that showed the scale of the lake and surrounding mountains and valleys.

This image was made in the evening with beautiful blues, greens and golds in the countryside.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Value of Photo Tours

As an experienced scuba diver1 I am comfortable diving in most diving situations, yet when I go to new places I enjoy the opportunity to dive with a local guide. Even though I might have greater experience or qualifications in diving overall, local dive guides generally know a lot more about diving in the local environment that I do.

I’ve had the opportunity to take several dedicated photo tours, including one in Ubud, Bali and one in Wanaka, New Zealand. While I hear some experienced photographers question the value of such photo tours, sometimes of belittling the participants for ‘stamp collecting’ images, I think that such tours can have several advantages.

General Advantages

The right pace. Photographers often lament that when travelling in general tours the pace of the tour is too fast to allow them to stop and create great images. Other participants will complain that the photogs are slowing the group down. Specialised photo tours mean structure the pace for photographers, and everyone knows what they are getting themselves into.

Locations are picked for the conditions. The photo tours I’ve undertaken have had a general list of locations, but always advertise that conditions will be selected for the day. To suit photographic conditions.

Meet others with similar interests. On photo tours you might meet with other photographer who share similar interests. This might provide shooting partners for other days in the area.

The chance to talk photography with other enthusiasts. The travel to and from locations, the breaks and meals are times when participants and guides will strike up conversations. You can talk photography, knowing that everyone is a willing participant in the conversation ;-).

Advantages for the novice

Experiential instruction. While not courses, per se, photo tours offer guides who understand photography, and can offer tips and tricks.

Chance to try out equipment. Some photo tours will supply specialised equipment for the type of photography. This might include tripods, filters, etc.

Permission to play without being rushed. Not having non-photogs around means that the photogs can focus on the task at hand.

For the experienced photographer

Get you to the best photo spots. Many of my favourite photos have come from once in a lifetime destinations2. While I research my locations before travelling, it is nice to have someone who can take you to the best locations, at the best times.

Access to unique locations. The photo tour I took in Wanaka, NZ, went high into the hills above the Lake, overlooking the town in the distance. The location was on private property, and the operator, Ridgeline Tours had exclusive access to the site. It was a unique and magical site for late afternoon and sunset images.

Tips / tricks / critiques from another photographer. Regardless of how experienced we are, there is always someone better. The guides on photo tours generally really know the photographic techniques for the areas they are in. This critique can shorten the learning curve.

Opportunity to try out new forms of photography. You might be a great landscape photographer, but perhaps a photo tour will provide the opportunity to try out nightscapes.

Final Thoughts

I would not, nor would I recommend, making photo tours a daily activity on a holiday or adventure. But there are reasons to consider that they might be advantageous from time-to-time. If a photographer enjoys the occasional photo tour, all power to them.


  1. As a PADI Course Director I teach all levels of scuba diving from beginner to higher level instructor courses. 
  2. Or at least locations I will visit only rarely. 
The Broken Wharf

The Broken Wharf

The Broken Wharf

Meiklejohns Bay lies at about the halfway mark between the two namesake towns on the Queenstown to Glenorchy Road on New Zealand’s South Island, near a little hamlet called Paradise.

The stunning Remarkables mountain range looms in the background of this beautiful mountain lake, while the cloud formations bring meaning to the nickname for New Zealand—the Land of the Long White Cloud.

The broken wharf, also known as Old Paradise Wharf1, is a stunning feature, easily accessible from the road. Take your time, try different compositions and consider using a polarising filter and perhaps a graduated ND to help bring out the most in the sky and the water.

And bring insect repellent.2

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

#Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC Classic, Luminar 2018

  1. The image on the linked page was shot on the same day, but at a different time of day, and with different cloud formations. I like them both. 
  2. Six months later I still have strong memories of the insects, and the bites I sustained at this great spot. 
Frankton’s Golden Arm

Frankton’s Golden Arm

Where have I been?

I’ve been posting a bit to my Micro Thoughts Micro.blog site, but have been a bit slack in processing photos. Therefore, nothing new has been posted here for a wee while.

I still have a backlog of New Zealand images to post, and we got back from the land of the long white cloud in April. Since then I’ve been shooting a bit with the Panasonic G9 in Australia, and we had a wonderful trip to Japan last month.

I plan to post weekly1, and to include some narrative on a exploration or photography related topic before the weekly image.

So there’s a bit to come here…

Talking of the Panasonic Lumix G9.

I love it. And my new Panasonic Leica 8-18mm and 12-60mm lenses.

I’ve also been playing around with a Cactus remote flash system in an effort to do some lighting effects.

Frankton’s Golden Arm

Frankton's Golden Arm

Frankton Arm on Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu is an awesome place for sunset image creation.



The twin mountain ranges converging in the background here provided brilliant lighting, with the setting sun casting its rays down the valley, lighting up the distant range, while the nearer one was silhouetted beautifully.



The glow of the sun on the lake provided lovely colours.



The shooting location was at the end of a suburban street, and can be easily worked out with some simple planning in Photo Pill’s, TPE or a similar app.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr


  1. When work commitments allow. Sometimes I may not have the bandwidth (literally or figuratively) to post. 
That Wanaka Willow

That Wanaka Willow

Commonly known as thatWanakaTree, the Wanaka Willow is a tree that grows out in the waters of New Zealand’s Lake Wanaka.

Supposedly the most photographed tree in the world, the Wanaka Willow attracts dozens of photographers each sunrise and sunset to capture imagery of this rather unique vista.

As with all of our experiences on the South Island, Wanaka was a wonderful place to stop and make images of mountains, lakes and of course #thatWanakaTree.

Wakatipu Reflections

Wakatipu Reflections

A trio of images from the Queenstown area of New Zealand, featuring the stunning mountain ranges as a backdrop to the magic foreground of Lake Wakatipu.

The scenery around Queenstown is simply breathtaking and would keep any landscape photographer happy for years.

Wakatipu Reflections

Wakatipu Reflections

Magnificent reflections on Lake Wakatipu. Driving back from Glenorchy to Queenstown we spotted this great vista, smooth surface and great reflections, and pulled over as soon as it was safe to make some photos.

Old Paradise Wharf

Old Paradise Wharf

Roughly half-way between Queenstown and Glenorchy is the hamlet of Little Paradise, Mt Creighton. There’s not much there – basically just a lodge and the old wharf. This last site is a magic foreground for photos.

SUP Wakatipu

SUP Wakatipu

Taken from the Queenstown Gardens with the stunning mountains backdrop to the standup paddle-boarding and other water activities taking place on Lake Wakatipu.

A New Zealand Adventure Begins

A New Zealand Adventure Begins

Flightpath to Queenstown

Queenstown, a city on New Zealand’s South Island, is sometimes referred to as the ‘adventure capital of the world’, a title it has earned through the variety of outdoor and adventure activities that can be pursued in and around this alpine city.

Even the flight into Queenstown is regarded as the world’s most scenic approach, as well as one of the ultimate landings for thrill-seekers.

This is due to the need for the pilots to fly in over Lake Hayes, navigate through some very mountainous valleys and finally land on a runway that seems to lead straight into Lake Wakatipu.

Runway to Lake Wakatipu

The image at the top of this page shows one of the valleys through which arriving aircraft must fly, and a careful look will reveal an Air New Zealand Boeing 737 on final approach. The second image, just above shows the final valleys and peaks to be navigated, with the runway of the airport leading to Lake Wakatipu.

Skilled pilots of major New Zealand and Australian airlines regularly and safely make this flight, but it is nonetheless an amazing arrival for first time visitors and residents returning home alike.

Middle Earth

It is thrilling arrival to the start of an adventure to some of the incredibly picturesque landscapes in the world.

Diving PNG

Diving PNG

Belinda and Elephant Ear Coral by Des Paroz on 500px.com

I was surprised today to see blog post from DeeperBlue on Diving Papua New Guinea, featuring one of my images from a trip my wife and I made there in 2006.

We love PNG, and have dived at Kavieng, Kimbe Bay (Walindi), Milne Bay (Tawali) and Tufi. These are all amazing diving locations, and I am happy to see one of my images being used to promote diving in this part of the world.

With that said, a bit of advance notice and link back would have been nice!

Passage to the Castle

Passage to the Castle

Passage to the Castle by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Castel Sant’Angelo must be one of the most photographed sites in Rome. Given that Rome is one of the world’s most photographed cites, that is really saying something.

Having captured several of the classic vistas of Castel Sant’Angelo, I set about finding different angles. This street leading up to the bridge across to the castle presented an interesting composition for an afternoon image, with the shadows in the foreground, and the brightly lit castle behind.

This image was shot hand-held, and some work was done in Luminar to get the lights and colours to match more closely the scene I saw on the day.

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
  • L: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO
  • E: Lightroom CC Classic, Luminar 2018

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Colourful Clarke Quay

Colourful Clarke Quay

Colourful Clarke Quay by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Singapore is a colourful city.

I didn’t tropical business-hub to be so vibrant and vivid, so as a photographer I was delighted to experience not just the modern architecture mixed with Asian heritage, but also the colourful expression of city’s colonial past.

We explored the city mostly by foot, but a boat tour from Marina Bay to Clarke Quay was a great way to explore a variety of locations, and to scout things out.

Along the river several colourful areas were quite photogenic. With the sun direction on the day, Clarke Quay proved particularly attractive.

I created this photo in the middle of a bright, sunny day. With the sky and the water, my polarising filter was critical to getting a good base image. I did some colour correction in Lightroom, and a little bit in Luminar and the resulting image represents the picture I saw on the day quite nicely.

Image Data

C: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
L: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO
E: Lightroom CC Classic, Luminar 2018

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Pre-setting your camera for likely images

Pre-setting your camera for likely images

My photographic origins in the underwater world have taught me the importance of thinking through the photographic objectives for a shoot (dive), and pre-setting your camera.

In underwater photography one key mantra is to get close – minimising the amount of water between subject and your camera1.

For this reason, and the fact that lenses cannot be changed underwater2, most UW photo situations revolve around one of a small number of basic setups.

  1. Wide angle lenses that allow the photographer to get close to large subjects.
  2. Close up lenses that get the photographer close to small subjects.
  3. Macro lenses that allow images to be made of small to extremely small subjects.

In reality a good macro lens is also a very capable close up lens, further reducing the number of setups to just two.

Before a dive I spend time setting up my camera rig for the setup – not just the lens and ports, but also choosing strobe (flash) arms and getting everything about right for the dive. I make sure that I have a formatted

As I became a more experienced UW photographer it dawned on me that I could extend the preparedness concept to include camera settings. In each different style of photography I could reasonably anticipate the settings, and then prepare accordingly, saving the need to fiddle with adjustments underwater. The following table shows some examples of common pre-sets that I use:

Macro Close-Up W/A – Reef/People Big Fish, Moving Fast
Lens 30mm 30mm 7-14mm zoom 7-14mm zoom
Port Flat Flat Dome Dome
Strobes 1-2 1-2 1-2 0-2
Arms Short Short-Medium Long Long
Camera Mode A A A S
Likely Aperture f/16-f/22 f/11-f/16 f/5.6-f/11 N/A
Likely Shutter Speed N/A N/A N/A 1/125–1/500
ISO 200 200 200-400 200-400
Strobe Power ¼-½ ¼-½ ¼-½ ½–Full

Before I enter the water with a close up / macro right, then I will likely preset as follows:
– Shutter mode: Aperture Priority (A)
– Aperture: f/16
– ISO: 200
– Strobes: ½ power

Chromodoris lochi on the march by Des Paroz on 500px.com

With this setup, any changes for the first subject scene I come across are likely only to be a click or two on a dial or two. I have similar checklists for my wide angle photo scenes.

The concepts extends to my topside photography:

Landscape Seascape Street
Lens 12-60mm 8-18mm 20mm
Mode A A A
Starting Aperture f/8 f/11 f/6
ISO 200 200 400
Image Stabilisation 3 Off Off On

Obviously the above table can (and should) be extended to different lighting situations – blue hour, golden hour, daylight, night, etc.

I hope this post seeks to provide some insight into how I think about my photography before a shoot. There are variations to the above, and equipment, shooting genre, artistic style, etc, should all influence how you pre-set.

In any case, thinking ahead and creating simple checklists including these settings and perhaps a reminder to have a formatted memory card, fresh battery and even to check the camera’s date and time settings, can help to allow you to focus on your photography when on a shoot.


  1. Water filters light, removes colour and refracts light in a way that causes a subject to lose sharpness and colour, as well as adding gunk (technical) terms that further kills the quality of an image. 
  2. There are some low quality or super-expensive rigs that do allow changing of lenses, but the majority of setups do not. 
  3. For landscape and seascapes I am generally shooting on a tripod or clamp, so stabilisation should be off, while shooting handheld (i.e. street) stabilisation should be on.