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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!

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

Apps for Photography

Apps for Photography

My iPhone, and to an extent my iPad, are really important parts of my seascape, landscape and urban photography.

PhotoMenuThe iPhone itself makes for a good scouting camera, a good camera for a sneaky pano and a tool for making images of my image making. Its true power, however, lies in its abilities to assist in planning, managing, editing and sharing photos.

I thought I’d share some of the apps I use, and how I use them in my photography adventures.

Planning

  • Modern Atlas is a wonderful app that allows you to explore an area ahead of time with a map based interface that pulls in data from Wikipedia and other sources. It also features a lot of photography of an area, so it is a good planning tool.
  • 500px and Flickr are two apps that allow you to pre-explore an area to see what other photographers have done. Its a good source of ideas for image making starting points in a destination.
    TPE
  • The Photographers Ephemeris is perhaps my most used planning tool. Once I get an idea of where I want to shoot from TPE allows me to work out optimal times for shooting, noting sun angles and elevations, as well as timings for sunrise/set, golden hour and blue hour.
  • Weather Apps are an important planning tool to know whether it is worth planning to get up early, and what you can expect as far as temperatures. At home in Australia I use WillyWeather, and when travelling internationally I tend to use the native iOS Weather app. Rain Parrot is a great tool for providing me with alerts if rain is expected.
  • Maps – While I use Apple Maps at home and when I have good 4G coverage, I really like Maps.me when travelling internationally where I might not have good data coverage, or very limited data allowance. Maps.me is a superb tool for planning and then locating a photo location, even when coverage is unavailable. I am also playing around with what3words as a very interesting concept for planning and tracking locations.
  • Bear is my place for logging my ideas for both writing and photography. It provides a cool interface on macOS and iOS for notes using a modified Markdown format.

Shooting

  • Geotag Photos Pro 2 is a tool I use to do GPS logging for my images.
  • Panasonic Image App is a remote app for shooting with Panasonic Lumix cameras.
  • MiOPS is a tool to integrate with my MiOPS smart triggers.
  • LEE Filters – Stopper Exposure – I use Lee Filters Little Stopper (6 f-stop) and Big Stopper (10 f-stop) filters for many of my images, and this app allows me to quickly calculate the shutter speed I will need for a given aperture.

Managing

  • Photos – used mainly for supporting images taken on my iPhone. Getting more and more powerful with every release.
  • Adobe Lightroom CC – I do most of my digital asset management (DAM) on my Mac, but the new version of Lightroom CC allows me to do some of this work on the go.1

Editing

  • Affinity Photo – I do most of my editing in Luminar 2018 on my Mac, but when I do need to do stuff on the go, Affinity Photo is a very capable editor on iOS.
  • Plotagraph+ Photo Animator – I love still images, but adding some movement to a still is a different way of enjoying photography. Plotagraph+ is a fun and easy tool to do just that.
  • When I am editing in Luminar 2018 on my MacBook Pro, and I don’t have a Wacom tablet with me, I use Astropad Studio on my iPad with an Apple Pencil to bring graphics tablet functionality to the table. This is very on the go.

Miscellaneous

  • Lenstag is a great tool to allow me to track my camera and lens equipment.

Sharing

  • I’ve mentioned before that I use 500px and Flickr to plan, but they remain great ways to share my best images.
  • Micro.blog is a great, relatively new, platform for owning your own content, but sharing with a social layer. I am finding this to be a great way of sharing my images and photography thoughts not only to the Micro.Blog platform, but also to Twitter and Facebook (if I want to). Find me on Micro.Blog

New Additions

  • Really Good Photo Spots is a social based photo location sharing and planning tool. It has potential, but I haven’t used it enough, yet, to incorporate it into my standard workflow.

Conclusion

The biggest challenge with much photography, particularly landscape photography, is the challenge of time. It is a limited resource, and good planning and execution makes the job of making photos simpler and more fun.

The above apps have made my life easier. I’d be interested to hear other’s experiences, and also any suggestions on other apps worth considering.


  1. I haven’t emotionally committed to Lightroom at this time – still waiting to see what the upcoming DAM features in Luminar will look like. 
Positano Rising

Positano Rising

Positano Rising by Des Paroz on 500px.com

This series of photos from Positano in Italy have showed different aspects of the town, its stunning coastline and some individual characteristics of the township.

This image, shot from the same western overlook from which I shot the image East from Positano shows the scale of the town growing up from the Piazza dei Mulini area in the centre of the town, extending up the heights of the surrounding mountains.

The township is very much situated in what looks to me to be a fjord cut into the mountain range by the sea.

The building next to the green roof in the bottom of the frame is the wonderful AirBNB place we stayed at, and is situated right in front of Piazza dei Mulini.

As a photographer it is also important to sometimes turn the camera around to do a different perspective. While the East from Positano image has an amazing vista, this one is pretty good too, and is a key part of my Positano story. I think this image helps to illustrate the scale of the heights of Positano as it rises from the sea into the mountains.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Six Passengers

Six Passengers

Six Passengers by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Famous for its spectacular coastline, seascapes and mountain vistas, life in Positano is literally built around the sea.

The township is a year round magnet for tourists, and the crystal blue seas are a way that many get to and from the area, and are a major part of their enjoyment of it. Swimming, snorkelling, diving, sailing, fishing and other marine tourism are all important.

During the quieter winter months fewer people swim, but there are constant reminders of the role that the seas play in the town’s rhythm of life.

After shooting the vistas of the township each sunrise from different overlooks, I felt the need to do something different. Along with the steps of Positano, I felt that the working sea is an important part of the township’s story.

Image made as the sun began to rise over the headland further east on the Amalfi Coast. A 6 stop GND filter helped to balance out the strong highlights with the dark shadows, as well as providing glassy smoothness to the sea.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Stepping Up in Positano

Stepping Up in Positano

Stepping Up in Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Positano is known for many things – beaches, restaurants, bars, walks, magnificent scenery and more. Perhaps however it is most known for its many, many stairs.

The town really has only two roads – the main highway the winds between Sorrento and Amalfi that cuts through the high part of town, and a second road that winds down from the main road near Chiesa Nueva (New Church) and rejoins the main road near the Sponda bus stop.

Footpaths on these roads are limited, to say the least. Getting around town, from the heights down to the beach is generally done on foot and by the many stairways.

Shooting these stairways can be challenging as the light range can be quite broad. Shooting early or late in the day, or on an overcast day, can help. This image was made in the morning, and was framed to accentuate the winding stairway, and to use a slightly downward angle to emphasise the nearest stairs, and to crop out the brightest parts of the scene.

Positano’s stairways are part of this township’s story, and are worth exploring, photographically.

View this image on 500px.

Looking Up from Positano

Looking Up from Positano

Looking Up from Positano by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Like the other towns on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Positano stretches from its beautiful coastline up into the surrounding mountains.

Standing on the beach, the signature dome of the church of Santa Maria Assunta is framed between an enclave in the ridge-line of the mountains. Buildings stretch much of the way up.

This image was made a few minutes after sunset, giving a love even colour across the buildings and hills. A tripod is an important tool in this type of imagery, as the relatively low shutter speed (0.4 of a second) would make a sharp image difficult to achieve if handholding.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Positano Blue

Positano Blue

Positano Blue by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a spectacularly stunning township, rising up from the sea into the heights of the surrounding mountains.

We visited in late Autumn, the low season for tourism, and we loved the fact that we could truly explore the coast, and the whole township without having to battle any crowds whatsoever.

This image was made during the blue hour, shortly after sunset. Being winter sunset was quite early (4:39pm), and the blue ‘hour’ quite short – about half an hour.

This short window meant that we had to scout1 early, then come back and setup early. Even though it was off season, there were some other photographers around and there are limited vantage points due to the cliff edges and narrow footpaths.

Positano is a wonderful place for photographers and non-photographers who want to explore a stunning coastline.

View this image on 500px or Flickr

Photo Posting

I’ve been a bit slack (not the first time) in regularly posting photos. Our recent Italy trip produced a lot of images, and I still have a few more I want to share from our Singapore trip earlier this year. So with some luck there should be some more regular posting of photos.


  1. I intend to do a post on scouting locations while having limited time on a vacation. Without giving too much away I highly recommend Elia Locardi’s Photographing the World Vol 3 for some tips on location scouting. 
Colours of Old Hill Street

Colours of Old Hill Street

Colours of Old Hill Street by Des Paroz on 500px.com

Whatever way you look at it, Singapore is a colourful city. It boasts a colourful mix of cultures, cuisines and language, and it boasts a rich array of colourful architecture.

With 927 windows in a variety of colours, Singapore’s Old Hill Street Police Station is a striking landmark as you cruise up the Singapore River from the Marina Bay towards Clarke Quay.

The building no longer functions as a police station, but its presence, colour and architecture tell a story – a story that is rich with the history of a building that has served as a colonial era police station, a Japanese wartime kempeitai and into the modern era as a government building.

View Colours of Old Hill Street

Balancing Equipment Care with Getting the Shot

Balancing Equipment Care with Getting the Shot

British landscape photographer and YouTuber Thomas Heaton recently produced an interesting video about looking after your camera gear.

What is cool about the video is that while Thomas stresses excellent care procedures and suitable cleaning techniques (who can forget “always blow before you go”), he puts just as much emphasis on not getting too precious about your gear.

As landscape photographers we should be out in the elements and we should be exposing ourselves and our kit to horrific conditions like wind, rain, sand, ash, dust, dirt… Because that’s how we make the images. If you’re only going out in perfect conditions you’re never going to have the chance to capture those truly compeling images.

I have to agree with Thomas’ thinking — there is an inverse relationship between great images and great conditions.[1] Being out in inclement weather and in rainy, windy, sandy or dusty environments provides opportunities for great images[2].

I see my landscape and underwater photography as being participative photography[3]. As a photographer I am not passively observing the environment that I am capturing – I am part of it. The story is my story, not someone else’s.

I don’t see my story as being that guy who only goes out when it is perfect. I go out and enjoy the experiences life has to offer, and often my camera goes with me. Yes, I have to clean and look after my gear, sometimes it needs to be repaired, and occassionally I have lost or damaged equipment. But it is worth it.

As Thomas said:

Get out there in the elements and take photographs, because that ultimately is what it’s all about.

Feeding Time by Des Paroz on 500px.com

 


  1. At least above water. For underwater images good conditions make your life much better–not just for the actual image, but also for the shooting ;-). That said, some of my best images were made in poor viz.  ↩
  2. Importantly there is a threshold somewhere where this inverse relationship stops, and you’d better take shelter. Your personal safety must never be comprimised for the sake of an image. Don’t be out in the midst of a cyclone or in close proximity to lightning storms just to get a shot.  ↩
  3. I think I borrowed, or at least adapted, that term from the late Galen Rowell.  ↩
A lesson re-learned

A lesson re-learned

I sometimes wonder how often we have to re-learn a lesson we’ve previously learned. It can be an especially intriguing conundrum when we make a mistake that not only have we previously learned, but one for which measures have been put in place to minimise associated risks.

Recently I went out for some sunrise photography at Cullen Bay in Darwin, a picturesque bayside suburb with a marina and even a lock to allow the bay and marina to stay. It is a stunning location for sunrise photography, especially with an aspect that features the sun rising over the picturesque marina.

Cullen Bay

My preferred vantage point for such photos is on the corner of a boardwalk that extends out over the bay. The boardwalk is constructed of wooden boards that have a 3–5cm gap between them, so I tend to take care when fitting filters, lenses and other accessories to my rig.

In an effort to ensure I have what I need whenever I go for a shoot, and to ensure each piece is secured properly I have a standard way that I stow my gear, firstly in an inner bag, which then goes into a messenger bag or backpack, depending on the shoot. Stowing stuff is important to make sure I can find things quickly, and that it doesn’t fall out.

This time I took along a spare battery that I took out of the charger, and literally three into a top compartment of my backpack – not in the normal pocket I put batteries in on the insert bag. The top compartment is where I stow things like a flash unit and filter kits[1].

I carefully laid my backpack down on a table, setup my tripod and camera, and decided to add a graduated neutral density filter. With the backpack laid down I opened the top compartment, and straight away the spare battery fell out, bounced onto the boardwalk below, and then straight through a gap and into the water.

So the spare battery, not a cheap accessory, was quickly lost into Cullen Bay.

The lessons learned:

  1. Have a set way to stow gear for securing and quick retrieval.
  2. Use it consistently.

The lesson could have been more expensive. And it is a cheap lesson if I re-learn it, and apply the lessons consistently.


  1. I am actually looking for a better set up for stowing my filter kits, so will hopefully have a better approach sooner than later.  ↩