Finally ordered some Lee Filters

A couple of years ago I began to pay attention to landscape photographers and their tricks for getting great images.  It became clear that investing in some ND grad filters would be a good idea if I wanted to take a certain style of images, and while there are a range of options available, waiting and saving up for the best in the market was my choice.

Yesterday I placed an order for the below from Amazon!

Lee Filters Grad Kit – Lee Filters Graduated Neutral Density Kit includes Lee Foundation Kit, 77mm Wide Angle Ring, Lee 4×6 Grad ND Hard Edge Set and Lee 4×6 Grad ND Soft Set with 2filter cleaning kit

Lee Filters Big Stopper

MindShift Gear Filter Hive

This gives me the foundation for hopefully many years of learning and experiementing and shooting with filters, and with the Big Stopper, playing with really long exposures.  It was my treat for all the study I have done over last two years, dedicating what had been my photography time towards the study, and also passing my big exam this week.

Hopefully it should arrive early Jan while I am still on holiday and have some time to play :) So excited!!!

Did you get yourself a treat for Xmas?


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Passed My Exam!!!

Finally all my study is done for the year, and I passed my exam and am now a Certified Associate of Project Management (get to put CAPM after my name now LOL)

AND I was invited to my teaching institutions Awards Night last night and got Top Performing Student for my paper this year as well!!!

I have a bottle of champagne tucked away somewhere for a special occasion, I might just put it in the fridge for the weekend :)

Thanks for all the exam wishes, I know they helped :)

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One Four Challenge – Dec Wk 3

Click to see the big version with all the lovely detail

I have a major exam on Thursday this week and so didn’t really have a lot of time to spend playing, which is a shame.

Several people over the last couple of months have used the Oil Painting filter to great effect so this is what has been used here.

It has been tweaked a lot to give that really textural feeling of the canvas (click on the image for the big version to see what I mean).  I wanted it to feel like a ‘real’ painting, not an image that had been photoshopped with a filter.  There is nothing wrong with that style of process, it just wasn’t what I envisioned here.

Finally the colour needed a bit of boosting, so into Color Efex Color toning in Silver to take away the extra yellow daylight glow, and bring out the purity of the pink blossoms.


All feedback and comments welcome :)

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A Surprise Helicopter Ride and Aerial Photography

Our Noble Steed

Yesterday my work team had a surprise afternoon trip supplied as a prize from one of our key vendors.  We had to sell a certain (and significant) amount of their product within a two month period earlier in the year, which we achieved.  The weather was potentially a bit dodgy but the call was made to GO, so at 12pm Thursday all 10 of us piled into a minivan to head out to a helicopter site at the Airport.

Because there were 10 of us we went in two choppers, I went in the red one above, and was quite nervous as I get terribly travel sick, and had only been in one once when I was very small.  Managed to nab the front seat to take photos, but not sure if it helped for the motion issues!

The Pilots seat and lots of dials and buttons

Five of us squeezed into the chopper and sat there for a while as it warmed up, strapped in tight with headphones on as it was REALLY noisy.  The first chopper took off and we followed.  It was a very cool overcast day but hardly any wind.

Chopper #1 leads the way

We were heading north to the winery district for wine tasting and a long boozy lunch.  Even though it was low visibility due to the low cloud, we flew at 1000ft and got great views of the Canterbury Plains and scenery.

Waimakiriri River – its a braided river and you can clearly see where the name comes from

Do farmers know they make these pretty patterns?

So many shades of green

The first flight took about 20 minutes and the first half was a bit wobbly and I felt quite ill quite quickly.  Eventually it levelled out a bit and the view was so entrancing that it distracted me from not feeling well, and I started to feel better.

We stopped in Waipara Springs Winery for wine tasting, the two choppers landed in what looked like a tiny paddock next to the carpark but both fitted in easily.  Its a bit scary and wobbly coming straight down tho!

Half an hour for wine tasting (the Pinot Gris was the winner) then back into the choppers to head to Pegasus Bay Winery, which is both an award winning winery and restaurant.  One of the places I had always wanted to eat at but couldn’t really afford.

Ham Hock terrine and Pickles

After the flurry of drinks orders food started arriving, it was an interesting setup where we had Breads to start, then two entree’s, three mains and two desserts.  We got big platters to share which was nice so we got to taste everything!

Canterbury Lamb, Pomegranate seeds and Bulgur Wheat salad

The mains were beef, lamb and fish and were all perfectly cooked and quite delicious with sides of salad and garlicky potatoes.

Gingerbread, Caramel Icecream and Macerated fruits

Almond pudding, cherries and honey tuille

Everything was extremely tasty and by the end I was quite full.  Much wine was drunk (and several bottles purchased to take home) and many interesting discussions happened up and down the table.  Service was impeccable and the winery site is lovely, set up on a ridge and landscaped with lovely gardens, with a pool with ducks and swans, and a creek and waterfall.

Eventually tummies were full and wallets were empty and it was time to head back to town, so we climbed carefully back into our helicopters and headed for home.

The other chopper came up alongside on the way home

Fortunately we had a smooth ride home (I had only had one glass of wine) and it was now familiar and a bit more enjoyable.  Our pilot was very pleasant and pointed out many landmarks and told us interesting things about being a chopper pilot.

It was a surprising and pleasant afternoon, and a treat the like of which I have never had, and am not likely to again.  Flying up high with a big bubble of windscreen made taking photos really easy and it was a fascinating viewpoint.  If it wasn’t SO EXPENSIVE I would hire one on a sunny day to get to see the mountains as well :)

Of course there are LOADS of photos but these ones tell the story the best, hope you enjoy a different viewpoint on the world from up in the air :)


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One Four Challenge – Dec Wk 2

Actually I specifically wasn’t going to do a BW conversion this week cos thats what I did for Week 2 last month. But this kinda snuck up on me, let me explain.

The plan was to do the layer blending thing again now that Photoshop was correctly setup with the Nik plugins so they could be used.  I had this idea of a faded sepia tone but with all the lines somehow enhanced.

Here are the steps that got me the image above:

- Loaded the image up in PS and then into Nik Color Efex
– Play with the filters til I found Bleach Bypass that faded the colours out and enhanced the detail a lot
– Quite liked it as it was but wanted a bit more…… something- Loaded image up into Nik Silver Efex to try and get some more detail enhancement, instead I got Full Spectrum Smooth which with the extra detail already there, looked interesting
– Played with vignette settings and liked the look of this white border, made it look like a faded old photo
– Going with the old photo idea, added some Agfa400 grain and Wallah!

Click on the image to appreciate the details better :)

All comments and feedback appreciated!

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A Camera Bag designed for Women by F-Stop

Everyone knows that the quest for the Perfect Camera Bag is the Holy Grail for photographers :)  But if you are a woman its even harder.  Nearly all the bags in the market appear to be designed by men who are at least 6 feet tall.  If you are shorter and curvier in different places, quite frankly its a right pain in the tits!

Several months ago I commented on a review of the F-Stop Loka and the reviewer kindly contact me today to advise that F-Stop have designed a bag specially for women, and put it on Kickstarter.

Yes, dear readers, I backed it :)

Even at $199 USD, if it doesn’t fit, I am sure I can find someone keen to take it off my hands who it does suit better.  Having done reading around the F-stop brand when considering purchasing the Loka, I was comfortable with the quality and design principles.  It also has one major advantage I want in a backpack, a built in hydtration bladder!

So head over ladies and take a look, even if it doesn’t spin your wheels, please boost the signal so it has the best chance of being backed and that way I get a shiny new bag :)

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One Four Challenge – Dec Wk 1

For those new to the challenge the details are all here for December and links to the original conditions on Robyn’s site.

This month was more of a challenge for me because I currently don’t have access to my full image archive.  So this image was taken out of some original files back when I first got my 40D – my very first proper camera :)

The base image used was a jpg as I don’t have the RAW files – this image was very lightly processed at the time, but you can hardly tell LOL

So here is the Base image:

Base JPG image – click to Embiggen

And here is my first Dec Challenge Entry:

First week challenge entry

OK here is what I did all in Lightroom:

- adjusted the WB to a bit warmer
– added a bit of contrast, clarity and vibrance globally
– toned down the brightness and shadows globally
– on the stone wall and the treetrunk I used a radial filter to increase contrast and clarity a little bit to give more texture
– in the pink blossoms in the left corner, used another radial filter to tone down exposure, highlights a bit and added a smidge of contrast and clarity
– increased the red saturation by a tiny bit for some more pink
– loaded a daylight floral preset that warmed up the overall image tones and gave it more of a summer sun feel
– slight vignette to finish

All comments and feedback welcome!

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