Month: May 2010


I was photographing the morning landings of some hot air balloons across the road from my house, having taken the camera bag I used at my daughter’s soccer match on Saturday. I had a poor selection of lenses (of course) and so I used the 500mm Tamron SP mirror lens. Almost in the same spot as where a balloon was to land there was a small group flying remote control airplanes. The shot above shows them “buzzing” themselves. The planes were attacked by some Peewee birds who regarded them as a threat:

I was amazed that they kept on flying these balloon destroyers up until about two minutes before the balloons landed – I would have been glad of such a long lens if one had put a hole in a balloon in flight…

The last image presented was shot using a Canon 135mm f2 L lens. The clarity, contrast and colour are outstanding. Enlarged, you can clearly see the boy in the red carrying the plane.


Brilliantine coils of cigarette smoke, curling away like dreams

“I used to think that all I wanted was the good opinion of honorable men and the ungrudging love of beautiful women. Now I know for sure that all I really want is a cigarette.” Quote from “The Singing Detective”.

Continuing my night photography efforts at soccer training across the road, I think I might have finally nailed it. Canon 5D, EF 35mm f1.4 L, 1/6 sec @ f2.8, 1600 ISO. I like the irony displayed in this image, with the coach smoking while his superbly fit athletes run around on this oh-so-cold night.

There is a strange footnote to this image. I asked this fellow if I could take this shot, and before he replied with permission, he said in a really strange and questioning manner “I know you…” Oh dear, here it comes. I was thinking. But it turned out he remembered me in a pleasant way from the late 1980s when I used to frequent a small cafe named Poci’s Pizza, where he was the cook. We patrons used to get falling down drunk every lunchtime that we went there. No wonder he remembered me.

One of the players had a muscle problem (Canon 15mm F2.8 fish-eye) and so the coach lent a hand to massage it away, cigarette still firmly in place. I framed the second image to back-light his cloud of smoke, as it seems to me to be a focal point of this series of images. I wish I had had such dedication when I was a smoker.

Second footnote – Poci’s Pizza closed in about 1989. I gave up smoking on 17 December 1998. I still drink too much, but I’ve never looked back.

23 days to go

More adventures from the soccer pitch in the dark. This one  is slightly , ever so slightly sepia toned, giving it a lift in my humble opinion.

This was shot with the lens poking through the goal net, and again no effective autofocus – this was just a guess. The goalkeeper’s left calf is sharp, but the depth of field focus fall-off from shooting at f1.4, plus his body motion – this was shot at 1/50 @ 1250 ISO – means yet again there is some softness affecting his upper body.

Night shooting is not easy. There are many pitfalls, as I keep finding out. I guess the only way go get it sorted is take more shots and analyse what goes wrong – or better still when it goes right.

Apologies if you have been following my blog with the lack of recent posts – I’m still busy, with photography taking a rather back seat at present, however I will fix this situation shortly.

Countdown to the FIFA World Cup 2010, 48 days to go

Countdown to the FIFA World Cup 2010, 48 days to go.

Night photography is a wonderful thing, especially with a good camera, and some fast glass. In this case, a Canon 5D and an EF 35mm f1.4 L lens. At f1.4, of course. Oh and 1600 ASA.

This one was processed to make it have a classic B&W press photo feel, even allowing for a bit of grain.

These guys wondered what I was doing taking pictures of them at night. I wonder myself sometimes, but then I quickly put such things out of my mind. One day someone will try to stop me I guess, but until then I will keep on taking street pictures. Especially at night.

Note to self – I MUST GET CLOSER!


Auckland, New Zealand, 23 January 2009

My family and I were on the penultimate day of a camper van holiday. Throughout the trips we have had to NZ, we had always noticed how, well, just plain nice, Kiwis were. What happened next was therefore a bit of a shock. Approaching our overnight stop in Auckland, the traffic became gridlocked. And I mean gridlocked – it took us 2 hours to cover the last couple of kilometers. The reason relates to Aucklanders’ absolute love of and dependence on the freeways that bisect their beautiful city. You can see what I mean here – six lanes, zero cars:

All of the six lanes normally on the freeway had been diverted to the single lane road parallel to it, where we were driving our huge rented campervan, hence the massive, paralyzing traffic jam. I found out later that the cause was the police pursuit of a stolen car after it had been used in an earlier robbery. The suspect got the stolen Skyline onto the freeway, creating traffic havoc with the chase, and eventually  jumped out of his car, attempting to bolt after much gunfire during a shootout with the constabulary. Unfortunately a passer by was killed during the exchange. The freeway was closed for forensic examination.

The stolen car complete with bullet holes in the rear window – at the start of the blog – was eventually loaded onto a tow truck which we came very close to, and I had perhaps eight or ten seconds to grab this shot before the truck was driven off – see the bullet hole in the back window.

The grab shots were taken with a Nikon P5100 P&S – a compact camera that I had no end of trouble with. The Nikon-specific USB port on the camera failed, so it went back under warranty. The optical viewfinder stopped zooming, so it want back again. And then a third trip back saw it having the scratches that Nikon’s service people had put on the LCD screen. Despite a fashionably massive 14 megapixel resolution, it was slow, unresponsive and often failed to find a focus point, ruining many shots. The only good thing about it was that it slipped easily into a pocket as it was tiny:

Oh, and it was made of metal, and black. Very sexy, but still rubbish. This camera began my real hatred of P&S cameras as I have ranted about previously.