Tag Archives: photo

Japan Wildlife Two Ways

If you’ve followed my blog (please do!) you will know I photograph animals. A lot of animals. So when I got this chance to get close up to a beautiful wild heron (using my standard zoom – not even telephoto!) I took it. This first photo shows the detail of the plumage and subtle shades of colours.

2015-010_070 b

The second shot is the one I’d hang on the wall though. Waiting with just a little patience, the bird moved very, very slowly underneath a tree. Because the crane was hunting, there were no ripples in the water. This was the last in a series of shots where the bird’s shadow was fully immersed in the trees shadow.


How to get a job as a wedding photographer

Step 1: have a friend that is getting married
Step 2: have a big ass camera

That’s about it. Ok, let me elaborate and throw in a few tips for those budding wedding photographers.

My friends decided to get married in a really cool venue (aquarium) who had never hosted a wedding before. They then decided to ask a couple other friends if they would do the photos. I was meant to be the backup photographer. That’s how it all started. Get ready, here comes the tips!

The setup: an aquarium with nice dark interiors the better to see he lovely backlight tanks of fish. An event space with low ceilings and crowded interiors. (If you are a knowledgeable amateur, you probably have goosebumps already, right?)

Tip 1 case the joint. Picks few spots that you think will work and persuade the couple that those are really the best places. “Yes, I know the sharks make a great background, but aunt so and so is never going to make it up and down those stairs six times in a row.”

Tip 2 Make friends with the event coordinator.  Best friends. She is going to be your new BFF. The one who will let you in all the back hallways so you don’t have to walk the whole bloody place too many times. And she is the one who is going to get you permission to go where only the keepers go to get that one shot the couple really wants. Plus, how cool is it to be on the catwalk of the shark tank only 4 inches away from the huge animals?! They don’t jump, do they?

Tip 3 Hump the equipment. It’s tempting to slim down your kit because you will be walking that entire place at least twice, if not 3 or 4 times, but you are going to need it. Flash for sure and I wouldn’t say no to a tripod.

Tip 4 Dont wear a dress. Granted, I was also a guest at this wedding, so I did dress up a bit in a fairly short dress. So there I was, kneeling down to get a shot during the ceremony and braiding myself to steady the camera as there was no room for a tripod and realised how short the dress was.

Tip 5 Shoot, shoot, shoot. I don’t think this requires any more explanation

Tip 6 don’t sweat it. It will be what it will be. You’ve just been asked or hired to do an extremely difficult shoot with little to no prep. You will do your best. And as your mom always said that’s really all anyone can ask (unless they are the bride).

The group shot – honest, there were sharks in the background water. This shot did require considerable scoping out before the event as well as the widest lens I could find, a fill flash (needed a more powerful one), and a tripod.
2015-007_111 FINAL

There’s the fish! My friends were good enough to stand there for a number of test shots so that I could figure out the exposure for the silhouettes, checked the right fishes were swimming by and then held the pose for the long exposure.
2015-007_256 FINAL

Just so you can see the faces. Similar to the one above but I also had to hide the flash in the glass. This made carrying the 5? 10? pounds of equipment through the aquarium in my dress all worth it.2015-007_266 FINAL

How to take really cute photos of a dog

Step 1: Start with a really cute dog. (This isn’t rocket science after all)

Step 2: Add a neutral to nice background. (Hint: check weather forecasts)

Step 3: Get the dog to do really cute stuff. (Helps if the dog will actual do what his/her pets (humans) say)

Step 4: Have impeccable timing. (This step is all on you.)

Really, I’m not actually kidding about step 1, 2 and 4.  Step 3 is optional depending on how cute the dog is.  My friend’s dog is really cute (see evidence below).

Adorable just standing there

Adorable just standing there

Adorable even when sitting

Adorable even when sitting

So, Step 1 is covered.  We chose a nice off leash park and this was our 3rd attempt at the weather. It was the tail end of winter, so lots of browns and greys – pretty neutral. But even then, it can work against you:

Watch out for the Tree!

Watch out for the Tree!

At first glance, Chubby looks great – wonderful shot in mid lunge. But there’s the tree. So, Step 2 was partially covered.

However, Chubby was aces at Step 3:

Shake, Chubby, Shake!

Shake, Chubby, Shake!

There was a reason we chose to do this photo shoot BEFORE Chubby got his hair trimmed.

However, I didn’t forget Step 4. You can get some great action shots if you are in the right place, at the right time, and the dog listens to his owner.

Action Shot

Action Shot

And, the piece de resistance:

Bet I can make you smile!

Bet I can make you smile!

Small snaps of time

So even though the ice storm created gorgeous, sparkling landscapes, my eye just wants to go macro



Even plain sticks are photo-worthy!


The ice was like taking the leaf and pressing it in a book


Some leaves escaped the ice altogether





The flash really made the colours pop with reflections off the ice


Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, SA

When I think of Africa, I think big animals, exotic birds, completely different cultures, tribes, etc.  I don’t think of botanical gardens to rival, dare I say it? Kew Gardens in England!!  So Kirstenbosch was a wonderful surprise. Our tour guide told us we would be going to a garden and I thought “ok, sure, it’s nice to see a variety of stuff”, but I don’t think we saw even a quarter of it.  It was great that our guide was a trained conservationist and could tell us about the flora and what the things in the garden represented when we weren’t taking photos.

The gardens sit near enough to the mountains that you can use them as a backdrop, but not so much that they are in the shadow of it. These flowers are a member of the protea family and they really do feel like plastic ones that have come from your local fake flower store, but they are real!

Pretty, plasticky flowers


There’s a tiny corner of the garden with a tiny pond that gave perfect reflections….marred only by the grass clippings because they had just finished cutting the grass!!!  Arrghh!!  This is the part I hate about being a tourist – you often don’t have a chance to come back -it’s a now or never type of thing.  So, we shot a corner of the garden with very little grass clippings.

Reeds in the water twice

There were also beds and beds of flowers to help practice your landscape photography…

The colours popped and the lines made it interesting

The colours popped and the lines made it interesting


…or your close up depth of field photography.

Just a nice composition

Or your macro photography

In Kirstenboch gardens 2 In Kirstenboch gardens

Hope you enjoyed this splash of colour!

There’s more to Hawaii than the beach

There’s chocolate too!!!  Yup, Hawaii has a working chocolate farm www.ohcf.us/.  It’s a small farm but gives tours and grows specific species of chocolate…heck, do you really need extra reasons to visit a chocolate farm???

They process pretty much everything by hand on the farm and the first thing you see is the chocolate – excuse me! the COCOA beans on drying racks in the Hawaiian sun

The smell in the air was pure chocolate

The smell in the air was pure chocolate

They look artistic from a different angle:

Beneath the drying rack

Beneath the drying rack


But we soon leave these behind to look at the actual trees growing row on row. The ground is littered with fallen leaves on purpose. They are dry and crackle when you walk on them and deep. It gives me pause to think what they might be covering up, but the whole place is quite dry and not hiding any nasty surprises like mud or mice.

The Cocoa tree grove with leaves carpetting the ground

The Cocoa tree grove with leaves carpetting the ground


If you’ve never seen cocoa pods on the tree before, they look like something out of an alien movie. The farm grows a couple kinds of cocoa and the colour and striations on the pods can differ. The cocoa flower is amazingly small. There was only one left on the tree.

These were piled in a wheelbarrow waiting to be processed

These were piled in a wheelbarrow waiting to be processed

I had to look hard to find it and then it was really hard to photograph at an awkward angle on a slippery floor

I had to look hard to find it and then it was really hard to photograph at an awkward angle on a slippery floor

Cocoa pods

The tour explains how it goes from these pods to cleaning to drying to a finished product. When the pods were cut open, we can see the seeds which are coated in a milky substance (also sweet) and attached to a fiber (also sweet) which some visitors found irresistable.

Fresh cocoa seeds and visitors

Fresh cocoa seeds and visitors


And the final product








A Travel blog hidden as a Camera review

The nice thing about a camera that you can lose in most women’s purses is that you can carry it everywhere! Not only did I go snorkelling with it, I just went photo happy.

The zoom is really quite serviceable for a pocket camera. 5x zoom gets you just that bit closer.

Far away

The zoom is not bad for such a small camera

The zoom is not bad for such a small camera


However, I don’t JUST take photos of animals.  Tried some photography in more of a dusk setting:

A hibiscus of a different colour

And then went really macro, but this colour was so technicolour that I’m not sure if the camera could handle it:

Technicolour hibiscus


And also tried it out on landscapes. Colour rendering is good here in mixed light and the bright sunshine of the beach without being contrasty. (Does it sound like I know what I’m doing when I use words like “contrasty”?)

Buildings at an abandoned sheep shearing station

Buildings at an abandoned sheep shearing station

Bright, sunshiny day


Lastly, one of the only “action” shots I took in Hawaii and it held up pretty decently:

Along with the butt shots of animals, the requisite "photo from a moving car"

Along with the butt shots of animals, the requisite “photo from a moving car”


So, in conclusion, the Sony DSC-TX30 is a very versatile camera for a wide range of shots.  A lot of what I took is certainly suitable to frame and put on your wall, to gain some “oohs” and “aahs” as a computer wallpaper and to vividly bring your vacation back to life!




Adventures with my new camera (2)

So the true test of my sony DSC-TX30 was to stick it underwater (that is, after all, the second main reason I bought it!).  Took it to Hawaii and went out into the ocean with it and promptly forgot how to turn off the touch screen! Because it is a touch screen, it becomes a little difficult to change the settings when your fingers are wet. The screen is definitely not as responsive with wet fingers and when you want to take a photo underwater one minute and then above water the next, well…..Just leave it on underwater setting and live with it – it’s not bad.

Okaaay, underwater – here are things you need to know. It doesn’t matter about the screen – it’s not like you can see anything in it. This was a true “point and shoot” exercise. Between my snorkelling mask, refraction of the bright (bright!!!) sunshine and less than pristine water and composition went out the window. LUCKILY, the fish didn’t move AS fast as you think.

In this first photo, you can see how cloudy the water is especially close to the surface, yet the camera was still good enough to pick up the fish.

Even in cloudy water


Just to be sure, took some shots of the bottom to make sure the camera was working.

The bottom of the sea


And in the very shallow water (as I was being pushed around by all the waves), you get a decent vacation shot.

Really hoped the fish was in that general direction

Really hoped the fish was in that general direction


Really pleased in quieter waters that it also picked up paler fish



Anonymous White Fish


And lastly, setting it to the underwater mode, and taking the photo in bright sunshine above the water, you still get a reminder of your exotic holiday.

Just as good above water

Just as good above water


Adventures with my new camera (1)

I bought a new camera! I love my huge SLRs, but I wanted one that I could slip into my pocket and not worry about it at the barn or when I go snorkeling. So I bought the sony DSC-TX30 in blue!!! (check out specs here) I haven’t had a chance to test it at the beach, but I did take it to the barn, where, as the cats were about to lick it and I pulled it back in horror, someone reminded it was waterproof and really, if Carson wanted to lick it, it would be allright (something to consider).  So, this time around, I wanted to test the “pet mode”.  As you can see, it works pretty darn well even on my horse who is technically “livestock”, not “pets”. All photos below were taken without flash. The first one was taken under fluorescent lights and the rest outside.

The camera has a good macro mode, but it doesn’t work that well with furry things that move. Carson was just waking up as a prelude to licking the camera.

Carson before he wakes up


Simon on the other hand, was nice and still except for the yawn and a moderately close range, the camera does produce nice results. Simon was in the shade and I still got a nice colour on his fur.

Simon Close Up


Larry on the other hand is “livestock” not “pet”, but the camera doesn’t care.  In the full sun with quite a breeze blowing, it renders the blues, greens and browns nicely while still compensating for the movement of horse and my hand.

Larry's Ears

On a pretty good close up/zoom, it handled BT’s ever moving body and total furriness.  It still captures his buff colour as well as really green grass.

BT in the Grass

On moderate close up (why do animals always want to come towards the camera????), it does do well even if Simon’s head comes out as a bobble head.

Simon Really Close Up

How to enjoy a holiday in Hawaii

pfft! You’ve got to be kidding, right? Why would ANYONE need a blog post on this topic??


  • arrive in Hawaii
  • enjoy

Ok, so a couple caveats:

  • don’t sweat the tsunami, but do follow the evacuation instructions
  • there are no sea snakes in Hawaii, but the snake eel you just saw still has teeth
  • take both sunscreen and after-sun care (preferably aloe with lidocaine)
  • 11 foot wingspan manta rays don’t have teeth, but are really, really big
  • the volcano looks pretty until it erupts (learn how to read the seismograph)

Yes, my vacation had it all!!!  I’m still sorting through the photos, but will start posting really, really, really soon (as soon as the sunburn cools down – ow!)
Ok, ok, one photo to tease you: