Posts tagged “New Zealand

Walking your Path

Follow your Path

Throughout this journey from birth to death, we choose to question life, strive for improvement, seek out knowledge, and search for the divine. This is the essence of spirituality, whatever your brand may be. One’s spiritual practice can take on many forms, because embracing the spiritual is a very personal pursuit. While many people do relate their spirituality to a God or Goddess, this quest for the divine, or oneness with the universe, always springs from within. It doesn’t matter where you find your spiritual path. We are all fundamentally spiritual beings and the essence of that lies in knowing one’s true self and finding a peace that comes from within rather than the outside world. It is in remembering this that we awaken to our personal path. Accepting the importance of spirituality can be a healthy decision, because a spiritual practice tends to include habits that promote healthy living. Take the time to carefully determine the action, thought, and ritual that most speaks to your soul. Remember that your most profound spiritual experiences may also come from the simple intricacies that make up your life. See the interconnectedness of all things. As you explore your “inner work,” you will be walking your spiritual path and feeling your oneness with the universe.

The image today is from the geothermal region around Rotorua in New Zealand. This wooden walkway leads through the Champagne Pool area (to the right) and off into the mist where other wonders await. During peak times this can be awash with visitors, but in the NZ winter and first thing in the morning during a work day, all that greated us was silence, hissing and bubbling sounds and, of course, the pervasive sulphuric air. It seemed like we had been transported to a different planet which beckoned us to explore its riches!

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Recognize Happiness

The Champagne Pool, New Zealand


On the path of personal and spiritual growth we have a tendency to analyze our unhappiness in order to find the causes and make improvements. But it is just as important, if not more so, to analyze our happiness. Since we have the ability to rise above and observe our emotions, we can recognize when we are feeling joyful and content. Then we can harness the power of the moment by savoring our feelings and taking time to be grateful for them. Recognition is the first step in creating change, therefore recognizing what it feels like to be happy is the first step toward sustaining happiness in our lives.

This is an image shot in New Zealand’s geothermal region around Rotorua on the North Island. It is a steamy, bubbling, smelly, vibrant and magical place, especially first thing in the morning and in the winter when we found ourselves to be the only people in the park. The Champagne Pool is by far the most spectacular and photographed. When shooting here, this photographer got a bit too close to the steamy edge to set up this sweeping shot and was surprised to hear the pitter patter of footsteps as a Park ranger came in a rush to sternly remind him of the dangers of falling into hot water! There were several four letter words used and his point was well taken – this photographer has been in many more perilous situations and this was, well, as walk in the park!

Looking closely you may see a heart in the foreground – somehow this harkened to the message above of finding happiness amongst all of those other seething and churning emotions…guess you just have to look! Seek and yee shall find?

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Create your day

There is never a night or a problem that could defeat a sunrise

The very moment during the day when we very first open our eyes and come into consciousness is a precious opportunity. It sets the tone for all that comes after it, like the opening scene in a film or novel. At this moment, our ability to create the day is at its most powerful, and we can offer ourselves fully to the creative process by filling this moment with whatever inspires us most. It may be that we want to be more generous, or it may be that we want to be more open to beauty in our daily lives. Whatever the case, if we bring this vision into our minds at this very fertile moment, we empower it to be the guiding principle of our day.

This vista was photographed first thing in the morning close to Punakaiki which is a small community on the  West Coast of the  South Island  of New Zealand, between Westport and Greymouth. The community lies on the edge of the Paparoa National Park. The Pancake Rocks are a very popular tourist goal at Dolomite Point south of the main village. The Pancake Rocks are a heavily eroded limestone area where the sea bursts though a number of vertical blowholes during high tides.  Together with the ‘pancake’-layering of the limestone (created by immense pressure on alternating hard and soft layers of marine creatures and plant sediments), these form the main attraction of the area.

The picture was taken with a Nikon D90, tripod mounted…we deliberately shot into the rising morning sun to capture the striations of the sunlight on the rocks to the right as well as the tiny plant holding onto the rocky cliff on the left, bsking in the first light of the day.


When events appear to fit together perfectly in our lives it may seem at first that they are random occurrences or coincidence. Learning to pay attention to the synchronous happenings and link the things that occur on a daily basis can be a way for us to become more attuned to the universe and the interconnectedness present in our lives. When we realize that things often go more smoothly than we can ever imagine, it allows us to take the time to reflect on the patterns in our lives. Even events that might not at first seem to be related to each other are indicators that the universe is working with, not against, us. This idea of synchronicity, then, means that we have to trust there is more to our lives than what we experience on a physical level. We need to be willing to look more closely at the bigger picture, accepting and having confidence in the fact that there is more to our experiences than immediately meets the eye.

This image was captured on the south island of New Zealand in July. We were about to embark on a steep and somewhat perilous trek up Mount Aspiring when we found that the entire trailhead was covered in Hoar frost. Hoar frost (also called radiation frost or hoarfrost or pruina) refers to the white ice crystals, loosely deposited on the ground or exposed objects, that form on cold clear nights when heat losses into the open skies cause objects to become colder than the surrounding air. A related effect is flood frost which occurs when air-cooled by ground-level radiation losses travels downhill to form pockets of very cold air in depressions, valleys, and hollows. Hoar frost can form in these areas even when the air temperature a few feet above ground is well above freezing. Nonetheless the frost itself will be at or below the freezing temperature of water. Another amazing effect was that there was a deep blue fog over the entire valley – very spooky – you might want to check some of the previous New Zealand post to check it out!

The intricate details of this turnbuckle were caught using a Nikon D90 and Nikkor 105mm Macro Lens. This is a great lens for shooting close-up or Macro images like this one, and is very sharp. When shooting Macro it is very important that one has a secure and stable mount to the camera as any movement or vibration will throw off the focal point. Taking the camera off Auto-Focus is a good idea, this way you can control what is and is not in focus. Using a small aperture (with resultant slower shutter speed) allows greater depth of field and having the camera’s ISO set to its lowest setting (here 200), while making the sensor less sensitive to light, makes for a less grainy image. Shooting Macro can be done anywhere and once you start looking at the wondrous details of ordinary objects, you will be amazing and hooked!


Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least

Like millions of other people today, you will have noticed being a bit more stressed when going about your daily activities, such as commuting, the challenges of the home or workplace. How often have you had your day planned to perfection when, out of the blue, you are inundated with some urgent and important request that requires immediate attention. It is like when you are on the beach and are unexpectedly hit by a rogue wave – suddenly you are knocked down and struggling for breath!

Priorities are like big rocks. If you fill your bucket full of pebbles (small demands) and you have a major crisis (children, financial, health, creative opportunity etc), these major events are big rocks. You no longer have room in your bucket for the things that matter the most in your life. Always think of the big rocks first with a resounding “yes”. You can always say “no” to things, which to others, may seem urgent but not important. Whatever the circumstances, it is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by urgent agendas and forces surrounding you.

This image is from the South Island of New Zealand, shot in July (Winter), just a bit south from Westport. In the Winter, the beaches are wonderfully vacant of tourists, with the exception of the rogue Photographers, as most have headed further south and up into the mountains to experience the fantastic downhill skiing. To get capture the entire dynamic range of the light during this early morning, three shots were taken using varying exposure values and then combined with a software program called Photomatix. New Zealand is a treasure to visit and a diamond in the raw for Photographers!

Here comes The Sun

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change

OK, how many of you, when you saw the title to this post harkened to the song written by George Harrison of the Beatles…?

““Here comes the sun,  here comes the sun.  And I say it’s all right”  and to follow, here is a quotation from the author of this song:

“It’s being here and now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”  ―    George Harrison

Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.

It seemed appropriate for this image taken first thing in the morning in Queenstown, New Zealand. It was another glorious start of the day during our adventures down-down under, quite, a bit chilly and very tranquil as the city slowly came to life. As you know, Photographers tend to get up before the sunrise to catch the first rays of sun, “The Golden Hour“.

Typically, lighting is softer (more diffuse) and warmer in hue, and shadows are longer. When the sun is near the horizon, sunlight travels through more of the atmosphere, reducing the intensity of the direct light, so that more of the illumination comes from indirect light from the sky, reducing the lighting ratio. More blue light is scattered, so that light from the sun appears more reddish. In addition, the sun’s small angle with the horizon produces longer shadows.

“Hour” is used here quite loosely. The character of the lighting is determined by the sun’s altitude, and the time for the sun to move from the horizon to a specified altitude depends on a location’s latitude and the time of year. In Los Angeles, California, at an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset, the sun has an altitude of about 10°–12°. For a location closer to the equator, the altitude is greater (or the time less), and for a location farther from the equator, the altitude is less (or the time greater). For a location sufficiently far from the equator, the sun may not reach an altitude of 10°, and the golden hour lasts for the entire day in certain seasons.

Because the contrast is less during the golden hour, shadows are less dark, and highlights are less likely to be overexposed. In landscape photography, the warm color of the low sun is often considered desirable to enhance the colours of the scene. Sometimes the dynamic range of light is quite large and one can then use exposure bracketing and combination to overcome this to bring an image closer to what our eyes can perceive – this is called High Dynamic Range Imaging, or HDR. (More on this later)

Today is May 17, 2012. It is the only May 16, 2012 that you will ever have –> Make it spectacular!

The Reservoir of Wisdom

The Sunrise is God’s greeting – the Sunset, His signature

One of Life’s ironies is that the more time we spend becoming “educated”, be it in a University, vocational school (or just the street), the more we forget that we are all extraordinarily intelligent beings to begin with. The conditioning to which we have and continue to be subjected to simply reinforces the myth that mental prowess is Nature’s unique gift to its favored few. Often we go through life totally oblivious to our innate brilliance and natural abilities.

If we are looking to improve our circumstances, we need to keep in mind that as “part-owners” of that boundless reservoir of wisdom that surrounds and is available to us, we have the means to accomplish more than we ever dreamed of. All we need to do it recognize this source and draw a few buckets from it. Every human has four endowments self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.

This was shot with a Nikon D90, Sigma 10-20mm wide-angle lens, polarizing filter all mounted on a portable lightweight tripod. Three exposures were taken to capture the full dynamic range of the light and then combined with Photomatix Pro – an High Dynamic Range (HDR) tool. This vista presented itself when we arrived at a charming Bed and Breakfast at Bird’s Ferry in New Zealand.

The Northern West Coast Region offers a wide range of scenery and historic sites to see and outdoor adventure sports and activities to do, all set within the natural riches that are found here from the mountains to the sea. By far the region’s biggest attraction is its geography and wildlife, from the rugged coastline and its spectacular rock formations, the deep gorges and valleys carved by ancient glaciers and the region’s many rivers, to the lush rainforests filled with an abundance of unique and wonderful native vegetation and bird life. Truly a must go destination!

Into the Mist

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined

We all begin our day not truly knowing what lies in front of us, we follow our paths, often into a nebulous and uncertain future. We understand where we have been, likely know where we are, have an idea of where we would like to go, but where today’s path leads us, is for the most part, unknown. The decisions you make along the way will make all the difference. If you’re in a negative place, the next step you take can be in a  positive direction. If you’re feeling down, with your thoughts and  actions you can lift yourself up. Advance forward  with your own meaningful, positive intentions. When life has been tough and  painful, grab the opportunity to make it richer and more fulfilling.

Every moment is an opportunity for growth and advancement, no matter what has  happened in the moments before. Seize each opportunity, and quickly leave life’s  disappointments behind.

This image is from Rotorua, New Zealand shot late in the afternoon in July (Winter) at the breathtaking Geothermal Park. The mist on the left is generated by The Champagne Pool, a geothermal caldera – the air during the Winter was rather chilly and accentuated the condensation effects. The wooden walkway extends all around the Champagne Pool and also allows a look at The Painter’s Pallet which is awash with vibrant colors…along our trek into the mist, we never knew what gems we would discover – it was magical!

(PS The blog contains many more images from this enchanted region – just search the Tag Cloud for more New Zealand goodness)

Being Still

“The fruit of silence is tranquility”

The biggest obstacle to obtaining a feeling of peace within you is the constant anxiety your past and future causes you. Your mind is another huge impediment to your inner peace. It’s the identification with every thought your mind has that causes much of your inner turmoil. All your life, your mind has been running the show. often on autopilot. It’s time for you to take the controls and become the pilot. Finding inner stillness is only possible when you develop the ability to turn off all thoughts as if you’re turning off the water faucet.

Somehow, most people have lost touch with the truth when it comes to how to find inner peace. Inner peace is quieting your mind, living vibrantly in this very moment and feeling completely still inside no matter the chaos happening in your physical world.  You are inner peace. The secret and magic of happiness and abundance is already there within.

This shot was taken during the winter in New Zealand (for all you Northern Hemispheric-types, around July 4th). As we descended along a serpentine-like highway down the mountain, we were presented with this striking vista. The mist in the valley and the glow in the sky after the sun had passed being the mountains was enchanting. It was getting dark fast and the glow was disappearing, so we had to think fast! After a very abrupt stop, a short scramble along the brown meadow, we found the perfect vantage point. Everything seemed to be frozen in time with not even the fog moving or even a wisp of breeze – it seemed like magic!

Hoar Frost Treeline

Hoar Frost Everywhere

This was shot during the New Zealand Winter early one morning as we were on the long and isolated road to climb Mt. Aspiring. We must have travelled 10 miles, bumping along a single lane dirt road and fording small but deep streams of runoff from the surrounding mountains. The entire valley floor was covered in Hoar Frost – everything had a magical coating of these delicate white crystals. In this image one can also not a blue fog or haze. Interestingly enough, there were blue skies several miles back before we entered this Blue Zone. Very mysterious! Now about this Hoar Frost and its strange name!

Hoar frost may have different names depending on where it forms. For example, air hoar is a deposit of  hoar frost on objects above the surface, such as tree branches, plant stems, wires; surface hoar is formed by fernlike  ice crystals directly deposited on snow, ice or already frozen surfaces; crevasse hoar consists of crystals that form in glacial crevasses where water vapour can accumulate under calm weather conditions; depth hoar refers to cup shaped, faceted crystals formed within dry snow, beneath the surface.

The name hoar comes from Old English and can be used as an adjective for showing signs of old age in reference to the frost which makes trees and bushes look like elderly white hair. It may also have association with hawthorn when covered in its characteristic white spring blossom.

Mud Flowers

This was taken in the Winter in New Zealand a bit outside of the thermal regions of Rotorua. We discovered this seething pond of thermal mud, which was alive with sulphury, bubbling hot mud. Some areas would spout large globs into the air while others, like this one, would craft constantly evolving shapes like these mud flowers. It was fascinating to just watch what creation would spout out next!

Thermal activity is at the heart of much of Rotorua’s tourist appeal. Geysers and bubbling mud-pools, hot thermal springs and the Buried Village (Te Wairoa) —so named after it was buried by the 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption— are within easy reach of the city.

Kuirau Park, to the west end of the central city, is also remarkable: hot bubbling mud pools dot the park, lending a surrealair to the setting. Visitors can soak their feet in hot pools. We elected not to do this – this one was a bit too hot to handle!

I’ve Got My Eye On You!

I've Got My Eye On You

While I was roaming around looking for a lagoon shot, Kathleen was mesmerized the a very friendly bird. Almost from the time we arrived until we left this isolated beach in New Zealand, this beauty was within feet, swooping closer, resting, observing and just being nice. We thought she was curious and happy to see company. A lovely beach, a few sand flies but just charming and empty in New Zealand Winter. Later, after discussing with locals, the behaviour of the bird was explained!

The bird like humans who attract sand flies! The hover around and eat them once they determine that there are enough congregated around the “bait”…in this case, Kathleen!

Sandfly (or sand fly) is a colloquial name for any species or genus of flying, biting, blood sucking Dipteran encountered in sandy areas. We all were scratching later wondering what bit us…luckily this bird consumed most!

Hoar Frost: Onwards To Mt. Aspiring, New Zealand

This was mile 2 up the road to the top, everything was covered by Hoar Frost, rocks, trees, fences…and with the early morning light it was just a Magical Place…no tourists, hikers, just the two of us heading into the unknown frosty blue. We left our “Destination Cards” at the Trailhead and onward we went toward Mt. Aspiring. Why this shot? Everything was covered with Hoar Frost….

Hoar Frost is the solid deposition of water vapor from saturated air. It is formed when solid surfaces are cooled to below the  dew point of the adjacent air as well as below the freezing point of water.  Frost crystals’ size differ depending on time and water vapour available.

Hoar frost (also called radiation frost or hoarfrost or pruina) refers to the white ice crystals, loosely deposited on the ground or exposed objects, that form on cold clear nights when heat losses into the open skies cause objects to become colder than the surrounding air. A related effect is flood frost which occurs when air cooled by ground-level radiation losses travels downhill to form pockets of very cold air in depressions, valleys, and hollows. Hoar frost can form in these areas even when the air temperature a few feet above ground is well above freezing. Nonetheless the frost itself will be at or below the freezing temperature of water. COOL, eh?

A Sunset Bath in New Zealand

When The Moment is Right!

This is another sunset shot from Winter in New Zealand off the West Coast of South Island from the charming Bed and Breakfast close to Bird’s Ferry. The proprietors had spent considerable time and artistic effort to create an Ulitmate Getaway. The have spent years planning housing such that one would receive the morning sunrise from the Bedroom and also be able to relax in the setting sun in the adjoining living room. Brilliant!

During our “Wak-about” on the expansive estate, we found this bathtub which reminded us of some TV Commercials where two couples sit in warm water and look lovingly into each others eyes…Thank Goodness for some Pill that would Enhance the Evening! We got the picture, did not get in the tub and had a great dinner in nearby Westport. Westport is such a charming coastal community…and the food was five-star!

Around this area are man places to explore, hike, eat and just have a great time – we plan on at least a one week stay in this amazing part of NZ sometime soon!




Bird’s Ferry Sunset, New Zealand

Shifting gears, we now take you back to the West Coast of New Zealand to a charming Bed and Breakfast we stayed at in Bird’s Ferry. This was the view from the back yard which overlooked the ocean – absolutely breathtaking! Bird’s Ferry is just south from Westport, a town s located on the northern bank and at the mouth of the Buller River, close by the prominent headland of Cape Foulwind.

There is evidence that Māori settlers lived in the Buller (Kawatiri) area from very early on. Legends actually place the first visit as early as 950 AD via the waka Tahiriangi with its chief Ngahue. The settlers appeared to live mostly coastal lives, though they explored the mountains for pounamu (jade or ‘greenstone’), which they then traded with other iwi

The first white settlers came to Westport in 1861 as gold miners and the first European vessel known to have entered the river was the sealing schooner Three Brothers in 1884. The 1880s saw many exploratory parties of geologists and surveyors combing the area for the presence of valuable resources and taking the measure of the land.  While gold brought initial interest to the area, and for example, led to large areas of the coastal areas (covered by sediment from the river) being dredged for the valuable mineral, the area soon became much more famous for coal mining, still a dominant concern in the region today.

Down Under

A change of pace and back to wonderful West Coast New Zealand. Kathleen found a friendly bird that kept  company as she was shooting this amazing location. The bird was very attentive and was all around her. As it turned out, the bird was more interested in the beach flies which are tasty eating that Kathleen had attracted!

The West Coast region reaches from Kahurrangi Point in the north to Awarua Point in the south, a distance of 600 km. To the west is the Tasman Sea (which like the Southern Ocean is known to be very rough, with 4 metre swells being common), and to the east are the Southern Alps. Much of the land is rugged, although there are coastal plains around which much of the population resides.

The West Coast was home to Maori, who valued it for the taongo of greenstone (pounamu) which was found there in abundance.

The West Coast was only occasionally visited by early Europeans until the discovery of gold near the Taramakau River in 1864 by two Māori, Ihaia Tainui and Haimona Taukau. By the end of the year there were an estimated 1800 prospectors on the West Coast, many of them around the Hokitika area, which, in 1866, became briefly the most populous settlement in New Zealand.

We looked but did not find any!

Close to The Edge

Photographer's Lobster Pot

This was shot later in the day in the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area of North Island in New Zealand. This is a unique perspective as the photographer circumvented certain safety barriers to realize the vision of the image. Almost immediately the photographer was accosted by a rather angry Park Ranger who performed a 200m sprint to explained why there are such restrictions and that they have to fish out tens of cooked and bloated bodies each year from the hot pools. Point taken, as well as the shot. (PS, it really wasn’t that dangerous in my assesment!)

Champagne Pool is a prominent geothermal feature within the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area in the Bay of Plenty of the North Island. The terrestrial hot spring is located about 30 km (20 mi) southeast of Rotorua and about 50 km (30 mi) northeast of  Taupo. The name Champagne Pool is derived from the abundant efflux of carbon dioxide (CO2), similar to a glass of bubbling champagne. The hot spring was formed 900 years ago by a hydrothermal eruption , which makes it in geological terms a relatively young system. Its crater is around 65 m (213 ft) in diameter with a maximum depth of approximately 62 m (203 ft) and is filled with an estimated volume of 50,000 m3 (1,800,000 cu ft) of geothermal fluid.

Too Hot to Handle

This is another look at The Oyster Pool but from a bit up-stream. This fast flowing creek was almost too hot to touch, and I couldn’t imagine take a dip in the pool. The steam emanating from the pool in the background attests to its temperature. This got me thinking about geothermal power and its natural potential on New Zealand’s North Island. As it turns out, geothermal power in New Zealand is a small but significant part of the energy generation capacity of the country, providing approximately 10% of the country’s electricity!

The exploration of New Zealand’s geothermal fields has been very extensive, and by the 1980s, most fields were considered mapped, with 129 found, of which 14 are in the 70-140 °C range, 7 in the 140-220 °C range and 15 in the >220 °C range. Currently, some potential new geothermal fields are being surveyed that have no surface expression.

New Zealand’s high-temperature geothermal fields are mostly concentrated around the Taupo Volcanic Zone (which also has most of the currently operating generation capacity), in the central North Island, with another major field at Ngawha Springs. However, more systems (some of them potentially exploitable) are scattered all over the country, most of them associated with faults and other tectonic features.

Hot Rocks

The Oyster Pool

Being the first ones into the geothermal area near Rotorua, New Zealand, we wandered and wondered at the beauty of area surrounded by steam and solitude. After many miles of discovery we found the Oyster Pool that was fed by a warm geothermal stream. Getting our photo gear together, we sat on the surrounding rocks to find that the rocks were REALLY warm. After hours of freezing trekking, it was such a treat to have a natural “seat warmer”! The colors were absolutely brilliant as we tried to capture in this image.

The name Rotorua comes from Maori, the full name being Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe; roto means lake and rua two – Rotorua thus meaning ‘Second lake’. Kahumatamomoe was the uncle of the Maori chief Ihenga, the ancestral explorer of the Te Arawa. It was the second major lake the chief discovered, and he dedicated it to his uncle. It is the largest of a multitude found to the northeast of the city, all connected with the Rotorua Caldera.



Pancake Rocks

Pancakes for Breakfast

This was another early morning shot of The Pancake Rocks on the West Coat of the South Island of New Zealand. Its is not a surprise that most of our images are from Dawn or Dusk – this is The Golden Hour where colors emerge and shadows appear!

The Pancake Rocks are a very popular tourist goal at Dolomite Point south of the main village. The Pancake Rocks are a heavily eroded  limestone area where the sea bursts though a number of vertical  blowholes during high tides. Together with the ‘pancake’-layering of the limestone (created by immense pressure on alternating hard and soft layers of marine creatures and plant sediments), these form the main attraction of this spectacular geological formation.

Pearls of Light

This dewy Spider’s web was shot first thing in the morning in the Winter in Rotorua, New Zealand’s steamy geothermal area. We arrived so early and with the heavy sulphur steam, it created very challenging low lighting conditions. However this turned out to be the perfect time to shoot Spider Webs!  Here are a few tips about this surprisingly challenging subject.

Try to get as close as you can with a given lens. You want to capture the dewy silk strands and pearls of water. Using a Macro lens does the trick. Shoot with the lens wide open (largest aperture possible). This was using a Nikkor 100mm at f2.8. Be aware of your shutter speed as you don’t want a blurred image. If possible, sturdy the camera on a tripod, or against a solid object like a tree, stump, rock etc. I like to shoot with an ISO of 200, but try pushing it higher if you still cant get a high enough shutter speed.

Always check what is behind the web – look for colors and backgrounds that make the web stand out. Shooting a white web against a white background will not be very dramatic. Try different angles – often webs are shot at 90 degrees and are quite predictable. Shooting off-center allows some selective focus, drawing the eye into the web and its drops. Lastly, try not to disturb the hard work of the spider. Leave it as you first saw it!


This is just a spectacularly picturesque city, very quaint, full of great places to stay, eat, friendly people and for the adventuresome, something around every corner! This is looking out of the inlet, first thing in the morning during the Winter.

Queenstown is a resort town in Otago in the south-west of New Zealand’s’ South Island. It is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes, and has spectacular views of nearby mountains.

William Gilbert Rees, along with fellow explorer Nicholas Von Tunzelman, were the first Europeans to settle the area. Rees was in search of pastoral land, and after an initial visit returned in 1860 to establish a high country farm in the location of Queenstown’s current town centre. However the Rees’ farming lifestyle was to be short-lived. In 1862 gold was discovered in the Arrow River, a short distance from Queenstown at which point Rees converted his wool shed into a hotel named the Queen’s Arms, now known as Eichartdt’s.

There are various apocryphal accounts of how the town was named, the most popular suggesting that a local gold digger exclaimed that the town was “fit for Queen Victoria”. It is now known for its commerce-oriented tourism, especially adventure and ski tourism. It is popular with young international and New Zealand travellers alike.

Up The Mountain

Winter in New Zealand

This was shot on the path up Mount Aspiring in New Zealand. Until our descent, we only encountered one other group. We would not say that the ascent is treacherous, but there were some tricky spots where a miss step would lead to a deathly fall. Kathleen can attest to this.

Set within Otago’s Mount Aspiring National Park, it has a height of 3,033 metres (9,950 feet). Maori named it Tititea, which translates as Glistening Peak.  It is also often called ‘the Matterhorn of the South, for its pyramidal peak when seen from the Dart River. The first ascent was on 23 November 1909 by Major Bernard Head and guides Jack Clarke and Alec Graham. Head’s party climbed to the summit ridge by the west face from the Bonar Glacier, a route not repeated until 1965.

The most used route to Mount Aspiring is up the West Matukituki Valley, which is at the end of a 50-kilometre road from Wanaka at Raspberry Flat. From here a network of huts provide staging points for climbers. The first is Mount Aspiring Hut, which is 8 kilometres (or approximately two hours’ walk) from the end of the road. A great “Tramp”

A Steamy Stream

Kinda Spooky

Not living in and around a Geothermal Area, we are used to having streams be significantly colder than this one in New Zealand. What is striking about this shot was the rising sun breaking through the foliage and generating these beautiful streaks in the sulphury steam.

If you are ever in Rotorua, and want to enjoy outdoor activity combined with unique ecology, botany and stunning geothermal features, then Waimangu Volcanic Valley and its Lake Rotomahana is the ‘must do’ experience that you can’t go past. In geological terms, Waimangu was created this morning! You must experience Frying Pan Lake, the world’s largest hot water spring; Inferno Crater with its mysterious geyser action; and Cathedral Rocks which vent billowing clouds of steam and more. We found that it is best to go in the NZ Winter, but may have to return in the NZ Summer just for another taste!