Monday, May 31, 2010

2010 Pacific Music Awards

Wow!  What a great night out.  The performers were just oozing with music, rhythm and talent.  The MCs for the night (Yolande Ah Chong and Alphonso Maiava) where wonderful and highly entertaining.  I usually think of the MCs as people who get in the way of the acts I've come to see, but this pair were a quality act in their own right!  Wonderful.

Something else that struck me wasn't just the family focus ... even though I think every artist had extended family members in the audience AND the audience was made up of people whose age in years ranged from single to those I guessed were getting close to three digits!  No, what really impressed me was the acknowledgement of their Heavenly Father as the gracious provider of their musical talents.  These artists and performers weren't there basking in their own glory, they were exercising their God given talents for the enjoyment of those around them; their Pacific Island families and friends, and they weren't afraid to acknowledge from where their talents had come.  I almost wished I was a Pacific Islander myself!!

Privileged to be associated with such a wonderful group of people?  Well, our mayor Len Brown certainly is.  He was back on stage this year and had brought along a few of his fellow councillors.  This man really loves the Pacific people he represents, and I think it's fair to say they're rather fond of him too.  He was having a ball!  You could tell he relished every moment.  Great to see him looking so well and having so much fun.

I was keen to go to get some shots of MIT presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to Ardijah.  I'd met Betty-Ann Monga the previous week when she performed at the Mangere Town Centre Mangere Love event and she was superb.  On the Saturday night she was missing, but her fellow band members came along to collect the award.  I was quite looking forward to hearing Betty-Ann sing again, but no such luck.

The other reason I was keen to go was to see Malcolm Lakatani perform.  Malcolm is truely a highly talented musician.  He collected together some friends to perform what for me was the best performance of the evening ... but perhaps I'm biased?

Disappointed that even though nominated for three awards on the night, he only played one number and didn't win an award.  Never mind ... next year!!

So there you go.  I had a great time and am really looking forward to next year's event.  I took heaps of photos, met many lovely people, heard some wonderful music and laughed and enjoyed myself like I hadn't done for quite some time.  If you'd like some photos, just email me and I'll help out where I can.  My email address is over on the right ->

Are you my Facebook friend?  If you are here's some shots of the event, and here's some shots of Malcolm and his band.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mangere Love!

As part of New Zealand's music month, with sponsorship from NiuFM Radio, a group of talented musicians got together in the centre of Mangere to share some love ... and play some music.  The event started at about 9am and the atmosphere just got better and better.  There's some seriously talented musicians in South Auckland I have to say!

Of of the first performers had apparently just come to town to do some shopping, but ended up on the stage.  Wow!  Reggie music with serious emotion and attitude.  What a gent!  Not sure of the guy's name, so if you know who it is that appears in the second image in this post please leave a comment with details.  Truely, if you like reggie music then this guy is one performer you really have to see.

Lighting was a little awkward, unless you were quite close to the subject.  Serious backlighting from a bright sky and light colour buildings.  Then most of the artists wore black.  I've been plagued with movement so have been trying to keep the shutter speed as high as possible.  I also moved away from my trusty 50mm lens today and used an 18-200mm zoom.
Nowhere near as sharp as the 50mm lens and quite slow at f3.5, but what a range of focal lengths!  Most of the shots were taken at the extremes of the zoom range rather than anywhere in the middle.

I suppose one of the main attractions at the event was Anonymouz with his band the Hypnotics.  Proud to be associated with Mangere, Anonymouz is a wonderful ambassador for music in the area.  The band just gels and produced a sound loved by the audience.  Great job.  
I suppose, to be fair, not of this would have happened without the significant efforts of RAN Events.  Rita, Angeline and Noma must have worked like Trojans to get the event organised.  Well worth it though!
I'll close this post with a few more images of the musicians.  If you want to see more images, get copies, or invite me to your event, just drop me an email.  Oh, I'm starting to add a few more shots to flickr too, so keep taking a peek there if you're interested.

Friday, May 21, 2010


The Republic Bar in Manukau City was the venue for the launch of a new Anonymouz single entitled Memories.  What a wonderful evening with lovely people making great music.

The light wasn't the best and without the aid of a flash the results were very average indeed.  The first shot in this post was achieved with a flash kindly loaned by Adrian Malloch.  Flash was mounted on a railing on the mezzanine floor and triggered by a wireless device attached to my camera's hotshoe.  I was impressed and very keen to get a similar setup myself.  Sponsorship more than welcome btw :-)

Without the flash the light levels dictated an ISO setting of 6400, lens wide open at f1.8 and a shutter speed of 1/100sec.  All images were shot RAW with the camera's focus and exposure set manually.  It was difficult to know what to do with exposure as the musicians moved around beneath spotlights embedded in the ceiling.  I just picked an exposure that seemed a good average and used that for all the shots.  Camera response was obviously much faster as it didn't have to think, but focussing was difficult and it did mean some extra work in NX2 for the incorrectly exposed images!

Overall most of my images weren't up the same level of clarity as the first in this post.  Nevertheless, perhaps they give a better impression of the atmosphere at the bar?  Take a squiz, don't forget to click on the images to get an enlarged view, and perhaps leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sick ... and sick of it too!

It must have been Wednesday that I gave up trying to convince myself that I was OK.  Doctor's visit confirmed Bronchitis as the cause of the problem.  After cleaning out the pharmacy of pills and potions I;ve been languishing at home feeling sore and sorry for myself.  I've not used the camera for days ... until today.  I had really been looking forward to the week that's just gone as there were a few music gigs I'd wanted to visit.  No such luck :-(

So, today I felt a bit better.  Chest not quite so tight and a chance to take some shots ... but what a day!  Don't let the first shot in this post fool you.  When I got my camera out of its bag, the second shot in the post was the view from the dining room window.  Rain was pouring down and there was even thunder!  Not much chance of a nice shot here I thought, but then the sun came out ... as it does in GodZone :-)
Shot #1 in the post is a seven shot HDR image through my dining room window, so there may be a few reflections ... sorry :-(  But what a difference a few minutes can make to the view!

Sure that the rain had abated I headed outdoors to see at what else it may be worth pointing my camera.  I'll finish this post with a few other shots from this afternoon.  Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Autumn light at the gardens

Autumn here in New Zealand and the trees are changing colours which look quite lovely in the setting sun's light.  The Botanic Gardens have a few lakes and this particular evening we had some very pretty reflections in the water.

This posts image is a single shot HDR image processed in Photomatix Pro.  There's a bit of a halo effect up to the right of the image around the cabbage tree and I'll have to learn how to correct this effect.  I seem to recall some enhanced features in Photoshop CS5 that may help me to correct these errors.

Tomorrow night sees Anonymouz at the Ivory Lounge again.  Perhaps I'll see you there :-)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Osbourne Street Bar

4pm in Newmarket at the Osbourne Street Bar ... on Osbourne Street of course!  Allegro were playing some smooth music for all fortunate enough to be there.  Front and centre on stage was Mista Lakatani playing lead guitar ... don't forget to vote for Malcolm Lakatani at the Pacific Music Awards website.

Light was pretty good, but low.  All shots were at ISO 3200 with the lens wide open at f1.8.  Shutter speeds weren't always as fast as I'd have liked, as can be seen by the movement in Malcolm's hand in the first image.

I'd been criticised previously for a lack of emotion in my images ... hopefully this time I've managed to do a better job.  Take a squiz and let me know what you think.  More images on flickr and I'll add a few more as time permits.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New Zealand Senior Rhythmic Group

In the Gymsport Centre at Bruce Pullman Park today we witnessed a stunning display by the New Zealand Senior Rhythmic Group.  The girls have just come back from Melbourne where they won gold in the Pacific Rim Competition.  All being well the scores will be sufficient to allow them to participate at the World Championships in Moscow later this year.

The lighting wasn't as bright as I was expecting and I needed a fast shutter speed to freeze the actions as much as possible.  ISO was set at 1600 and aperture set at f2.8 to try to keep the shutter speed over 1/100.  Spot focus and exposure was selected and the shutter release was set at continuous high - I didn't want to miss a shot!

Images have been cropped slightly - I was using my trusty 50mm lens - but other than this there's been no twiddles to the images.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Down at the port

I'm not sure if it's because we're short of space down at the waterfront, or if it just helps from a logistics point of view, but not far from where I live there's an inland port.  It's a boy's place really!  Big trucks, cranes and heaps and heaps of containers neatly stacked and grouped under a multitude of spotlights next to the railway.  I've always thought it'd be good to try to get some shots.  Night time brings with it a whole different atmosphere and we had a great time watching the trucks and cranes as well as taking a few pictures.

I was seriously impressed with the speed and efficiency with which a truck was unloaded and the container stacked away in a neat pile.  The cranes were staggeringly maneuverable and lifted the containers like they were made from cardboard.  Very impressive.
Flare?  I was quite keen to get a bit of this in the image as I thought it'd add to the atmosphere.

Fourth shot is a single shot HDR of the prot and one of the cranes.  There's quite a bit of noise in the sky, but I think the image still works.  What do you think?  Looks best when enlarged, so please click on the image to get an enlarged view.

Quite pleased with our efforts at the inland port we headed off to a new structure being built near Clendon.  There's some huge vat type structures and it looks pretty impressive depending upon the light.  We tried a 5 shot HDR of the structure, but couldn't really get the angles we were after as there were a number of electric fences in the way!  Anyway, don't forget to click on the images to get an enlarged view and post a comment and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nice Light?

Golden is probably the best way to describe the light this evening.  The sun was quite low in the sky and illuminated the plants and flowers in the garden in quite lovely ways.  The first shot is of an impatiens straining towards the setting sun.  I know of at least one person who'll be disappointed that the flower is facing the wrong way, but I just couldn't get a flower head on and get the light passing through the leaves. I got a bit of flare in this image which I think adds to the effect.  What do you think?

The second shot is from the front of an impatiens.  Quite a different effect from the first image, but I liked this because of the "glitter" type effect on the flower's petals.  The two shots were taken within a few minutes of each other ... one towards the sun, one away from the sun.  Any preference?

Whilst working on my 50mm lens project I took a number of shots of various flowers in the garden, and was quite pleased with the control over depth of field I had.  This next shot is with a 200mm focal length yet shot at f8.  Due to the proximity of the lens to the flower the background is somewhat blurred whilst retaining sharp focus on the flower head itself.

Oh, I forgot to mention.  Each of the images in this post are unmodified in anyway save for a conversion from RAW to JPEG.  No crops, no saturation or sharpness twiddles or anything else unhealthy :-)

Also, don't forget you can click on an image to enlarge it and see it a bit bigger.  I'd recommend you did this for the first shot at least and let me know what you think.

Monday, May 3, 2010

At the airport

Quite interesting what you can see down at the airport!  These two girls were waiting for a friend returning from the 2010 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Competition and had made a special effort with their appearance!  I was there to collect my daughter and managed to get a few shots of her flight landing that I've processed in Photomatix Pro.  The sky and clouds were quite moody, so a bit of enhancement with HDR often accentuates the colours and tones.  I'm not sure what I think about any of the shots, so perhaps let me know what you think.  The first looks like it's been taken on a frosty day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Autumn light

There's something warm looking about autumn.  It's the browns, yellows, reds and deep greens that I can see in the changing leaves ... and then there's the sun lower in the sky that gives a wonderful glow to almost everything it hits.

This afternoon I couldn't help but notice this toadstool in the garden.  I wanted to show it in context with the grass, moss and silver birch trees, but with the distant object out of focus.  Not sure if this works or not ... perhaps let me know what you think.  I tried modifying the perspective in Photoshop to enhance the effect from the 18mm lens ... does it work?  The main thing I noticed, to be honest, was I had to crop the image to get a rectangular shape instead of a trapezium.  This then made the image very long and thin.

I've been intrigued with Nik software's Colour Efex.  I thought I'd have a bit of play with this for the second image in an attempt to emphasis the autumnal colours.  Over the top, or quite pleasant?  Perhaps leave a comment and let me know.