Saturday, November 27, 2010

Miss Tasha Lee

A night of fashion at the Mangere Arts Centre courtesy of Miss Tasha Lee.  Great fun, but a huge challenge for me as the flash I was using was not performing as expected.  The unit seemed to have a mind of its own!  Getting anything worthwhile required camera and flash settings to be set very different indeed.  Quite bizarre.  I'd understood both devices to be compatible ... especially as both come from the same manufacturer, Nikon.

Never mind, I managed a few shots before the event started of the girls and what a gorgeous collection of beauties we had to model Tasha's creations.  You can see some of the girls in the first image ... Miss Tasha Lee is in the second shot in this post.

Tasha's creations were stunning, colours vibrant and really accentuated the beauty of the girls.  As I said, a great event.  More photos are available here on Facebook ... let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Take Note ... take 3

Neil Stewart on drums, Take Note, Lynfield Cock 'n Bull
Friday night at the Lynfield Cock 'n Bull with Take Note was a blast.  I wasn't really sure what to expect as I'd never been to the Lynfield Cock 'n Bull, but it was great.  I'll be back :-)

Jason (Smith) fired up the smoke machine, enthusiastic dancers hit the dance floor and the band as a whole seemed much more relaxed than last week, and ready to party.  They played the same songs as last time, but I thought there was something different with the delivery.  Perhaps it was the girls on the dance floor, perhaps they were less concerned with yours truely snapping away with a camera.  I'm not sure, but they were really good.

Lighting, as last time, was wonderful for me.  I was able to use a wide angle lens with a minimum aperture of f4, get ISOs down to 1600 and use shutter speeds over 1/100sec.

Jason Smith, lead guitar and vocals, Take Note, Lynfield Cock 'n Bull
This wasn't the case for all shots though.  The first shot in this post has Neil Stewart in the midst of the smoke machine output.  The drummer is invariably at the back of the set, and this is no exception with Take Note.  As such my wide angle lens wasn't really long enough to capture Neil.  The shot of Neil was taken with a 50mm lens, f2.2, 1/80sec and ISO 2500.

I don't find it easy taking shots of drummers and have been trying a slower shutter speed in an attempt to get some motion in the sticks.  In a number of the songs Neil's head stays reasonably still, but his hands and sticks fair fly.  Using shutter speed down to about 1/50sec lets me get some blur in the sticks.  Problem is, if there's too much blur the the stick becomes so faint that you don't really see it.  As I said.  I find it hard.  Anyway, let me know what you think of the first shot.

The second shot has Jason Smith in some of the smoke.  The smoke gives a lovely atmosphere and I need to play with its effects more to fully appreciate what you can do.  I must admit to being amused that at one time no smoke machines were necessary as the pub's patrons acted as smoke machines ... probably generating significantly more smoke that Jason's machine could ever hope to manufacture.

Jason Wilson on Bass Guitar, Take Note, Lynfield Cock 'n Bull
Shot three has Jason Wilson on bass guitar.  Last week Jason seemed to be holed up in a corner and out of the way, but this evening we got to see rather more of him.  This third shot has been desaturated as the coloured lights didn't really flatter the scene at all.  Sadly you don't see the lovely grain in the body of his guitar.  This shot from last week may give you a better idea.

The last shot shows Sue Dyson at the microphone fulfilling her role as vocalist for the group.  There's a few more shots of Sue here that have been converted to black and white.  Perhaps let me know what you think of the monochrome images as compared to the colour image in this post.

So there you have it.  A shot of each of the band members taken at Lynfield's Cock 'n Bull.  They're a great band and well worth going to see, and dance to!

Sue Dyson, vocalist for Take Note at Lynfield Cock 'n Bull

Monday, November 15, 2010

Take Note ... take 2

Take Note ... in monochrome.

Black and white images have interesting properties and can often convey a better impression of an event than a full colour shot can.  Is it because you look more at the shapes?  Perhaps you're imagination fills in the gaps?  Then again, perhaps the photograph can focus your mind on the more salient aspects of the image?  I'm not sure, but a good black and white image is VERY hard to beat!  Sadly,  can't claim to have the ability to craft these stunning monochrome images ... but that doesn't stop me trying.  Sorry :-(

So, this post has a few monochrome images from Take Note's performance last Friday night at Ellerslie's Cock 'n Bull.  Take a look at let me know what you think.  Part of me things the "noise", lack of precise focus or movement in the image is acceptable and almost expected in certain shots.  Hints and suggestions are more than welcome by the way.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Take Note ... take 1

Friday night at Ellerslie's Cock 'n Bull.  I had a great time.  I'm often taking photographs of Contagious, but this evening I had a change and went along to see Take Note.  I'd heard of the band, but never been to see them.  I must admit that I'm rather pleased that I made the effort and went along to watch them perform.  I was a little concerned that the lights may not be good enough to get reasonable shots of the musicians, but there was nothing to worry about in that department.  The lights were great and I was even shooting down at ISO 1250 for some shots ... I've never been able to do this before, except at outdoor events!  Jason (Smith) seemed to be the one sorting the lights and he did a great job.  Made my life easier that's for sure!
The band is a four piece ensemble with Sue Dyson (who you can see to the left) as lead vocalist.  Well, certainly for the female parts.  Jason Smith did a great job with vocals and certainly surprised me with his vocals in some of the Bee Gee's songs. Very well done Jason.

Great range of songs from the band and very well executed.  I had a good time taking the photos, but would have had just as much fun if I'd left the camera at home and just gone along to enjoy the atmosphere and dance around on the dance floor.

I'll close this post with a couple more images from last night.  In these shots you'll see Jason Wilson on bass guitar and Neil Stewart on the drums.

Please let me know what you think, perhaps subscribe to the blog then you'll get regular updates :-)  Also, if you think I could have as much fun taking shots of your band, and you think shots like those you see here may be of use to you, drop me an email and I'll try to come along.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge.  Great places to visit today in 2010, but back in the 1800s this was quite a different place.  Often referred to as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, Ironbridge was a hive of the iron smelting and casting industries.  In fact, the wonderful bridge you see in the first shot in this image is the famous ironbridge, opened to "traffic" in 1791 from which the town takes its name.  It's free to cross the bridge today, but it started life as a toll bridge.

It's a lovely area to explore with loads of history and very beautiful scenery.  Sadly, on the day we were there it was cloudy and a bit showery.  So disappointing.  Never mind.  Hopefully the images might encourage you to visit, and, if you do, you might enjoy better weather than we did.

The second image in this post was taken from the iron bridge, looking up the River Severn with part of Ironbridge's town buildings and main street.  The main part of the town is more to the right of the image, and accessible from the bridge.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Interesting light?

 Looking through some shots from the UK I came across these six I thought I'd share with you today.  The thing that I thought when I looked at them was how the light intrigued me when I took the shot.

First image was taken at Manchester International Airport and I was quite taken by the clouds into which the 'planes were flying.  It was quite funny really.  All other cameras were pointing the other way, trying to get impressive images of the aircraft.  I liked the clouds and any type of aircraft somewhere in the image was fine by me!

Second shot was taken whilst walking in a park in Westhoughton, Bolton.  The light was lovely, especially the way it illuminated the leaves.  There seemed to be a glow and hopefully the image gives you an idea of just how lovely it was that evening.

The last four shots were taken at Lyme Park.  The first of these shows The Cage up top right of the image and the famous home in the bottom left.  There's a shot of the front of the stately home in more detail in a previous post here.  the back of the home (or is it the front?) is in the penultimate shot in this post.  Each of these shots has quite high levels of contrast, hence the title to the post.  Let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Plot night

Plot night or Bonfire night, just a name for the 5th of November celebrations.  I always felt a tad sorry for Guy or Guido Fawkes as he wasn't the 'leader' of the group that planned to blow up parliament.  Anyway, those events were over 500 years ago!  These days, even in New Zealand, where I suspect hardly anybody knows anything about the plans of Robert Catesby to blow up Britain's Parliament, we buy fireworks and set them off on the 5th of November each year.

We're no different to all the other Kiwis.  Off to the shops to buy a selection of explosives with which the celebrate the failure of the gunpowder plot, waiting for it to go dark and then battling with the matches in the breeze as we attempt to light the fuse paper.

This year, however, we bought more 'sparklers' than actual fireworks and got the children to draw patterns in the sky as they danced and lept around the back yard.  I put the camera on a tripod, used a wide angle lens, small aperture and set the shutter to bulb.  We had a wonderful time.  They were exhausted and ready for bed when we'd finished and I got some reasonable shots.  They tried writing their names and other words, but these didn't come out as well as the stars.

So there you go ... heaps for fun, exercise for the kids and probably the cheapest 'fireworks' in the shop!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wigan ... and the pier!

Wigan?  Well, not just yet.  I thought I'd show you another image from Manchester before I take you to Wigan.  I mentioned before the excellent public transport system and used the trains, buses and trams as I journeyed in and out of Manchester.  However, many people use their cars and I can recall my frustrations when I used to drive into the city and then try to park my car.  there always seemed to be those double yellow lines on the side of the road indicating that parking was prohibited!  That's what amused me about the first image in this post.  Here's a wee alleyway, just wide enough for one car and they'd got double yellow lines on BOTH sides of the road.  I can't work out how you could park on one sode of the road without being parked on the other ... perhaps they use the pavement?  Anyway, it amused me :-)

So, Wigan!  Many New Zealanders think of rugby when you mention Wigan, but there's more than rugby to Wigan.  Wigan is a very old town that played a significant role in the areas coal and cotton industries.  However, this was subsequent to its previous reputation for porcelain and clock making.  Much of the coal and cotton industry's transportation needs were addressed by the canal (the Leeds and Liverpool) and then railway system and you'll see examples of this in the other images in this post.  Besides canals and railways, several of the old warehouses, stores and mill buildings remain, and a number of these can be seen alongside the canal.  Most of these buildings no longer fulfill their original purpose and have been converted into museums, apartments, hotels or bars.

The image above shows what is apparently Wigan's Pier.  Made famous by George Orwell in his book, "The road to Wigan Pier" the notion of a pier in a place such as Wigan was always seen as a bit of a joke.  Now the name Wigan Pier refers more to an area than the original very short wooden jetty from which coal wagons or tipplers were unloaded into the waiting canal boats.

The last two images in this post are HDR images taken in the Wigan Pier area.  Not too bad a place for a pleasant stroll down the canal.  What do you think?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Manchester ... look what I missed!

I'd lived near Manchester for over thirty years, yet had never been inside the town hall.  Sure, I've seen the outside ... the grand old building you see in the first image in the post.  I'd even sat in the square outside the town hall, but I'd never actually walked through the doors and into the building to see the treasures inside ... and let me tell you, visual treasures aplenty are inside Manchester's town hall.

The exterior is impressive anyway, and it's well worth looking at the statues and carvings on the exterior prior to entering the building, but once inside ... well ... the idea of a bland and bleak building is soon shattered as you walk down gloriously high vaulted ceiling passage ways and admire the colours, paintings, tapestries and mosaics.  I was amazed with what I saw on the visit and so disappointed that whilst living in the Manchester area I'd never taken the trouble to step inside this wonderful treasure of a building.  It makes you question just how many other people are unaware of just what there is around them.

 Visiting England now as a tourist makes things that were once familiar seem special.  The very efficient and regular light rail service, the impressive Salford Quays, the historic areas of Ordsall Hall as well the excellent shops, museums and galleries.

Impressed with the place?  You bet.  Take a ride up to the top of the Hilton at the end of Deansgate to get a view over the city whilst enjoying a coffee ... 23 floors high affords great views.  Haha!  Take your binoculars and you may even catch some of the Coronation Street stars strutting their stuff outside the Rovers Return ;-)

I'll close this post with a couple more images from inside the town hall.  If you're in Manchester ... or close to it I strongly encourage you to visit ... you won't be disappointed.  Let me know what you think, and give me some tips of other places I may have missed and should visit on my next trip back to the UK.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Salford is rather pleasant :-)

I can remember Salford Docks from my youth.  It wasn't a particularly pleasant place to visit.  The colour I'd associate with the place of old would be grey or black.  Grim, dirty, industrial, run down are all descriptions that come to mind when I think of the Salford of my youth.  I can recall visiting company offices that had gone into receivership or were closing down, to pick up good quality office furniture on the cheap.  It's also the place made famous by the TV programme Coronation Street.  Look back at early episodes of "the Street" and that's not far off what I imagine when I recall the Salford of the '60s and '70s.

Fast forward to 2010 and what a change!  The Quays (no longer the docks!) are quite up market and definitely not a blot on the landscape.  Apartments, condominiums, slick offices, museums, restaurants and shops.  They even have a very modern and regular light rail service linking the quays with Manchester's city centre.  I was impressed.  A place to avoid?  Haha!  Not now.  It's a place to visit :-)

The first shot in this post is of the old Dock Offices - I think ;-).  The remainder of the shots in this post are from around the quays ... as they appear in 2010.  Let me know what you think.  I was well impressed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


There's something rather special about England.  Perhaps it's where I was born?  Perhaps it's the history  and the beautiful old buildings?  Perhaps its the quaintness of the country lanes, or then again the beauty of the countryside?  Then again, perhaps it's all these things and more.

After Vancouver we were keen to see England again, but can't say that our first impressions were good.  What a depressing welcome to the country.  Very grey and bleak as you're transported by bus, via the bowels of Heathrow Airport to passport control.  So many greys and dull colours; a very marked contrast to the bright, airy and colourful airports at Auckland and Vancouver.  Mind you, the staff made up for the depressing visuals of Heathrow with their warm welcome to England.

We flew from London to Manchester and again were intrigued by how "empty" and green the country looks from the air.  While travelling by car you often have the sensation the country is packed with buildings, roads and people with no "spare" space.  In fact, depending on the time of day, travelling by car can be a real challenge as can finding somewhere to park your vehicle at journey's end.

Public transport was great.  The buses, trains and trams were both regular, reliable and reasonably priced ... a big contrast to what we're used to back here in New Zealand!

Over the next few days and weeks I'll add a few more posts from our trip to the UK.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hopefully you'll enjoy looking at the images as we did taking them :-)

In this post from top to bottom you can see Lyme Park, Wharfedale and Bolton Abbey.

Monday, November 1, 2010

VERY dark!!

Rakino's Bar in Auckland's CBD was the venue for Allegro's Sunday night performance.  Seriously challenging for photos!  There was hardly any light, and what there was was behind the musicians.  I'd noticed when shooting Contagious that ISO 2500 was giving quite nice low levels of noise and was hoping there'd be enough light to use the same ISO settings as on Friday.  Haha ... no such luck!

The shot in this post is of Malcolm Lakatani, the lead guitarist in the band.  Hugely talented and very photogenic, it's an absolute pleasure to photograph Malcolm ... when there's light!  The shot you see here was taken with a 50mm lens at ISO 6400, f2.2 and  1/25sec.  As I said ... very little light!  It's a tad noisy, but not too bad.  I was pleased with the sharpness of the image for such a slow shutter speed especially as my 50mm lens doesn't have VR.  What do you think?