Long Exposure @ Paraparaumu

My long-exposure filter kit arrived last week and I drove up to Paraparaumu (about 50 km north of Wellington) to get the parcel. Since I don’t really know how to use those gitchy-gadgets, my friend decided to spend a few hours with me so I would learn the ropes. We spent some time at a park in Otaihanga and then headed off to Paraparaumu Beach. I’ve never been to that area of Wellington before so I was surprised to see such gems in that area (for those not in-the-know, I’m new to Wellington and I haven’t had the chance to explore the surrounding areas just yet). Bernie helped me set the camera up and tried to take long exposure photos.  Here are some of the images I took.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to take a lot photos and these are not too exciting. I’m still getting used to my new toys and besides, it was getting quite chilly. It was also quite unfortunate that, even though the weather wasn’t that great (cloudy and windy – typical Wellington weather), the brook and the sea were relatively calm so the effects of being able to keep the shutter speed open for a long period of time can’t be seen. AND – it’s not easy huh? I think I need to bring a book with me the next time I attempt to do this (Game of Thrones, maybe?) so I won’t get bored out of my gourd. I’ll give it another try, perhaps sometime this week. Anyway – back to work tomorrow!

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The Secret of Happiness

While I was walking towards the waterfront this afternoon, to go on my ridiculous run  (sometimes I wonder why I subject myself to such form of torture) I saw one of the trees on Cuba Street Mall festooned with tiny strips of colourful paper.

The Secret to Happiness is ....
The Secret to Happiness is ….

Being the inquisitive little person that I am, I decided to have a look and was pleasantly surprised to see that those slips of paper were what people thought was the Secret to Happiness. What a marvellous idea! I’m not sure who thought of this little project, but it’s amazing!

Now, since I so have a one-track mind, I went off to do my 45-minute run first, promising to spend more time at the tree after I do my workout and after I collect a few more easter eggs (yes, I’m focused like that). So after I huffed and puffed my way up and down Oriental Parade, I went back to work, got my bag and once I got to the “Tree of Happiness” (as I now call it), I spent some time reading what others have decided to share.

Here are some Secrets of Happiness, according to anonymous Wellingtonians:

Reading these little tidbits made my day a lot brighter. I’ve been feeling a bit off lately and perhaps, God wanted to boost my spirits, wanted to tell me that “Hey, it’s gonna be okay!” – so he made me walk down that road, made me see the tree, and made me curious enough to want to have a 2nd and closer look at everything. (I’m a Catholic, I won’t deny that. And Yes, I believe in God. In this crazy world we live in, I find peace and strength in my faith – my faith keeps me sane.)

While I was there: reading the messages and taking photos – absorbing and learning about what makes people happy I noticed that not many people stopped to have a look. Some glanced at the tree casually, some did pause to have a look at one or two strips of paper but majority of the passersby did just that – pass by as if it’s just an ordinary tree.  It made me wonder, what if this tree was like one of the two trees in the Garden of Eden. But instead of not being permitted to partake of the fruit, we’re all supposed to get as much as we can. Would we take advantage of such a great gift and pick as many reasons to be happy? Or will we simply ignore what the tree has to offer, choosing to focus more on the task at hand – on what must be done, on the many trivial things that occupy our minds and steal the joy from our hearts? Are we so focused on bigger and more “serious things” that we are unable to recognise the little things that can truly make us happy?

I just hope that as I grow older, I retain my innate sense of curiosity, my ability to find wonder in every little thing, to find joy in life’s simplest pleasures.

Good night!

Starry starry night … (fuzzy pictures alert)

Still on the subject of Makara … after we took photos of laser trails and light painted rocks, we pointed our lenses up to the sky and attempted to take photos of the stars. Apparently, Makara Beach (and that particularly secluded cove we were at) is one of the best locations for Star Photography primarily because it is away from the city thus, there’s very little light pollution.

Looking out to the sea
Looking out to the sea

The photo above is my first attempt at star photography. It’s not that great, I know. The stars are fuzzy but hey! I think that’s not a bad image for a beginner.

Bernie (one of the guys from the club) helped us set our cameras so we could take semi-decent star photos because we were just pointing the lens up in the sky … trying vainly to find something to focus on and leaving the shutter open for 30 seconds. Although we had our cameras set on timers, we’d pass the time by counting from 1 to 30 in different languages. At one point, we had English, German, French, Portuguese and Filipino numbers being yelled out simultaneously. We had a lot of fun!

At about 9:30 pm, we felt the chill. We decided that it was getting late and thought it best that we went back home. We had to navigate through rocks and sand and uneven ground with flashlights on our heads (and me wrapped up in a duvet) all while carrying food, our camera bags and of course, our camera and tripods. How we managed to get to our cars without slipping or hurting ourselves is beyond me.

Thus … if you want to have an unobstructed view of the sky, see the milky way and other galaxies in our cosmos to take pictures or simply ponder on the meaning of life (or the reason for your existence), I’d really recommend going to Makara. It’s quite a walk, but the views are worth it.

Incidentally, if you want to stay closer to civilisation, the beaches near the carpark afford amazing views as well. 

Twilight @ Makara Beach

Twilight @ Makara
Twilight @ Makara

Twilight: the soft glowing light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, caused by the reflection of the sun’s rays from the atmosphere.”

After spending almost four hours at the West Wind wind farm (aka Makara Wind Farm), we drove down to Makara Beach so we could have the club’s annual Makara Picnic. I wasn’t there last year so I didn’t know what to expect. I wore fairly sensible walking shoes and a fleece jersey to keep me warm – apparently, those weren’t enough. From the parking area (which I would assume to be Ohariu Bay) we walked southwards towards Opau Bay and continued on until we reached, Te Ikaamaru Bay – at least I think that’s where we stopped to have our snacks. You know what, we could have gone to Ohau Bay and I wouldn’t have known it.

Map of Makara. We were somewhere there
Map of Makara. We were somewhere there

After we had our fill, the gung-ho photographers in the group started taking pictures of the sunset. I dilly-dallied a wee bit (wanted to savour the chicken I was munching on) so I kinda missed the sun as it set, but still managed to capture a few nice sunset images.

It was after the sun has decided to bid us adieu that we started to really have fun. Two of the guys brought coloured torches (aka: flashlights) with them and a long piece of string. They stood on rocks and started twirling the lights around while we took long exposure photos of them. Here are my laser-trail images:

We even tried our hand at light painting! Again – we set the camera on long exposure and while the shutter was open, one of the guys would go around “painting” a rock using the light from his torch.  We didn’t get too many light-painted images because it was getting too dark and hopping from one rock to another was getting too dangerous.

AND we didn’t stop there. When it was really REALLY dark, we took photos of the stars. I’ll post those images in the next day or two. Still need to tweak them a bit. Meanwhile, I’ll sign off. I’ve had a very busy, tiring but fun and productive weekend. Must now prepare for the work week that lies ahead of me.

Guten Nacht! 🙂

Black & White

Took photos of a few trees yesterday and I thought they looked a lot better in black and white than in colour. What do you think?

Some images are a bit OOF (out of focus) though – but I think the fuzziness adds to its charm. It makes the image a bit ethereal. Maybe that’s just me. 🙂

“West Wind” wind farm

Windmills @ Makara
Windmills @ Makara

Yesterday was Photo-walk day and we, myself and a few others from the Photography Club I’m a member of, went to Makara for half-a-day of fun in the sun. Our first stop was the Makara Wind Farm which is just a few minutes drive from Johnsonville. Also called the West Wind, Makara is home to 62 wind turbines, and is one of three wind farms Meridian Energy has built in and around New Zealand. The wind farm generates 142.6 megawatts of electricity!

After parking our cars at the parking area, we immediately started pointing our cameras at everything and anything. Some of the guys we were with took photos of the old post office, the viewing deck, heavy machinery parked near the turbines, among others. Because I’m a boring fart – I took photos of the turbines (how exciting!). Here are my images:

Continue reading ““West Wind” wind farm”

Impromptu Egg Hunt

Since the fickle winds of Wellington were in a good mood today, they decided to spare the city polar ice blasts and gale force winds. Instead, the sun was up in the sky sans clouds, the Capital was comfortably warm. I took advantage of the glorious weather and went out for a quick run up and down the waterfront (my favourite place to run, simply because it’s flat). Since I work at the top end of Cuba Street, I had to walk towards Frank Kitts. It was during this short walk that I chanced upon a big easter egg! I was like … “what on earth?!”. I thought it was a one off art installation (Wellington’s like that, you know), but apparently it’s not. Several eggs were strategically placed in and around the city for The Big Egg Hunt.

Sponsored by Whittakers (my favourite chocolate brand – EVER!), these massive eggs were decorated by 70 volunteers and 100 of these giant eggs have been scattered around New Zealand (in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) thus kick starting a nation-wide egg hunt! Whee! So, after my run, I got my bag from work and took photos of the eggs I found on my way to the train station. I found 13 and I even veered off my usual path just to search for these eggs. Here are my 13 eggs.

I might just go around over the weekend to search for the other eggs. 🙂