Saturday, October 4, 2008

Back home... thoughts from New Zealand

So in New Zealand alone, I have over 2000 photos to go through, this is AFTER an initial filter where I deleted several hundred of the terrible photos. I think I want to keep myself at about 200 photos per day, so I need to loose about another 2-4 hundred photos. New Zealand is every bit as beautiful as I imagined if not more... icy glaciers, tranquil emerald lakes reflecting snow capped mountains (ok not so much of this...), endless green rolling hills with sheep and cows, glowworms lighting up the cave like millions of tiny little stars... I mean I can't even begin to describe some of the sights I got to see... the kind of awe and wonder that the landscape inspires is just something you have to be there to see... I've included a few photos from the trip... there will be many many many more to come... Keep in mind I've done very little post on these photos and haven't really gotten a chance to look through all my photos to pick the best ones. These are just a few I picked out real quickly to represent my initial impression of New Zealand (which are not necessary the best photos from the trip)...  In either case, I think my photography skills fall FAR FAR short of coming even remotely close to capturing the beauty that is New Zealand. I have to return to New Zealand again... hopefully by then I'll be a much better photographer and can actually capture the essence of New Zealand.... in the mean time, I hope you enjoy these few photos...

Photo taken early in the morning at Te Anau lake...

Night photo of the milky way near the shores of Lake Wanaka

Aerial photo taken on the flight from Christchurch back to North Island (long story)

Beautiful rolling hills on North Island on drive from Auckland to Matamata (aka Hobbiton)

Iconic Mitre peak at Milford Pass

Lindis Pass (on our drive from Lake Wanaka back to Christchurch). This is near where the great battle of Gondor was filmed.
These lambs were just the most adorable things ever... as the bus drives by they'd get scared and run to their mom and hide... soooo cute.

Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity and geysers...

Beautiful view of Queenstown at twilight and Lake Wakatipu.

Overall I was very pleased with New Zealand and look forward to processing all the photos (once I get through the 600 photos I took at Mt. Rainier >.<). I think I was very fortunate on the New Zealand trip (even with 2 missed connecting flights - both in Hong Kong and a diverted flight due to mechanical problems), the weather was spectacular for all but the first 2 days of the trip. A snow storm passing through the area meant new snow and gorgeous snow capped mountains as the backdrop which is more rare this time of the year. While I certainly would have preferred to drive myself on this trip so I can stop whenever I want... I don't think 9 days would be nearly enough (I would probably have to stop every 10 mins because the view is just so gorgeous). I ended up having to settle for shooting through dirty bus glass for a lot of the shots... not at all pleased but I guess it is something I'll have to live with given how much easier (and cheaper) it is to go with a tour. But yeah, the trip was just a blast and if you've never been to New Zealand... you totally need to.... in many ways it renewed my passion for photography and at the same time made me feel totally inadequate :0. I guess I have to really pick up my landscape and nature photography skills (not to mention post processing skills) :).  On a side note... I took way more HDR photos than I've ever in the past... we'll see how that works out.

After New Zealand, my mom and I stopped by Hong Kong for 2 days. This is my first time to Hong Kong and I have to admit I have very mixed feelings about it. There are definitely cool sights to see in Hong Kong... as an anime fan having watched Ghost in the Shell... it made me appreciate the anime even more after seeing HK in person. I saw a few photos of jumbo jets flying low over old residential areas on the last day of flight at the old HK airport... it instantly reminded me of scenes straight out of Ghost in the Shell and just made me go "wow"... that made me really happy for some reason. Having only been to Shanghai in China... Hong Kong was somewhere in between Shanghai and Taipei for me. Parts of it were very well maintained, clean, upscale, etc but by and large a lot of areas felt runed down. Even the area in Kowloon next to the star ferry and Avenue of stars, which seemed to be hip part of town was ruined (in my opinion) by the tens if not hundreds of photographer booths asking you if you want a photo against the HK skyline at starting at $10 HKD. It just reminded me too much of Shanghai, walking along the Bund or any other touristy places where all around were just yelling out "You want photo? Just X dollars!." Just imagine row after row of "stands" with posters of random tourist (often foreign) against the view to show case what that photographer can "do" - of course all shot on perfect days when the skies were clear. Each photographer has a simple SLR, external flash and a tripod... memorize the settings and just point and shoot... instant print on a ink jet and that's easy 10 bucks. I joked with my mom that when I retire, I should come and do this, but charge only 5 bucks and offer them the digital file :p. I wouldn't mind if it was just a few stands... but row after row... I guess I hate how commercialized it is and completely ruins the "mood" of the place... I just couldn't really enjoy it. The rest of the stay in HK was dampened by a passing typhoon which pretty much made it rain all day (and a trip to the Peak a complete waste of money). As a result, most of the photos came out kind bleh... on top of that I really couldn't capture the essence of Hong Kong, whether it is the prosperous business districts, the poor slums, or even the bustling night markets and streets filled with neon signs.  I just... couldn't capture the feel of HK. Anyways, here are 2 quick photos that sort of tries to capture some of that.

The entire trip was tiring, and I'm glad to be home. But it was such a great trip... I really enjoyed New Zealand and Hong Kong as well. I'll definitely have to revisit both places again. Now... to the thousands of photos I have to process... :)