Monday, November 24, 2008

New Zealand, Day 2

Day two proved to be an even more interesting (and at the same time, disappointing) day than day one. Day one was spent all in Auckland (well, and the plane... and Hong Kong airport...) but to be honest, there was nothing special about Auckland... think of it like say... Irvine or San Francisco, except with lots of grass... So arguably day two was the real start of our New Zealand trip.

We got up real early... at some ungodly hour (even tho we checked into the hotel at like 1 AM the night before) just to catch the 8 AM Tranz Scenic (TranzAlpine line) train to go from the east coast (Christchurch) to the west coast of the south island. The train takes you through the beautiful country sides all the way to the gorgeous alpines of the south island. In fact, it takes you right through one of the places where they filmed Chronicles of Narnia, though I don't think I got a photo of it.... oh well. I spent most of the time on the observation car (just a shell of a car with a few railings, and a ceiling... and... really strong winds. Wind strong enough to knock you silly). By the time I got off the train, I probably looked like I've been working in the engine room shuffling coal all day and being the photo geek that I am... the first thing that I thought was NOT "oh my face.... gotta go wash all this off :(" but instead "oh my poor lens.... how am I gonna clean it!". Yeah, it's like that. Anyways, some photos from the day two album below...

From NZ Trip Day 2 - West Coast

This photo is NOT one of the photos I got from the observation car, unfortunately none of those photos really turned out all that well. This was instead taken from inside the nice, comfortable, air conditioned passenger cars.. with champagne and pâté. I really like two things in this shot, the power pole (yes I'm crazy) and the blurred sheep. I guess I like the motion blur caused by the train. And the power pole just serves as a nice anchoring point. The beautiful green grass set against the even more beautiful blue sky doesn't hurt of course. Oh, here is a bit of trivia, you see the sheet metal wrapped around the power pole? That is to prevent small animals from climbing up the pole and damaging it (specifically, possums I believe).

And the next two photos are taken at Shantytown, a old gold rush mining town that's now just a tourist destination (this is where we had lunch)...

When I saw the old antique steam train getting ready to move, I knew I had my shot. I mean, seriously, how often do you get to see steam trains this close any more (ok, it's not that uncommon, but set against this nice green grass and that perfect blue sky with clouds? It's once in a life time!). Most things are NOT meant to be photographed at eye level so I got down on my knees next to the train track and pointed my camera up. It made the small train look more impressive and helped bring in lots of that nice sky. The post processing was pretty simple. Bumped up the saturation a bit, and shifted hue towards more green (yellow -> green, and a bit more on the green hue itself). Increased contrast and lowered the luminosity on the blue to darken the sky a bit. But overall, pretty simple stuff.

When you have an antique train, in an old mining town... it is natural to take photos that have the old faded nostalgic look right :). Post processed in LR2, bumped the saturation down (I mean way down), warmed up the temperature (+59 and +27 tint). Adjusted the brightness, exposure, contrast and the like until I got enough contrast, really bright steam coming out of the train with really dark shadows everywhere else. Added a bit of vignetting for kicks. This probably is my favorite image from the day and pretty high up there on my list of favorites from the trip.

I'll start working on the photos from Day 3 soon. This is just the beginning... I haven't even gotten to the good stuff yet...