Monthly Archives: November 2010

Photography : Experimenting with White Balance and Camera

Over the years, through experiments in landscape photography, I noticed a few things. This is for sharing.

In the last post I mentioned about changing the auto setting for white balance to tungsten. Below are two examples showing the result when both settings are used.

Beatenberg, Switzerland

Beatenberg, Niederhorn - Switzerland

Auto White Balance

Top view Niederhorn

Beatenberg, Niederhorn - Switzerland

White Balance = Tungsten

In this case, I think the better photo is the one with the white balance setting changed to tungsten. My preference lean towards blue colors. So far, I managed to send these types of photos without any editing to the photo agencies and had been accepted.

However the same setting does not always yield the same result. Below are two more examples. The colors in the first photo look unnatural.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

White Balance = Tungsten

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

Auto White Balance

Generally, I think if it is bright sunshine with blue sky and a snowy landscape, then the tungsten setting may work. When there is no camera filter around, this function also acts as a natural filter from the glare of the white snow. But, when greenery or other splashes of color are in the same frame, best not to use this setting.

Another fun experiment was using the Night Landscape mode in broad daylight with super bright sunshine. It darkens the picture at the same time the slower shutter speed results in the wispy waterfall.


Sterling Waterfall, Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

Night Landscape

Milford Sound Waterfall, New Zealand

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Day Landscape

Photography is a fun hobby. While it is good to know the basics, the rest is experimentation.

So have fun shooting!

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Posted by on November 30, 2010 in photography


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Mountain Landscapes

Here is a small collection of mountain landscapes. I admit mountain landscape is my favourite photographic subject. When there is snow on the mountain top, it is like icing on the cake. Enjoy the pictures.

switzerland chalet

Saas Fee - Switzerland

There are many beautiful places in Switzerland. Saas Fee happens to be my favourite. A little bit of information on Saas Fee here.

The Matterhorn, Zermatt - Switzerland

The Matterhorn, Zermatt - Switzerland

Zermatt lies at the foot of Matterhorn – a natural landmark in Switzerland. Here, snow is guaranteed in winter. Even in summer, you can still ski and snowboard here. More pictures on Zermatt here.

Mt Cook as viewed from Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier, New Zealand

Mt Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. You can explore hiking trails in Mt Cook Village and catch glimpses of the mountain while driving towards Queenstown. For more photos on Fox Glacier and Lake Matheson click here.

Mountain top in Queenstown, New Zealand

Crescent Moon on Mountain top in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is the adventure resort in New Zealand offering endless array of non-stop activities. For more pictures and information on Queenstown, click here and here.

Mountain top, Snowy Mountain, Australia

Snowy Mountains, Australia

Snowy Mountains is located in New South Wales, Australia. You can get there via Sydney or Canberra. More on Australia later.

Click on the pictures for a larger view.

Tip : By the way, if your camera white balance setting is set to auto, the end result may show a very off-white picture. In such circumstances, I sometimes switch the white balance setting to tungsten. This overcoats the picture with a bluish cast. Good for emphasizing the blue sky and at the same time creates a natural filter to reduce glare from the white snow. It is all up to individual taste.

In very cold temperatures, minus degree celsius, the camera may stall and the batteries get exhausted much faster. In my case, I wrapped the camera and the batteries in my cap or jacket to keep warm.

Till next time, good luck shooting!

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Posted by on November 28, 2010 in photography


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Photography : Follow the Path

Hiking in Wanaka

Sometimes I think the rule of thirds is overrated. Other times, an “ah ha” moment does apply.

I like taking panoramic pictures. Especially when there is a wide mountain range in the distance.

For this picture, I don’t think it would have as much impact if the hiking path was placed right smack in the center. The mountain range on the far right and the blue lake would not be in the picture and that’s a shame. Mountains in the distance have a way of framing a picture and a bright splash of color is always pretty to look at.

One thing I notice, lines converge into a spot in the distance. It draws the eye and adds a dimension to the photo. Try photographing a road and place it in the center frame. The road gets smaller and smaller until the diameter of the road meet at a spot somewhere in the picture.

Anyway, rules are good and serve as a guideline. But creativity is up to the individual photographer and personal preference.

So shoot away, anyway you want to!

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Posted by on November 27, 2010 in photography


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Hello and Goodbye in Picton


Picton signboard

Picton signboard


For those celebrating Thanksgiving, hope you have a wonderful day with friends and family.

Say goodbye to the long weekdays and hello “Good Friday” and the weekends!

The title is apt I think considering my topic for today – Picton.

Picton is the departure point for those taking the ferry to Wellington, North Island – New Zealand. In that case “Fare thee well”. A warm welcome to those just arriving in Picton. Bon jour! Hello!

In the rush for the next destination, not many would overnight in Picton. I was totally clueless about Picton during my first trip to New Zealand.

For a little explaination on the history of Picton, click on the above picture for a larger view.

Panorama Picton Sunset

Panorama Picton Sunset

Tip 1 : Try the fish and chips. So yummy!

Tip 2 : If staying in hostel, ask the staff if the bus stops directly at the hotel. If so book directly with the hostel instead of the I-site.

Tip 3 : If hiking the Queen Charlotte Track, Malborough Sounds for several days, you may want to book through your hostel since some hostel offer discounted price for watertaxis.

Picton Harbour

Picton Harbour

If cooking your own meals in a motel or hostel, how about trying some mussels? The is the place well known for growing wine and mussels in New Zealand.

There are a number of easy hiking tracks opposite the harbour but my knees were too swollen for the attempt. To cut the story short, too much hiking in a short burst of time may damage the knees cartiledge.

Will cover more on Queen Charlotte Track at a later post. One way to maximise time and money is to go on a half day kayaking and hike a short section of the Queen Charlotte Track the other half of the day. Here are secluded bays and hidden enclaves. Serenity all around – peace for the heart and soul.

For more information on things to see and do in Picton, click here. If taking ferry to North Island, here is the link.

Till next time, have a golly good Friday and the best of weekends!

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Posted by on November 26, 2010 in New Zealand, Travel


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Kayaking and Hiking in Nelson

Kayak, seals at Nelson

Kayak, seals at Nelson

Kayak in Nelson

Kayak in Nelson

If you hate winter and the cold winds, Nelson is the place to be. Plenty of sunshine year round.

I wish I had more time to spend in Nelson. It was basically reach town, find hotel, tomorrow go kayaking and next day off to the next destination. That said, this is the place to practice kayaking skills.

I had never gone kayaking before and it was an enriching experience – truely inspiring. It didn’t matter that I was travelling alone, the kayaking operator hooked me up with another person. If anyone is heading that way, a few tips for noting.





Tip 1 : It is a long distance from Fox Glacier/Franz Josef Glacier. By the time the bus reaches here, it is about 7 pm (depending on bus operator and their schedules).

Tip 2 : Before booking accommodation, check if the hostel/hotel/motel offers pick-up/pick-off service.

Stay at least 2 nights and there will be sufficient time here for kayaking and shopping. Kayaking can be done on a half day basis, one full day or multiple days. Another option is to combine a half day kayaking and half day free and easy hiking. I opted for the latter and had a wonderful time.

Split Apple Rock

Split Apple Rock

Even though it was already 7.30pm, the staff at my hostel managed to book the trip for me the next day. Some operators do pick-up and pick-off from Nelson accommodations. Best to ask before booking.



First part of the trip was getting fitted with the gear and safety briefing. Then off we rowed! We were on a double kayak except for the guide. 6 of us plus the guide equalled to seven. Hah! I could count!

Te Pukatea Bay

Te Pukatea Bay

It was a fun group. Two were a newly married couple from England. Another were a pair of mother and daughter from United States. I was on a kayak with a girl from Ireland. Lots of splashing around on the water.

The sky looked dark for a moment. Thank goodness it did not rain. Best of all,  a rainbow appeared. The camera snapped away.

Our guide was terrific. He showed us a cave within the rocks and we kayaked through it! Next was a long stretch when we had to kayak vigorously to reach the Split Apple Rock. Sadly, it was time to return. The adventure was not over yet for me.

Te Pukatea Bay

Top view Te Pukatea Bay, Abel Tasman National Park



I opted to do the free and easy hiking after the kayak trip. Here I was alone on the beach after the watertaxi took me there. As the signboard said, I was at the Te Pukatea Bay.

I was exhilarated and at the same time apprehensive because I didn’t bring along a map for the hike. Oh well, getting lost was part of the adventure! After a short lunch, I was on my way.



Anchorage Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

Anchorage Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

It was a bit of an uphill climb and the views along the way were awesome!



At one point, I came across a fork on the track and memorised this route just in case I got lost. Luck was with me – I turned right and apparently that was the correct direction to Anchorage Bay.


Anchorage Bay, Abel Tasman National Park

Anchorage Bay, Abel Tasman National Park


The only thing to do left was wait for the water taxi for the return trip back. It was a fantastic adventure and I would gladly do it again!

There are more walking tracks in the Abel Tasman National Park. The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand Great Walk. Another popular track is the Inland Track. Click here for more activities in Abel Tasman National Park.

For more information on things to do in Nelson, click on Nelson Tourism.

Next time if I am in the area, I definitely want to stay longer and do more kayaking. If you are coming to Nelson, try kayaking. Wonderful adventure on the water. Guaranteed!


Till next time, have fun in whatever you do!

Turqoise water in Nelson

Te Pukatea Bay, Abel Tasman National Park - Nelson

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Posted by on November 25, 2010 in New Zealand, photography, Travel


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Lakeshore Hiking in Wanaka

Panorama Lake Wanaka

Panorama Lake Wanaka

Wanaka Part 1  – click here

Wanaka Part 2

Take a walk with me………….

Hiking Signboard at Lake Wanaka

Hiking Signboard at Lake Wanaka

There are numerous hiking trails in Wanaka. The easiest is the lakeside trail following the lake. On the left side of the lake is the Lakeshore Walkway trail. As the signboard on the right shows, it takes about 1 hour walking to reach this point – Waterfall Creek Reserve.

I did this a few times – sometimes I follow the shoreline and other times I follow the trail. It is a popular route with many people jogging, hiking and cycling. Wanaka is simply gorgeous in Autumn – all that blaze of yellow, auburn and red colors serenading the lake.

Before reaching this point, these pictures show the views along the trail.

Ribbon Vineyard

Ribbon vineyard along Lake Wanaka

Ribbon vineyard along Lake Wanaka

Edgewater Resort


Edgewater Resort


Trees along Lake Wanaka

Trees along Lake Wanaka

Upon reaching Waterfall Creek Reserve, another hiking trail “Wanaka Millennium Walkway” starts here. I believe the track here is also called Damper Bay Track.

Wanaka Millennium Walkway

Wanaka Millennium Walkway

Came across this article on further development on this track.

Cross over the bridge and the next track begins.

Cross the bridge to Wanaka Millennium Walkway

Bridge along Lake Wanaka

After climbing a steep incline, this is the view of the landscape below.

Top view Wanaka Millennium Walkway

Top view Wanaka Millennium Walkway

After all that hiking, at the end of the trail is a quiet bay. There are a few benches here for a picnic and to simply relax.

Quiet Bay at end of Wanaka Millennium Walkway

Quiet Bay at end of Wanaka Millennium Walkway

Wanaka – Right Side of Lake

The nearest picnic spot on the right side of Lake Wanaka is Eely Point. Before reaching there, a view of the marina.

Marina at Lake Wanaka

Marina at Lake Wanaka

Eely Point Signboard

Eely Point Signboard

Hiking signboard at Lake Wanaka

Hiking signboard at Lake Wanaka

Passing by Eely Point, the hiking trail diverse into three trails. I opted to walk forward to Bremner Bay.

There is also a bridge to cross on the right side of the lake.

While I was hiking there, a gail was blowing and the water looked very choppy. Wouldn’t want to be on the lake at the moment. The trail reaches all the way to Albert Town. It is a long way to walk, preferably done on a bicyle.

A view of Lake Wanaka

Ducks relaxing in Lake Wanaka

Hiking Trail in Lake Wanaka

Hiking Trail along Lake Wanaka

These are the easy walking trails that follow the lake shore. If you are coming to Wanaka and aim to do some hiking, below are more information.

Other hiking trails in Wanaka

  • Rob Roy Glacier walk
  • The Outlet Track down the Clutha River
  • Glendhu Bay to Damper Bay
  • Clutha River Track from Albert Town to Luggate
  • Hawea River Track from Albert Town to Hawea
  • The Blue Pools near Makarora
  • Gillespie Pass (Wilkin-Young) 3 day alpine tramp

Overall, it is a pleasant walking experience that can be done as a family. For more information on the walking tracks in Wanaka, click here and here.

There are more hiking options in Mt Aspiring National Park and Wanaka is the starting point. Visit  DOC – Mt Aspiring National Park for more information.

Till next time, have a great day ahead!


Posted by on November 24, 2010 in New Zealand, photography, Travel


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Chill Out at Wanaka

sunset in wanaka

Red Sunset in Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

Getting into Wanaka

Getting into Wanaka

Wanaka – Part 1

Part 2 here

After the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, how about catching your breath in Wanaka? Lake and mountains – here is Wanaka. For peace and quiet, this is the place to be.

The above picture is a blood red sunset taken in winter. If you plan to photograph sunrise here, wake up early and turn to the left side of the lake. Sunset is on the right side of the lake.

I love coming to Wanaka because it is so laidback. I can simply chill out and not do anything. There is less commercialism here and I hope it remains so. Feel so lucky to see this place in various seasons and in all kinds of weather, good or bad.

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka - high water level

The water level in the lake varies from season to season. At times, the level recedes. At one visit, the water level was so high I couldn’t reach an old pier which did not stretch all the way to the shore line.

Getting Here

There are regular buses arriving here. The best place to check time schedule and cost is the I-site. Use the YHA card to get discounts.

I-Site at Wanaka

I-Site at Wanaka

Everybody goes to the lake. The I-site is a classic log cabin – very unique among all the other I-sites. Kayaks are available for hire and there is also a lake cruise. It is always fun to hire bicycles and there are endless tracks here. Grab a map at the I-site for more information.

Take your children to the playground. They will love playing with the dinosaur. The playground overview the lake – great scenery!

In winter, test your skills skiing and snowboarding at the mountains – Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone, Snow Farm and Snow Park. Nearby are Coronet Peak and The Remarkables though these mountains are closer to Queenstown. For more information, click here.

Wanaka Playground

Wanaka Playground

Winter in Wanaka

Winter in Wanaka

There are plenty of other fun attractions in Wanaka. If you are after thrills, go skydiving or white water sledghing here. How about a game of paintball? Want to play at the Adventure park? How about a movie at the Cinema Piradiso?

For more information, click on the following links for the various things to do in Wanaka.

Kayaks at Wanaka

Kayaks at Wanaka

Attractions and Things to do in Wanaka

Sky Dive Wanaka

White Water Sledghing

Puzzling World

Fighter Pilots Museum

Transport and Toy Museum

Basecamp Wanaka

Adventure Park

Wanaka Paintball

Cinema Paradiso

Have A Shot

For more information on the town, click on Lake Wanaka.

I come to Wanaka mostly to chill out, take in the sight and do some light hiking. There is a big New Market here so stock up before leaving for the next town.

Wanaka Part 2 is on next post. Stay tune!

Old pier at Lake Wanaka

Old pier at Lake Wanaka


Posted by on November 23, 2010 in New Zealand, photography, Travel


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