Genoa at dusk

Genoa harbour

We are enjoying a ridiculous one month whirlwind tour of Italy, savoring the mid-winter no-tourist vibe.  Weather-wise it mostly like pleasant spring weather at home.   Genoa was a one-day stop on the way to Nice, but turned out to be packed with surprises, and it’s been marked as “next time and stay longer” on the imaginary travel planner.

After a busy day wandering through the quite fab aquarium and history of the sea museum my husband, ex-navy and with a marine biology degree was in high degrees of happy place (and okay, I was pretty happy too).  On the way back to our accommodation we happened to pass a former palace now a museum (as you do in Italy),  an hour or so before closing.  The art was excellent, the galleries pleasingly empty, but just as we were about to head down stairs a guard suggested there was just time to take the lift to the roof.   So, amazing unexpected views across the roofs of Genoa, at about 4.45pm.

Lesson for next time: must remember to put the pocket tripod in ones pocket, just in case.



Next year (as I say every year) I’ll go really early and claim a watching-spot that gets more of the harbour and has a bit less foreground interest.   Next year . . .  but this year all looked very pretty from where I was, filtering trees and all.

I was very happy with how my 20mm Minolta 2.8 lens performed sharpness wise, this at f4.5, ISO 200 and 2.5 sec.  I chose it after reading this review, and recommend Ken Rockwell‘s site as a great place to find properly detailed info on old lenses to use on mirrorless cameras.

And the equally old Minolta 1.4 50mm,  at f4.5, ISO 100 and 3.2 seconds.


And three exposures






After the festival is over . . .

Last week was a wonderful hectic roller-coaster of improv theatre. The New Zealand Improv Festival, 2015 edition.  It was sometimes stirring, startling, heart-string tugging, occasionally awkward, occasionally camera-shaking hilarious, but most of the time just a really really good time.  If you weren’t there, you missed out forever, since all the unscripted theatre happened just for those us who were there.  Of course.  There were performers from a bunch of countries, workshops run by amazing teachers, a bunch of socialising for the social people.   I was one of the volunteer photographers, snapping my way through 10 or so shows over five days.  I’m coincidentally part way through a photography diploma, and required to photograph a wedding “or the equivalent”  Combing my study with my hobby seemed the perfect plan.  And I did photograph a wedding.  An improv wedding, with a groom sourced from the audience and a just slightly drunken minister.  A wedding, a bunch of train journeys, a podcast, a prison with 50,000 prisoners, a cruise liner and many quite twisted tales.

For the assignment, I had to choose just 10 photos to tell the story of the festival.  They needed to be a mix of candid and formal images, all orientated the same way and cropped to the same dimensions, and either all colour or all black and white.   These were the 10 I chose, with the theme of “moments of connection”, but the choice, it was not easy!

I took around 2,000 photographs using two cameras, which at only 200 per show is quite restrained really.  Most were taken with a Sony 7ii and a Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 lens.  This combination which was lovely and let me take photos in light I would normally be struggling with, but with the downside of a slow and finicky focus, very shallow depth of field, and being tricky to nail just right with moving targets.  Someone near the front of the stage tilting their head a few inches and something that looks good in the viewfinder, is not so sharp full size.  Also,  using a 50mm lens and sitting in the front row meant that I could only catch part of the stage in a scene.  So, I also had my tiny and lovely RX100 iv, set to auto focus and very wide, ready for when action took off on the stage, or I wanted a wider view.

Hello to a star kakapo!


Sirocco inspecting me

Kakapo are the rarest of rare creatures.  As a large plump flightless parrot nesting on the ground and pretty much defenseless, they were especially vulnerable to hungry humans, as well as to the various rats, cats and other tasty-bird-eating creatures who have arrived with humans.  Careful conservation work has bought kakapo back, a little, from extinction – but there are still only 125.    Annnyway, yesterday I got to see Sirocco the Kakapo arriving like a minor rockstar at the Zealandia sanctuary, for an ambassadorial residence in Wellington (most of the year he roams free on his own offshore island).   He is a little too fixated on humans as this justly celebrated incident with Steven Fry’s cameraman showed, which makes him not so useful for the breeding programme, but does make him ideal as a birdy emissary.   Released from his custom travelling box, he immediately ambled up a branch to press against the window and check out who was watching him.   The last photograph is of him looking out of his custom-built enclosure, wistfully, wondering where all the people are going.

Kakapo are nocturnal, so if you do want to see one (and for most people, Sirocco is the only one you’re likely to ever see), maybe book one of Zealandia‘s night tours next time the Prince is in residence.


Being released from his travelling box


G’night strange bird

Slightly becalmed on the South Coast

The sea was pretty flat by the time we arrived at the beach, just after sunset.  It was nice, that is dull, and clouds meant my husband probably wasn’t going to see the Venus-Mars conjunction he was hoping for; we nearly turned around and went home.  But soon it was dark enough for some long-but-not-too-long exposures of gentle waves on a pleasingly rocky part of the shore.  Also in my evening’s photo haul: scenic fishing boats rocking very slightly at anchor and rock pools with beige seaweed.  You don’t need to see that.

long exposure waves rocks

18 sec, ISO 320 50mm, f 8-ish (hey it’s a manual lens and I was playing with dials in the dark)

Evening in the Bay

I spent the weekend in Hawke’s Bay – the water and hills were ridiculously scenic, especially in the still warm evening.   I had my camera with me, although no tripod, so these were taken propped on handy fence posts.  If nothing else this year, I’ve become much more comfortable with long exposures.

Mission Estate Winery After Dark  – f7.1 ISO 1000 30 sec 24 mm (36mm in 35mm film terms)

Mission Estate by night

Dusk at Napier Marina – f8 ISO 100 25sec 16mm (24mm in 35mm film terms)
Napier marina