Paradise, Piano man and Photography

January 21, 2014

Today was my photography tour with Paradise Pictures.  Laurence Belcher, owner and operator of this new business venture picked me up in Queenstown at my hotel and we headed out to Glenorchy.  Along the way, he was talking about things that we would be covering and he was scoping out what I knew and what I didn’t know about photography.  I was happy to say that I could still remember some of the stuff that I had learned from the classes that me and Irene took back in June.  Our first stop was the lookout to see out towards Mt. Earnslaw and Mt. Alfred.  Mt. Alfred, we could see, but there was a bit of cloud cover so we really couldn’t see too much of Mt. Earnslaw.  But that was alright.  The first practice shots were on the rule of thirds.  And getting the horizon line straight.  I have to work on getting my horizon line straight.  He also had me set my camera on Manual rather than on what I usually have it set to which is Aperture Priority.  Laurence works with a Nikon camera just like I do so it was nice to be able to have someone else be familiar with my camera or something similar.  HIs camera is a bit fancier than mine.  Anyway after taking a few shots, we were on our way to ‘Little Paradise’, another stop along Lake Wakatipu where he showed me how to get some great shots working with depth of field.  Thank goodness I was covered in sunscreen and tons of bug spray – 30% DEET.  The sandflies are a crazy nuisance here, especially by the water.  After some more practice we were off to Glenorchy.  There we stopped for morning tea and then we continued on our way to where there used to be a rail stop by the water.  After working on more depth of field and composition, we headed up to the Rees Valley where we made a lot more stops, including Paradise and I even got to see the spot where Beorn’s house was built!  Hurray!  More Hobbit stuff, even though the Fellowship was over.  We worked on composition and just kept looking for lovely places to stop to take photos.  I truly enjoyed my time with Laurence.  Next to knitting, photography is another favourite hobby.  And I’m going to have to work on it as much as I do with knitting.  I now shoot my photos in RAW and JPEG.  Wow does that ever take up a lot of memory!  But the colours as compared to the JPEG photos are so much richer!  And now I am going to have process the RAW photos in something other than iPhoto.  Laurence has suggested Adobe’s Lightroom.  When I get a decent internet connection, I’ll have to download the trial copy onto my computer and give it a try.  Until then I’ll still be posting the JPEGs, again when I get decent internet connections.  Anyway I had a great day with Laurence.  I learned lots, had lots of hands on practice and received lots of advice.  He answered all my questions that I threw at him and sent me notes after the tour was over.  He even suggested places for me to visit along the way such at St. Bathans and Naseby.  Sadly I didn’t have the chance to make stops at these locations.  But they will be added to my next trip to New Zealand.  Thanks Laurence!  The next time I’m in Queenstown I will look you up and book another tour with you.  And I’m still in Manual mode!

After I was returned back to Queenstown, I did something that I had said I wouldn’t do.  I went to Fergburger for a burger.  I had heard about this place and how people line up forever for a burger and the first night we had arrived, Wayne had driven us down the road and we could see massive amounts of people lined up for a burger.  Julie had suggested an alternative:  Devil Burger and I had decided I would give it a try instead.  I never did get a Devil Burger.  But at 430pm, not exactly dinner hour, I stopped by the restaurant and noticed that there were not a lot of people there and so I decided to try it out.  For $12 NZD I got the Fergburger with cheddar.  A Fergburger consists of NZ Beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and tomato relish.  The bun was toasted and it was huge!  It was two meals in one!  After scarfing the burger down, I had to go for a walk.IMG_2252 IMG_2254

So I walked the Queenstown Hill Walkway.  This was a good workout.  The information board said it would take between 1.5 to 2.5 hours return trip.  I don’t know how long it took me.  I had a lot of photo stops.  It is pretty steep going but well worth it once you get to the top.  Make sure you bring sunscreen and a warm hoody.  The first bit is sunny with shade, but then you get to a junction.  You can choose to take the Loop track or go straight to the Summit.  If you choose the Summit, you need the sunscreen.  There is no shade from there on.  If you take the Loop track you are entering Mirkwood territory!  It is literally like walking into Mirkwood.  It is dark and cool and there is no letting in the sunlight.  Look up and try to see sunshine.  You really have to climb up the trees to see sunshine.  The trees are creepy and you are surrounded by poisonous mushrooms.  I kid you not!  I was just waiting for me to start hallucinating and lose the path like in the movie.  Luckily I didn’t hallucinate and there really is only one path.  But still it was spooky dark.  I loved it!  Again, there is no escaping the Fellowship.  I see it everywhere now!  Anyway I reached the top and saw the Basket of Dreams.  But more importantly I saw everything!  I saw Queenstown.  I saw the Remarkables!  I saw Lake Wakatipu!  I saw Everything!  The view was spectacular.  And I was higher up than when I took the Skyline Gondola.  After tearing my gaze away from the Remarkables, I looked and saw that there was another path that led further up.  The information board did indicate that there was another path that would lead up to 907 m high.  So I walked that as well.  Make sure you do it!  It is worth every effort to get up there!  Honestly!  I dont’ know how long I was up there, but when the wind picked up, it was time for me to head back down.  As I was going up, and down, I was passed by many joggers.  JOGGERS!  Running up the hill!  Good for them!  I’m happy just walking it.

Once I returned to Queenstown, I hung around the wharf and waited for Mathais the Piano man.  I remember seeing a photo of him on Pinterest and I thought it would be interesting to see him and listen to him play.  I had seen him for 5 minutes the first night in Queenstown but I didn’t stick around very long because it was blustery and I didn’t have a jacket but this night, I was prepared.  And I’m glad I stayed and waited.  His music is lovely.  He has several CDs out but I didn’t buy any, but maybe I’ll get them online when I return home.  I also put to use my new skills with my camera from that morning’s lessons.  The sun was setting just in front and it was just a lovely way to end the night, a lovely way to spend my last day in Queenstown.

January 22, 2014

This morning I went to pick up my car.  OMG!  I am going to be driving in New Zealand.  On the Left hand side!  Ben and Sue had given me tips on driving a few days ago.  Ben said that there would be two things that I would have issues with:

  1. I would start drifting more to the left because coming from a place where we drive on the right-hand side, our eyes aren’t used to seeing the dividing line on the left-hand side.
  2. I would eventually stop looking in the rearview mirror because I am used to looking up to the right but the mirror won’t be there so I’ll eventually not look at all and then after awhile, when I do look up, I’ll be surprised to see 20 cars behind me waiting to pass me.

Well, so far, I have only had 3 cars waiting to pass me.  I have noticed drifting but I catch it fairly quickly and I do notice that I look in the right hand side view mirror quite often.  I have managed to stay in the left hand side pretty easily.  My first destination with my car:  Arrowtown.  Ben and Sue had taken me there to checkout The Old Smithy for Lord of the Rings/Hobbit jewellery but then we left right afterwards.  Which was not a problem since I knew that on this day, it would be pretty free for me since the drive to Te Anau would be quick.  So off to Arrowtown for lots of retail therapy.  Back to The Old Smithy and then up and down the street to check out the other shops.  It’s like walking back through time.  It could’ve been a set for Little House on the Prairie.  All I needed was for Laura Ingalls and Michael Landon to step out of a shop!

After a small lunch, I decided to try out Patagonia’s ice cream.  Wow!  That was good.  I had the Dark Chocolate Macadamia ice cream.  Divine!  After my indulgence, it was time to leave for Te Anau.  And what timing.  My outing in Arrowtown was perfect sunny weather and as I was leaving, the rain appeared, and the wind and more rain.  I was actually beginning to think that there may be problems with my kayaking trip to Doubtful Sound.  But I would deal with that when the time came.  My first issue was to get to the hotel.  After telling the GPS to take me to the Distinction Luxmore Hotel, it took me to some unknown location in Te Anau.IMG_2275Good thing I have a good memory and actually knew how to get to Te Anau’s Town Centre, which was where the hotel was located.  I made it to the hotel in one piece.  Then I had to go pick up a sleeping bag for the trip and then pick up food supplies for the trip.  After stopping for dinner at the Olive Tree cafe, my day had come to an end.  It was time for an early night because tomorrow would be an early morning start!

Update:  I have now tried kiwi fruit and Patagonia’s Ice cream

Sorry!  No photos for this post or the previous post.  Not yet!  Stay tuned!

Thinking of you all, Luv Aunty!

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