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Posts tagged “Paparoa NP

Nikau Palms of New Zealand

Nikau palms in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Nikau palms in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

One of several distinctive trees in New Zealand are Nikau Palms. These palm are endemic to New Zealand and grow in abundance in warm, coastal forests on the North Island.
In several grows, they are also scattered on the South Island, as well. Some of those spots on the Mainland is Nelson area and places on Banks Peninsula near Christchurch. On the West Coast you can see these beautiful, juicy green Nikau grows near Karamea on top of the West Coast, in Punakaiki and some are even occurring as far south as Okarito.
They grow up to 15m tall, with fronds up to 3m long.

Thanks to their distinctive, sharp look and vibrant green colours, these beautiful palms are great subject to photograph. The best time to photograph them is on dull, overcast day and ideally after the rain, which adds the extra shine and deepens the colours.
It is often said to use polarizing filter to get rid of reflections but in this case I prefer no polarizer at all.

It’s that shiny wet and cold dark green colour which make this photograph for me.

This photo was taken in Punakaiki with Nikon D800E and Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 lens.

Photo: ©Petr Hlavacek – www.nzicescapes.com

More images of Nikau Palms in New Zealand are available from our gallery Nikau Palms Stock Photos from native forests of West Coast of New Zealand

Thank you and Enjoy!


Wild West Coastline!

Sunset and limestone formation in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Sunset and limestone formation in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

During past several months I’ve been making regular-ish trips to one of the popular coastal locations on West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand, to famous Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki, in Paparoa National Park.
These amazing, “pancake layered” limestone formations were created some 30 million years ago. Formed from dead marine creatures and plants about 2 km below the surface, immense water pressure transformed these marine fragments into hard and soft layers, which were then by tectonic activity lifted above sea level. The weather elements have been doing the rest – shaping these rocks into wonderful limestone formations.

Last week I got back from my last trip, for a while at least, and what a trip that was.
I was able to reach some secret but dangerous spots but I wouldn’t recommend to follow this, especially if you don’t know the area and potential hazards… and this goes to this image in particular.
The constant danger of unpredictable waves and falling rocks kept me alerted at all times and my senses were all over me. I waited away from this place for the right moment to come and gave myself only a couple of minutes for the shot before I backed off to the safe side.

I’ve had this photograph on my mind for a long time. I kept coming back to see variety of light on this spot during last 12 months and it was so tantalizing that I couldn’t resist this evening. My waiting was over as all the elements I was after came spectacularly together – amazing light hitting right place, out of this world limestone formations and shapes with drama of incoming tide.

I couldn’t have been happier!

This image is not online yet but for more and similar coastal images from New Zealand, please visit our photo stock gallery Coastal Stock Images from West Coast of New Zealand

Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Nikon D800E with Nikkor 16-35 lens


Nikon D800E vs Gradual ND filters?

Punakaiki Coastline

Weathered limestone formations in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Neutral density gradual filters have been an essential accessory tool for every landscape photographer since photography beginnings.
There has been a simple, well known reason for that – it’s been far to impossible for the film to record some particular scenes landscape photographer can often face – scenes with extremely wide dynamic range. What that is?

Simply put; its the span from the brightest to the darkest points in the scene. And this span can be in nature extremely wide even for the human eye.
Both human eyes working together for example can perceive range of approx up to 24 f-stops. I’m saying working together because should we look only with one eye, the ability of our single eye would drop to between 12-14 f-stops. There is more to this topic but its not a purpose of this post.

Now I’m getting to the core of this article.
With approx 5-8 f-stops, the ability of the film (negative or positive) to record those extreme ends of the light range is quite limited. Some may argue that this goes beyond 8 f-stops but to me, the resulting image quality after adjustments doesn’t support this. Therefore we need to use ND gradual filters to balance out these extreme ends of light closer together so we can capture as much detail of the scene as we can.

With an astonishing development of new cameras, photography techniques are developing and changing, as well.

Since my Nikon D800E arrived, I’m amazed again and again with capabilities of this technical marvel. It’s been said a lot about its DR capabilities, resolution etc but it is only when when you capture your own image and see the result you wouldn’t expect.

On my latest trip I encounter a scene which I decided to bracket exposure on. I took 5 images each with 1 f-stop difference and which I was going to process as HDR (although I’m not an HDR photography guy, I have to admit). I opened those files in LR4 and then processed them as HDR image. Well, like I said, I’m not an HDR kinda guy…image was ok but I didn’t like all that fuzziness in clouds and other artifacts which occur with HDR. Don’t get me wrong please, I’m not against HDR, but you got to have right image for it to work.
Anyway, then I though why not to try to process a single file from a stack with best suitable exposure using new LR4 and to compare results.
Well, when I did that, I immediately deleted the HDR version without even a blink of an eye. The result out of D800 are just amazing.

I used only 2 sliders – highlights and shadows. I didn’t even need to go all the way with either of them. With highlights slider I landed on 70 and with shadows on 70 also to be happy with adjustment.
One may object, ok but what about image quality, noise, sharpness, artifacts etc…well, judge for yourself below.

In my photography, I’m producing imagery which has to be suitable for printing. Suitable for printing large and I mean LARGE. Our images have been reproduced in sizes of up to 15m so it is my foremost objective to produce images in the highest quality possible.
With this in mind, I’d be more then happy to let this file to be blown up big.

Below, there are 2 images – first compares look on the entire image before and after adjustments.
The second comparison shows a crop out of the same images at 100%.

Punakaiki Photo

Untouched, out of camera file on left and highlights/shadows adjusted on right.

At small sizes many images look fine but the problems creep in when enlarged for printing. But that’s not the case with D800 files.
If exposed ideally with view in mind of further adjustments on file, note I’m not saying exposed correctly, and processed with care, the file looks amazing.
You would be hard pressed to actually find an issue with it. To my huge surprise, I can’t find any sign of any noise in the lifted up shadows. Image remains sharp with enough contrast and without any artifacts.

Please note that this file was taken as a single RAW file with no filter used.
It has 0 sharpening applied, no contrast, no noise reduction, chromatic aberration correction or any other adjustments apart of for this purpose lifted shadows and corrected highlights.

The lens for this shot used – Nikkor 16-35 with camera mounted on tripod.
Exposure 1/10s at f16, ISO100, -1EV for exposure compensation.

This second comparison shows a crop out of the same images at 100%.
Adjusted file for highlights and shadows on left – untouched out of camera on right.

Artifacts can often creep in after sharpening is applied. To show how this file holds up after a medium sharpening was applied, see the same crop below.

Punakaiki Photo

Nice and crisp detail without any sign of noise.

So what remains to be said;
Firstly, this post is only my personal opinion based on findings I’m getting with this fantastic camera.
Secondly, the purpose of this writing is to ponder over the use of Gradual ND filters or use HDR techniques while shooting with latest wave of digital cameras, especially with Nikon D800 with its DR of 14.4 f-stops. More on this you can read on DxO website.

Yes, there definitely will be a need for ND Gradual filters for some time yet. However, what I’m now certain of is that I’ll be thinking twice or tree times when I’ll be reaching for my filter, as I’ll be avoiding putting an extra layer of glass or plastic in front of my lenses every time I can.

I’d be happy if this quick comparison would help to those photographers still on a fence…upgrade or not…?

Thanks and Enjoy!


Photo Tours through New Zealand!

Photo Tours

Photo Tours through fascinating New Zealand


It’s been cooking and boiling on our table for quite some time but now we’re done and ready to roll ahead.

We’re introducing our new product – Photographic Tours.

We have prepared 4 kinds of tours to chose from, each at different lengths to suit variety of clients. And of course, tailor made tours are available as well.

Being based on the spectacular, colourful and diverse wild West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand, which is by large part under UNESCO protection, we feel our tours should reflect that.
The West Coast region is a pure gem in overall breathtaking landscapes of a whole New Zealand but it is its overwhelming variety of sceneries, this 600km long stretch of land sandwiched between Tasman Sea and almost 4,000m high Southern Alps, offers to keen traveler/photographer to savour.
This is one of reasons why 3 of our tours are largely taking place in this magnificent corner of the World, giving options of magic sceneries to photograph in.

From 3.5 days through 4.5days, 10 days and up to 15 days long premium trip, our trips are available to wide range of clients.

For more info, please visit our site at: New Zealand Photo Tours

We sincerely look forward to welcoming you on our precious West Coast!


Once more from Punakaiki!

Beautiful limestone pools at sunset in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Beautiful limestone pools at sunset in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

As I’ve been processing new images for our next upload, which happened last week, I just can’t go by and not to share with you one more frame from Punakaiki coast.

It is also from the area of limestone pools I photographed after the sun went down.
On my first visit, I pre-visualized all these pools playing with colours as the sun goes down so you can easily imagine how excited I was now when I saw all those coloured reflections around me when shooting time came.

With my camera solid on the tripod and mirror locked up, I decided to leave polarizing filter on as I wanted to get both versions – with colourful skies reflecting in water and without reflections, showing the shapes and forms hidden under the water.
Here I’m posting image without polarizer working. Image gained interesting contrast of nice colder blue hues from the sky reflecting in the pool to the warm tones of twilight colours.

You can see polarized version of the same frame on our site by visiting STOCK gallery “NEW IMAGES”.

Thank you and Enjoy!


Limestone pools in Punakaiki

Seewed in limestone pool at sunset in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand

Seewed in limestone pool at sunset in Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand


Just a few days ago I came back from my another trip in Paparoa National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand.
On my last, mostly scouting visit, I found several locations I’ve been eager to photograph. The amazing limestone formations can stir your imagination quite well.
I had this frame in my head for quite some time so I waited for the right conditions of the right tide with some clouds and colour in the sky.
This beautiful pool with green seaweed in it together with an amazing ornamentation on the rock’s surface suggested for this beautiful photograph. Using ND Gradual filters was necessary to balance out bright skies against dark foreground and, to let the greens of seaweed shine.
Needless to say, there is much more awaiting to be captured, and my pre-visualization of other frames can’t stop.
That means I’m already planing my next trip to this location to be very soon.

I’m thrilled with this capture and I hope you’ll like it too!
Cheers and Enjoy!