Wither Hills Farm Park

Images from our recent visit to New Zealand

This 1,100 hectare reserve is located on the southern boundary of Blenheim, New Zealand and provides extensive walking, running and biking opportunities. One thing that sets this apart from more common hiking destinations is the lack of trees. It is a soil conservation project and working farm complete with grazing cows and sheep (watch your step). Except for the lower portion of a few ravines it is mainly treeless.

Here is the beginning of one trail. A short but nice stretch of trees and birds.

Soon you emerge from the trees and the grasslands begin.

I never thought hiking in open grasslands would be much fun but the scenes are very photogenic. Perfect subject matter for minimalistic photography.

The trek from low to high ground is gradual so it wasn’t too bad on my old bones. As you gain elevation the views become increasingly better.

For you photographers, be sure to bring your widest angle lens. The panoramas are impressive.

Curious onlookers as we pass by.

This view is from the top of one ridge.

Heading back down we encounter brief periods of wind and light rain.

We spent about 4 hours rambling through this interesting landscape and probably didn’t cover half the trails. For the most part the trails are clearly marked although we had some trouble at one intersection where several trails converged. Another nice feature is the separation of walking and biking trails, making it easier for all concerned.

If you find yourself in the north section of the South Island I can recommend this excellent park to hikers and photographers alike.

All images with Lumix GX8 and 14-140 lens.

Some Views of Ireland in Black and White

This is my second post and it features black and white images again. To be clear, I do make color images as well and you will see plenty in future posts. However I always seem to go through periods of “black and white” syndrome. I think well done mono images can be as striking as any color image, especially with certain subjects and lighting conditions.

So here we have a few images taken in Ireland, September 2017. While Ireland is quite colorful (think green) it has many features and weather conditions that call for black and white. I always take original images in color and convert them into mono during editing. Taking the picture as a monochrome initially with the camera leaves me with only that option. If captured in color then I can decide later which option serves the image better.

The quintessential Irish cottage by the sea. Taken in the late afternoon (note the long shadows). This image could have been either color or mono. I chose mono to retain more of the “old time” feel. Taken along the Wild Atlantic Way, Co. Mayo on the Achill Sound. IPhone 6s.

This image was taken on a rather grey morning as fishermen prepared to cast off. It was a bit hazy which, I think, is a prime condition for a good mono image. During editing I added a little soft focus effect so the image would more closely convey what my mind saw. Sometimes camera lenses can be too sharp.

Captured at Lough Allen, Co. Leitrim, Ireland. Lumix GX8 with 14-140 lens.

This is my wife Beth and her newfound friend. We were walking a beach along the Wild Atlantic Way in Co. Donegal when he decided to pay a visit. While his owners were out windsurfing he was roaming the sand looking for attention wherever he could find it. It was quite chilly and hazy with low contrast lighting. Often it is hard to bump up contrast with color without making the colors too “loud”. Nothing here that needed color anyway.

Lumix GX8 with 14-140 lens.

The Giants Causeway is near Bushmills in far Northern Ireland. It is an area where ancient step-like volcanic formations have been uncovered by the sea. Of course there are legends associated with such unique formations. Read about the legend here. It is a very popular tourist stop so even with imperfect weather there will always be a lot of people around. In these situations I don’t bother trying to capture a people-free landscape. Impossible. So I use the people as part of the composition. I think the silhouettes of the people all along the top edge actually made for a better image.

Lumix GX8 with 14-140 lens.

This Scene was taken in the same area of The Giants Causeway. In many ways it was more intriguing than the main attraction. Large, mossy boulders populate the beach and give it a strange and unworldly look. For this I used a very wide angle lens to convey depth in the scene. Again the lighting and subject indicated black and white. Somehow I was able to position myself so no people were in the scene.

Lumix GX8 with 7-14 lens.

This last image could easily have been edited as color. It was a nice sunny day with blue skies and green landscape. I opted for monochrome on this image solely for a dramatic effect. If I try to make a color image too dramatic I end up with a garish, over processed look that I don’t like. In my opinion black and white images can often tolerate dramatic editing better than color.

This statue is atop a seaside mountain on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland.

Lumix GX8, 14-140 lens.

I edit all images on my iPad using VCSO, Snapseed, or Photoshop Express apps, or a combination.

Early morning photography in Dominical

I was up early Sunday morning after attending a craft beer festival in Dominical, Costa Rica the day before. I walked to the beach before breakfast and before the oppressive heat set in.


Clouds and a mist from the sea made conditions ideal for black and white photography.


Recent storms had deposited a lot of debris on the beach. Driftwood of all shapes and sizes littered the shore.


I’ve always liked the interesting shapes of driftwood. This one reminded me of a beached whale.


This was quite the camper. It was parked on the upper slope of the beach. The occupants were still asleep I guess.

All images this day were taken with the iPhone 7 Plus. Water motion images were achieved using the “live photo/long exposure” mode.