Flower Project

A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of the earthquake mayhem I decided to try a small project. I bought a few flowers and thought I would see what sort of images I could make of them. I started with a very simple setup, my macro lens and the flash (off camera which I waved about to change the direction of the light. I took a few images with the flash and a few without. I did not set up any specific backdrop relying on the depth of field to blur it out.

Flower_2010-09-14_22-11-56_DSC_0234_©RichardLaing(2010) 

Flower_2010-09-14_22-32-37_DSC_0256_©RichardLaing(2010)

This was okay, certainly for the real close up, but I didn’t really like the results. The next set were taken with a black background set up and using a shoot through umbrella and reflector in a variety of positions and configurations. I think this did a better job of cleaning up the background and focussing on the intended subject. I quite like the black and white treatment.

This (small) project was a nice distraction from the chaos around, and I quite like some of the resulting images. I still need to play a lot more with controlling lighting, experimenting with different sorts of lights and different directions. Maybe my next project…

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Getting Better

The last week has felt very long, back at work and the kids back at school but still lots of aftershocks making sleep hard. Today has been much better with nothing since last night and even better we no longer have to boil our water.

This afternoon I took a walk into town again to take some photographs and enjoy the sunshine – quite a contrast from most of New Zealand which has been suffering from thunderstorms to the north and heavy snow further south. Canterbury seems to have missed out on that at least.

Kaiapoi is slowly getting back to a more normal state with shops and restaurants open, lots of buildings are still shut and the roads are a mess but usable. In town I met someone from the Kaiapoi Brass Band, apparently it is 125 years old and he told me that the brass band hall is to be torn down tomorrow. Another piece of heritage destroyed having survived over a hundred years. It seemed appropriate to take some images of it before its demolition.

Kaiapoi_2010-09-19_17-41-55_DSC_0601_©RichardLaing(2010)

Brick buildings have not fared well.

SmuginProForAperture Update

I have just released updates to SmuginProForAperture (1.1.2) and SmuginForAperture (1.1.1) these are minor bugfix updates the most obvious change being that the theme does not default to BBQ for new galleries. I suspect this will be appreciated.

I had intended a more significant update around this time but due to the earthquake we are currently coping with that release will be delayed. When I have more concrete plans I will let you know.

A Rude Awakening

I apologise in advance if this post is even more muddled and confused than usual. I am very tired but felt compelled to write something about todays events.

I was awoken just after 4.30 this morning by a significant earthquake. Unless you have experienced such an event it is difficult to describe the feeling of such an event. The house was moving dramatically, joints creaking, it is very noisy. Startled from sleep I did what I should not have done and got up from my bed to check on my children – I challenge any parent to not to the same.

I don’t recall how long the quake lasted, it seemed like an eternity, it was very strong and the waves were sharp. Pictures and ornaments were thrown about. When it finally stopped I took my children to my room and settled them down. They took it remarkably well, better perhaps than I. I collected torches and did a quick check of the house which by this time was in complete darkness, the power was out as was the water as I learned later. The damage was not too bad some pictures down and a few broken bits and pieces (glass) which required some care to clean up before moving about in the living room. CDs and books were scattered about.

Earthquake_2010-09-04_08-01-17_DSC_5054_©RichardLaing(2010)

We didn’t get back to sleep and got up soon after to huddle together under duvets while a series of aftershocks shook the house. The aftershocks have continued throughout most of the day and it seems likely that more will happen over night. It was cold but beautiful as I found when I went outside in my dressing gown to see how the street looked; there were a number of other people out and about doing the same thing, talking to friends and neighbours in the street or talking to relatives on mobiles. They like us lit candles and looked out emergency supplies stored for just such an event.

As the sun came up, bright and beautiful and with not a cloud in the sky it became apparent how much damage had been done in Selwyn district (the epicentre of the quake) and within Christchurch city and apparently within my own town of Kaiapoi. The common factor appears to be the type of soil through parts of the town and city – sandy/silty brought down from the mountains by the local rivers. The soil liquified which has caused great damage to many homes and buildings in Christchurch and along the Kaiapoi river areas.

Since we had no power and since it was warmer outside in the Spring sunshine I took my kids for a walk into town. At first nothing seemed to be damaged but as we got closer to Kaiapoi town centre we started to see the effects of the quake. Chimneys that had fallen through roofs, walls collapsed and roads closed. The main bridge across the river in Kaiapoi is closed (and may be for some time) with great cracks running across both ends. The area looked just like the classic scenes from earthquake movies with zigzag cracks running down the road, sections of paving sunk into the ground or lifted up.

Earthquake_2010-09-04_11-06-48_DSC_5106_©RichardLaing(2010)



The footbridge across the river was closed – it was snapped in the span and now looks more like an M than a footbridge.

Earthquake_2010-09-04_11-29-22_DSC_5184_©RichardLaing(2010)

Towards the small town of Pines Beach the road was completely shattered, lifted and twisted, the forces required would have been hard to imagine had I not just experienced them first hand.

Earthquake_2010-09-04_14-25-21_DSC_5197_©RichardLaing(2010)

Earthquake_2010-09-04_14-26-57_DSC_5198_©RichardLaing(2010)

Kaiapoi is a mess as are parts of Christchurch but what a job the Civil Defence, Emergency services, power and utilities companies have done. Our power was back my midday and water later in the afternoon. I am very grateful to them for their work in what must be difficult circumstances and thankful that the weather today was so fine that it made their job a bit easier.

Tomorrow we are due storms and rain, no doubt that will be the end of more buildings already damaged by the earthquake. We have been lucky, no injuries, little damage and none of consequence, others have not been so fortunate with many homes and businesses destroyed. Many people are still without power or water or both and who knows what tomorrow may bring.

SmuginProForAperture Review

This has been a really busy week, but a good one.

I was contacted earlier this week by Joseph Linaschke who also runs ApertureExpert.com a really useful resource for Aperture users. I had sent him details of my Aperture plugin SmuginProForAperture and he was interested in reviewing it. I was both surprised and delighted when he wrote a blog post about using it with Aperture and Squarespace. He also made it a pick of the week on on This Week in Photo. Thanks Joseph.

I have been working on an update to SmuginForAperture and SmuginProForAperture, the changes have been taking longer than I had hoped; in the short term I will be putting out a bugfix release next week to fix a couple of issues – the theme will default to the default and not BBQ for example. By the way I am always happy to get feedback and suggestions from users so drop me an email or leave a comment.

In between actual work and Aperture plugins I am helping to organise the PSNZ Southern Regional Salon and Interclub competition, the closing date for entries was last Friday and the Salon judging is on Sunday. I have been preparing the interclub images for the judges with judging sheets and cover notes and so on. All done now I hope, off to the post office tomorrow. Not content with that competition I  have also prepared the images for our clubs monochrome competition and the images for an interclub competition between Kaiapoi and two clubs in Australia, Corio Bay Camera Club and the Gem Camera Club. Some really interesting images and I am looking forward to the results.

So definitely busy the only downside is that I haven’t had time to take any photos this week, there is always tomorrow though if the rain and hail let up. Apparently Spring is here…but not today!