Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Okarito Weekend

My family belong to the Cobden Anglican Church, and every year some of the men from the church go away to Okarito for a weekend retreat. I haven't been for a few years and don't have many good photos from that part of the coast, so I was very keen to go this year.

Okarito is a very small settlement about 2 hours from Hokitika, heading down the south of the coast towards the glaciers. Not many people live there, but it's a tourist destination for its beautiful surroundings and its fishing, tramping, kayaking and white heron sanctuary (more on the herons in a later post).

I'm not really big on any of the above, but of course the big draw-card for me is a weekend of photography. A whole weekend just devoted to photography! Absolute luxury.

'Coffee anybody'?   Sony A100 with Sigma 17-35mm on f11 @ 1000th
The village itself has a quirky yet timeless feel to it where you could be forgiven for thinking you've stepped back in time 50 or 60 years. I was prepared for a rainy weekend (I took a really good, thick book with me) since we have had a really wet, miserable October - but I was silently hoping for beautiful weather - and lots of photography! I'm very please to report that I wasn't disappointed and the book remained largely untouched.

'500's Showdown'   Sony A100 with Minolta 24-105mm on f5.6 @ 1/5th sec
When the sun went down and we were finished for the day, the cards came out. Game of choice - 500's. I picked it up over the course of the weekend, and even had a game or two myself towards the end, but I'm still not really a 'cards' lover. I don't want to labour the point, but what I really came for was the photography (and fellowship - of course), which meant early rises and late evenings. And since the weather was on our side, the 6.00am starts and 9.00pm finishes were definitely worth it!

'Abandoned Old Bedford'  Sony A100 with Sigma 17-35mm on f8 @ 160th
I took a Sony A100 'loan' camera (thanks Stew), with a Minolta 35-70mm, 100-200mm and Sigma 75-500mm (as well as tripod, monopod, batteries, cards, charger etc). I was out to get some great landscape shots, but I also knew that there might be some White Heron photography in their somewhere as well. I was also traveling up and back with Stewart Nimmo (thanks again Stew), our local pro photographer - who also happens to be a Sony shooter. So I was excited to try out a few of his lenses over the weekend as well.

'Rob'  Sony A100 with Sigma 75-500mm on f11 @ 1000th
I went out in the mornings with a wide-ish angle lens on the camera - either a Sigma 17-35mm or a Minolta 24-105mm, to capture the sunrise and landscape. But on the Sunday morning I also wondered around with the 75-500mm on a monopod and got some great portraits. At f11 sharpness was good, while working at the telephoto end still gave me reasonably shallow depth of field. This photo of Rob was one of my favorite from the morning.

'Okarito Mens Weekend'  Sony A100 with Sigma 17-35mm on f11 @ 125th
We all had a fantastic time over the weekend: fishing, kayaking, whitebaiting, walking, reading, playing cards and, of course, taking photos. Trout was caught, whitebait was eaten for breakfast, lots of chocolate and coffee was consumed - and amazing photos were taken! I will blog in stages about the images I've taken over the course of the weekend, and I will definitely be back again next year for hopefully a lot more of the same...

P.S. - in the above photo from left to right are: Rob, Julian, Ross, Craig, Travis, Tim, Henk, Evan, Stew and Me.

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