Blue Sails In The Sunset

Beautiful against the sunset...

These were some of the sailing boats that took part in the 2010 Canoe and Kundu Festival in Alotau, Milne Bay Province last November.

Race you to the shore!

I took these shots from shore looking out into the bay. The Suau word for bay is alotau. In other dialects in the area the word for bay is ‘kalotau’.  The capital town of Milne Bay where the Provincial Headquarters is located is Alotau – taken from the Suau word for bay. I think it is a fitting name and one that conjures up so many lovely memories and warm thoughts about Milne Bay and the Milne Bay way of life. Like the bay, it can be choppy at times but mostly calm.

Leaving the white froth behind as they raced to shore. The folks in the hut must have had a great view.

The bay was reasonably calm but slightly windy. Anyway, the canoes and their skippers were unfazed. It was a good wind for sailing. For me a landlubber, I wouldn’t allow myself to be dragged out on a canoe at that time of the day. I would rather be taking photos of others, like these folks, racing around in open canoes or sailboats.

In the distance against the hills of Ealeba on the other side of the bay.

Am not so sure why the sails are all in blue. It’s either the most popular colour or that’s the only colour they have available. Perhaps it was the only colour available in Alotau at that time. Yeah, let’s not forget this is one part of PNG which is so far southeast of the capital city of Port Moresby. So it is better to get a sail even if it comes only in one colour. So no choice for colours really. That seems to be a common thing in PNG. Sometimes you end up with only one colour, only one size etc. If you get something and it serves your purpose why worry about colour, make, shape etc. The important thing is that it works! Well, I hope some enterprising citizen would provide assorted colours for this year’s Canoe and Kundu Festival. It would be great to have a rainbow of colours for sails than just blue. But hey, it may be that these folks like blue! Who gives a rat’s behind what I think! End of story!

Getting to shore...

Watching these folks deftly move about the boat was worth watching. I thought about the huge sailboats that ply the Milne Bay waters on the Kula Trade routes that take them to as far as the Rossel Islands in the southeastern most tip of Milne Bay from all the way out in Kiriwina (Trobriand Islands).  Now that’s a thought!

Blue sails in the sunset, cruising over an evening sea...

Other craft were also visible (between the two blue sails) and I wasn’t sure whether the folks in the dinghy were heading for the other side of the bay or going out to help someone who went overboard. It’s probably the former.

Almost on terra firma again

These folks looked relaxed and probably happy to be just floating on the sea to shore. I guess the end of a tough afternoon and the fun we landlubber folks had taking shots of the sailboats. They must be in many many photos taken by people like me – amateurs and professionals alike.

Time to bring the sails down...the crew of the Meros

…time for a hot cuppa something and to chew betelnut. One of the favourite pastimes of Milne Bay people…betelnut chewing.

I too packed my camera away and headed for Masurina Lodge for some sumptuous homecooked meal of aiai nugini (taro, sweetpotatoes, greens etc) and a hot cuppa Milo…

It was a wonderful day. It was so nice to be in Alotau, the cleanest town in PNG. Eaide!

When The Eye And Spirit Connect

Sometimes I take photos which when uploaded on to my computer album leave me speechless! These are times when I realise what letting the artist in me loose, means. It’s difficult to explain but to say that what my eye sees is limited. What my heart sees is limitless. 

I reckon the camera performs its magic when the eye and spirit connect on picture angle, ISO, location, colours, subject etc. 



The light from the street light is reflected in the top windows of a couple of the houses. The car's headlights are not blurred.



Looking out from the inside of my local church


Common sight at tourist spots


Water fountains with a difference...


Telephone boxes near one of the Charing Cross tube station entrances


Sugar packets in a bowl made this shot


These pictures are what makes me enjoy taking photos. I am an amateur photographer and very much a beginner over and over trying to understand the mechanics and technicalities of photography. However, these spur of the moment photos convince me that when my eye and spirit connect the magic that comes through the lens of my camera can be awesome.

The Morning After

I woke up to this...what a contrast from the day before yesterday

This was how it looked the morning after the snow blizzard of the day before yesterday. I was quite excited about taking photos of the morning after. With the sun outside, but cold nonetheless, I left for work determined I was going to find the shots in every tree, every street, practically anywhere. The following shots are my shots of the morning after. Mind you,  I was on my way to the office so the photos taken are limited to the route I took to the office.

Trees in Green Park

This I found out took me through what felt like breaking glass. Ugh! I realised in my excitement to take photos in the park that I was slap bang in the middle of it with parts of it cordoned off because of the treacherous conditions of the footpath. I had to be careful with ice on the ground. I knew I had to make the most of it whilst in the middle of the park making sure I trod on parts of the footpaths still with powdery snow – fewer than I thought.

Pigeons, they didn't have to walk on icy pathways - Green Park

Yes, it was like stepping on glass that was breaking underfoot and slippery. I realise I had better find the parts of the path that still had the soft snow…now that was one hell of a hunt! After taking my photos I headed for the main drag through the park. On the walk to the office, I ran into a colleague and all we could talk about for the first 10 mins was the icy conditions of the roads. After this the next favourite topic – what we did for Christmas and New Year’s.

Captured this through wrought iron gates.

From the comfort of my heated office I looked out of the window at the scenery below and around. At lunchtime the sun was still there! I was expecting the onslaught of another snowy deluge…it was not to be.

From a room with a view...
A fan made of tree branches
A lost 'Swan Lake' ballerina?

Being from the tropics, one important thing I’ve learnt, and this is only the second time we’ve had a snow blizzard in London, is that on the next day like clockwork, the snow on the roads and pathways turns into ice. So the best thing to do is to anticipate this happening and invest in a pair of good boots which have good traction and warm. A pair of Wellington boots should do the trick. I picked up a pair of boots in Canada two years ago and so far my best protection against icy conditions.  The trick is to tread carefully and pay attention to where you are going.  Keep your wits about you and you’re sure to enjoy the morning after a snow blizzard. I did.

Snow survivor - a flowering plant in the office gardens

Trigger-Happy: Learning To Shoot With My Nikon D80 – Part 2

Another amazing result! after lunch at Cafe Nero (one of 100s in London)
Another amazing result! after lunch at Cafe Nero (one of 100s in London)

The next lot of photos are images from lessons on white balance and the ‘A’ setting. Real eye openers. So let’s see how these shots turned out. I always had difficulty with indoor shots. Usually it’s either the lighting – too low or too bright, or the angle or something. This shot took my breath away. No flash used! can you believe that. Outside City Hall along the Thames are these mini water fountains. They are timed so you see gushing water every few seconds. Fun for the kids and fun for us as we clicked away. Some of my shots.


Happy picture...just had to call it that
Happy picture…just had to call it that
Some more of these fabulous mini water fountains…fun for the family and for the class – that’s us.
City Hall in the distance
City Hall and part of the London Bridge in the distance
I thought this was like an orchestra without a conductor. The water obeys the invisible conductor’s commands. Interesting water symphony…
Water ballet or a conductor-less orchestra?
Water ballet or a conductor-less orchestra?

 The next lesson was on the ‘A’ setting. I was in awe of my Nikon D80. It came to life and many thanks to my photo workshop. Worth every quid!

Love this shot - candy man!
Love this shot - candy man!
This next shot again took me absolutely by surprise. Not in a million years I thought. What is my Nikon D80 up to now? Whoever had the idea for a camera will be really shocked maybe not that technology has made this invention so intricate and so compact in so many ways. I am blessed with this piece of metal in my hand that has a mind of its own.
Wow! this shot turned out better than I thought
Wow! this shot turned out better than I thought
We did our revisions, asked some more questions on the lessons we covered and all too soon it was time to wrap up and go on our separate ways and to other plans. I asked the class to gather for a quick group photo. I am so glad I took this class which introduced me to the world of colour, light, speed, etc beside just the ‘Auto’ setting. The photo workshop was conducted byLondon Photo Tours and Workshops: Expert in Delivering Creative Photography Education. For more information on these tours and workshops visit their website:
So at the end of the workshop, I was so happy when my ‘classmates’ and the instructor agreed to take this photo with me.
Taken on a self-time and it worked
Taken with a self-timer and it worked!
It is sometimes difficult to describe what we learn when there are still so many gaps and grey areas still in our knowledge banks and still to acquire. What I learnt from this class. A quick evaluation.
  • My Nikon D80 is a first class camera – great features, easy to programme, lots of pleasant and awesome surprises.
  • Handle it with care and  it’ll make you feel like Ali Baba
  • Take a few more classes on specific aspects of photography to build confidence in the use of the Nikon D80 
  • Make sure it is a wokabaut workshop as it is the most pratical and you learn skills and acquire knowledge in real life
  • If at all possible take a photography course then re-read your Nikon D80 manual. It makes a lot of sense especially if you are learning to use a semi-professional camera but still want to keep it as an enjoyable hobby
  • Always ask questions when in doubt
  • Always write down the ISO setting, the shutter speed etc so you know what result you got from what setting
  • To be grateful for the subjects that you capture on camera
  •  To be grateful for the exercise from this wokabaut photo tour and workshop.

Trigger-Happy: Learning to Shoot With My Nikon D80 – Part 1

Nice! wonder where it is registered...
Nice! wonder where it is registered...
I took a photography course which I mistakenly had thought was taking place in Deptford! Just outside London and about 2hrs drive from where I live. Mea culpa! It was in Southwark an area outside the square mile that was the old City of London. Quaint place with lots of pubs and lots of history. There were five of us, all women in the class. Three of us had Nikon cameras – a D40, D70 and a D80 (that’s me), one Sony and one Canon. We met at the entrance of the London Bridge Mainline Station which is not the same as the London Bridge Tube Station. I got it mixed up and had to walk back where I came from to meet up with my group. Long long or what? Most stations have the mainline/overland trains and tube under one roof but with a million entrances so you need to find out precisely where you are supposed to go to meet people or which train to catch.
Anyway, our workshop was a wokabaut workshop which meant no classroom yipeee…That for me was a great way to spend a Saturday. I was of course late joining the group by about 10 minutes, was quickly forgiven and with smiles all around we set off.  Our wokabaut photography workshop was along the timeless River Thames and our instructor, guided us on our route which was packed full of great sights and subjects. Lots of families were out and about. It was an on and off sunny day with a slight overcast which came and went but did little to bother us. I had my umbrella so rain was of little concern to me.  This being London it is always a must to carry a small umbrella like having your purse/wallet – always with you.
Cruising on the Thames on a Saturday morning...
Cruising on the Thames on a Saturday morning...
Our first stop was a spot overlooking the Thames. The sight of the water was a really pleasant surprise for me.  Our first lesson was to set our camera dials to the ‘P’ setting and take as many pictures as we liked on that setting. No more ‘Auto’! I reckon ‘Auto’ is really a security blanket for amateur photographers – I am in that category. I guess we get so used to the liklik compact ones or as some call them ‘idiot cameras’ – don’t have to think about it -just point, frame and shoot – most people just point and shoot and so you know what the results are. Usually you end up with beheaded and amputated subjects! That’s what happens when you don’t frame your subject. Well, we live and learn!  As we were clicking away, I realised then why we were asked to have fully-charged batteries and spares as well because it was a very practical class – alot of peaceful bloodless shooting!  Oh yes and we looked like a motley crew of wannabe paparazzi. Well, hidden talents come in handy when you need them one day. 
Columns in 'P'
Columns in 'P'
Our next stop was in a building housing a small but impressive photo exhibition. I can’t remember the name of it. I had a quick look at some of the photos and was quite impressed. They were shots of ordinary things every day stuff but in their photographer’s mind these are transformed into subjects of beauty to behold. Our next lesson was to shoot this clown with the light infront of us. That was really something. With the lesson behind us I took these shots with the light behind me. This was an imposing sculpture. I estimated it to be about 12 – 15 feet high.
Dancing clown or....
Dancing clown or....
Court Jester?
Court jester?
Should have found out who the sculptor is of this impressive and imposing figure. It was right in our faces when we walked into the building. Quite clever that behind the blue is a grey piece which looked like bell bottoms or typical clown garb. I’m not sure whether it is carved out of one material or an ensemble of different materials pieced together to create this sculpture. I’m still wondering how it was put together.
Our next lesson was on ISO settings. We went through the Hays Galleria. Wow! the building was something else. Really lovely inside but lots of pigeons flying about which was a tad worrying because you didn’t know when they need to answer nature’s call and where. Nevermind, we went to a sort of arcade where we had our lesson on setting the ISO. We were instructd to increase and decrease the ISO settings on our camera to see what came up. I think I much prefer doing this manually but only when not in a tearing hurry to take a shot of something or someone. I think this was set on 200 ISO.
In 200 ISO?
In 200 ISO?
On our way into Hays Galleria I took these shots at the entrance. Quite an impressive building. I loved this shot – not part of the lesson though.          
An impressive building
An impressive building

 The next lesson, before we broke for lunch, was the setting ‘S’. Again we are instructued to take as many shots as we liked on different settings to see which one works best for us respectively, and we learnt what a histogram is. That was cool. A few years ago if anyone would have asked me what a histogram is I probably would have said something like, “never ‘eard of  ‘im”! Anyway, these are those funny charts that show up on the back of my D80.  I used to try to get rid of them – slow huh! Here are some shots on the ‘S’ setting. We were laughing, cameras clicking away – we must have looked a sight!   I was excited because I was learning alot from the workshop and discovering how much we each had  in our hot little hands.

We had to snap Ron whilst he is walking past...
We had to snap him whilst he was walking past...
There his is again! snap him! giggles, giggles
There he is again! snap him! (laughter)








  Then it was time for questions and sharing of discoveries.  Instructor and class take a short break to enjoy the sights and sounds along the Thames. 

Instuto and class take5!
Instructor and class take 5!

 On our way to lunch at one of the many Cafe Nero coffee houses in London, I took some shots of scenes and subjects  that interested me. I love photos of buildings. Here’s one I thought was impressive, taken in ‘P’

At low tide on the Thames
At low tide on the Thames
This is the end of Part 1. I’ll be posting Part 2 shortly so watch this space. In the meantime here are some more scenes along the river taken on my wokabaut workshop. 
Cruising...way to go!
Cruising...way to go!
Another cruise boat...
Another cruise boat...


Catch you in Part 2!