Week 26: Creative – High or Low Key

What does this mean? A Google search led to this website which tells me;

A low-key image is one that contains predominantly dark tones and colours. A low-key image is usually dramatic and full of mystery. Low-key lighting creates striking contrasts through reduced lighting. Shadows are now the primary element of the composition.

High-key images convey atmosphere and mood. A high-key image feels airy and light, it over-lights the subject to reduce contrast. 

So, how to go about doing this? Which opportunity might present itself first as I go on my adventures?

Early morning and a sunrise might seem to be a good opportunity to get interesting light on a subject. I was in Rotorua last week and thought about going back to bed after dropping colleagues off at the airport but decided it was too beautiful a morning to be inside. So, I went for a walk along the lake front and was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise. As the sky lightened behind Mokoia Island, the swans, geese and ducks started to awaken and come to shore. I tried to capture them with the light behind them as they swam in. There is a beautiful story associated with Mokoia which you can find here.

two swans and a duck swimming into shore with the sun rising over the horizon
I took this photo in a great wee bar in Hamilton called the Wonderhorse – I think I may well have posted a photo from there before – Alex, the barman, is a joy to watch as he mixes cocktails. As you might imagine the place is dark and so snapshot photos are often grainy so do require some editing.

A cocktail maker at work pouring the concoction through a sieve into a glass.

Week 25: Technical Starburst

When shooting into the sun or other light sources, you may notice that some of your images have a unique quality to the light – this is known as a “starburst” effect. This can create a very strong focal point and add an entirely new dimension of interest to your image.

Just like the edge cut sun challenge, I found this one difficult. I really need to spend some time reading up about the technicalities around taking these sorts of photos…and maybe actually get my SLR out rather than just using my phone. But I am an opportunist photographer, and carrying my heavy camera round is not really an option!

Given that I am mainly out and about during the day, starburst opportunities usually involve the sun. This is late afternoon on a winter’s day at Rotorua, looking through the Manuka trees at the lake.

Sunburst through Manuka Trees on a winter afternoon

I love moonlight too but it is so difficult to capture. This was a beautiful full moon reflecting in Lake Ngaroto one evening. So bright that when I tried to get a photo I just got this starburst. You can just see the lake and treeline between the two ‘stars’.


This one doesn’t provide a focal point but I love the effect of the lights in this concert. This is Salmonella Dub playing at The Factory in Hamilton.

lights forming a starburst at a concert over a stage. The band can be seen behind the lights and concert attendees as silhouettes in the foreground

Week 20 Composition: From Below

I’m a bit of a ‘look up’ person so have taken quite a few photos from below in the past but this week I haven’t really been out an about in places where a ‘from below’ photo was possible. Mainly because it has been pouring down with rain. MMM… maybe a photo in the rain might work quite well! Or maybe I’d rather stay in warm and cosy by the fire!

But my brief foray into the Redwoods did present me with one of my favourite ‘from below’ shots – majestic, towering redwoods high above me, their leafy heads in the sky. What I can’t work out is – does the blackness of the tree trunk get in the way or does it create a clear line to the top of the tree. Sometimes, they just seem to be so dark that they are distracting.

looking up the trunk of a redwood to it's canopy and the sky beyond

I like trying to get underneath mushrooms – the gills are fascinating but it is not always easy! We found these on a recent trip to Whirinaki.

white mushroom viewed from below showing white gills

a white mushroom wuth frilly gills seen from below nestled amongst autumn leaves and three smaller mushrooms

Ceilings are always fascinating too. This one is from the airport in Christchurch.

zigzag ceiling panels

Rā 276 Rāpare 5 o Whiringa-ā-Nuku

Lovely to have surprise visitors from the UK. A flying visit so took a day’s leave and headed to Rotorua for our usual cultural tour of Whakrewarewa, whizz around the geothermal areas at the lake and then to Kerosene Creek. Finished the day off with dinner in Taupõ before we headed back to The Tron and they drove south to find a campsite for the night. It’s always lovely to be able to show old friends around and catch up on all the Dales gossip!

Rā 352 Rāhoroi 17 o Hakihea

Phew! A big day out today -Hamilton to National Park via Rotorua and Taupo. First stop Whakarewarewa for some Maori culture and history then Kuirau Park to see mud pools and a hot foot bath. On to Kerosene Creek for a hot swim then to Huka Falls before driving around Lake Taupo to Turangi and over to National Park. Cheating again…who can choose one photo for the day?