DJI Mini 3 pr0

Playing in the Sky above New Zealand.

Michael Freeman’s ‘Get The Photos Others Can’t,’ is a book that highlights the importance of access for photographers. Permission to access cool places leads to photographs that stand out from the everyday vernacular. Drones open the skies for photographers, providing a birds-eye view of the world below. Spoiler: The DJI Mini3 Pro does this exceptionally well. This is my review – in the loosest sense of the word!


The above photo is of a large wetland area at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. It would have been challenging to get to a position by foot to have captured this image, so the drone made life much easier. Flying the drone around the swampland was assisted by anti-collision sensors. This location was near an airport, so before launching, I had to gain permission to fly, which is reasonably straightforward if you have internet access (often hot-linking via a phone).

I purchased the version with a screen built into the remote, leaving my phone free for whatever.

The Camera

The camera has a wide-angle, fixed-aperture lens that, when not in use, gets tucked away with a fiddly bit of foam and a plastic clip. The aperture is fixed at 1.7, which sounds a lot more limiting than it actually is. Everything stays in focus as the sensor is small. The camera shoots in RAW and JPEG at either 12m or 48m pixels. It can bracket photos of 12 million pixels but not those shot at 48. I hope this is fixed in a firmware update! The video quality is meant to be good, but I am more interested in the photography side, and the images look sweet to me.

Size Matters

The drone is small and weighs under 250grams. This means it does not need to be registered. Secondly, because it is small and quiet you are less likely to get caught using it in areas you should not. Obviously I would never do that. I purchased the ‘fly more pack’, and now I can head off with a drone, the remote, and three batteries all tucked into my standard camera bag. The drone itself is no larger than a medium-sized lens. Three batteries provide roughly 1.5 hours of flying time, which is good. Larger batteries are available, but bring the drone to over 250grams, which complicates the legal side of things, though really who checks?


The DJI Mini 3 Pro is really fun to use, and the image quality is good enough more most tasks. If I need to sell a print, of enter an image into a competition then I can always work some magic in post production. Because the drone is small, it comes with me more often. And do I get the photos others can’t? Probably not, but i’ll have fun trying.

Lastly, hot news on the horizon. There will not be many more posts coming from New Zealand. Travel photography is back on the map and should be moving back to China later this year.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Cyclone Gabrielle

This February has been something of a nightmare for many people living on the East Coast of New Zealand. The following photos share some of what has been happening before and after Cyclone Gabrielle. Fortunately, I escaped the worst effects of the storm, which were exacerbated by the slash formed from intensive logging.

Before the Storm

The above image was taken at Tokamoro Bay before the storm hit. The town is still not accessible by road as the bridge was washed away.

After the storm…

Whilst the weather calmed down, the effects of the storm will be felt for a long time. I hope that everybody’s lives get back to normal as soon as possible.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Shooting a Gig

What is this? Two blog posts in one week, it must be something of a miracle. This weekend I was feeling blue (still am to be honest but I’m sure it will get better, particularly as there is some good news on the horizon…). With this in mind I did the best thing possible, and surrounded myself with old friends, new friends, music, food, dancing, and of course, photography. These photos are from the somewhat notorious Smash Palace in Gisborne NZ

its all about the gear

For those of you who care, and I know there are many of you, this was a chance to try out my Sony GMaster 1.4 85mm lens. It was dark, so even with this beast I was still pushing my ISO up to 5000. Fortunately, I have Topaz noise removal to clean each image. Sony’s A7III is still working it’s magic and detecting eyes and faces in the low-light conditions.

What’s next?

I have just got my drone repaired (again) so later this week I hope to capture some aerial photography. Also, I will endeavor to get through another roll of film, as I am enjoying the slowed down process of developing my own film. Another film camera has been added to my collection in the form of an old Olympus OM10 film, which I have hankered after for a while and was available at a super cheap price. Hopefully the camera will function as it should!

That’s all for now folks. Keep clicking, Chris

Telling a story

This month the local photo club in Gisborne hosted a photo essay challenge. The task required capturing 3-5 images that told a story. There were no words allowed. I had great plans involving lighting and set up. Maybe something in the kitchen, or blitzing the garage (yeah, I know I lead an exciting life). Time as ever ran way too fast, so I needed a quick solution. Without further ado I grabbed my trusty iPhone and started my morning by taking photos.

Morning Preparation

I’m pretty certain nobody wants to see what I look like first thing in the morning. However, this project could be shot using my phone and stared myself as a model. What could possibly go wrong? And yes, it all happens in this order, so now you know something else about me.

Near Winner

Well, my image set did not win, but earned a respectable joint second place. It was great fun putting the project together. What would your ideas be for a story challenge? Feel free to leave your thoughts below.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Lastly – well done Pauline for capturing the excellent winning series of doggy fun at the beach. This proved the old adage of ‘never work with animals’ is completely untrue!

Learning to process film

An artistic adventure…

Gisborne City Beach

I have finally got round to something that I have been wanting to do for a while and process my own film. Over the midterm break I headed out with my fathers-in-law’s old Cosina CT-1G, equipped with a 50mm Pentax lens. The camera is a well-travelled number, and in its day has been to Antartica and back. For film I used Ilford HP5 Plus.


Now I’m no expert at this, so please do not see this as a guide. I managed to mix the chemicals and followed a set of instructions found online. My wardrobe was emptied and turned into a dark room for the fiddly part (getting the film out the camera and into the developing tank). Once the film was inside the tank, which is basically a light sealed pot, I ran through the process of adding four different chemicals to develop and ‘set’ the film.

Mixing the old school with new school, I scanned the negatives and edited the photos in Lightroom. Maybe one day I will go through the whole process in a dark room and skip the computer completely. Click on the images below to see them in full.

Ditching Digital

I am probably NOT going to be ditching my trusty Sony anytime soon. However, this experience was fun, slowed me down, and taught me something new. I really like the final images, flaws and all. Having a fully manual camera certainly made the experience a challenge and is certainly something I will keep working at. As they say, practice makes perfect! Please feel free to leave a comment.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Many thanks Ross for the camera. It is still working its magic.

Vietnam Portraits ‘Re-Mastered’

I purchased my first ‘serious’ camera in 2011, whilst living in Vietnam. The camera was a Sony Nex5n, and there was nothing wrong with it. However, my skill level was low and I had a lot to learn. My lens choice followed the idea of ‘the bigger the better’ (I may have been right there….). Everything was shot using JPEG.


I have selected some of my favourite portraits taken whilst living in Vietnam (2011-2013). The portraits chosen are of colourful characters, and it felt a pity to leave the images forgotten about. Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar Neo, and Topaz De-noise have been used to enhance each image. There are still flaws with each photo and I clearly had a lot to learn. However, technology has improved and has helped bring a fresh look to each image.

Laughter/ HCMC
Roadside Restaurant


One aspect of portrait photography is how a photo can trigger memories. The above photo is certainly flawed and was taken in low light. However, it brings back memories of a chicken dinner at a roadside cafe with pigs running round my feet. The meal probably tasted even better as I was wet and cold after ditching a broken motorbike and was hitching back home to Saigon. The noise in the photo was removed using Topaz Noise Removal.

Lady from Hmong Tribe, Sapa, Vietnam

The Hmong people form the largest tribe in Sapa, North Vietnam. I would return there for more photography in a heartbeat. This lady was selling her goods in the village centre and was happy to pose for a photo (I’m sure I purchased something to return the favour!)

More Portraits?

This week I am planning to go through my archive in search of my favourite portraits. Coming up (hopefully) will be images from China, Thailand, India, and New Zealand.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Craters of the moon

Photography can be frustrating. You go to an iconic landmark, and it’s in scaffold. Wake up early, and the sunrise gets obliterated by cloud. The perfect street photo opportunity arises, and you left the camera at home.

Last week I headed down to Taupo in New Zealand’s North Island, and the weather looked fantastic. I therefor had high expectations for photography the next day, planning to head to ‘Craters of the Moon’ as late in the afternoon as possible, with the hope of catching some interesting light. Unfortunately the sky was gun metal grey, and as interesting as boiled rice.

Boring Sky solution…

A boring sky does little to catch the eye and is unlikely to set the scene for a spectacular landscape photo. The obvious solution in this instance was to avoid the sky altogether. Fortunately Craters of the Moon is spectacular, with towering pillars of steam and boiling pools of mud. Very ‘Lord of the Rings’ indeed.

Craters of the Moon

Shooting & Processing

This image combines about five different photos and was stitched together in Lightroom. The fact that all 5 photos were taken with no tripod really shows how far the latest versions of Lightroom have come. Luminar Neo remains a favorite tool for getting a ‘final look’ to an image. Other photos were captured, but this is the best!


Next up, today I’ve had an afternoon photo session up the road and under a pier…

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Photo Feedback and the PSNZ

Last week I received feedback on three of my photos that were entered for the monthly challenge at Gisborne Camera Club (GCC). Secondly, I am now a member of the PSNZ, which stands for the Photographic Society of New Zealand. Hopefully, joining the PSNZ will open some new doorways provide some inspiration. Anyway, without further ado, here are some photos with the feedback I recieved.

Evening Peace

B39-Open-Evening Peace
The perfect title. This is indeed a very peaceful image. The pastel colours are beautiful. I can’t
decide if the ship is a distraction or not. On balance I decided it was nice, especially as the red of
its hull looks quite pastel like. The layout of the tree in the bottom third balances well with the
negative space of the water. Just nitpicking but perhaps the large trunks sticking up are a little too
bright. It’s not a major thing and the layout and colours win me over.

Evaluation: Honours (Chris Page)

Got Milk?

39-Still Life-Got Milk
A wonderful abstract still life. I am assuming this is an upside-down mug or perhaps a jug. The
strong geometric shapes and patterns are engaging and visually stimulating. Using black and
white like this can be challenging, however the author has controlled the exposure, and everything
is just so. Nice work!

Evaluation: Honours (Chris Page)

See You Later

B39-Interaction-See You Later
This is a very strong street photography image where the author has managed to catch this
moment as it unfolds. What I love about street photography is that in this tiny moment we can build
up our own back story and try to fill in the gaps. It’s like people watching on steroids. When I look
at this image I have so many questions, do they know each other? Was this someone complaining
about the other getting in their way? What are all those marks on his legs? Is that normal dress or
is she going to an event? And so, it goes. There are a few distracting elements and I wonder if this
would be stronger in black and white. This is a nicely seen moment.
Evaluation: Highly commended (Chris Page)


Effective feedback is the single best way to improve as a photographer, and I am incredibly grateful to the guest judge of this month’s photos. It was also nice to get a good mark for images that are outside of my specialist genre. However, living in NZ has brought my Landscape photography along in leaps and bounds.

What do you think of the comments the judges made? Agree, disagree, of have something to add? Either way, enjoy the pics and hopefully this blog will continue to inspire some of you to get your camera out. I’m now looking at starting to put together a final project based around the East Coast of NZ’s North Island. Watch this space.

Keep clicking, Chris


A winning photo

I have recently won an award. In this instance it is the ‘Cody Mono Award’, at my local Gisborne Camera Club. I do not often process images in black and white, despite it being a popular form for Street Photography.

Worker (Mumbai)

This image was captured in Mumbai, India and it is of a steel worker, who I am guessing is coming out for a breath of much needed fresh air. Looking ahead, the focus for this month’s award is ‘nature’. My best shot so far is of a piece of seaweed, which not something you will often see on my shot list! Thanks and hello to everyone at GCC.

Wishing everyone a happy Monday (aren’t they great…)

Keep clicking, Chris


My new Kase Variable ND filter

Those of you that regularly follow this blog will have seen a transition from big city street photography, to the more sedate aspects of New Zealand life. The upside of this is that my photographic skills are widening. One hankering of mine was to play with an ND filter; if you are unsure of what I mean, think of it as a pair of sunglasses for your camera – it makes the world a darker place (and that is a good thing). Here is what it does…

Gisborne Beach
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