Gallery of New Zealand Photos, 2016

The best of the best.  A small selection of my New Zealand Photos!

Sorry, no time to describe all them all.  If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll reply!

Early Morning Hotel Room View – Sydney, Australia

Sydney Hotel Room View

The view from my hotel room in Sydney, Australia.

I’m recently out of the hospital and suddenly have lots of time on my hands.  It’s time to *finally* get caught up on all my photo posts from my trip to Australia & New Zealand.

January and February 2016 were spent ‘down under’.  What a great way to escape the Winter in Europe!

My first few stops were pretty uneventful.  I didn’t even take out my camera while visiting Wollongong, Hobart and Newcastle.  Interesting cities, but not much to write home about.  I did manage a few Instagram pics (you can see them here.)  Sorry Australia!  I’m sure you’ve got some really beautiful places, I just didn’t go to any of them.

The next 2 weeks were spent travelling up and down the West coast of New Zealand’s South Island.  Good news…LOTS of pics from that trip!  They’ll be posted very soon!


What a Travel Day!

Today started like many other travel days:  Waking up in a strange hotel room.

This is nothing new.  I do this more than 1/2 the year, on average.  Then I had to find my way to CDG (Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris).  I’d researched a few options the night before.  Taxis were quickly crossed off the list when I was told that 50 euro would be the *cheapest possible* fare.  Then I checked trains.  Certainly doable, but would take a LONG time.  Then I found the “Air France les cars” bus service.  Starting just 3 metro stops from my hotel, DIRECT to terminal 1 at CDG and only 17 euro!  Done deal!!

Aside from having to carry my luggage up and down too many staircases (SIX in one station alone.  Prague, I’m sorry, but you’ve lost the title “Best city if you enjoy carrying your luggage up stairs”.  Paris wins.  No contest.) the trip was pretty painless.  I had accounted for 2 hours of travelling.  As it happened, I was in the airport lounge in 1:10.  Not bad!  Thanks again to my Star Alliance GOLD status, I was able to bypass the check-in lineup by using the First Class que and was allowed through an automated gate to a shortened lineup for security.  I’m really gonna miss that!

Then it hit the fan…

The aircraft for my first flight arrived late.  Something about a runway closure in Frankfurt and early morning fog.  The snowball effect meant that my flight would leave late and then my already too short layover in FRA would all but disappear.  I might make it to the next flight, but my luggage surely would not.

Getting off the plane, I met a gate agent who told me “You’ve missed your flight.  Head to the Service counter for new boarding passes.”  This should have clued me in to what was going to happen.  I was only supposed to take one more flight.  He said flights with an ‘S’.

The agent at the service counter gave me the “good news”.  I had already been booked on a different flight.  I got the boarding passes and headed to the lounge.   I knew I had enough time for some lunch.  At least an hour.

Looking at my passes, I realized that instead of flying  CDG-FRA-LNZ, I was now going to fly through Vienna.  So it became CDG-FRA-VIE-LNZ.  The additional city had been added (so I was told by the agent in the lounge where I picked my new seats) to save me time.  To get me to my final destination as quickly as possible, I’d have to take another short hop.

After a snack and a quick shower (yes, you read that right.  Lounge showers are free and really nice!) I headed off.

Vienna was lovely, even if the Austrian Airlines lounge was not.  Far too many people.  You couldn’t even sit down.  And the toilet was disgusting!!  For a VIP experience, don’t go to Vienna!

The rest of my day went according to plan.  I ended up in Linz about 4 hours later than expected.  The kicker:  When I was retrieving my luggage from the carousel, another flight landed…FROM FRA!!  The added flight had gotten my to Linz exactly EIGHT MINUTES faster than if I had just waited for the later flight from Frankfurt.  Really??  All that hassle for 8 minutes?!?!?

Until the next adventure….


Église du Béguinage, Church (Brussels, Belgium)

After seeing the exterior of the Église du Béguinage church from my hotel room window (see the original post HERE) I decided to go take a look.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d found something special.

The next day, I woke extremely early and headed out with my tripod and camera gear.  Feeling *extremely* uneasy about photographing the inside of a church, I kept my gear hidden (the wonders of a travel tripod.  It fits completely inside my backpack!)  I walked around and made some mental notes while trying to stay extremely quiet.  From my previous visit, I knew that here were several Afghan refugees living in the church and I didn’t want to wake them or disturb them in any way.  A lady entered the church and walked very near to me.  She seemed to ‘own’ the place.  I silently motioned to her that I’d like to take pictures.  She quickly and excitedly nodded YES, as if to say it was OK to do so.  That’s all I needed!  A few minutes later my camera was setup and I was snapping away.

Most of these pictures (if not all) are HDR compositions.  Only obtained by exposing several frames for the lightest and darkest parts of the photo and them combining them digitally to make one photo.

I hope you like them.





Church in Brussels

The view out of my hotel window in Brussels (ok, ok.  If you lean out on an extreme angle, this is what you see.)

[Update:  I took my camera INSIDE the church.  Click here to see the gallery!]

church in Brussels

Yakushima Island, Japan

Yakushima island

60km off of the Southern coast of Japan, Yakushima island is the home of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve, a natural World Heritage Site since 1993.  In the Wilderness core area (12.19 square kilometres) of the World Heritage Site, no record of past tree cutting has been found.  The oldest Japanese cedar tree here is estimated to date to at least the Jomon period of Japanese history, over 2300 years ago.  The island is also the biggest nesting ground for endangered loggerhead sea turtles in the North Pacific.

We knew we had really found something special, when on our first hike into the forest we were approached by a wild ‘sika’ deer.  It showed no fear and did not seem to be looking for food as an animal accustomed to Humans might do.  This scene repeated itself over and over again.  We would see a deer on the side of the road, pull over to take a picture and instead of seeing just one there’d be a dozen moving slowly through the forest.  Although we did see wild monkeys, they were a lot less common.

The pictures in the gallery below do not begin to show the beauty of this place.  Everything is covered by a thick layer of moss that does not seem to be of this Earth.  The ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie series *should have* been shot here.  Walking around this forest seems like pure fantasy!

The island is still largely undeveloped and despite having a small airport, not many tourists make the trip, but ferries run every few hours from Kutamoto.  Once there, I’d have to recommend renting a car.  There’s only one major road and that runs a ring around the island.  Easy navigation!

There aren’t many places to stay on Yakushima island.  We booked a room in a large private home.  The owners were wonderful and taught us a lot about life on the island.  Breakfast was provided each morning and each day held a new surprise.  Each room also had a small ‘onsen’ (Japanese spa) with a large bathtub overflowing with super hot water.  A real treat after a day of hiking!!

I’d love to return to this island one day.  I could spend years photographing the forests.  They’re SO beautiful.

Enjoy the pictures!









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