I’ve been quite fascinated with the old Farmers Carpark across the road from my work place in the city ever since I serendipitously discovered the photographic opportunities it provides earlier in July this year. This carpark was built in the 1950s and served as the carpark for what could be the most prestigious store in New Zealand at that time, Farmers. The carpark consists of two buildings connected by multiple bridges on each level, linking one building to another.
The highlight for me is the stairwell that rises from the middle of the roof top level, the corresponding stairwell on the other side and the industrial look of the building. As a bonus, the Art Deco Farmers store which is now the Heritage Hotel and a wall of interesting buildings serve as backdrop to two sides of the carpark.
Most of the time, I visit the carpark at lunchtime as it is generally when I do my photo walks. Given I don’t have much of choice of what time I can visit the carpark, I make do with the angle of the sun and try and find my shots. However, what has always been a little disappointing to me is the large number of cars that park at this busy carpark. In my mind, I see two shots, both of the industrial stairwell. The first shot is a clean view of the stairwell without any cars and the second, the stairwell with a single classic car by the side.
I thought I break the cycle of workweek afternoon shots by cycling over this Saturday morning in the hope of a empty carpark before 8am. These are the result of my morning’s effort. I did not get the shots I was after but they are a record of what could be. I enjoyed being the only person in the carpark. Like a pencil holding rebel, I cycled up and down the bridges, going the opposite way, up and down the bridges connecting the two buildings. That hour of solitude composing the shots the way I want with no fear of my subjects looking up was very peaceful and nice. Great way to end a tough week.
Settling back into office life has been a very fulfilling experience. The chore of earning our keep made so much enjoyable when you stand shoulder to shoulder (metaphorical but with ample social distancing) with friends and colleagues. Seeing others working together with me helps me enjoy my work more than working alone at home. There is a deeply satisfying feeling of being able to communicate face to face with others to discuss, debate and delight in work and non work topics.
I’m an introvert who enjoys the company of others.
This spring morning was darker than others. It feels like a nice day to laze in bed and snuggle up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. It’s not cold but it’s just cool enough to be really pleasant. But I’m off to work this morning. A good yoga practice this morning followed by a short meditation has done the trick.
We came out of our second round of Covid lockdown a few days earlier on Wednesday night. Tomorrow is the start of a full week back work at level 1 in Auckland, New Zealand. In preparation, I cycled into work to drop off a week’s supply of breakfast food and snacks. While at work, I saw the skylight capturing beautiful Sunday afternoon light. I’m glad I brought my camera along. Such a Boy Scout. Prepared for photography.
I’ve been trialling Capture One for the past week trying to see if it is a good alternative to Lightroom. The way I shoot now requires me to try and get it right in camera with straight out of camera jpegs rather than processing raw files after the shoot. While I enjoy processing raw files, and I don’t usually spend more than 2-3 minutes per file, I like how the jpegs I see after the shoot matches what I see when I bring the viewfinder up to my eye.
Having said that, I’m not averse to processing raw files. I’m still earning to gauge the right film simulation, shutter speed, iso and aperture combinations that achieve the right look. As such, there are still times when my manual approach fails and I need the power of post processing to get the right outcome.
Lightroom worked really well in the past. And I’m sure it still does. There is a lot of talk online about how Fuji raw files get butchered by Lightroom while Capture One treats Fuji files better. Given that I’m not printing my shots commercially and my print sizes are rarely large enough for pixel peeping, I’m happy with how Lightroom manages my raw files. In addition, my migration to using g jpegs with minimal editing also lessens the argument for switch to Capture One.
My week long experience with Capture One indicates that Capture One is a very powerful tool. In terms of photo editing capability, it is more powerful than Lightroom and you can do so much more. However, Lightroom and Capture One provide the same functionality and results for fundamental tools like exposure, colour and composition tools. It is the other more advanced photo editing functions where Capture One excels. For example, Capture One provides a full suit of tools on a layer while Lightroom provides a small suite of tools on local adjustments. The learning and adapting curve is steep. But I enjoy the process of learning something new. Strangely, there is a lot of fun watching YouTube guides and googling for solutions. The honest truth is that given the way I shot and edit, there is little difference between Capture One and Lightroom,.
I’m trying to take a simpler approach to life. From how I dress to how I approach my work life, I’m trying to see how a more casual existence can help me regain a more balanced view of life and a better mental health. The way this thinking translates to real life means that I don’t buy what is necessary, I dress simply, I try to eat healthily and I make time for yoga and meditation. When it comes to photography, I’ve got my one lens per week approach and a simple set of 5 custom settings (recipe) that define my look. I could have easily stuck to Lightroom. It is a simple NZD$16 per month “rent” to use the software. However, the idea that I could potentially purchase a product for less than a year’s “rent” and use it for longer than a year appeals.
I’m still in two minds. NZD$16 is not a lot of money each money. This is especially so when I spend so much more gorging myself on treats likes takeaways and pastries. But if I reduce my expenses, it could help me in the future when a simpler life could mean a different job with less money or moving to more a rural setting with less job opportunities. Oh well. more thinking and exploring. There is still 3 more weeks in my Capture One trial.
These shots were taken today and processed using Capture One.
I can easily attribute how I’m feeling about work to the impact of working from home due to Covid. However, that would be an easy cop out. I’ve been feeling unhappy at work for sometime now. I can’t blame a global pandemic for my disappointment with work and my desire to just throw in the towel. However, I can understand how Covid could have impacted my colleagues and influenced their behaviour.
In any case, when flights re-opened and Air New Zealand launched a sale on flights around New Zealand, I jumped on the chance to join my husband in his work trip to the Wellington region to visit my team in Wellington and give me a chance to escape from my familiar environment. I’m looking for this trip to give me a break up in my routine and give me a mini reset. Spending time with people from work I like always gives me a chance to balance my yin and yang out.
Wellington, Windy Wellington, is a fun place to visit. It is a pocket size dynamo with a wide range of cafes, restaurants and sights. I was on a completely different stage of my photography journey when I previously visited Wellington. This time, I’m armed with a different view of photography and I’m keen to explore. Here are some photos from about 2 hours of shooting spread over an evening and morning I got to spend ion Wellington.
Social media is sometimes portrayed as evil. A place for people to seek the approval of the world or lose themselves in the lives of others. However, it is can also be a place to learn, be inspired and maybe, contribute to the general pool of positivity. In this world of social media, I have migrated from Facebook to instagram. I find that instagram allows me to be inspired by the photography of others in a positive mindset.
In this big wide world of instagram, I’ve connected with people close and far. Lorenzo (originally from The Phillipines) who lives in Singapore together and Richard who lives in Auckland, New Zealand are some of the few friends I’ve made online. While online friendships like pen pals from days of old enrich outlives beyond instagram likes, nothing beats a handshake and a chat over coffee or food. I tried to meet Lorenzo when I went back to Singapore in 2019 but the birth of his first child meant that he was back in The Phillipines when I was in Singapore. A little disappointing but hopefully in a post covid world we can connect in real life (IRL).
On a more positive note, I caught up with Richard for lunch today, connecting him also with my friend Carlo. We met at Ponsonby Food Court for lunch on a pre daylight saving Saturday afternoon. Almost similar to a blind date scenario, us two grown men were sending messages on instagram to make the “date” and provide descriptions of what we’re wearing or caring to help with the identification. And no, there was no yellow or red rose on the lapel. I did however were a bright yellow T-shirt. The three of us had a very good lunch, sharing our interests in photography, taking about gear; why it does not matter and what our current approach to photography is. I also tried to explain poorly why I share a lot of my shots on instagram stories rather than the more permanent regular posting. I don’t think I understand my intentions well enough to convince myself or anyone.
Following lunch, Carlo headed off to town while Richard and I walked along Ponsonby Road talking about what catches our eyes when we walk with a photographer’s mindset. I’ve never done a photo walk before. Photography is generally an exercise I do alone. I go into my zone and I physically disengage from the world as I enter in a singular existence with the classic chrome world around me. It was a new experience for to share photography insights with Richard as we walk. I was so keen to share with him the parts of my neighbourhood that I hunt for shots at and hear what he thought of it. Richard was busy shooting away and I played the part of the support crew, making his shooting “professional” and “legitimate”.
Just past halfway down Ponsonby Road, we talked about shooting people and how being brave can reap rewards. We discussed how we want to capture people and not make it a point to not intrude into their personal time and space. While we love interesting characters, we also discussed how we would avoid shooting people who are interesting because of the situation they find themselves in. Yes, there maybe a documentary aspect to photographing such scenes. But I personally struggle to justify the scene.
Shortly after parting ways with Richard, I walked past a scene that looked very interesting. I took the following two shots.
I love how the person was hidden in this scene. But as I walked up to there person, I found him with his head in his hands. He could be tired or sad. I don’t know because all I did was take a photo of him. I’m ashamed to say that I did not step up to ask him if everything was ok. I found many reasons to not reach out. I’m not going to post the photo I took of him. From a photographic stand point, I thought the photo was really good. But I rather write about my inability to connect after glorifying my efforts of connection above.
This is the reason I call my site Good Intentions. I do want to do go. I do want to be a better person. But sometimes all my efforts remain good intentions.
Working from home can be a liberating time. Some people relish the focus that working without the disturbance of colleagues. To mix things up, I’m catching up with my team one on one, giving us a chance to step away from the office to get some fresh air and a good feed. Today is a little special. I’m taking the ferry over to Devonport to meet Michael. It is a short 15 min ferry ride but there is definitely something special about going “over seas”.
At this stage, you would think I would have some photos of the ferry or the Waitemata Harbour that we crossed. Sorry. I’ve got photos of the ferry terminal. I love how the yellow contrasts boldly with the light and shadow in the early morning light.