iPhone photos

Been running around the property taking photos of trees and leaves – inspiration for a poetry contest I’m entering. I must say the quality of light in the North Island is really different from the South. It seems more subdued and it’s almost like there’s a silver haze in the air. Might need to go to SpecSavers!

In case you don’t know what this means – and I have run into a few people who don’t – it refers to the optical retail chain, Specsavers, and their very popular tagline, Should’ve gone to Specsavers. Meaning, I might need glasses.



I always get the technology hand-me-down. El Hubs loves his boy toys – iPhones, iPads, remote controls – you name it. I’ve had an iPhone 4S for years. I scored it when El Hubs upgraded to the iPhone 7 Plus and I really loved it because of the good quality photos it took. I don’t always lug around my Nikon D40 (yes, still using it 11 years later) or my new Canon. Sometimes, you just want to snap a quick shot with your phone camera.

But my iPhone 4S recently gave up the ghost. All the woo hah over whether Apple was intentionally downloading software that would slow down the iPhone 4S, 5 and 5S, may have caused it to go out on strike. I don’t know. But my iPhone became sluggish.

El Hubs had been eyeing off the iPhone 8 Plus but he decided to skip straight to the iPhone X (which is the 10th anniversary Apple smartphone). It has a learning curve but he’s mastered it pretty fast.

I therefore scored the iPhone 7 Plus, along with his old iPad. He’s upgraded to whatever the latest version is of the iPad and he’s obsessed. I am now reading more e-books because his old iPad is easier to read on than my laptop.

I’m pretty happy with the iPhone 7 Plus camera and am somewhat obsessed myself with the Live function. This function allows you to capture the moments just before and after you take a photo, complete with movement and sound. If I take a photo of a butterfly landing on a flower, when I view it, for a brief moment the butterfly is fluttering away. I’m sure it’s a simple technology feature (or maybe not!) but when I think back to twenty years ago, we didn’t even have camera phones. Imagine what the next twenty years will bring. I’m hanging out for the hologram.

Look at the detail on the wing. I can do a lot better with my Nikon but for a fast shot on a camera phone, it’s pretty amazing.

I don’t think the iPhone 7 Plus does as well as the 4S when it comes to capturing colour.

In the South Island we would often get spectacular sunsets. I’d catch a glimpse of bright oranges and yellows through the trees and (being Australian) immediately think BUSHFIRE. Then I’d calm down and enjoy the show the sky was putting on for me.

I find the light in the Far North less harsh than down south. The blue of the sky is more muted and the surrounding light seems soft and hazy. Might need to go to Specsavers 🙂

We also get rather beautiful sunsets and I captured this one on my trusty iPhone the other night. Look at the gorgeous apricot, lemon yellow and mauve slices in the sky.


I am somewhat kicking myself for not bringing my beloved Nikon D40 camera with me. But honestly, I had to lug enough over here for a one month stay in Bhutan without having a heavy camera bag hanging off me. And for the whole time I’ve been here, I’ve been in the apartment working or walking up and down the hill to the office. No time really for sightseeing or exploring. I’m afraid I won’t have seen much of Bhutan except the capital, Thimphu, and Paro, which is where the international airport is located.

So I’m not really in a position to tell you what I think of Bhutan. It would have been better to visit during Spring or Summer but I couldn’t dictate the work schedule. Although it’s Winter here now, the days are warm and sunny. Bright blue skies and a hint of frost in the mornings. I’m told the scenery is gorgeous in Spring and Summer with emerald green mountains and colourful flowers.

I have to be honest with you – Thimphu is not the greatest of places. It’s in the western region of the country and has a population of around 100,000 (maybe a little less). The first week I succumbed to all the dust, smoke and pollution here. I’m used to the clear, crisp air of the South Island of New Zealand.

Bhutanese households still use firewood for cooking and heating purposes and this results in a lot of smoke. Public transport is zippo so there are many cars on the road and this is a major source of air pollution. All this pollution irritated my respiratory tract (which hasn’t been the same since I caught pneumonia in 2004) – so I spent the first week with a blocked nose and nasty, rattling chest cough.

Then in week three, I caught some stomach virus or urinary tract infection; not sure which. I brought antibiotics with me just in case but fought it off with a herbal remedy I found here – Himalaya Herbals Renalka. Basically cleared everything up in less than 48 hours. I really don’t like taking antibiotics if I can help it. I found a lovely Indian lady at a pharmacy counter in Thimphu who knows exactly what herbal remedy to take. You tell her the symptoms, she nods sagely and proffers the suitable remedy.

Where was I? Oh yeah: so now I can reveal what I’ve been doing. I was invited to Bhutan to write the strategy for a research institute. This institute will conduct research into Gross National Happiness, which is a concept originating in Bhutan. I started work on December 2 and had less than two weeks to prepare a major strategy for presentation to a Committee. No stress LOL.

This meant I was locked up in the apartment, working diligently. But we needed to visit a College in Paro and this was a day trip, so I managed to see a bit of scenery. Majestic mountains and bridges lined with fluttering prayer flags are a feature in the region outside the capital. I saw a 1,000 year old bridge festooned with vibrant prayer flags and it was a pleasure to breathe in crisp, fresh air.

This is the point I thought “should have lugged the Nikon”. Fortunately, El Hubs brought his little Panasonic with him and the photos have turned out well – I’ll see if I can steal a few to show you. Meanwhile, it’s trusty old iPhone photos below.


The 1,000-year old bridge is in the background. Bridges seem to be lined with colourful prayer flags.


I imagine the scenery would be spectacular in Spring and Summer.


Majestic mountains.

For today’s post, here are some photos of Paris. I only had my iPhone during my time in Rome. I had to pack for 2 months, so the thought of bringing my Nikon with me didn’t appeal. I actually like the iPhone as a photographic medium, especially for street photography. It gives a graininess to photos that I quite like.

But on my return to NZ, I plan to whip out the Nikon plus some of my Russian cameras. I want to get back to working with film.

No visit to Paris is complete without whizzing by the Eiffel Tower. Or better still, going up the Eiffel Tower. I visited on a very wet Sunday. The rain kept pouring down, eased off, then bucketed down again. I thought I was in New Zealand for a moment. Mon dieu! I had no time to go up the Eiffel Tower, having just hot-footed it from Jim Morrison (so to speak).

Despite very wet shoes, I saw a side of Paris I’ve never seen. I’ve only ever visited this city when it’s bright and shiny. Frankly, I think the rain and overcast skies gave the open latticework of the metal on the tower a glinting strength. It looked dramatic and powerful.

Once a week, I have a Big Day Out. When you live on a farm in rural New Zealand, there’s not much to do other than feed horses, cows, sheep and goats. Muck out paddocks. Repair fences. Install gates. And do all the other endless tasks that it takes to keep a large property under control. I’m not complaining. I have a much better lifestyle now than I had when slaving away in soulless corporations. And working for a few months in Rome as I did in 2011 and will be doing this year – well, someone has to do it!

But true to say, it’s good to get out into the Big Smoke and indulge in a quiet cappuccino or two. There are two local cafes in Oxford but sometimes you just don’t want to run across anyone you know. And chances are you probably will see someone you know since Oxford is a small rural community. I often prefer to sit in quiet anonymity in my favourite cafe in Fendalton or the one I’ve just discovered in Riccarton – Edward Hopper Cafe & Technical Books. This is a very busy, quirky little cafe where you can browse books on photography, architecture, cooking, art, warfare, cars and lots more. Apparently, it’s the oldest bookstore in Christchurch.

Actually, this gives me a good excuse to go back and do a review of this cafe. The menu seems to be restricted to cakes and slices but for you, dear reader, I’ll make the sacrifice and road test a few. 🙂

My weekly indulgence.

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