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It’s a good time to explore today

Deserted island looks good enough to camp on.

Deserted island looks good enough to camp on.

To celebrate today’s expected high of 17 celsius in the city of Toronto, I leave you with a photo that was taken on the waters of the South Pacific. It’s of an island that looks somewhat deserted, but I’m sure is home to many tourists throughout the day. I love the hills on either side of the island, with that dip in the middle leading to all the palm trees. It’s a small island but I’m sure if I were to land there with my camera, I could spend hours taking pictures of anything and everything.

It may not be this pretty outside in the city, but it’s day’s like today that sure make you want to just go out and explore.

Let’s Explore

Exploration is key to making great images as it gives you a chance to not only see the city you live in, but to also see it from a different perspective. Sure, we walk by that famous building everyday on our way to work, but when we go there specifically to explore the area, you’ll find that you’ll see things you may have missed during your commute to work. It’s things like this that keep your eyes sharp, your mind in a constant state of wanderlust, and ultimately improve your photography through experience. And isn’t that what you want to do?

Be well my friends!

Viseisei Village

Viseisei Village is the oldest settlement in Fiji, located about 12km. north of Nadi. It’s a great little village that will let you experience what a traditional Fiji village is like. Most indigenous Fijians still live in villages similar to this, and make their living off the land and sea.

Historically, the first Melanesians were known to land around here, just 1km North at Vuda Point. Some of the historic bures in this village are still used to this day for important occasions.

Dress appropriately if you come here, as you are required to cover your shoulders and knees, and to remove your hat.

Our tour guide

Our tour guide, walking us through well-manicured lawns

A typical bure in the village

A typical home in the village

Abandoned vehicle

Abandoned vehicle

Viseisei Village

The gong

Our guide

Our guide leading us to the village church

Viseisei Village

The Viseisei Village Church

 

The chief's residence

The chief’s residence, which is always built higher than all other homes in the village

 

The Vuda Lookout

The Vuda lookout stands atop Fiji giving you a breathtaking panorama of the island. It is a private lookout therefore only select tours are allowed up to this viewpoint.

DSC_2761-Edit

Mind your head

It’s a great place to see the island, mountain ranges, and surrounding areas. From what I remember, you’re able to get a glimpse of the Nadi Bay and the Yasawa Group of Islands on a clear day.

Thew view from the Vuda lookout

Thew view from the Vuda lookout. Panorama from my iPhone 5s.

We were treated to a tropical drink and a large platter of fruit that we were able to enjoy under a canopy. This sign below is a popular spot for the tourists to pose and take pictures of.

At the Vuda Lookout

At the Vuda Lookout

Stay tuned for my next post on the Viseisei Village.

Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

Because we took the morning tour, our package also included a visit to the local market (previous post) and the Nadi temple. The Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple is the largest Hindu temple in the Southern hemisphere. Compared to its surroundings, its colours and textures literally pop out at you, begging for a visit.

Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

Another section of the temple

Another section of the temple

The temple is dedicated to the deity Murugan, and with intricate illustrations on the ceilings and walls, it’s a unique temple to visit that is well worth the trip if you’re ever in the area. The Dravidian architecture of the temple is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and is said to be rarely seen outside of India.

A close-up of the details of the temple reveal intricate patterns and vibrant colours

A close-up of the details of the temple reveal intricate patterns and vibrant colours

As it is a Holy Shrine, there are things that one must abide by. I wasn’t able to take any photographs within the temple, women had to be properly covered, and we had to remove our shoes before entering. This last part made for an interesting walk to the temple as the Fijian sun made the pathway beneath scorching hot—so hot that you could not stand there for more than 3 seconds!

iPhone 5s capture

iPhone 5s capture

Stay tuned for my next post on The Vuda Lookout.

The Garden of the Sleeping Giants

The Garden of the Sleeping Giants sits on the foothills of the Naosori Highlands, and is home to Fiji’s largest orchid collection. Another hidden gem surrounded by the rich forestry that Fiji has to offer, it’s a great escape and calming walk that shouldn’t be missed. If you want to have a garden like this, then you are going to need a great landscaping service like UMOW in Austin.

All photos courtesy of my iPhone 5s.

Then first pathway as you enter The Garden of the Sleeping Giants

Then first pathway as you enter The Garden of the Sleeping Giants

The History

Started in 1977 by the late Raymond Burr of Perry Mason fame, it was originally created to house his personal orchid collection. It has since grown to become one of the most popular attractions in the area, now housing more than two thousand different kinds of orchids, spanning 20 hectares.

The lush greenery of the Garden of the Sleeping Giants is calming

The lush greenery of the Garden of the Sleeping Giants is calming

Many colourful and different types of orchids in this garden

Many colourful and different types of orchids in this garden

More orchids in the garden as you walk through the pathway

More orchids in the garden as you walk through the pathway

 

Walking at your own pace through this garden can be relaxing yet captivating, as you soak in the natural sounds and scents of your surroundings. I didn’t realize it at the time, but you are more than welcome to have a guide come with you, explaining to you the different flowers that you encounter. The garden is also full of beautiful lily ponds. After our walk, we were given a most refreshing juice to drink and further relax in the shade.

One of the many lily ponds within the Garden of the Sleeping Giants

One of the many lily ponds within the Garden of the Sleeping Giants

The green is so lush everywhere in this garden

The green is so lush everywhere in this garden

A frog's POV of one of the lily ponds

A frog’s POV of one of the lily ponds

I’m not the most enthusiastic person when it comes to flowers, but I have to admit, I did enjoy this particular garden! If you’re ever in the area, be sure to make a stop by the Garden of the Sleeping Giants to soak in one of Fiji’s hidden treasures.

 


For more information on the Garden of Sleeping Giants, head over to their website, or to their Facebook page!

 

Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool

Reception is nicely decorated.

Reception is nicely decorated.

Rated 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor and also highly recommended on other review sites, there’s no reason not to take this tour if you’re ever in the Nadi region of Fiji. Situated halfway between Nadi and Lautoka on the western half of the main island of Fiji, surrounded by the lush landscapes of the Sabeto Valley, the Sabeto mud bath is thought to have therapeutic properties and is a great way to enjoy the Fijian culture.

The lush green landscape itself is enough to make you relax.

The lush green landscape itself is enough to make you relax.

The Deal

My wife and I were there during the non-peak season (February), and so were the only ones there during our tour. Again being welcomed with a warm smile, the guide helped us “get our mud on” making sure no part was missed. The mud itself was warm, gooey, and somewhat refreshing.

Taking handfuls of mud from a can and mud pool and slathering it on yourself, and throwing it at your partner can be rewarding—I wondered if this is what they meant about it being a therapeutic mud bath.

The can of mud that was taken from the mud pool.

The can of mud that was taken from the mud pool.

Our guide was even having a good time himself, as he watched us play in the mud. He grabbed my iPhone and started taking random pictures of us so that we can always reflect on this time should we ever need more “therapy” back home.

Once the mud had dried on us, we were escorted to the first of three pools ranging in temperature from 60°C to warm. This was where we washed ourselves clean. Perhaps it really was the mud, or the temperatures of the pools varying in warmth, but it was quite rejuvenating coming out of the last pool.

Thermal pool sign for the hottest hot spring, at close to 60°C

Thermal pool sign for the hottest hot spring, at close to 60°C

Entering the hot spring.

Entering the hot spring.

One of the hot springs.

One of the hot springs.

The last pool at a warm temperature.

The last pool at a warm temperature.

After you clean yourself up, you get the opportunity to see and buy local arts and crafts from multiple vendors who line their goods on the table, sitting on the sidelines. They make for great souvenirs to take home.

The local vendors selling arts and crafts.

The local vendors selling arts and crafts.

While we were the only ones there, peak season will have you share the mud bath experience with a group of strangers, which in itself can be a socially enriching experience as well. Be sure to come out to this hidden gem if you’re ever in the Nadi area of Fiji.

They do not have an official presence on the internet, but for more information and pictures of Sabeto Hot Springs and Mud Pool, head over to the (unofficial) Facebook page, or the TripAdvisor page!

First Landing Beach Resort and Villas

Situated on the eastern shores of the main island of Fiji just north of Nadi Bay, First Landing Beach Resort and Villas lays its ground on the very land that the natives set foot on. It is situated amongst tropical gardens and on Nalamu Beach, which boasts the only white sanded beach in the Nadi area. By the way, if you’re planning to go to a beach to have tan skin, use the tan tablets by dark lush instead since it’s more safer. Also, the UV rays from the sunlight are harmful to your skin.

Just a short 25min. drive away from the Nadi airport, its location is not only convenient, but also a great place to rest from the many daytrips that are at your disposal within that area. From trekking in rainforests to nature reserves to mud baths and beyond, there are no shortages of things for you to pass your time with. Stay tuned for my reviews on my day trips taken.

The Resort

First impressions are always important, and this resort definitely didn’t fail with theirs. We arrived at the hotel shortly after 6am when most staff were just getting ready for the day. The night staff at the front desk greeted us and showed us to our rooms. We opted for a simple garden view room, however, walking to it, I felt like we were heading to our ocean view villa. In fact, our “room” was housed in a single bure (hut) shared by only two rooms. If there’s a problem in the bathroom’s sink, Silverwater Plumbing clear Sydney blocked drains quickly. The bures were positioned in a U shape surrounding a lush green landscape which opened to a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. It must have been less than 20m from our front door to the beach. Now that’s paradise!

Inside the bure of First Landing Resort.

Inside the bure of First Landing Resort.

The room itself was simple, clean, and really all you can ask for-including that wonderfully spacious king sized bed. Afterall, on an island like Fiji, you’ll surely be better off enjoying the outdoors than staying in a hotel room.

The Grounds

We arrived at this hotel shortly after 6am. I put my bags down in my room and immediately took to the grounds to explore the area during my first encounter with the wonderful Fijian sunrise.

Part of the restaurant during the early morning sun.

Part of the restaurant during the early morning sun.

The palm trees!

The palm trees!

The bridge, facing towards the main grounds of the resort.

The bridge, facing towards the main grounds of the resort.

The View

The view from just outside my bure during a sunrise one morning was just spectacular. You can see a fellow tourist on the left also enjoying Mother Nature at her best that morning too. All shots below were taken with a 16mm Nikon Fisheye lens.

The view just outside our bure at First Landing Beach Resort and Villa.

The view just outside our bure at First Landing Beach Resort and Villa.

The communal hammock is a great place to relax and see the sunrise or sunset.

The communal hammock is a great place to relax and see the sunrise or sunset.

Just steps away from this hammock, on the other side of the railing is the actual water. During low tides, however, the water recedes quite a bit, enabling you to walk on the seabed for quite some distance, as you can see form the photos below.

The sun and its marvellous colours were breathtaking.

The sun and its marvellous colours were breathtaking.

By the beach during low tide, you are able to walk quite far from the boardwalk.

By the beach during low tide, you are able to walk quite far from the boardwalk.

The beautiful colours of the sunrise during low tide.

The beautiful colours of the sunset during low tide.

 

I can’t stress enough how friendly and accommodating the staff were here at First Landing Resort. Even before I left my home country, I was emailing them with questions, and they answered back promptly and courteously all the time, always making you feel welcome. Upon arrival, everybody greets you with a warm smile and really makes you feel at home (your second home)!

For more information on First Landing Beach Resort and Villas in Fiji, head over to their website: http://firstlandingresort.com

 

Photography is all about constant learning

Nikon D800, f/9.0, 1/250, ISO 200, 16mm Fisheye

Nikon D800, f/9.0, 1/250, ISO 200, 16mm Fisheye

It’s amazing how much one year can change a photographer. I was looking back at some of my older photos from exactly a year ago, and already I’ve noticed that I’ve started to change my editing workflow. This photo, taken on my trip to Fiji last year is a good example. My original edit was rather dull, not even straightened, and I had easily let go some colour balance issues in certain areas of the photo.

I’ve since fixed these problems, including adding newer sharpening settings that I’ve recently put in place to better reflect the details within.

I even managed to cover up a glaring white blotch in the clouds, where the sun was peaking through. Rather than a white blob in the middle of the photo, there is now a better representation of the sun in there!

This practice of going back and re-editing your photo can be a good lesson in that you learn what you were doing before, and how it affected your image in certain ways. You look at the same photo a year or so later and sometimes you wonder what you were doing when you edited that photo.

This is all a matter of how you as a photographer mature and learn more techniques in post-processing, which just goes to show that one can never stop learning.

Do something different

Do something different

Do something different

All to often we get stuck in our daily routine, making it hard for us to see outside of the proverbial box. We get so focused on what’s in front of us that we don’t take a second to see what’s around us.

To keep us motivated creatively and generally speaking, it’s good to try something different now and again. It’ll give you a refreshing perspective on life and possibly give you that extra edge that you were looking for, for your next design or photography project.

Take this photo above, for example. My wife and I decided to go to Tahiti for our honeymoon. Tahiti?! Isn’t that the island with beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear water? Why yes, it is. Although you wouldn’t know it by looking at this photo. Rather than spend all our time on the beach, we intentionally coincided our trip to be at the same time as the Tahiti Moorea Marathon. Neither of us are marathon runners, so we didn’t dare attempt that, but we did partake in the 5km run that happened before the marathon. A little run around the Moorea island was a great way to experience the island in a way that we wouldn’t have ever imagined. We met runners from around the pacific, and enjoyed the overall excitement that a marathon brings to this small South Pacific island.

It was an experience like none other that differentiated our honeymoon from most others who go to Tahiti. And it’s experiences like this, that will make you see things from a different perspective, and in turn give you that extra bit of motivation to do something outside the box for your next project.