Monday, September 12, 2011

Rugby World Cup weekend Part 1

The seventh Rugby world cup is here.  This time, this international event is hosted by nobody but the most rugby-crazed nation, New Zealand.  The last time New Zealand hosted the Rugby world cup, they won the tournament.  Is that a sign or what?

When China hosted the Olympics, they built the "Bird nest".  What have we built in NZ as the RWC host?  We have The Cloud.  The Cloud is a purpose built temporary structure that can home 6000 people.  It is shaped like a twisted corridor, white in colour, hence resembling a long white cloud.  After all New Zealand is supposed to be the land of long white cloud.  Sadly, once you start googling The Cloud, you will find all kind of sick comments on this 9.8million structure. Some said it looks like a piece of used condom. Some say it looks like a giant tape worm.  I prefer to stick to a piece of fluffy white cloud.  What's in the Cloud? There are numerous large screen TV broadcasting all 48 games LIVE. And of course what is a rugby game without a bottle of cold beer? There are plenty of temporary bars selling beverages of your choice.

Outside the Cloud, there are more big screens for people who can't fit in the Cloud.  And there is also the home coming Giant Rugby ball.  I did not know this until now but apparently this giant ball is quite famous and is very well-travelled.  It has been sent to places like Paris, Tokyo, London and Sydney since 2007.  The ball is 25meters long and can accommodate 220 people at any one time.  Once you are inside, you will be treated to a 10 minutes audiovisual show promoting New Zealand's clean and exciting face of tourism.  Admission is free during the RWC.


RWC 2011 opening falls on the 9 September 2011, a Friday.  The opening act starts at 7:30pm and the kick off at around 8pm.  I did not go to the games but i tried to get to the Cloud. I said i have "tried". That basically means i didn't make it.  I worked 'til 5pm on that Friday. By then the Queen's wharf and the Cloud was already packed to its maximum capacity. In fact it was so packed that the authority had to fence off the whole place and refuse further entries.  Thousands of rugby fans flooded Quay street.  I was carrying my Nikon DSLR and a tripod.  I didn't think setting up my tripod in the middle of a fully packed street was a wise idea.  Why carry a tripod then you may ask. Fireworks!  Not just a few seconds of it.  We are talking at least 3.5 tonnes of fireworks set up at several spots in the CBD, including skytower and on a few barges on the harbour.  I have never photographed fireworks before but i do know it is not an easy job.

By the time my wife and i got ready and had dinner it was just after 7pm.  Most of the good fireworks viewing spots were already packed with people.  I tried getting to Parnell Rose garden but that area was so crowded that i could not find a parking.  After 15 mins driving in circle i gave up.  When i was turning back heading back home, i drove past a very small but slightly elevated park land at the end of Parnell.  This was purely by chance.  When i was driving pass i saw a few people standing there staring at the sky tower in the distance.  That became our fireworks viewing spot for the night.  It was a cold night.  While i was setting up my tripod, Hui got two cups of coffee.

Crowding building up closer to 8pm.
The fireworks started right on time.  It started with small dull sparks but slowly built up in momentum and climaxed with a few big blasts over the harbour.  Sadly, from where i were i could not see the ones from the barges clearly.  It was a very still night with not much wind.  Without the wind, the smokes lingered in the sky after each blast, making everything a bit hazy.  Not ideal really.  There were a few trees in front of the park, obstructing the view.

You can see the hazziness created by the smoke.


1.  Scout for venue early and pick a spot with unobstructed view of the firework. Be there early.
2.  The presence of water will enhance the vibrance of the colour of the photo (reflection of the firework can be very attractive).
3.  Bringing tripod is a good move.
4.  Bring cable release or remote. If you don't have any, use timer mode to open your shutter.  This can be tricky due to the timing of the firework.
5.  Best aperture is between f8-f16.  For my photos above i used f11.
6.  Overly slow shutter speed may not be the best idea.  Fireworks can often be brighter than you think.  You will end up with an overexposed photo if you open your shutter for too long.  I have done mine with around 10 seconds.
7.  Turn the auto focus off and focus manually.
8.  Wear something warm if you are heading out on a cold night.
9.  Have lots of fun!

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