I’m back in Australia after a seven day cruise assignment of the Fiji Islands with – I’m happy to report – the drone still flying and some pleasing images in the can.

Here’s a short preview of some of the images.


And here’s some previews from previous cruise assignments (…not all fine weather sailing  you might note). Click on the galleries below.

Next Stop: The Cook Islands.

Runaway crew ….(or they would be if someone knew how to paddle!)

A quick post from the Yasawa Islands in Fiji on day two of a seven day cruise.
As this is my third commission by Captain Cook Cruises, the brief is largely to strengthen the library of images captured on the last two cruises, so we’re concentrating on the big scenery shots with the ship in location (below) and the crew having a good time (above).
I’d have to say, I’m getting pretty excited about what the drone is capable of doing – particularly its 4k video capability which is simply mesmerising (so much so, it’s a struggle to concentrate on the still shots, he says).
Of course, the big laughs of the Fiji crew is a given – they’d have a good time whether the camera was pointed at them or not – but, if the weather holds out (and the drone stays in the air), we should be returning with some pretty impressive imagery.

I’ll post more later. Vinaka.

Yahoo, I just bought a drone.

I would have grabbed it earlier but I’ve been waiting for one that was able to produce quality still shots. I’m happy to report, the time has finally arrived with The Phantom Four Pro (pictured).

A day of trawling the internet and comparing the options left me believing this was the best choice for the price (about AUD$4,000 with the bits and pieces). It produces quality still shots (20 meg raw files – 50 meg tiff files – from a Sony one inch sensor), DJI has a solid reputation, and it offers durability (five crash prevention sensors which, given I raised a toy helicopter I bought for my son’s birthday straight up and into the ceiling fan, means it has the best possible chance of survival).

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Niue, a tiny island about three hours flight north of New Zealand, demands to be photographed differently to anywhere else I’ve shot in the South Pacific.

No stretches of white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees here. Instead, it’s coastline is a battlement of jagged, volcanic cliffs, rising sharply from the ocean. In a dwindling light, the island stands brooding, moody and defiant of the thunderous waves that crash against her walls.

The assignment brief was to photograph to the tourism authority’s new promotional tag line,  “Nowhere like us.” They wanted images that stood out from their South Pacific competitors. The pictures had to be appealing to a mature demographic (45 and over), they had to be “real” (ie no posed shots or exadurated colours), and they had to capture the “feel” and “personality” of Niue. On the Shot List: Scenery, a traditional cricket tornament (Kilikiki), scuba diving, tourists soaking in ocean pools and engaging with the locals. And at least one “hero shot.”

Here’s a small sample of the photos supplied:

For more photographs of Niue captured during this and a previous assignment, visit the Niue Gallery of our library at www.davidkirklandphotography.com.


Now, I’d have to confess I was a tad anxious (read ageing rapidly) about the shoot a day after my arrival. The talent, I was to learn, was to be wherever we were lucky enough to find them, the forecast promised bad weather for most of the week, and the distinct visual culture I was seeking – that singular element I’ve shot with some degree of success in the past to differentiate one country from the next – simply didn’t exist as the local population (1,742 at the last census) is a melting pot of Kiwis, Tongans, Samoans and Cook Islanders. Added to that, it poured on the first day I spent driving around the island looking for insipration, the only visual distinction I could make of the largely flat, heavily vegetated landscape was that it was strewn with delapidated houses; and I had seven million billion tracks leading down to the ocean I had to explore to divine the best picture opportunities. Oh, and when it came time for the diving, I was off to photograph an underwater trench teeming with the world’s most venomous sea snakes.

So, yes, you’d be right to assume this was a long way from my earlier assignment …..in Tahiti.

But, here’s the thing, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Niue because it really is so different to the rest of the South Pacific. And, as the days progressed, I became grateful that there was only a single flight a week linking Niue to the outside world as it gives visitors like me little option but to explore the island and look beyond that first impression.

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From a tiny speck in the South Pacific, comes this quick pic (below) of one of its natural attractions – pristine Limu Rock Pools, carved into the largest uplifted coral atoll in the world (….a big status for such a wee island you’d have to say) .

Tomorrow we head beneath the surface to swim with some of the world’s deadliest sea snakes (I’m told they don’t bite), explore underwater caverns and traverse two giant underwater ribbons of white sand in what, surely, has to be some of the clearest water you’re ever likely to dive in.

More (including, hopefully, a super-serious hero shot) later.