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L16 Camera – Take Two, too

I was continuing to work/play with my Light L16 camera after my most recent post of a few days ago. I’m still curious about it and how to make it work better for my needs. And then, I made a little discovery that had me feeling that I could be in trouble. I don’t leave the WiFi turned on on the L16 because I suspect that it’s an additional source of battery drain. I treat many of my digital devices like this when battery drain is a concern. Since I didn’t have the WiFi automatically enabled, I also wasn’t automatically checking for software upgrades for the L16 camera. Uh oh!  When I turned the WiFi on the L16 and checked to see if there was an upgrade available, there was. So, I upgraded the software shortly after I published my last post and then had to wait until I could get out and test the images again.


As with my previous post, I’ve created a folder from which you may download the “raw” L16 files for your editing pleasure.  This time, I’ve put the folder onto my Photoshelter account because I’m running out of space in my Dropbox account. The link to my Photoshelter account is embedded here. Remember that each of these files is about 170 megabytes, so you likely don’t want to download the whole gallery. The download password for the gallery is L16. Lastly, my Photoshelter account doesn’t accept Light’s proprietary file format, so I’ve had to change the suffix from .lri to .raw to get the system to accept the files. Thus, you’ll need to change the suffix back to .lri after you’ve downloaded the files if you wish to view and edit those image files with Lumen.


I went on another walk today, similar to the one I did a few days ago – to the park and wetland. The bad news is that the temperature has dropped about 30 degrees F since my last walk. I’m not going to go into a whole lot of detail about my walk or shooting. I’m just going to quickly post some images, along with their details. Hopefully, if you read my previous post, this scene looks familiar. Also, as in my previous post, you should be able to “click” on the images and they’ll open in a separate tab.


focal length = 35 mm; shutter speed = 1/2000″


Next, here’s some detail on the stalks on the left, similar to last time:


In some ways, it appears that there’s a bit better detail in the background portions of the image, but there’s still a lot of fuzziness in the area around the stalk. And, for whatever reason, the stalk is more fuzzy in this shot. These issues may be for just this photograph, but I don’t know. The aperture is at f/15.2 and the camera automatically chose its focus point.


Here’s a version of the whole image where the edges have been detected in the file:


It appears possible to pick out the fuzziness around the stalks on the left side of the image. Following is the same scene, but at 28 mm:



Stalk detail:


Same basic issues as above – decent background detail, fuzziness around the stalk. Following is the same scene at 70mm:



Good background detail, fuzzy stalk detail and around the stalk. Again, I don’t know why the stalk is not in focus – did I miss the focus point? – the areas right around the stalk should be in focus like the rest of the background when I’m shooting at f/15, I would expect.


A generally busy scene from the woods at 70mm focal length followed by a cropped portion to show the details:

Again, the details are fuzzy at 100% crop.


Next image, at 28mm, followed by a bit of detail at 100% crop:



In the detail, the left side of the image has fairly decent detail and sharpness, but the middle and right side are fuzzy. That’s just not acceptable.


Lastly, I shot this scene, into the sun. In the last post, the L16 did a good job when I took a relatively close shot of the cattails. This time was different, though, and I don’t know why.

You can’t really see it on this page, but if you “click” on the image and view it in another tab, it’s out of focus. The autofocus blew it. This shot was taken at f/15 and 1/5400 sec. That’s an unbelievably fast shutter, but may also be why the image is so poorly focused. I just happened to take this shot a second time; I believe that, knowing that I was shooting into the sun, I adjusted the EV to +1 to compensate for the scene brightness:

This shot is also out of focus, but not quite so bad (shutter = 1/2200″). The magenta fringing from the chromatic aberration is also fairly pronounced in this image.


So, I’m just not going to beat this dead horse any longer today. Even with the software update to the L16 camera, I still don’t see that the the L16 is ready for prime time. Again, I want it to improve and to become one of my go-to cameras, but it’s not there yet. I hope that the system is markedly improved by the time I take my backpacking trip in the summer of 2018.


Another person recently wrote an L16 review on Petapixel and he was honest and blunt.


Thanks for reading.


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Light L16 Camera – Take Two








First, I want to sincerely thank everyone who checked out my L16 review from several weeks ago, and for all of the nice comments that I’ve received in return from you all. It’s rewarding to know that folks are reading, that I’m contributing to your perceptions of the L16 and that I’m also contributing to the improvement of the L16.


I’ve been away this past month on a shooting trip and chose to not take my L16 with me. It’s still too raw and there was a limited amount of time, space and energy on this shooting trip.



A few days ago, I got the L16 out and wanted to take it for a walk in my neighborhood to check some things out. Actually, I got the camera out and attempted to turn it on – and the battery was flat-out dead. That was a disappointment that the battery would drain away while the camera sat unused for five weeks. I’m fairly certain that the battery was fully charged when I set it aside. I also discovered when I got home from my walk and was processing photo files that when the L16 battery died, the time/date info reset itself, likely to the original manufacture date. Again, not cool.



When I was away on my trip and using my Pentax SLRs, I realized that I may have been unfairly comparing the L16 to them. I typically set my aperture on my SLRs to the mid-point of the range for maximum sharpness. Most photographers are aware that at a wide-open aperture you’ll realize a shallow depth of field and a fair portion of the photograph out of focus, which is great if that’s the effect you’re going for. At the other end, you get maximum depth of field when you close down the aperture as much as possible, which can be great when you have a subject that’s relatively close to the camera and you also want the background to be in focus. But, the consequence of using a small aperture is that you’re more likely to find chromatic aberrations in your photograph, particularly on the fringes of your photograph. The best setting, in my opinion, is to shoot at the aperture’s mid-point so that I get decent depth of field, sharpness/detail over the whole of the image, minimize any out of focus areas and minimize/eliminate lens chromatic aberrations. If my lens has a minimum aperture of f/32, then I’ll shoot in aperture priority mode at f/16. Similarly, several of my lenses have a minimum aperture of f/22, so I’ll shoot at f/11.


When I processed the L16 files in my earlier review, I set the Lumen (beta) software for minimum aperture, which is f/15.2. I realized that this might be an unfair comparison between my Pentax SLRs and the Light L16, so I took some new photographs with the L16 and processed them at minimum aperture and at the mid-point. The early version of the Lumen software (v. 1.2.4) uses a slider to adjust the aperture, so it’s not possible to actually know the final, numerical aperture of the processed photo until you check the EXIF data in Lightroom or Photoshop. Below are the results of this test.


First, here’s the “test” photograph – my driveway at a bit of a low angle:


Next, here’s a detailed section of the same photograph when the file was processed at minimum aperture (f/15 in the EXIF data):


detail at f/15


And second, here’s the driveway photo processed at about the midpoint of the aperture (f/9 in the EXIF data):

detail at f/9


I *hope* that you can make out the slightly better resolution of the file processed at f/15 when compared to the file processed at f/9.  You should be able to “click” on the above images and view them at full resolution in a new windowso that might be helpful. The bottom line for me and my style of shooting – maximum sharpness – is to process L16 files at the smallest aperture.


Later on my walk with the L16, I photographed a nearby park and stormwater retention pond – nothing exciting, but similar to my normal subject matter. My results were similar as to what I experienced before. I won’t go into a whole lot of detail, but refer you to my previous review. Images generally look good at first blush, but then when reviewing images at 100% enlargement in Photoshop, issues are revealed. In the first review there’s an example of the airplane on the apron that shows the individual L16 images that were combined to create the full-sized image. I did the same kind of analysis with several of the images from this walk and the same issues are apparent, particularly on the edge of the images and where there’s overlapping detail. I’m not including those “inverted edge” images in this review.


Based on some of the comments I received, I’ve placed the photo files from my walk into a Dropbox folder and am sharing it with you, if you wish. Just “click” on the Dropbox link here. I’ve uploaded seven photos, representing ~1.2 gigabytes, so you’re on your own. These LRI image files run about 170 megabytes a piece. I believe that you may also download the latest version of the Lumen software to process these images via this link:  Lumen download.


I won’t go into a lot more detail on these issues, other than to just reinforce them. The basic issue when you closely examine an L16 image file is that the camera has difficulty capturing detail in busy areas of a photograph. Here are a couple of examples.


First, here’s a photograph that I took along the bike path in the park:


Next, here’s a detailed portion of the image – a portion of the woods in the middle upper portion of the above photograph at 100% enlargement:


The lack of detail not as obvious in this photograph as I’ve seen a few others because the whole portion of this image is busy/complex.


Here’s a second image where the issue is more obvious; first the full-sized image and then the 100% cropped portion of a piece of a plant from the left side.

wetland – full image




detail, 100% crop

That portion of the plant that is in the sky is nice and clear.  But, the same plant, when it’s surrounded by the woods and cattails in the background, is blurry. It seems to me that when there’s a clear difference between the various elements of the L16 image file that the Lumen software has no problem figuring out which of the several image files to use. But, when there are complexities in the image, those overlapping image files confuse Lumen. Again, this is with the first version of the Lumen software.


A second example that better demonstrates the possibilities of the L16 camera – first the full-sized image followed by the 100% enlarged cropped version.

Full-sized image, shot at 75mm.


Detailed portion of the above at 100% enlargement, cropped:

Detail, 100% enlargement, cropped.

This enlarged and cropped portion is from the central part of the file where there isn’t really any overlap between the various portions of the full-sized image and it’s a pretty clean shot. So, in my mind, the individual cameras in the L16 computational photography setup are pretty decent; the problem is when the (old) Lumen software overlapped the various portions of the individual files to create the final file and it can’t quite figure out which portion of which image to use when there’s complexity of detail. I hope that you’ll also notice that there’s a bit of chromatic aberration on the bright, reflective cattail leaves on the right center of the image. The chromatic aberration is a lens issue and not the software.



The L16 photos processed in the first post about the camera and (so far) in this post were created using Lumen version 1.2.4. When the Lumen software is opened there’s an automatic check for updated software and you’re given the option to download it and use it, if you wish. I’ve been avoiding any updates so that I could complete this post (and, because I was on travel). When I chose to update the software through Lumen, I received an error message – FAILED TO EXTRACT UPDATE. Bummer. Fortunately, Light sent me a link to the new software in an email in mid-November. Per the Lumen instructions, I deleted the Lumen application file (and not any other supporting files) and then opened and installed the downloaded update (Mac version 2.0.58). Based on the release notes, I’m not anticipating any improvements with the issues that I’ve been experiencing, but we’ll see.


I like the interface on the updated software. I’m now able to clearly choose my aperture on the slider. There also are a nice range of image editing features that you find on basic image editing software – exposure, color temperature & tint, saturation & vibrance, contrast and sharpening. The EXIF information also clearly appears above the editing controls, rather than having to fish for it with a command. Most of these editing tools are what I already use in Lightroom and Photoshop, but it is nice to have them if you don’t have access to those (or similar) photo editing tools. The only other tool that quickly comes to mind that I’d like to see is image cropping and rotation.


Processing images files with the Lumen software still creates very large files. Most of the files that I created in both versions of Lumen, with maximum resolution (focal length at about 35mm or 70mm), were at 512 megabytes


I then processed and exported the same images that I’ve already used in this post. First, here are the two detail images from my driveway at f/8 and f/15.2:

Driveway detail, f/15.2, processed in latest version of Lumen.

Driveway detail, f/8, processed in latest version of Lumen.


To my (old) eyes, the file processed at f/15.2 still looks better so no apparent change in the software in this regard, but then, I wasn’t really anticipating/hoping for any change.


The next “test” is the woods detail from the bike path photograph. First, the detailed portion of the image processed in the earlier version of Lumen, followed by the same image processed in the updated Lumen software:


Woods detail processed in latest version of Lumen.


I didn’t quite crop the same portion of the woods in the second processing (nor is the color the same – I didn’t edit the color in the second processing, just the first), but the basic images look pretty similar to my eye. I didn’t feel that the first processing of this image showed much of what I was hoping and the second processing doesn’t seem to improve (or not improve) on it. Again, this test is a wash.


Next is a comparison of the dried plant detail on the left side of the wetlands where the stalk was sitting over the woods and above the horizon. If you’ll recall, the first processing had decent detail where the image wasn’t complex (above the horizon), but muddy details when the scene was complex (stalk over the woods). Again, the two detailed portions of the image appear below, with the first processing followed by the image processed with the latest update of Lumen:


Stalk detail processed in latest version of Lumen.


Again, the cropping is slightly different and the colors are different since I didn’t edit the colors in the second processed image, but the detail appears to me to be the same in the two versions: decent detail when the image isn’t complex, muddy detail when the image is complex. Again, no change with the updated Lumen software.


Lastly, I looked at the wetland image where the dried cattails dominated the scene and there also was no obvious change (to me) in the details of that image. Still good detail since that portion of the image was captured by an individual L16 camera, and the chromatic aberration was still present.



The purpose of this second review was to consider the possible differences in processing images at the aperture midpoint, as well as to quickly evaluate the updated Lumen software.


Regarding processing at different aperture settings, the L16 camera and Lumen software appear to provide the sharpest detail when the image file is processed at the smallest aperture. This result isn’t any surprise to me, but it is good for my knowledge and how I would likely use the the L16 and process its image files.


I also took some new photographs with the L16 and processed these image files in the first version of the Lumen software that I downloaded (v. 1.2.4) and also processed these images in the latest version of the Lumen software (v. 2.0.58). The updated Lumen interface offers more editing features and is an improvement, but there’s no obvious difference in how Lumen’s algorithms combine the individual images to create the final image – those images still possess poor detail in complex areas of the image.


The Light L16 and its accompanying software, Lumen, are still a work in progress. There has been no improvement in image quality over the past couple of months. A couple of  the major reasons that the L16 piqued my interest is that I was hoping for a lighter, smaller camera that was capable of great photographs. These “lighter & smaller” features were important to me in a couple of settings – aerial photography and backpacking. A smaller, lighter camera would be obviously easier to handle while flying, and a smaller, lighter camera would reduce my load while backpacking. But, the L16 is still not in a place where I would use it for aerial photography. I’m (again) planning an extended backpacking trip for next summer and would not take the L16 because of the image quality. I really want to take a camera with me that will create magazine-quality images (that’s my work!) and the L16 isn’t there yet. My smaller Pentax SLR (K-1) and 24-70 zoom lens are more than twice as heavy as the L16 but I’m confident in its abilities to capture great images.


As improvements in the L16 camera and its Lumen software come about, I’ll try to keep you up to date with my experiences. And, if you have any L16 experiences to share – especially if you feel or know that I’m not handling the camera in a way that could improve on my results – please feel free to let me know. Again, I want the L16 to work and be a functional part of my camera equipment.



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Home Again!

Mitre Peak

Description: Mitre Peak & Milford Sound, one of New Zealand's most famous scenes.

Photographer: Tim Mulholland

Please click on the photo to see more!

To:              Whom it may concern (i.e., our friends and family; Sharyon, Cynthia & Kerry at Waverley Park School; Robyn, Angus, Tracey, Roger, Tom and the Brannamans at Southland Hospital; Jan, wherever in the world you are; and the Ackermans in Deutschland)


From:                Tim Mulholland


Subject:            The Cultural Differences between New Zealand and the United States


As most everyone is aware, we’re back home in the US – Fitchburg, Wisconsin, to be exact. And, it’s good to be “home.”


Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.


Oliver Wendell Holmes


While we were in New Zealand we had many queries as to whether we would choose to stay there for a longer time. We loved our time in New Zealand and we wouldn’t trade this past year there for anything. We have so many wonderful, beautiful memories of our time in New Zealand and we met so many wonderful, loving people there. If I’d been born and raised in New Zealand, I feel that I would absolutely love it there.  But, I was raised in this American culture, and the US is home for better and for worse.  (I suspect that Asta is much more flexible on this than me, since she immigrated to the US fifteen, twenty years ago.)


I want to use this blog entry to highlight some of the differences between American and Kiwi culture. I truly had a fun year being an amateur, embedded anthropologist.


First, most everything is the same in New Zealand – and everything is different. Everyday in New Zealand, I had to have my antennae up because while “something” might appear to be the same as we knew it in the US, there also was a good chance that it was just slightly different. There were many times that I’d start to do something in NZ and find out that the process is slightly different, or purchase a product only to later find that the product was slightly different. This speaks to how much I spend my life on automatic pilot most of my time here in the US. I’ll try to be more specific as I write more.


FOOD:  Kiwi food is healthy and nutritious, so anyone can survive there. In fact, I put on about five kgs/ten lbs during our first six months. You can find most anything in the grocery store there that you’d find here, so no worries, mate!


But, Kiwi food has strong roots in English food so it’s not terribly flavorful or exciting. Our favorite restaurant in Invercargill was Little India. We learned when we ordered our food that we needed to specify that we wanted our food to be “Indian spicy” which is not to be confused with (New Zealand) “spicy.” If we just ordered our food as “spicy,” it would taste more like mild to medium spicy by our standards. I have eaten spicy food at most every meal since returning – I have to catch up and increase my serum capsaicin concentrations!


DRIVING: Most everyone knows that Kiwis drive on the “wrong” side of the road – the left side.  It really didn’t take too long to get used to that, and it was an easy transition coming back to the States. And, I have to say that I love roundabouts – they are easy to negotiate and keep traffic moving. I can understand that folks here don’t like to change, but roundabouts really are a good thing!


Driver etiquette in New Zealand (in fact, all etiquette) seems to be more civilized and nicer. Drivers tend to drive more slowly and thoughtfully in town – they’re not in such a “hurry.” So far, I’m driving like I did in NZ, and it appears to be irritating the drivers behind me. And, crosswalks in NZ are WONDERFUL!!! Drivers actually stop and allow a walker to safely cross to the other side of the street. Back here, I had to get used to waiting for a gap in traffic and praying, rather than calmly ambling into the street.


One last thing: gas cost about $7/gallon (NZ$2.25/L). You get used to it. It seems that people there just drive less, too. That’s the way it is when you import all of your petroleum resources.


WILDLIFE:  OK, America has a very clear advantage here. The diversity of New Zealand’s wildlife is rather limited. But hey, it’s an island nation, and the various human immigrants over the past millennia or so brought their rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, stoats/weasels, and so on with them. These alien pests have done significant damage to New Zealand’s wildlife (especially birds) populations. And, it doesn’t help that the Maori hunted the moa to extinction, which also doomed the Haast eagle, which fed on the moa. New Zealand likely was a veritable Garden of Eden before “Adam’s and Eve’s” arrival. But, New Zealand has a much better landscape, especially when compared to Wisconsin, and especially if you happen to focus on landscape photography.


One thing that we’ve REALLY enjoyed since returning is our very special “home entertainment system.” We have several different species of birds that are flocking to our bird feeders outside our kitchen windows – chickadees, nuthatches, house finches, eastern goldfinches/wild canaries, blue jays, cardinals, sparrows (yes, the English kind, just like New Zealand –surprise!), and ruby-throated hummingbirds. And we’re also reacquainting ourselves with red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, robins (the American, red-breasted kind), ducks, geese and wild turkeys. The squirrels and chipmunks are chittering around our backyard and with the cooler weather coming we’re expecting to see “our” groundhogs and deer.


We don’t miss New Zealand’s sandflies. However, our mosquitoes are more annoying than theirs, mostly because it’s warmer here and there’s less wind.


New Zealand definitely has more sheep than Wisconsin, and is trying to catch up in dairy cattle.


CLOUDS: This one goes to the country in the south. New Zealand, a.k.a., Aotearoa, “The Land of the Long White Cloud,” has some of the most beautiful clouds I’ve ever seen – consistently puffy and beautiful! On the other hand, it is so nice to get back and see these massive, towering cumulo-nimbus storm clouds that we have in the Midwest – awesome! And, New Zealand has a lot more rainbows than we do in the Midwest, something to do with having more rain. But, seriously, while it was more humid and may have rained a bit more in NZ, it wasn’t depressing at all – and this comes from a guy with S.A.D.! The clouds roll in and out there, while we get these long drab periods, particularly in the winter.


SCHOOL: The kids loved their Kiwi school – Waverley Park School. The curriculum seems to be very similar as here at Stoner Prairie Elementary School. Schools in NZ seem to be housed in several smaller buildings, whereas here in the States we tend toward these large buildings.  I don’t know why the difference – climate? funding?


Another difference – so far – is that there doesn’t yet seem to be quite the emphasis on standardized testing. Testing is coming, though. The principal at Waverley Park School is not a supporter of standardized testing as a major tool for measuring student performance for the same reason that a lot of people (including me) don’t support it in the US – it’s only a singular measure of a very complex social and developmental issue. (The principal at Waverley Park School is one of my favorite people that I met in NZ.)


Our kids spent a lot of time running around barefoot at school, which is really healthy in my opinion. They’d go to school with their shoes/jandals (flip flops) on their feet and then shed them. The major problem with running around barefoot is that if it’s a little cool outdoors, it’s easier to not put your shoes on and head out in your socks.  So, we went through more socks than previously.


RUGBY vs. FOOTBALL:  This one is a toss-up.  If I better understood the rules and strategies of rugby, I’d probably like it better – hard hitting, no padding other than what you’ve grown into your body.  I just wish that I could get the All Blacks’ games on my computer when they play – any suggestions?


NICE PEOPLE: Frankly, the people of NZ are nicer than your average American. Several travel surveys have come to the same conclusion. One of my metrics for this is that I was only flipped off once in my year in NZ, and that was by our friend, Tracey, in good fun.


CLIMATE:  This is a tough one. NZ’s climate is sort of a cool Mediterranean climate, especially where we were in extreme southern NZ. The Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea have a nice moderating influence on the climate. The daily temperature range was narrower than living here in the middle of the US. The humidity was higher, which causes a few different issues – window condensation, mold – but it also helps the slightly cooler temps to be very bearable.


HOMES: The Kiwi homes that we experienced were generally smaller than American homes – no big deal.  American homes tend to be too big, so this wasn’t a surprise. The biggest problem, for me, living in a smaller home is that my introverted side didn’t get enough “space” away from the family, particularly in the evenings. Yes, I know – that’s my issue.


Since the climate is cooler there wasn’t much air conditioning where we lived.  In fact, I can hardly remember feeling AC the whole year in NZ. But, heating is a very different beast. Where we lived in southern Invercargill, there were enough homes that were heated with coal or wood that the air quality was a noticeable issue on cool mornings. Thank goodness for the wind! Our home had a single heat pump in the living room. The living room would be pleasant enough on cool days, but the further you went into the bedrooms, the cooler it became. J It was interesting to see how many homes opened their windows a bit during the daytime, no matter the temperature; I think that this was mostly a reflection on the buildup of moisture in homes (any Kiwis want to set me straight?).


Following onto this heating issue, it also was interesting to see that commercial businesses usually kept their doors open during business hours when the weather wasn’t too windy and cool. If I was out shopping, then I’d keep my coat on in the stores so that I’d stay warm – and the staff usually wore warm sweaters (“jumpers”) and additional layers to stay comfy.


HEALTH: While “health” is more of Asta’s venue, I’ll wade in here. Again, I feel that the health status of most Kiwis was pretty similar to that of an American person.


I felt that there might be a greater prevalence of smoking in NZ and that appears to be true, and obesity also seemed to be lower (again affirmed by the stats).  There appeared to be many fewer morbidly obese people in NZ when compared to the US.


The NZ health care is a socialized medicine system (which is a part of the reason that we were there). While everyone in NZ is a part of the national health care system (ergo, no uninsured/underinsured citizens as in the US), the option exists (if you can afford it) to purchase private health care and private health insurance through a parallel (?) private health care system.  Again, this is an “observation” based on I don’t know what, but most Kiwis seem to be more tolerant (or, have lower expectations?) of it’s socialized health care system that does not promise “immediate relief” like Americans expect of our health care system. I guess that we have lower tolerance of pain and discomfort here in the US.


Per capita health care spending in NZ is only about a third of that in the US and the healthiness of Kiwis appears to be similar to Americans.  Hmm….


VIOLENCE/GUNS: OK, this is an obvious difference, I hope. One of the more frequent questions I experienced from curious Kiwis regarded the American obsession with guns and the consequent violence. I couldn’t give them a decent answer since I don’t get it either! Yes, there is violence in NZ. I suspect (but don’t know) that domestic violence in NZ is on par with the US. There are stories in the NZ media about shootings and stabbings. But, on a per capita basis, it seems that violence in NZ is much, much less than in the US.


Writing about this issue got my curiosity up, so I “googled” it and I was correct (sadly). According to the NZ Ministry of Justice, in 2000, the US violent crime rate was 506 incidents/100,000 people, while in NZ the figure was 133 incidents/100,000.  Yikes!


Here’s a different set of statistics from (I’ve not heard of this source before and some of the stats that I saw here looked fishy). In NZ, ~13.5% of homicides involve firearms (10 murders with firearms), while the figure is 39.6% in the US (9,369 murders with firearms). Also according to NationMaster, the incarceration rate in NZ is about 20% of the US rate (I’m not surprised), the rape rate is about three times higher in NZ (I was surprised by that!), and the suicide rate is about double in NZ.


POLITICS: No contest – NZ political life is much more sane!


THE ECONOMY: This is a tough issue about which to write, so I’ll turn to NationMaster again.  According to their stats, the US GDP per capita is about 70% higher than NZ’s GDP per capita. But, NZ didn’t “feel” to us to be significantly different in terms of its economy. Our “economic experience” in NZ felt that NZ wasn’t quite as high as the US, but life in NZ still felt comfortable.


QUALITY OF LIFE: So, here’s the big difference to piggy back onto my economic feelings. We seriously felt that the quality of life in NZ was on par or better than what we experience in the US. Yes, we did feel that the economic quality of life wasn’t quite as high, but overall quality of life there did feel better because of the friendlier people, lower crime rates, slower drivers and a slower, more pleasant, less frenetic lifestyle.  And, let’s not forget about the wonderful, breathtaking recreation opportunities in New Zealand – woo hoo!


THE 60’s!: I’ll close this piece with another anecdotal observation about NZ. We heard this from several folks who have visited NZ, so it’s not starting with us.


There is an observation by some visitors about New Zealand that it feels sort of like they’ve been transported back to the 1960s. Why? Life is a bit slower there. People are a bit friendlier in NZ. Kiwis seem to be genuinely focused on their families and friends. I can understand how visitors might feel that way, particularly if they live in a big, fast city. When I’ve heard people express this feeling about New Zealand, I’ve sometimes heard in a condescending way. But, while I agree that some folks might feel that way about New Zealand, I have to also say that I take it as a compliment for this beautiful, wonderful, friendly country!


OK, if you are a Kiwi who would like to set me straight, please feel free to do so!  I truly do not mean to step on any Kiwi toes, so if I did, I apologize. Similarly, if you’ve visited New Zealand and want to share your different observations and experiences or write shout-out here to New Zealand as a wonderful place, I also hope to hear from you!


46 S. EnZed signing off… (and, it’s time to find a new closing)


Also posted in Milford, New Zealand, Wisconsin Tagged , , , , , |

Secret Falls

Secret Falls

Description: Secret Falls, near Leland, Wisconsin

Photographer: Tim Mulholland

Please click on the photo to see more!


I’m home…


Actually, no, we’re still in New Zealand (just got back from a beautiful weekend in Wellington), but I have some photographs from “home” that I want to share. Wisconsin has quite a few beautiful locations (though, not quite as many as New Zealand).


There’s this one special place that I know that’s literally “buried” in the Baraboo Hills and I found it in the strangest way – literally (sonically? aurally?), by keeping my ears open. I photographed a wedding in Sauk Prairie in the spring of 2008. The reception was at the Lake Wisconsin Country Club. It had been a good day, but when the wedding party settled into their suppers, it was nice to take a break. I was sitting at the bar, likely enjoying a gratis soda, when two guests sidled up to the bar, ordered drinks and started talking. A couple of guys… I wasn’t trying to pay any attention to them – really! But, I could make out some of their words:  waterfall, wisconsin society of ornithology, and I don’t remember what else. I tucked those few words away and spent the rest of the evening enjoying and recording the festivities (especially when the wedding party borrowed some golf carts and we went around the course and took some memorable photographs!).


After I edited the portraits and presented them to the couple, I started to perform my research on this mystery waterfall that may or may not exist. The bad news is that there wasn’t a whole lot to go on. The good news is that my skills and resources did provide me some good starting points. I contacted a good friend who is a major bird lover – and significant on the state and national level with the National Audobon Society. He provided me some good leads, but didn’t know the land for which I was searching. He did suggest that I do some additional research on the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology, which I did. I contacted a friend at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and he did know about the waterfall that I was seeking. In fact, he’d been there! But, he wouldn’t tell me because the waterfall resided on non-DNR lands and he didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag. The good news is that he did provide me some basic information and let me know that I was on the right track – the Honey Creek State Natural Area.


So, between weddings and other work, I took some time to do some exploring on at the Honey Creek State Natural Area (SNA), which is just a few miles northwest of Leland, Sauk County, Wisconsin (fyi – Natural Bridge State Park is just a few miles northeast of Leland and Hemlock Draw SNA is just north of town). I took four separate trips to Honey Creek. The first three trips I walked all over the property and found a lot of interesting land, streams, plants, and so on – but no waterfall. Along Honey Creek, there are some beautiful sandstone walls that have been carved out by the Creek. After walking all over the Honey Creek SNA and coming home covered with mud, sweat and scratches, I decided that it was time to get a little smarter.


Based on the information that I had, I also knew that The Nature Conservancy had interest in the Honey Creek property so I made a little research trip down to the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. I explained to a staff member what I was seeking at Honey Creek and he showed me a map of the area that noted The Nature Conservancy’s property. Lo and behold, it turns out that The Nature Conservancy owned a little piece of land just north of the Honey Creek SNA.Voila! That was the good news. The bad news is that The Nature Conservancy’s property wasn’t contiguous with the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology property, but maybe a thousand feet north.


A few days later, I made another trip to Honey Creek and went further and deeper than I’d ventured before. Now, it was getting later in the spring/early summer and the weather was getting warmer and more humid. And, the mosquitoes were starting to come out! I hiked through the weeds along the stream bank and slogged up stream as far as I’d been before and then went further. There was a reasonably clear property line on the north end of the Honey Creek SNA. Having worked for the Wisconsin DNR for many years, I have some knowledge about the rules regarding property, trespassing, and who owns what, etc. The State of Wisconsin owns all of the water in the State, up to the common high water mark (or something like that). That meant that I could walk in Honey Creek and not trespass on the private property owner’s land, and continue my watery hike north to the other sliver of Nature Conservancy land. Eventually, I came to a small side stream that had a pretty good flow, and some really attractive pink quartzite in its bed. (Yes, I do get excited by some odd things in the beds that I visit!)


Another few hundred feet up the side stream and there it was – the most beautiful waterfall that I’ve ever seen in Wisconsin!!! It was very satisfying and inspiring to have spent these past few weeks searching, busting my butt, coming out of the woods wet and stinking, and then to be sitting there in front of it.  I can’t remember how long I spent there, enjoying it, soaking it up, and photographing it. It was relatively small and intimate, but surrounded by beautiful green foliage, and the pink quartzite really set it all off.  In some ways, this was quite the highlight of my summer.  And, to make for a great autumn, I went to “Secret Falls” in the late September, just as the trees were turning a bit, and as the mosquitoes were migrating south.


And, that’s the last time that I visited Secret Falls until last May. As Memorial Day was approaching, we were thinking of things to do in the area, and heading back to Secret Falls had been on my “to do” list for quite some time. The family was game for a decent hike, and we dragged along a great friend who also loves to hike. Unfortunately, I didn’t do a satisfactory job of adequately describing the hike and conditions to everyone. While I wore long pants and shirt, I forgot to suggest to everyone else that they might want to do likewise. When I hiked to Secret Falls, it usually took me about 90 minutes to get there from my parked car. But, my crew was slower, the weather was quite hot and humid, and they didn’t appreciate all of the stinging nettles along the way. To avoid the nettles and tall weeds, they all hiked in the stream bed for a good portion of the hike. If you haven’t hiked in a stream bed before, it’s not very easy – you’re sloshing through the water, you can’t see your footing very well, there are rocks and cobbles all over the stream bed and they make your feet and ankles hurt. Also remember that some of my victim’s legs were much shorter than mine, so there was another aspect of the death march that wasn’t appreciated. After about three hours of hiking and whining, we finally made it to Secret Falls! My family and friend did appreciate Secret Falls as being a very beautiful waterfall, but they also felt that the price of admission was higher than I had lead them to believe. Below is a small gallery of photographs from this last trip to Secret Falls. After the seemingly never ending hike, I had to rescue my victims by taking them to the nearest lunch stop, which happened to be at a bar in Leland.


My family is now much more wary when I suggest a hike…  🙂





And, here’s a gallery from my 2008 trips:


As an expression of my appreciation to The Nature Conservancy for all that they do, and particularly at Honey Creek, I donated a very large canvas print of Secret Falls to their Madison office.


Finally, if you’re also a glutton for punishment, here’s a map and GPS coordinates that will help you to find Secret Falls – but don’t blame me if you come back hot, sweaty, sore and happy!


Modified DNR map showing TNC land in red to the north of the Honey Creek SNA.

Modified DNR map showing TNC land in red to the north of the Honey Creek SNA.

46 S EnZed signing off…



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Water Sculptures


As any person has experienced, from time to time you have to inject some fun and creativity into your work or else you risk boredom, slumps and untold other work difficulties (insert your own experiences HERE!)


Several weeks ago, we were traveling to The Catlins, mostly to “find” a small waterfall that we’d somehow discovered, and which wasn’t on any tourist lists. The basic directions that we found to Koropuku Falls went something like this: drive down the Chaslands highway, about 10.2 kilometers east of its intersection with the Niagara-Tokanui Highway, and look for the ice cream sign on the north side of the road. Yes, you read correctly – look for the ice cream sign. It turns out that the property owners are encouraging visitors to their little waterfall. Since the waterfall is not on Crown Lands (i.e., belonging to the government of New Zealand), it’s not afforded a proper sign. So, the owners have taken the plastic lid from a tub of ice cream and created that their own small sign that says “Waterfall,” with a little arrow pointing into the bush.



It’s a short and pleasant hike to Koropuku Falls. It’s not a particularly remarkable waterfall in any way, but it was a nice hike, nice to climb around (especially for the kids), enjoy a simple lunch, and beautiful to photograph. The following gallery will provide you a sense of this small, intimate waterfall:



After our visit to Koropuku Falls, we travelled down the road a bit further to investigate another couple of waterfalls. Well, it turns out that we’d have to traverse some private property, so I decided that we weren’t going to be able to investigate those falls after all. (But, later, I realized, “wait, this is New Zealand, not the States!” —  more to come in a future installment!)



We then drove back to Porpoise Bay. The rest of the family wanted to swim, hopefully with the Hector’s Dolphins that reside there, but I wasn’t up for it. We’d been at Porpoise Bay a few weeks before and were able to swim with the dolphins, which is quite a treat. They’ll let you get a little close and then speed away. It’s a blast to watch them play in the surf – you can see their silhouettes in the waves!



When we’re at Porpoise Bay, one of the most pleasant things for me to do is to just sit and mindlessly watch the waves crash on the rocks at the Bay’s entrance. The power of the waves is awe-inspiring and humbling. And, the rhythm of the waves, along with a cool breeze, can almost put you to sleep. But, those nasty little sandflies are always doing their best to extract a sanguine meal from you.



I was trying to photograph these large, booming, crashing waves, and just felt sort of blah about the effort. I knew that my typical photos weren’t going to convey the sense and power of the waves. As I was lazing there, a bit frustrated, I realized that there was something fun, different and entertaining that I could do with my camera and skills.



In all likelihood, you’ve seen “animated gifs” on other websites. (Actually, I have one in the upper fight corner of my website to help draw attention to my business.) In certain situations, they can create additional drama and meaning with otherwise bland photographs. So, I proceeded to snap several hundred photographs (yes, I do love digital photography!) with the hope that there would be one or more series of photographs that would yield some decent animations.



And, I wasn’t disappointed! After a bit of editing work, I believe that you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy some of the waves below. I just hope that you don’t get mesmerized by these waves and forget to go to work, or grab an extra margarita…  🙂  (My favorite is the last one.)



Waves crash on the rocks at Porpoise Bay, New Zealand

Waves crash on the rocks at Porpoise Bay, New Zealand


















46 S EnZed signing off…

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Hi Honey! We’re home!

Well, we’ve found our permanent house for the coming year. We had an exciting time Sunday noon, moving two small carloads of food and luggage to the new house.  It took all of about an hour, and that’s because we were taking our time.  🙂



The first temporary house, at 96 Kew Road, was just across the street from the hospital and owned by the hospital.  It was an older, smaller home.  It was a nice place to start and would have been fine if needed, but it is nice to be in a newer, slightly larger home.  We’re now at 630 Elles Road, Invercargill 9812, NZ, if anyone would like to send a CARE package our way.  I don’t know what it would contain, as Asta & I are quite happy with what we’re finding here.  The kids on the other hand, especially Aras, do miss their American foods.  The mac & cheese isn’t quite the same; “bacon” here is ham as we know it, and anything else about which Aras would like to complain.  But, I digress…



It was supposed to rain and possibly hail today, so I thought that I’d better take some photographs while the taking was good.  Actually, it only rained a few times and has turned out to be a nice day.  Our “new” home is actually a new home that was most recently occupied by a gynecologist and his wife while they were here on a similar locum tenens work visit as Asta is on now.  It doesn’t seem that this house has yet had a permanent owner as it was on the market and available, but also made available for the possibility of being rented as a furnished home.  And that’s where we come in.



You may “click” on the pictures in this gallery to see larger versions…

The house is ~133 square meters, which translates into about 1300 sqft.  It’s certainly smaller than our home in Fitchburg, but we like it.  It’s warm, cozy and sunny.  The biggest issue is that while we were used to each having our own space in our Fitchburg home, it’s not as easy to get away from each other here.  We’re about a kilometer south of the hospital and Asta is looking forward to walking to work and getting some exercise.  And, she’s also looking forward to the chauffeur driving her to work on rainy days.  The other big benefit is that we have much better internet service in this house than was available in the Kew Road home, so it’ll be easier for me to share more through my blog.  And, this also means fewer trips to the public library to use their wifi!


The next big chore is to buy a used car…


OK, I guess that this all for today.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

46 S EnZed signing off…


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Blog restart, 1 July 2012

This is the “start” of my blog page – again.  I’m restarting it to share with you our adventures in New Zealand during 2012/2013, and whatever else comes my way…



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