Astrophotography: Capturing the Sky…

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The right angle. The best light. When it comes to property marketing, our photographers know exactly how to present every home at it’s best. But for many, the passion for photography doesn’t just end with real estate.

As well well as producing stunning property images for his agents, Open2view photographer Matthew Lowe also has a keen interest in Astrophotography.

We asked Matt to tell us a bit about the region he covers and what Astrophotography is all about.

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Q. How long have you been a photographer with Open2view?

I started with Open2view in December 2010, so it’s almost my 4th Birthday! Do I get a cake, or is that next year?

Q. What area in New Zealand do you cover? What do you like most about it?

I cover the Eastern Bay of Plenty – the sunshine capital of NZ and home to NZ’s beach best – Ohope Beach.  It is a large area to cover, from Matata / Kawerau down to Whakatane / Ohope and right up the coast to the East Cape. I like the diversity in the area – you can go from photographing a little 1 bedroom converted garage to a bare block of land with 100km views all the way to Mt Maunganui, then to a million dollar beach front home or a farm all within 30 minutes drive.

A lot of my photo shoots consist of rural or coastal properties, which isn’t a bad thing given the stunning locations we have right on our doorstep.

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Q. How did you get started in real estate photography?

Photography has always been a hobby of mine since I was about 10 years old, when I got into astrophotography.  Career-wise I started out as a graphic designer for a newspaper in 2004 and progressed from there over the next 8 years.  Sitting in front of a computer in an office where you couldn’t see outside for 40 hours a week was starting to do my head in, and the opportunity to purchase the Open2view franchise in my area came up.  After a few enquiries and discussions I decided to make the jump into real estate photography.  Even though I still spend half of my time at a desk processing photos, emails, invoicing etc, being able to combine my hobby with work is far more satisfying.  I can’t imagine there are many jobs where you can spend 40 hours a week working, and then on your days off go and take photos just for fun!

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Q. Tell us about Astrophotography…

I think every photographer needs a ‘personal project’ that they work on for no reason other than to provide a creative outlet and a bit of fun, so I try to focus on astrophotography in my spare time.

Astrophotography basically covers anything in the sky – the stars, moon, milky way, satellites, the sun, planets etc etc.  There are many different styles of astrophotography such as shooting star trails, where you leave the shutter open for a period of time (anything from 10 minutes to 8 hours) so the camera captures the movement of the stars; or you can shoot through a telescope to capture deep-sky objects such as distant galaxies and gas clouds which aren’t visible to the naked eye.

An interesting thing is some cameras can pick up parts of the spectrum which are invisible to the naked eye (ie UV light), so you can often pick up detail which you could never see with the naked eye or through a telescope.

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I have recently had the opportunity to use some of the equipment at the Whakatane Astronomical Society where they have a solar telescope which allows you to safely view the sun without burning your eyeballs out (literally, don’t try this at home!)  It is fitted with special filters to separate certain light wavelengths so you can actually see the detail and explosions happening on the surface of the sun, and when you attach a camera you can get some pretty cool shots.

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When I started out with astrophotography I was using a film camera, before I went away from it for a few years while I focused on my graphic design.  Now everything is digital I have to re-learn all the techniques as they are slightly different.  For example digital camera sensors are more prone to image noise or batteries running out on really long exposures, but the advantage is you can immediately see the result and whether you’re on the right track or not.

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You can view Matthew’s real estate photography portfolio on the Open2view website here

Or follow his Facebook page here

The Block NZ – It’s Business Time

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The time has come. Tonight, the four properties on The Block NZ will go under the hammer and honestly, I don’t think I can watch.

The producers must be doing something right. The Block NZ has to be one of the most successful reality shows NZ has seen. Whether it be our fascination with DIY, the kiwi dream of owing your own home or they just luck out with great casting, it’s easy to emotionally invest in the journey of the Block couples.

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And that’s where I come unstuck. Some might call it great TV, but after enduring the agonising live auctions of the past two years, I just can’t bring myself to watch tonight!

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It would be great to see all the couples do well at auction, but as pointed out in a recent post over at Properazzi, even in the middle of what seems to be a rampant Auckland property market, is there really enough demand to get all of these properties sold?

Each year, there’s been, by far, one big winner and you could say for all the rest, it’s been close to a waste of time (remember last year’s post-auction meltdown from Loz?). Yes, all the contestants know what they are getting themselves into, but it doesn’t make the awkwardness any easier to watch.

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Which is why I’m content just to take a look back at all of the hard work the couples have put in during their time at The Block (as captured by our Open2view photographers by the way….)

We wish all the couples the best of luck tonight!

Tips for an energy efficient home.

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“Sustainable living” and “energy efficiency” are phrases we hear a lot these days and how energy efficient and ‘green’ a property is can make a big difference when it comes to buying or selling. Whether your motivation is saving the environment, saving your wallet or a bit of both, read on for a few simple tips for meeting your goal.

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Staying cool in summer and warm in winter are basic comforts of life; efficient heating and cooling systems are therefore high on the priority list for prospective buyers.

When it comes to making your house more energy efficient, insulation is the key, and not just for keeping warm. Insulation acts as a barrier to heat gain as well as heat loss. It is particularly important in roofs and ceilings, walls and floors.

Effective insulation is a plus on many levels: increasing comfort levels, reducing reliance on powered heating and cooling systems therefore making your home more ‘green’ while saving you money at the same time. Some types of insulation can even act as soundproofing.The simple solution of adding blinds on windows can also reduce heat gain by up to 50%.

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Ensure any appliances you have in your home are as energy efficient as possible. Studies have shown that residential properties commonly have air conditioners that are 50% bigger than needed, thus costing you more for no extra benefit.
Installing the air conditioner in a shady place can increase its efficiency by up to 10%.

Complement air conditioner use with ceiling fans. They are an efficient way to circulate air in the house and far cheaper to run than an air conditioner.

Water Works

Water efficiency is another important area to consider and can be as simple as fixing a leaky tap. A dripping hot water tap can waste a massive 12,000 litres of hot water over a year!

Your bathroom fittings and fixtures will all make a difference to water efficiency, measured using the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme. Ideally showerheads, mixers, even the loo, should have a high WELS rating. For example, a 3-star rated showerhead will use approximately 6-7 litres of water per minute, compared to regular showerheads which can use up to 25 litres per minute.

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These simple energy efficiency fixes will not only add comfort to your home but a valuable point of difference when it comes to marketing your home for sale.

 

 

Real estate photography and content thanks to the team at Open2view Sydney