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Olivier and JF flew from Noumea to Baie du Prony in Olivier's helicopter. I had told JF I really would like to take some sphere images of the lagoon from a Helicopter and was delighted when he called to say he and his friend would be flying down so I could give it a try.
Both JF and Olivier are dentists in Noumea and enjoy flying (and lots of other action sports) when not helping their patients. These would be my first helicopter aerial sphere images so it was all theory for me. We flew off the top of the small mountain bordering the anchorage and took this sphere image - my very first - and then went off for a joy ride taking sphere images of the anchorages and the lagoon. I really love helicopters - they make me feel like Peter Pan every time I fly in one.
When we found just the right place to take a sphere image Olivier (who is an excellent pilot) hovered the helicopter while I lowered a telescoping monopod with my Canon 7D, mounted on a Nodal Ninja pano head, down below the helicopter's skids. I used a wireless remote to trigger the camera as I turned it around 360degrees, twice, taking more images than I needed just to be on the safe side. All this worked OK and I learned a few things so I can get even better images next time. We had to fly pretty high for safety and to avoid turbulence around the hills and valleys so the 8-mm sigma fisheye lens I used just did not have enough resolution to get sharp images. Next time I'll use a longer focal length lens and take more images for each sphere.
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.