French Polynesia Circa 2006

I was reviewing some old photography files recently and went through some images of French Polynesia circa 2006. These images were captured handheld using a 4 MP Kodak DX6490 zoom camera. As I was re-processing some of these jpeg photographs it occurred to me that some readers may find them of interest.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/4, 1/500, ISO-80

Our trip to French Polynesia was one best classified as a ‘spur of the moment’ decision. I was casually looking through the travel section of the Saturday newspaper when I stumbled on a package travel deal to French Polynesia.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/4, 1/350, ISO-80

It was less than half the regular price, so we called some good friends to gauge their interest. Within a day or so the four of us were booked.

Kodak DX6490, @ 8 mm, efov 48 mm, f/3.2 1/30, ISO-140

It was a fairly short duration trip with one initial night on the island of Tahiti, followed by 3 nights on Moorea, 4 on Bora Bora, then one final night on Tahiti before flying home.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/2.8, 1/45, ISO-80

French Polynesia had long been of interest to my wife. As a young child the movie South Pacific had resonated with her.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/2.8, 1/45, ISO-80

In the summer of 2004 when I asked her to write down her 5 top ‘bucket list’ travel destinations, French Polynesia was one of them. A great package deal was incentive enough to book it… and cross one destination off her list… plus it was also on mine!

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/2.8, 1/30, ISO-80

Part of her ‘bucket list’ experience was to stay in an over-the-water bungalow. We decided that doing that on the island of Moorea would make sense.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO-80

That decision added about $500 to the cost of the trip. Since it was very likely that this would be our only trip to French Polynesia we decided to spend the extra money. It turned out to be a very good decision.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/2.8, 1/90, ISO-80

It remains one of our most significant travel memories. Our over-the-water bungalow backed onto the Pacific Ocean giving us privacy… and the occasional thought about tsunamis.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/4, 1/750, ISO-80

We absolutely loved the glass panel in the floor of our bungalow. In the evenings we would turn on the light underneath the bungalow, then watch all of the fish swimming by.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/2.8, 1/15, ISO-140

In was like having the National Geographic channel live underneath our accomodations.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/5.6, 1/350, ISO-80

We booked a guided island tour on Moorea to take in some of the sites and experience the rugged beauty.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-80

Kodak DX6490, @ 9 mm, efov 56 mm, f/6.3, 1/350, ISO-80

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/5.6, 1/750, ISO-80

Back at the resort we took in some shows in the evening.

Kodak DX6490, @ 19 mm, efov 117 mm, f/3.2, 1/90, ISO-140, auto flash used

When working on these original jpegs in post, I found Topaz DeNoise AI very helpful to clean up and sharpen the files.

Kodak DX6490, @ 14 mm, efov 82 mm, f/3.2, 1/90, ISO-80, auto flash used

The polarization and pro contrast functions in Color Efex 4 (part of the Nik Collection) proved helpful with many of my landscape photographs.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-80

Our trip to French Polynesia was during the period after I had been away from photography for a number of years. I was in the early stages of my experiences with digital photography.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/5.6, 1/750, ISO-80

While on Bora Bora we visited a pearl farm, and did some walking tours around various parts of the island. One afternoon we strolled down to Bloody Marys Restaurant.

Kodak DX6490, @ 7 mm, efov 43 mm, f/2.8, 1/30, ISO-80

This is a well-known establishment that has drawn in a good number of famous people as patrons.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/2.8, 1/350, ISO-80

Unfortunately it was closed for renovations during our visit. My wife still got a kick out of being there since Bloody Mary is a character in South Pacific.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 94 mm, f/4.5, 1/1000, ISO-80

We quite enjoyed our time on Bora Bora, finding it very laid back and friendly. On occasion I wonder how it may have changed since our visit some 15 years ago.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/5.6, 1/750, ISO-80

One of the definite highlights of our trip to French Polynesia was the Lagoonarium tour on Bora Bora. This began with a stop over a sand bar in the lagoon. I bought some inexpensive underwater film cameras in Canada, which we brought with us. The quality wasn’t great, but I had some prints converted to digital files to preserve the memories.

Fuji Photo SLP800, converted to digital file

We had the chance to see some rays and reef sharks up close.. with some of the sharks gliding by within a metre or so from us.

Fuji Photo SLP800, converted to digital file

The rays would swim up and rub against our legs and feet.

Kodak DX6490, @ 14 mm, efov 82 mm, f/4.5, 1/500, ISO-80

The Lagoonarium tour included lunch and the opportunity to visit some salt water pens where various types of aquatic life were kept. Guides provided some information on habitat, diet, lifespan etc.

Kodak DX6490, @ 28 mm, efov 169 mm, f/6.3, 1/500, ISO-80

We also had the opportunity to swim with sharks and rays in the large salt water pen, as they were being fed. At one point my wife and I were swimming in about 4 metres of water. I must admit it was a bit unnerving at first when we looked down and saw a 2.5 metre lemon shark gliding directly beneath us.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/5.6, 1/350, ISO-80

We reminded ourselves that all of the sharks and rays in the pen were well fed, and there really wasn’t anything to fear. After lunch my wife was sufficiently relaxed that she decided to wear a life vest and float around inside the shark enclosure for a while.

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/4, 1/500, ISO-80

One of the guides put on a mask and flippers and quietly entered the shark pen. He then submerged and swam out to her. While underwater he grabbed one of her legs. A blood curdling scream erupted from my wife’s lips. This is a vivid memory that she retains to this day!

Kodak DX6490, @ 6 mm, efov 38 mm, f/2.8, 1/8, ISO-140

My wife and I are both thankful that we decided to do some of our ‘bucket list’ travel over the past 10-15 years, rather than waiting for retirement. One never knows what can happen. COVID-19 is a stark reminder of that.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from jpeg files using my standard process.

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