November 17, 2018 … Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow*

Day by day, time passes. Of course, there is no other way to get here. That’s how we get older, how our kids got older, and how our grandchildren are starting to graduate from high school and so on. It comes at a cost, of course. Creaking bones, uncertain balance and perhaps a bit less confidence than I used to have. But I would not change a thing. I am loving where I am and who my kids are, and who my beautiful grandchildren are.  And until the final recall notice, I shall just keep on enjoying life as it comes, day by day.


Coming through the mist, two ferries return home


Even the grey days bring their pleasures. I was standing on the Eastern end of Petone Beach when I spotted the ferries Kaitaki and Strait Feronia emerging through the mist at the harbour entrance. The sharp horizon line contrasts with the softness of the weather in the South.


I like the contrast between the sharp lines of the oil terminal and the softness of the hills beyond

If you know the children’s movie, “The Never Ending Story” in which the world is steadily being eaten by “the nothing” you get a sense of what I saw as I looked past the Point Howard oil terminal to the distant city being relentlessly swallowed by the mist.

Rock pool

Blues and greens, ebb and flow and beauty in the simple things

But a day or two later, reality was restored. I explored some rock pools in Island Bay, and put the steady surge and suck of the water on hold for a few seconds.


Prettier than many a glass fibre gin-palace

If you have read more than a few of my blog entries, you will be familiar with  my constant battle with debilitating self-doubt as I struggle to see the essential simplicity that makes for a better image. This one, at least, I like. It is a simple working dory, moored in the shelter of the breakwater at the Hikoikoi reserve in the Hutt River estuary. Warm varnish, red boot topping and blue-green  water combine nicely, I think.

Bee on flax

How doth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour, And gather honey all the day From every opening flower! (Isaac Watts)

Among my fellow bird photographers, many of us are members of “the tail feathers club” … membership is attained by pushing the shutter too late, and catching no more than a glimpse of the rear of the departing bird. I think membership could be extended to similar photographs of any life form. Here, we see the North end of a South-bound honey bee, looking for nectar among the flax flowers.


The never-ending restoration project … step one: start

This image is very similar to an image I made just a few weeks ago, but the light is so much better this time, I just had to try again.


Looking in on the city from the North

I like looking at Wellington from different angles. In this instance, I was on a narrow road high up in the semi-rural suburb of Horokiwi, looking back across Newlands to the central city, up to Kelburn  and to Brooklyn and the wind turbine and airport radar  on Hawkins Hill


Manuka flower

I was visiting a friend and saw a lovely mass of red on a shrub in his garden. He purchased  it as a Boronia. I think he should seek a refund from his garden shop. This is clearly Leptospermum scoparium … the manuka


Such short-lived beauty

Then Mary was given some roses so I had some more fun with the light box. In camera club circles you will rarely do well with simple flower images, but as William Blake wrote, “to see a heaven in a flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand” … who cares about camera club success?

Makahika Stream

Perfect peace

To the East of Levin, over the hill from the Kohitere Forest is the Makahika Stream at the edge of the Tararua Forest Park. A pleasant place where the only sound apart from the wind in the trees and the flowing river is wonderful birdsong, dominated by tui and the grey warbler.

Enough for this week. See you again soon.

* Shakespeare – Macbeth

Posted in Adventure, Bees, Cook Strait, Horokiwi, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, Wellington | 2 Comments

November 8, 2018 … a little washed out

After five years as president of the Hutt Camera Club, and several years prior to that as newsletter editor and secretary, I am absolutely ready to stand down. Somehow in the last few months, I have run out of steam and the burden of office has taken a toll. About now you might hear the sound of the world’s smallest violin playing sympathetic music. Yes, there is a little self-pity at play, but I am looking forward to getting the most out of my photography time to help me become a better image maker.  Just two more weeks.


At the estuary (again)

As you may have heard me say before, I will always seize a calm day, and I grabbed this one down at the Hikoikoi Reserve on the Hutt River estuary. The boats moored in the shelter of the breakwater are unglamorous small fishing vessels. Even so, they create pretty reflections in the unusually still water.


I am sure someone really intends to restore the boat, but it has sat unchanged for several years now.

I was hoping to see my old friend “George”, the white heron. After a few brief stops he seems to have found other places to be, so I settled for a shot of the derelict boat in which he practices his skills as a master mariner.


Gerbera glory

On days when the weather is less accommodating, I look for still life opportunities. Mary received a bunch of gerberas from a neighbour in gratitude for her care of their cats while they were away.  I just loved their luminance.


Purple Tansy

A random weed in our garden caught my eye and I plucked it and then looked again and decided it was worth a closer look. One of my several flower identification apps said it was a Phacelia or Purple Tansy. I put it in the opening of my dark box and used the stacking technique to get the clearest image.


Little shag – mottled

It is said that if you don’t like our climate, wait twenty minutes, it will change. The reality is that change is a little slower than that, but a nice warm morning earlier in the week found me at Shelly Bay, the old RNZAF flying boat base in Evans Bay. There I found a Little Shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) sitting at the foot of the sea wall, cautious but willing to stay put. It is one of the mottled morph in this variety.


Once were flying boats

The old jetties at Shelly Bay are much admired by photographers and this time I tried for a different angle. I admit to removing a number of plastic road cones from the rad works along the far shore.


The Catchpool stream heading outwards to the sea

A windy day and I went down the Wainuiomata coast road to the Rimutaka Forest Park and Catchpool Valley. I clambered down the rock banks of the stream and got the camera perilously close to the water for this shot. I am not good where footing is uncertain, since I have weak ankles and a poor sense of balance.


To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower (William Blake)

There were lots of wild forget-me-nots so I stole one and got very close.

That’s all for this time. I hope that my next edition will be crafted on my shiny new iMac since my 6-year-old MacBook is, like me, getting slower by the day.

Posted in Birds, Camera club, flowers, Landscapes, Maritime, Plant life, Reflections, Rimutaka Forest park, Rivers, Wellington | 5 Comments

October 25, 2018 … here we are again

A busy time since the last post.


The sun has gone to bed and so must I

Out in the gloaming (do people still use that word?) and I just loved the colours in the Seaview Marina. I was a bit nervous about this long exposure because I was standing on a floating pontoon, and the risk of movement was high.


Ornamental pond at Cross Hills Gardens, Kimbolton

Mary and I drove to Cross Hills Gardens near Kimbolton in the Manawatu district. The gardens specialise in rhododendrons and azaleas. I made lots of images but the one I liked best was of the ornamental pond.


NZ Falcon in Lower Hutt

My youngest son is a police officer in charge of land search and rescue operations in the region. He was out looking for a missing person and got dive-bombed by a pair of New Zealand falcons. My ears pricked up because a pair of falcons defending a territory suggests nesting is happening. I visited the area and sure enough the pair came in very fast and low. I sat down and they sat above me just a few metres away.  Love these birds.


A blare of trumpets

On my way to a function in Tinakori Rd, I passed the open door of a shop that sells brass and wind instruments. I was impressed by the array of brass on the display board and with permission took a few shots.


Onoke Spit – all closed off

A day or two later I was in the South Wairarapa at Lake Ferry. To my surprise, the outlet where Lake Onoke flows to the sea was closed off and the Onoke Spit went all the way across from East to West.  To my even greater surprise, the ocean swells were coming up over the spit and  sliding down the inland slope to the lake. I got wet shoes out of it.


Mighty mountain across a green sea

The view from the spit across the strait to Tapuae-o-Uenuku was spectacular, and I have not adjusted those colours


Fast flowing stream – Korokoro

There was a gap of a few days and then I went wandering up the Korokoro stream track. When I first encountered this stream in 1980, you crossed the stream and got wet feet 23 times. The track is now so developed that all the crossings are bridged and the socks remain dry.

Hutt River

The Hutt River near Upper Hutt

In Upper Hutt, one beautiful morning early this week, I had to stop to catch the Hutt River flowing down past Totara Park.


Across Lake Wairarapa to the Aorangi Range

From there, it was over the hill again to Lake Wairarapa where the conditions were nearly perfect.


Dancing patterns

On Monday night this week, was the final night of Lower Hutt’s Carnival of Lights. Despite the coincidence of timing, there was no overt connection between this and the festival of Diwali. Anyway, as we arrived, there was a young woman dancing with what I can only describe as illuminated hula-hoops. I opened the shutter for a long exposure as she twirled and danced and got this.


Noise and smoke

The young people were gathered around a sound stage from which a group was performing. Nothing that sounded like my idea of music, but it was a good visual spectacle.


Fireworks closing ceremony

The night concluded with a fireworks display, and again the long exposure allowed the sequence of fireworks to paint patterns in the air.

Posted in Adventure, Birds, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Music, night, Reflections, Wairarapa, Waves, Weather | 3 Comments

October 11, 2018 … self-inflicted injury

I have spent most of my free time in the last month,  judging competitions for camera clubs. That amounted to a carefully considered written paragraph for each of 168 images. I needed to be mindful of each photographer’s sensitivity while at the same time trying to being honest enough to be helpful. This calamity came about because I am the kind of fool who tends to say yes, if possible, but forgets to check whether the due date clashes with promises already made to other groups. And so I found myself judging more or less concurrently for three clubs. This was a self-inflicted injury that will not be repeated.

Rail reflection

The new extension to Rutherford House was added after I retired The railway station was opened 81 years ago.

I spent an afternoon wandering downtown and began to enjoy reflections in the various glass tower blocks. This image shows the Wellington Central railway station  reflected in the glass curtain of the recent extension to the Business School of Victoria University of Wellington.

flannel bush

Flannel bush

From my bedroom window, I spotted an interesting looking plant in my neighbour’s garden. With permission, I acquired one of the flowers and in due course, set about identifying it and then photographing it. It is the Flannel bush (Phylica pubescens)


Rock pools in Tarakena Bay










When I got out a place I liked to go to this month, has been Wellington’s South coast, especially Tarakena Bay which runs from the harbour mouth Westward to Moa Point near the Southern end of the airport.  The sea was relatively calm and I used a neutral density filter to get a long exposure and near total stillness.

Hutt River

Hutt River estuary

Grey skies and little wind tempted me away from the drudgery of judging (thereby increasing the pressure as the deadlines loomed). The Hutt River boatsheds caught my eye here.

Sea fever

“…. And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking” (Sea Fever by John Masefield)

It was a misty morning and I just loved the soft greyness of the day as I looked South to the harbour entrance.


Blue reflections









For the sixth consecutive year, I organized the Wellington chapter of the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk. This year, 17,484 walkers registered to walk in 932 locations around the world. A shot I made during the walk was of the new mirror facade of what used to be the Bowen State building.


Parliament Building, Wellington

From a different architectural era is the parliament building. It is probably not very distinguished among this kind of building. When you get up close, you have to love the Oamaru Stone cladding.


I’m a sucker for receding planes

I have shot this many times, but I can’t resist the varying shades of the receding hills from Lower Hutt to Upper Hutt and the Tararua Ranges in the background.


“Thy sea, O God, so great, My ship so small” (Breton Fisherman’s prayer by Winfred Ernest Garrison)

The stillness was coming to an end, and you can see the ominous front away to the South as seen from Petone Beach. The 9 am sailing of the Kaitaki was heading out  into the wild, on its way to Picton


How happy I am to live in this beautiful city

My last shot this week is also from Petone Beach is across the silvery harbour to Wellington City. See you next time.



Posted in Adventure, Architecture, Camera club, History, Landscapes, Maritime, Reflections, Weather, Wellington | Leave a comment

September 29, 2018 … to be in the same place but see it again

Since I last wrote, it has been a crazy couple of weeks. As an accredited judge for the Photographic Society of New Zealand, I get to view and assess entries for competitions held by other clubs. Now if only I could get my head together, I would not accept judging for three different clubs with results due all within the same three-week period.  I really must keep better records of what I have agreed to.  On the other hand, I get to see some superb work, and to be truthful, some work that is less  so.  So, an insanely busy period in which I still found time to go out and make a few images of my own.


New Zealand native wood pigeons (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae), or in Maori, kereru. If startled they depart with much thrashing of wings and clattering of broken twigs.

I didn’t have to go far for these two splendid wood pigeons who were busily demolishing a shrub a few metres from our front door. Part of the charm of these birds, apart from their irridescent feathers is their clumsiness on takeoff or landing. They seem to aim at a tree at full speed and stick out an arrester hook in the hope of catching a branch. Not so much a landing as a controlled crash is a phrase I have heard elsewhere.


One of the reflecting pools at the Supreme Court of New Zealand, stripped of distractions

A beautiful day in the city found me outside the Supreme Court building. I liked the reflecting pool but wanted the reflections without the passing traffic or pedestrians. I used the statistics feature of Photoshop. Basically this means taking several identical photos and then Photoshop extracts anything that is not present in all of the images. Thus the buses and the passers-by disappear. The only vehicle in the image was parked.


Litigants awaiting a hearing at the Supreme Court. Or perhaps they are just pigeons

I needed no such trickery for these two common pigeons sitting in the pool at the side of the same building.


George has come home for the season – welcome back White heron (Ardea modesta) or in Maori, kotuku

On the way home, I went to the Hikoikoi reserve at the Hutt River estuary where, to my great joy I renewed my acquaintance with “George”, our resident white heron returned after a long absence. I imagine that he has been down to their only known nesting colony in New Zealand at Waitangiroto near Whataroa. This is 450 km away  on the West Coast of the South Island. Welcome back, old friend.


Warp 5 Mr Sulu!

George is something of a character, and one of his favourite spots to rest as at the wheel of a derelict motor boat on a slipway in the reserve. If he had more flexible lips, I can imagine him at the wheel going “Brrrrrm, brrrrrm”.  Or perhaps he imagines himself as Captain Picard saying “make it so, Mr Data”


Wellington Botanic Gardens tulip display

It’s tulip time again. Although the gardeners are apologetic that the flowers are less than perfect this year, they looked fine to my eyes. One of the pleasures of retirement is the ability to visit the gardens at times when the crowds are small.


Flowering cherry display in the Aston Norwood Garden

A new discovery for me has been the Aston Norwood Gardens at the foot of the Remutaka Hill on SH2 just North of Upper Hutt. There has been a restaurant there for a long time, but the current owner has developed the gardens to a place of stunning beauty. Right now they are coming to the end of the cherry blossom season and I understand there are over 300 mature trees in the grounds. The result is magnificent.

Aston Norwood

Cherry blossom petals drift over the pond

I got down low, close to the surface of one of the several ponds on the property and with the aid of a neutral density filter made a long exposure (13 seconds) as the breeze pushed the fallen petals in interesting paths across the surface.

Aston Norwood

The Remutaka stream flows though the Aston Norwood Garden

The Remutaka stream runs through the property and again, the ND filter was used to good effect. I shall be visiting this place again (and again, and again)  as they have rhododendrons and camellias as well.


Finding another Dory – at Hikoikoi reserve

This little boat is a newcomer to the Hikoikoi reserve and I think it falls into the classification of a dory. I visited in the hope of seeing George, but he  was having an away day, so I looked for other subjects and was pleased to find this. It is a good example of going to a familiar place and seeing it with new eyes.  It’s a matter of pointing the camera at the bits of the landscape that constitute the picture you want to make, and leaving everything else out.


A breath of ice on a spring day

Despite all the signs of spring, the winter snow lingers on the tops of the Tararua range as seen here from Masterton in the Wairarapa.

And so

Posted in Adventure, Birds, flowers, Geology, Lakes, Landscapes, Maritime, Masterton, Masterton, mountains, Reflections, Rivers, Seasons, Tararuas, Trees, Wairarapa, Wellington | 2 Comments

September 13, 2018 … getting out and about

Uncharacteristically, I have been feeling good about some of my recent images. Of course, this bubble can easily be burst by submitting them to the tender mercies of a photographic judge. However, in the cycle of my moods I seem to be on the upswing at present. Or at least, I think that my images are improving compared with where they were a while ago.


The Aratere is on her way to Picton via the Tory Channel, The Kaitaki and Strait Feronia have just come from there on their way to Wellington

For the second time in just over a month, I scored a ride with the Wellington Cross Country Vehicle Club. This time the route was around the South West coast of the North Island as far as Cave Bay beyond the Karori Rock Lighthouse. This is almost as close as you can get to the South Island while still being in the North Island. Looking across the strait, I saw that three ferries were all going to be in the same area, so I waited until the Aratere, Kaitaki and Strait Feronia were close but evenly spread.


The boom of solid water smashing into an immovable rock is felt all the way through your being


The sea is fairly turbulent in this area, so I enjoyed watching the swells bursting on the red rocks characteristic of the area.


I liked the light as the sun squeezed through the low cloud base

Technically it is Spring in New Zealand now, though winter seems reluctant to let go. Grey days have been plentiful and from Oriental Bay, a few days later, I caught this view of the Kaitaki leaving port. On a clear day, the Tararuas would be visible behind the ship, but as you can see, low cloud obscures the mountains.


The rocks at the end of Island Bay, awash withe the spray from incoming waves

Experimenting with long slow exposures has been fun, aided by a neutral density filter. This ten second exposure flattens the surf and makes a mystical fog where the bursting spray would be. People seem to love or hate these things. I am going through a phase of enjoying the technique.


Pauatahanui Inlet … a fantastic morning

A few days later and Spring peered through the clouds. I wandered around the Camborne walkway on the North West corner of the Pauatahanui Inlet. One of my favourite places in the Wellington Region.

Lake Ferry

The thick brown flow of the Ruamahanga heading into the Sea

Earlier this week, I went over the hill to the Southern Wairarapa area, and went first to Lake Ferry. This is where the Ruamahanga River passes through Lake Onoke and out into Palliser Bay and the Eastern Cook Strait. The Southern edge of the Lake is the Onoke Spit, and depending on the way in which the gravel is deposited, it alters the way in which the water gets to the sea. Since I was last here, the spit had extended by a few hundred metres and the fast flowing water was scouring the beach as it flowed to the bay. You can see the colour difference between the pale green water of the bay and the thick brown silt-laden flow of the river.


Seal pups in the nursery pool

Being this close, I chose to drive from Lake Ferry past Putangirua and Ngawi to Cape Palliser where there is a rocky area used by the NZ fur seals as a nursery. There is a sheltered pool in which the pups gain water skills before they face the violence of the waves off the open sea. I could not get as close as I have in recent years. There were just too many basking adult seals blocking access. They look cute and soulful with their big brown eyes, but if you get too close, they rear up and their teeth turn to fangs and the halitosis would stun an ox. They will chase you and they will bite.  So I stayed my distance.

Cape Palliser

This is the absolute cliché postcard shot of the lighthouse, but since I walked up and back, I had to do it.

A kilometre further on, is Cape Palliser itself. The lighthouse has stood there since 1897, and I read that the keepers rejoiced mightily when the staircase was finally installed , eliminating a dangerous and slippery climb up the rocky hillside. Since I was alone, and not holding anyone else up, I trudged slowly up the 252 steps to the platform and enjoyed the views in all directions. When my pulse returned to normal, I came down again.


Tulips in the Wellington Botanic Gardens

I may have mentioned it before, but it is spring, and that means tulip time in the Botanic gardens.

Breaker Bay

A derelict boat shed in Breaker Bay and some wild flowers

Yesterday, I went around the Miramar Peninsula and paused in Breaker Bay. I used that ND filter again to flatten the sea, but enjoyed the juxtaposition of wildflowers and the pebble beach. ]

See you next time.

Posted in Adventure, Animals, Architecture, Botanic gardens, Cook Strait, creativity, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, Rivers, Seasons, Waves, Weather, Wellington | 2 Comments

August 31, 2018 … at the end of Winter

In New Zealand, there is an ongoing debate as to the boundaries of each season. We have a meteorological calendar which says that Spring begins on September 1, and an Astronomical calendar which has it beginning at the vernal equinox (about Sept 23) . Either way, I have been seeing daffodils and lambs for at least a month already.


Not so long ago, the Waiwhetu stream was notoriously polluted. It has been cleaned up in recent times, and can look pretty in the right light

Despite the arrival or approach of Spring, the weather has been extremely changeable so whenever there is stillness I am out and about. Sometimes, when the air is still, it is possible to get a pleasant image from the midst of an industrial zone. This image is of the Waiwhetu Stream as it passes through Seaview among all the light industry.


Some of Mary’s lavender

Then it turned rough again, so I played with my lightbox and some lavender that Mary grows in a pot at the back door.

Dominion Farmers

Dominion Farmers Building, Featherston St

I have an interest in architectural photography and chose to wander the CBD. I have always liked the old Dominion Farmers building on Featherston street. These days, only the facade remains as there is a modern building inside the shell. I am glad they retained the facade.

Lambton Quay

Lambton Quay

On Lambton Quay there is a mix of old and new. The Hallensteins building on the left was once home to Whitcoulls, the bookseller, but they vacated due to earthquake risk. I presume remedial work was carried out before Hallensteins moved in. To the right is one of Wellington’s new double-decker buses made by Xiamen Fengtai Bus and Coach International. The introduction of the new fleet with new routes and new timetables has been a total circus and has met with almost universal condemnation for its perceived  ineptitude. A major redesign is promised.


Through a pub door darkly, the structure of the floating crane Hikitia

I was walking along Cable Street and glanced into the door of Mac’s Brewbar, a popular waterfront hostelry. The door was closed but the glass panels gave an interesting view through the opposite window of the Hikitia. According to Wikipedia, she is thought to be the only working steam-powered floating crane of her type left in the world. She sailed under her own steam from Scotland to Wellington in 1926. That is seamanship.


Propeller from F69 HMNZS Wellington

While we are on a maritime kick, here is a phosphor-bronze propeller. It is one of  the two removed from the Leander class frigate, HMNZS Wellington before her hull was scuttled as a dive site off the South coast of the city. They were gifted to the city by Rotary as art works if I recall correctly. Her other propeller is on the Esplanade in Houghton Bay not far from the wreck. Imagine how fast they had to spin to get the 2,500 tonne ship up to 50 km/h

Rankine Brown

The Rankine Brown building from Dixon St

Back on the architectural kick, this image was made from Dixon St, looking west to Thorndon and Victoria University of Wellington. The Rankine Brown Building is home to the university’s library. The semi-circular protuberance is a stairwell which I trudged up far more times than I could count in my years there.

Pukerua Bay

Pukerua Bay

Even comparative calm is good. I took myself up to the Kapiti coast and went down to the rocky beach at Pukerua Bay. It used to be home to many ramshackle cottages. These are steadily giving way to some rather up-market seaside homes. Lovely as the place is, it is not where I would wish to live in the event of a serious tsunami.


Lake Wairarapa looking South

Yesterday, before the weather turned ugly, I deemed it worth a trip over the hill to Tora on the Wairarapa coast. On the way I stopped at Lake Wairarapa and just loved its perfect stillness.


A geologist friend once told me that you should get a geology degree in NZ by driving around on buses. He said all the workings are on the outside, and open to view

From there it is approximately 70 km over winding and mostly gravel roads to the coast. Just where the road turns North to Te Awaiti there are some rock formations off the coast that fascinate me. They put me in mind of what I am told is the impasto style of painting, wherein the artist lays the paint on the canvas thickly with knife or brush (think of Van Gogh) .

That’s it until Spring



Posted in Adventure, Architecture, Art, Geology, Lakes, Landscapes, Machinery, Maritime, Reflections, Tora, Wairarapa | Leave a comment