October 27, 2017 … creeps in this petty pace from day to day*

Once you commit to shifting house, nothing is the same again. Though we have yet to sell, or to place a bid in our hoped-for new home, we have begun packing. And now the silly decisions of 37 years and 27 days of hoarding come back to bite me. How often have I said, I won’t throw that away, I might need it?


Wild water at Rongotai

Anyway, suffice it to say that I have had little time to get out and make images recently, even on those few days that have been conducive to it. Rarely in recent weeks have we had both clear sky and no wind. This image was made on a sunny day with the wind howling in from the North  and ripping the crest off the big swells on the breakwater beside the airport.


Bahá’í children wishing peace to the world

A friend who is a member of the Bahá’í  faith asked me to record part of the children’s celebration of the 200th birthday of the founder, Bahá’u’lláh. The wind was dying away as night fell and the youngsters launched candle-lit “lotus blossoms” across the lake at a local golf club.


Carnival of Lights in Lower Hutt as seen from our lounge window. The fireworks are launched from the roof of the library.

In Lower Hutt, last weekend, there was a “Carnival of Lights”, coinciding with, but apparently not connected with the Hindu festival of Diwali. It concluded on each of its three nights with a modest display of fireworks. On each night, the wind was cold and vicious. Nevertheless the fireworks seem to go straight up.


Randwick Archery Club members at the range … note the flying arrow

This week was camera club, but because our real estate agent was holding an open home at our place, I set out early. As I was driving somewhat aimlessly, I spotted the Randwick Archery club at play. With their permission, and while they went down range to retrieve their previously shot arrows, I set up my camera on its tripod, in front of their firing line, then retreated behind the line  to trigger the camera remotely and safely as they shot again. I was delighted that at least one of the hundred or so images caught an arrow in flight.

Black Falcons

The Black Falcons against a dramatically dark sky

My last shot this week is of a rare appearance in Wellington of the RNZAF’s aerobatic display team, the Black Falcons. A flight of five Beechcraft T6 Texan II trainers was supposed to fly down over various Wairarapa towns and then from Featherston to the Royal Wellington Golf Club’s course at Heretaunga. With a friend, I waited on yet another chilly open space for them to appear over the hills in the East. They came in from the North. Due to extreme upper-air turbulence in the Wairarapa, the came due South from their base at Ohakea. What’s more, due to a last minute illness, there were just four aircraft in the flight.

Back to the packing.

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Posted in adversity, Airport, Aviation, Children, Cook Strait, Festivals and fairs, flowers, hobbies, Landscapes, Light, Military, night, Upper Hutt, Weather, Wellington | 2 Comments

October 13, 2017 … around the region and further afield

Sometimes I have to work hard to find an image in otherwise drab circumstances, However, sometimes the effort pays off.

Harbour and CBD

A moody evening in Wellington

We have had a lot of grey weather recently, but even in such circumstances I love our city.


In the heart of Lower Hutt on the Waiwhetu Stream

Even in dull weather, as long as the wind is absent, I can usually find something worth a look. This is the Waiwhetu Stream on Riverside Drive, near Gracefield. Just out of view above the trees is the Wainuiomata hill with its busy traffic.


Hutt Camera club’s annual exhibition

Every year at about this time, the Hutt Camera club (of which I am president) holds its annual exhibition, and as I have done before, I made a panorama that includes all sixty images. Three of them are mine.


Early morning drizzle in the Hutt Valley

And on the subject of weather, or indeed any other obstacle to my photographic endeavours, sometimes it is an idea to photograph the obstacle itself.  This view from our house looks along High Street through morning drizzle to the Hutt Hospital.


Towards the setting sun from the water tower at Camborne

Then the obstacle disappears, and we get what with tongue in cheek, we call “a typical Wellington day at last”. This image was a panoramic stitch made from a small hill in Camborne, looking out towards Mana Island.


Banded dotterel just below the swirling wind and sand

Then the wind returned and outside shooting was just plain uncomfortable. When I say wind, I mean a North Westerly blast in which standing up was actually difficult. I chose to follow the coast road from Wainuiomata to the South coast which was, in many ways a stupid idea. Wind of that strength picks up a significant portion of the sand on the beach and attempts to inject it into any opening, eyes, ears, nostrils, lenses. Nevertheless I struggled down the beach and then lay flat on my back in the lee of a small sand dune. I could hear the wind shrieking and feel the sand bouncing off the back of the hood on my jacket. I lay still and pointed the camera downwind and was lucky to catch this banded dotterel. It seemed unperturbed by the wind and may in fact have been small enough to be in a relatively calm boundary layer.

Otaki Forks

High water levels in the fast flowing Waiotauru River

A day or so later, Mary and I went to Otaki forks. It was a grey day with intermittent rain, but we arrived at Boielle flat in a period of little wind and no rain. Mary explored the beginnings of the Southern Crossing which, for the fit and well-prepared is a three-day hike across the Tararua range to Featherston in the Wairarapa. While she did that I fiddled with my camera to catch this view of the Waiotauru River.


Good sailing days are not lost just because it rains

Later in the week we had one of those soft days. In fact it as the day on which I was  to lead the Wellington occurrence of Scott Kelby’s 10th annual Worldwide Photowalk through Newtown. In fact the day was more than soft, it was downright wet. But, since this is Wellington, local sailors were undeterred.


Though it’s time to go, I shall really miss this view

My last picture for this edition is from a viewpoint that must be familiar to long-term readers. We have lived here since October 1980 … our  five kids grew up here. There have been moments of celebration, of joy and of sadness as you would expect in any house you occupy for such a length of time. We have weathered various storms and remained shaken but not stirred through many earthquakes in the last 37 years, but now, recognising our changing circumstances, it is time to move on, and today we signed a contract with an agency to put our house on the market. We know exactly where we want to purchase, and  it is exactly in the middle of that river mist down in the flat part of the valley.

Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa’s famous “round barn” in July 2012 …. looking Westward in the late evening. The flat grey roof below the ridge was the Fountaingrove Inn. Both are now destroyed along with devastation to housing and lives lost. Ironically the red sky in this image was attributed to wildfires near Clearlake, CA.

Well, it was going to be the last image, but I can’t let this issue end without expressing my sympathy and grief for the people of beautiful Santa Rosa and other parts of  Northern California. In my past life, I spent many months on several occasions working with the New Zealand Dairy Board whose North American headquarters were in Santa Rosa. I spent a lot of time in the Fountaingrove Inn just below the historic round barn on the hill. A large part of this lovely town in the heart of the wine country is destroyed. Lives and homes have been lost and even from this great distance, I grieve with you.




Posted in Adventure, Architecture, Camera club, History, Landscapes, Light, Otaki, Paremata, Santa Rosa, sunrise, Sunset, Weather, Wellington | 3 Comments

September 22, 2017 … in catch up mode … again

When I quit doing this blog daily, it was because I didn’t want it to become a burden, of for guilt to take away the pleasure. I seem to have fallen into that hole in a big way, and now I am feeling guilty again. Anyway, here we are at the beginning of spring … the vernal equinox is tomorrow. I hope it will bring with it a break from seemingly endless rain over the last two months. There have been some good days, and when I could, I got out.


Grey warbler (Gerygone igata) in song

A little North of Otaki is Forest Lakes, a beautiful camping and conference centre. The owners were kind enough to allow me to wander about making pictures. I got some nice landscapes, but my favourite shot of the day was a clear image of the elusive grey warbler. The cascading notes (click on the link to hear it) of this tiny bird  are often heard but the bird itself is rarely seen.


The bush at Lake Papaitonga Reserve

A little further North is Lake Papaitonga. It is in a DoC reserve and offers a pleasant bush walk on well-formed paths. The bush itself is a delight with lots of bird song  and some nice views near the lake.


The coastal tanker Matuku bringing fuel from Marsden Point

As I have said, the merest hint of a reasonable day gets me out and about, and I keep looking for new angles, This coastal tanker was being escorted in to Point Howard with the aid of the port’s two tugs holding it form against a stiff breeze.

Ruch hour

Rush hour on Petone foreshore

With such a strong breeze, as the sun gets near the horizon, the salt-laden air gets a pink tinge. This shot was made from Seaview as the evening rush traffic attempted vainly to rush along the Esplanade towards Wainuiomata and the Eastern Bays. The sun glittering off the glass made the slow-moving vehicles look quite spectacular.

Daffodil Express

The Daffodil Express with all its moving parts in motion

The following weekend was the running of the annual Daffodil express, so I waited for it coming back in the afternoon as it crossed the Silverstream Bridge.


Kaiarahi at Sinclair Head

Some moment of madness, combined with a  brief window of fine weather inspired me to walk he 11 km return journey from Owhiro Bay to the seal colony at Red Rocks. As I was nearing the seals, I saw the ferry Kaiarahi emerge from behind Sinclair Head on its way to Wellington. Even allowing for the foreshortening effect of the long lens, it seemed perilously close to the breaking waves and the viciously sharp red rocks.


Lake Wairarapa as seen from the trig station at Rimutaka summit

A few days later, I was turned loose to undertake a photographic wander, and as I reached the Rimutaka summit, thought I had better attempt the walk up to the Trig station while my health still permits. The sign at the start of the track says “do not attempt in windy weather”. It was fine and warm at the bottom so no worries. Unfortunately, the wind speed increased with altitude, so when I finely arrived a sweating gasping grease-ball at the trig, I was hanging on to any bush and scrub to avoid being blown over the edge. Nevertheless, the sky was clear so with the heavy tripod that I had lugged up, made this multi-image panoramic stitch. That’s Lake Wairarapa in the distance.

Hau Nui

Hau Nui Wind farm in Southern Wairarapa

A few hours later, with my knees still wobbling from my hill-climb, I got to the Hau Nui (big wind)  wind farm to the South East of Martinborough. Some of the fifteen turbines in the complex can be seen here.

Ivey Bay

Ivey Bay on a dark still night

A day or so later, as I was coming home for a meeting at around 11pm, I realised that though it was dark, the weather was still, so I went down to Ivey Bay at Paremata . As I said, it was dark, so I walked up to my ankles in tidal mud before I realised what was happening. A hasty withdrawal and a long exposure followed, with this result.


Wellington Harbour from Khandallah

Then a few days ago, we finally got a typical Wellington day (in joke). The harbour was perfect and I went up to Homebush Rd in Khandallah for this view.


Tulips in the Botanic Garden

Later the same day, I came by the Wellington Botanic Gardens. Spring tulips are my favourite of all their displays. With that, I am up to date, and have a clear conscience once more.






Posted in Adventure, Birds, Cook Strait, flowers, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Machinery, Maritime, Railway, Wairarapa | 2 Comments

August 31, 2017 … don’t trust the GPS

Since my last post, Mary and I did a random “no-good-reason” day trip to Dannevirke. The day was beautiful, so we just went.


The real New Zealand at work … the mob of sheep is being controlled by a pack of well-trained dogs responding to the whistles from the farmer on horseback. He obviously has a hobby, hence the two somewhat battered stock-cars in the yard.

As soon as Dannevirke was mentioned, I decided to come back via the scenic route out to the East. This included a trip past the Waihi Falls which, though I have done it before, is always worth another trip. It was here, that things went wrong. I used Google Maps for navigation. I knew there was another road that would take us more directly to the falls without first going to Weber and Waione. It seems that there are two such alternatives, one of which was at least 35 minutes longer than the other. Just before the decision point, Google changed its mind about which route was labelled as quicker. So it was that we set off down Waitahora Road towards Coonoor Rd and then to Towai Rd and on to the falls.  Apart from Skippers Canyon in Central Otago, I have not previously been on such a wild, lonely and ill-maintained road. The landscapes more than compensated.


This is a seven shot panoramic stitch that doesn’t quite convey the grandeur of this landscape.

As well as a view into New Zealand’s rural back yard, this accidentally taken road led us high into the hills  from where there were great views. Mary was driving at the time and I got her to pull over whenever I saw an irresistible view which may have added a little to the length of the journey. I also had to make sure that, when I stepped out of the car, there was something on which to stand. Quite often there was a long steep drop to the valley below.


Waihi Falls near Dannevirke (if you take the more direct route)

Waihi Falls were flowing well, with less brown sediment and a smaller volume of water than on our last visit. However, the sun was already low in the sky, and home was still 200 km away. I have said before that the back road from the falls to Masterton, though very scenic, is remarkably empty of people and settlements. Even the named towns seem to consist of a mould-covered and apparently disused community hall and little else.  It was much later and darker than we planned when we finally got home.


Apple blossom in Lower Hutt

We have had a run of seemingly endless damp weather, but perhaps it is warmer than usual because I am seeing signs of Spring everywhere. As well as apple, plum and cherry trees, there are lambs.


Herald of spring

Daffodils are the unfailing sign of the new season and suddenly they are everywhere.


Lake Wairarapa from the Western shore

Yesterday, there was a change in the weather and instead of the rain we had mists and cloud. Mary said “go forth and photograph”. I went first to the upper valley, and that led me to the Rimutaka Hill where the road is often wreathed in tendrils of cloud in such weather. The problem with the hill road is that there are very few spots where you can safely stop, and almost nowhere to safely walk back to a viewpoint. The clouds were there, but were simply inaccessible. I carried on to Featherston, and thence down the Western side of Lake Wairarapa. It’s quite a large lake, but rarely does it have the cam surface I hope for. Yesterday was an exception, if only for a short while.


A random farm pond on the East-West Access Road

At the Southern end of the lake, the East-West Access road provides a route across the South Wairarapa and here and there are little scenic gems worthy of pausing and appreciating.


Ruamahanga River from the Barrage

The access road crosses the Ruamahanga river diversion by way of the barrage system which provides flood control for the Southernmost part of the valley. The surface of the river was almost perfect in its stillness, despite the flow southwards towards Lake Onoke and the open sea. I went South from there to Lake Ferry Hotel. There I had an excellent whitebait fritter and a glass of beer, before turning for home into the teeth of a sudden downpour from the South.

Posted in Adventure, Animals, flowers, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, mountains, Reflections, Rivers, Wairarapa | 3 Comments

August 24, 2017 … across the hill and down the other side

It seems I have let time get away on me again.


Banded dotterel on the Wainuiomata coast

Since I last wrote I have spent a lot of time trying to improve my ability to see things in creative ways. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the seeing is ordinary. I seem to have a strong tendency to see things as they first present themselves. I suppose it is the visual equivalent of literal interpretation of texts.  Sometimes that works out alright, as in the case of this little banded dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus) lurking on the edge of the reeds on the beach at Wainuiomata.


Mist in the Belmont Regional Park near home

We have had a lot of “interesting” weather, with swirling mists. Though I am ready for some brighter weather, I am always a  little excited if there is some mist about, as long as it is not too uniformly dense and grey. The dips and folds of the Wellington landscape allow the mists to create some wonderful sheaths, and I have a good idea where to go for the best effects. This river of mist was in the Belmont Regional Park at the top end of the road on which I live.


Normandale looking mysterious in the mist

On another day, with another mist, I needed to travel less than a kilometre up the road and the view back up the hill was totally transformed.


Waterfront at night

Sometimes, when a day or two goes by without a reasonable photo, and if the night is still and there are no domestic obligations, a gather up my tripod and camera and see what  photographic opportunities the night offers. This shot was made from the old Interisland wharf. Now it is used as a base for the tugs and a few fishing trawlers and during the day it is a car park.


The Haywards Interchange at Manor Park

Another slightly odd day sent me out in search of mist. At Manor Park, the new pedestrian overbridge is finally open and I got this shot of the almost complete Haywards Interchange, where traffic coming over the hill from Porirua can now join SH2 without the need to for traffic lights.


Racing river in the Kaitoke regional park

From there, I went onwards to the regional park at Kaitoke North of Upper Hutt. There had been some heavy rain and the Hutt River was flowing fast even this far up the valley.


Tararua morning

Yesterday, we had a sudden fine clear day. My lovely wife gave me a packed lunch and said go forth and photograph. Often as I head North to the Rimutaka Hill Road, if the light is right, I am captivated by the great South wall of the Tararua range, and so it was on this occasion.


South Wairarapa

On the other side, I made my way towards Tora on the East coast of the Wairarapa. As I climbed the hill out of Martinborough my rear view mirror suggested that I stop and look at the view to the West. Yes, there is some snow on the high peaks of the range and the sky was clear and blue.

Wind farm

Hau Nui wind farm

A few kilometres further to the East, some of the turbines at the Hau Nui wind farm. There is a public lookout from which six of the fifteen turbines are visible and four of them were ticking over in the light breeze.


The wreck of the Opua at Tora

By lunch time I was at Tora. To my great delight, the wreck of the collier, Opua was more accessible than I have seen it on previous visits. A combination of low tide and near calm sea allowed me to clamber over the rocks on which it was wrecked without loss of life on October 2, 1926. If I had stronger ankles and a better sense of balance, or was willing to get wet, I might have got closer still. As it was I was about 30 metres from the wreck, and could see much detail. This view is near the stern. We can see the rudder pintle at the left and  the top of the toppled triple expansion steam engine is visible just to the right of the great bulk of the boiler.



Posted in Adventure, Birds, Haywards Hill, History, Landscapes, Machinery, Maritime, Martinborough, Wairarapa | 2 Comments

August 9, 2017 … a thing of shreds and patches*

There is little or no coherence to the images I have been catching recently, except that in each case, I have been trying to see. I want to look behind the obvious.


The as yet un-named building at 20 Customhouse Quay

My first image this time was taken on Customhouse Quay where a new building is nearing completion. It stands where the BP Tower once stood until it was deemed incapable of economical repair after recent earthquakes.  The new building is a steel structure with glass curtain cladding. It presents a bold face to the world though I had to work hard to get a full frontal image of it. I shall try again once it is complete.


Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ohariu Valley.

In the depths of the Ohariu Valley, there is a one of those delightful little colonial churches built in Wellington’s earliest days. The Holy Trinity Anglican church was built in 1870 and is the oldest Anglican church still in active use in the region.


A new day begins in the Hutt Valley

I have often said that I am not a morning person, but there have been some interesting mornings recently. Perhaps it is the quality of the light sneaking through the curtains that wakes me. On one day last week, I opened the curtains and then literally ran for my camera, knowing that this would be a fleeting opportunity. Crepuscular rays are always interesting to me, but on this occasion they were aligned perfectly with the angles of the hills across the valley at Naenae. Within minutes of the shot, the light was gone.

Fog (1)

Morning fog fills the valley as seen from my bedroom window

A day or so later, another strange morning  occurred. A fairly heavy mist was filling the Hutt Valley and drifting out into the harbour, while Wellington City was in clear bright sunshine.

Fog (2)

Valley fog drifting towards the harbour mouth

I got in my car and went around the hills to Anthony and Sarah’s house in Maungaraki. They have a stunning view across the harbour to the city. However, the mist was already thinning as the sun rose higher in the sky.


A banded dotterel in the shingle at Wainuiomata beach

It had been a little while since I last went to the coast at Wainuiomata and I knew that it was coming up to the time when dotterels nest. At first sight there was nothing there, but the thing with dotterels is that you don’t tend to see them until they move. I sat and waited and after a while they began to move about. As tiny as they are, they need to come close to allow a good shot, so I lay face down on the shingle and waited, and in due course, was rewarded.


Harbingers of Spring

On the way back from the coast, I saw some early spring lambs walking on wobbly legs in the late afternoon sun. Truly a gilt-edged investment for the farmer.


“Architextural” photography

On Monday I spent some time in the city again, looking as always to see things differently. From the parking deck of Pastoral House where I used to work, I looked across Lambton Quay and saw reflected in the tower block opposite, the two adjacent buildings. I was thinking of coining a new word to describe this  -“architextural”photography.


Definitely Spring

Finally in this edition, to reinforce the notion that Spring is imminent, I set up to photograph what I hope to be the first of many daffodils. Time now for me to seek “a dreamy lullaby”*

* A Wand’ring Minstrel by W.S Gilbert

Posted in Adventure, Animals, Architecture, Birds, Landscapes, Light, Lower Hutt, Maungaraki, Naenae, Reflections, sunrise, Weather, Wellington | 3 Comments

July 28, 2017 … erratic swings of the weather pendulum

A true pendulum swings from one extreme to another at a steady and predictable rate. The idea of the pendulum as an analogy for weather breaks down completely with sudden and unexpected (by me) shifts, sometimes within the same day.

Rain (1)

Locals (and perhaps a visitor) on Willis St

Towards the end of last week, we experienced some really heavy rain over several days. It was sufficient to cause localised flooding and a few landslides. It caused some inconvenience in the city as people rushed about their business, trying to pretend it wasn’t happening. People with umbrellas are probably newcomers to the city or else incurable optimists, as few last more than a few trips before being wrecked if the wind comes up.

Rain (2)

People don’t look surprised or concerned, do they?

Despite the rain and the dark cloud, the city seemed cheerful enough as people did whatever it is that working people do in their lunch hours. As I keep saying to members of the camera club, you can still get some interesting shots even if the weather is unkind.

Rain (3)

Mother shepherds her infant over the crossing at the Wellington City Library

I make sure that, although it is advertised as “weather resistant”, my camera stays reasonably dry, so I shot this image from the shelter of the city library on Victoria St.

Cuba St

This “art” must have cost a fortune in spray cans

A day or so later, it was all dry, so I went looking for images to meet a specific topic for the camera club and found this splash of colour on Cuba St.


Akatarawa Mood

After that, things got moody but the rain stayed away for a while so I was in the Upper valley on the Akatarawa Road and loved the mist drifting along the river back towards Upper Hutt.

Boggy Pond

Boggy Pond on the edge of Lake Wairarapa

Early this week, I went over the hill to the Wairarapa area to a favourite location – Boggy Pond on the Eastern side of Lake Wairarapa.  The weather was still moody, so Boggy Pond was at its dark and mysterious best.


Tapuae-o-Uenuku as seen from Tarakena Bay

Yesterday I went to the South Coast at Tarakena Bay  where the sun was shining, albeit weakly. The sharp rocks of the Wellington coast formed an interesting foreground to Tapuae-o-Uenuku all that distance across the strait near Kaikoura.


Posted in Adventure, adversity, Art, Boggy Pond, Camera club, Children, Cook Strait, Lakes, Landscapes, Weather, Wellington | 3 Comments