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July 27, 2021 … taking life as it comes

After some mysterious point, the ageing process suddenly starts forcing certain changes. No longer can I hop confidently from rock to rock. Nor can I clamber down steep slopes. The only way in which my spatial awareness has improved is in my knowledge of the direction and distance to the nearest public toilet.

These gradual changes have made their presence felt in my photography. I started thinking about this after a consultation with a health practitioner recently. She suggested I might be losing my enthusiasm for photography. I rejected that idea vigorously, but realised that the kind of the images that I observe are being brought about by the gradual changes brought on by age. Most obviously, I find myself treading old familiar paths and more rarely finding the energy or enthusiasm for long trips to new places.

One of those days

When the sky is clear and blue and the water mirrors it back, Oriental Bay has a special charm. I prefer the openness of the old Clyde Quay Boat Harbour to the regimentation of the Chaffers Marina on the city side of the wharf. On this particular day, I was tempted to hang my camera underneath the tripod as close to water level as possible. I know that the green algae on the concrete ramps down to the water has an evil reputation for being slippery. In keeping with the increasing caution I mentioned earlier, I was edging gingerly towards the water when a janitor called out and warned me that two others had already slipped and come close to taking an unexpected swim that morning. I find that the heightened risk awareness limits my mobility even further, so I didn’t quite make it to the water’s edge. Incidentally, if you want to moor your boat there, the annual fee is NZ$1,293.

New Zealand Native Wood Pigeon

The next image was made without leaving home.This magnificent bird was munching happily on the fresh leaves of a kowhai tree less than two metres from our front door. I saw it through the window so very quietly unsnibbed the front door and let it swing slowly open. I stayed well back from the door and used the long lens to get close to a bird that was very near to begin with.

Alpacas

Again, close to home I went over the Wainuiomata Hill and down the coast road to the beach. It was a frosty morning, which happens less often than it used to in my opinion. Anyway, on the way, a small herd of alpaca was casting long shadows and defrosting patches of grass.

Clinker built

Certain weather patterns raise the idea of going to places that have been previously successful in similar weather. Mist suggests a trip to the Wairarapa, or perhaps the upper valley or maybe Evans Bay. Calm water prompts me to go to the Hutt estuary, Pauatahanui, Oriental Bay or again Evans Bay. Strong Southerly wind takes me to the beach on the Wainuiomata Coast, or anywhere along Wellington’s rocky South coast.I suppose that the region’s folded landscape constrains human access to places where roads can more easily be made, leaving the ridge lines free to be farmed or to remain in native bush. And so it is that the number of accessible photo sites is fewer than the overall land area might suggest. On this occasion, the stillness took me to the Hutt River estuary. There, I struggled to to make an image different to those made in my many previous visits. Down low and select just one of the small boats, perhaps. A splash of red is always worth having.

Walkway

High tide or low, I love the Pauatahanui Inlet. Of course, I prefer it when there is no wind, and the water is totally still as it was on this day. Well done to the Porirua City Council and its various sponsors who now have a well made walkway beside the water along the entire length of Grays Road from Pauatahanui Village to the Camborne Walkway. Even when the bird life is modest, I love the reeds that lend such colour to the landscape.

Sacred Kingfisher

A trip to the Waikanae Estuary brought me close to this kingfisher. It was sitting on a branch beside the road. I didn’t even have to get out of the driver’s seat to make the image. Apparently this fellow is well known locally and is not as skittish as most kingfishers I have encountered.

Royal Spoonbills

Pauatahanui is not only a place that you have to pass through on your way north up SH1 from the Hutt Valley, but also a site worthy of visitation in its own right. Apparently there is a flock of royal spoonbills who hold a similar view. For them, the attraction may be the small mud crabs which number in the thousands per square metre. Not for me though, to deny them the enjoyment of the visual beauty of the place.

Ivey Bay

At Paremata on the South Western end of the Pauatahanui inlet where the water passes under the motorway and rail bridges to the Porirua Harbour, is Ivey Bay. It provides sheltered moorings for some of the old classic motor launches. From Camborne on the opposite shore, it provides a lovely view of the little known suburb on Moorhouse Point. I knew murky weather was imminent, so had to take advantage of conditions such as these. Blue skies are well enough, but the quilted effect of the clouds really appeals to me.

Lily parts

And then came the rough weather. I stayed home. Perhaps this is part of that decreasing appetite for discomfort and adventure. Happily, Mary had recently celebrated a birthday and I got very close to the inner workings of a lily which was part of a bouquet she had received. Not being gifted with a green thumb, I have not bothered to familiarise myself with the reproductive organs of flowers, but the lily is quite spectacular. I know that the anthers (the rough brown bits) leave a vicious almost indelible stain on fabrics. Handle with care.

Another familiar view

After the worst of the storm passed, the weather was still murky, and it was utterly unappealing to wander out. So this image was shot from the front door looking across the valley along High Street towards Naenae.

Faithful old workhorse

If memory serves (and it doesn’t always) this old girl (NZ7004) entered RNZAF service in 1969. As with the rest of the five-strong fleet, it underwent major life-extension upgrades in the first few years of the new century, and is now fated to be replaced by much more capable C130J aircraft beginning in 2024. I love the condensation around the tips of its massive propellers in the moist conditions as the captain pushes the throttle levers forward.

King Alfred Daffodils

A very pleasant lunch with friends in Waikanae allowed us to see early daffodils. I always regard them as one of the first portents of spring. In mid-late July, this is perhaps a bit optimistic, and there is probably plenty of rough weather to come before the season of lambs and new growth. These flowers from the garden of our friends are of the King Alfred variety.

Magic morning

Back to where we began, though from the other end of that little harbour. Last Friday Wellington was still and bright though a little hazy. Again, I was very cautious about walking on the green algae at the water’s edge so this image was made from a higher viewpoint.

Naval Whaler

Rear Admiral Victor Montagu apparently proposed this design as a standard workboat for the Royal Navy in 1890. Originally there was no engine housing inboard, nor was there a mount for an outboard hanging off the stern as on this one. Sailing was done with a fore and main mast, and rowing was with six oars and a coxswain at the tiller. They served with the navies of Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in these roles until as late as 1970, and to this day remains in use by many youth organizations. I have always loved the elegant simplicity of the design. This one in the Clyde Quay Boat Harbour and the one in Evans Bay have been shot by me on many prior occasions.

And then came the calamity. It was, as you can see, a beautiful morning so I began crossing the carpark on Clyde Quay Wharf to see whether there might be some useful reflections in Chaffers Marina. With my eyes fixed firmly on the boats ahead, I missed the fact that there were some barriers on the ground to stop cars from banging into the electric charging stations. Whoops! I crashed to the ground and to add to my pain, I heard the camera and tripod bounce beside my head.

I lay there for a minute or so before some other seniors came rushing over to my rescue. To be honest, I needed their assistance to get up. I was assisted to a seat nearby where I gathered my scattered wits and checked the hardware. As the old cliche has it, ageing is not for sissies. Be assured that I am well, though going to a physiotherapist this afternoon. Photos will continue to be made.

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July 5, 2021 … first go somewhere where there is a good landscape

Oh Lordy how time flies. What with involvement with the medical profession and a very enjoyable trip to the Eastern Central areas of the North Island, my photographic collection has grown erratically. In this edition, I am offering more images than usual, and even so, I have culled it to about half of my initial candidate images

Cuba Street top to bottom

It began in Wellington. I needed to visit an auto-electrician at the top end of town, and while he was doing his job, I wandered around the neighbourhood. I realised that from the intersection with Webb Street, I had a good view down the entire length of Cuba Street.

109 tons of raw power

Mary and I were out and about with a picnic lunch and to my great pleasure I spotted the tell-tale plume of smoke and steam at Paekakariki station. Steam Inc were running shuttle rides back and forth between Paekakariki and Paraparaumu. Northwards, it was hauled by the steamer Ja127i. The return trip was hauled by the vintage diesel Da1410, built by General Motors in Ontario in 1955

Crossover

As we neared Queen Elizabeth Park (Mackay’s Crossing) the presence of rail fans at the crossing suggested that the steam locomotive was approaching. We paused and I got lucky to see the South-bound commuter unit passing the North-bound steam excursion. I loved the contrast

Jubilee Park, Normandale

A day or two prior to our road trip, I went for a walk in the bush reserve immediately in front of our house. It’s several years since that last happened. The tracks have been upgraded since my last visit, but there are still spots where the path slopes the wrong way and my footing felt more insecure than it used to. Nevertheless, the charm of the bush seemed worth the risk.

Heavens to Betsy we’ve got us a convoy

Mary and I made our road trip, staying in places at Tokaanu, Ohope and Haumoana. Bear in mind that this took place over the Southern Winter Solstice so the weather wasn’t always kind. As we were getting close to Waiouru which is close to the Army Training Group, we became aware an increasing number of army trucks. My heart went out to the soldiers huddled miserably in the back of the unheated canvas sided troop carriers.

Mighty Ruapehu

Onto the Desert Road and the weather became even more bleak. As we travelled North, the approaching weather swallowed up the mountain and everything turned grey. Oncoming trucks passed in a shower of spray and road grit.

Old Tokaanu Wharf

Weather on the central plateau was unkind throughout our two day stopover at Tokaanu, though arguably, there is beauty in the mist and drizzle over the lake. Thank heavens for the geothermal hot pools at the motel. As I already suggested, I lack the confidence on my feet that I had when I was younger, so I trod very carefully along the somewhat slippery planks of the old Tokaanu wharf.

The hydro scheme

From Lake Rotoaira tunnels through Mount Tihia carry water with sufficient energy to power the 360MW Tokaanu hydro generating scheme and deliver water from the tailrace into Lake Taupo. What a debt we owe to all those Italian and other tunnellers who produced those tunnels back in the early 1970s.

Whakatane River

From Tokaanu, we drove through Taupo, Waimangu, Murupara, Galatea, Aniwhenua. Awakeri, and Whakatane to an Airbnb in Ohope. It was right on the waterfront near the surf club. Ohope sells itself as “NZ’s favourite beach”, and in the summer months it may well be. During our mid-winter stay it was visually appealing but I was in no way tempted to swim. Instead, we explored the area with me watching for landscape possibilities. A favourite of mine was the mouth of the Whakatane River.

All roads lead to …

One of our several day trips took us up the coast to Maketu and back. Maketu is the ancestral home of the Te Arawa iwi, and landing place of the great Arawa canoe (around 1350 AD). It has developed a lot since I visited there as a young man, especially in terms of horticulture. On the other hand the settlement itself seems to retain much of the honest simplicity that it always has, save only for the satellite receivers everywhere. On the return journey we crossed the Rangitaiki River where the view to the sea encountered Moutohora Island, locally known as Whale Island. It’s amazing how many roads seem to lead straight to it.

Alas, no more

Another day trip took us to Rotorua and back, and since Mary had never seen it before, we diverted via Kawerau. Sadly, we passed by in the very last week of the mill’s operation and the week we came home, the mill shut down forever. I recall visiting there at the peak of its activity when the labour force exceeded 5,000. I shall be surprised if there are 1,000 full time jobs in the district now.

The Urupa (cemetery)

Thirty km to the North East of Kawerau is the old Whakatane Board Mills which have made kraft board and cardboard since prior to WWII if my memory is correct. It has staggered along on the edge of closure for the last few years, but just last month, found a new buyer who has apparently saved the 200 or so remaining jobs. Just outside the mill is an old Urupa (Maori cemetery) and the sad derelict remains of the Pupuaruhe Church, formerly Hato Aneru (St Andrews).

On the Way Home

Lovely Lake Aniwhenua is a little known beauty spot, well off the beaten tourist tracks about 30 km South of the Matahina dam and about 20 km North of Murupara. On our homeward journey, we arrived there in foggy conditions just as our recently acquired Hybrid Honda decided to throw a dire looking warning light in Japanese. In fog, 65 from the nearest Honda dealer at Whakatane or 100 km from the one at Taupo, I began to panic. Then I remembered the translate app on my smartphone. The message said “Soon it will be time for service”!!!!

At Aniwhenua

While my panic levels subsided, I looked around the lake and enjoyed the serenity if the Rangitaiki River flowing Northward into the lake which is, by the way, part of the small local 25 MW hydroelectric generation scheme upstream of the 290 MW Matahina Dam.

Waikato River

Misty conditions continued down through Murupara and the mighty Kaingaroa Forest. It stayed with us as we crossed the Waikato River on SH5 about 8km South of Reporoa. Mary was driving at that point so I had to seek her patience to catch the nice light in the fog on the water.

Geothermal Hyperbolid

Some people encounter the cooling tower at Ohaaki for the first time and immediately suspect the New Zealand has been hiding a surreptitious nuclear plant. No, sorry, it is a simple natural draft cooling tower as used all over the world to cool exhaust gases from all kinds of processes dealing with hot gases. This is the only such tower in New Zealand and it is located at the 104 MW geothermal Ohaaki power station. It looked especially sinister in the fog.

Maraetotara Falls

After a long trip across the bleak and chilly Napier Taupo highway, we stayed for a few nights at another Airbnb, this time situated in an apple orchard at Haumoana in Hawkes Bay. Day trips were again the order of the day and one that I had never done before was to the Maraetotara falls in the hills 16 km to the South of Havelock North.

Clive – Dowstream

We needed some groceries in Meanee near Taradale, we so drove through Clive and over the bridge where the serenity of the river drew me back for a photograph,

Clive – Upstream

In such calm conditions, the Clive River was beautiful in both directions and as usual. Mary sat and patiently read her book while I tried to capture the mood of the morning.

Sunrise in the orchard

As our holiday came to an end with predictions of dire weather for our journey home and the week ahead, Hawkes Bay left us with a magnificent sunrise.

Home is always great to come back to.

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Academic Adventure Arachnids Architecture flowers Food Moon Upper Hutt

June 8, 2021 … winter approaches

Various health issues delayed this edition. Ah well, so be it.

Pikelets

There are many varieties of pancakes and flapjacks around the world. In New Zealand, we call these little things pikelets. They are typically 4″ or 10 cm in diameter and are commonly served with cream and jam. Mary is an expert at making them. It was a drab day in May so I caught some in the process of being made. I caught them even more effectively on a plate later.

Mystery Webmaster

There are gaps in the hedge outside our kitchen window and occasionally the local spiders accept that as a challenge. Here in the Southern hemisphere, North-facing windows catch the morning sun which lights up these amazing structures. Unfortunately the webs bounce vigorously in the lightest of breezes, so I have had to get lucky to capture the silk in focus and not blurred.

different ages

Juxtaposition is an ugly word which simply means placed close together. Usually we use it to suggest that the placement is incongruous … oops … there I go again. St Mary of the Angels on Boulcott St in Wellington sits peacefully across the road from the city’s tallest building, the Majestic Centre. I find each building interesting in its own way, with wildly different textures.

Common Dandelion

“,,, and Heaven in a wild flower” said William Blake. The architects of those two buildings in the preceding image were pretty clever, but in my mind, their designs are not in the same league as the exquisite structure of this simple blossom which we dare to call a weed.

A gift to mother

Mothers’ day came and youngest son delivered a bowl of tulip bulbs with six flowers just starting to break out. Mary (and I) enjoyed watching the flowers emerge into full bloom over the following week or so. Each day they offered a new vision.

Water Lily

When the weather is unkind to photographers, I sometimes revisit the begonia house in the Lady Norwood Rose Garden in Wellington. I especially enjoy the carp pond in the Western room. It has some beautiful water lilies which allow unfettered access with little or no background clutter.

Mood

I wasn’t paying attention, but Mary said come and look at the light out here. Wow! It was spectacular and I am glad she was such a great picture-scout.

Scots College Pipe Band

I was on my way to have lunch with former colleagues from the Dairy Board days and walked past the gates of the law school. Another burst of nostalgia as I saw all the shiny new graduates, several hundred of them in their academic regalia. They were about to set off on the graduation march along Lambton Quay and Willis Street and then to the civic square where speeches would be made prior to the formal graduation ceremonies. Scots College Pipe Band has long provided the music for the march. I participated in those marches at least a dozen times, maybe more.

Lingering

Those Mothers Day tulips lingered on and on and were things of beauty for at least ten days. This image was made on their last day.

Sad site for a beautiful sight

One of the difficulties I occasionally face is persuading people that I rarely “go somewhere to take pictures”. Rather, I travel and hope that my travels put me in a position to see a picture. The picture may be found somewhere on the way or perhaps somewhere off the track. The maps of the two journeys are quite different. One is obviously purposeful and less likely to be productive. The other is obviously random and might or might not produce something useful. I can well understand that being a travel companion on such journeys is not necessarily pleasurable. One such wandering took me to the vicinity of the Remutaka Prison where suddenly, there was an intense rainbow.

Upper Hutt Autumn

There are those who say that Winter begins on 1 June. I work on the theory that the solstice marks mid-Winter and thus winter starts around the 7 May. Whichever appeals to you, the colours of Autumn seem to linger on in Te Haukaretu Park in Upper Hutt. It sits in a corner where the Hutt River swings round to the south at Maoribank, and is sheltered from the wind in all directions.

Winter in Silverstream

Perhaps because it is exposed to the vicious NorWesters off the mountains to the North, Silverstream surrenders to Winter more quickly than that sheltered park in Upper Hutt. These three trees newly bare, caught my attention.

Super Moon just before the eclipse
Super moon half-way through the eclipse

Like almost everyone who owns a camera, I tried for the recent eclipse. I didn’t do well, and to be honest, by reason of distance and parallax, I tend to believe that every moon picture is the same as every other moon picture. The only difference is how well you focus and whether you get the exposure right. After that whatever you get in the foreground makes a difference. I talked myself out of persisting for the remainder of the eclipse, and felt justified by the many thousands of identical moon shots on social media the next day. Bah, humbug! By the way, I know it was a blood moon, but these are full colour images and I chose not to enhance the colour as so many did

The surgery I referred to in the previous edition snow in the past, and the dramatic scars that were with me then are now comparatively faded, and life is almost back to normal. Thanks to those who sent good wishes.

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flowers Hutt River Landscapes Machinery Maritime

May 10, 2021 … easing back in

“Hi, I’m back.”
“Oh! Have you been away?”

Well yes, I have. Without over dramatising, I had a carcinoma removed from my scalp. Then the skin graft intended to cover the site didn’t do as well as expected and a second surgery was required. Now I look as if I lost a battle with the zombies. I still have a bunch of staples holding me together and a very unpleasant experience that is. However, that too shall pass in the week ahead. I can report that the biopsy was clean and I believe all is good around the operation site.

I have been a stranger to my camera f0r several weeks, and had little or no interest in my keyboard. And so eight weeks have passed. Let me dip my toes gently into the water.

Seasonal scene

That may not have been a well chosen metaphor. At the end of summer, even such a mediocre one as we had, water is not plentiful in the Wairarapa.Golden grass will turn white unless rain falls soon.

Xin Rui Hai at anchor

Wellington’s port is much less busy that it was in my early memories of it. The most numerous visitors these days seem to be the various bulk carriers that take a never-ending stream of logs to China to be processed. The log carriers seem to be the only vessels that have to wait for a berth in the port.

California Poppy

It’s received wisdom in camera club circles that no matter how beautiful the flower is, the image will not do well unless the treatment by the photographer has added something to the image beyond the flower itself. I liked the flower anyway, and shot it in front of some mottled green tissue paper. My fellow judges may not give it much credit, but I liked it.

On display

Anyone who loved the British sitcom, “Blackadder”, will remember Baldrick’s battlefield poem:

Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!
Boom! Boom!
Boom!

Titan Cranes have their depot down in Seaview, and on this day, they had a selection of their cranes on display to demonstrate differing capabilities to visiting clients.

Doing it the hard way

As I drove along Grays Rd at Pauatahanui, I saw an artist working at his easel making a landscape down on the mud flats beside the creek. I stopped and, with his permission, made my own image of the scene.

De Molen – Foxton

A trip to the Horowhenua in search of shore birds was disappointing. On the other hand a visit to the beautiful replica of a Dutch windmill in Foxton was rewarding as it had sails set and was spinning briskly.

Nothing New Under the Sun

Whairepo Lagoon has a bridge that crosses over the entrance and like so many other places has that grid that allows those unoriginal people to lock a small padlock through the grid. Sadly the interaction between the various metals causes some regrettable corrosion.

Perhaps the last of her kind

Hikitia was launched in 1926 in Glasgow. She travelled all the way from Glasgow to Wellington and despite a few trips for maintenance, is still working to this day. Her original coal boilers were replaced by an oil fired boiler in 1963 and then replaced again by modern package boilers in 1980. She is still licensed to lift large tonnages somewhere in excess of 100 Tonnes. Wow!

See you again soon.

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Airport Aviation Birds Cook Strait Day's Bay Family flowers harbour History insects Landscapes Light Maritime Masterton Military Paremata Waves Weather Wellington

March 13, 2021 … Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth*

I begin this edition with a tribute to a valued friend and long time reader who died last month. George Combs Berger, Lt Col USAF (Ret) died on 2 Feb 2021 aged 98. In my experience, George was the ultimate gentleman, and was a frequent and very generous contributor to the earlier versions of WYSIWYG News back when we paid an assistant to format the news. He and his late wife,Patricia had a particular affinity with New Zealand and most years he would attend the ANZAC ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral, and then post me the printed programme from the service. George told me the story of him flying a B47 Stratojet bomber across the Atlantic to the UK and having its generators fail mid-journey. He turned off everything that could be done without, and arrived at the RAF base with barely sufficient battery power to illuminate his navigation lights. My condolences to his family. He will be missed. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

Photographically it has been a mixed period. I was quite pleased with myself, almost smug in the previous issue. This time some of my shots have fallen back into the mediocre category but, what the heck, keep shooting.

Ferry and the fisherman

I have made similar shots to this one many times before. On this occasion Kaitaki was leaving the harbour, hotly pursued by a fisherman in a “fizz boat”. As with my similar prior shots, the attraction to me was the delightful “blue on blue” of the clear sky over a calm sea.

Surface confusion

Across the harbour on this near perfect day, a young couple were setting out fishing from Lowry Bay in their little boat. Across the harbour, anyone with a nostalgic connection with Victoria University of Wellington will see the red brick of the old Hunter building above the yellow buoy on the left.

An extremely rare selfie

It has long been part of our family tradition to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Our kids always loved this, and we are passing it on to the grandchildren, or at least those who live close enough to join in. This year, Mary had other commitments on the day so I brushed off long neglected skills. To my great delight, I had not lost the knack of tossing them from the pan, and contrary to the skepticism of some friends did not spoil or lose any. The device in my left hand is my iPhone which I used to trigger the camera on its tripod. Who says men can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

Hawkweed flowers

I always thought they were dandelions. Apparently not. These are hawkweed or more scientifically, Hieracium. These examples were found on a riverbank in Wainuiomata

Days Bay Ferry

Unless the weather is really rough the two little catamarans, Cobar Cat and City Cat scuttle across the harbour on a regular schedule carrying tourists and commuters between the Queen’s Wharf terminal in the city and the jetty at Day’s Bay. They drop in at Matiu/Somes Island for people who wish to explore the island (highly recommended), and on a few trips, they divert to the jetty at Seatoun. One is seen here approaching Day’s Bay as observed from Lowry Bay.

Paremata Boat Sheds

In many parts of the world, it seems to be a tradition that any collection of boat sheds should be painted in motley colours. The sheds at Paremata follow this plan, and each owner seems to have had their own pot of leftover paint to use up. This is seen from across the inlet at the Pauatahanui Wildlife sanctuary.

Economy class

Over in Ivey Bay, there are some character-filled moorings where boats seem to sit and rarely move. I suspect that the owners have dreams of restoration that rarely come to fruition. I occasionally see the owners sitting on their deck beside the water, just basking in the pleasure of being there.

Military relics

Over the hill from Upper Hutt is the Mangaroa Valley where there are some old buildings which once served as part of the Maymorn military camp. If I understand correctly, they are long surplus to the needs of the defence ministry and have been given to the local iwi in part reparation for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. History hangs heavy on the buildings.It has been a long while since they saw any paint.

Moonlit bay

I rarely go out at night for photographic purposes. If conditions are still, I will carry my camera and tripod when I go to camera club and see whether there is anything worth shooting near the harbour after the meeting. On this particular night, I went down to Lowry Bay and looking to the North made this 40 second exposure. Despite the long exposure, the boat moved very little. Remember that boat. You might see it again.

Blue Globe Thistle

Our very good friends, Jane and Roy are superb gardeners and their home is often visited by the local garden circle. From my perspective, as one who avoids most forms of physical labour, I love their results but am unlikely to follow in their footsteps. I enjoy strolling around their property seeing all the unusual and interesting flowers. This specimen is a Blue Globe Thistle which I would not have known without the aid of https://identify.plantnet.org which is right more often than it is wrong.

In stillness

It was a nice still morning at Petone, but I was struggling to find anything of interest. There is a set of small piles just to the Western side of Petone wharf. I speculate that they exist to hold an old stormwater outlet pipe in place. Anyway, I was intrigued by the multi-coloured weeds growing on the ancient timbers.

It’s that darned yacht again

A misty day in the city imposes a moody atmosphere. Not so much waves, but sharp ripples arrive on the beach at Lowry Bay. The mood was worth the effort, I think.

If you have no interest in aviation, please skip the next three images.

Atmospherics

Last time I went to an airshow, I was disappointed and said I would probably not bother again. I backed down and joined my Son Anthony, daughter-in-law Sarah, and grandson Jack at the recent “Wings Over Wairarapa” airshow at Hood Aereodrome, Masterton. One of the highlights for me was the Yakovlev YAK-3U, a radial engined version of a Russian WWII fighter. It has a very powerful P&W R2000 engine and is extremely fast. In this shot you can see the condensate spiralling back from the tips of its propeller during a high speed run . The trails at the wingtips are made by oil burning.

Scribbles

The Yak pilot put on a masterful performance in a beautiful machine with an engine almost twice the power of the original. He zipped through the sky leaving smoke trails with which he made the most amazing patterns.

Age is no barrier

For the 2019 iteration of this air show, the US ambassador used his influence to persuade the US Air Force to do a fly-by with a B-52 on its way from its base in Guam to the much larger airshow at Avalon in Australia. Sadly, a mechanical malfunction meant that it didn’t arrive. So here we are again, and truth to tell, the promise of a B-52 was a strong influence in my decision to visit one more air show. It came from Avalon this time and was on its way back to Guam. The B-52 is notoriously smokey so its presence was visible long before the aircraft itself. They did three wide passes, including one with its bob doors open. I hope I am never beneath one when it does that in anger. I don’t want to glorify war or militarism, but this grand old machine is a tribute to its designers and builders, and to the brave crews that fly them.

When shall we three meet again?**

Mary has a sharp eye for things that might be photo-worthy. She saw the shed exo-skeletons of these three cicada nymphs all clinging to one little stick. Astonishing! I have never seen two together before, let alone three.

Help from the sky

This air ambulance was basking in the sun at Wellington Airport. Used mainly for the transport of patients between various specialist hospitals this Jetstream 400 makes a brave picture. Lurking behind it is the local search and rescue helicopter.

A rare visitor

Were this just a common white-faced heron, which is what I thought I had taken, I would have discarded this image. It wasn’t until I got home that closer examination showed I had caught a very rare reef heron. Apparently the total number of them in NZ lies between 300 and 500.

What, again?

Yes, it is that darned yacht again. The excuse for this image, however is that rainbow fragment behind it. You will be relieved to know that the yacht has since been moved from the open mooring into the nearby marina, so it no longer offers itself as a feature of the landscape.

The oil terminal

Sometimes, the light falling on the oil wharf lifts an otherwise banal structure and makes it quite attractive. I liked it anyway.

That will do for now. See you next time.

  • *High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, RCAF
  • **Shakespeare, Macbeth
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February 19, 2021 … happier days

This is a rare occasion. I can say that on the whole, I am pleased with this edition’s images. And did you notice that I didn’t feel the need to add the usual semi-apologetic disclaimer?

Being a photographer in the way that I am is perhaps parallel to being a general practitioner. Unlike the specialist portrait makers, I rarely use artificial light. Though I dabble in the mystic arts of architectural images, I don’t have the experience or the right tools for the highest levels of achievement. I am much too introverted to engage in portrait or street photography, so my natural habitat includes elements of landscape, nature and still life, with a strong preference for water. Of the fourteen images in this edition nine include the sea. So let’s have a look.

Black-fronted dotterel

I suppose it is natural to return to the places where I have had good results before. Hokio Beach is situated at the estuary of the Hokio stream that runs to the Tasman Sea a little to the South of Levin. On weekday mornings, if the conditions are right, it is a place of serenity and sea birds. It is always a delight to encounter the black-fronted dotterel. Somehow it is almost invisible against the dark West-coast sand. I find it necessary to sit down among the driftwood and wait. Eventually a tiny patch of grey fluff will scuttle across the beach in a away that catches the eye. Once the target is acquired, it resolves itself into this beautiful tiny bird. It is very cautious and tends to stay on the far side of the stream away from the occasional passing vehicle. They delight me.

Kaitaki leaving port

Conditions such as this are all too rare. When the trees outside my window are still, I look out the other side and look for reflections on the river and harbour. I love to get my camera close to water level and find a suitable target across the water. In this case, the ferry Kaitaki on the 9am service to Picton is about to pass between Ward Island and Point Dorset on her way to the harbour entrance and a turn to the West.

Ancient piles

Truth to tell, nothing man-made in New Zealand is really ancient. The original Petone wharf was erected in 1883 and I guess some of the inshore piles may date from then. Some recent earthquakes caused five of the piles to slump and the wharf was deemed unsafe. This much loved structure is currently closed to the public while repairs are effected, I was walking on the beach and looking at the reflections and saw this. Many of the piles are riddled with marine worms, so it’s a little scary to know that there are three or four trucks and a substantial crane on the deck overhead.

The Port of Wellington

Nicholson Road, Khandallah, is a narrow winding road that twists its way along the East-facing hills above the harbour. It provides few places to stop safely but offers some splendid views down into Oriental Bay and the port area. When I made this picture the harbour was still and the Singaporean registered Kota Lembah was exchanging containers and the Panama registered Pan Gloris was loading logs. Note the thousands of logs waiting on the wharf, mostly bound for China.

Cowgrass Clover

Our lawns were overdue for mowing and this cluster of cow grass clover had popped up on its edge. I decided that since the weather had delivered an ugly day I would have a closer look. My “dark box” was used with reflected light from the window to illuminate the plants.

Brisk Northerly

It was a clear but windy day , and it seemed that the view from atop Brooklyn Hill might be worth a look. On the way up the access road I saw the rapidly spinning turbine at the top of the hill and with the aid of a neutral density filter slowed the blades a bit.

Food for thought

Our son Anthony, his wife Sarah and our Grandchildren Maggie-May and Jack joined us for dinner recently and Mary delivered what the kids refer to as her signature dessert – lemon meringue pie. Pure magic, though it does nothing to diminish my shadow. As you can see if the conditions don’t lend themselves to outdoor photography, then I will point my camera at anything I can find.

Seeking the light

Summer, such as it has been, is withdrawing. A lovely sunset and a relatively calm sea persuaded me to to dash down to the harbour’s edge at Petone. Alas, to photograph the best moments, it is necessary to be there waiting for them. In the ten minutes or so that it took to get to the beach, the glory I had seen was gone. What saved the day for me was the sudden emergence of the Kaitaki from the shadow of the Miramar peninsula into the last glorious rays of the setting sun. The sudden explosion of light demanded a hand-held grab shot so as not to miss it.

Little red tugboat

As I often do, I was driving around the Miramar Peninsula and saw CentrePort’s two Damen 2411 ASD tugs crossing the harbour to assist the departure of an oil tanker from Seaview. I think this is Tapuhi which was built in China.

Citizens’ Tribute

While the peninsula, I chose to walk up to the Massey memorial which sits atop Point Halswell. Our 19th Prime Minister, William Ferguson Massey served from 1912 to 1925 and died in office. The memorial and mausoleum was funded largely by public subscription, despite his controversial right wing politics.

By land and sea

As I drove around Karehana Bay in Plimmerton, I noticed people fishing from boats in the bay as well as from the yacht club’s wharf. I am a very bad fisherman and always end up snagged on the rocky bottom.

Old school

Some of the upmarket marinas are filled with modern plastic vessels filled with electronics and appliances. In the older mooring areas such as Ivey Bay, it is more likely to encounter older vessels with planked wooden hulls and not a radar aerial to be seen. These appeal to my sense of marine aesthetics.

In need of attention

Sadly, many of these old boats are laid up with the best of intentions and then nothing happens. The planked hulls do not take kindly to neglect. I am not suggesting that the boats in the image are neglected but they do have that forlorn appearance that comes from a long time without attention.

Scouting

In Evans Bay, there is a troop of sea scouts. Many of my previous shots of the area have included the blue vessel pictured here moored and without the masts stepped. What a pleasure to see her sailing briskly with a crew all well equipped with life jackets. Another seas scout crew is sailing the clinker built cream coloured boat with the number 45 on her sail.

That will do for this edition . I hope to improve in the next edition.

Categories
Architecture Art Butterflies Family flowers Landscapes Maritime Railway Waves Weather Wellington

January 30, 2021 … the road goes ever on and on*

I occasionally evaluate my reality. Mary and I are retired, living in leafy suburbia in a small city (pop 104,700) adjacent to our small capital (population 215,100) in a small peaceful and politically stable country (pop 5 million) in the bottom right hand corner of the world (population 7,794,798,739). We have so much to be grateful for.

From my perspective as a photographer, while other parts of the country may offer more spectacle, even the region in which I live offers many opportunities within an hour’s drive and even more within a four hour round trip. So why, you might ask, have I been so grumpy of late? Well, I continue to claim the right to grumble about almost two solid months of grey dismal blustery weather, but remain hopeful of some semblance of summer weather in the remainder of the season. I know I should be more appreciative of what I have. The landscape and seascapes around me have good bones. When the weather precludes those shots, there are interesting possibilities in the close up.

Tree Mallow

Sometimes I encounter a plant or flower and identify it confidently. Then I find that I have been wrong for years. In the certain knowledge that this flower was a hollyhock, I submitted the image to my favourite plant identifying site looking for the scientific name. It seems that this is in fact, a tree mallow. Pride cometh before a fall.

Monarch butterfly

Mary came in from her walk in bleak and blustery conditions, carefully nursing something very delicate. A monarch butterfly! It was unwilling to sit still and fluttered about until it settled on a piece of foliage I had been using for other purposes. Snap. Then it flew away.

Unexpected stillness

A promised and long awaited calm day appeared, and brought some mist with it. I can live with that. My wandering took me to Hataitai Beach in Evans Bay. I loved the appearance of the distant yachts sandwiched between the cloud above and the glutinous sea below. The tiny wavelets lowered themselves almost silently onto the gravel beach.

Paint and varnish, masts and rigging

The conditions in Evans Bay allowed me to narrow the focus onto a few of the yachts. I like these “old school” yachts, with no sign of moulded plastic or meaningless shapes. These are the shapes taught by the sea, shapes that have served generations of mariners well. I suspect that these will still be here even as the plastic gin-palaces crumble to dust.

Van Gogh Alive (1)

At the instigation of Mary’s brother Paul and his wife Robyne, we went together to see the “Van Gogh Alive” at an exhibition centre on the Wellington Waterfront. I used the word “see” … perhaps I should have said “experience”. This was an immersion with beautifully selected elements of Van Gogh’s art projected on the multiple surfaces at various angles all around us. If this exhibition comes near you, don’t miss it. It is a joy.

Sunflowers

The final element of the Van Gogh exhibition was a mirrored room filled with artificial sunflowers. The effect was truly spectacular. As I said, don’t miss it. That pink sunflower against a black background in the back centre is not a sunflower. It is me. A rare but inadvertent selfie.

The city railyard on a public holiday

An actual fine day came as a surprise, so I drifted along the less travelled roads around the city. It was Wellington’s provincial anniversary day and a public holiday, so the town was quiet. I paused at a gate on Thorndon Quay where I had a view of the railyards and many commuter units sitting dark and quiet in orderly rows.

In Wellington

That same public holiday, I was walking around the inner city and found myself at the intersection of Willis Street, Manners Street and Boulcott Street. Across the street, the little old house, now a pub, was long known as “The House of Ladies” due to its time as a massage parlour. It was physically relocated from a little to the right, to make way for the 116 metre “Majestic Centre” tower block behind. The spot from which the image was made, used to be known as Perrett’s Corner. It was so named for the Chemist shop which was a significant landmark through most of the early twentieth century, and I have added a link to a fine National Library photograph.

Italian grace

I had a brief flirtation with the idea of buying upmarket cars as a photographic portfolio topic. I had no intention of buying such a car. With the dealer’s permission, I made several trial images and decided that I was less excited than I expected to be. Nevertheless, this Maserati does embody my expectations of Italian automotive style. The idea is paused rather than abandoned.

A cliche but a good one

No matter how often I drive from Evans Bay around Pt Jerningham to Oriental Bay, my breath is always taken away by the great Southern Wall of the Tararua ranges. On days such as this when the morning light makes layers the view is especially wonderful.

On Bowen Street

Behind the parliamentary precinct, Bowen Street curves up the Thorndon gully to Tinakori Rd. It passes through some of Wellington’s oldest and most picturesque dwellings. To my regret, the government (I presume the State Services Commission) seems to be transforming the area into an administrative precinct. Whereas I think the old houses are protected by legislation, glass and steel are changing the nature of the area.

Wild Onshore Wind

There have been ugly blustery winds for most days over several weeks. I shall be glad when they depart. On the other hand, the kite surfers at Lyall Bay reveal in the conditions.

See you again in a week or two. Stay safe. Keep recording your locations and observing your local protocols to avoid the virus.

*J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

Categories
Cook Strait flowers Weather Wellington

January 15, 2021 … may it be the best yet

Welcome to 2021.I have had some wonderful years, as well as some that were, at best, a trial. It is my fervent hope in this new year that we all avoid entanglement with the virus. I also hope that we can come to terms with whatever is our new normal. I am convinced that the old normal is gone forever, and whatever happens, 2021 will bear little resemblance to the world as it was before the outbreak. I am pleased with and proud of the comparative success achieved by the government and people of New Zealand, and I hope we don’t fall into the trap of complacency and carelessness. But enough. On with the photography.

The all too brief season

I suppose it’s a rare Christmas season that I don’t feel compelled to make an image of the pohutukawa. I am not sure that the images from this season differ much from those that have gone before. The trees are not visibly different, but perhaps I hope to see a new view or see them with new eyes.

Nectar gathering on the flax

This tui was beside the path to the bird hide at Pauatahanui. There comes a moment in every season when the birds are so obsessed with the consumption of nectar that they are almost impervious to the proximity of people. Some suggest intoxication as a cause.

Intriguing flower with an ugly name

Mary received a bouquet at Christmas and it contained a number of flowers unknown to me, as well as some plastic ornaments. I confess, I thought this was one of the latter However, I was assured that this is a real plant. It’s name is star scabious which is an ugly name for an interesting flower.

Mary’s bounty

It’s a rare day on which Mary does not walk. Recently she gathered some wildflowers found on her way. They include milfoil (pink), Jupiter’s beard (white), common ragwort (yellow) and viper’s bugloss (blue). To my eye, they are just wonderful, even if some are common weeds.

Across the blue water

I’ve done many images like this before. Each one is a little different in character depending on the season, the wind, the waves and the air clarity. This shot was made from the base of the Ataturk memorial on Palmer Head, looking Westward across Cook Stait to Tapuae-o-Uenuku. The ferry in the distance is Straitsman which still has about 90 minutes or so to run on its run to Wellington.

Moody in the Harbour

The first week or so after Christmas has offered mediocre summer weather at best. Lots of heavy overcast mood has been the norm with the odd patch of weak sunlight holding out hope for better times to come. On this day, low cloud covered the Miramar Peninsula and the harbour entrance and all that remained was Matiu/Somes Island looking somewhat glum out in the harbour.

Inner harbour

Still the grey weather persisted. I tried for a high viewpoint. This time I went to Stellin Park up in the suburb of Northland. I liked the succession of promontories beginning with Clyde Quay in the foreground, then Pt Jerningham and Pt Halswell. As you can see from the fountain which is falling almost back on its base, there is no significant wind.

Darwin’s Barberry

In Wellington’s Western suburb of Karori, there is a wonderful lookout atop Wright’s Hill. I enjoyed making some panoramic shots there before going back to the car park. On the way, I encountered some flowers and berries that somehow had colour and texture that seemed more vibrant than real life. I was unfamiliar with either flowers or berries, and turned to Pl@ntNet Identify. They are Darwin’s Barberry. Apparently the fruit is quite edible. (Please don’t take my word for it, make your own checks).

On Boulcott St

Antrim House is a little way round the corner and up the hill from the church of St Mary of the Angels. It was built forRobert Hannah, the owner of Hannah’s shoes who was an Irishman. He used a Spanish architect and it has French and Italian influences. These days it is the home of Heritage New Zealand. You can see it reflected in the tower block in the second set of panels from the right.

A treasured gift

A kind friend gave this hand-carved wooden bowl to Mary at Christmas. As far as I can tell, it is carved from one piece of wood. I have no idea who the artist is. The wood is probably macrocarpa. When delivered, it was full of Christmas goodies. Many thanks Natasha.

We three kings …

Makara is a tiny village in a wild landscape on Wellington’s rugged West coast. It’s an interesting place to visit and walk. The steep rocky beach does not look safe to swim, in my opinion. People do don wet suits and seek sea food among the rocky inlets further round the coast. Anyway, the Makara Stream winds its way down the valley to join the Tasman Sea in Ohariu Bay. These three (possibly dead?) trees guard its distant shore.

Some days are better than others

The yachts in the old harbour between Clyde Quay Wharf and the Freyberg Swimming Pool intrigue me. If you compare them with the more modern and upmarket vessels in Chaffers’ Marina on the other side of the wharf, then these are the stately old ladies of the town. Paint and varnish are the order of the day compared with plastic and chrome on the other side. I see it as romance versus luxury.

Natural Triptych

As I was leaving Oriental Bay, I spotted the reflection in the window of the old restaurant/yacht club. There are competitions that are dedicated to the making of triptych art. I am not normally a practitioner but it just presented itself. I didn’t even have to make three images. As you can see in the reflection on the left, the tripod on the table was set up to point the camera at the windows. The two right-most yachts are the same two as on the right of the previous image.

That will do for the first session of 2021. I wish you all the very best for the year ahead. Take all precautions to stay safe, both health-wise and politically and may you and your family all do well and much better than 2020.

Categories
adversity Birds creativity Family Hokio Beach Lakes Landscapes Maritime Music Weather Wellington

December 31, 2020 … thank goodness that’s over

…. but who knows what 2021 will bring? It’s possible that we might look back on 2020 as “the good old days?”

Petone wharf with mist behind it

I remember August with fondness. It was mostly calm and sunny. However, December in Wellington has been mostly complete rubbish, with lots of rain and wind. Some days offered calm, but with mist or drizzle. I can live with that. This image was made at Petone wharf and as you can see, Matiu/Somes is almost obscured in the rain, and there is no sign at all of the Miramar peninsula.

Looking back

The same morning, I took a trip up Malvern road which runs up the side of the hill at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge. It offers a fairly generous panorama over the Northern parts of the harbour. On this particular day, low cloud obscured the lower parts of the Hutt Valley and it offered a different view to the usual. .

Handel’s Messiah with the NZSO

Our daughter Lena and son-in-law Vasely generously took us to hear the NZSO with the Tudor Consort Choir performing Handel’s Messiah. No matter how many times I hear it it seems always new. The conductor, Gemma New encouraged the ancient tradition of all standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. The performance earned them a rarely given standing ovation from the capacity crowd in the Michael Fowler Centre. Of course I didn’t take my camera so this is a sneaky grab shot from my iPhone.

Minimalism

On one of the few fine days this month, I went to the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park at Paekakariki in the hope of finding some interesting bird life. sadly, the birds had made other plans so I was out of luck. There was the sound of a million frogs, and though I was very close, I saw not one. I settled for the remnants of some rushes in the water.

Welcome Swallow

Despite the lack of water fowl, there were, as always, Welcome Swallows flitting about and performing impossible changes of direction in mid air as they gathered insects. They are fast and unpredictable so I was pleased when one sat on a branch near me.

Kota Lestari

Sunshine is nice, but it would be better without the Southerly wind. I was on the South coast when the Singapore registered container vessel Kota Lestari picked up her pilot. She has a gross registered tonnage of 41,578 and has the capacity to carry 4,300 twenty foot containers. She berthed soon after 3 pm and left just after midnight bound for Napier and then on to Hong Kong.

Canada Geese

Mostly I like all the Canadians I have met. I am less fond of their geese, despite their handsome appearance. They always seem to choose pathways as a place to deposit their calling cards. Even so, I enjoyed seeing this family at QEII park.

Thunder of wings

A favourite spot on a calm day is Hokio beach. It is just over 100 km to the North from home and is situated on the West Coast of the North Island, a little to South of Levin. The Hokio stream runs Westward from Lake Horowhenua and forms a beautiful estuary where it meets the Tasman Sea. There are seabirds aplenty most times, though my favourites, the black-fronted dotterels were missing. A large flock of black-backed gulls were basking in the sun when some idiot in a small SUV came racing towards them and instantly there was feathered chaos.

On Brooklyn Hill

Like many landscape photographers before me, I love conditions of mist or fog, though sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Driving up the hill from Aro Street to Brooklyn, conditions were clear, though overcast. Then from just above Brooklyn shops things got heavy. These misty pines are a few hundred metres up the hill towards the wind turbine. The turbine itself was scarcely visible even as I stood at its base.

Not monochrome

I hardly ever make monochrome images. Sometimes nature presents itself in black and white and then I am happy to capture it if I can. This view from the Titahi Bay road looks South towards Porirua City. It is an eight-image panoramic stitch.

Sparrows feeding

Mary was given a new bird-feeder that allows birds to sit on various perches around its base and access the seeds. They will empty that pile in about an hour, after which no matter how they sulk, they wait until tomorrow.

Red

I recall a respected photographer friend telling our camera club that any image containing a splash of red had a much better chance of favourable treatment. This little yacht in Evans Bay certainly grabs attention

So ends 2020. Though we have lamented its many downsides, we in New Zealand have come through it fairly well. Our covid-19 statistics are among the best, and even the impact on our country’s economy has been much less than was feared. Our biggest personal sadness is our inability to visit family in Brisbane and Melbourne, or indeed for them to come here. But they and we are well and we can talk to each other, so again things are less bad than they might have been.

I wish you all the warmest of wishes for 2021. May it be a kinder and better year than its predecessor. May all your hopes and dreams come true. See you next year perhaps?

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Uncategorized

December 9, 2020 … the song that never ends

Almost every long car trip featured our kids mischievously singing “The Song that Never Ends” … you know the one … Wikipedia describes it as “self referential and infinitely iterative”. Though the calendar tells me that it is December, and we could normally expect the year to end soon, I fear that it might refuse to yield office to 2021. There is still room for some new unpleasantness to raise its head. Leaving aside the world events which have dominated our thinking, my photographic world has been dominated by grey and overcast images.

If and when a new year does take office, I hope that I seize every opportunity to make better use of the brighter days. Meanwhile, let us see what crossed my lenses recently.

Monumental masonry

Whenua Tapu cemetery is on SH1 between Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay. My decision to wander through it was not based on any morbid fascination with cemeteries, but was purely motivated by the patterns of the monumental masonry. This particular area of the cemetery is devoted to the Greek community which has a strong presence in Wellington.

Boutique port

Centreport is the successor to the old Wellington Harbour Board. It is a private company that runs the business of the harbour. It is jointly owned by the Wellington Regional Council and the Horizons (Whanganui and Manawatu) Regional Council. Wellington is not one of the country’s major ports as designated by the big shipping companies. In fact its container activity has just two cranes. From Point Halswell, I looked across to the empty container berth and saw them both parked and looking tidy.

At the end of a lovely day

Camera club meetings start at 7:30 pm and are usually all done by 9 pm. On this day, as I was driving away, I was struck by the lovely light in the sky to the South and West. As always I had my camera and tripod on board so I set out for the Petone foreshore. Ten minutes later with the light fading rapidly I set up to make a panorama. Seven shots at 30 seconds each had to be done as fast as possible since the light difference between the first and last was significant. The bright light along the beach and on the driftwood was from the street lights on the Esplanade. I suppose I could have tried to dim it in the computer.

Spoonbills in shelter

I like high key images. The royal spoonbills at Pauatahanui almost provided one The brilliant white plumage and the silver grey water provide a nice contrast with their black bills. The spoonbills were huddled in the lee of the dune, staying below the mean-spirited Northerly wind.

Ready for the lunch crowd

Portofino is an Italian restaurant on the Wellington waterfront. As I walked past their back window, I was taken by the neatness of the glass and silverware. With the kind permission of the manager I made an image from the back of the restaurant looking over the tables and across the harbour to Roseneath.

Tui at the wine bar in the rain

The tui and other nectar feeders are enjoying Mary’s regular supply of sugar water. An inverted wine bottle into a plastic bowl is all it takes. The tui claim first rights and any lesser birds just get knocked off as the tui lands on the perch, whether or not it is occupied. They are usually wary of humans and you can see this one giving me the evil eye.

Coaching in the Mist

Soft rain and low cloud put Mt Victoria and Roseneath into the mist. Just offshore from Petone beach a rowing eight was getting some apparently forceful coaching from the man in the inflatable. The harbour was blessedly calm.

And then the wind blew

Somehow, I missed the worst of it, but the next day the wind came up and swells of about 4.5 metres started battering the South coast. Here, the Bluebridge ferry, Strait Feronia is starting to lift into the swells on the open water of Cook Strait. I don’t envy the open part of their trip.

Pure gold

Most people are familiar with the pohutukawa, the member of the myrtle family famous for it’s glorious crimson flowers every Christmas. Many are surprised to discover the gold variety. I have to say that I prefer the traditional crimson.

Rubber ducky

While driving along Riverside Drive in Lower Hutt, I spotted some little yellow objects floating down the river. So help me, I was convinced I was seeing plastic toy ducks. Then one of them reversed course and went upstream. What? I got my long lens out and good grief, they were a flock of mallard ducklings. I believe the current word of the day is diversity. Beautiful, and a lift to the spirits in these days of persistent grey cloud and rain.

See you next time