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October 2, 2021 …just enjoy the process

Why, is the recurring question. Why do I persist in creating this blog, even when others are declaring that the age of the blog has passed?

I am not musical, but I think I have the heart of a troubadour, or perhaps like Gilbert and Sullivan’s Nankipoo, I might be a wandering minstrel. My aim is to be a story teller. Some do it in song, some in poetry. My chosen style is in a mix of prose and pictures. My principal aim is to take pleasure in making the pictures and using them to tell the story

Botanic Garden, Wellington

I went to the Botanic Garden in hope of tulips. There were some tulips, though fewer than usual and less well presented. Happily, the surrounding gardens possessed a glory of their own. The bands of colour, the shape and splendour of the trees and even the sculpture all give me pleasure.

Gladstone derelict

In my judgement, the back road from Martinborough to Masterton through Gladstone offers some of the most beautiful pastoral landscapes you will find anywhere. And tucked away, here and there, are a few much loved relics of earlier times that are slowly dissolving into the landscape. This old house near Gladstone is one that few photographers will pass by without a pause to make yet another picture. Of course it is a cliche, but I don’t accept that beauty is diminished by multiple viewing.


Mary had been gifted a voucher for a two night stay at an historic cottage in rural Wairarapa. India Cottage is situated between Castlepoint 40 km to the NE and Riversdale 22 km to the SE. It is part of the ICA station from which the Whareama Coastal Walkway is managed. We had little idea of what to expect, and were surprised and delighted by the beauty of the place. Water is a significant problem throughout the Wairarapa so the estate has a storage pond surrounded by reeds. Someone introduced the Australian green and golden bell frog. so the visual beauty was enhanced by the unceasing chorus from the frogs. Magic!


Pioneering farmers had little regard for our native trees and yearned for the beauty of the great trees of their various homelands. And so it comes about that we have stands of magnificent oaks and other deciduous aliens. They are indeed beautiful trees. but so are the natives of this land which were cleared to make way for them.

Perfect stillness

If you have been with me for a while, you will know that morning and I are usually strangers. Here in deepest Wairarapa, with no Internet access, I woke early. No sound save the froggy chorus and the bawling of occasional cattle in the distance. No wind, and no clouds. I arose early and took my camera and tripod outside and caught the sun peering through the trees at the end of the pond.

A fine specimen

Another of those exotic trees … I didn’t pause to identify it but didn’t think it to be an oak. With the sun behind it I thought it made a nice image.


Over the fence, a classic pastoral scene as the sheep munch steadily on the dew-soaked grass. Rim-lit by the rising sun, I thought these were the quintessential “gilt-edged investment”.

Day 1 of Daylight Saving

Our last evening at India House coincided with New Zealand’s annual shift to daylight saving. Since the clock went forward, I expected to wake an hour later than usual. Perversely, I woke almost an hour earlier by the clock than usual. A still starlit morning prompted me to get dressed and tip-toe outside, being as quiet as possible. As you can see this long (56 seconds) exposure was illuminated by the stars and a bright moon. No artificial light. And you know it is still when an exposure this long shows no disturbance in the reflections. I returned to the cottage and Mary asked why I made so much noise when I went out!


The same scene from a different angle catches the Southern Cross, the much loved constellation emblematic of the Southern hemisphere. With the exception of my bedroom window all light in this image comes from the moon. In case you are unfamiliar with it, the cross in in the upper left quadrant of the picture. The head is down and to the left, and the foot is top right. The pointer Beta Centauri is sending its light 391.4 light years from just above the edge of that cloud.

Pink rock orchid

Back home after a delightful break, the weather forced me indoors. I placed a tiny orchid in my light box. Multiple flowers on a single stem are a bit of a challenge. It is conventional wisdom amongst those who enter competitions, that simple flower images rarely do well. I am getting away from the competition mindset, and the question is did I have fun making it, and does the finished product please me. The answer is yes and yes.


Wellingtonians are the butt of much joking about the city’s notoriously windy climate. It’s not easy to photograph wind. The best you can hope for is to catch things being moved about by the wind. Waves and trees, birds and rain are all possibilities. These reeds at the boat ramp in Lowry Bay seemed worth a try and another opportunity to use the neutral density filter. I put the camera on its tripod inside the car, and opened the downwind passenger window. Thus, the camera and tripod were not buffeted by the gusting wind. I love the texture of the windblown clumps of reed.

Customhouse Quay

Wellington’s skyline changes at a relatively slow pace. The last time I visited Melbourne, there must have been at least twenty tower cranes each presiding over a new high rise building site. Wellington has three or four. Of course, Melbourne has a population of 5 million compared with 417,000. This view along Customhouse Quay looking South shows the crane on the site of the new BNZ headquarters being built to replace the one destroyed by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.

They take a bottle

The nearer (yellow) crane is on the waterfront across the road from the red one on the BNZ site. This one is assisting a generic office building which will be available for lease. The answer to the unspoken question most people have in respect of the people who operate these machines in solitary splendour is that they have a bottle. I guess that their privacy could be compromised by people with long lenses.

And that’s another edition. I think I am coming to terms with the idea that I can make images for the pure joy of participating in the process. I don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectation. Of course I share them with you in the hope that you will take pleasure in what you see. Until next time.

adversity fungi Lower Hutt Machinery Maritime Plant life Weather Wellington

September 14, 2021 … diary of my interaction with the world

Alaster Benn is a softly spoken Scot who is a passionate musician as well as a superb landscape photographer. He makes his living at least in part by teaching photography. I purchased and downloaded a course from him with the improbable title of “Dodging and Burning Masterclass”. I crudely summarise this course as about reacting to the landscape, and about steering your audience towards sharing your experience.

You can find him on YouTube where, as well as his many tutorials, he has produced an excellent series of interviews with other great landscape photographers. The interview series is called “Vision and Light”. There are at least 32 episodes in this series. If you have a hankering to make landscape images, I recommend you seek out his work on YouTube. He has helped me greatly.

I should add that because of the recent Covid lockdown, the images I am offering in this edition are mostly not landscapes. Any shortcomings in these pictures are mine and mine alone and should not reflect badly on Alaster or any others from whom I have taken guidance. Besides, I have so far watched just six of the twenty six chapters in this particular course.

Daffodils, heralds of Spring

Spring has arrived in Wellington according to the calendar and as shown by nature. Daffodils give me pleasure, in the elegance of their trumpets, and in their spectacular choice of colours. I seem to make similar shots at this time most years. Having done this before, should I refrain from doing it again? Or do I try to capture anew, the pleasure I take in this year’s encounter with an old friend?

Turkey tail fungus

I almost passed this by. It was Mary who saw it and drew it to my attention. The turkey tail fungus (Trametes versicolor) was hiding in plain sight. They seemed at first sight to be brown. I came back the next day with the intent to see what I might achieve with the shapes of the fungus. And then through the viewfinder, I saw the colours. How had I not seen this the first time round? Pointing the camera at things that excite you is a rewarding exercise, and it paid off this time.


The fungus in the previous image was found in the Rhododendron Dell in the Belmont Recreation Reserve. Though not yet at the peak of their season, the rhododendrons in the dell are quite spectacular, and are accompanied by a happy display of daffodils.

Too few to make a parliament

Certain kinds of weather discourage landscape photography. The light is flat and uninteresting, and the conditions are unpleasant outside. If the the light was interesting, I might brave the chill and damp. It wasn’t so I played with some of Mary’s collection of ornaments. It’s not a great image, but I like it, and had fun creating it, and that’s why I pick up the camera in the first place.

Light in the eyes

As the unpleasant conditions continued, I stretched even further in my search for photographic opportunity. This is a pottery candlestick holder, with a lit candle providing the somewhat sinister light through holes around the eyes and the beak. So the question I need to ask is, do I like the image, and additionally, why do I like or dislike it? That might boil down to “should I have made it?” Well I had fun making it. It’s not an image I would hang, but I quite like it. And that opens my eyes to the idea that photographic value is not a binary condition. Images can give some pleasure without having to be a masterpiece.


There was a time when Lower Hutt took enormous pride in its public gardens and every berm and traffic island in the CBD was covered with superbly laid out gardens. As each batch of flowers reached the peak of its display, the city gardeners would be planting the next species for a completely different and equally brilliant display. And then the city administrators placed a higher value on the cost than on the enormous pleasure and pride that the gardens brought. Suddenly our city looked bleak and brutal. In recent times, there has been a loosening of the grip and I am seeing some interesting planting around the CBD and especially near the civic buildings. This splash of lurid green attracted my attention, though I didn’t know what it was. It turns out to be Euphorbia. Colour and form make it appealing to me.

The tree

Riddiford garden has been a feature of the civic area near the town hall of Lower Hutt since 1923, so for almost a century. There was a half-way reasonable day so I decided to meander through it looking for any eye-catching views. There were many individual plants that I liked , but this tree on the Eastern side of the garden had real character.


Another rough day and I was not inspired to venture outside. Still life is often an excuse for lack of willingness to face discomfort. Anyway, we have this little brass bell that belonged to my mother. She used it to summon help in her last days at home. I polished it up and placed it on a silver tray.

Give us a lift

In downtown Wellington, on the site of a former petrol station, a new headquarters building is being erected for BNZ. It will replace the other brand new headquarters building that was irreparably damaged by the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016. The predecessor was demolished in the last year after sitting unusable for some years. Anyway, as I walked down Featherston Street, I stopped to watch frames for the new building being lifted from the deck of the truck on which they came. My eye was caught by the cab of the tower crane doing the big lifts. That’s not a clumsy vignette on my part. There is a streak of cloud aligned with the crane’s boom.

Strait Feronia

Bluebridge operate two ferries between Wellington and Picton in competition with the Interislander line which currently runs three. I was coming back to my car on Customhouse Quay and saw the Strait Feronia arriving from Picton. By the time I got in position, she was moving backwards at a smart clip ready to lower her stern ramp. I was intrigued at the almost total absence of any visible turbulence from the propeller.

Oriental Bay

I looked down on the city from the parking lot in front of the Cotton Building at Victoria University of Wellington. The Carter Fountain in Oriental Bay added some brightness to an otherwise chill Spring morning

Oil Terminal at Seaview

In the North East Corner of the harbour is the Seaview Oil Terminal where various tankers call to offload petrochemicals and other more scary chemicals to be piped into the tanks at the various terminals around Seaview. I like the curve of the deck and the blue sky is OK too.

So endeth another edition. I really must make progress with the course.


September 2, 2021 … sometimes I think too much

Lockdown provides time for thought. I think about many things, but the thinking that I choose to share here is mostly, though not exclusively, about making pictures. The essential photography question for me seems to be: why?

It’s a question I can ask at several levels. Why do I like making images at all? Why do I choose to make images of the kind that I do? Why do some images turn out better than others? Why does a particular image work, in my judgement? Why do I like the images made by others? And why do I insist that I am “making” images rather than “taking” photographs?

To start with the last question, I regard what I do as making art. It’s not great art, but it’s my art. I could make images with oils or pastels. Perhaps I could carve them in wood and no one would dispute that I “made” the image. However, there are those who still think that there are rules as to what is or is not photography. In their view, the image must be a truthful and literal capture made exclusively with a camera, of whatever was in front of the lens at the instant when the exposure was made. If that’s what you want to do, then good luck to you. For my part, the initial digital capture is merely the basis of the ever-changing recipe from which I attempt to make my images. The only factor that governs inclusion or exclusion of other elements is whether or not it appeals to me.

The only thing on which I accept judgement is the finished image. How I made it is nobody else’s business, and I utterly reject the idea that there is some pure form of photography. Photo-manipulation is as valid as any other tool in image making. And in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

In the images that follow, I shall try to explain some of the “why” questions that I posed above,

Bucket fountain, Cuba St

There can’t be a Wellingtonian alive who doesn’t know the Cuba St bucket fountain. Erected in 1969, the kinetic sculpture fills each bucket until the balance point moves outside the pivot point and causes the bucket to spill most of its contents into the bucket below. I was walking down Cuba St into the noonday sun and noticed that the backlighting offered possibilities. I made some conventional images with the whole fountain and its urban context, but saw and liked the strong colours of the buckets and the contrast of the dark street shadows and the backlit water.

Pauatahanui Landscape

From Motukaraka Point on the Northern side of Pauatahanui Inlet, still water and attractive clouds enhanced an otherwise conventional landscape image. This one appeals to me for its vertical symmetry, and for the beauty of those puffy cumulus clouds. The colours of the day as winter reaches its end were also appealing. I chose to leave the leaves in on the left to avoid being slave to the symmetry.

Darwin’s Barberry

Often when I first encounter an attractive plant, I discover that it is an unwanted intruder that is classified as a pest. Almost as surprising is the frequency with which the plant originated in South Africa. To quote Ian Fleming in Goldfinger, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”. I have several lovely South African friends, and they are definitely not enemies. On the other hand, the emergence of so many beautiful South African flora is clearly suggestive of a deliberate introduction, perhaps as an act driven by nostalgia. Anyway, as to the image, I made it in the mouth of my “dark box” with natural light from the window. I have a tendency to crop too close but gave this one room to breathe. The vibrance of the colours are what appealed most to me.


Such sculptures were , and perhaps still are something of a pop art cliché. My one is about 12 cm tall and was received in a “secret Santa” gift exchange with a $10 limit at work. This was one of the rare times I got a gift by this means that I liked. So why did I make the picture? We were not yet in lockdown for the pandemic at the time, so it must have been the weather. Anyway, I find the curves of the piece aesthetically appealling and as with the previous image, used the dark box to attain the desired contrast.


It was raining. Mary had been to the back door for something and called me to come quietly. There is a clump of lavender that sits immediately up against the glass of the conservatory at the back door, and there, pecking away, was a beautiful little goldfinch. I tried shooting through the glass but as it was raining quite steadily that was never going to work. I went to the front door and engaged stealth mode to sneak around the house to the back in the rain. Amazingly, the bird ignored me. This was perhaps due to the rain, but either way, I was happy with the outcome.

Tui gathering

There was a time when the tui numbers were in severe decline. Not now. These boisterous nectar feeders are present in greater numbers than I have ever seen. It’s funny watching them at Mary’s nectar feeder. An inverted wine bottle full of sugar water feeds into a shallow dish. The birds drink until the level allows air into the bottle and the water is released until it stops the flow. It’s like watching a heliport with no air traffic control. Each bird seems to fly onto the platform without regard to fact that it is already occupied. The displaced bird flutters around squawking indignantly and rejoins the circuit to repeat the process. I tried to get all of the local flock but managed only six of the eight. Why did I make this image? Because I love birds, so if they are distracted so that I can get close, then I’ll be there.

Yellow admiral caterpillar

A photographic friend who is superb at macro photographs of all forms of wildlife is blessed with a young daughter who is superb at finding specimens for him to photograph. Mary is almost as good in that capacity for me. One day recently she came home from her morning walk with this colourful caterpillar. With the aid of fellow enthusiasts it was identified as the caterpillar of the Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea, or in Maori, kahukowhai). Oddly they feed almost exclusively on nettles, and I was unaware of any growing nearby. This one was found on common groundsel. The photograph was made with a macro lens using panoramic stitching techniques. This caused some odd digital artefacts but gave a good picture of the caterpillar.

Camellia japonica

Mary has a lot of friends, many of whom know that her husband is an eccentric character who is always taking photographs. Some of them very kindly give her things that he might use to make photographs. This lovely camellia came from our neighbours and was photographed with a ceramic vase as a backdrop. The glaze was metallic so it creates a somewhat confusing context for this almost perfect flower.

Proverbs 31: 10-13

I rarely photograph people, and even more rarely photograph Mary mostly because she doesn’t like it. Now and then, I get away with it. Our kitchen is small, and I had the camera on the tripod opposite the oven, and triggered the camera remotely from the doorway behind that. Amongst other things, Mary makes a great variety of muffins. I get some, and neighbours and family get some, and sometimes people who volunteer in the same places that Mary does get some. Half of this batch was filled with lemon curd and as an experiment, the other half was flavoured with ginger marmalade. I can testify that both were delicious. The image is made with natural light and I was pleased to get way with it. Though I have a couple of flash lights, I rarely use them.

Seaview Marina

Covid lockdown regulations have eased very slightly in areas outside Auckland, This means I can travel strictly within my local area for exercise. Well, a fine day and a hint of permission were all I needed. Why did I make this image? It contains boats, moorings, the sea and some reflections. No further encouragement was required. It’s not a great photo, but just being there near the boats brought me pleasure.


Way back in 1982, I had the great pleasure of spending six weeks at Eindhoven in the Netherlands. During a weekend break in Amsterdam, I purchased this small pewter figurine as a memento for my late mother-in-law who was herself an expert craftsperson in all forms of fibre. Anyway, a wet day had me looking for an image to make, so I gave this a shot. I decided to apply some “radial blur” to the wheel to create the impression of the spinning wheel in motion. I quite liked the effect.

Last light of day

This is a kereru, the New Zealand native wood pigeon. It’s a large bird, at least the size of a good chicken. This one was sitting in the small kowhai shrub on our front lawn. It was being illuminated broadside on by the setting sun down the Northern side of our house. It knew I was creeping up on it, but had not identified me as a threat. I find this image pleasing, mainly because I got the bird in focus and the light is beautiful.

That will suffice for this edition. I hope to see you next time.

Birds Day's Bay Family flowers Landscapes Maritime Plant life Reflections Weather Wellington

11 Aug 2021 … when you find the thing you weren’t looking for*

It has never been my intention to have ponderous photographic aspirations. Instead, I want to understand what moves me and why, and photograph it well. Like most people who want to be creatives, I get pleasure when my family and friends, or others who I respect express approval of my efforts. On the other hand, before I share my work with you, it needs to meet my own expectations first.

I have been casting an eye on what images I have chosen to share with you recently. To nobody’s great surprise they have been mostly landscapes in the Wellington Region, ships, the sea when it is either flat calm or wild storm, birds or flowers. It’s a very rare occasion that I shoot people. I never do glamour, and very rarely do abstracts. I often have lively curiosity about the subjects I shoot, and like Alister Benn’s idea of pointing the camera at things that excite me.

Why those topics, you might ask. The only answer I can give, is that that’s who I am. Those genres appeal to me. If I get better at making those kinds of image, I’m happy. So let’s see how I did in this edition.

Ken Jyo waiting for a berth

Mid July and the weather has been up and down. We had a wonderful string of calm days and some really rough ones. On this morning, things had calmed down and the freighter Ken Jyo was anchored in the harbour waiting for a place at the berth where they load logs. I loved the glittering sea in contrast to the solid bulk of the ship.

Birthday Bouquet

An unexpected visit from our middle son Drew came with a nice bouquet to mark Mary’s birthday. To my eye, it was a very attractive arrangement, though, as always, the greatest joy was having our son home, however briefly.

Adam and Eve

The Tui is a native honeyeater from New Zealand. At first sight it looks black apart from the white ruff which caused the colonists to name it “the parson bird”. But it is not black. Its plumage is a glorious irridescent mixture of brown, blue and green with flecks of white.There was a time when they were relatively rare. I think a careful management programme has resulted in a significant boom in their numbers.I love to see them as they have a beautiful song of their own as well as being capable of mimicking cell-phones or reversing trucks.


The Daphne is a pretty shrub, popular with gardeners around the world, including in New Zealand. Unfortunately, I struggle to make appealing images of it, even when its flowers are in good condition. I decided to try using it in conjunction with a sheet of florist’s tissue. It helped, after a fashion, but not one of my better shots

On the Waiwhetu Stream

The Waiwhetu Stream winds its way down pleasant suburban landscapes on the Eastern side of the the Hutt Valley from the slopes above Naenae until it reaches the light industrial area at Gracefield. Once it passes under Seaview Road it is contained within concrete embankments and the charm evaporates. Except for a hundred metres on the Southern side adjacent to the Owhiti Urupa (cemetery). The black swan added to the appeal of this view of that stretch. I was astonished to learn that after being almost eliminated from New Zealand, they were deliberately reintroduced from Melbourne in the 1860s, presumably as game birds. There are now about 50,000 of them in New Zealand.

The Wellington Harbour Tug Tiaki heading back to Wellington

After assisting the coastal tanker Matuku to its berth at the oil terminal, the two local Damen 2411 tugs Tapuhi (nurse) and Tiaki (carer) then set out on the return journey to their home berth in the city. Tiaki is seen here hurrying along the coast of Matiu/Somes Island . My friend and well know photographer Simon Woolf expresses the view that a significant patch of red in an image is usually a positive influence on the opinion of a photographic judge. Having stepped down as an accredited judge myself, I am less interested than I used to be in the opinions of judges, but I think he is right.

Stillness at Ivey Bay

This one is hands down my favourite shot in this edition, I don’t know if it is the best shot, but it is the one I like the most. And that, my friends is what I believe counts the most. So why? Firstly, the camera is pointed at a subject that is of interest to me. Secondly, the scene is still and the image is sharp. Thirdly the image is simple and unambiguous. We can all see what the subject of the image is. Yes, I like it.

Camborne Boat Sheds

Across the inlet from Ivey Bay are the boat sheds on the Camborne walkway. The poet, Sam Hunt lived in one of those at some time. The walkway behind them goes from the beach at Camborne around the shoreline to Grays Road on the Northern shore of the inlet. It is a favourite walk for dog owners though the rules about leads are often flouted. On days such as this one I find the scenery to be magical, and it’s not often I look at it from the other direction.


During a brief stay in Dammam, Saudi Arabia some thirty years ago, I encountered the story of a British expatriate who came close to being strangled by his compatriots because he greeted them at the bus stop every morning with “well, I see it’s turned out nice again!”. In case you are unaware, almost every day in Saudi Arabia “turns out nice again”. Nevertheless, I understand the obsession with the weather because the weather governs the light, and light governs photography. So, we had some weather recently. Strong Southerly winds and even snow in the Remutakas made for interesting conditions. Heavy swells breaking across the road in Lowry Bay make commuting interesting.

Fantail in Hiding

The New Zealand fantail is a favourite, perhaps because it flits so close to people walking. I believe this is because they chase the insects that are stirred up by the passing of humans. They are pretty little songbirds. This one seemed to be hiding behind the dead stalk of a nearby flax bush.

Semper Fi

A feature of the Queen Elizabeth II Park at Mackays Crossing is the memorial to the members of the United States Marines who were based there in transit to the war in the Pacific. These little profiles represent the hundreds of huts that stood on this ground almost eighty years ago.

That will suffice for this edition. I might see you next time.

Adventure adversity Airport Aviation Birds Family flowers harbour Landscapes Light Maritime Oriental Bay Pauatahanui Rongotai

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.


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.


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.


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


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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!

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.

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 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.


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.


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

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.


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.