January 19, 2019 … Wellington, my “Tūrangawaewae”

I love the Maori concept of Tūrangawaewae. Literally, it translates as the standing place on which you plant yourself. More specifically, it is the place of special significance to you, the place of empowerment, your place in the world.

A friend recently wondered how I could keep shooting images of Wellington. The answer is both simple and difficult. It is simple in that it is where I am most of the time. It is difficult in the way that it challenges me to see it with new eyes each time I look. So this week I explore some images that I hope capture various moods of Wellington, my Tūrangawaewae.

Paper Tigers

Paper Tiger catamarans lining up for a racing start

In Evans Bay, there was a fleet of small one-person catamarans in a neat line. I learned later that I was seeing a heat in the national championships of the “Paper Tiger” class. What caught my attention apart from their neat line, was the glitter of their translucent sails against the dark green of the bush.

Last week, I spent of lot of time discussing aspect ratios. The long line of yachts demanded a long narrow treatment and I had to crop downwards to avoid the suburbia above. I wanted the attention to be on the yachts.


I am sure there were many safety features at work, but watching these guys handling live wires was scary

We had received notification at home of a planned power outage. It seemed that some poles, insulators and cross members need replacing. In the week prior, poles were laid on the ground, and a fleet of specialised trucks assembled. On the day, the crew were afflicted with a wind gusting around 50 km/h. They went ahead anyway. I regard these guys as heroes, strapped to poles amidst a swinging tangle of high-voltage wires. I tried to get as many of them in frame as possible but could get no more than a third of the crew,. I wish I could have captured the way everything was swinging in the wind.


Office blocks from here to there

My younger daughter showed me the place where she works, and I was delighted to catch this previously unseen view of The Terrace in Wellington. The Terrace is a street of corporate offices where I used to work before the years of academia. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me, so had to make do with the iPhone 7 which I rarely use as a camera. As they say, the best camera in any situation is the one you have with you.

Shelly Bay

To Mt Victoria from Shelly Bay

It’s always an occasion of great joy when any of our family come to stay. David and Rowena came from Brisbane with Grace and Isaac, and it was my task to collect them from the airport. Inbound flights from Brisbane tend to arrive at around 00:30 so I decided to capitalize on the still night by making some night shots. This shot was made from Shelly Bay on the Eastern side of Evans Bay. Night shots are fun, but in my opinion, require a sturdy tripod and a remote trigger. I knew I would need a long exposure, but with the lovely crescent moon in the sky, I had to compromise as it moves quite a long way in a short time. This image was made with the shutter open for 64 seconds which was a bit too long, but on the whole, I almost got away with it. Do click to enlarge to see the detail on the water

Mt Vic

The heart of the city from the Mt Victoria Lookout

The same night, I went up to the lookout platform on Mt Victoria. The reflections tell how relatively still the night was. The image might give some sense of why this city is so special to me.


The little tugboats that could

A day or two later, I was in Oriental Bay and noted the splash of bright colour across the bay. The tug boats Tiaki and Tapuhi have maintained the tradition established by their three predecessors of a bright red colour scheme. And then, behind them was the red brick of the former harbour board offices, now upmarket apartments. Above them to the right is the parliamentary library building, and above and centre is the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, currently closed for remediation of seismic risk factors. This image was given the horizontal chop treatment to emphasise the strong lines of the buildings.

Houghton Bay

Houghton Bay from Te Raekaihau Point

I mentioned at the beginning, a place on which to stand. It’s always nice to find a new one. As I was leaving Lyall Bay, I went up Hungerford Rd and spotted a sign that referred to a walkway. I parked and followed it to the top of Te Raekaihau Point which is the Western tip of Lyall Bay. I just loved the view along Houghton Bay to Taputeranga Island which is the centrepiece of Island Bay. In the very far distance, 130 km away, the summit of Tapuae-o-Uenuku can be seen peering above a solid cloud bank.  I shall visit here again in different light and different weather. The ferry Kaiarahi is in the distance, inbound from Picton.


They are an invasive weed, but very pretty when the sun catches them

The family went to the Marlborough sounds for a few days and I volunteered to collect them from a late-evening ferry. Once more it was a reasonably still night, so I set out to have time to make images. I had shot some from Petone Beach looking to the harbour entrance and was coming back to the car when I spotted the light of the setting sun on the Hare’s-tail grass. I set the camera on its tripod so as to catch the sun at the level of the seed heads and was pleased with the result. I have been agonising over whether to get rid of that rogue stalk.


Petone Beach sunset

A few moments later from a little further along the beach, the view across the harbour called for a further record of the sunset. It’s a well-worn path, but each time I see a scene like this, I try to see it as a  new event to be seen in a new way.


Aratere prepares to swing around for berthing

I had some photographic fun at the ferry terminal, catching the comings and goings of various vessels, until at last the Aratere came round Point Halswell and began to position itself to reverse into the berth. By now it was well past twilight and I had to boost the ISO setting all the way to 2500 to catch this shot. Since the vessel was still moving at a fair clip, I could not use a long exposure and stretched my luck at 0.4 seconds without too much motion blur. I enjoyed the reflections on the water, but am baffled by the vertical green streak. I presume that it must be from the starboard navigation light, but the light itself is obscured  by the superstructure. Nevertheless, I’ll take it since it adds to the pleasure of the arrival.

That’s all this time. As always your feedback is welcome.



Posted in Airport, Architecture, Cook Strait, Evans Bay, harbour, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, night, Petone, Reflections, Weather, Wellington | 2 Comments

January 10, 2019 … into the new year

Somehow, the festive season is far behind us already. We are several weeks beyond the summer solstice and there is, as yet, little sign of a sustained summer. There have been days here and there that have offered photographic opportunity, and I have tried as best I could to use them.


Kaiarahi straightens up on the course across the harbour to the ferry terminal. I love the light on the water

It would be obvious to any one who has followed this page for even a few episodes that I have a strong affinity for still water. The thing I check first when I pull back the curtains most days, is the extent to which the nearby bush is moving. My favourite days are those when the leaves are perfectly still. Then I head to the places from where I can see the reflections. On this occasion I went up a steep Narrow street at the foot of Ngauranga Gorge just as the ferry Kaiarahi was turning towards its berth. As you can see from the wake, it makes a very tight turn. To some extent, the presence of the ferry was serendipitous. I had gone to my vantage point to capture the contrast between the hazy receding planes of the Eastern Hills and the bright glitter on the harbour

I have noticed that when I make landscape images, I have a strong preference for the landscape formats, usually either 16:9 or as in this case, 2:1. Is it a good choice do you think?


Recreational fishing has never been kind to me. Perhaps I lack the patience required.

From the same vantage point on the same day, I spotted this little “tinnie” engaged in recreational fishing at the foot of the Ngauranga Gorge. Again, it was the almost oily stillness of the harbour and the pleasant morning light that persuaded me that there was a picture here.

As you can see, I have used the full native 4:3 aspect ratio of my Olympus camera and I think it suits the subject.


Sunset drama from home

A few days later, the weather was just ugly and I was not motivated to make an image. That is, until the very end of the day when the setting sun lit up the clouds in the East and highlighted the band of clouds along the Eastern hills. I grabbed the camera and took eight vertical images which were then stitched to a single panorama. While I have no illusions that it is a great image, I liked the drama of the sky.


Motukaraka Point in the rain

At Pauatahanui Inlet in drizzly conditions I thought there was no image to be had, but made this picture of trees at the Western tip of Motukaraka Point.  Again, I have adapted the aspect ratio to suit what I regard as the essence of the image.  The rain-blurred background contrasts nicely with the sharpness of the water in the foreground and the trees that were the subject of the image.


As I said elsewhere, only a centipede needs this many stilts. I do like the arrange,ment

In the wetlands near Pauatahanui village, there was a flock of pied stilts. They were mostly snoozing in the still conditions, many of them in the one-legged stance so typical of wading shore-birds. But what really caught my eye, apart from the smart black and white plumage, was the lovely horizontal line of the birds. To my mind, it demanded the narrow aspect ratio.

Lowry Bay

Lowry Bay in the morning

Yesterday started out magnificently, but the forecast suggested it would not last, so I set out early. In Lowry Bay, the view across the harbour to the Miramar Peninsula was delightful, and I decided that the warm tones of the wooden fence that protects people waiting at the bus stop from the splashing of the waves on rough weather days added to the sunny feel of the day. The streaks of cloud hint at the change to come.


Hikoikoi viewpoint

While the weather was still on my side, I visited the Hikoikoi reserve in the Hutt River estuary. I have made a great many images down there, and struggled to find a way of seeing it differently.When I attended a photographic convention in Tauranga a few years ago, I recall the celebrated landscape photographer, Guy Edwardes advocating the use of long lenses in making landscape images. Though it seems counter-intuitive, I find that the long lens often lets me see a familiar scene in a different way. I had some discussion with photographic friends as to where to crop this image, and some suggested I should lose the pink door on the left. I disagreed think it balances the light colours on the right edge.



Quizzical inspection

The cruise-liner thing eludes me completely, though perhaps the Caledonian Sky pictured here, might suit me better than most since I would only be forced to mingle with 119 other passengers instead of the 4,179 on the Ovation of the Seas. Anyway, I thought that Max Patte’s iron sculpture “Solace in the Wind” was looking quizzically  at one of the few cruise ships small enough to berth down-town.  I love the red oxidation on the statue.

That’s another week gone. Thanks to those who kindly offered feedback last week.



Posted in Art, Birds, harbour, Lower Hutt, Maritime, Reflections, Weather, Wellington | 2 Comments

January 03, 2019 … the road goes ever on and on*

Happy New Year to all my readers, and especially to those who have been with me for so long. The WYSIWYG identity has gone through a number of evolutions since I first used it in 1993. I hope to make another step forward today.  I still intended to provide a selection of images with associated comments, but I want to tighten up the connection between what I see, how I interpret it and how I describe it. You may or may not notice the difference, but you are welcome, as always to share your thoughts in the comments.


A busy corner of Wellington’s port

The interisland ferry Kaiarahi approaches its berth in Wellington with great care. In the background, the small black vessel which is the unlikely neighbour to the cruise liner, celebrity Solstice is the LPG tanker, Bougainville, carrying 5,000 cubic metres of liquefied petroleum gas.

I made the picture because I liked the colours, and the shapes being formed as Kaiarahi moved slowly towards the loading ramp. A clear blue sky is not usually a good thing for photographers, an in this case there are some wisps of high cloud to break up the blue expanse. I am ambivalent about the lifeboat lowered for inspection, and the work boat being exercised beside Celebrity Solstice. Are they a distraction, or do they serve to break a large block of white paint?


Five-mile track in Catchpool valley

I offer this image as a representative patch of the bush on the five-mile track in the Catchpool Valley in the Remutaka Forest Park. I always enjoy this park visually, despite the struggle I have to make images that show it in a pleasing way.

As you see the track is well-formed, and the bush really is that green. Whatever the weather outside, the ridges to North and South and the trees themselves seem to shelter the walker  from whatever wind there might be.

I think this would be a better image if I had stepped off the path to the left and thus not made the path quite so central. On the other hand, there was a steep drop to the left.


A fine stand of beech trees

I made mention of a representative patch of bush. A few hundred metres further, and the character of the bush is entirely different. Instead of the dense low bush, I found myself in a stand of magnificent beech trees.

I made this image for the beautiful soft light I found there, and I hope WordPress does it justice. Take note of the leaf carpet.

Bush pictures, including this one, struggle to reconcile the contrast between earth and sky. Perhaps it might have worked better as a panoramic shot without the glittering sky.


Tree root ladder …. the steps are much taller than they might look

And another hundred metres brought me to this “root ladder”. There was a time when I would have bounded up over this without a thought. Sadly I struggle to get my knees high enough for each step now. I did get over it, but not as easily as I used to.

About here, I realised I had lost a small but important plastic moulded piece from the bottom of the centre column of my tripod. Where might I have lost it? I went back to the beech grove where I had last set it up and started looking around among all that leaf mold that I referred to earlier. Great glory, I found it!

The main virtue of this picture is that it illustrates the typical way in which tree roots are incorporated into the walkways. Sadly, nature doesn’t provide for wheelchair access.

Pt Howard

Pt Howard oil wharf and Ward Island on a perfectly blue New Year’s day

New Year’s day in Lowry Bay on the Eastern side of Wellington Harbour,. The residents of this up-market suburb have to tolerate the unsightly Pt Howard oil terminal. On this spectacular morning, the harbour was still and on this moment, I am prepared to make an exception for the blue sky. Truth to tell, I like those “blue-on-blue” days when the horizon gets lost somewhere out there where sea and sky come together.

The clarity of the air was such that Ward Island in the harbour entrance, and the leading light just to its left were sparklingly clear.

I liked this picture as a start to making pictures in a new year. I like it for its simplicity, as well as for the fact that some of my photographic friends couldn’t figure out where I had taken it from. A conservative judge might complain that it is very centrally placed.

Kaitoke (1)

Tumbling clear water at Kaitoke

Yesterday, Mary and I went to the regional park at the Kaitoke waterworks, a little North of Upper Hutt in the foothills of the Tararua ranges. I should have known better. It was a public holiday and a fine day and there must have been thousands of people camping, hiking, swimming and picnicking in the park. As you may have noticed, Landscape is my usual photographic preference and I tend to avoid people.

This picture is at surface level in one of the creeks in the park and if you click to enlarge, you will see the many colours in the stones that caught my eye. On the far side of the creek, the dead trees are the remnants of a landslide. If you look closely at the fern fronds on the far bank you can tell that the day was not as calm as the day before.

The milky effect on the water under the far bank, and the hazy effect around the near stones give away the fact that I used a neutral density filter to make a 20 second exposure here.


A lovely river landscape in Kaitoke

My last image for this week was also made at Kaitoke. I clambered down a steep path and down a root ladder, past an unbelievably discarded used baby diaper, onto a part of the stream where there were very few people. I sat on a stream-side boulder and set up my tripod to catch another long exposure.

Though I could fiddle a bit with this image, I quite like it. I might crop a little off the bottom to eliminate the distracting light grey boulders in the lower right hand corner.

And that’s all for this week.

*J.R.R. Tolkien used the Road goes ever on and on in a few places … I like the one in the Lord of the Rings:

The road goes ever on and on,
down from the door where it began.


Posted in Adventure, Forest, harbour, Light, Maritime, Weather, Wellington | 5 Comments

December 24, 2018 … and so, to the festive season

This edition is shorter than usual. The reason is simply that there were days when the weather was unsuited for my preferred styles of photography so no pictures were made. I would rather miss a day than knowingly deliver mediocrity. Of course this exposes me to the danger of delivering mediocrity unaware. My basic rule is to not show an image that I don’t like.  So here we go in the brief penultimate edition for 2018.


New Zealand Pipit singing merrily at Otaki Beach

It is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, to call Otaki Beach a beach. It is more of a horizontal quarry … formed mainly of heavy pebbles carried down the Otaki River from the Tararua ranges, Nevertheless it is a place of prolific bird life, and I was pleased to see this New Zealand Pipit chasing yellowhammers away from its preferred singing posts.


Emerging Pohutukawa

It is the season for Pohutukawa blossom, and I decided to catch a cluster of blossoms in the very earliest stage of its flowering.

Supreme Court

At the Supreme Court, looking towards the parliamentary office building

I was in the city for lunch on Tuesday and decided to look at the reflecting pool beside the supreme court. Then I remembered the “look behind” rule so tried from the other end. Bowen House forms a suitable backstop to the pool, but you can line up the view only by getting over the small fence into what is presumable the private grounds of the court-house. I stayed outside but lifted my camera and tripod over the boundary. A few minutes later I was approached by two members of the court security service. Happily, they were unarmed, and did their job in a friendly kiwi style, and were keen to see how the slow exposure worked. We live in a blessed country.


The common honey bees were humming in their thousands

Did I mention pohutukawa already?  There is a grove of them at the South end of Muritai Rd in Eastbourne, and they are early bloomers. They are also a magnet for the wild honey bees which seem to be making a comeback in the region.


Kaitaki and Tangaroa

Outbound and homebound

On Friday, I was at Petone Beach and the harbour and sky were both impossibly blue. On the sharply drawn horizon line, I could see the Kaitaki heading out on the 9am sailing to Picton. Incoming was Tangaroa, the NIWA fisheries research vessel.

That’s all for now. To those of you who, like me, celebrate Christmas, warmest wishes for a wonderful occasion. See you all next week, perhaps



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

December 18, 2018 … reaching a seasonal climax

It has been a busy week with various end of year functions with camera club and friends and a graduation ceremony (of which, more later). The week ahead looks no better, so let’s see what happened this week.


Sunrise in the Hutt Valley


I woke early one morning and found the sky ablaze  with something that is apparently called sunrise.  Having my camera nearby, I stuck it out my bedroom window to capture this phenomenon in case others might not believe me. Who knew?


Nightfall at the marina

In more familiar territory, at the end of the same day, I went down to the marina at Seaview where the last light of day had just left. I like the stillness, and despite the long exposure, the boats stayed still for me.


Still tied up but ready to go

In one of the following days I found myself at Oriental Bay and noticed the two Centreport tugs, Tiaki and Tapuhi positioning themselves to assist the container vessel Lori to leave port. I went down onto the beach and positioned the camera at sea level. and had to make sure that incoming wavelets did not splash the lens.

Rock pool

Rock pool, Lyall Bay


In the Western side of Lyall Bay,  there are some rock pools full of interesting life and lots of Neptune’s necklace (seaweed). Every part of the this coast has a  picture to offer if only I can see how to extract it.


African daisy

Just above the rock pool, the shore is covered with white daisy-like flowers which I believe to be the semi-succulent African daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum). It seems to be quite invasive and covers a lot of the shoreline above the beach.


My friend Rashidah is second from Left, front row. She has earned that smile

And then there was the day of graduation.  When I retired from the university way back in 2011, I was forced to hand over the supervision of my very last PhD student to my colleagues. Hailing from Sarawak where she is the chief executive of that state’s library system, my friend Rashidah was studying how institutions such as museums libraries and galleries should acquire and display the intangible cultural assets  of indigenous peoples. Things that were regarded as secret and sacred needed to be treated respectfully and in accordance with the wishes of the people to whom they belonged. It was a joy for me to be allowed to attend the graduation ceremony and to wear my academic costume for the very last time.  I took the picture from my position on stage with my smuggled camera, of the moment when the chancellor declares the graduands to be graduates and thus able to wear the headgear appropriate to the degree. Well done Rashidah., and congratulations to my colleagues who brought their supervision to a successful conclusion.


Thunderstorm in the distance

Weather has featured in my consciousness this week, and it even included a brief thunderstorm which is relatively rare in Wellington. I rather liked this image taken from a hilltop site in Kelson on the Western hills of a heavy cloud formation. The storm never quite reached Wellington.


Mangaroa River

Just a little north of Upper Hutt, the Mangaroa river comes in from the East to join the Hutt River . It’s not a big river but fast flowing and popular with people who come bouncing down through its many rapids on various inflatable devices.


The reason for the season

Mary and I don’t do much in the way of Christmas decorations at home, but one constant feature over the last twenty years or so has been this elegantly simple nativity scene. The figures are made of artfully folded fabrics by a gifted artist from Blenheim.



My daughter-in-law, Sarah has a garden which as a few spectacular opportunities such as these spectacular lilies


Flower of uncertain identity

In the same garden, I found this, As far as I can tell, it is a close relative of the white African daisy above … I think it is Osteospermum ecklonis.

That’s all this week. See you round.

Posted in Academic, Art, flowers, Kaitoke, Maritime, Rivers, Weather, Wellington | Leave a comment

December 9, 2018 … how did we get here already?

Somehow, it is almost Christmas again. Surely the last one was just a few weeks ago? Of course the fickle weather patterns should have been warned me that Christmas was due.


Rain at the cemetery

When it rains I often think there might be a picture to be had. Early in the week, I somehow had in mind that there might be a shot from Pukerua Bay towards Kapiti. Unfortunately, I encountered a ferocious traffic jam near the Whenua Tapu cemetery so decided to slip up Airlie Rd and back down into Plimmerton. Then the heavens opened and since I was near the cemetery I decided to see if I could combine the falling rain with the colours of the various monuments and the many floral tributes.


I think it’s a little shag (identified by short beak)

The next day was almost perfectly still, so I hoped to find some dabchicks at Queen Elizabeth Park. Not a single dabchick showed itself, but the little shag made a nice contrast with the green reflections on the water.


It sometimes worries me that we make such extensive use of glass curtain walls in a seismically prone city such as ours

Later in the week, I attended a book launch. A friend has used 26 of my images plus a few from other photographers to illustrate his collection of autobiographical essays. As we were leaving after the event, I was taken with the reflections in the building across the road. The old Charles Fergusson Tower has been stripped to its steel skeleton and re-clad in dark mirror glass.


The Cobar Cat on its way to Matiu/Somes Island and Days Bay, despite the howling wind

And then the weather played up rough again. I saw wind speeds variously estimated from 60 to 140 km/h. At least in theory, I understand that the two catamarans that do the Day’s Bay ferry are supposed to stop when it gets to 4o km/h but given how hard I had to hang on to stand upright I think it was well above that as the Cobar Cat bounced along.


Wainuiomata River in the rain

The wind dropped but the rain came back so I went over to the Wainuiomata Recreation Reserve and walked one of the loop tracks . I loved it, and the bush was a glorious freshly washed  green.


Russian sage (pending an alternate identification)

The rain continued for most of the day so I shot a small cutting of a roadside plant from the morning’s walk. I believe it is Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)


A caravan being towed back towards solid ground across the slumping roadway

Yesterday, I went over to the South Wairarapa Coast heading towards Cape Palliser. The crumbling limestone cliffs to the South of Putangirua pinnacles are always a challenge to cross. The warning signs (Caution! Active Slip. Extreme Caution!)  give you little or no indication of what to do if the road actually moves beneath you. And the slumps in the road leave little doubt that it seriously could do just that.


Creeping wildflowers adorn the edges of a pool

Just out of Ngawi, I saw some coastal pools, perhaps a temporary product of recent heavy rain, but they were attractive with the wildflowers around their edges.


Agricultural layer cake

After a brief visit with the fur seals I turned for home and as I got close to Featherston, saw these interesting contrasts in crop colours.  I have no idea what the plants are, but the contrast was pleasing.

That’s all this week.

Posted in adversity, Art, Birds, flowers, harbour, Maritime, Pukerua Bay, Waves, Weather, Wellington | 4 Comments

November 30, 2018 – stillness, real and constructed

My term as president of the camera club is over and I have to say that though I enjoyed it, I am relieved.  Now I can make more pictures. Note the careful choice of the word “make” which frees me from the tyranny of the notion that you stick with what you take.

Sweet pea

Sweet pea in flower

My first image this week was of a sweet pea found as a roadside weed in Paremata. The curling tendrils appealed to me

Kota Lihat

Kota Lihat departs

Wonderful stillness on a misty morning took me to a high lookout in Maungaraki as a large Hong Kong registered container ship, Kota Lihat was departing for Napier.


Sail training in various forms

A day or two later, and closer to sea level, I was paying attention to a small fleet of Optimist yachts at Petone when I got photo-bombed by the sail training ship, Spirit of New Zealand.


These white peonies are about 20 cm across

Mary was gifted a small number of peony blossoms, so of course I had to play with them. They are huge and delicate.


Cruising in bad weather

My lifelong fascination with all things maritime is no secret, Earlier this week we had an absolutely rotten day with wind and steady drizzle most of the day. Two cruise liners, Golden Princess and Sun Princess turned up with 4,600 hundred sun-seeking tourists between them and turned them loose to enjoy themselves for the day. I suspect many of them stayed on board.

Sail training

Spirit of New Zealand

On Wednesday I spotted the Spirit of New Zealand again, cruising along in the mist off the South  coast. Here, I confess to manipulating the image to flatten the sea and to show the reflection. It’s a much nicer image than the original, and I assert firmly that I do not regard the “straight out of  camera” image as especially sacred or privileged. What I offer are images that I have made in pursuit of my art. I do not promise documentary accuracy.


Pines in the mist

The mist was fairly random in where I could find and use it. This scene was up the Brooklyn hill at the bottom of the road to the wind turbine.

Sea Lion

Sea Lion

The Sea Lion has been a working vessel around the coasts of Australia and New Zealand since it was completed in  1956. Her latest colour scheme is interesting to say the least


New Architecture on the waterfront

The new Deloitte building on Waterloo Quay on Wellington’s waterfront is an imposing presence.

And that’s all for now.

Posted in Architecture, Art, Camera club, Cook Strait, flowers, harbour, Light, Maritime, Weather, Wellington | Leave a comment