July 13, 2019 … did anybody get the number of that truck?

I had my surgery ten days ago, and all went well. However, even though it was a minor procedure done with an epidural anaesthetic, it seems to have drained my energy and enthusiasm for chasing images around the country. Many days of ugly weather have not contributed to the recovery. But it will return.

Matariki
Marking Matariki

Matariki is increasingly celebrated in New Zealand as an important national season. It is the time that most Maori recognise as the start of a new year. It is marked when the constellation Pleiades (Matariki) first appears in the Eastern sky. The Mayor of Wellington city persuaded his council that it would be more appropriate to spend money celebrating Matariki than having fireworks for Guy Fawkes day, the anniversary of a British attempted assassination plot. And so it has been for the last two years. I decided that rather than getting in close, I would mount a long lens and with the aid of a tripod and remote trigger, shoot from Lowry Bay on the far side of the harbour. This helped me to avoid the jostling crowds, and the smoke that obscured things if you were downwind.

Esmeralda
Esmeralda anchored behind Matiu/Somes Island.

A visitor to Wellington every few years has been the Chilean Navy’s sail training ship, Esmeralda. During the Pinochet years, she was misused as a prison hulk and torture chamber for political prisoners. This shame has remained with her over all the years since and there are often protests when she visits other countries. From my perspective, she is a beautiful ship and an inanimate object incapable of active participation in human atrocities, and I am always glad to see her.

Grapes
Unrealised wine

After the surgery, I have not gone far looking for photographic subjects and found these in the fridge. I just liked their texture in natural light from the window, and they tasted alright afterwards.

Fungi
Fungus on the lawn

I extended my range by about 30 metres to the front lawn and noticed these little fungi in the damp grass. The tallest was about 50 mm (2″) tall. I have no idea whether or not they are edible, though I did hear that everything is edible at least once. If you get it wrong there is no second chance.

Crossing
Crossing the strait.

A few days ago, I started stretching things and drove out around the coast from Lyall Bay and spotted these two vessels heading for the harbour entrance. The container vessel ANL Elanora and the car carrier Trans Future 7 stood out nicely against the mountain behin Kaikoura. Sadly I ran out of steam quite quickly so retreated home for a nap.

Kingfishers
Sacred Kingfishers

Not wanting to admit defeat too early I went out to Pauatahanui the next day, where I sat and watched the kingfishers hunting for crabs. Initially the bird on the left was alone on the log and then the second bird arrived and devoured a freshly caught crab. The first bird seemed to get grumpy and after complaining loudly, flew off in a huff.

But it happened again, and minor procedure or not, it is clear that anaesthetics and surgery disrupt things. So that is all I have to say this time. I hope and expect that normal service and more images will resume next time.

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Posted in adversity, Birds, Cook Strait, Festivals and fairs, Food, fungi, Landscapes | 3 Comments

July 1, 2019 … celebrating the stillness

This edition appears earlier than I intended because I am scheduled for a surgical procedure on Wednesday. Nothing unusual for a man of my age, nor is it particularly sinister, but it will apparently slow me down for a few weeks. Some might ask how much slower can I go ūüôā

Since the last edition, there have been more still days than not. Yes, in Wellington! In fact every one of the images in this edition was made in conditions of flat calm. I love this, but I need to avoid slipping into a wind-dependent rut.

In fact, having been asked for a photograph of a particular topic, I did a quick skim-browse through about 100,000 images in my back catalogue. The way in which my photographic style has changed over the last decade was very noticeable. I also decided that I have a lot of very diverse images that I really like, and that would benefit from current post-processing techniques. That’s something that I might start on during my recovery period. I seem to have narrowed my range of subjects in recent times.

Pukekos
A cluster of Pukeko

My youngest son Anthony and his wife Sarah had been cycling on the Hutt River trail and drew to my attention, a park and lake that none of us previously knew. Just to the West of SH2 where the River road rejoins Fergusson Drive in Upper Hutt, is beautiful Te Haukaretu Park.

It is probably little known because it is at least 500 metres in either direction from the nearest vehicle access. The small lake is a delight and is enriched by the presence of many ducks, geese, pigeons and pukeko. The pukeko is an iridescent blue swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus) which seems to fly only as a last resort. There were a dozen or so at the lake when Mary and I visited. Look at the massive size of their feet. Perfect for walking on the weed that covers many swamps.

Trees in the lake
Some of the trees in and around Te Haukaretu Park

I am unsure what the trees are, that sit in the lake, but their wide bases reminded me of the visit Mary and I made to the Louisiana bayous back in 2012 Neither alligators nor Spanish moss here, but I had that fragmentary reminder of a very pleasant memory, with no noisy airboats or garrulous tour guides to spoil the peace.

Little blacks
Little black shags

On some calm days, I am prompted to revisit old familiar haunts. In this case I went around Port Road in Seaview where there is a substantial dead tree that has drifted downstream until it wedged in the Waiwhetu stream. It is a much used resting place for shags of all kinds. On this day, two little black shags (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) in breeding plumage were whispering sweet nothings to each other. The green and gold reflections from the toetoe grass on the far bank helped to transform an ordinary scene into something special.

White-faced heron
White-faced heron browsing at Pauatahanui

Though I hope for the local re-appearance of the kotuku, the white heron, its smaller cousin matuku, the white-faced heron shares the same elegant form. They are numerous in the Pauatahanui Inlet. They move with grace through the shallows. One step after another, they stir the mud with the free foot and spear anything that is dislodged or is foolish enough to move. If they are provoked into flight, their slow deliberate departure is pure poetry to watch.

Unknown boat
A work boat at Paremata

Ivey Bay seems not to be a familiar name to many people. Wellingtonians drive through it often without registering its name. It is that little corner of the Pauatahanui inlet where SH58 meets SH1 at the road and rail bridges. It has some colourful boat sheds and character-filled work boats that have long since been adapted as pleasure boats. I haven’t found a name for this boat (above), but it is my current favourite for its honest workman-like simplicity.

Ivey Bay (1)
The boat sheds at Ivey Bay

Though it is less picturesque in rough weather, Ivey bay is just gorgeous when the conditions are right. It combines a beautiful natural environment with a quirky human settlement and some interesting old boats. The mudflats that appear when the tide is low do not spoil it.

Ivey Bay (2)
Some people are lucky enough to live here

The Eastern end of Ivey Bay has a Kindergarten on the beach and a number of rather nice houses along its steep banks with some of the best views in the region. Certainly their sunsets must be spectacular.

Whitby
Whitby reflections

I don’t often venture into abstraction, but the reflections of Whitby on the inlet just begged to be used. When Mary and I moved back to Wellington in 1980, Whitby was much more sparsely populated. Now it is a densely packed area of relatively upmarket dwellings. Whereas it is not an area in which I would choose to live, the houses offer some interesting patterns on the water.

Foggy lake
Lake Wairarapa in the fog

And then came the foggy day. Somehow that rarely carries to the Western side of the Haywards hill so I stayed on SH2 through Upper Hutt and over the Remutaka hill to Featherston. In the Wairarapa, the fog was a bit selective. It came down the Tauherenikau River and followed the Western side of the Lake leaving the East bathed in sunlight. I wanted the fog so I began my exploration at the Lake Reserve near Featherston. There, the only things visible from the shore were the sad rusty piles that are the sole reminder of the Wairarapa Yacht Club’s long defunct Hansell’s Jetty.

Old jetty
The jetty’s sad remains

I have made other images of the derelict jetty in other conditions, but different light makes different pictures. I have a weakness for delicate blues and greys and this one really seemed to fit. Apart from a few black swans in the hazy distance there was nothing to see beyond the end of the piles.

Trees
The old 180¬į trick

Whenever I think I have exhausted the possibilities in one direction, I need to remember to look behind me. There is often something to see in the other direction. On this occasion the trees across Barton’s Lagoon offered a ghostly appearance which I liked.

Karapoti
Karapoti in the frost

Just a little to the East of Upper Hutt on the Akatarawa road is the Karapoti forest. It is much loved by cyclists for its mountain bike trails, and disliked by the ambulance crews for the same reason. Considering how close it is to Upper Hutt City, Karapoti is a really wild and rugged area. It even seems to have its own climate.

As I drove towards the park where the trail begins it was nearing mid-dayand there was still thick frost in the shaded areas. Across a farm paddock, there was smoke rising from a small building and the unmistakable smell of frying bacon The occupant certainly knew how to ward off the cold. Luckily, Mary had made a delicious lunch to help me on my wandering. she’s a keeper.

All going well I should publish another edition in two or three weeks. See you then.

Posted in Adventure, Bayou, Birds, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, Paremata, Reflections, Rivers, Trees, Wairarapa | 8 Comments

June 20, 2019 … an odd variety

Thank you to those who pointed out to me that I had lost the ability for readers to click on images and see a larger copy. I believe I have now restored that. The images give a better account of themselves in their larger versions. Just click on each image.

Since the last edition I have made several hundred new pictures, of which I now present the fourteen that most appeal to me. Other than that they are all outdoor shots, I seem to have no consistent theme. Perhaps I am the photographic equivalent of a general practitioner rather than a specialist.

The weather played a role as always, and there were a number of days which were so bleak and unpleasant that I didn’t venture out at all.

Tararua sunrrise
A somewhat surly sunrise – from home

Assuming that I have indeed overcome the technical issue, have a look at the large version of the image above. There was no wind and plenty of cloud but this sunrise had a real presence. It is a tribute to the stabilization capability of the modern camera that this low-light shot was made hand-held at 1/8 second.

Otoroa
Otoroa sets out on its journey home

For many years the Otago Harbour Board’s former pilot vessel has been an elegant and sturdy presence in Chaffers Marina. Built in Port Chalmers in 1965 by the well-known builders Miller and Tunnage, this double-ender looks very seaworthy to my inexpert eye and has been converted to a very fine private yacht. Anyway, she has been sold again and is seen here leaving Wellington on her way back to Otago harbour. I was in Oriental Bay when she cruised past on a somewhat hazy day. I liked the separation between the vessel and the Tararua ranges in the background.

Weta
Wellington tree weta – Male

The weta is a creature that you love or hate. This specimen was found guilty of adopting a threatening posture while Mary was hanging out the washing. It was sentenced to being photographed and relocated. It was about 50 mm long (about 2″). That’s a good sized adult though they can be up to 70 mm long. I got down as near as possible to eye level and took a series of images at different focal points and then stacked them to ensure that the result was entirely in focus.

Incoming wave
Heavy onshore swell – South Coast

A strong Nor’Westerly breeze ripped the crests off the waves coming in from the South. This image was caught at Island Bay. Apart from the flying foam, my attention was caught by the light on the face of the incoming wave. I got other images without the gulls but decided they gave a sense of scale.

Turbulence
Agitation

On the same day, at a place just below Palmer head in Tarakena Bay near the harbour entrance, the washing-machine like turbulence near the rocky shore was just amazing.

Running Water
A tumbling forest stream

A day or two later, the wind persisted, and I sought out a place that was sheltered. Quite some time had elapsed since my last venture onto the Cannon’s Point walkway near Upper Hutt. Almost as soon as you leave the car park you are in the shelter of the bush and all you can hear is the rush of the wind overhead and the sound of the running water coming down the hills. Like forest streams everywhere, these are naturally chaotic, full of water-borne debris and it is a challenge to find a clear view of the water.

Green
Dense greenery

Many of the landscape photographers whose work I admire and follow on YouTube make their images in the wide open forests of the Europe. You could ride a horse through them. New Zealand bush is a different kettle of fish entirely. The moment you leave the path you encounter a nearly impenetrable wall of damp green foliage. It has its own beauty but you have to work hard to choose a subject in all the chaos.

Pauatahanui
Breathless moment at the Pauatahanui Inlet

I was driving home after a largely fruitless exploration of the Kapiti area and I became aware that something special was forming in my rear-view mirror. The inlet itself was beautifully still, but the scene was made special by the vast arc of cloud above. I have a fondness for delicate greys and this scene delivers them in plenty. The image needs to be viewed as large as possible so click for the larger version.

Estuary
Hutt Estuary from Waione Street Bridge

Walking over the Waione Street Bridge in search of a view back towards the Hikoikoi reserve I came across these reflections. The gentle waves coming into the mouth of the river made attractive patters in the reflections of the industrial area on Port Rd. You take what you can when it is offered.

Old man and the sea
A Hemingway moment

We have been here so very many times before. However, the tight clustering of the boats and above all, the presence of the man in the dinghy made it irresistible to me. I believe the man is the owner of the Sandra, and he often takes it out fishing. I am sure that Ernest Hemingway would have loved to meet him.

Weir
The weir at Silverstream

Yet another scene that I have used before. This was never intended to be a weir, but rather the place where the main sewer pipe from the upper valley crosses the river. The underlying geology allowed the turbulence of the water after crossing the pipe to undercut the river bed and thus form the waterfall. It seems to be a little different each time I visit. This is a long (13 second) exposure hence the creamy area around the rocks.

Silverstream
Morning moisture

Misty mornings almost always tempt me Northwards. This scene is just above and to the East of Silverstream. It was the row of straggly pines against the swirling mist that grabbed my attention. Once I saw it on the computer screen I realised that the strong contrasting light had misled me, and the trees are closer than I thought. I like it anyway.

Falcon
The New Zealand Falcon (Karearea)

As Mary and I pulled up outside our church in Waiwhetu last Sunday, she saw a bird eating something and drew it to my attention. I realised it was a karearea … our beautiful and regrettably rare native falcon. Because of its rarity we jealously guard the kiwi (of which there may be as few as 65,000 left). Estimates put the karearea’s population at between 6.000 and 8,000 so it is much rarer. As I reached for my camera (always in the car when I drive), it picked up its breakfast and flew a few metres to the entrance of the church. I had the wrong lens and the wrong settings but in these circumstances you grab a few shots before you risk changing anything. As I straightened up for a clearer view, she picked up that pigeon and flew away with it. I am advised by Debbie Stewart, the executive director of Wingspan, the bird-of-prey centre in Rotorua, that this is a female of about one year old. The fact that the pigeon has a leaf trapped under its wing suggests to me that it was in the tree when the falcon crashed through the branches and killed it with that wicked hooked beak. 1/15 sec at f6.3 are not the settings I would have chosen if I had time to change things.

Garden
Market garden at Kuku near Otaki

A road trip to Levin yielded little, but as I was getting near to Otaki on the way home, the meticulous rows of what I think are lettuce attracted my attention. The tree in its winter nakedness added to the image as did the lovely green/brown contrast in the field.

That’s all this time. See you when I have some more images.

Posted in Adventure, Birds, Cook Strait, Forest, insects, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, Reflections, Rivers, Rotorua, sunrise, Wellington | 5 Comments

June 7, 2019 … thanks for your many kindnesses

Since I last wrote, the region has had more than its fair share of wild and downright ugly days. If I were a depressive personality this would be getting me down. Happily, I can sometimes use the bad days to my advantage. And in any case, many of you have sent me kind and affirming messages which have been balm to my soul. Thank you to those kind people who take the trouble to send messages.

A month or so ago, WordPress changed their default editor, and I didn’t notice that images no longer provided a “click-to-enlarge”. I have corrected that as of this issue and may eventually get back to the issues that were affected. Please do click for a much bigger image

A Little shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) flying in close formation with its reflection at Pauatahanui

When I look up from my keyboard and notice that the trees outside are not moving, I check on the other side of the house for confirmation, and unless domestic courtesies require otherwise, head for the nearest body of water likely to deliver attractive reflections. On this occasion, I went to the Pauatahanui Inlet where the bright blue sky and the gold reeds provided a nice contrast with the Little Shag. “Little” is not a casual adjective here. That is the formal name of the species, as distinct from the Little Black, the Pied, the Spotted and about half a dozen more common types in New Zealand.

Reflections don’t always depend on still water. This architectural study is on The Terrace

Very occasionally I will turn my attention to the structure of the city. I have probably commented before that, for a seismically risky city, Wellington has a large number of buildings with glass curtain frontages. Leaving aside the question of what happens when the earth moves, these buildings present some nice reflections. In this case, the building at 155 the Terrace is reflected from a tower block down on Lambton Quay. I took care to line the framework as well as possible, and cropped and trimmed the last bit in the computer.

It takes sustained high wind to generate lenticular clouds of this magnitude

On the Haywards Hill one evening two weeks ago, I just had to pull over to the side of the road to catch this spectacular formation. I was on my way to act as judge for another camera club’s competition, otherwise I might have lingered longer to catch the brilliant orange colour which came with the setting sun. Dozens of my photographic friends produced stunning images of this event.

Pukerua Bay Lookout offers a fine view towards Kapiti and then a challenge to get back into the North-bound traffic

Mary and I were driving to Waikanae the next day to enjoy lunch with some friends of very long standing. Despite the clear blue sky and the glitter on the water, the thing that caused me to stop at the Pukerua Bay lookout was the impression of relentless power from the waves being driven in from the Tasman by that strong Nor’Wester. The other thing that lookout offers is the challenge of forcing your way back into the North-bound traffic.

Williwaws swirling up Evans Bay

The wind did not abate, and if anything it started to get serious. According to the TV news, it peaked at 121 km/h the next day. I went looking for waves, but found little of interest. That proves that I was not looking clearly because some of my friends produced some great wave shots. However, the wind coming into Evans Bay after its journey across the harbour produced some interesting effects. The swirling williwaws lifted their spouts a hundred metres or more from the surface, and I had to work hard to keep my lens dry. I loved the dark sky over the Western hills.

Downtown glassware

I know that modern architects work really hard to ensure that all the bits of the building remain attached even when the earth moves. Nevertheless, recent demolitions pursuant to the Kaikoura earthquake (14 November 2016) tend to suggest that there are some factors that even the best of them didn’t think of. I love the shapes, colours and textures of a modern cityscape. On the other hand I see hundreds of tonnes of sheeet glass seemingly just hanging on the outside of the building, and I imagine it falling as a huge guillotine. As long as the fixing methods perform as expected I am happy.

Wellingtons winds suck and blow North West then Southerly, most of the time.

If we are lucky, after we have endured a few days of sustained wind, we get a break for a day or two before it all comes roaring back in the other direction. I like the Southerlies for the spectacular waves they deliver on the coast between the harbour entrance and Owhiro Bay. Jagged rocks which are typical of our Southern shoreline help to break the incoming waves and sometimes create astonishing explosions of water. A technique advocated by one of my photographic idols is to be deliberate about the tonal relationships between various elements of the image. Notice the clarity of the rocks and the successive reduction in tonal intensity as we progress to the mountains across the strait.

Pied stilt – Pauatahanui Inlet

And just like that, the new day dawns still and golden. Mary recognises the signs and packs a lunch for me to take on my wandering. I know how lucky I am. Unlike the preceding image, this one presents a clear sharp day and a relatively short distance between near and far, so the tonal range need not be an issue. I really love the golden tones of the reeds at Pauatahanui and the comparison with the formal attire worn by the stilt/.

It has been a long time between kingfishers

One of my photographic friends tells me I lack the patience to be a real bird photographer. She is probably right, and she has it in abundance. On the other hand, I get lucky now and then. Just below the big tree that most of my birding friends know, I spotted this sacred kingfisher hovering for a moment before it dived. In my experience they rarely signal their intentions so I was lucky to have time to point the lens at the ring of water. A moment or so later and it emerged, but without the crab that I assume it was seeking. A real bird photographer would have been lined up before it hit the water and made a dozen images with the shutter set fast enough to freeze the wings. Even so, I like the image. The bird’s eye is sharp and much can be forgiven if you achieve that.

Mighty mountains across the strait

A few consecutive days of stillness are a joy. Not all still days are equal. As I headed to Lyall Bay, the weather was overcast and the light was flat. I drove around the coast towards Owhiro bay and got a suddenly clear view of the great peaks of the inland Kaikoura range. And there’s that tonal range problem again. The mountains were startling in their clarity considering that they are over 120 km distant. I hoped the cloud would clear itself from the peak of Tapuae-o-Uenuku but took the shot while it was there. The typically red rocks of Wellington’s South Coast provide a lovely foreground.

The only constant is change

Drizzle and streamers of mist are not necessarily a disaster in my opinion. I drove down the Wainuiomata coast road and back up again. These receding hills caught my eye. A friend said he wanted to cut along the dotted line. I suspect he is referring to the row of bee hives beneath the nearest tree.

Some real rarities

Another packed lunch day developed and I was motivated to go to Hokio beach on the West coast just South of Levin. To my great joy when I parked for lunch on the estuary of the Hokio Stream, I found a patch of relatively still water and there scurrying back and forth, were a lot of black-fronted dotterels. I love the dotterels for their delicate beauty and the black-fronted variety is especially attractive to my eye. In the picture above, the bird at the back is a banded dotterel which seems to a little bigger than its cousins. I counted ten of them all racing around pecking at some food source in the sand. They it worth the journey.

That’s sufficient till I gather more images. I hope you got some pleasure from my random wanderings and as always, if you have constructive criticism please let me know.

Posted in Birds, Evans Bay, Geology, Haywards Hill, Hokio Beach, Kapiti Island, Landscapes, mountains, Pukerua Bay, Reflections, Rivers, Sunset, Waves, Weather, Wellington | 10 Comments

May 27, 2019 … keep on keeping on

Introspection is a mixed blessing for any artistic endeavour. As you might recall if you read my post from May 15 , I seem to spend a lot of time doing it. What I keep hearing from other photographers, however, is that self-assessment is better than being driven by the responses on social media. And so I continue to articulate my internal warfare for your entertainment. I really appreciate the constructive feedback I get from some of you, so please keep providing it.

Just like social media, lots of posts don’t necessarily lead anywhere.

Whitireia Park is a large area of hilly grassland on the South headland of the Porirua Harbour. Even if they don’t know the park, most Wellingtonians will know it as the place where the old YA and YC station radio aerials are. The day I visited there recently was characterized by relatively flat light and some haze. After some fruitless wandering, I settled on the wooden posts used to prevent cars from entering the grasslands as my subject. And then I saw the separation between the green grass of the park and the background hills.

Near the corner of Abel Smith and Cuba Streets

Exploring the area of the city where I walk less often, I encountered this fence. With a limited view of the yard behind it, I formed the opinion that the owner was deliberately playing up to the Bohemian character of the Cuba St precinct. This was shot from across the street so I had to time the exposure to give a view of the fence in between passing cars and pedestrians.

At a recent camera club night, I heard a fellow member exclaim in delight that someone had shown images with people in them. It wasn’t me. I am sure those who have been watching for a while have noticed that I rarely “do people”. I like people (in small numbers) but don’t like the necessity to meet their expectations in my images. Anyway, in my unpopulated shot above, I enjoyed the quirky design, and the careful colour-matching.

Burgers and Coffee served from a bus

Ekim Burgers is a popular coffee and burger stop on the the intersection identified in the street signs. The old Valley Flyer bus has been converted to serve as a kitchen and customers sit in the chaotic courtyard. It’s a colourful place with partial shelter that seems to do well in better weather.

No lions here

After a few days of ugly windy weather in which I was not motivated to go out, there came a still patch at the end of the day. I went North to see if there might be some reflections on the lake in the newly refurbished playground at Fraser Park. There were, and even better, this rather lovely tree posed against a rosy sky. I adopted a low angle to make the playground equipment as inconspicuous as possible. I rather liked the quasi-safari atmosphere.

… to dungeons deep and caverns old*

Stillness is a relative thing. I had hoped for better on the South Coast on this particular evening, but had to settle for a slight chop on the sea. However, as I looked across the strait to Tapuae-o-Uenuku (2,885m), I was taken by the light and texture on the Seaward Kaikoura range. Click on the image to enlarge and look at the the hills below and left of the high peak. I also liked the dramatic contrast of the rocks off Sinclair Head, one of which seems to be pointing up the Wairau Valley which runs from Blenheim to St Arnaud. Despite the ruffled water, I got an image.

And then, it was still

When true stillness comes at last, I apparently get a look of longing on my face which prompts Mary to say ” oh go on, you know you want to get out there”. And so I go, burdened with guilt, but rejoicing in my good fortune. From a lookout on Mulberry St in Maungaraki , the view South to Antarctica is a constant joy. The dark shadow on the horizon suggests that the stillness might be brief.

Lingering stillness

I thought this patch of weather would move on quickly, but to my delight it lingered for several days. From Petone Beach, I had spotted a fleet of yachts engaged in a very slow race. The wind was so light that they were not able to spread as far as they might in stronger conditions. However, I also wanted to capture the beauty of the harbour in these conditions, so I pointed my camera at Ward Island 7km away in the entrance to the harbour.

Then from the corner of my eye, I spotted a waka ama approaching from the East. The ancient outrigger canoe has been transformed into a fibreglass racing class, and this crew were out practicing. They certainly shot across my viewfinder much faster than any of the yachts.

Fast water

A change of pace was made when I went to the weir on the Hutt River at Silverstream. There was a moderately fast flow across the weir and the water was tumbling over the downstream rocks in the late-afternoon sun. This image was made in full colour, but with the aid of a neutral density filter to get a silky look on the flowing water from an 8 second exposure.

Welcome swallows by the lake

That elusive stillness seemed as if it might have moved to Lake Wairarapa, so I crossed the hill to Featherston where the water was just as ruffled as it was in Wellington. I really need a Wairarapa correspondent who can flick me a text when the conditions are right, either dead calm or misty. Anyway, I settled for this shot of a pair of Welcome swallows (Hirundo neoxena). They were adjacent to a pond sparkling in the sun hence the bright spots in the background which I quite like,

Embrace**

I walked up the track to the Massey Memorial on the Miramar peninsula and saw something in these tree roots. My thought was that since the earth had crumbled away from them in front, they were having to hang on to each other for dear life. I hardly ever shoot monochrome, but decided to try it in this instance. I am unlikely to change.

And then it rained

Mary has a small potted anthurium that has been very prolific this year, and vivid in its colour. I always struggle to do anything useful with an anthurium plant. Despite my preference for simplicity I added a cut-glass fruit bowl against the window in the background. I like it, I think.

Into the distance

A pleasant afternoon at Eastbourne led me to Burdan’s gate beyond which only pedestrians and cyclists proceed as a general rule. There are exceptions. It’s a few years since I last walked this trail out to Pencarrow lighthouse or beyond. Either of the prevailing winds can make the inward or outward journey less comfortable. And if you are really unlucky, an untimely wind change can give you a headwind in both directions. I liked the appearance of two walkers on one of the very many headlands.

That will do until I have gathered another dozen or so images that I like. See you later.

*Misty Mountains Cold – the Hobbit J.R.R Tolkien

**Thanks Michael Witbrock

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

May 15, 2019 … grinding of teeth

I spend a lot of time agonising over my photographic ability. I get lots of positive feedback from you, gentle readers and I thank you for it. But my severest critic remains unsatisfied. My best images still fall far short of the best images in the competitions I occasionally  enter.

The infuriating thing is that most of their winning images are within my technical capability. What my images usually lack is their genius way of seeing, of extracting something extraordinary, and usually very simple, from the banal complexity of ordinary life. A self-inflicted handicap is my tendency to shoot in broad daylight rather than in the dramatic low light of the blue and golden hours associated with the start and end of each day. Perhaps I need to get up earlier.

Wanting some images to submit for two prestigious national competitions, I spent half a day skimming through the 5,500 or so images I have retained since January 2018. I make far too many images and retain far too many “snapshots”. In case you are unaware, snapshot is a very derogatory term in photographic circles. I extracted about 50 images that would not embarrass me. I reduced that to 14 images a very few of which might be deemed worthy of acceptance for display. As an accredited judge myself, I am aware of the mercurial fate that makes a judge like or dislike an image so more in hope than expectation I have entered the two competitions and will let you know in due course how I fared.

But as for now, I am engaged in culling the sad images that I should never have kept and am trying even harder to see with the eyes of genius to which I aspire. But enough of the flagellation, here are some shots made since I last wrote.

Autumn colour

Pastoral scene in Silverstream

Silverstream is one of those Hutt Valley places settled early by homesick pioneers who were desperate for the sights and colours of their distant homeland. Seeds were planted and a century or so later we see the lovely colours of deciduous trees in Autumn. It is a brief splash of colour and I needed to position myself carefully to exclude power poles and the severe evergreens of native bush in the background.¬† I might have gone for a square format to show just the foliage. On the other hand the fence and the horse tell part of the settlers’ story.

Tide

Incoming tide at the boatsheds, Hutt estuary

Many times before I have shown images from the Hikoikoi reserve, so the boats and the boatsheds may be familiar. In my opinion, each visit is different. The boats swing, the tide comes and goes, the clouds and the light vary and each visit offers the chance to see the same place in a new way. I used a wide angle lens (equivalent to 18 mm on a full frame camera) and positioned the camera very close to the sand, I was so intent on the visual aspect of the incoming tide that I didn’t realise how fast it was coming until it seeped through my shoes into my socks.

blue

Blue on blue … the new Lyall Bay Surf Lifesaving club’s premises

Wellingtonians who have been away for a while may recall the surf lifesaving club’s wooden building on Lyall Bay. The old building is dead and gone, and a vividly coloured replacement now stands there. The child in the picture was incidental but I like his red hat. For anyone concerned for his welfare, his father was seated around the corner out of sight, keeping a close watch. I liked the geometry of the composition and blue of the sea and sky and the many shades of blue in the tiles,

Harbour

Captain Herd of the Settler ship Rosanna said in 1826 of Wellington Harbour “Here all the navies of Europe might ride in perfect safety”. He was presuming they wouldn’t shoot at each other.

Stillness always appeals to me, especially on the water. From my son and daughter-in-law’s housein Maungaraki,¬† I borrowed their front balcony which offers a great view of Wellington’s inner harbour. The light was a little flat, but there was a glittering quality to the water which made it worth the shot

Nga Kina

The closing gaps and the art works

Town planners speak of “view shafts” by which they mean the ever-declining number of places from which their citizens can see between the high-rise buildings to the waterfront and the sea. I fear that this gap at Queens Wharf gates at the bottom of Whitmore St is endangered. I remember in more innocent times being allowed to wander on the wharves alongside ships even as cargo operations were in progress. Alas the parts of the port to which the public have access seems to shrink each year. However, the authorites allow and even commission art works in the remaining areas to soften the blow. In this case, the fibreglass reinforced concrete work in the foreground is “Nga Kina” by Michael Tuffery. I used a neutral density filter to allow a 20 second exposure to tame the water.

Pukeahu

Though it symbolises the “Red Heart of Australia”, the 300 tonnes of sandstone in the memorial were sourced from Agra in India.

The Pukeahu national war memorial¬† park is located in front of the old Museum part-way up Taranaki St.¬† One of its feature memorials consisting of 15 red sandstone columns with inlays of New Zealand grey basalt was gifted to the people of New Zealand by the people of Australia. It’s a struggle to see it from other than the obvious angles so I laid my camera on the ground between the columns and fired it remotely. It was quite a challenge to find a view spot that did not include unwanted external items.

Bee

“How doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour …” (Isaac Watts)

Earlier in the year I reported a visit to the cherry blossoms at the Aston Norwood gardens to the North of Upper Hutt. Mary and I went back there a few weeks ago for lunch, and to seek Autumn colour. There was some, but what caught my eye was the industrious honey bees working on the lovely expanse of flowering yellow shrubs. I had a long lens mounted, and this shot was made at a 300 mm equivalent

tree

Standing against the wind

The South Wairarapa district calls me often, and I love it all the more when there is mist in the background. This shot was made on the Lake Ferry Road looking Westward to the Rimutaka ranges. I tried hard to make that weather-worn tree separate from the backgrounde

Autumn

Red carpet

My last shot in this edition is to re-affirm that Autumn is here, and indeed almost over. These leaves are from one of the two Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) in our front yard. It always amazes me how little time passes between the first browning of the summer leaves to a full blown dump of dead red leaves. But each season has its beauty.

So ends another edition. Constructive feedback is always welcome

Posted in adversity, Architecture, Art, Bees, Cook Strait, flowers, harbour, History, Maritime, Reflections, Rivers, Trees, Wellington | 9 Comments

2 May, 2019 … back from the dead

Perhaps it’s just that I was too lazy to find out how to use it properly, or maybe it was the lack of a feedback mechanism. Whatever the reason, my venture into another platform¬† for the regular sharing of my photography and writing proved unsatisfactory.¬† I overlooked the difference between a portfolio and a blog.

So it is that the blog lives on for a while longer. I shall retain the Adobe Portfolio site (https://harmerbrian.myportfolio.com) as a receptacle for a permanent core gallery, but I have resuscitated the Wysiwygpurple site for periodic posts of recent work. Perhaps not weekly as in the past, but we shall see how it evolves.

Accordingly, in this post, you will find a collection of 18 images that I liked best in the month of April.

post

Red painted post

April in Wellington was grey. We had some long periods of rain which might be expected to slow down my photographic urges. On the other hand there is cabin fever, and I ended up hoping to make a feature of the weather. This was a puddle in the gravel road into the park at the Western end of Petone beach. It was just a puddle except for the red-painted post and its reflection which transformed it.

Geese

Canada geese in flight

Another grey day and comparative calm led me to hope for still water on Pauatahanui inlet. Sadly there were a lot of residual ripples on the water. On the other hand there was a substantial flock of Canada geese. I attempted to sneak up on them, but they have sharp senses and flew off as I got near. Shooting season starts in the coming weekend and many of them are smart enough to gather on these protected waters.

reflection

Stillness and light

A little further around the edge of the inlet, I found that a small pond was blessed with exactly the kind of stillness I was seeking and reflected the reeds beautifully. And then a break in the clouds caused the Belmont hills to light up. If I were judging, I would say I now have two separate disconnected images, one of the reflections and one of the hills.  Not a prizewinner, but interesting.

Ja1271

Parked, cold and still Ja1271

At Paekakariki, Steam Inc restore and maintain their fleet of locomotives and other rolling stock. As I was driving past I spotted Ja1271 parked on a siding between the sheds and the road. They needed the space in the shed to work on another locomotive. It’s fairly rare to get clear walk-around access to one of these splendid machines. How odd that I should have made an image from the same sort of angle that I might have done inside the shed. On the other hand I like the contribution that the tracks make to the image.

Wet

City bound traffic on a wet morning

As I said it has been a dull month, and this shot looking North up SH2 from the Normandale overbridge catches the general spirit of the day. Despite the headlights and windscreen wipers, this is 9:30 am in Lower Hutt.

orchid

“Feed me Seymour”* … detail of an orchid

No matter the weather outside, there is always colour to be had in the begonia house of Wellington’s Botanic Garden. This shot is down the throat of a lovely orchid, taken close enough to exclude all background distractions.

Water lily

Water lily in the begonia house

Also inside the begonia house there is a pond full of carp and water lilies. I always love getting close to water level for a different perspective.

Sea Lion

Sea Lion launched in 1946 and looking her age

Sea Lion is an old and well-loved work vessel with lots of character. In recent times its owner has either caused or allowed it to be painted with cartoon birds. Though I think this 73-year-old vessel deserved a more dignified treatment it makes me smile nevertheless

Lady Elizabeth

Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV engaged in inshore rescue duties

Lady Elizabeth IV is the Wellington police launch. It is seen here bouncing in choppy waters off Shelly Bay and its RIB cradle is empty because the inflatable is effecting a rescue closer inshore. I have the sad memory of watching her next but one predecessor sailing out through the heads in a gale and never returning.

Tram

The 109 tram leaving Graham St, Port Melbourne

On Good Friday, Mary and I flew to Melbourne to spend a week with our elder daughter Catherine and her husband Mark. We had a great time and enjoyed their tremendous hospitality. I love Melbourne, though I wonder if the day will ever come when there are not at least a dozen new high-rise buildings under construction, each with multiple tower-cranes. The world’s most extensive tram system and the Myki electronic ticketing make it an easy city to get around, though I don’t enjoy the rush-hour.

Beacon

One of the two navigation beacons in Beacon Cove

Port Philip Bay is a vast expanse of water and it puzzles me just how often it is glassy calm. I confess to assisting it a little in this case with a neutral density filter and an 8 second exposure. Just to the West of the Tasmania Ferry terminal is Beacon cove where this beacon and an identical one a few hundred metres inland provide a navigational aid for ships bound for the port.

Shrine

Inside the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

We visited Melbourne in the week of ANZAC day and took the opportunity to visit the Shrine of Remembrance in the city’s stunning Royal Botanic Gardens. We went inside the main building and I was intrigued by the interior of the pyramid-like roof.

Melbourne

St Kilda Rd and Swanston St, downtown Melbourne

From the upper levels of the shrine’s roof there is a great view of the city’s downtown skyline. This view looks past the spire of the Art Centre, across the bridge over the Yarra. St Paul’s Cathedral and up the length of Swanston St. In the distance (three km away) is the Portrait building. This 32 story apartment block has the portrait of Aboriginal leader William Barak etched in the white concrete of its balcony facings.

Lake

Lake Daylesford, Victoria

The next day Mark and Catherine took us on a very pleasant road trip to Daylesford, 110 km to the North West of the city. Daylesford is a very pretty rural spa town at the foot of the Great Dividing range. With a population of about 2,500 it seems to cater for the tourists who visit the many spas nearby. We spent some time at Lake Daylesford before a pleasant lunch in a local restaurant and a leisurely  trip back to Port Melbourne.

Arcade

Shopping arcade, Melbourne

Melbourne’s CBD has a large number of shopping arcades, most of which have been restored to their original glory or better. There are some great restaurants in the various lanes, and far too many chocolate shops for the good of my waist line.

Miner

Noisy Miner on colourful shrub, Port Melbourne

I walked down to Beacon Cove again, and on the way through Port Melbourne’s Garden City Reserve, spotted this very musical bird which, as far as I can tell is a Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala), an Australian Native, not to be confused with the introduced Common Myna from India. It is a member of the honeyeater family.

Port Philip Bay

A grey wet morning in Melbourne

Several visits to Beacon Cove produced some interesting opportunities. This was a wet morning on which Port Philip Bay disappeared into the grey distance. The iron fence is on Princes Pier. It’s like one of those comic book gates with no surrounding fence. There seems to be nothing to stop people walking out to the pier itself.

Piles

The historic piles of Princes Pier

That being the case, I went around the end of the fence and stood on the edge of the restored part of the pier and attempted to capture something of its original piles. Again the neutral density filter was used to enable a 25 second exposure and provide stillness on the water’s surface. In the local ANZAC memorial service which we attended, much was made of this pier as the departure point for the Australian soldiers setting sail for the Gallipoli campaign.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them**

* Little Shop of Horrors by Frank Oz

** For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon

Posted in Adventure, Architecture, Birds, flowers, harbour, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, Melbourne, Museum, Railway, Vehicles | 9 Comments