April 13, 2018 … tightening the screws

My artistic muses keep telling me that I make too many images, and that I should try to set a higher standard. I keep agreeing with them, but struggle to comply. Let’s see how we go this week.

Wellington

Looking down on the inner city

A bright Wellington Autumn day tempted me to go up Te Ahumairangi Hill from where there are a number of viewpoints over the inner harbour.

Bouquet

Anniversary flowers

In the period since I last wrote, Mary and I celebrated 48 years of marriage, and our elder daughter marked the occasion with a nice bouquet which was worth having a look at.

Kaitaki

Kaitaki heaving into the swell

 

 

Later in the week, from the top of Brooklyn Hill, I spotted the interisland ferry Kaitaki battling her way into a heavy Nor’Westerly swell off the coast of Island Bay. Since I have to make this trip myself, next week, I was fascinated. I am not a good sailor.

Southerly

Owhiro Bay in a Southerly

From down at sea level, in Owhiro Bay a day or two later, I enjoyed watching the Southerly waves roll in, heavy and green.

wharf

Youth and speed versus age and cunning

Yesterday I spent some time on the inner harbour waterfront watching the world go by reflected in the residue of some recent heavy rain. I liked the contrast between youth and age.

Tararuas

The Southern wall of the Tararuas

As the clouds lifted, they revealed the snow on the high peaks of the Tararuas. Considering that this is early April, this is a very early sign of winter on its way.

Advertisements
Posted in Adventure, Cook Strait, Family, flowers, harbour, Landscapes, Maritime, mountains, Waves, Weather, Wellington | Leave a comment

April 3, 2018 … drop anchor

Another week, another post. I seem to be going through a flat spot, with little or no inspiration. However, we persist, as we always have.

Gallery

In the National Art Gallery which was, to my eye, truly disappointing

Mary and I went to the national museum, Te Papa. We had heard that the part of it that is the National Art Galley had been renewed. Alas, the only part of it that I regarded as traditional art consisted of mostly colonial era portraits. There are apparently in excess of 2.5 million items in the collection and this was the best they could do? I am convinced that art gallery curators march to a different drummer to the majority of us.

Mantis

A mantis, waiting patiently for something edible to come within range

A few days of really fine weather brought out a number of New Zealand mantises which is bad luck if you are on their diet, but interesting for the rest of us.

Sunrise

From our front door across the valley to Naenae

A few spectacular moments in the morning sometimes yield a useful image, though often, I miss it entirely.

coast guard

Coast guard in Evans Bay

In Evans Bay, the Coast Guard were setting out for a training exercise and cutting a fine figure on the blue water.

Landscape

An empty landscape … or is it?

Over Easter weekend, we got a nice break.  I found a new technique that allows me to add a whole lot of images together and apply statistical techniques to eliminate any elements that are not present in most or all of the images. A landscape that was full of cars, bikes, people and dogs is suddenly empty. I love it.

shelter

Sheltering from the ugly wind

This morning, the wind was blustery, and indeed, miserable. A flock of royal spoonbills was huddled among the reeds at Pauatahanui.  There were 28 in all, which is quite a flock for this area.

In view of the scarcity of offers on our house, we have decided to withdraw from the market for a while. We have no urgent external need to move so here we stay.

Posted in Adventure, Animals, Art, Birds, Evans Bay, insects, Landscapes, Light, Museum, Weather, Wellington | Leave a comment

March 24, 2018 … suffering for my art

When I left you last week, I had just completed the trip to Pencarrow Lighthouse with the camera club. What I didn’t tell you is that as I came back across the Hutt estuary to Petone, I saw some delightful reflections on the river. I parked across the road and crossed back to the edge of the bay where there is a walkway that drops down beside the water and then under the Waione St Bridge. There was no moon, but lots of spilled light from the road and nearby businesses so, with one eye on the view and half an eye on the track I set out to get the picture. Then there was nothing beneath my feet, and I was suddenly reenacting Alice in Wonderland: “Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well“* I came to a sudden stop, wedged to my waist in a hole where the path had been scoured out by recent rain. And I do mean wedged. I was firmly caught between the collapsed bank and the wooden edging strip. When my elder daughter heard about it later, she sent me the image of Winnie the Pooh (inset below in the picture of the hole)

Hole

This is a pure iPhone record shot of the hole through which I fell (inset borrowed without permission in the hope of forgiveness)

There was no other person nearby and I was trapped below the level of the adjacent road out of sight of passing cars. I heard my camera and tripod crash a metre or so to the rocky beach below. It took me a good five minutes of wriggling and squirming to get a toe-hold in the edge of the hole and then to do a caterpillar-squirm back to the path. After checking that there was nothing more serious than a few grazes and shaken nerves, I clambered over the edge, down to the beach to retrieve my camera which was, astonishingly, undamaged. I took the picture of the hole on my iPhone and sent it to the council who, to their credit, repaired it the next day.

Hutt estuary

Hutt Estuary at night as a sea mist rolls in.

Then I made the image that I had seen in the first place. It wasn’t as good as I envisaged, but it was an adventure.

Wellington

City textures with Victoria University’s Kelburn campus at the rear.

There were some good days and some that were less so in the days that followed. I always hope that when I look across Oriental Bay, the cityscape will tell a new story. Certainly the city looked as if it were washed clean, and the dear old Hunter Building is a jewel in the centre of the picture.

Anthurium

Anthurium

On the less comfortable days, or if it was raining, I tried some still life. I struggle with Anthuriums but this time used a new feature provided by a firmware upgrade to my camera … it makes up to 8 exposures each focused a little further back and then produces a composite using only the sharp bits.  I spent my entire career in computing but can’t imagine how they achieve this.

River

In the Waiotauru River at Otaki Forks. Flowing fast and cold

Mary and I went up to Otaki Gorge and she set out for a brisk walk while I took my shoes and socks off and rolled my jeans up and trod gingerly into the stony river which was very cold. No disasters occurred, though my feet got very cold.

Birds

Confrontation … or perhaps a classroom

A day later, at Pauatahanui, I spotted this white-faced heron apparently conducting classes, or perhaps fomenting rebellion, while facing a neat parade of pied stilts. The ones in the back rows seemed less interested.

Home

Home sweet home

My car was in the dealership getting a new wheel bearing fitted, so I wandered around central Lower Hutt filling in time. The morning sun caught our house on the hill above, and since it has been home for 37 years and is currently for sale I thought I’d catch it too. That’s us, the white one third from the left. As you can see, my bedroom window top left on the front of the house has no obstacles to the view.

Shed

The Greytown shed which has been photographed by most photographers who have passed through

It seems every region has its cliché subject. Wanaka has its tree, Milford has Mitre Peak, and Greytown has its shed. It’s always hard to resist the idea that maybe this time, the light, the season, the surrounding field will make the picture better than the last two dozen times I tried.

Train

Quietly rotting, and a target for the graffitists

Driving into the city on the old Hutt Road, as I passed under the flyover near the ferry terminal, I saw a splash of colour in the rail yards. It was a set of the now obsolete Hungarian Ganz-Mavag commuter units. They had been thoroughly vandalized with spray cans. I detest all forms of graffiti, and though there is a great deal of talent out there, I would respect it more if they painted on a surface that they owned themselves and could perhaps sell to pay for the next one. As I understand it, the Greater Wellington Council still own these units, and their intended sale to other countries has been stalled by the discovery of asbestos in them.

Lagoon

Wellington waterfront lagoon

We have had the most stunning summer in living memory, and are now in a quite rapid transition to a colder wetter state. So far, though, there have been a good number of those days where the sky is full of drama but the wind stays away. I love those days, especially when the light plays nicely on the city’s many reflective surfaces.

That will do for now. See you next week, barring any further holes in the ground.

*Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

 

Posted in Adventure, adversity, Architecture, Camera club, Family, flowers, Greytown, Landscapes, Light, night, Railway, Reflections, Rivers, Weather, Wellington | 4 Comments

March 17, 2018 … more than just the best of a bad lot

Introspection can be cruel. I have a habit of using Adobe’s collection management tools to identify and categorise the images that I like best.  It is clear that I am not being critical enough. For example, I have kept 906 images so far in 2018. Of those, I have included 206 in the folder entitled “Images I really like”. I went back over the 206 images and concluded that I am being far too soft.

Now I recently judged for a club that specifies that, in a typical field of 45 entries, approximately half should be “not accepted”, no more than two or three images should get “honours, and just a few should get high acceptances. Educators call this “norm referencing”, which means your work is compared to and ranked against what everyone else is doing. The club for which I am currently judging is more gentle, and I am told I may award whatever grades  are appropriate to any image that deserves it. This is called “criterion referencing” whereby something is evaluated according to how it matches with the agreed measures of success, regardless of what anyone else does.

My problem is that, even if I apply criterion referencing to my own work, I am keeping too many. My introspective gene leads me to believe that I am often keeping merely the best of a bad lot. Don’t mistake this for false modesty. I know I get some good ones, but definitely not 206/906.  So, there may be fewer images in future, but better ones.

Yachts

Friday night sailing regatta in Wellington Harbour

Now and then, I yield to temptation and will prefer fish and chips on a Friday night. I phone the order through, and still have a few minutes to wait when I drive up to the shop in Maungaraki to collect them. When the first image was taken, the sun was painting the small area between Matiu/Somes Island and Petone with a warm but delicate light, and the local yacht club were smack in the middle of it.

Zealandia

Beautiful New Zealand bush in the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary

Some days later, Mary and I went to Zealandia, our local wildlife sanctuary. I was not especially successful with the birds on this occasion, but I do love the bush tracks through the area. There was birdsong all around.

Ngauranga

Early evening rush hour in Ngauranga Gorge

I have been experimenting with various forms of long exposure and this shot was made from a little side street off the Ngauranga Gorge.  As you will see, anything that wasn’t moving should be very sharp, and anything that was moving should be blurred. I tried various exposures, but the longer exposures caused the traffic to disappear altogether. I had to wait patiently for a train to cross the bridge in the foreground.

Mist

Misty morning on the harbour

There were some interesting misty mornings which I love. This image was made from the hillside at Korokoro just above Petone railway station. The harbour was just beautifully calm.

Moonrise

Moonrise as seen from home

And then there were some moon opportunities. I have an app that tells when the moon will rise, but the height of the hills across the valley adds a delay to that. There were also some clouds, but in due course, it arose.

Island Bay

Island Bay at sunset

I found a new viewpoint on the South Coast at the back of Island Bay, and had to make the most of yet another perfect night as I came back down the hill.

Strait

A golden view across the strait

Then, just around the coast towards the airport, at Princess Bay, my rear-view mirror demanded that I stop and turn around to look at the mighty Kaikoura ranges across the strait. What a beautiful spot to be at sunset.

Thorndon

The earliest houses of Thorndon

Early this week, I wandered a lesser known street in the very oldest parts of Thorndon. These are houses of similar age and style to those so much loved in Arrowtown. It really is a very pretty part of our city.

Pencarrow

On the beach at Pencarrow

My final shot this time is one made on a camera club outing which I helped to organise. We got hard-won permission to take a convoy of cars along the coast road from Eastbourne to the lighthouses at Pencarrow to catch the setting sun. Alas, the sun hid behind a cloud bank, but it was a beautiful evening anyway.

 

Posted in Adventure, Architecture, Camera club, Cook Strait, History, Island Bay, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, Moon, mountains, night, Sunset, Weather, Wellington | 4 Comments

February 22, 2018 … a need to take control

I suppose it’s a bit late in life to reach this conclusion, but I really need to stop letting life just happen to me. Every morning, there is a new day. And each day just seems to do what it likes with little or no guidance from me. Of course, any new policy of decisiveness will have to take into account that the weather will be unimpressed and just carry on as if I were not here. But there is more to this notion than weather, and perhaps that will become clear as I continue.

Petone wharf

Nice to see the Petone wharf reopened to recreational users after the earthquake damage some fifteen months ago.

You probably got the idea that we had one of those truly spectacular summers which is likely to be a future standard against which other summers are measured. It seems to have come to an end. Not suddenly, nor with an act of meteorological violence, but rather a soft drifting off into mists and grey cloud. For the most part the wind has remained calm so I can cope nicely with that.

Waikanae

Stillness at Waikanae

There were even some days when summer made a brief attempt at revival. This was at the Waikanae Estuary. I was just setting up when the thud of feet and the sound of dripping sweat and heavy breathing heralded the arrival of a secondary school physical training class. They promptly started attempting to form five-high pyramids with limited success. I grabbed my shot and moved on in the direction of Otaki Forks

Otaki

tumbling brown water near Otaki Forks

The rivers were running quite high and the roads were crumbling in places as the recent rain had undermined a number of the edges above and below the road.

Dandelion

Now is not the time to sneeze

The weather really crumbled after that so I was reduced to still-life. Mary found a dandelion seed-head and I decided to get quite close.

Maple

I don’t know if this is the last of spring or the first of Autumn on our Japanese Maple

The next day, with everything still wet, Mary found another target for me … a solitary new shoot on our Japanese maple. I confess to having fiddled a little with this to separate the new pink shoot from the green leaves in the background.

windmills

I titled this image “the spin doctor”

At the weekend just passed, there was the annual fair at Petone. Crowds are not my thing and you need not scroll back far through this blog to recognise that I don’t often shoot images of people. But it is a colourful occasion and I found someone selling windmills, made of various durable materials.

Evans Bay

Evans Bay calm after the storm

 

Then cam ex-tropical cyclone Gita. Howling winds and heavy rain passed much further South than initially predicted but still gave us a hefty clip during the twelve or so hours of its passing. The prediction also suggested there would be some very serious waves to be had. By the time I got to Evans Bay in search of them, I knew there would be none.

Noordam

Holland America Line’s Noordam stops to pick up the pilot to enter Wellington Harbour

In fact at the South Coast, the cruise liner Noordam was arriving, presumably diverted from somewhere that actually was disrupted by the storm, but this view is of the Pacific Ocean, looking South towards Antarctica. As you can see there is an absence of big waves.

ferry queue

Backlog of trucks waiting to cross the strait after the storm cancelled some ferry sailings

On my way back to town, I spotted what seemed like a colourful ribbon across the harbour. It wasn’t until I put the long lens up to the eyepiece that I realised I was seeing the heavy traffic queue waiting for the next interisland ferry. So, that’s the week as it happened to me.

 

 

 

Posted in Adventure, adversity, Art, Cook Strait, creativity, Festivals and fairs, flowers, Kapiti Coast, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, Otaki, Rivers, Waikanae, Waves, Weather, Wellington | Leave a comment

February 14, 2018 … some days work better than others

One of the characteristics of the present day, is the vast and formless pool of expertise available on almost any topic imaginable. Photography is  no different, and in my preferred genres of landscape and nature, there are many people offering to accompany me to Iceland or to South Georgia or wherever, and to teach me all they know in exchange for some eye-watering sums of money. Sadly,  my aforementioned eye-watering sum just went to the coffers of the service department of my car dealer for a replacement engine after the disaster that befell me in the Wairarapa as described in the last edition. I have the car back now and life will necessarily resume without the personal intervention of any of these experts.  On the other hand, even if I had not had the breakdown, I would have put the money to better use.

Horse

A clean pair of heels at Battle Hill

Meanwhile, during the last week, I got out and about.  In all our years in Wellington, Mary and I had never spent any time in the Battle Hill Farm Park which is on the Paekakariki Hill Road. On the day we visited, there was a pony club enjoying a bit of a trek, and one rider cantering about jumping obstacles.

Lenticular

A few days of a steady wind and the lenticular cloud appears

The Eastern Hills of the Hutt Valley seem to provide the perfect barrier on which the Nor’Westerly winds form lenticular clouds.

Carillon

The Carillon at Pukeahu park

A still day in the city and I wandered around Taranaki St and spotted the Carillon reflected in the window of a small commercial building.

Memorial

War memorial art work

Just around the corner from there is the most recent war memorial art work. It was commissioned by the British Government from Weta Workshops and apparently represents the mingling of the oak and the pohutukawa trees.

Kapiti

Kapiti Island across a moody sea

For a few days we  had some stillness and this image was taken near Paekakariki looking towards Kapiti Island

Fog

Fog in the Hutt Valley

And then we had a couple of days of solid fog, and the airport was shut down. I like these days for the mysterious views the offer. In this case, from a promontory in Maungaraki looking towards Karori  the fog was coming and going

 

 

 

 

Posted in Animals, Landscapes, Light, Paekakariki, Reflections | 2 Comments

February 2, 2018 … all good things come to an end, eventually

January has been a month of mixed fortunes. Weather-wise, from my photographic point of view, it was great, with sun, little wind and lots of warmth. That has now been replaced by a severe gale suddenly lashing central New Zealand. And I could have done without the catastrophic engine failure I experienced during a trip to the Wairarapa last week.

Reflection

I often wonder at the wisdom of glass-curtain architecture in such a seismically threatened city as Wellington. I like the appearance though.

The week began hot and fine. I spent time wandering the waterfront, trying to look behind the obvious, to find the image-worthy subjects. On the waterfront near the TSB arena I saw a reflection in the tower block on the other side of Jervois Quay, and liked its contrast with the Norfolk pine nearby.

Traffic

Evening rush on Jervois Quay …stop, go, stop, go …

Later that day, in the afternoon, I was crossing the bridge from the waterfront as the evening rush hour began. My camera has an interesting feature intended to build high-resolution composite images by taking eight images in rapid succession, each with the sensor moved in very small steps to left or right, up or down and then combining them to a single 40 megapixel file. It is intended for still subjects, but I wondered what it would make of the traffic below. As you can see the road, the building and the trees are all shown as they should be. The rendering of the moving vehicles is interesting and to my mind, as I hoped, catches the sense of the slow-moving step by step progress towards home.

Otahoua

The transmission tower atop Otahoua Hill to the East of Masterton is a visible landmark for miles around.

Then came my day of madness. Despite a forecast temperature of 33ºC, I crossed the hill into the Wairarapa and just a little to the East of the town is the Te Ore Ore – Bideford Rd. You can guess the names of the two localities it connects.  Otahoua hill overlooking a large expanse of somewhat dry-looking grain caught my attention.

Panorama

Somewhere between Ihuraua and Alfredton, there was birdsong and the hum of bees and the thermometer was nudging 33ºC

The road from there, through to Dannevirke, though picturesque, is long, winding and narrow, and in places quite rough. My car chose that remote spot to start sending me distress messages via the temperature gauge. I stopped for a while to set up this North-facing panorama of the wild and lonely countryside in the area. Click on the image to get a better sense of the emptiness of the area. The road I was following runs along the edge of that pine plantation and winds on to Dannevirke perhaps 50 km further to the North West.  Very little traffic on the road though I did have to wait until a convoy of motorcyclists thundered past. Then I resumed a cautious slow drive to Dannevirke where I sought assistance. I did eventually get home, but perhaps should have stayed. It is either a cracked cylinder head, or a leaking head gasket. Either way, the engine in the car is wrecked and the cheapest repair option was a replacement used engine.

Blue

Beyond that blue horizon there is absolutely nothing until you reach the Antarctic ice

The next day, back in Wellington, using a courtesy car provided by my dealer’s service department, I went to explore yet another day of magical warmth and stillness. An old man got in his dinghy and rowed out from Petone beach to tend his fishing nets. That’s Matiu/Somes Island to the right and in the haze on the left is that drilling platform looking for a fresh-water aquifer below the sea bed.  Next to that is its attendant tug, Tuhura.

heat

Haze so early in the day suggests a hot day ahead

Yet another day dawned hot and hazy and this view from my bedroom window promised at least one more day of summer. After that, all bets were off. A tropical storm brought wind at 130 km/h and rain, lots of rain. The delicate people amongst us cheered as they temperature dropped from consistent 30ºC to nearer 20ºC. It seems so long since we had a real summer that I would have liked it to continue a while. Of course, farmers and gardeners were delighted. According to media reports this was Wellington’s hottest January in 150 years of temperature records.  I have loved it.

 

Posted in adversity, Bees, Cars, harbour, Landscapes, Light, Lower Hutt, Manawatu, Masterton, Masterton, Petone, Wairarapa, Weather, Wellington | 2 Comments