Art Children harbour

September 30, 2013 … family time and swinging tides

We have six grandchildren and love them all dearly.

Likewise we have five kids and five wonderful sons-  and daughter-in-laws and they are all cherished. Sadly we don’t manage to spend as much time as we would like with them. As I write, I begin to feel like Bob Cratchit at Christmas … but I remember too, the need to provide stability within our own relationship and our own family and to be appropriately independent at times. Yesterday was an interesting day for me, family-wise.

Our two local grandchildren had been with us for a sleep-over. Both were born after the death of my late father (2002), but for some reason I became aware that if my father were still with us, yesterday would have been his hundredth birthday. Oh how he would have loved these kids, just as he loved their parents.

Knitting apprenticeship
Such an old story … the handing down of craft skills

But this was our time to spend with the youngsters. Maggie wanted Gran to teach her to knit, and so it came to pass. She was producing reasonably reliable rows with few dropped stitches in very short order.

A dweller in a far-away land
Fantasy is OK, up to a point

Cooper was more interested in his own world and he lay on the bedroom floor, surrounded by toys, and partial skeleton of his “bone monster” (described in yesterday’s blog. He was colouring in a book of “superheroes” and was happy in his isolation.

The work boat, "J.Vee" swings at her moorings
A sandwiched shot

Later in the day, after the children had been reclaimed by their rightful guardians, I went out to experiment a little using some of the techniques espoused by the photographic impressionist community. So the first little work boat, “J.Vee” is moored in the sheltered bay at Hikoikoi.

Red boat
It may have moved at some stage, but this yacht is rarely away from its anchorage

My next interpretation is of a red yacht which is anchored in Lowry Bay.

See you tomorrow.

Children Cook Strait South Coast Weather

September 29, 2013 … a beaker full of the chilly South*

I like the South Coast of Wellington.

On the other hand, if the weather is not just so, it makes you work to find an image. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t.

Blue water at Island Bay
Very chilly despite the sunshine

Island Bay is a much photographed spot, and indeed I have used a few shots from here in this very blog, so here is yet another. If you look behind the right hand group of boats, to  the left of the faux lighthouse you can see the high peaks of the Inland Kaikoura range with some residual snow. Though daylight saving is now with us, I suspect the snow will be refreshed before it disappears for the summer. As you can see from the surface of the water, there was a chill breeze blowing.

The start of a fishing trip
I am presuming there was someone at the wheel, because the man on the deck seemed to be focused on hosing down the woodwork, and those are serious rocks.

Though the fishing fleet at Island Bay are mostly small craft, operated by family businesses, they seem to have some serious diesel engines and I was quite surprised when the sound of a throbbing engine proved to be nothing more than this little vessel, the Vito. It departed at a brisk clip, and headed over towards Tory Channel.

Aratere bound for Picton
It was a busy half hour with the Kaitaki and Straitsman inbound, and the Aratere outbound.

A heavier but more muffled sound accompanied the Interisland ferry, Aratere  as she emerged from the harbour entrance and followed the trawler in the direction of Picton.  That’s Baring Head light in the background. It intrigues me that the upper light at Pencarrow was ineffective due to fog and was replaced by the lower light at sea level. No similar consideration seems to apply at Baring Head. Perhaps it is more exposed to cleansing winds.

Grandchildren learning from their Gran.
Cooper is a monster fan and was very excited to find some bones on the beach. Definite archaeological proof of the existence of a “bone monster” in his mind.

While I was playing with my camera, Mary was exploring the rock pools with our grandchildren, Maggie and Cooper. It’s a scene as old as time. Rock pools have always intrigued us, though these are set among some sharp and mean-spirited rocks that are unkind if you fall. Still, a trip to the nearby cafe soon puts such discomfort to rest.

That’s all for today.

*with apologies to Keats, and his “Ode to a Nightingale”

adversity Birds flowers harbour Maritime South Coast

September 28, 2013 … a day of mixed fortune

It was a nothing sort of day, tinged with some personal stupidity.

No photographic inspiration on day 1,001. Whatever came, I took. Fate did likewise. I was out in one location and it took my remote wireless trigger. I really like the Hahnel Giga-T Pro Mk II (despite its stupid name). Nothing else that I have found offers as much function at such a relatively reasonable price. At $170, it is still not cheap. It has one fatal flaw though. It sits in the flash shoe atop the camera and is locked in place by a plastic ring that screws down onto the camera. Unfortunately it simply doesn’t generate enough friction to lock it in place, so for the second time this year, it fell off and I didn’t notice. Despite three separate trips back to the rocky beach where I think it disappeared, I found no trace of it, even with wifely assistance.

Back to the “whatever came” theme: my first shot was another repeat of a recently used idea … this time, a tui in a kowhai bush. I suspect I caught this one as it was evaluating me as a threat, because moments later it flew grumpily away.

Tui in kowhai
Unlike the kereru, the Tui is a nectar eater and doesn’t destroy the flowers when it calls.

In the afternoon, on the aforementioned rocky beach out at Breaker Bay, I saw the trawler “Daniel”. She has appeared before. Yes I know it has a male name, but by tradition, all ships are “she”.  Despite the sturdy nature of this very solid wooden vessel, she appears to spend her time hosting recreational anglers. I suppose that, unlike commercial fishing, these trips turn a profit whether or not any fish is caught.

A fishing party just off Breaker bay in the entrance to the harbour
I couldn’t tell if they were catching anything but they seemed to be enjoying themselves

Finally, the shot after which the remote trigger disappeared. I was trying for interesting water effects with a very slow exposure (1/3 sec at f22) . Even with my variable density filter, I could not achieve a longer exposure without over-exposing.

Surging tide in Breaker Bay
I am sure I shall get over the slow exposure thing eventually

Bah humbug. I bought another trigger, but this can’t go on. My solution (I hope) is to have glued a layer of latex to the foot of the trigger to provide more friction and prevent accidental removal.  New Zealand Daylight Saving kicks in tonight. I love it!

See you tomorrow.

adversity Paremata Pauatahanui Railway Reflections

September 27, 2013 … big round numbers

Round numbers are funny things.

Numerology is not my thing. Nevertheless, there are certain numbers that we celebrate more than others. We tend to treat birthdays with a zero at  the end of them as especially significant. Yesterday, I enjoyed the company of several friends at dinner as we celebrated our thousandth day of taking a photo every day. Why 1,000 is qualitatively different from 999 or 1,001, I couldn’t explain, but nevertheless, we chose that particular number as a milestone worthy of a get-together.

Ironically, it was another difficult day, photographically speaking. In the late afternoon, the only shot I had that I liked, was a variant on the slow exposure of the train over Paremata bridge.

Commuter train heading to Wellington over the Paremata bridge
The wind had abated but was still cool. The slow exposure flattens the water for me.

By the time we were due to meet for dinner at a restaurant in Pauatahanui, I had wedged myself into that corner of the day where the light was fading fast and if I didn’t press the shutter NOW, it would be too late.

So that’s what I have to offer … my last desperate roll of the dice for the day. This was just around the corner from the restaurant, looking across the Pauatahanui pods to the inlet and the last glow of the dying day.

Sunset over the Pauatahanui ponds
I had to filter out a gazillion sandflies

It didn’t work out too badly, though it is not a “salon buster” either.  And it was a very pleasant dinner with good company.

adversity Lower Hutt Weather Wellington

September 26, 2013 … into every life …

Unlike today, which was beautiful, yesterday was rotten.

Rain was the pattern for most of the day, and was certainly already quite entrenched as I set out.

A moist view to the East across the Hutt Valley
Looking across the ivy-covered fence to the city below

Lunch in town with some of my former colleagues was all very nice, but the rain was very heavy. Since I arrived near the lunch venue ahead of schedule, I was able to play around with some rain shots. The wipers in the car were off. so this is the immediate view from my driver’s seat.

No point in wasting time while waiting for lunch
Every picture teaches something

Depth of field is an interesting concept and by throwing the focus further out, the camera can no longer “see” the rain on the window except as a film of moisture that dulls the view up Abel Smith Street.

No point in wasting time while waiting for lunch
Eastward along Abel Smith St, towards Taranaki St.

I simply ran out of time to write more today, and am just back from a dinner in which several of us celebrated a thousand (1,000) days of taking at least one photograph every day. Very pleasant indeed. Photographers, at least the ones I know, are very nice people.

See you tomorrow.

Art creativity

September 25, 2013 … “turn your face to the moonlight”*

There are just two images in my folder for yesterday.

I don’t apologise for that. They took more time to create tha twenty ordinary images. I also acknowledge that there is Photoshoppery at work here, and I most definitely do  NOT  than the traditional “straight out of the camera” shots. Photography means painting with light. Nothing more, nothing less. Where I assemble the sources of light from is entirely at my discretion. So there! (End of rant).

Both images were made in pursuit of the “once upon a time” theme in my camera club.  The requirement was for an image staged so as to illustrate a well known story.

"Memory" from "Cats"
I am pleased with the fence

I had the cat ornament which was used in the “Owl and the Pussycat” yesterday, so this image illustrates the song “Memory”  from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” or, if you prefer, T.S. Elliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” on which the later musical was based.  A fence was constructed with the aid of some strips of balsa wood and some super glue. I “borrowed” a “Cats” poster from the Internet and reduced it in size to be posters on the fence. I shot the cat in a darkened room on the fence against a black background. I used an iPad app as a light source,  choosing 4000 degrees K as the nearest approximation to the colour temperature of moonlight.  I then superimposed a shot of a moonrise I had taken across the valley earlier in the year.

High altitude beanstalk
Keep climbing, Jack

Jack and the Beanstalk was the next image. Yes, that is a genuine live bean plant. The figures were from a competition last year. If you were reading back then, they were standing in or beside a dish of treacle. The background was shot from a flight we took last year from San Francisco to Denver. It took forever to mask the upper image to see through the gaps in the foliage. The little guys were not very good at staying where I put them either.

Now we are in another seasonal storm so who knows what, if anything I will get for tomorrow.

* from “Memory” by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Art Camera club flowers

September 24, 2013 … mixed emotions

Weirdness prevails.

For the last few days I have been somewhat engaged in an exercise for a camera club competition called “once upon a time”. It calls for the staging of a shot to illustrate a well known story.  I have gone in all directions with this, and am not happy with any of them.

Arabian Nights
Composite image using the ornaments and a real sky from the Castlepoint trip

This one is called Arabian nights and uses some brass memorabilia from trips I made to Saudi Arabia back in the mid ’90s.

The Owl and the Pussycat
The owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar. “O lovely pussy, O pussy my love, what a beautiful pussy you are”

The next one uses some whimsical ornaments to illustrate the Owl and the Pussycat

Needing to clear my head, I recalled that the tulips should be at the peak of their season in the botanical gardens. They probably are, but compared with last year, the display is less impressive. The blooms do not seem to have marched in lockstep as in earlier years, and they have suffered some weather damage.  Furthermore, there is not the uniformity of colour by variety that I recall in previous seasons.

Red tulips
Botanical gardens

Nevertheless there are some strong displays of colour and I decided to experiment with high dynamic range (HDR) whereby multiple images are taken of the same thing but with different exposure values. The three images are then sandwiched  to produce a wider dynamic range than can be accommodated with just one image.

White and purple
The statue was still … the flowers were moving

The slight catch with moving things like flowers in the wind is that there can be some interesting effects. I thought them interesting so I had a few more shots.

A maple tree was in its new spring foliage so a combination of HDR and lashing branches produced an intriguing result.

Maple in the wind
Luminous green leaves lashing about

More weirdness tomorrow.

Architecture Art flowers Upper Hutt

September 23, 2013 … deepest suburbia

Some of yesterday’s work will remain “under wraps”.

I want to use it for competition purposes and would rather not expose it to the public view for now.

Having enjoyed taking pictures of Wellington City, I decided that I would see what Upper Hutt had to offer. Rarely do I have cause to visit our Northern neighbor. Like Lower Hutt, it is predominantly a dormitory city for people who work in Wellington. I mean no offence to people from Upper Hutt when I say that there are thousands of cities like it around the world. It exists because everybody has to be somewhere.

Upper Hutt's main shopping street
A classic strip layout from last century

The river valley and its imposing hills give it some character, but at street level, I fear it is rather bland. Shaped by the shopping strip mentality of last century’s town planners, it suffers from a long narrow main street with too many empty shop fronts.

Plenty of planting to beautify an otherwise plain area
Apart from the plants it is a very ordinary shopping centre

Nevertheless there is a certain sense of community pride about Upper Hutt. Unlike Lower Hutt, they have yet to pull the plug on the civic gardens, and there is a significant body of public art around the place.

One of several pieces of public art nearby
Welded steel, natural rust finish

One sculpture that I enjoyed is a large stylised tui sitting on a ring. It is situated in a bed of tulips on a traffic island at the Northern end of the shopping precinct.  I wanted to get the tulips into the picture as well as the art work, so I lay down on my side on the narrow ledge around the traffic island and took my shot.

A clever tui in the tulips
This sculpture is about three metres tall

Perhaps it’s the smaller population, or perhaps the citizens of Upper Hutt are more inured to eccentrics, but no one came to see if I needed a defibrillator.

See you tomorrow.

adversity Architecture Food Weather Wellington

September 22, 2013 … a stranger in a strange land*

Weather persists.

Greyness, rain and wind prevail. It must be spring. Where to find some colour? I had been in the city earlier in the day, and noted some possibility for city character shots.  I parked in Blair Street in the heart of the Courtenay Place Restaurant and bar precinct.

This is not my natural habitat, and I a sure I don’t possess any clothes “cool” enough to get me past the bouncers ate many of the establishments anyway. Reading about the recent debate over liquor licensing hours in the city, I gather that things don’t really start happening until around 11 pm most nights, by which time I am usually safely tucked up for the night. The party continues until around 5 am. It’s a lifestyle of which I have no experience or even comprehension. Perhaps I was born old.

Courtenay Place, looking West
Restaurants everywhere

So let’s begin on the South side of Courtenay Place looking to the West. I said earlier that this is not my natural habitat. Let me revise that slightly … I am rarely here after dark. Just behind me when I made this first image is the Majestic, my favourite place for Yum Char lunches. I recommend it to anyone in Wellington who likes that style of Chines food (and I certainly do).

Courtenay Place and Tory Street
Of course, the international fast food chains are everywhere (In Australia, Burger King is Hungry Jack’s)

On the corner of Courtenay Place and Tory Street, looking South up Tory St., I can see a police car waiting for the lights. I believe that the zebra-striped building in the background was at one stage the Wellington branch of the Forest and Bird Society, the Department of Conservation**  and their whimsical paint scheme has been retained by the backpackers’ hostel that is now there.

St James Theatre the largest theatre suitable for opera and ballet in town
Mature elegance

Next in line is further to the West on Courtenay Place looking across the road to the St James Theatre, which is my other exception … I have been known to come here after dark. In fact, Mary and I saw a splendid performance of Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” here just last week, and a month or two earlier, a fantastic performance of Swan Lake.  She is a grand old lady, beautifully restored and seismically strengthened. Inside it is a lovely period piece. Outside is one of “Go Wellington’s” new ADL Enviro 200 buses in the black and gold of Wellington.

Carnivore's delight - vegetarians avert your eyes
The smell was amazing … As in Ooka Tadadsuke’s famous short story, I should have paid for the smell of the food with the sound of my money

Walking back the other way, the aroma of a Middle Eastern shawarma, or doner kebab. When I first came to Wellington in the mid sixties, eateries tended to serve steak and eggs, or fish and chips with piles of thickly buttered white bread and coffee which was boiled with the milk in it (urk!). In those days people just didn’t seem to eat “foreign” food. Happily, there are restaurants specialising in the cuisines of Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Italy, France, Wales, Ireland, Thailand, and many other places. I resisted the temptation to eat, though I grabbed the shot.

Outdoor seating on Courtenay Place
Italy, Ireland, Italy again, and New Zealand food all in friendly proximity

A little further along, a diverse line of restaurants has seating outside to accommodate smokers. It is unlawful to permit smoking in an enclosed space in restaurants and bars, so even in the cold and rain, these tend to be full later in the day, and the gas heaters have to work hard to offset the chill.

Enough for now.

*this title has no connection to Heinlein’s SF story

** correction supplied by my good friend Roy

adversity Birds harbour Petone Weather

September 21, 2013 … grey is the colour of the day

Some days you’re the seagull, some days you’re the post.

Red billed gulll (Larus novaehollandiae)
Staunch, he or she allowed me within a metre or so, though it was ready for instant departure

Well, I assume the principle applies here as well as to pigeons and statues. Greyness characterised the day. However, I often enjoy subtle shades of grey.  Petone Beach was my improbable location. Behind me, to the north the sky was dark and rain was falling. Southward, to the city, there were remnants of sunlight that came and went as the clouds sailed across the landscape.

Looking past Matiu/Somes to the sea in the South
Sombre grey sky with a brief lighter patch to the left of the island

Even as I watched, the sky darkened, which was ominous as I knew I had to go to a 70th birthday celebration in the city in the early evening, and true to form we experienced heavy rain and a brief spell of thunder.

But that was later. In the here and now I was able to look across the harbour and enjoy the view.

Petone to the City
It annoys me that the phrase “shades of grey” has been hijacked.

I am going to have scramble this weekend with some competition deadlines looming. See you tomorrow.