Children Kaitoke Rivers

May 31, 2014 … dark brown water

Late afternoon photography is a lottery.

Kaitoke (1)
On the Pakuratahi River in the Kaitoke reserve.

If you judge it wrong, leave it too late, then the scenery is flat and drab. I cut it very fine yesterday. With Mary, and our grandchildren, Maggie and Cooper, we went to the Kaitoke Reserve, North of Upper Hutt. We parked near the entrance to the Pakuratahi Forks walkway. I had visions of still waters, or perhaps of stilling tumbling waters. Mary heroically took the kids hunting Hobbits.  My first stop was on the shingle below the bridge, a favourite summer swimming hole for generations of Wellingtonians. Needless to say, with an air temperature of just 8 degrees C, no one was swimming. Besides, it was late in the day, and the sign at the gate said the park would close at 5pm.

Kaitoke (2)
From the swing bridge … looking at Pakuratahi Forks (I think)

My next shot is a minor miracle on several fronts. If you have read a few of these blogs, you may recall that I don’t deal well with heights. This was taken from the middle of the swing bridge … a 30 second exposure at f22 on a tripod. Not only did I have to overcome my fear, I had to wait for the bridge to stop swinging before using the wireless remote to trigger the exposure, and then remaining motionless for 30 seconds. It took several shots but I am pleased with the result.

Kaitoke (3)
A little further upstream in a dark chasm with a lot of white water

I went back up the road and followed it to where there was a view of the river coming down a bit of a chasm. By now the light was fading fast and this is a three-minute exposure.

Kaitoke (4)
Back to the start … from the bridge to Rivendell … thankfully a solid concrete bridge this time

I went back to the car park where Mary and the kids were having some refreshments. The opportunity for a different perspective on the same swimming hole as the first shot was irresistible. Yes, all of these images were taken using the ND filters and long exposures.

No Hobbits were harmed in the making of these images.






adversity Maritime Normandale Wellington

May 30, 2014 … sheer desperation

Yesterday was a desperate day.

Straitsman backing into its berth in Wellington

I had so much happening  socially and domestically that finding time and circumstances for photography was very difficult. On the way to lunch with former Dairy Board colleagues, I was caught in traffic on Aotea Quay. The Bluebridge ferry, Straitsman was backing into its berth, bang on time near 11:30 am, so I rolled the window down, grabbed the nearest camera and snatched this shot. She’s a funny little ship, as high in the water as the Interisland Line’s Kaitaki, but about half the length. I would be curious to know how she handles rough seas. When a ship is moving, I am always intrigued to see where the people on board might be seen. I spotted crew at the stern waiting to handle the moorings, and some passengers up on the upper decks. The bridge crew are almost certainly on the port wing since she is coming alongside the wharf on that side.

coffee brewing
I tried to catch the coffee running into the carafe … It smelled and tasted better than it looks

And then I just ran out of time, ferrying friends, and taking care of grandchildren who are with us for a couple of nights. Sheer desperation drove me to attempting to catch coffee dripping.

hot water
New jug boiling the water. I rarely drink tea.

That wasn’t too exciting so how about the new glass electric jug coming to the boil.

Oh rats! Better luck today, perhaps.


adversity Architecture Evans Bay harbour Miramar Tararuas Waves Weather

May 29, 2014 … around the harbour

Yesterday was a photographic drought day in the midst of a meteorological downpour.

Pt Halswell
Point Halswell Light from Mahanga Bay looking across to Khandallah and Mt Kaukau

In the city for lunch with a friend, I took a detour around Miramar first. On the Eastward side of the peninsula, there was a pleasant view of the Pt Halswell light, newly painted, vandalised and repainted. Mt Kaukau is in the background and you may get the impression that it was a damp and somewhat grey day.

Hutt Valley
Dirty weather in the upper valley

Looking to the North, the receding planes of the Western hills, and the South wall of the Tararuas attracted my attention.

Pt Halswell again
Point Halswell Light from across Evans Bay

From Balaena Bay, I looked back across the harbour to Pt Halswell again, with the Eastern Hills in the background. I think 80% of Wellingtonians will tell you that they are looking at the Orongorongos. Geographically, it seems they are wrong, and that there is no such place on any official map. As far as I can see, only the Orongorongo River  bears that name.

From Mt Victoria
The new “Clyde Quay Wharf” apartments nearing completion

I went up to Roseneath and then around the Northern face of Mt Victoria, pausing near St Gerard’s Monastery to take advantage of one of the view windows down to the harbour. As you can see, the new apartment block where the Overseas passenger terminal used to be is nearly complete. It retains the roofline and the steeple as designed by former mayor and architect, Sir Michael Fowler.

That’s all for today.

adversity Birds Maritime Pauatahanui Railway

May 28, 2014 … beginning at the end of the line

It must have been a big bang.

Train crash at Melling
This is not the normal way to park a train. No serious injuries.

For the second time in just over a year, one of the new  trains failed to stop at the end of the Melling Line. Last year, there was a teeth-jarring bang and the concrete block at the end of the line was shifted several metres. Yesterday’s effort was much more ambitions. The driver was approaching Melling and realised that his brakes were not work and yelled to the passengers to brace. This time, the train climbed up onto the concrete block as was stranded there for the rest of the day.  I grabbed a shot as I was waiting at the Melling lights.

Kingfisher dive
Crab diver … the sacred kingfisher in a power dive

Did I mention that the wind stopped? Pauatahanui was near glassy calm, and though the thermometer was not achieving any great heights the day looked warm, and the spirits lifted. Even better, there were kingfishers. After a seeming absence of several months they have come back in numbers.

The kingfisher eats a crab
Down the hatch

Then one of the kingfishers chose a perch near me and seemed to strike a rich vein of crabs. Soon it was enjoying the rewards of a vigilant watch and excellent flying skills.

Royal Spoonbills
Somnolent spoonbills

Occasionally, it would fly off elsewhere, so while I waited for more action I looked to see what else was about. Out on a sandbank, some of the resident Royal Spoonbills were dozing in the sun, sticking their head out now and then to preen.

About to dive
Kingfisher in the pre-dive hover

Kingfisher action was still my primary interest, and I was pleased with some of the sequences I caught. They often hover just before the dive, probably to line up on the intended menu item.

Kingfisher dive
A nice clean entry on its way to another crab

Then it’s head-first into the water,with a significant splash, though I seem to have caught this one just before the big fuss.

Emerging with a crab. I guess they have an 80% success rate

Most of the time they emerge triumphant with a struggling crab in their beak.

Return to the perch
Back to the perch to dine

Then its back to their chosen perch to beat the scratchy bits off the crab before swallowing the remains.

Banded dotterels pretending to be rocks

I said my primary target were the kingfishers. Yesterday, however, I struck it lucky as I was driving home. As I reached Ration Point, I saw something irregular about the small rocks  near the water. Parking the car, I walked back to the place I had seen, and could scarcely believe my luck. There  was a significant group of banded dotterels among the rocks. About the same size as the rocks and not greatly different in colour, they had done a good job of pretending to be part of the beach. I got low and did an elbow crawl through the reeds. Happily I didn’t disturb them and got some nice shots of these endangered birds.

It was a good day


Cook Strait Evans Bay Light Maritime Petone Waves Weather Wellington

May 27, 2014 … blowing from the other direction

So which way did the wind blow yesterday?

Tapuae-O-Uenuku with its first new winter coat

After a week of vigorous and sometimes violent Northerlies, Nature paused, too a deep breath and started blowing in the opposite direction. Of course, a Southerly is a different proposition. Thermometers also head South when the wind is coming from there. I began my photographic morning on the South Coast near Moa Point, looking across a very deep blue strait to Tapuae-O-Uenuku. At 2,885 metres it’s a mighty mountain, taller than Ruapehu or Taranaki. I was delighted to read that one interpretation of its name is “footprint of the rainbow”. The recent weather has done a redecorating job, and it now boasts a sparkling white coat which is likely to become much thicker and more consistent before summer comes again.

Evans bay Marina
Evans Bay Marina – the breeze was light at this stage, but sufficient to move the boats about.

At the Evan’s Bay Marina, I tried another slow shot. I haven’t paid any attention to this marina previously, and may try again in future. The moorings seem to allow more movement than other marinas offer, so the results are less clear than elsewhere.

Arahura arrives from Picton

In the afternoon, I was at the beach at Petone, and that Southerly wind was really beginning to wind up. solid waves were tumbling on the beach. The Arahura sailed prettily into view and I had to give it a shot.

Waves at Seaview
Southerly bluster

At Point Howard, the incoming waves were hurling themselves against the sea wall at the Southern end of the Seaview Marina, and shattering into spray which whipped off downwind.

Salt spray
Traffic in the waves at Lowry Bay

Around the corner in Lowry Bay, it was fun watching waves crash across the road and watching the drivers flinch as the weight of water crash against their vehicles. If you look closely you can see the headlight of a car about to get hit emerging from behind the wave on the left.

Red cloud
Passing splash of colour

At the end of the day the wind was still there but the sky was clear. I was at my desk and I became aware of a redness out the window. A magnificent cloud provided the perfect canvas for Nature’s crimson brush. The Southerly moved the cloud onwards and within a very few minutes the entire apparition was gone.

Something different tomorrow.

adversity Evans Bay Light Maritime Waves Weather Wellington

May 26, 2014 … take a deep breath

We have a great climate.

House sparrows
Count the legs and divide by two … there are eight birds in that picture

Sometimes it just rushes past a little too fast. Yesterday the weather people were still reporting gusts around 140 km/h. At home there was a moment of comic relief as sparrows and other small birds huddled in the shrubs close to the house. Eight house sparrows in this shot, taken through glass.

Pt Halswell
White water across the bay speaks of the ferocity of the wind near Pt Halswell

The wind was coming from the North West and that meant there was not much happening at Petone. Obviously Miramar would be the place to be. It pays to think carefully about where the wind is coming from  in conditions like that before you open the car door. I almost lost my hand and my car door the first time I overlooked that. However, I got out at Point Jerningham and attempted to capture the conditions. As you can see, the water close to the Western side of Evans’ Bay is relatively sheltered, but things are rough on the other side.

Kinetic sculpture
The Zephyrometer or wind wand was moving vigorously about, sometimes near horizontal

At the Southern end of Evans Bay there are a series of kinetic sculptures all celebrating Wellington’s notoriety in respect of the wind. Most prominent among them is “Zephyrometer” by artist Phil Price. It is basically a large fibreglass wand pivoted and weighted so as to indicate the strength and direction of the wind. Needless to say it was pretty lively yesterday, and I got the idea of using my ND filters to get a slow exposure of it as it moved about. I expected a more uniform distribution of positions, but it seems that during the twenty second exposure, it spent most of its time in three directions.

White caps on green water at the Southern end of Evans Bay

Along Cobham Drive, near the Northern end of the runway, there is a place where you can get close to the water’s edge. The waves were being hurled with such ferocity that I chose not to leave the car. I noted the pattern of the waves and then wound the window down, fired my shot and got the window up again just in time to avoid a hefty slap from an airborne wave.  I love the deep green in the water.

The withe water on the far shore created enough airborne spray to generate a rainbow over the lighthouse. Click to see it.

Around the Peninsula,just shy of Scorching Bay (Ha!) I spotted a rainbow fragment over the Pencarrow upper light. You may not be able to see it unless you click to enlarge, but it’s there.

Let’s see which way the wind blows tomorrow.


adversity Architecture Weather Wellington

May 25, 2014 … wind and rain

It rained yesterday.

Taranaki St
Molly Malone’s Irish pub is on the opposite corner.This is one of the most exposed corners in Wellington for pedestrians. I have seen ropes rigged to help them avoid being blown over while waiting to cross

What’s more the rain came in at an unnatural angle, driven by winds gusting from the North at up to 135 km/h. In the afternoon, it eased a bit. The South coast was disappointing, in that the water was just beaten flat by the wind. In Evans Bay, vicious sheets of spray were whipping across the surface, but really, no photograph revealed itself to me. The light was getting dimmer by the minute, and as I was approaching the CBD, it occurred to me that the city itself might repay a visit. I began at the intersection of Taranaki Street with Manners St, Dixon Street and Courtenay Place.

Entertainment district
Wellington has a small number of such institutions. I presume it to be a club for “luxury gentlemen”

Despite it being just after four in the afternoon, many of the bars and restaurants were doing a brisk trade, and would almost certainly continue to do so for at least another twelve hours. I was a bit surprised to be accosted someone touting for one of the strip clubs on Courtenay Place. I would have thought that touting was illegal in Wellington. I was disturbed to be singled out as a potential customer for such a business. On the other hand, I suppose an unfashionably dressed older man wandering the city alone, with a camera, might well fit a stereotype. For the record, I declined the invitation.

Manners St
Pigeon Park and The Opera House

Back at the corner where I started, I looked along Manners St, across Pigeon park to the opera House. Behind it, the Majestic Centre maintains its standing as Wellington’s tallest building.

The Terrace
The Terrace looking North

From there the quickest way home was up Dixon St and McDonald’s Crescent onto The Terrace, heading for the motorway. I liked the light and the architectural textures on The Terrace.

Coming and Going
SH1 behind the Terrace

Crossing the bridge over the motorway, the gully which brings SH1 into town looked interesting. When I came to Wellington in 1966 to learn to become a programmer, that building just to the right of the nearest light pole was the tallest building on The Terrace. Old wooden houses were still plentiful, but there were a lot of building sites.  And now the sun is shining, and the wind is winding up again to “severe gale”.

Who knows what today will bring?



adversity harbour Maritime Petone Weather Wellington

May 24, 2014 … in sombre mood

Winter’s cold breath is upon us.

Seaview Marina
Thirty seconds at Seaview marina. The police RIB nearby is about to depart, and if you enlarge, you will see one of its crew moving about on the bow, casting off the moorings.

Though the weather is ugly, and my images today are a bit on the sombre side, I assure you that life is good. Yesterday I enjoyed the company at lunch of the kind friend who lent me his camera while I awaited the replacement of the demolished one. We chatted about this and that, mostly in a photographic vein, and I learned a lot of interesting things from him. Things that I must try for myself before too long. One of the great things about the photographic community is that, for the most part, they are willing to share their knowledge. It is well beyond the call of duty, however to lend a piece of equipment like this, and I am grateful to both him, and the other friend who lent his 200mm zoom.

Yet another friend who is a long way ahead of me with the slow exposure tricks has offered to share her expertise which is great. That, is the area of today’s efforts. Now that I have two serious filters, I can get really long exposures.  Of course this can be overdone, and a close inspection of the first image reveals that most of the masts in the Seaview Marina moved about during the 30 seconds for which the shutter was open.

City lights through the gloom. Again you will need to enlarge to see the lines of headlights crawling along the road from Ngauranga to Petone.

From the North West corner of the harbour, things got really gloomy. There was a strong Northerly b;owing and I suspect that across the harbour there was more of a chop than there was on this beach. This close in, the wind tended to flatten the water, and the long exposure increased the smoothing effect. City lights were just visible through the murk. The window of blue sky soon closed and we subsequently  had a turbulent night with winds gusting to 140 km/h. There is more to come.

Looking along the windswept beach at Petone

Clouds over the Eastern Hills promised rough weather to come. The last rays of the sun sneaking through imperfect seams in the cloud cover left some light on the oil and chemical tanks at Seaview.

Oil tanker
Torea delivering petroleum at Seaview

Bright lights in the previous image drew to my attention the presence of the coastal oil tanker, Torea, delivering petroleum from the Whangarei refinery to ports around the coast.

To the South,

That’s all for now.



adversity Birds Landscapes Light Lyall Bay Maritime Pauatahanui

May 23, 2014 … from surf to stillness

Some diseases just have to run their course.

The whole “slow exposure” thing is still happening for me, though not exclusively so. Before I forget thanks to the few of you who took up my invitation to critique some images earlier in the week. Your judgments and opinions were very helpful.

Lyall bay
City surfer trying to catch that wave

Following my nose yesterday, I ended up at Lyall Bay. It’s never going to be one of the great surfing venues of the world, but now and then, there are surfable conditions. With no disrespect to the people I watched yesterday, and given the number of wobbly rides and wipe-outs that I saw, these are people who enjoy the sport but seem unlikely to strike fear into the hearts of serious competitors.

slow surf
Breaking waves at Lyall Bay. If you enlarge the image, you may find the ghost of a surfer in there somewhere

Though the waves were small, they were distinct, and well-formed, and it was here that I wanted to see how the slow exposure would work. The filters I chose were simply not dark enough, and I am disappointed in the advice I got from my camera shop. I wanted a full 30 second exposure, and the longest I could achieve in the prevailing bright light was six seconds. It gave an interesting effect, but any future filter purchases are likely to be from China, freight free at less than 10% of the NZ retail price. Of course I would like to support the local retailer, but at ten times the price and with incompetent advice, these guys just lost me.

Kingfisher looking for dinner

In the afternoon, with the tide nearing its high point, I went to Pauatahanui. There were lots of  kingfishers, but I seem to have lost the knack of getting close to them. More practice is required. This fellow was sitting on a perch much favoured by local photographers.

Variable oystercatchers in flight. Whitby is expanding to fill the available space in the background. It was all open country when I came to Wellington.

I spent a fruitless half-hour lurking nearby but they all stayed at the other end of the bay. The only thing I saw was this flock of variable oystercatchers. Unusually, they made no sound as they headed purposefully to the East.

Motukaraka Point
Stillness of the evening

My last shot of the day is a recurrence of the slow exposure fever. By now the light was low enough that I could get a 30 second exposure at f18, and that brings the water close to the silky look that I was seeking.

That’s all for today.



harbour Landscapes Light Maritime Weather

May 22, 2014 … Autum mood

Winter is coming.

Japanese maple
The tree is less than a metre tall and still has lots of leaves. Nevertheless it has laid down an impressive carpet.

The shortest day is less than a month away. There are lots of cold dark days to come before the daffodils signify the return of blessed warmth. Meanwhile, here in reality land, Autumn lingers. Our little Japanese maple keeps on giving, and for such a tiny tree, it laid down an impressive carpet.

West from Lowry Bay
Looking towards Newlands from Lowry Bay. The Pt Howard oil terminal wharf is in the foreground.

Yesterday, however, was about getting to know the fixed neutral density filter. And I have a request … I need feedback from you so please click on each image in turn to see it at the largest size possible.  Grey overcast weather and a surly harbour provided an opportunity to explore the capabilities of this kind of filter. From Lowry Bay, looking to the west, heavy clouds and wandering crepuscular rays offered possibilities.

Petone Beach
The Korokoro stream pours an endless supply of fresh water into the harbour

My next standpoint was the Western end of Petone Beach at the mouth of the Korokoro stream. The flow of fresh water seems to appeal to seabirds and it’s a nice place to be. Again the clouds, this time the ones  over the Eastern hills are a major feature of the view. The stream itself  was also of interest.

View to the South
All the way to the Antarctic ice in that direction.

Finally, looking to the South, we see the pathway to the open sea. On the left, Matiu/Somes Island and on the right, the city with the Arahura approaching Mt Victoria.   I would appreciate feedback and critical appraisal of any of these images. Do they work? Do they have a story to tell?

I hope to hear from you