Maori Maritime Wellington

July 31, 2015 … at the water’s edge


Lunch with a friend ensured that I went in the direction of the city.

Waka coasting to a stop ready to back on to its beaching trolley

Wandering around the waterfront ahead of the lunch appointment, I was sitting with a coffee at the Karaka cafe in the Wharewaka (the house built to house some ceremonial waka or maori canoes). Foolishly, my camera was still in the camera bag. I heard chanting and saw a waka coming into the lagoon. The white paddles were flashing in unison and I scrambled to undo the clips on the bag. By the time the camera was out, the waka was coasting to a stop. This is a glass fibre waka with floatation chambers and none of the mystique or history that usually go with a genuine carved waka. Nevertheless the teamwork and discipline required to use it are the same, and it turned out that this was a group of people from a large corporate, and to my great surprise, one of them was my son-in-law, Vasely.

Hikitia in the morning sun

Winter sunshine looked better than it felt with the temperature around 8 degrees C. The old steam crane Hikitia was sitting alongside the Taranaki St Wharf, where she is undergoing a long restoration project.

Weeds on the wharf piles

There are large buffer beams separated from the wharf by piles, and despite my woeful anxiety about standing near edges, I peered down into the water. There was a lot of suspended matter in the water but the colours of the weed and the water were really lit up by the bright sun overhead.

Geometry in the water

In another area of the wharf, there is a gap with a platform from which people could fish or whatever. Reflections of the surrounding piles reminded me of the geometric paradoxes painted by M.C. Escher.

That’s all for now


Architecture Art Landscapes Maritime Upper Hutt

July 30, 2015 … more in hope than expectation

That drive and hope thing is still happening.

Aratere taking the Northern passage between Matiu/Somes and Petone

As much as I tell myself that intentionality is the key to photographic progress, I continue to depend on serendipitous encounters for most of my images. On my way back from Eastbourne, yesterday, I spotted the ferry Aratere doing a slow anti-clockwise circuit around Matiu/Somes Island, heading towards the Petone foreshore. She’s not a conventionally handsome vessel, especially after all the surgery to lengthen her, but I don’t buy into all the political scaremongering that suggest she is a maritime lemon. She is now the longest of the Interisland Line’s fleet and I believe the one that moves the most tonnage.

Upper Hutt
Upper Hutt from Pinehaven

In the upper valley, at the top of Pinehaven, I found a view out towards Upper Hutt and beyond.

Rimutaka Prison

Down below the hill on which I stood, is the Rimutaka prison. It’s a medium security prison, and I like it about New Zealand that there are no watchtowers with armed guards. There is razor wire, and lots of video surveillance for sure. I don’t suppose for an instant it is a pleasant place to be locked up in, but I am glad that as a society we generally don’t mistreat our prisoners.

Still life
Still life with focus stacking

My last shot of the day is another focus-stacking experiment. Mary has a heavy square glass vase in which she drops the things she finds at the foreshore. I saw the vase on the diagonal and decided to explore the possibilities. It can speak for itself.

Something else tomorrow.

adversity flowers Landscapes Light Lower Hutt

July 29, 2015 … recovery mode

Our various afflictions are fading.

Morning haze, Hutt Valley

Nevertheless, yesterday I didn’t leave the house.  That forced me into using the morning view as my first image. At this time of year, there seem to be a lot of mornings that begin with a  golden haze. The underlying landscape doesn’t change but different light offers a different picture.

Carnation … the last of a nice bouquet received a few weeks ago

Towards the end of the day, I decided to experiment again with focus-stacking.There are many photographers who spend a lot of money on lenses with big apertures to get the shallowest depth of field and thereby focus on just one point, leaving the rest as soft-focused background. It’s a valid technique. This takes the exact opposite approach. Few cameras can deal with a close up photograph and get all of the subject in focus from front to rear. A work-around for this is the technique known as focus stacking. This amounts to taking multiple images of the same subject, with each one focused on a spot a little further into the subject that the last until there is a series which has some point in sharp focus. They are then “stacked” in Photoshop which blends the images to creat an image that is sharply focused from front to rear.  This is a blend of five images to give me an image that is sharp from the front of the nearest petal to the tip of opening bud at the rear.

That’s all for now.

Art Birds Maritime Petone

July 28, 2015 … close to home

We had some tiny stowaways when we came back from Christchurch.

Pou Tangaroa or just a random art work at Hikoikoi reserve

Both Mary and I had some form of viral affliction. In my case, perhaps it was just the common cold, but Mary who is the most resilient person I know, was laid low. Thus I stayed close to home yesterday. The Hikoikoi reserve at the Hutt River estuary is a good fall-back place if the water is still.  At various places around New Zealand, there are “Pou whenua“, roughly equivalent to a totem pole, these carved wooden poles celebrate the relationship between the tangata whenua (the local people of the land) and the area in which the pou stands. The maritime or coastal equivalent is a pou tangaroa, though there seem to be far fewer of them. I am not absolutely sure that this is indeed a pou tangaroa, or merely a random carving but it’s Maori Language week here in New Zealand so I thought it worth the little exploration.

Maree K
Maree K has made little visible progress since she was rescued from the breakwater and put back on the slip.

From the breakwater, I saw an old friend, the Maree K. You may recall that I have featured her on many previous occasions. She spent over a year washed up on the breakwater, and if you look at the diagonal stain on her transom, you can see where she sat in the water.

Keeping watch on the stormwater

Near the Petone wharf, there is a set of piles that stabilise a stormwater drain leading into the sea. A gull on the left and a shag on the right are an oddly matched pair of sentinels.

Hierarchical perching rights

At the gates of the Petone Wharf, a cluster of red-billed gulls were squabbling about perch ranking order, and each new arrival bumped some previous occupant from the perch.

That’s all for now.


Architecture Christchurch History

July 27, 2015 … darkness and hope

Yesterday we came home passing through Christchurch.

Restart mall
The Restart Mall, made of containers. It was a tremendous morale booster in those early days.

Since the devastating earthquake on 22 February, 2011, 1,616 days have passed. Human expectations vary, but for those who don’t live there, it comes as a shock to see how much, and how little has been done to restore this beautiful city. Perhaps the most telling thing, to me, is the number of empty spaces where fine buildings once stood.  True that there are a lot of construction sites, a lot of cranes, a lot of fenced off areas where work is happening. My memory goes back to the time I spend in Osnabruck, Germany as a child in the early fifties, when bomb sites were still common, seven years after the war. Among the earliest defiant beacons of hope for recovery in Christchurch was the Restart Mall in the area adjacent to Oxford Terrace between Cashel and Lichfield Streets. It was constructed using 40 foot shipping containers as the structural basis. Bright colours and varied food outlets defy the misery that might follow the disaster.

From the Restart Mall , a view of the new Christchurch arising

Across the road to the South between Lichfield and Tuam Streets the block has been cleared and new tower blocks are going up, and I would wager the structural integrity of these buildings will be the highest in the world.

A survivor on High Street

Next, we parked on Manchester Street and went back round the corner to High Street where at least one older building survives, though its near neighbours did less well.

Tourist tram on High St

Looking back down High Street to the South East, I was delighted to see the tourist tram rumbling towards us. It was knocked out in the September 2010 earthquake, and they got it up and running again before the big one in February 2011. And here it is again, making its jaunty way around the tourist loop from Cathedral Square down Oxford Tce and Cashel St, then back up High St to the square.

Early days on a construction site

Cranes are everywhere. This block to the west of High Street between Hereford and Cashel has two tower cranes, three large mobile cranes and a pile driver. It’s going to be a long haul.

Reflection of hope

I saw the cranes as a symbol of hope, and noticed one reflected in surviving windows of the old BNZ building on the corner of Hereford and Colombo streets.

Post Office
Post Office building in Cathedral Square

Cathedral Square was almost deserted on a bright Winter Sunday morning. The old Post Office building looks remarkably intact, though the safety fence around it suggests that it is unsafe. It is still a fine looking building and I would like to see it preserved.

John Robert Godley, founder of the Canterbury colony

John Robert Godley still maintains his watch over the city, as he has done since 1850. Sadly, the plinth on which he stands is shaky, and steel barriers keep the public at a distance.

The ultimate symbol of Christchurch

Of course no visit to the square is complete without viewing the cathedral. Heartbreak and hope combine in this most Cantabrian building of all. Opinions are many on the replacement or restoration question. I have no stake in that battle except to say that I think the people who should decide are the members of the Cathedral parish of the Anglican diocese in Christchurch.

Kia kaha, stay strong, good people of Christchurch.


Adventure Christchurch Family Landscapes mountains

July 26, 2015 … South and North

I am just back from a flying visit to Christchurch.

A seemingly endless line of poles head West to the Southern Alps

My brother-in-law’s 70th birthday was the occasion, so we went down yesterday morning and returned this afternoon. I use the term Christchurch somewhat loosely since we stayed in Rolleston, 23km South West of the rental car place at the airport. The main event was in the evening, so Mary and I explored the locality a little and ate lunch on a roadside in West Melton. It was a perfect Canterbury day, albeit a little chillier than the sunshine would suggest.

Harping on. I liked the movement in the harpist’s left hand, and the blur in the string just plucked

The celebration in the evening celebrated my brother-in-law’s love of, and involvement in, Celtic music. There were two different musical groups performing through the evening and I spent a little time watching the various fiddlers, pipers and harpists perform.

Young Alex performing Irish folk dance for her grandfather

My brother-in-law and his wife are blessed with two grandchildren, the elder of whom follows her parents into the whole Celtic music thing. She performed a splendid set of Irish dances for her grandfather. If there is some blur in the image it’s because I refrained from using flash, and had to use a slow exposure for some high-speed action. I must remember that getting down low is all very well, but getting up with dignity afterwards is becoming harder.

A good time was had by all.

Adventure Birds flowers Railway

July 25, 2015 … out and back again

It was a wander and hope kind of day.

Horsepower in abundance

Sladden Park is on the Western bank of the Hutt River in Petone. It is just downstream of the Moera rail bridge. Prowling around that area, I heard a heavier than usual diesel sound from the railway. The train consisted of eight locomotives and one flat-bed wagon full of  wagon wheels. I am guessing that the with the possible exception of the front locomotive, they were headed for the railway workshops just over the bridge. Unfortunately I had the long lens mounted, in the hope of catching birds, so I couldn’t zoom back far enough to catch the whole train.

Peace on the waters

On the riverbank, there was little bird life of real interest, so I settled for this feather drifting downstream.

Moss (1)
Moss on the driftwood

Back at home, conscious of how little I had caught on my journey, I got the macro lens out and attempted to get close to some moss on one of Mary’s artfully disposed pieces of driftwood.

Moss (2)
A closer visit to the moss

It is intriguing how different the character of the moss is when you get really close.

This edition is produced in haste and published in advance since I have a day in Christchurch on 25th with no computer access.

Landscapes Light Rivers Silverstream

July 24, 2015 … pick a theme and stay with it

I could claim that today’s single theme was a planned outcome.

The Southern wall of the Tararuas is unveiled by the rosy sunrise

It wasn’t. That’s just how it turned out. Through the morning curtains, a rosy gleam told me something interesting was happening. Overhead, there was heavy black overcast. Away to the North, beyond Upper Hutt, there was a gap between the still dark valley floor and the cloud above. In this distant window, I could see radiant morning light and a magnificent layering of the hills. A long lens got me past the darkness to the area of interest.

Hutt River bank near the Moonshine bridge

Later in the morning, the colour had gone, but the layering continued. The number of places where you can get an unobstructed view of the Tararuas are few, though I suppose these could be increased by getting higher, perhaps on the Eastern hills.

Hutt River in metallic mood

On the Western bank of the Hutt River, near Silverstream, there is a rocky outcrop that provides a good upstream view of the river. I used the ND filter to still the river. The very long exposure also gave an interesting texture to the clouds.

River (2)
Rushing to the sea

The river itself was gleaming in the hazy sunlight and it too got the long exposure treatment. I love the pewter look in this shot.

Maybe more variety tomorrow

flowers Haywards Hill Landscapes

July 23, 2015 … on the side roads

I have a new toy.

farm building
Old farm buildings are a delight. I doubt that this would get a permit today.

A wide-angle lens offers different opportunities, so I acquired one for the Olympus. Yesterday I decided to spend the day experimenting with it. There are many ways in which such a lens might be used. Yesterday’s exercise was primarily with landscapes and buildings at various ranges.  The side roads off the Haywards Hill Road were where I chose to go.

A stream near the Judgeford golf course.

Oddly, a wide-angle lens is often just as useful in portrait mode as in landscape, ging access to extreme foreground and far distance.

Panorama in the Judgeford Valley

The side roads I mentioned, present interesting viewpoints of familiar landscapes from new points of view. This is a panorama of seven stitched images using the wide-angle to give vertical depth.

St Joseph's
Historic St Joseph’s Church at Pauatahanui

The other advantage of these side roads is the discoveries that are made. Yesterday, for example I was shocked to discover, after living in the region for 35 years, that there is not just  one, but two historic churches at Pauatahanui. St Alban’s Anglican church  in the village is pretty well known since it is visible from most parts of the inlet. St Joseph’s Catholic Church is almost totally invisible to motorists passing by at 100 km/h, and it was not until I came back down Bradey Road that I finally saw this building that dates back to 1878. It is number 205 on the Historic Places Trust register.


My final image was of a different type entirely. Mary has recently found a source of small edible squash, and they are such colourful character-filled vegetables, I had to try  something using the new lens.

That’s enough for the day.


adversity flowers Industrial Seasons Seaview Weather Wellington

July 22, 2015 … is the worst behind us?

At this time of year, sunrise comes a minute earlier each day tha the day before.

The Seaview Oil terminal wharf at Point Howard. A winter view.


Nevertheless, there is probably a lot of winter yet to be endured before the warmth returns.  Yesterday was a gloomy day, weatherwise. Point Howard was the start point for my late-in-the-day run, and I had to pass through a police drink/drive cordon to get there. It was a surprise to be breath tested at 3:30 pm, but as the nice young policewoman told me, they still catch people, even at that early hour of the day.

Oil and chemicals run beside the harbour. It seems risky.

There was no tanker at the oil terminal, but I was interested in the pipelines that carry oil and chemicals from the tankers to the various storage tanks nearby. At least one of the pipes is so corroded that I sincerely hope it is not in use now. I wonder how often, and by who these pipes are inspected. In this seismically active city, these are surely a huge risk to our harbour and marine life.

Take notice you Northern hemisphere people, we want our summer back. Jonquils in the breeze.

Near the Lower Hutt town hall, there are some gardens with a fernery and other features typical of civic gardens in various parts of the world. The eye-catching feature was a clump of bright yellow jonquils, the earliest of our Spring flowers, waving cheerfully at me from their bed at the base of a pine tree. Now there’s a promise of better days to come.

Even in the rain, the valley looks nice, but I was glad to close the door and get warm.

As the day reached its inevitable conclusion, the winter view across the valley seemed worthy of capture.

Enough for now.