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Arachnids Family Food Industrial insects Whitireia Park

February 23, 2016 … and now it has gone

Time slips through the fingers. Before I know it, it’s nine days since my last blog. I must set myself an automated reminder to ensure regular action. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that the decision to abandon the daily commitment was the right one.  Before I go on, I should warn those of a timid disposition that my last two images today are of the creepy crawly variety.

Whitireia Park
Climbing through the slippery wet grass looking for a good vantage point. Most of these people checked the weather before they left home. I didn’t.

Last week, the taller of the remaining transmission masts at Whitireia Park in Titahi bay was demolished. A friend who works for the company doing the job alerted me to this opportunity, so in the early hours of Tuesday morning, I set out to record the event. We had a week of wonderful summer weather, and the forecast was for more of the same. Dressed, therefore, in shorts and a tee-shirt I was shocked to arrive in Titahi Bay in drizzle and a chilly gusting wind. The park had been closed to the public, except for a hillside  area reserved for spectators which had been roughly mowed to provide easier access through the long dry summer grass.  Of course, it was now wet and slippery.

Mast
Until its demolition, this was the second highest structure in New Zealand. The demolition was effected by explosive cutting of the Southern guy wires.

Having found a suitable position, I wrapped myself and my cameras in the cold nylon groundsheet which was the only thing I had in the car to protect myself from the weather.  Then I sat and waited.  The low cloud swirled around the mast and there was no sigh of activity. It was a somewhat miserable two hours.

Falling
Composite falling shot.

My vision for the event was to capture a sequence of shots as the mast fell. I had practiced and decided that the camera would get enough shots at the slow setting of five frames per second, to cover the entire arc of its fall, before the camera’s buffer filled. I was wrong. Obviously I had not practiced enough.  My grand vision was, alas, only partially met and then the camera  stopped to think for a while. If I had waited until I saw movement, instead of starting from the explosion that severed the guy wires, I might have got the complete arc. Or if I had selected a slightly lower resolution.  This is a composite of 28 images. I am told that the tip of the mast was doing 350 km/h when it hit the ground in a shower of dirt and a formless tangle of rusted steel.

Wellington
Across Wellington to Victoria University on the hill – from the old quarry

During the days that followed, I found a new lookout spot in an old quarry at the top of Ellice Street near the Western entrance of the Mt Victoria tunnel. I really thought I had found most of the good vantage points in the preceding five years, yet new ones keep emerging.

Dessert
Mandarin Bavaroise at Cobar restaurant. I enjoyed every wicked calorie.

For the last few days we have had the parents of our Brisbane daughter-in-law as house guests, so we took them to one of our favourite restaurants on Sunday. Cobar in Day’s bay is a rarity that has both a superb view and wonderful food. Usually, you have to choose between view and food quality. I could have done yet another sunset from our table, but chose instead to capture the delightful Mandarin Bavaroise dessert. Recommended.

WARNING: Creepy Crawlies ahead. Avert your eyes now if you are squeamish.

 

Spider
Vagrant spider

Mary encountered a large spider under the steps into her place of work. I think it is a vagrant spider (Uliodon albopunctatus).

Weta
Wellington tree weta – a gentle creature despite appearances

My next guest is a fine male specimen of the Wellington tree weta (Hemideina crassidens). They are nightmarish creatures to look at, and can inflict a nip with those big mandibles, but are generally shy and gentle creatures. Or so I’m told.

See you soon.

 

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Adventure Boggy Pond Butterflies Cars Family Festivals and fairs Lakes Landscapes Light

February 15, 2016 … random wandering

That groove I seek is still elusive.

Nevertheless, I enjoy my photography more without the self-imposed pressure of a daily photograph.  Since I last wrote, I have looked at sunsets several times, tried some still life, and had a trip to the Wairarapa, so here goes.

Paremata
Paremata sunset

Sunsets come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are subtle, and some are spectacular. The photographer’s standpoint makes a difference too. This time I wanted to get down to water level, and perhaps have a different foreground to recent efforts. Ivey Bay at Paremata is my first shot.

Petone
Golden haze on Petone foreshore

The next day, another calm night, and Mary persuaded me that a walk along the Esplanade at Petone would be a good thing. Both this and the preceding image embody a great deal of flare, but that’s unavoidable when you point a lens directly at the sun. To some extent, the flare accurately captures the golden haze of the moment.

Cicadas
The Ghosts of Cicadas Past

For a completely different exercise, Mary found a couple of discarded cicada cases, and was keeping them to discuss with our grandson, Cooper. I decided to fiddle with macro views. With no particular logic, I decided that a spare Seagate 1TB disk drive lying on my desk would make an interesting background, so here is an image that I have called “The Ghosts of Cicadas Past”.  I think the polished black plastic adds to the image.

Kahutara
Parched South Wairarapa Landscape

Then yesterday, Valentine’s Day, Mary and I went to a place called the Boggy Pond wetlands adjacent to Lake Wairarapa a little South of Kahutara. The day was perfect, perhaps to excess. According to my car, the outside temperature was 33°C. The lakeside landscape was parched, and against all photographic wisdom, I tried this landscape in the heat and overhead light of midday.

Dust
Dryness

On the way to our location, I had seen some possibilities in the plume of road dust that followed us along the unsealed road. I asked Mary to drive away and then come back at around 60 km/h. The dust and the dry golden grass tell a story of impending drought.

Swamp
Boggy Swamp Wetlands – it pleases me that neither snakes nor crocodiles infest this landscape.

Next we stopped at Boggy Pond itself, and here is one of the shots I made. Lots of dead trees and some rapidly evaporating ponds added character to the area, but we decided that the dry Wairarapa heat was just too much, so we headed South.

Butterfly
The white butterfly is present in plague proportions

At Lake Ferry reserve, on the shores of Lake Onoke we found a shady spot to set up our picnic chairs and enjoy Mary’s delicious Valentine’s day lunch.  I was intrigued by the multitude of common white butterflies throughout the Southern Wairarapa … there must be hundreds of millions of them.

I am still looking for that groove.

 

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Birds harbour Landscapes Light Maritime night Rivers Sunset Weather Wellington

February 9, 2016 … “mem’ry has painted this perfect day”*

Conscious of elapsed time, I deliberately set out to make images yesterday.

Swans
“Squadron will proceed in line astern”

Since there was little wind, I began at Pauatahanui, but saw nothing to ignite the flame. A flock of black swans sailing in line astern were worth a try, but didn’t really make it.

Hutt River
Glittering on the river

Perhaps the Hutt River near Silverstream would offer something. Tumbling water and a long exposure against the glare of the sun wasn’t it either.

Marina
Sunset at a favourite place

Watching the cricket on television after dinner, I glanced out the window and knew that something might eventuate. Seaview Marina has been fruitful before, so perhaps in combination with the setting sun, I could get something.

Seaview
Near perfect stillness at the marina

I tried many angles and many points of view, and as often as I thought that it was time to go, the light would change and the colour would intensify.

Sunset
Ignition

 

From the Southern end of Lowry Bay, as the sun descended behind the Miramar Peninsula, it painted the clouds spectacular colours.

Seaview
Across the marina breakwater and the Point Howard wharf, to Miramar

I packed up the camera and tripod at least six times, and  five times, I set it all back up again as some new saturation of colour hit me.  Perhaps I haven’t done justice to what I saw, but for me, it was a magic hour as the lingering sunset concluded a perfect day.

I had a good day, and the cricket result made it all the sweeter.

*”When you come to the end of a perfect day” by Carrie Jacobs-Bond

 

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Adventure Architecture Art Industrial Landscapes Machinery Manawatu Maritime mountains night Waikato

February 3, 2016 … they are not the hills of home*

When I last wrote, we were still in Whakatane.

Pohaturoa
Pohaturoa with river mist creeping around its shoulders at Atiamuri

From there, in the wet darkness of Thursday morning, we set out for New Plymouth via Rotorua, Atiamuri, Te Kuiti  and Mokau. At Atiamuri, beside the Waikato River, the rain had stopped but there was a lingering mist around Pohaturoa. This rocky outcrop reaches 240 metres over the river and is a homecoming landmark for the residents of Tokoroa and Taupo, depending on the direction pf travel.

Benneydale
Someone once lived here. The nearest “town” was Benneydale

We drove beside the river where to my strong regret, I ignored some magical reflection shots on the river. We crossed the Whakamaru dam and followed the road towards Te Kuiti, pausing at Benneydale to record this abandoned pioneer cottage.

New Plymouth
View from my bedroom over New Plymouth Port

At Mokau, it was lunch time, and I could not resist the stunning whitebait fritters for which the restaurant is famous. And then on to New Plymouth. The house we rented was not in the first flush of youth, and I suspect a safety inspector might have some reservations, but it met our needs, and was splendidly located near the port. I woke very early the next  and wondered if I could catch the view over the port at work.

Taranaki
Between a rock and a hard place … the port on one side and this magnificent mountain on the other

Breakfast the same morning caused me to look in the opposite direction and from the deck we had a good view of the mountain.

Len Lye
Detail of “Four Fountains” by Len Lye

In New Plymouth there is a new art gallery dedicated to the works of the late Len Lye. As I understand it, he gifted a significant collection of his work to the City of New Plymouth in trust for the people of New Zealand. Though I enjoy some of his kinetic works, I have the same reaction here as I did in the Guggenheim, in New York. I admired the architecture more than the artworks on display.  This image , part of the “Four Fountains” was a thirteen second exposure attempting to catch the slowly rotating bundles of illuminated swaying rods. Tripods were prohibited for reasons that the person on the desk could not articulate, but which she somehow associated with copyright. Ah well, I wedged the camera on a chair and blocked it up with keys, a wallet and anything else I could find.

Steel
Cladding n the Len Lye Centre on Devon St, New Plymouth reflects nearby buildings

As I said the building itself is interesting, though much of its clever design is overshadowed by the immaculate polished stainless steel cladding on the Southern and Eastern walls.

Waterfall
The waterfall at the Festival of Lights kept changing colour

That same evening, we went to Pukekura Park to visit the “Festival of Lights”. Though less densely presented than in previous years, the festival as worth a visit, and lots of families were walking, riding and rowing around and across the lake as thee chosen mode of travel dictated.

ENSCO 107
Offshore oil rig – about 10 km away

The next morning, while Mary visited her aunt, I went to the mouth of the Waitara river where I saw the oil rig ENSCO 107 about 10 km offshore.

Fowler
Just a little faster than walking pace – a 1905 Fowler traction engine

And then, the next morning, we were homeward bound. On the long hill don into Whangaehu, we passed two steam traction engines, clattering their way from Whanganui to Feilding. They had left Whanganui at 9 pm and took just on twelve hours to cover the 65 km to Feilding. I sat in the long warm grass to get the angle, and was rewarded with a toot from the steam whistle as each engine passed.

clover
Clover in bloom

At Bulls, there was a paddock that caused me to stop. A field of pure clover is not as common as it used to be, so I thought it was worth a shot.  It was a wonderful journey, eight days in all. We saw lots of beautiful landscapes but as the late Andy Stewart sang, “they are not the hills of home”*.

So now we are back in Wellington, and who knows what comes next?

  • The Scottish Soldier by Andy Stewart