Adventure Art Camera club Colonial Knob Cook Strait Landscapes Light Maritime

September 27, 2016 … the spice of life

My photographic week continued to be shaped by the weather. Soft grey chilly drizzle was the main feature. Nevertheless, as long as the wind is absent, I can usually find a point of view worth recording.

The Stena Provence was the most colourful object in a grey landscape

From Lowry Bay, the tanker Stena Provence was the most visible object. That lifeboat scares me. When everyone is aboard, and strapped into their seats,  the coxswain releases the trigger and it shoots down the ramp at that ridiculous angle and plunges into the sea. I have seen a video of such a lifeboat pitch-poling end over end, so the chances of injury seem high.

“George” showing off his breeding plumage

The same day I carried on round to Hikoikoi where I thought I might try a wide-angle shot from just above the water … about duck’s eye level. I had made such an image when I noticed a splash of white. George was back, strolling up and down the deck of a boat house next to his favourite boat. This time he was in full glorious mating plumage, and must surely be due to fly South to Waitangiroto near Okarito where it all happens for white herons.

The only way to compete with other photographers on a landscape outing is with the elbows

In the weekend, I attended the Central Regional Convention of the Photographic Society of New Zealand. This was based at Whitireia, a  polytechnic institute in Porirua. Most of the speakers were interesting and I chose the four-wheel drive field trip. A hazard of field trips at conventions is all the other photographers getting in your way.

Cloudscape over the Marlborough sounds as seen from Colonial Knob

Our convoy of eleven off-road vehicles bounced and scrambled their way up to the top of Colonial Knob, taking great care to pause and give way to the many walkers and a few cyclists we met on the very steep road.  There was a steely grey sky with dramatic clouds reflecting on the unusually still waters of the Cook Strait. If you click to enlarge the picture, you will see the Brothers Islands just this side of Arapawa Island, and to the right of that, Cape Jackson on the other side of Queen Charlotte Sound.

Ohariu Valley to Cook Strait and the South Island

Taking a different angle, I loved the light on the water and on the rolling hills at the Northern end of the Ohariu Valley.

Yes, I took this, and no, it’s not my usual style. A large part of its attraction is in the grace of the dancer

On the Sunday morning of the convention, there were a number of workshops, some of which were more interesting than others. None was directly aligned with my photographic preferences, but one that I decided to try was conducted by a very highly regarded photographer from the Wairarapa, Esther Bunning. Esther was teaching a particular whimsical approach, and had brought along four attractive young women from a local dance school. This was well outside my comfort zone, but I gave it a shot. As I wrote elsewhere, grabbing an electric fence is a learning experience, but not one that most of us repeat.

Architecture Botanic gardens flowers Light Lower Hutt Weather Wellington

September 21, 2016 … here and there, this and that

It has been an ordinary week, mostly characterized by drab, chilly and often drizzly weather.

Misty morning at Petone

I don’t mind such soft grey weather as it often presents attractive views. At Petone wharf, for example, the view across the almost flat harbour is quite different with the Miramar Peninsula disappearing in the cloud.

On the inner city bypass

Later in the week, I went into the city to walk the route of the World Wide Photowalk which I shall be leading again on Saturday October 1. I need to take into account that some walkers may be even less fit than I am so I must make sure that my chosen route is unlikely to kill anyone. We are walking in Te Aro and the first thing that caught my eye was the renovated houses near the cross-town bypass. I had to wait a few moments to avoid traffic in the way.

Cuba St
Strait down Cuba Street to the Michael Fowler Centre

Some fairly ordinary streets look different when seen from a place where I don’t always go. Cuba Street is always interesting to my eye.

Pukeahu War Memorial

A little further across the town, I came to  the Pukeahu war memorial park, and from the base of the Carillon, got a slightly different view to ones I have used before.The Australian installation is attractive in an odd way.

Tulips in full bloom

On Monday, I was in town looking to see if the tulips were in flower. They were, but before I got there, I paused for a coffee to ward off the damp chill. Tulips of another kind made an attractive image as they hung on their rack.

Jervois Quay
Angles and textures

Across Jervois Quay, the shapes and angles of buildings  caught my eye. The two  hexagonal towers in the foreground hold a special place for me, since way back in 1980, I was the first occupant of a space with a splendid view across the harbour.

White camellia

Yesterday, I went looking for other flowers and though it was a bit early for the Rhododendrons at the Belmont domain, there were some nice Camellias in the Riddiford Gardens. The new system whereby my computer reminds me that the blog is due seems to be walking.




Adventure Landscapes mountains New Plymouth Rivers Taranaki Waves Weather

September 14, 2016 … like a box of chocolates

The week since I last wrote, began and ended with rain, but somewhere in the middle, we got a real soft centre.

Heavy water on the shore at Cape Egmont

Mary and I had arrived in New Plymouth and settled into our rented house (my first Airbnb), but there was still intermittent rain. Meanwhile, I was reading of all the great waves I was missing back in Wellington. This got me to wondering what was happening at Cape Egmont, just a little way back down the coast.  Despite the heavy cloud, we set out in the afternoon and were soon on the wild and rocky western coast of the North Island. Yes, there were waves, and a vicious offshore wind.

Windsurfing at Cape Egmont

They weren’t as big as those reported in Wellington, but wonderful to watch anyway. And there were crazy people wind-surfing in these conditions, though a little to the side of the wildest conditions on the cape.

Someone out there is in trouble

The next day, the sky began to clear, and as Mary was preparing our evening meal, I ducked out to catch a view shots of the mountain from a place that I knew would give me a clear view from base to summit. Alas, from that position, there were clouds obscuring the summit. I drove back into town along Devon street, and as I neared the base hospital, realised that the cloud was now further West and no longer in the way. I went up the hill to the hospital grounds and was rewarded with a full view of Taranaki as the day was coming to an end. I got my shot, but as I was about to pack up, I was “photo-bombed” by the Taranaki rescue helicopter backing out of its base to fly off and rescue someone.

The mountain from the dinner table

Back at the house, Mary was about to serve dinner when I realised I had a pretty good view through the dining room window, and that the trees and clouds added a little drama. Look at the rosy tint on the snow.

Cardiff, NZ

On Sunday, we set out to visit Dawson Falls which is a visitor centre high on the mountain, near Stratford. A little to the South of Midhirst, we left the main road and drove along Monmouth Rd to Pembroke and then on to Cardiff. Obviously some homesick expatriate was dreaming of his native Wales when giving European names to the localities hereabouts. Ignoring the fact that they all had perfectly serviceable Maori names, they also ignored the wild mismatch between the place and its namesake. I would guess that there are fewer than a hundred people here, compared with 340,000 in the Welsh city. But our one has the mountain.

Clear sky
No cloud to spoil the view

At the edge of the nearly perfectly circular park which surrounds the nearly perfectly circular mountain, there was a lovely view of the mountain, showing Fantham’s peak which, from this side, spoils its symmetry.  The snow-line seems a long way up, so we ignored the sign saying chains were mandatory, in the erroneous belief that we wouldn’t be up that high. There was snow in the car parks and most of the walking tracks were closed because of recent weather.  But, as you can see, it was a flawless day.

Across the island to Ruapehu

From the lookout platform near the visitor centre there was a view across the 136 km to the mountains in the centre of the island. From left to right, the three snow-capped summits are Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu.

Lighthouse and mountain

We came back down to the plains below, and knowing that the road was just 15 minutes longer, headed back round the Western side of the mountain. After a pleasant picnic lunch in Opunake, we carried on towards New Plymouth. We paused again at Cape Egmont where this time, no cloud obstructed the view and I could get the lighthouse and the mountain in the same image.

Hutt River
The Hutt River at Te Marua – in the rain

And now we are home again and the rain is with us. Yesterday I followed the mist and clouds and went to the Hutt River near Te Marua and in splendid solitude, took this long exposure of the stillness. Birds sang, and rain dripped to the ground but otherwise, no noise. That’s all for now



Adventure adversity Birds Maritime New Plymouth Reflections Sunset Taranaki Waves Weather

Thursday 8 September, 2016 – perverse nature

So much for the automated reminder for a weekly Wednesday edition. Of course I have an excuse, but I won’t waste your time with it.

Marina (1)
Are you beginning to see a pattern to my plan B yet?

I had a project in mind for a photographic qualification. It depended on there being some dramatic winter storms and big waves. This winter it just didn’t eventuate, so I have activated a “plan B”, and by now you will recognise the Seaview Marina as the place where it is mostly located. On one of the recent “non-storm” days, I went down there as the day came to a blissful end.

Marina (2)
Reflections on still water may be a cliché, but I like trying to do them justice

I used my newest ND filter to ensure still waters as the last of the daylight was disappearing.

In line
Waiting patiently for access to the food, common house sparrows and a waxeye

Then there were a few rainy days, so I set my camera up in its rain jacket and controlled it wirelessly from my iPad. Mary likes to feed the local birds, sparrows, finches, waxeyes and the like.

A waxeye seeks a higher perch to assess the chance of getting into the food

I was grateful to avoid the weather from the warmth and comfort of our lounge.

Heavy surf and sand blasted at about 100 km/h

Today (Thursday), Mary and I have driven to New Plymouth. Of course this was the day Wellington chose to deliver swells estimated at seven metres to the South Coast. Accommodation had been booked and a deferral was impossible, so I grabbed a few shots on the way up. The first was at Waverley Beach, where a tumbling surf, diatomaceous foam and wind-blown sand made photography close to impossible.

Mouth of the Patea River in a storm

We broke our journey for lunch at a clifftop lookout in Patea. As I munched my pie, I watched as the incoming rollers overwhelmed the moles on either side of the mouth of the Patea river. In calm weather, people clamber out along the moles and fish. It would be a fatal mistake today.

More next week, hopefully on Wednesday.