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March 24, 2018 … suffering for my art

When I left you last week, I had just completed the trip to Pencarrow Lighthouse with the camera club. What I didn’t tell you is that as I came back across the Hutt estuary to Petone, I saw some delightful reflections on the river. I parked across the road and crossed back to the edge of the bay where there is a walkway that drops down beside the water and then under the Waione St Bridge. There was no moon, but lots of spilled light from the road and nearby businesses so, with one eye on the view and half an eye on the track I set out to get the picture. Then there was nothing beneath my feet, and I was suddenly reenacting Alice in Wonderland: “Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well“* I came to a sudden stop, wedged to my waist in a hole where the path had been scoured out by recent rain. And I do mean wedged. I was firmly caught between the collapsed bank and the wooden edging strip. When my elder daughter heard about it later, she sent me the image of Winnie the Pooh (inset below in the picture of the hole)

Hole
This is a pure iPhone record shot of the hole through which I fell (inset borrowed without permission in the hope of forgiveness)

There was no other person nearby and I was trapped below the level of the adjacent road out of sight of passing cars. I heard my camera and tripod crash a metre or so to the rocky beach below. It took me a good five minutes of wriggling and squirming to get a toe-hold in the edge of the hole and then to do a caterpillar-squirm back to the path. After checking that there was nothing more serious than a few grazes and shaken nerves, I clambered over the edge, down to the beach to retrieve my camera which was, astonishingly, undamaged. I took the picture of the hole on my iPhone and sent it to the council who, to their credit, repaired it the next day.

Hutt estuary
Hutt Estuary at night as a sea mist rolls in.

Then I made the image that I had seen in the first place. It wasn’t as good as I envisaged, but it was an adventure.

Wellington
City textures with Victoria University’s Kelburn campus at the rear.

There were some good days and some that were less so in the days that followed. I always hope that when I look across Oriental Bay, the cityscape will tell a new story. Certainly the city looked as if it were washed clean, and the dear old Hunter Building is a jewel in the centre of the picture.

Anthurium
Anthurium

On the less comfortable days, or if it was raining, I tried some still life. I struggle with Anthuriums but this time used a new feature provided by a firmware upgrade to my camera … it makes up to 8 exposures each focused a little further back and then produces a composite using only the sharp bits.  I spent my entire career in computing but can’t imagine how they achieve this.

River
In the Waiotauru River at Otaki Forks. Flowing fast and cold

Mary and I went up to Otaki Gorge and she set out for a brisk walk while I took my shoes and socks off and rolled my jeans up and trod gingerly into the stony river which was very cold. No disasters occurred, though my feet got very cold.

Birds
Confrontation … or perhaps a classroom

A day later, at Pauatahanui, I spotted this white-faced heron apparently conducting classes, or perhaps fomenting rebellion, while facing a neat parade of pied stilts. The ones in the back rows seemed less interested.

Home
Home sweet home

My car was in the dealership getting a new wheel bearing fitted, so I wandered around central Lower Hutt filling in time. The morning sun caught our house on the hill above, and since it has been home for 37 years and is currently for sale I thought I’d catch it too. That’s us, the white one third from the left. As you can see, my bedroom window top left on the front of the house has no obstacles to the view.

Shed
The Greytown shed which has been photographed by most photographers who have passed through

It seems every region has its cliché subject. Wanaka has its tree, Milford has Mitre Peak, and Greytown has its shed. It’s always hard to resist the idea that maybe this time, the light, the season, the surrounding field will make the picture better than the last two dozen times I tried.

Train
Quietly rotting, and a target for the graffitists

Driving into the city on the old Hutt Road, as I passed under the flyover near the ferry terminal, I saw a splash of colour in the rail yards. It was a set of the now obsolete Hungarian Ganz-Mavag commuter units. They had been thoroughly vandalized with spray cans. I detest all forms of graffiti, and though there is a great deal of talent out there, I would respect it more if they painted on a surface that they owned themselves and could perhaps sell to pay for the next one. As I understand it, the Greater Wellington Council still own these units, and their intended sale to other countries has been stalled by the discovery of asbestos in them.

Lagoon
Wellington waterfront lagoon

We have had the most stunning summer in living memory, and are now in a quite rapid transition to a colder wetter state. So far, though, there have been a good number of those days where the sky is full of drama but the wind stays away. I love those days, especially when the light plays nicely on the city’s many reflective surfaces.

That will do for now. See you next week, barring any further holes in the ground.

*Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

 

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March 17, 2018 … more than just the best of a bad lot

Introspection can be cruel. I have a habit of using Adobe’s collection management tools to identify and categorise the images that I like best.  It is clear that I am not being critical enough. For example, I have kept 906 images so far in 2018. Of those, I have included 206 in the folder entitled “Images I really like”. I went back over the 206 images and concluded that I am being far too soft.

Now I recently judged for a club that specifies that, in a typical field of 45 entries, approximately half should be “not accepted”, no more than two or three images should get “honours, and just a few should get high acceptances. Educators call this “norm referencing”, which means your work is compared to and ranked against what everyone else is doing. The club for which I am currently judging is more gentle, and I am told I may award whatever grades  are appropriate to any image that deserves it. This is called “criterion referencing” whereby something is evaluated according to how it matches with the agreed measures of success, regardless of what anyone else does.

My problem is that, even if I apply criterion referencing to my own work, I am keeping too many. My introspective gene leads me to believe that I am often keeping merely the best of a bad lot. Don’t mistake this for false modesty. I know I get some good ones, but definitely not 206/906.  So, there may be fewer images in future, but better ones.

Yachts
Friday night sailing regatta in Wellington Harbour

Now and then, I yield to temptation and will prefer fish and chips on a Friday night. I phone the order through, and still have a few minutes to wait when I drive up to the shop in Maungaraki to collect them. When the first image was taken, the sun was painting the small area between Matiu/Somes Island and Petone with a warm but delicate light, and the local yacht club were smack in the middle of it.

Zealandia
Beautiful New Zealand bush in the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary

Some days later, Mary and I went to Zealandia, our local wildlife sanctuary. I was not especially successful with the birds on this occasion, but I do love the bush tracks through the area. There was birdsong all around.

Ngauranga
Early evening rush hour in Ngauranga Gorge

I have been experimenting with various forms of long exposure and this shot was made from a little side street off the Ngauranga Gorge.  As you will see, anything that wasn’t moving should be very sharp, and anything that was moving should be blurred. I tried various exposures, but the longer exposures caused the traffic to disappear altogether. I had to wait patiently for a train to cross the bridge in the foreground.

Mist
Misty morning on the harbour

There were some interesting misty mornings which I love. This image was made from the hillside at Korokoro just above Petone railway station. The harbour was just beautifully calm.

Moonrise
Moonrise as seen from home

And then there were some moon opportunities. I have an app that tells when the moon will rise, but the height of the hills across the valley adds a delay to that. There were also some clouds, but in due course, it arose.

Island Bay
Island Bay at sunset

I found a new viewpoint on the South Coast at the back of Island Bay, and had to make the most of yet another perfect night as I came back down the hill.

Strait
A golden view across the strait

Then, just around the coast towards the airport, at Princess Bay, my rear-view mirror demanded that I stop and turn around to look at the mighty Kaikoura ranges across the strait. What a beautiful spot to be at sunset.

Thorndon
The earliest houses of Thorndon

Early this week, I wandered a lesser known street in the very oldest parts of Thorndon. These are houses of similar age and style to those so much loved in Arrowtown. It really is a very pretty part of our city.

Pencarrow
On the beach at Pencarrow

My final shot this time is one made on a camera club outing which I helped to organise. We got hard-won permission to take a convoy of cars along the coast road from Eastbourne to the lighthouses at Pencarrow to catch the setting sun. Alas, the sun hid behind a cloud bank, but it was a beautiful evening anyway.