December 24, 2018 … and so, to the festive season

This edition is shorter than usual. The reason is simply that there were days when the weather was unsuited for my preferred styles of photography so no pictures were made. I would rather miss a day than knowingly deliver mediocrity. Of course this exposes me to the danger of delivering mediocrity unaware. My basic rule is to not show an image that I don’t like.  So here we go in the brief penultimate edition for 2018.

New Zealand Pipit singing merrily at Otaki Beach

It is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, to call Otaki Beach a beach. It is more of a horizontal quarry … formed mainly of heavy pebbles carried down the Otaki River from the Tararua ranges, Nevertheless it is a place of prolific bird life, and I was pleased to see this New Zealand Pipit chasing yellowhammers away from its preferred singing posts.

Emerging Pohutukawa

It is the season for Pohutukawa blossom, and I decided to catch a cluster of blossoms in the very earliest stage of its flowering.

Supreme Court
At the Supreme Court, looking towards the parliamentary office building

I was in the city for lunch on Tuesday and decided to look at the reflecting pool beside the supreme court. Then I remembered the “look behind” rule so tried from the other end. Bowen House forms a suitable backstop to the pool, but you can line up the view only by getting over the small fence into what is presumable the private grounds of the court-house. I stayed outside but lifted my camera and tripod over the boundary. A few minutes later I was approached by two members of the court security service. Happily, they were unarmed, and did their job in a friendly kiwi style, and were keen to see how the slow exposure worked. We live in a blessed country.

The common honey bees were humming in their thousands

Did I mention pohutukawa already?  There is a grove of them at the South end of Muritai Rd in Eastbourne, and they are early bloomers. They are also a magnet for the wild honey bees which seem to be making a comeback in the region.


Kaitaki and Tangaroa
Outbound and homebound

On Friday, I was at Petone Beach and the harbour and sky were both impossibly blue. On the sharply drawn horizon line, I could see the Kaitaki heading out on the 9am sailing to Picton. Incoming was Tangaroa, the NIWA fisheries research vessel.

That’s all for now. To those of you who, like me, celebrate Christmas, warmest wishes for a wonderful occasion. See you all next week, perhaps



Academic Art flowers Kaitoke Maritime Rivers Weather Wellington

December 18, 2018 … reaching a seasonal climax

It has been a busy week with various end of year functions with camera club and friends and a graduation ceremony (of which, more later). The week ahead looks no better, so let’s see what happened this week.

Sunrise in the Hutt Valley


I woke early one morning and found the sky ablaze  with something that is apparently called sunrise.  Having my camera nearby, I stuck it out my bedroom window to capture this phenomenon in case others might not believe me. Who knew?

Nightfall at the marina

In more familiar territory, at the end of the same day, I went down to the marina at Seaview where the last light of day had just left. I like the stillness, and despite the long exposure, the boats stayed still for me.

Still tied up but ready to go

In one of the following days I found myself at Oriental Bay and noticed the two Centreport tugs, Tiaki and Tapuhi positioning themselves to assist the container vessel Lori to leave port. I went down onto the beach and positioned the camera at sea level. and had to make sure that incoming wavelets did not splash the lens.

Rock pool
Rock pool, Lyall Bay


In the Western side of Lyall Bay,  there are some rock pools full of interesting life and lots of Neptune’s necklace (seaweed). Every part of the this coast has a  picture to offer if only I can see how to extract it.

African daisy

Just above the rock pool, the shore is covered with white daisy-like flowers which I believe to be the semi-succulent African daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum). It seems to be quite invasive and covers a lot of the shoreline above the beach.

My friend Rashidah is second from Left, front row. She has earned that smile

And then there was the day of graduation.  When I retired from the university way back in 2011, I was forced to hand over the supervision of my very last PhD student to my colleagues. Hailing from Sarawak where she is the chief executive of that state’s library system, my friend Rashidah was studying how institutions such as museums libraries and galleries should acquire and display the intangible cultural assets  of indigenous peoples. Things that were regarded as secret and sacred needed to be treated respectfully and in accordance with the wishes of the people to whom they belonged. It was a joy for me to be allowed to attend the graduation ceremony and to wear my academic costume for the very last time.  I took the picture from my position on stage with my smuggled camera, of the moment when the chancellor declares the graduands to be graduates and thus able to wear the headgear appropriate to the degree. Well done Rashidah., and congratulations to my colleagues who brought their supervision to a successful conclusion.

Thunderstorm in the distance

Weather has featured in my consciousness this week, and it even included a brief thunderstorm which is relatively rare in Wellington. I rather liked this image taken from a hilltop site in Kelson on the Western hills of a heavy cloud formation. The storm never quite reached Wellington.

Mangaroa River

Just a little north of Upper Hutt, the Mangaroa river comes in from the East to join the Hutt River . It’s not a big river but fast flowing and popular with people who come bouncing down through its many rapids on various inflatable devices.

The reason for the season

Mary and I don’t do much in the way of Christmas decorations at home, but one constant feature over the last twenty years or so has been this elegantly simple nativity scene. The figures are made of artfully folded fabrics by a gifted artist from Blenheim.


My daughter-in-law, Sarah has a garden which as a few spectacular opportunities such as these spectacular lilies

Flower of uncertain identity

In the same garden, I found this, As far as I can tell, it is a close relative of the white African daisy above … I think it is Osteospermum ecklonis.

That’s all this week. See you round.

adversity Art Birds flowers harbour Maritime Pukerua Bay Waves Weather Wellington

December 9, 2018 … how did we get here already?

Somehow, it is almost Christmas again. Surely the last one was just a few weeks ago? Of course the fickle weather patterns should have been warned me that Christmas was due.

Rain at the cemetery

When it rains I often think there might be a picture to be had. Early in the week, I somehow had in mind that there might be a shot from Pukerua Bay towards Kapiti. Unfortunately, I encountered a ferocious traffic jam near the Whenua Tapu cemetery so decided to slip up Airlie Rd and back down into Plimmerton. Then the heavens opened and since I was near the cemetery I decided to see if I could combine the falling rain with the colours of the various monuments and the many floral tributes.

I think it’s a little shag (identified by short beak)

The next day was almost perfectly still, so I hoped to find some dabchicks at Queen Elizabeth Park. Not a single dabchick showed itself, but the little shag made a nice contrast with the green reflections on the water.

It sometimes worries me that we make such extensive use of glass curtain walls in a seismically prone city such as ours

Later in the week, I attended a book launch. A friend has used 26 of my images plus a few from other photographers to illustrate his collection of autobiographical essays. As we were leaving after the event, I was taken with the reflections in the building across the road. The old Charles Fergusson Tower has been stripped to its steel skeleton and re-clad in dark mirror glass.

The Cobar Cat on its way to Matiu/Somes Island and Days Bay, despite the howling wind

And then the weather played up rough again. I saw wind speeds variously estimated from 60 to 140 km/h. At least in theory, I understand that the two catamarans that do the Day’s Bay ferry are supposed to stop when it gets to 4o km/h but given how hard I had to hang on to stand upright I think it was well above that as the Cobar Cat bounced along.

Wainuiomata River in the rain

The wind dropped but the rain came back so I went over to the Wainuiomata Recreation Reserve and walked one of the loop tracks . I loved it, and the bush was a glorious freshly washed  green.

Russian sage (pending an alternate identification)

The rain continued for most of the day so I shot a small cutting of a roadside plant from the morning’s walk. I believe it is Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

A caravan being towed back towards solid ground across the slumping roadway

Yesterday, I went over to the South Wairarapa Coast heading towards Cape Palliser. The crumbling limestone cliffs to the South of Putangirua pinnacles are always a challenge to cross. The warning signs (Caution! Active Slip. Extreme Caution!)  give you little or no indication of what to do if the road actually moves beneath you. And the slumps in the road leave little doubt that it seriously could do just that.

Creeping wildflowers adorn the edges of a pool

Just out of Ngawi, I saw some coastal pools, perhaps a temporary product of recent heavy rain, but they were attractive with the wildflowers around their edges.

Agricultural layer cake

After a brief visit with the fur seals I turned for home and as I got close to Featherston, saw these interesting contrasts in crop colours.  I have no idea what the plants are, but the contrast was pleasing.

That’s all this week.