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January 26, 2019 … missed opportunities

The week just ended was an odd one. I had a lot of opportunities that, in my assessment, I failed to use to best advantage. I think I need to take more time at each site and each opportunity. I need to evaluate constantly whether it is sufficient to merely “be there”, or whether what I am seeing really makes a good picture. In short, I need to have a more critical approach. I offer just seven images this week, so here we go.

Probably a Dahlia

Our eldest son David came  from Brisbane this week with his wife, Rowena, daughter Grace, and son Isaac. It was, as always, a joy to see some of our far-flung family, and they sweetened the visit with a floral gift for Mary. One of the blooms stood out to me, so I isolated it and have tried to capture my response to it. I like its radial symmetry and the delicacy of its colour. However, the technique of of full frontal approach and focus-stacking does tend to produce the same result each time I face a flower.

Wolf moon over Cannon Point

Last week we had the “wolf moon”, so I looked at the most widely used photographer’s tool for predicting angles and times for astronomical events (TPE). It let me down badly. Not only was it five degrees out in the azimuth, but the moon rose almost 35 minutes after the predicted time. If the azimuth had been correct I could have placed the moon against the background I had chosen when I selected my viewing point. Either way, Wellington chose to offer a blanket of thin low cloud that somewhat obscured the rising moon. Whenever I do a moon shot I always try to get some of the locality in the background. Otherwise, one well-focused shot of the moon in space is identical to anyone else’s shot. As fate would have it, I caught the trig station at the top of Cannon’s Point near Upper Hutt.

Massive steel works – in storage

Later in the week, I visited the workshops of Steam Inc at Paekakariki. They allow visitors by donation, requiring only that you first report to one of the staff to learn of the hazards. They don’t want you falling down an inspection pit, or worse, being crushed under some of the very heavy steel objects in the sheds. This was a place that I should definitely have given more time and thought to. That will be rectified soon. The shot above is of one of the two motion sets of the huge ex-Rhodesian Railways Beyer-Peacock locomotive. Briefly, the Beyer-Peacock is one firebox and boiler connected to two complete 4-6-4 locomotive chassis. The weight and scale of everything about this locomotive is impressive. Sadly, it is classed as “in storage” with no sign of any restoration activity. There are many missing parts but I wanted to capture the massive over-engineering of this monster.

Firebox and boiler of Ka945

There are many other locomotives in the shed, in various states of running order and restoration.  I was drawn to the firebox and boiler of the mighty Ka945 (a large 4-8-4 mainline express locomotive) undergoing its second restoration. They really do strip things back to the basics. Those pimples are “fusible plugs” designed to melt and release the forces safely in the event of significant overheating. If you want to see what she looks like in her glory days, go here:

Long-finned eels at Battle Hill Farm Forest Park

On the Paekakariki Hill Road is Battle Hill Farm Forest Park and in the stream that runs though it there is a place where the native long-finned eels gather. People are allowed to feed them, though bread is considered harmful, and red meat is encouraged. The Mallard ducks compete fearlessly with the eels to receive the gifts offered by tourists and will walk across the writhing swarm of eels. I did note that one of the ducks had just one leg, so perhaps there are some risks to their behaviour.

Mork or Mindy … an emu

David and I took Isaac to Staglands, a farm park on the Akatarawa road that winds from Upper Hutt to Waikanae. They have in their collection, many interesting animals, including a pair of emus called Mork and Mindy. I don’t know which of them posed for me, but am pleased with the result.

Hopeful sparrow

When we had completed our circuit of the farm, we returned to the cafe and ordered lunch. While we were waiting, we were entertained by the sparrows hoping for a share of, or at least the droppings from our lunch. The common sparrow is not the most spectacular of birds but sometimes it poses nicely.

That’s all this week. See you soon.

Airport Architecture Cook Strait Evans Bay harbour Landscapes Light Maritime night Petone Reflections Weather Wellington

January 19, 2019 … Wellington, my “Tūrangawaewae”

I love the Maori concept of Tūrangawaewae. Literally, it translates as the standing place on which you plant yourself. More specifically, it is the place of special significance to you, the place of empowerment, your place in the world.

A friend recently wondered how I could keep shooting images of Wellington. The answer is both simple and difficult. It is simple in that it is where I am most of the time. It is difficult in the way that it challenges me to see it with new eyes each time I look. So this week I explore some images that I hope capture various moods of Wellington, my Tūrangawaewae.

Paper Tigers
Paper Tiger catamarans lining up for a racing start

In Evans Bay, there was a fleet of small one-person catamarans in a neat line. I learned later that I was seeing a heat in the national championships of the “Paper Tiger” class. What caught my attention apart from their neat line, was the glitter of their translucent sails against the dark green of the bush.

Last week, I spent of lot of time discussing aspect ratios. The long line of yachts demanded a long narrow treatment and I had to crop downwards to avoid the suburbia above. I wanted the attention to be on the yachts.

I am sure there were many safety features at work, but watching these guys handling live wires was scary

We had received notification at home of a planned power outage. It seemed that some poles, insulators and cross members need replacing. In the week prior, poles were laid on the ground, and a fleet of specialised trucks assembled. On the day, the crew were afflicted with a wind gusting around 50 km/h. They went ahead anyway. I regard these guys as heroes, strapped to poles amidst a swinging tangle of high-voltage wires. I tried to get as many of them in frame as possible but could get no more than a third of the crew,. I wish I could have captured the way everything was swinging in the wind.

Office blocks from here to there

My younger daughter showed me the place where she works, and I was delighted to catch this previously unseen view of The Terrace in Wellington. The Terrace is a street of corporate offices where I used to work before the years of academia. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me, so had to make do with the iPhone 7 which I rarely use as a camera. As they say, the best camera in any situation is the one you have with you.

Shelly Bay
To Mt Victoria from Shelly Bay

It’s always an occasion of great joy when any of our family come to stay. David and Rowena came from Brisbane with Grace and Isaac, and it was my task to collect them from the airport. Inbound flights from Brisbane tend to arrive at around 00:30 so I decided to capitalize on the still night by making some night shots. This shot was made from Shelly Bay on the Eastern side of Evans Bay. Night shots are fun, but in my opinion, require a sturdy tripod and a remote trigger. I knew I would need a long exposure, but with the lovely crescent moon in the sky, I had to compromise as it moves quite a long way in a short time. This image was made with the shutter open for 64 seconds which was a bit too long, but on the whole, I almost got away with it. Do click to enlarge to see the detail on the water

Mt Vic
The heart of the city from the Mt Victoria Lookout

The same night, I went up to the lookout platform on Mt Victoria. The reflections tell how relatively still the night was. The image might give some sense of why this city is so special to me.

The little tugboats that could

A day or two later, I was in Oriental Bay and noted the splash of bright colour across the bay. The tug boats Tiaki and Tapuhi have maintained the tradition established by their three predecessors of a bright red colour scheme. And then, behind them was the red brick of the former harbour board offices, now upmarket apartments. Above them to the right is the parliamentary library building, and above and centre is the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, currently closed for remediation of seismic risk factors. This image was given the horizontal chop treatment to emphasise the strong lines of the buildings.

Houghton Bay
Houghton Bay from Te Raekaihau Point

I mentioned at the beginning, a place on which to stand. It’s always nice to find a new one. As I was leaving Lyall Bay, I went up Hungerford Rd and spotted a sign that referred to a walkway. I parked and followed it to the top of Te Raekaihau Point which is the Western tip of Lyall Bay. I just loved the view along Houghton Bay to Taputeranga Island which is the centrepiece of Island Bay. In the very far distance, 130 km away, the summit of Tapuae-o-Uenuku can be seen peering above a solid cloud bank.  I shall visit here again in different light and different weather. The ferry Kaiarahi is in the distance, inbound from Picton.

They are an invasive weed, but very pretty when the sun catches them

The family went to the Marlborough sounds for a few days and I volunteered to collect them from a late-evening ferry. Once more it was a reasonably still night, so I set out to have time to make images. I had shot some from Petone Beach looking to the harbour entrance and was coming back to the car when I spotted the light of the setting sun on the Hare’s-tail grass. I set the camera on its tripod so as to catch the sun at the level of the seed heads and was pleased with the result. I have been agonising over whether to get rid of that rogue stalk.

Petone Beach sunset

A few moments later from a little further along the beach, the view across the harbour called for a further record of the sunset. It’s a well-worn path, but each time I see a scene like this, I try to see it as a  new event to be seen in a new way.

Aratere prepares to swing around for berthing

I had some photographic fun at the ferry terminal, catching the comings and goings of various vessels, until at last the Aratere came round Point Halswell and began to position itself to reverse into the berth. By now it was well past twilight and I had to boost the ISO setting all the way to 2500 to catch this shot. Since the vessel was still moving at a fair clip, I could not use a long exposure and stretched my luck at 0.4 seconds without too much motion blur. I enjoyed the reflections on the water, but am baffled by the vertical green streak. I presume that it must be from the starboard navigation light, but the light itself is obscured  by the superstructure. Nevertheless, I’ll take it since it adds to the pleasure of the arrival.

That’s all this time. As always your feedback is welcome.



Art Birds harbour Lower Hutt Maritime Reflections Weather Wellington

January 10, 2019 … into the new year

Somehow, the festive season is far behind us already. We are several weeks beyond the summer solstice and there is, as yet, little sign of a sustained summer. There have been days here and there that have offered photographic opportunity, and I have tried as best I could to use them.

Kaiarahi straightens up on the course across the harbour to the ferry terminal. I love the light on the water

It would be obvious to any one who has followed this page for even a few episodes that I have a strong affinity for still water. The thing I check first when I pull back the curtains most days, is the extent to which the nearby bush is moving. My favourite days are those when the leaves are perfectly still. Then I head to the places from where I can see the reflections. On this occasion I went up a steep Narrow street at the foot of Ngauranga Gorge just as the ferry Kaiarahi was turning towards its berth. As you can see from the wake, it makes a very tight turn. To some extent, the presence of the ferry was serendipitous. I had gone to my vantage point to capture the contrast between the hazy receding planes of the Eastern Hills and the bright glitter on the harbour

I have noticed that when I make landscape images, I have a strong preference for the landscape formats, usually either 16:9 or as in this case, 2:1. Is it a good choice do you think?

Recreational fishing has never been kind to me. Perhaps I lack the patience required.

From the same vantage point on the same day, I spotted this little “tinnie” engaged in recreational fishing at the foot of the Ngauranga Gorge. Again, it was the almost oily stillness of the harbour and the pleasant morning light that persuaded me that there was a picture here.

As you can see, I have used the full native 4:3 aspect ratio of my Olympus camera and I think it suits the subject.

Sunset drama from home

A few days later, the weather was just ugly and I was not motivated to make an image. That is, until the very end of the day when the setting sun lit up the clouds in the East and highlighted the band of clouds along the Eastern hills. I grabbed the camera and took eight vertical images which were then stitched to a single panorama. While I have no illusions that it is a great image, I liked the drama of the sky.

Motukaraka Point in the rain

At Pauatahanui Inlet in drizzly conditions I thought there was no image to be had, but made this picture of trees at the Western tip of Motukaraka Point.  Again, I have adapted the aspect ratio to suit what I regard as the essence of the image.  The rain-blurred background contrasts nicely with the sharpness of the water in the foreground and the trees that were the subject of the image.

As I said elsewhere, only a centipede needs this many stilts. I do like the arrange,ment

In the wetlands near Pauatahanui village, there was a flock of pied stilts. They were mostly snoozing in the still conditions, many of them in the one-legged stance so typical of wading shore-birds. But what really caught my eye, apart from the smart black and white plumage, was the lovely horizontal line of the birds. To my mind, it demanded the narrow aspect ratio.

Lowry Bay
Lowry Bay in the morning

Yesterday started out magnificently, but the forecast suggested it would not last, so I set out early. In Lowry Bay, the view across the harbour to the Miramar Peninsula was delightful, and I decided that the warm tones of the wooden fence that protects people waiting at the bus stop from the splashing of the waves on rough weather days added to the sunny feel of the day. The streaks of cloud hint at the change to come.

Hikoikoi viewpoint

While the weather was still on my side, I visited the Hikoikoi reserve in the Hutt River estuary. I have made a great many images down there, and struggled to find a way of seeing it differently.When I attended a photographic convention in Tauranga a few years ago, I recall the celebrated landscape photographer, Guy Edwardes advocating the use of long lenses in making landscape images. Though it seems counter-intuitive, I find that the long lens often lets me see a familiar scene in a different way. I had some discussion with photographic friends as to where to crop this image, and some suggested I should lose the pink door on the left. I disagreed think it balances the light colours on the right edge.


Quizzical inspection

The cruise-liner thing eludes me completely, though perhaps the Caledonian Sky pictured here, might suit me better than most since I would only be forced to mingle with 119 other passengers instead of the 4,179 on the Ovation of the Seas. Anyway, I thought that Max Patte’s iron sculpture “Solace in the Wind” was looking quizzically  at one of the few cruise ships small enough to berth down-town.  I love the red oxidation on the statue.

That’s another week gone. Thanks to those who kindly offered feedback last week.



Adventure Forest harbour Light Maritime Weather Wellington

January 03, 2019 … the road goes ever on and on*

Happy New Year to all my readers, and especially to those who have been with me for so long. The WYSIWYG identity has gone through a number of evolutions since I first used it in 1993. I hope to make another step forward today.  I still intended to provide a selection of images with associated comments, but I want to tighten up the connection between what I see, how I interpret it and how I describe it. You may or may not notice the difference, but you are welcome, as always to share your thoughts in the comments.

A busy corner of Wellington’s port

The interisland ferry Kaiarahi approaches its berth in Wellington with great care. In the background, the small black vessel which is the unlikely neighbour to the cruise liner, celebrity Solstice is the LPG tanker, Bougainville, carrying 5,000 cubic metres of liquefied petroleum gas.

I made the picture because I liked the colours, and the shapes being formed as Kaiarahi moved slowly towards the loading ramp. A clear blue sky is not usually a good thing for photographers, an in this case there are some wisps of high cloud to break up the blue expanse. I am ambivalent about the lifeboat lowered for inspection, and the work boat being exercised beside Celebrity Solstice. Are they a distraction, or do they serve to break a large block of white paint?

Five-mile track in Catchpool valley

I offer this image as a representative patch of the bush on the five-mile track in the Catchpool Valley in the Remutaka Forest Park. I always enjoy this park visually, despite the struggle I have to make images that show it in a pleasing way.

As you see the track is well-formed, and the bush really is that green. Whatever the weather outside, the ridges to North and South and the trees themselves seem to shelter the walker  from whatever wind there might be.

I think this would be a better image if I had stepped off the path to the left and thus not made the path quite so central. On the other hand, there was a steep drop to the left.

A fine stand of beech trees

I made mention of a representative patch of bush. A few hundred metres further, and the character of the bush is entirely different. Instead of the dense low bush, I found myself in a stand of magnificent beech trees.

I made this image for the beautiful soft light I found there, and I hope WordPress does it justice. Take note of the leaf carpet.

Bush pictures, including this one, struggle to reconcile the contrast between earth and sky. Perhaps it might have worked better as a panoramic shot without the glittering sky.

Tree root ladder …. the steps are much taller than they might look

And another hundred metres brought me to this “root ladder”. There was a time when I would have bounded up over this without a thought. Sadly I struggle to get my knees high enough for each step now. I did get over it, but not as easily as I used to.

About here, I realised I had lost a small but important plastic moulded piece from the bottom of the centre column of my tripod. Where might I have lost it? I went back to the beech grove where I had last set it up and started looking around among all that leaf mold that I referred to earlier. Great glory, I found it!

The main virtue of this picture is that it illustrates the typical way in which tree roots are incorporated into the walkways. Sadly, nature doesn’t provide for wheelchair access.

Pt Howard
Pt Howard oil wharf and Ward Island on a perfectly blue New Year’s day

New Year’s day in Lowry Bay on the Eastern side of Wellington Harbour,. The residents of this up-market suburb have to tolerate the unsightly Pt Howard oil terminal. On this spectacular morning, the harbour was still and on this moment, I am prepared to make an exception for the blue sky. Truth to tell, I like those “blue-on-blue” days when the horizon gets lost somewhere out there where sea and sky come together.

The clarity of the air was such that Ward Island in the harbour entrance, and the leading light just to its left were sparklingly clear.

I liked this picture as a start to making pictures in a new year. I like it for its simplicity, as well as for the fact that some of my photographic friends couldn’t figure out where I had taken it from. A conservative judge might complain that it is very centrally placed.

Kaitoke (1)
Tumbling clear water at Kaitoke

Yesterday, Mary and I went to the regional park at the Kaitoke waterworks, a little North of Upper Hutt in the foothills of the Tararua ranges. I should have known better. It was a public holiday and a fine day and there must have been thousands of people camping, hiking, swimming and picnicking in the park. As you may have noticed, Landscape is my usual photographic preference and I tend to avoid people.

This picture is at surface level in one of the creeks in the park and if you click to enlarge, you will see the many colours in the stones that caught my eye. On the far side of the creek, the dead trees are the remnants of a landslide. If you look closely at the fern fronds on the far bank you can tell that the day was not as calm as the day before.

The milky effect on the water under the far bank, and the hazy effect around the near stones give away the fact that I used a neutral density filter to make a 20 second exposure here.

A lovely river landscape in Kaitoke

My last image for this week was also made at Kaitoke. I clambered down a steep path and down a root ladder, past an unbelievably discarded used baby diaper, onto a part of the stream where there were very few people. I sat on a stream-side boulder and set up my tripod to catch another long exposure.

Though I could fiddle a bit with this image, I quite like it. I might crop a little off the bottom to eliminate the distracting light grey boulders in the lower right hand corner.

And that’s all for this week.

*J.R.R. Tolkien used the Road goes ever on and on in a few places … I like the one in the Lord of the Rings:

The road goes ever on and on,
down from the door where it began.