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Adventure adversity Architecture Art Aviation Bees insects Light Lower Hutt Masterton night Reflections Rivers Weather Wellington

February 24, 2019 …. if you haven’t grown up by now, you don’t have to

This somewhat belated edition is slightly longer than normal because, well, there was an airshow. If you have been reading my ramblings for any length of time, you know that I love a good airshow.  But first, let’s get some random images out of the way. Truth to tell, they are not all that random. They follow the trajectory of my wandering, but the subject matter is fairly random.

Architecture
Architectural quirkiness in Eastbourne

Sometimes my search for artistic form gets a bit desperate. I grit my teeth and clench my fists, hold my breath and strain to see something attractive hidden in the ordinariness around me. It rarely works. Now and then I am rewarded by an image which may not be great, but which pleases me. This architectural detail is on the main road into Eastbourne. I am not sure how practical the house is for its owners but I liked the shapes and proportions of the towers.

Stream
The stream above the ford on the Waiohine Gorge Road

When the members of the family were here from Brisbane recently, we went up the Waiohine Gorge road just North of Greytown in the Wairarapa. As we were coming back, we crossed a ford and from the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a tree-shaded steam  which ran across the road and down into the Waiohine River below. Holiday traffic on the dusty road made it impractical to stop. A week or so ago, I went back there on a quiet week-day morning, to try again. The ford was dry and I thought I had missed the opportunity. Happily the stream was still there and the residual flow goes under the road. You might wonder why the reflected leaves seem blurred. The answer is that there was a strong wind overhead and the highest parts of the canopy were thrashing around.

Bridge
ANZAC Memorial Bridge – Kaiparoro

On the same day after some fruitless wandering in the South Wairarapa,  I was on my way home  via SH2 and had just passed through Ekatahuna when I arrived at the ANZAC Bridge at Kaiparoro. In all the years I have been passing this, I have never stopped to look. The bridge was built in 1921 to cross the previously unbridged Makakahi River, and to serve as a memorial for the six men from the district whose lives were lost in the first world war. I made this picture from beneath the much larger bridge that now carries the busy SH2 traffic over the stream. The old bridge is no longer connected to any roads and its sole remaining purpose is as a memorial.

Cicada
Discarded shell of cicada nymph

Mary likes to be in the garden. I like to look at gardens but rarely participate, except when Mary finds something. This discarded shell of a cicada nymph seemed worth a look. The image is a stacked composite of about seven images to ensure every part is in focus.

Harbour
Wellington Harbour Entrance

At the top of Mt Crawford on the Miramar peninsula sits the deserted but still  grimly locked Mt Crawford Prison. Looking down from its Eastern wall, there is a lovely view of the harbour entrance. In the foreground is Miramar. Seatoun is behind that, and across the water you can see the upper and lower lights at Pencarrow. If you have sharp eyes you can see the Baring Head light to the left of the upper Pencarrow light. Baring Head is the only one of the three that is still operational. If you use your imagination and squint really hard, the Antarctic ice shelf is just 3,200 km over the horizon.

Night
Looking down on Lower Hutt

Earlier this week, there was a super moon, and I tried to catch it rising over the Eastern hills. Sadly heavy cloud obscured its rising and I had to be satisfied with a night shot of the valley below. The darkened tower block in the centre is Hutt Hospital on High St.

Khandallah
It’s always good to find a new viewing platform

I found a new view window down onto the port that provides a more broadside view of the vessels berthed there. On this occasion I caught the Ovation of the Seas and the US Coast Guard icebreaker, Polar Star. Apparently this is the only operational icebreaker left in US Cost Guard service, and she is the first coast guard vessel to visit New Zealand since the suspension of the ANZUS treaty in 1984. Welcome back.

Sunset
It had been a miserable windy overcast day and then this happened

Sometimes I see a sunset only because there is a rosy tint on the Eastern hills. On this night the colour was so intense that I mounted a grab and dash mission. Click for a better view of this image which I caught from the slopes of Maungaraki.

The following images are from the Wings Over Wairarapa airshow held at Masterton this weekend, so if it’s not your thing, skip to the end.

LAV III
A heavier than air machine at the Air show

No matter how fast it goes down the runway, this General Dynamics LAV-III will never take off. Belonging to the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles regiment, it was part of the NZ Defence Forces contribution to the show. Apparently it just fits inside a C-130

Agricola
A beautifully restore piece of history

This ugly duckling is the world’s last surviving Auster Agricola. The prototype of this aerial topdresser was flown in 1955 but no more than ten were ever built. It was good at its job, but the Auster company were not good at selling it to the world. Pity.

PC-12
Horsepower … it would need some serious power to spin that five-bladed propeller

Much more glamorous than the Auster is the Pilatus PC-12 seen here on display at the show. If you click to enlarge, you will see a honey bee sitting on the apex of the spinner, I didn’t see it when I made the image, and was about to tidy up what I thought was a photographic flaw.

Yak 3
Full Noise – a Yak-3

As I have written elsewhere, the airshow was a disappointment to me, with a very limited selection of serious warbirds on display or in action apart from the superb WWI machines belonging to The Vintage Aviation Limited (TVAL). There were lots of Yak-52 trainers and this excellent Yak-3. It has made its presence felt at the Air Races in Reno, racing under the name “Full Noise”. But missing were any real Spitfires, Mustangs, Corsairs or Kittyhawks.

PBY
PBY-5a Catalina rumbles off the runway

The other piece of real hardware on display was this lovely PBY-5a painted in the WWII colours of XX-T of the RNZAF’s number 6 squadron. An aviator and dear friend wrote of them that they took off at 90 mph, cruised at 90 mph and landed at 90 mph.

And now we come to the bit about growing up. After all these years, I got bored at an airshow, and left long before the end. The entry fee was triple what I expected to pay and the aircraft on display were far less varied than in previous years. They would need to up their game by a very long way to get me back to the Wairarapa show. If my Saturday Night Investment Plan (SNIP) ever pays off, I might consider a trip to Oshkosh, but I fear my days at airshows could be in the past.

 

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Adventure Animals Birds Dolphins East Harbour Regional Park flowers Hokio Beach insects Maritime Weather Wellington

February 13, 2019 … some gaps in the week

Since I last wrote, there have been at least three and maybe four days on which no meaningful photography occurred. I am unsure whether this is the result of, or the cause of, my somewhat flat state of mind. However, I learned first as a graduate student and later as the supervisor of other graduate students, that the cure to a creative block is to put your hands on the keyboard (or camera) and do something. No matter that the output is rubbish to begin with, at least you have a starting point for what will follow.  Something to improve on.

Straitsman
Straitsman heads purposefully towards her berth in downtown Wellington

A lovely hazy morning in Wellington caused the distant hills to fade in delicate shades. Then came the Straitsman, briskly rounding Pt Halswell. she is not a pretty vessel but she was close enough to avoid the haze,. I liked the way she stands out.

Dandelion
Taraxacum officinale … the common dandelion

A few rubbish days, as I mentioned, and I was not motivated to venture out. A dandelion seed was worth a look, though a million others have trodden that path before me. I used focus stacking. This means taking several images, each of which is focused on a point a little further back. I then merged the six images in Photoshop which selects the “in-focus” area from each image to produce the final image.

Sheep
Given the number of 27ºC days recently, these sheep were long overdue a shearing

Another pleasant morning and I decided to head down the Wainuiomata Coast Road where I encountered a flock of sheep in a pen, awaiting shearing by the look of those long fleeces. They kept a wary eye on me.

Baring Head
Wainuiomata River with Baring Head to the right

Down at the coast, I wandered along the bank of the Wainuiomata River where it curves towards Baring Head before twisting back to the sea. There was a nasty Northerly ruffling the water, but a long exposure settled that down for this image.

Dragonfly
Giant dragonfly (Uropetala caravei) at Forest Lakes

A little to the North of Otaki is a camping and conference centre called Forest Lakes. I have been there in the past as a parent supervisor on various school camps. I decided to try my luck and drove in to seek permission to photograph the lakes and landscape features if the camp was not currently occupied. I got lucky and had some fun. The lakes have a lot of greenery around them, various weeds and even some water lilies. These seem to attract the very large dragonflies. They are frustrating things to photograph as they have the ability to teleport. One second they are there, hovering, and suddenly they are elsewhere without having visibly flown the intervening distance. The challenge is to achieve focus before they move.

Dotterel
Black-fronted dotterel (Elsyomis melanops) … such a tiny delicate bird

From Forest Lakes, I went to Hokio Beach. It is a delightful but little known beach town just to the South of Levin. It seemed to be sheltered from the wind, so I started to eat my lunch when a small grey bird emerged from the reeds nearby. Lunch was dropped and a long lens was hastily mounted. Oh great joy! A beautiful little black-fronted dotterel  was picking its way delicately along the banks of the Hokio stream, probing the mud for food. The random feathers on the edge came from some other bird. The black-fronted dotterel is a self-introduced member of the plover family which from Australia in the 1950s and though its numbers are still small, it has done well enough to be classified as a native.*

Hokio Beach
Hokio Beach – shhhh … don’t tell anyone

The settlement at Hokio beach is small, with a population of about 200, most of whom seem to hope that the rest of country never find it. I share their sentiment and hope that the stillness of the place is kept for the few who live there (and me).  The Hokio stream winds its way through the grey sand out into the Tasman Sea.

Dolphins
Dolphins in Island Bay … fishing in the marine reserve

My last image of the week is purely a record shot with little photographic merit. Yesterday I was at Island Bay sitting in my car looking at a freighter idling off the South Coast when a passing pedestrian drew my attention to the pod of dolphins swimming about inside the barrier provided by Taputeranga Island. Their purposeful circling suggested that this was a fishing expedition and there was no playful leaping. Still I got several bunches of dorsal fins and estimate that the pod might have numbered 20 or more. Though I didn’t manage an artistic image. just being there with them was a delight.

* http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/black-fronted-dotterel

 

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Animals Cape Palliser Family Seasons Wairarapa Weather Wellington

February 01, 2019 … turning up the heat

Before I start my regular blog this week, I want to pay tribute to a former colleague.

When I first joined Victoria University of Wellington as an academic rather than a student, it was as a member of a very small group called Communications Studies. It ran a postgraduate programme leading to a Master’s degree in Communications. It was led by Professor John Tiffin, ably assisted by the stylish and colourful Dr Lalita Rajasingham (also recently deceased), a technical specialist, the late Mr John Baber, and our remarkable secretary, Mrs Paddi Wilson. Paddi was a delight, with an impish sense of humour and a heart of gold. She had a sense of how things ought to be run and did her utmost to make it so. And woe to anyone who was perceived to be critical of her colleagues. Paddi died on 12 December, and typically, she left instructions that there was to be no funeral. And so it was. Thanks Paddi for being an important part of my introduction to the academic life. Rest in Peace.

The week just ending was a busy one. My youngest son and his family returned from a six-week tour of Thailand and Vietnam. My eldest son and his family flew home to Brisbane after an all too brief stay. And then came the heat. To be classed a s a heat wave, a weather pattern must be 6°C or more above the seasonal average for at least five days. Some parts of New Zealand did indeed experience a heatwave and the rest of us came very close. A good Wellington Summer day might usually reach 26°C, so days when it got to 31°C stirred things up. Elsewhere in the country there were times when it reached 37°C and considering we are a small narrow country surrounded by sea, that is unusual.

Wharf
Strolling on Petone Wharf in the evening

At the beginning of the week, with Mary away and the family all gone, I went down to the Petone foreshore as the day was coming to an end. Conditions were hazy but warm, despite a breeze blowing the grasses around. I liked the silhouetted people at the end of the wharf. I don’t think I got the skyline right.I wanted to echo the long low line of the jetty but perhaps I would have been better to crop down to eliminate the white sky altogether. I struggle too, with the grass. If I had the grass in focus, the jetty might have been to blurred. Focus stacking might have worked if the wind had not been moving the grass so vigorously  I shall give this some thought, as  I think there is a better image to be had. I did like seeing the glint of the fishing lines at the end of the jetty. (Click to enlarge).

carnival
Spinning at the carnival

At the Western end of the beach there was a transient carnival. You wouldn’t get me on one of these things since I suffer from acrophobia, but I am willing to exploit the spinning and the lights. I quite like this image, but later, saw another image of the same scene which caught the motion in a completely different way. It always fascinates me that two photographers can stand in the same position and see the world very differently.

Grey
Still warm but offering a grey face

Wellington was exempt from the extremes of the passing hot spell and had some grey patches though still warm. I spent some time in Oriental Bay and was intrigued at the gentle tones of the city in its morning mood. I suspect this is Wellington before the first coffee of the day.

blue
Still blue

Two days later in approximately the same location, the day was so much brighter, though there was a lot of mist rolling down from the Hutt Valley.  Given that this is a five second exposure to give them smooth sea, I am impressed at how relatively still the masts stayed. This was a five-image panoramic stitch. Note the stream of fog down the Western side of the harbour.

Eagle rays
Eagle rays in Oriental Bay

Walking back to my car, I chose to walk along the edge of the Oriental Bay Marina, in front of the picturesque boat sheds. To my great delight I came across a shoal of eagle rays. These are a little smaller than the more familiar sting ray, and have a more rounded profile. The picture is not great, but I include it as a  record of an unusual event.

Swimming
Evening swimming – Lowry Bay

Beaches are not the first things that come to mind when people think of Wellington. When the mercury started heading towards 30 degrees and with sunset not until nearly 9 pm, Wellingtonians found every accessible strip of seashore  and went swimming to cool down. This shot, at Lowry Bay was made at 7 pm, and every beach from Eastbourne to Petone was crowded. Again, this is more of a record shot than a good image.

Lake Ferry
Pastoral landscape on Lake Ferry Rd

I was on my way to Cape Palliser via Lake Ferry and I spotted the trees against the dry grass on the hill. The four trees appealed to me, and I might revisit them at some stage.

nursery
The nursery at Cape Palliser

The Fur-seal colony at Cape Palliser was just booming. I have never seen so many pups frolicking in the nursery pool before. There may have been upwards of a hundred of them variously swimming, basking or attempting to feed. It’s a delightful spot.

launching
Launching and boarding

Ngawi is a small fishing village near Cape Palliser. I think it’s where all the old bulldozers come to die. The steep rocky beach is overcome with large wheeled cradles connected to a bulldozer by means of a long steel towbar. The bulldozer backs the cradle into the water until the boat is afloat, then the driver locks everything in place by lowering the blade. In this case, he them walked confidently down the tow bar, onto the cradle and clambered aboard the boat. All very practiced.

sunset
Sunset at Moa Point

My last shot this issue was made last night as the heatwave came to a shuddering halt. A nasty Nor’Wester dropped the temperature by six or more degrees, but the setting sun continued on its way. This shot is from Moa Point near the airport and looks across the strait to the Kaikouras.

That’s all for this edition.