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May 27, 2019 … keep on keeping on

Introspection is a mixed blessing for any artistic endeavour. As you might recall if you read my post from May 15 , I seem to spend a lot of time doing it. What I keep hearing from other photographers, however, is that self-assessment is better than being driven by the responses on social media. And so I continue to articulate my internal warfare for your entertainment. I really appreciate the constructive feedback I get from some of you, so please keep providing it.

Just like social media, lots of posts don’t necessarily lead anywhere.

Whitireia Park is a large area of hilly grassland on the South headland of the Porirua Harbour. Even if they don’t know the park, most Wellingtonians will know it as the place where the old YA and YC station radio aerials are. The day I visited there recently was characterized by relatively flat light and some haze. After some fruitless wandering, I settled on the wooden posts used to prevent cars from entering the grasslands as my subject. And then I saw the separation between the green grass of the park and the background hills.

Near the corner of Abel Smith and Cuba Streets

Exploring the area of the city where I walk less often, I encountered this fence. With a limited view of the yard behind it, I formed the opinion that the owner was deliberately playing up to the Bohemian character of the Cuba St precinct. This was shot from across the street so I had to time the exposure to give a view of the fence in between passing cars and pedestrians.

At a recent camera club night, I heard a fellow member exclaim in delight that someone had shown images with people in them. It wasn’t me. I am sure those who have been watching for a while have noticed that I rarely “do people”. I like people (in small numbers) but don’t like the necessity to meet their expectations in my images. Anyway, in my unpopulated shot above, I enjoyed the quirky design, and the careful colour-matching.

Burgers and Coffee served from a bus

Ekim Burgers is a popular coffee and burger stop on the the intersection identified in the street signs. The old Valley Flyer bus has been converted to serve as a kitchen and customers sit in the chaotic courtyard. It’s a colourful place with partial shelter that seems to do well in better weather.

No lions here

After a few days of ugly windy weather in which I was not motivated to go out, there came a still patch at the end of the day. I went North to see if there might be some reflections on the lake in the newly refurbished playground at Fraser Park. There were, and even better, this rather lovely tree posed against a rosy sky. I adopted a low angle to make the playground equipment as inconspicuous as possible. I rather liked the quasi-safari atmosphere.

… to dungeons deep and caverns old*

Stillness is a relative thing. I had hoped for better on the South Coast on this particular evening, but had to settle for a slight chop on the sea. However, as I looked across the strait to Tapuae-o-Uenuku (2,885m), I was taken by the light and texture on the Seaward Kaikoura range. Click on the image to enlarge and look at the the hills below and left of the high peak. I also liked the dramatic contrast of the rocks off Sinclair Head, one of which seems to be pointing up the Wairau Valley which runs from Blenheim to St Arnaud. Despite the ruffled water, I got an image.

And then, it was still

When true stillness comes at last, I apparently get a look of longing on my face which prompts Mary to say ” oh go on, you know you want to get out there”. And so I go, burdened with guilt, but rejoicing in my good fortune. From a lookout on Mulberry St in Maungaraki , the view South to Antarctica is a constant joy. The dark shadow on the horizon suggests that the stillness might be brief.

Lingering stillness

I thought this patch of weather would move on quickly, but to my delight it lingered for several days. From Petone Beach, I had spotted a fleet of yachts engaged in a very slow race. The wind was so light that they were not able to spread as far as they might in stronger conditions. However, I also wanted to capture the beauty of the harbour in these conditions, so I pointed my camera at Ward Island 7km away in the entrance to the harbour.

Then from the corner of my eye, I spotted a waka ama approaching from the East. The ancient outrigger canoe has been transformed into a fibreglass racing class, and this crew were out practicing. They certainly shot across my viewfinder much faster than any of the yachts.

Fast water

A change of pace was made when I went to the weir on the Hutt River at Silverstream. There was a moderately fast flow across the weir and the water was tumbling over the downstream rocks in the late-afternoon sun. This image was made in full colour, but with the aid of a neutral density filter to get a silky look on the flowing water from an 8 second exposure.

Welcome swallows by the lake

That elusive stillness seemed as if it might have moved to Lake Wairarapa, so I crossed the hill to Featherston where the water was just as ruffled as it was in Wellington. I really need a Wairarapa correspondent who can flick me a text when the conditions are right, either dead calm or misty. Anyway, I settled for this shot of a pair of Welcome swallows (Hirundo neoxena). They were adjacent to a pond sparkling in the sun hence the bright spots in the background which I quite like,

Embrace**

I walked up the track to the Massey Memorial on the Miramar peninsula and saw something in these tree roots. My thought was that since the earth had crumbled away from them in front, they were having to hang on to each other for dear life. I hardly ever shoot monochrome, but decided to try it in this instance. I am unlikely to change.

And then it rained

Mary has a small potted anthurium that has been very prolific this year, and vivid in its colour. I always struggle to do anything useful with an anthurium plant. Despite my preference for simplicity I added a cut-glass fruit bowl against the window in the background. I like it, I think.

Into the distance

A pleasant afternoon at Eastbourne led me to Burdan’s gate beyond which only pedestrians and cyclists proceed as a general rule. There are exceptions. It’s a few years since I last walked this trail out to Pencarrow lighthouse or beyond. Either of the prevailing winds can make the inward or outward journey less comfortable. And if you are really unlucky, an untimely wind change can give you a headwind in both directions. I liked the appearance of two walkers on one of the very many headlands.

That will do until I have gathered another dozen or so images that I like. See you later.

*Misty Mountains Cold – the Hobbit J.R.R Tolkien

**Thanks Michael Witbrock

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adversity Architecture Art Bees Cook Strait flowers harbour History Maritime Reflections Rivers Trees Wellington

May 15, 2019 … grinding of teeth

I spend a lot of time agonising over my photographic ability. I get lots of positive feedback from you, gentle readers and I thank you for it. But my severest critic remains unsatisfied. My best images still fall far short of the best images in the competitions I occasionally  enter.

The infuriating thing is that most of their winning images are within my technical capability. What my images usually lack is their genius way of seeing, of extracting something extraordinary, and usually very simple, from the banal complexity of ordinary life. A self-inflicted handicap is my tendency to shoot in broad daylight rather than in the dramatic low light of the blue and golden hours associated with the start and end of each day. Perhaps I need to get up earlier.

Wanting some images to submit for two prestigious national competitions, I spent half a day skimming through the 5,500 or so images I have retained since January 2018. I make far too many images and retain far too many “snapshots”. In case you are unaware, snapshot is a very derogatory term in photographic circles. I extracted about 50 images that would not embarrass me. I reduced that to 14 images a very few of which might be deemed worthy of acceptance for display. As an accredited judge myself, I am aware of the mercurial fate that makes a judge like or dislike an image so more in hope than expectation I have entered the two competitions and will let you know in due course how I fared.

But as for now, I am engaged in culling the sad images that I should never have kept and am trying even harder to see with the eyes of genius to which I aspire. But enough of the flagellation, here are some shots made since I last wrote.

Autumn colour
Pastoral scene in Silverstream

Silverstream is one of those Hutt Valley places settled early by homesick pioneers who were desperate for the sights and colours of their distant homeland. Seeds were planted and a century or so later we see the lovely colours of deciduous trees in Autumn. It is a brief splash of colour and I needed to position myself carefully to exclude power poles and the severe evergreens of native bush in the background.  I might have gone for a square format to show just the foliage. On the other hand the fence and the horse tell part of the settlers’ story.

Tide
Incoming tide at the boatsheds, Hutt estuary

Many times before I have shown images from the Hikoikoi reserve, so the boats and the boatsheds may be familiar. In my opinion, each visit is different. The boats swing, the tide comes and goes, the clouds and the light vary and each visit offers the chance to see the same place in a new way. I used a wide angle lens (equivalent to 18 mm on a full frame camera) and positioned the camera very close to the sand, I was so intent on the visual aspect of the incoming tide that I didn’t realise how fast it was coming until it seeped through my shoes into my socks.

blue
Blue on blue … the new Lyall Bay Surf Lifesaving club’s premises

Wellingtonians who have been away for a while may recall the surf lifesaving club’s wooden building on Lyall Bay. The old building is dead and gone, and a vividly coloured replacement now stands there. The child in the picture was incidental but I like his red hat. For anyone concerned for his welfare, his father was seated around the corner out of sight, keeping a close watch. I liked the geometry of the composition and blue of the sea and sky and the many shades of blue in the tiles,

Harbour
Captain Herd of the Settler ship Rosanna said in 1826 of Wellington Harbour “Here all the navies of Europe might ride in perfect safety”. He was presuming they wouldn’t shoot at each other.

Stillness always appeals to me, especially on the water. From my son and daughter-in-law’s housein Maungaraki,  I borrowed their front balcony which offers a great view of Wellington’s inner harbour. The light was a little flat, but there was a glittering quality to the water which made it worth the shot

Nga Kina
The closing gaps and the art works

Town planners speak of “view shafts” by which they mean the ever-declining number of places from which their citizens can see between the high-rise buildings to the waterfront and the sea. I fear that this gap at Queens Wharf gates at the bottom of Whitmore St is endangered. I remember in more innocent times being allowed to wander on the wharves alongside ships even as cargo operations were in progress. Alas the parts of the port to which the public have access seems to shrink each year. However, the authorites allow and even commission art works in the remaining areas to soften the blow. In this case, the fibreglass reinforced concrete work in the foreground is “Nga Kina” by Michael Tuffery. I used a neutral density filter to allow a 20 second exposure to tame the water.

Pukeahu
Though it symbolises the “Red Heart of Australia”, the 300 tonnes of sandstone in the memorial were sourced from Agra in India.

The Pukeahu national war memorial  park is located in front of the old Museum part-way up Taranaki St.  One of its feature memorials consisting of 15 red sandstone columns with inlays of New Zealand grey basalt was gifted to the people of New Zealand by the people of Australia. It’s a struggle to see it from other than the obvious angles so I laid my camera on the ground between the columns and fired it remotely. It was quite a challenge to find a view spot that did not include unwanted external items.

Bee
“How doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour …” (Isaac Watts)

Earlier in the year I reported a visit to the cherry blossoms at the Aston Norwood gardens to the North of Upper Hutt. Mary and I went back there a few weeks ago for lunch, and to seek Autumn colour. There was some, but what caught my eye was the industrious honey bees working on the lovely expanse of flowering yellow shrubs. I had a long lens mounted, and this shot was made at a 300 mm equivalent

tree
Standing against the wind

The South Wairarapa district calls me often, and I love it all the more when there is mist in the background. This shot was made on the Lake Ferry Road looking Westward to the Rimutaka ranges. I tried hard to make that weather-worn tree separate from the backgrounde

Autumn
Red carpet

My last shot in this edition is to re-affirm that Autumn is here, and indeed almost over. These leaves are from one of the two Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) in our front yard. It always amazes me how little time passes between the first browning of the summer leaves to a full blown dump of dead red leaves. But each season has its beauty.

So ends another edition. Constructive feedback is always welcome

Categories
Adventure Architecture Birds flowers harbour Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Melbourne Museum Railway Vehicles

2 May, 2019 … back from the dead

Perhaps it’s just that I was too lazy to find out how to use it properly, or maybe it was the lack of a feedback mechanism. Whatever the reason, my venture into another platform  for the regular sharing of my photography and writing proved unsatisfactory.  I overlooked the difference between a portfolio and a blog.

So it is that the blog lives on for a while longer. I shall retain the Adobe Portfolio site (https://harmerbrian.myportfolio.com) as a receptacle for a permanent core gallery, but I have resuscitated the Wysiwygpurple site for periodic posts of recent work. Perhaps not weekly as in the past, but we shall see how it evolves.

Accordingly, in this post, you will find a collection of 18 images that I liked best in the month of April.

post
Red painted post

April in Wellington was grey. We had some long periods of rain which might be expected to slow down my photographic urges. On the other hand there is cabin fever, and I ended up hoping to make a feature of the weather. This was a puddle in the gravel road into the park at the Western end of Petone beach. It was just a puddle except for the red-painted post and its reflection which transformed it.

Geese
Canada geese in flight

Another grey day and comparative calm led me to hope for still water on Pauatahanui inlet. Sadly there were a lot of residual ripples on the water. On the other hand there was a substantial flock of Canada geese. I attempted to sneak up on them, but they have sharp senses and flew off as I got near. Shooting season starts in the coming weekend and many of them are smart enough to gather on these protected waters.

reflection
Stillness and light

A little further around the edge of the inlet, I found that a small pond was blessed with exactly the kind of stillness I was seeking and reflected the reeds beautifully. And then a break in the clouds caused the Belmont hills to light up. If I were judging, I would say I now have two separate disconnected images, one of the reflections and one of the hills.  Not a prizewinner, but interesting.

Ja1271
Parked, cold and still Ja1271

At Paekakariki, Steam Inc restore and maintain their fleet of locomotives and other rolling stock. As I was driving past I spotted Ja1271 parked on a siding between the sheds and the road. They needed the space in the shed to work on another locomotive. It’s fairly rare to get clear walk-around access to one of these splendid machines. How odd that I should have made an image from the same sort of angle that I might have done inside the shed. On the other hand I like the contribution that the tracks make to the image.

Wet
City bound traffic on a wet morning

As I said it has been a dull month, and this shot looking North up SH2 from the Normandale overbridge catches the general spirit of the day. Despite the headlights and windscreen wipers, this is 9:30 am in Lower Hutt.

orchid
“Feed me Seymour”* … detail of an orchid

No matter the weather outside, there is always colour to be had in the begonia house of Wellington’s Botanic Garden. This shot is down the throat of a lovely orchid, taken close enough to exclude all background distractions.

Water lily
Water lily in the begonia house

Also inside the begonia house there is a pond full of carp and water lilies. I always love getting close to water level for a different perspective.

Sea Lion
Sea Lion launched in 1946 and looking her age

Sea Lion is an old and well-loved work vessel with lots of character. In recent times its owner has either caused or allowed it to be painted with cartoon birds. Though I think this 73-year-old vessel deserved a more dignified treatment it makes me smile nevertheless

Lady Elizabeth
Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV engaged in inshore rescue duties

Lady Elizabeth IV is the Wellington police launch. It is seen here bouncing in choppy waters off Shelly Bay and its RIB cradle is empty because the inflatable is effecting a rescue closer inshore. I have the sad memory of watching her next but one predecessor sailing out through the heads in a gale and never returning.

Tram
The 109 tram leaving Graham St, Port Melbourne

On Good Friday, Mary and I flew to Melbourne to spend a week with our elder daughter Catherine and her husband Mark. We had a great time and enjoyed their tremendous hospitality. I love Melbourne, though I wonder if the day will ever come when there are not at least a dozen new high-rise buildings under construction, each with multiple tower-cranes. The world’s most extensive tram system and the Myki electronic ticketing make it an easy city to get around, though I don’t enjoy the rush-hour.

Beacon
One of the two navigation beacons in Beacon Cove

Port Philip Bay is a vast expanse of water and it puzzles me just how often it is glassy calm. I confess to assisting it a little in this case with a neutral density filter and an 8 second exposure. Just to the West of the Tasmania Ferry terminal is Beacon cove where this beacon and an identical one a few hundred metres inland provide a navigational aid for ships bound for the port.

Shrine
Inside the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

We visited Melbourne in the week of ANZAC day and took the opportunity to visit the Shrine of Remembrance in the city’s stunning Royal Botanic Gardens. We went inside the main building and I was intrigued by the interior of the pyramid-like roof.

Melbourne
St Kilda Rd and Swanston St, downtown Melbourne

From the upper levels of the shrine’s roof there is a great view of the city’s downtown skyline. This view looks past the spire of the Art Centre, across the bridge over the Yarra. St Paul’s Cathedral and up the length of Swanston St. In the distance (three km away) is the Portrait building. This 32 story apartment block has the portrait of Aboriginal leader William Barak etched in the white concrete of its balcony facings.

Lake
Lake Daylesford, Victoria

The next day Mark and Catherine took us on a very pleasant road trip to Daylesford, 110 km to the North West of the city. Daylesford is a very pretty rural spa town at the foot of the Great Dividing range. With a population of about 2,500 it seems to cater for the tourists who visit the many spas nearby. We spent some time at Lake Daylesford before a pleasant lunch in a local restaurant and a leisurely  trip back to Port Melbourne.

Arcade
Shopping arcade, Melbourne

Melbourne’s CBD has a large number of shopping arcades, most of which have been restored to their original glory or better. There are some great restaurants in the various lanes, and far too many chocolate shops for the good of my waist line.

Miner
Noisy Miner on colourful shrub, Port Melbourne

I walked down to Beacon Cove again, and on the way through Port Melbourne’s Garden City Reserve, spotted this very musical bird which, as far as I can tell is a Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala), an Australian Native, not to be confused with the introduced Common Myna from India. It is a member of the honeyeater family.

Port Philip Bay
A grey wet morning in Melbourne

Several visits to Beacon Cove produced some interesting opportunities. This was a wet morning on which Port Philip Bay disappeared into the grey distance. The iron fence is on Princes Pier. It’s like one of those comic book gates with no surrounding fence. There seems to be nothing to stop people walking out to the pier itself.

Piles
The historic piles of Princes Pier

That being the case, I went around the end of the fence and stood on the edge of the restored part of the pier and attempted to capture something of its original piles. Again the neutral density filter was used to enable a 25 second exposure and provide stillness on the water’s surface. In the local ANZAC memorial service which we attended, much was made of this pier as the departure point for the Australian soldiers setting sail for the Gallipoli campaign.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them**

* Little Shop of Horrors by Frank Oz

** For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon

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April 2019 update

My new portfolio site has just had its first update … go to https://harmerbrian.myportfolio.com/ and scroll to Current-Work, 2019

regards

Brian