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Adventure Birds Cook Strait Forest insects Landscapes Light Maritime Reflections Rivers Rotorua sunrise Wellington

June 20, 2019 … an odd variety

Thank you to those who pointed out to me that I had lost the ability for readers to click on images and see a larger copy. I believe I have now restored that. The images give a better account of themselves in their larger versions. Just click on each image.

Since the last edition I have made several hundred new pictures, of which I now present the fourteen that most appeal to me. Other than that they are all outdoor shots, I seem to have no consistent theme. Perhaps I am the photographic equivalent of a general practitioner rather than a specialist.

The weather played a role as always, and there were a number of days which were so bleak and unpleasant that I didn’t venture out at all.

Tararua sunrrise
A somewhat surly sunrise – from home

Assuming that I have indeed overcome the technical issue, have a look at the large version of the image above. There was no wind and plenty of cloud but this sunrise had a real presence. It is a tribute to the stabilization capability of the modern camera that this low-light shot was made hand-held at 1/8 second.

Otoroa
Otoroa sets out on its journey home

For many years the Otago Harbour Board’s former pilot vessel has been an elegant and sturdy presence in Chaffers Marina. Built in Port Chalmers in 1965 by the well-known builders Miller and Tunnage, this double-ender looks very seaworthy to my inexpert eye and has been converted to a very fine private yacht. Anyway, she has been sold again and is seen here leaving Wellington on her way back to Otago harbour. I was in Oriental Bay when she cruised past on a somewhat hazy day. I liked the separation between the vessel and the Tararua ranges in the background.

Weta
Wellington tree weta – Male

The weta is a creature that you love or hate. This specimen was found guilty of adopting a threatening posture while Mary was hanging out the washing. It was sentenced to being photographed and relocated. It was about 50 mm long (about 2″). That’s a good sized adult though they can be up to 70 mm long. I got down as near as possible to eye level and took a series of images at different focal points and then stacked them to ensure that the result was entirely in focus.

Incoming wave
Heavy onshore swell – South Coast

A strong Nor’Westerly breeze ripped the crests off the waves coming in from the South. This image was caught at Island Bay. Apart from the flying foam, my attention was caught by the light on the face of the incoming wave. I got other images without the gulls but decided they gave a sense of scale.

Turbulence
Agitation

On the same day, at a place just below Palmer head in Tarakena Bay near the harbour entrance, the washing-machine like turbulence near the rocky shore was just amazing.

Running Water
A tumbling forest stream

A day or two later, the wind persisted, and I sought out a place that was sheltered. Quite some time had elapsed since my last venture onto the Cannon’s Point walkway near Upper Hutt. Almost as soon as you leave the car park you are in the shelter of the bush and all you can hear is the rush of the wind overhead and the sound of the running water coming down the hills. Like forest streams everywhere, these are naturally chaotic, full of water-borne debris and it is a challenge to find a clear view of the water.

Green
Dense greenery

Many of the landscape photographers whose work I admire and follow on YouTube make their images in the wide open forests of the Europe. You could ride a horse through them. New Zealand bush is a different kettle of fish entirely. The moment you leave the path you encounter a nearly impenetrable wall of damp green foliage. It has its own beauty but you have to work hard to choose a subject in all the chaos.

Pauatahanui
Breathless moment at the Pauatahanui Inlet

I was driving home after a largely fruitless exploration of the Kapiti area and I became aware that something special was forming in my rear-view mirror. The inlet itself was beautifully still, but the scene was made special by the vast arc of cloud above. I have a fondness for delicate greys and this scene delivers them in plenty. The image needs to be viewed as large as possible so click for the larger version.

Estuary
Hutt Estuary from Waione Street Bridge

Walking over the Waione Street Bridge in search of a view back towards the Hikoikoi reserve I came across these reflections. The gentle waves coming into the mouth of the river made attractive patters in the reflections of the industrial area on Port Rd. You take what you can when it is offered.

Old man and the sea
A Hemingway moment

We have been here so very many times before. However, the tight clustering of the boats and above all, the presence of the man in the dinghy made it irresistible to me. I believe the man is the owner of the Sandra, and he often takes it out fishing. I am sure that Ernest Hemingway would have loved to meet him.

Weir
The weir at Silverstream

Yet another scene that I have used before. This was never intended to be a weir, but rather the place where the main sewer pipe from the upper valley crosses the river. The underlying geology allowed the turbulence of the water after crossing the pipe to undercut the river bed and thus form the waterfall. It seems to be a little different each time I visit. This is a long (13 second) exposure hence the creamy area around the rocks.

Silverstream
Morning moisture

Misty mornings almost always tempt me Northwards. This scene is just above and to the East of Silverstream. It was the row of straggly pines against the swirling mist that grabbed my attention. Once I saw it on the computer screen I realised that the strong contrasting light had misled me, and the trees are closer than I thought. I like it anyway.

Falcon
The New Zealand Falcon (Karearea)

As Mary and I pulled up outside our church in Waiwhetu last Sunday, she saw a bird eating something and drew it to my attention. I realised it was a karearea … our beautiful and regrettably rare native falcon. Because of its rarity we jealously guard the kiwi (of which there may be as few as 65,000 left). Estimates put the karearea’s population at between 6.000 and 8,000 so it is much rarer. As I reached for my camera (always in the car when I drive), it picked up its breakfast and flew a few metres to the entrance of the church. I had the wrong lens and the wrong settings but in these circumstances you grab a few shots before you risk changing anything. As I straightened up for a clearer view, she picked up that pigeon and flew away with it. I am advised by Debbie Stewart, the executive director of Wingspan, the bird-of-prey centre in Rotorua, that this is a female of about one year old. The fact that the pigeon has a leaf trapped under its wing suggests to me that it was in the tree when the falcon crashed through the branches and killed it with that wicked hooked beak. 1/15 sec at f6.3 are not the settings I would have chosen if I had time to change things.

Garden
Market garden at Kuku near Otaki

A road trip to Levin yielded little, but as I was getting near to Otaki on the way home, the meticulous rows of what I think are lettuce attracted my attention. The tree in its winter nakedness added to the image as did the lovely green/brown contrast in the field.

That’s all this time. See you when I have some more images.

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Birds Evans Bay Geology Haywards Hill Hokio Beach Kapiti Island Landscapes mountains Pukerua Bay Reflections Rivers Sunset Waves Weather Wellington

June 7, 2019 … thanks for your many kindnesses

Since I last wrote, the region has had more than its fair share of wild and downright ugly days. If I were a depressive personality this would be getting me down. Happily, I can sometimes use the bad days to my advantage. And in any case, many of you have sent me kind and affirming messages which have been balm to my soul. Thank you to those kind people who take the trouble to send messages.

A month or so ago, WordPress changed their default editor, and I didn’t notice that images no longer provided a “click-to-enlarge”. I have corrected that as of this issue and may eventually get back to the issues that were affected. Please do click for a much bigger image

A Little shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) flying in close formation with its reflection at Pauatahanui

When I look up from my keyboard and notice that the trees outside are not moving, I check on the other side of the house for confirmation, and unless domestic courtesies require otherwise, head for the nearest body of water likely to deliver attractive reflections. On this occasion, I went to the Pauatahanui Inlet where the bright blue sky and the gold reeds provided a nice contrast with the Little Shag. “Little” is not a casual adjective here. That is the formal name of the species, as distinct from the Little Black, the Pied, the Spotted and about half a dozen more common types in New Zealand.

Reflections don’t always depend on still water. This architectural study is on The Terrace

Very occasionally I will turn my attention to the structure of the city. I have probably commented before that, for a seismically risky city, Wellington has a large number of buildings with glass curtain frontages. Leaving aside the question of what happens when the earth moves, these buildings present some nice reflections. In this case, the building at 155 the Terrace is reflected from a tower block down on Lambton Quay. I took care to line the framework as well as possible, and cropped and trimmed the last bit in the computer.

It takes sustained high wind to generate lenticular clouds of this magnitude

On the Haywards Hill one evening two weeks ago, I just had to pull over to the side of the road to catch this spectacular formation. I was on my way to act as judge for another camera club’s competition, otherwise I might have lingered longer to catch the brilliant orange colour which came with the setting sun. Dozens of my photographic friends produced stunning images of this event.

Pukerua Bay Lookout offers a fine view towards Kapiti and then a challenge to get back into the North-bound traffic

Mary and I were driving to Waikanae the next day to enjoy lunch with some friends of very long standing. Despite the clear blue sky and the glitter on the water, the thing that caused me to stop at the Pukerua Bay lookout was the impression of relentless power from the waves being driven in from the Tasman by that strong Nor’Wester. The other thing that lookout offers is the challenge of forcing your way back into the North-bound traffic.

Williwaws swirling up Evans Bay

The wind did not abate, and if anything it started to get serious. According to the TV news, it peaked at 121 km/h the next day. I went looking for waves, but found little of interest. That proves that I was not looking clearly because some of my friends produced some great wave shots. However, the wind coming into Evans Bay after its journey across the harbour produced some interesting effects. The swirling williwaws lifted their spouts a hundred metres or more from the surface, and I had to work hard to keep my lens dry. I loved the dark sky over the Western hills.

Downtown glassware

I know that modern architects work really hard to ensure that all the bits of the building remain attached even when the earth moves. Nevertheless, recent demolitions pursuant to the Kaikoura earthquake (14 November 2016) tend to suggest that there are some factors that even the best of them didn’t think of. I love the shapes, colours and textures of a modern cityscape. On the other hand I see hundreds of tonnes of sheeet glass seemingly just hanging on the outside of the building, and I imagine it falling as a huge guillotine. As long as the fixing methods perform as expected I am happy.

Wellingtons winds suck and blow North West then Southerly, most of the time.

If we are lucky, after we have endured a few days of sustained wind, we get a break for a day or two before it all comes roaring back in the other direction. I like the Southerlies for the spectacular waves they deliver on the coast between the harbour entrance and Owhiro Bay. Jagged rocks which are typical of our Southern shoreline help to break the incoming waves and sometimes create astonishing explosions of water. A technique advocated by one of my photographic idols is to be deliberate about the tonal relationships between various elements of the image. Notice the clarity of the rocks and the successive reduction in tonal intensity as we progress to the mountains across the strait.

Pied stilt – Pauatahanui Inlet

And just like that, the new day dawns still and golden. Mary recognises the signs and packs a lunch for me to take on my wandering. I know how lucky I am. Unlike the preceding image, this one presents a clear sharp day and a relatively short distance between near and far, so the tonal range need not be an issue. I really love the golden tones of the reeds at Pauatahanui and the comparison with the formal attire worn by the stilt/.

It has been a long time between kingfishers

One of my photographic friends tells me I lack the patience to be a real bird photographer. She is probably right, and she has it in abundance. On the other hand, I get lucky now and then. Just below the big tree that most of my birding friends know, I spotted this sacred kingfisher hovering for a moment before it dived. In my experience they rarely signal their intentions so I was lucky to have time to point the lens at the ring of water. A moment or so later and it emerged, but without the crab that I assume it was seeking. A real bird photographer would have been lined up before it hit the water and made a dozen images with the shutter set fast enough to freeze the wings. Even so, I like the image. The bird’s eye is sharp and much can be forgiven if you achieve that.

Mighty mountains across the strait

A few consecutive days of stillness are a joy. Not all still days are equal. As I headed to Lyall Bay, the weather was overcast and the light was flat. I drove around the coast towards Owhiro bay and got a suddenly clear view of the great peaks of the inland Kaikoura range. And there’s that tonal range problem again. The mountains were startling in their clarity considering that they are over 120 km distant. I hoped the cloud would clear itself from the peak of Tapuae-o-Uenuku but took the shot while it was there. The typically red rocks of Wellington’s South Coast provide a lovely foreground.

The only constant is change

Drizzle and streamers of mist are not necessarily a disaster in my opinion. I drove down the Wainuiomata coast road and back up again. These receding hills caught my eye. A friend said he wanted to cut along the dotted line. I suspect he is referring to the row of bee hives beneath the nearest tree.

Some real rarities

Another packed lunch day developed and I was motivated to go to Hokio beach on the West coast just South of Levin. To my great joy when I parked for lunch on the estuary of the Hokio Stream, I found a patch of relatively still water and there scurrying back and forth, were a lot of black-fronted dotterels. I love the dotterels for their delicate beauty and the black-fronted variety is especially attractive to my eye. In the picture above, the bird at the back is a banded dotterel which seems to a little bigger than its cousins. I counted ten of them all racing around pecking at some food source in the sand. They it worth the journey.

That’s sufficient till I gather more images. I hope you got some pleasure from my random wanderings and as always, if you have constructive criticism please let me know.