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Architecture Art Birds Children Evans Bay harbour Landscapes Light Lower Hutt Maritime Oriental Bay Reflections Rivers Wellington

July 25, 2019 … almost back to normal

I am happy to report that I am restored to near normal after a period of recuperation. This restoration seems to have coincided with a a particularly mild period in what would normally be a bleak winter month. I am enjoying it immensely.

Boy
In his own good time

Mild weather does not necessarily mean every day is fully fine. On a recent wet Sunday, I set out to practice a skill demonstrated by a photographic friend … that of using rain puddles to get symmetrical reflections. I hadn’t understood the trick as I made this image outside the Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt, but it worked, after a fashion. I enjoyed a human sideshow as a mother and father tried to persuade their small boy to join them in the museum cafe. For his part, stamping in every available puddle was much more fun.

Still life

While I was taking things easy, Mary was attempting to lift my spirits by fetching home various items that she thought I might like to use for still life images. Bless her. What we see here is a double exposure comprised of a sprig of manuka over a small (but photographically enlarged) sheet of bark. I quite like the result.

Sunset at the back door

There were a few days in quick succession in which we enjoyed blazing sunrises and sunsets. This image was made literally at our back door step, looking Westward towards Maungaraki. The wonderful colours lasted for about 15 minutes and then faded to grey and died.

At the waterfront

It’s great when the penny finally drops and you learn at last how your friends achieve their results. The trick to those lovely reflections is to use a wide angle lens and to have the camera so low that it is within millimetres of actually touching the puddle in which you seek the reflection. The puddle need be no bigger than a dinner plate and no more than a few millimetres in depth.

Getting down so low is not so much a problem as getting back up again. However, I have trick for this too. I hang the camera upside down on the centre-post of my tripod and lower it until it is almost touching the water. Then I use my iPhone as a remote trigger and can see on its screen what the camera sees. Thus these low shots are made with me standing comfortably upright. The building in the centre is the former offices of the Wellington Harbour Board. Now it contains the gallery of the Academy of Fine Art and some rather nice apartments.

The fog was just enough to to be charming (though it did close the airport)

Most people who have a passing acquaintance with our city associate it with wind rather than fog. And yet, for three successive days this week, our mornings have begun with flat calm and varying degrees of fog. I love such days. This image is taken from the Wellington waterfront looking back towards Lambton Quay. It’s a rare day that you can look West from downtown Wellington and see no hills.

Oriental Bay Marina

The same morning was just paradise for me. Oriental bay was perfectly still and provided an enchanting background for the boats moored in the marina. The old marina on the Eastern side of Clyde Quay is typically home for elderly wooden vessels with fewer of the plastic gin-palaces that seem to abound in Chaffers Marina to the West of the quay. I hold that blue naval whaler in the foreground in particular affection.

Evans Bay and splashes of colour

Round in Evans Bay, the fog was still present but rapidly thinning. The sun was breaking through and the colours were just breathtaking. My use of a wide-angle lens in this shot made it harder for me to see it as I was composing the image, and it wasn’t until later that a meteorogically expert friend drew to my attention the “fog-bow” in the backround at the right. Apparently fog-bows are caused in the same way as rainbows, as the sunlight works on the tiny droplets in the fog to produce the white arc.

Red

I am sure I have caught this yacht several times before, but its bright red in contrast with the blue-grey of the sea and fog was irresistible. The simplicity of the shot just worked for me. Normally you would see the Northern end of the airport behind her.

Gentle morning in the Hutt Valley

More fog the next day seemed different in character to that of the previous day. This shot was made from the front door of our house as I was setting out in the hope of more fog at sea level. It is looking slightly East of North and on a clear day, we would see the Avalon tower block in the distance.

To my regret, the fog around the harbour was already thin and disappearing. At Seaview, the tanker “British Cadet” was preparing to leave after delivering its load. At the same time as two Greenpeace protesters were climbing the face of the Majestic Centre in Willis street to attach an anti-oil banner, here was a 46,000 Tone carrier of the product not only delivering oil and chemicals, but emitting visible exhaust fumes. While I have some general green tendencies, I sincerely hope that those protesters who want there to be no more oil exploration anywhere, ever, walked to the site, and climbed using ropes with only natural fibres. As a society we are irrevocably dependent on petrochemicals.

Pied shag – Waiwhetu Stream

As I wandered still hoping to find effects of the fog. I enjoyed the presence of this pied shag which created rings on the still surface, and dived every time I pointed the camera at it. It always has to come up somewhere, and this time, I was ready for it.

Breathessness in Evans bay

Despite the early disappearance of the fog, Evans Bay was sparkling and worthy of an effort to capture it. It is almost the same shot as this week’s image number seven. Though people often get excited about blue skies, I think the clouds make the image more interesting.

Soundless water

Those days when the sea is so calm that it seems to develop a skin are always pleasing. This little pier adjacent to the Coastguard base just begged to be photographed. I think this looks better if you click to enlarge.

In Waiwhetu Stream

My last image this time is back in the Waiwhetu stream near Seaview. The log swept downstream from who-knows where has jammed itself into a state of permanence, embedded in the stream floor and has become a favourite resting spot for a variety of shages.

That’s my lot for now. Constructive criticism is, as always, welcome.

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adversity Birds Cook Strait Festivals and fairs Food fungi Landscapes

July 13, 2019 … did anybody get the number of that truck?

I had my surgery ten days ago, and all went well. However, even though it was a minor procedure done with an epidural anaesthetic, it seems to have drained my energy and enthusiasm for chasing images around the country. Many days of ugly weather have not contributed to the recovery. But it will return.

Matariki
Marking Matariki

Matariki is increasingly celebrated in New Zealand as an important national season. It is the time that most Maori recognise as the start of a new year. It is marked when the constellation Pleiades (Matariki) first appears in the Eastern sky. The Mayor of Wellington city persuaded his council that it would be more appropriate to spend money celebrating Matariki than having fireworks for Guy Fawkes day, the anniversary of a British attempted assassination plot. And so it has been for the last two years. I decided that rather than getting in close, I would mount a long lens and with the aid of a tripod and remote trigger, shoot from Lowry Bay on the far side of the harbour. This helped me to avoid the jostling crowds, and the smoke that obscured things if you were downwind.

Esmeralda
Esmeralda anchored behind Matiu/Somes Island.

A visitor to Wellington every few years has been the Chilean Navy’s sail training ship, Esmeralda. During the Pinochet years, she was misused as a prison hulk and torture chamber for political prisoners. This shame has remained with her over all the years since and there are often protests when she visits other countries. From my perspective, she is a beautiful ship and an inanimate object incapable of active participation in human atrocities, and I am always glad to see her.

Grapes
Unrealised wine

After the surgery, I have not gone far looking for photographic subjects and found these in the fridge. I just liked their texture in natural light from the window, and they tasted alright afterwards.

Fungi
Fungus on the lawn

I extended my range by about 30 metres to the front lawn and noticed these little fungi in the damp grass. The tallest was about 50 mm (2″) tall. I have no idea whether or not they are edible, though I did hear that everything is edible at least once. If you get it wrong there is no second chance.

Crossing
Crossing the strait.

A few days ago, I started stretching things and drove out around the coast from Lyall Bay and spotted these two vessels heading for the harbour entrance. The container vessel ANL Elanora and the car carrier Trans Future 7 stood out nicely against the mountain behin Kaikoura. Sadly I ran out of steam quite quickly so retreated home for a nap.

Kingfishers
Sacred Kingfishers

Not wanting to admit defeat too early I went out to Pauatahanui the next day, where I sat and watched the kingfishers hunting for crabs. Initially the bird on the left was alone on the log and then the second bird arrived and devoured a freshly caught crab. The first bird seemed to get grumpy and after complaining loudly, flew off in a huff.

But it happened again, and minor procedure or not, it is clear that anaesthetics and surgery disrupt things. So that is all I have to say this time. I hope and expect that normal service and more images will resume next time.

Categories
Adventure Bayou Birds Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Paremata Reflections Rivers Trees Wairarapa

July 1, 2019 … celebrating the stillness

This edition appears earlier than I intended because I am scheduled for a surgical procedure on Wednesday. Nothing unusual for a man of my age, nor is it particularly sinister, but it will apparently slow me down for a few weeks. Some might ask how much slower can I go 🙂

Since the last edition, there have been more still days than not. Yes, in Wellington! In fact every one of the images in this edition was made in conditions of flat calm. I love this, but I need to avoid slipping into a wind-dependent rut.

In fact, having been asked for a photograph of a particular topic, I did a quick skim-browse through about 100,000 images in my back catalogue. The way in which my photographic style has changed over the last decade was very noticeable. I also decided that I have a lot of very diverse images that I really like, and that would benefit from current post-processing techniques. That’s something that I might start on during my recovery period. I seem to have narrowed my range of subjects in recent times.

Pukekos
A cluster of Pukeko

My youngest son Anthony and his wife Sarah had been cycling on the Hutt River trail and drew to my attention, a park and lake that none of us previously knew. Just to the West of SH2 where the River road rejoins Fergusson Drive in Upper Hutt, is beautiful Te Haukaretu Park.

It is probably little known because it is at least 500 metres in either direction from the nearest vehicle access. The small lake is a delight and is enriched by the presence of many ducks, geese, pigeons and pukeko. The pukeko is an iridescent blue swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus) which seems to fly only as a last resort. There were a dozen or so at the lake when Mary and I visited. Look at the massive size of their feet. Perfect for walking on the weed that covers many swamps.

Trees in the lake
Some of the trees in and around Te Haukaretu Park

I am unsure what the trees are, that sit in the lake, but their wide bases reminded me of the visit Mary and I made to the Louisiana bayous back in 2012 Neither alligators nor Spanish moss here, but I had that fragmentary reminder of a very pleasant memory, with no noisy airboats or garrulous tour guides to spoil the peace.

Little blacks
Little black shags

On some calm days, I am prompted to revisit old familiar haunts. In this case I went around Port Road in Seaview where there is a substantial dead tree that has drifted downstream until it wedged in the Waiwhetu stream. It is a much used resting place for shags of all kinds. On this day, two little black shags (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) in breeding plumage were whispering sweet nothings to each other. The green and gold reflections from the toetoe grass on the far bank helped to transform an ordinary scene into something special.

White-faced heron
White-faced heron browsing at Pauatahanui

Though I hope for the local re-appearance of the kotuku, the white heron, its smaller cousin matuku, the white-faced heron shares the same elegant form. They are numerous in the Pauatahanui Inlet. They move with grace through the shallows. One step after another, they stir the mud with the free foot and spear anything that is dislodged or is foolish enough to move. If they are provoked into flight, their slow deliberate departure is pure poetry to watch.

Unknown boat
A work boat at Paremata

Ivey Bay seems not to be a familiar name to many people. Wellingtonians drive through it often without registering its name. It is that little corner of the Pauatahanui inlet where SH58 meets SH1 at the road and rail bridges. It has some colourful boat sheds and character-filled work boats that have long since been adapted as pleasure boats. I haven’t found a name for this boat (above), but it is my current favourite for its honest workman-like simplicity.

Ivey Bay (1)
The boat sheds at Ivey Bay

Though it is less picturesque in rough weather, Ivey bay is just gorgeous when the conditions are right. It combines a beautiful natural environment with a quirky human settlement and some interesting old boats. The mudflats that appear when the tide is low do not spoil it.

Ivey Bay (2)
Some people are lucky enough to live here

The Eastern end of Ivey Bay has a Kindergarten on the beach and a number of rather nice houses along its steep banks with some of the best views in the region. Certainly their sunsets must be spectacular.

Whitby
Whitby reflections

I don’t often venture into abstraction, but the reflections of Whitby on the inlet just begged to be used. When Mary and I moved back to Wellington in 1980, Whitby was much more sparsely populated. Now it is a densely packed area of relatively upmarket dwellings. Whereas it is not an area in which I would choose to live, the houses offer some interesting patterns on the water.

Foggy lake
Lake Wairarapa in the fog

And then came the foggy day. Somehow that rarely carries to the Western side of the Haywards hill so I stayed on SH2 through Upper Hutt and over the Remutaka hill to Featherston. In the Wairarapa, the fog was a bit selective. It came down the Tauherenikau River and followed the Western side of the Lake leaving the East bathed in sunlight. I wanted the fog so I began my exploration at the Lake Reserve near Featherston. There, the only things visible from the shore were the sad rusty piles that are the sole reminder of the Wairarapa Yacht Club’s long defunct Hansell’s Jetty.

Old jetty
The jetty’s sad remains

I have made other images of the derelict jetty in other conditions, but different light makes different pictures. I have a weakness for delicate blues and greys and this one really seemed to fit. Apart from a few black swans in the hazy distance there was nothing to see beyond the end of the piles.

Trees
The old 180° trick

Whenever I think I have exhausted the possibilities in one direction, I need to remember to look behind me. There is often something to see in the other direction. On this occasion the trees across Barton’s Lagoon offered a ghostly appearance which I liked.

Karapoti
Karapoti in the frost

Just a little to the East of Upper Hutt on the Akatarawa road is the Karapoti forest. It is much loved by cyclists for its mountain bike trails, and disliked by the ambulance crews for the same reason. Considering how close it is to Upper Hutt City, Karapoti is a really wild and rugged area. It even seems to have its own climate.

As I drove towards the park where the trail begins it was nearing mid-dayand there was still thick frost in the shaded areas. Across a farm paddock, there was smoke rising from a small building and the unmistakable smell of frying bacon The occupant certainly knew how to ward off the cold. Luckily, Mary had made a delicious lunch to help me on my wandering. she’s a keeper.

All going well I should publish another edition in two or three weeks. See you then.