October 31, 2019 … bright lights and variable scenes

Wellington’s legendary wind lived up to the very worst of its reputations over the last two weeks. I cannot recall a period in which I have been so disinclined to go out looking for photographs. There have been a few reasonable days but mostly there has been blustery wind and nasty rain. Summer must be coming. Please let it be coming.

Black and white wading birds
Pied stilts

In one brief interval of calm, I went to Pauatahanui Inlet where there is a considerable colony of pied stilts. They are attractive birds to watch, Their clean black and white plumage and their very long legs make them attractive to watch as they wade the shallows looking for insects and other invertebrates.

Grey sea and sky
Oriental Bay marina

Despite my lament about the persistent wind, it is a calm day when I can make a 4 second exposure on the Oriental Bay marina without the yachts’ masts whipping about. I rather like the metallic grey tones and only that yellow cabin-top near the middle gives away the fact that this is a full colour image.

The Hutt Light Festival

It seems that each year, at or near Labour Weekend at the end of October, Lower Hutt City stages a festival of lights. I found myself behind the public library the day before the festival opened. Of course this is most spectacular with the thousands of spectators, but I like the comparative calm.

Hutt War Memorial Library

I wandered around catching the lights in juxtaposition with the somewhat brutal architecture of the Hutt War Memorial Library.

Inflatable sculptures

Part of the displays were some inflatable sculptures in the form of giant fungi. It was all very clever.

Starling in Carlucci Land

Near Owhiro Bay on Wellington’s South Coast, is Carlucci Land. It is a quirky mini-golf course, characterised by lots of strange shapes made of old machinery and rusting scrap steel.

Naval cadets … 550 of them.

At the end of the road, I saw a ship on the horizon with a distinctly naval profile. As It came closer, it’s pennant number (83) came into view and it revealed itself as the Chinese Navy’s training vessel Qi Jiguang which was making a five day goodwill visit to Wellington. It was a clean and well-presented vessel.

Cape Palliser … Wind

Mary and I drove over the hill to the Wairarapa and around the coast to Cape Palliser. I am always apprehensive about the road sign that says “Caution, Active Slip! Drive with Care”. I never know how I should drive to prevent the road dropping down the cliff-face to land on the beach. We ate our picnic lunch in the car near the seal colony at the cape . I had the car parked nose to the wind, and I suspect if I had done it otherwise, we would have been sent tumbling into the sea. I have never had a picnic in such a vicious wind before.

The festival of light final fireworks

I thought the wind might make it unsafe to release of fireworks on the last night of the festival. Despite what I regarded as a quite stiff breeze, the pyrotechnics were set off and everybody seemed happy.

I was especially happy to have sold some images of the event.

And if you want to see the standard of photography to which I aspire, see here:

adversity Birds Children Family flowers Food Maritime Plant life Reflections Rivers Weather Wellington

October 13, 2019 … what did I see?

I suppose that a useful technique for improvement might be to ask myself questions about the images that I like. Why did I make this image? What appealed? Now that I’ve made it, what might I have done better? Let’s have a look.

Mallard drake on green water
On seas of green

Just to the North of Upper Hutt is Haukaretu Park with a large pond that, in most circumstances, is sheltered. As you might know, I love still waters. This image includes a mallard drake crossing the luminous green waters of the pond. I love the syrupy texture of the water, the green reflection of the surrounding bush and the lovely colours of the bird itself. It might have been a better image if I had achieved a better result of focussing exactly on the bird’s eye.

Wellington in the rain with passing car raising spray
Wonderful weather for a photographic walkabout

Last weekend, for the sixth successive year, I was the leader of the Wellington part of a world-wide photowalk. Because the idea is that the walk takes place on the same day all around the world, postponement for bad weather is not an option. So, we were a small group of just seven doing a somewhat damp photowalk with about 900 other groups involving more than 10,000 photographers. Did I mention that it was raining? I made this shot as a record of the conditions. It was hand-held and intended to catch the spray kicked up by passing cars. I didn’t want to pan (swing the camera with the car) because I wanted to get the wet background of lower Taranaki St. I needed a much faster shutter speed to “freeze” the car. One member of our group normally participates in the walk in his native Manila. This year he was working as a staff member on the cruise liner “Radiance of the Seas” so he joined our walk. What a miserable day for the passengers to spend in Wellington.

The cruise-liner Majestic Princess reflected in a puddle
What a difference a day makes

The very next day, another large cruise liner was in and enjoyed much better weather. Here I have caught “Majestic Princess” reflected in a puddle left over from the previous day. These reflection shots rely on a suitably placed puddle and a wide angle lens. I could only just catch the full 330 metre length of this vast vessel. I would have preferred a puddle that allowed a full broadside shot, but this was the best I could find. I really liked the sheer scale of the vessel.

Red tulips

Tulip season in the Wellington Botanic Gardens is always worth a look. However it is a challenge to do more than capture a snapshot. You should understand that, in photographic circles, “snapshot” is a pejorative word. Somehow, the mere record of being there needs to be transformed into something with artistic merit. The gardens are laid out more or less the same each year, so it is necessary to select a different viewpoint or find lighting conditions that make a difference. I liked the vivid lighting in this bed of red tulips.

Rangiora tree flowers
The Rangiora

This has been a season of prolific growth for many of our spring-flowering trees and shrubs including the Rangiora (Brachyglottis repanda). I decided to get up close to the the flowers on a small branch. I need to find other ways of interpreting such flowers. I tend to put the camera in front of the flowers and press the button. It works but it fails to add that artistic dimension that I so desperately seek.

Hutt River rapids

Just a little to the North of the Upper Hutt CBD near Maoribank on the Western side of River Road, the Hutt River comes in from the West and is forced into a sharp turn to the South. I made this a long exposure. It may have been a mistake. The creamy streaking of the water does not match what we expect running water to look like. Sometimes you can get away with it but I am not so sure of this one.

Tree trunks in the pond at Te Haukaretu

The duckpond in Te Haukaretu Park in the same area is a delight to my eye. It offers still water and some spectacular trees which reflect beautifully in the green water. And if you are quick, you can catch a shot without the wake of a passing duck. This image appealed to me for the shape of the trunks, and the green of the moss on the trees and in the reflections. Next time I might try a wide angle lens to include more of the trees.

Mary provides a rainbow cake to help celebrate Jack's birthday
Jack’s 13th birthday

You may have noticed that I rarely make images of people. But our grandson Jack turned 13 this week. He is a really great kid and we love him dearly, as we do all of our six grandchildren. He came to have lunch with us the day before his birthday and Mary provided a rainbow cake to finish things. This image is more of a record shot than an attempt at the photographic art.

Willis St and Manners Street corner
On Willis St

When I first came to Wellington, back in the 1960s, this spot on the corner of Willis St and Manners St was universally known as Perret’s Corner. It was named for the pharmacy that occupied the corner that is behind and to the right in this view. There were tram lines in all directions back then. The name has faded into history and few Wellingtonians know it now. The image catches the narrowness of Wellington’s pre-eminent shopping precinct. I have friends who disagree with me, but now that the trolley wires are gone, I love being able to see an almost clear sky between the tower blocks.

And that will suffice for this week.