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December 31, 2020 … thank goodness that’s over

…. but who knows what 2021 will bring? It’s possible that we might look back on 2020 as “the good old days?”

Petone wharf with mist behind it

I remember August with fondness. It was mostly calm and sunny. However, December in Wellington has been mostly complete rubbish, with lots of rain and wind. Some days offered calm, but with mist or drizzle. I can live with that. This image was made at Petone wharf and as you can see, Matiu/Somes is almost obscured in the rain, and there is no sign at all of the Miramar peninsula.

Looking back

The same morning, I took a trip up Malvern road which runs up the side of the hill at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge. It offers a fairly generous panorama over the Northern parts of the harbour. On this particular day, low cloud obscured the lower parts of the Hutt Valley and it offered a different view to the usual. .

Handel’s Messiah with the NZSO

Our daughter Lena and son-in-law Vasely generously took us to hear the NZSO with the Tudor Consort Choir performing Handel’s Messiah. No matter how many times I hear it it seems always new. The conductor, Gemma New encouraged the ancient tradition of all standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. The performance earned them a rarely given standing ovation from the capacity crowd in the Michael Fowler Centre. Of course I didn’t take my camera so this is a sneaky grab shot from my iPhone.

Minimalism

On one of the few fine days this month, I went to the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park at Paekakariki in the hope of finding some interesting bird life. sadly, the birds had made other plans so I was out of luck. There was the sound of a million frogs, and though I was very close, I saw not one. I settled for the remnants of some rushes in the water.

Welcome Swallow

Despite the lack of water fowl, there were, as always, Welcome Swallows flitting about and performing impossible changes of direction in mid air as they gathered insects. They are fast and unpredictable so I was pleased when one sat on a branch near me.

Kota Lestari

Sunshine is nice, but it would be better without the Southerly wind. I was on the South coast when the Singapore registered container vessel Kota Lestari picked up her pilot. She has a gross registered tonnage of 41,578 and has the capacity to carry 4,300 twenty foot containers. She berthed soon after 3 pm and left just after midnight bound for Napier and then on to Hong Kong.

Canada Geese

Mostly I like all the Canadians I have met. I am less fond of their geese, despite their handsome appearance. They always seem to choose pathways as a place to deposit their calling cards. Even so, I enjoyed seeing this family at QEII park.

Thunder of wings

A favourite spot on a calm day is Hokio beach. It is just over 100 km to the North from home and is situated on the West Coast of the North Island, a little to South of Levin. The Hokio stream runs Westward from Lake Horowhenua and forms a beautiful estuary where it meets the Tasman Sea. There are seabirds aplenty most times, though my favourites, the black-fronted dotterels were missing. A large flock of black-backed gulls were basking in the sun when some idiot in a small SUV came racing towards them and instantly there was feathered chaos.

On Brooklyn Hill

Like many landscape photographers before me, I love conditions of mist or fog, though sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Driving up the hill from Aro Street to Brooklyn, conditions were clear, though overcast. Then from just above Brooklyn shops things got heavy. These misty pines are a few hundred metres up the hill towards the wind turbine. The turbine itself was scarcely visible even as I stood at its base.

Not monochrome

I hardly ever make monochrome images. Sometimes nature presents itself in black and white and then I am happy to capture it if I can. This view from the Titahi Bay road looks South towards Porirua City. It is an eight-image panoramic stitch.

Sparrows feeding

Mary was given a new bird-feeder that allows birds to sit on various perches around its base and access the seeds. They will empty that pile in about an hour, after which no matter how they sulk, they wait until tomorrow.

Red

I recall a respected photographer friend telling our camera club that any image containing a splash of red had a much better chance of favourable treatment. This little yacht in Evans Bay certainly grabs attention

So ends 2020. Though we have lamented its many downsides, we in New Zealand have come through it fairly well. Our covid-19 statistics are among the best, and even the impact on our country’s economy has been much less than was feared. Our biggest personal sadness is our inability to visit family in Brisbane and Melbourne, or indeed for them to come here. But they and we are well and we can talk to each other, so again things are less bad than they might have been.

I wish you all the warmest of wishes for 2021. May it be a kinder and better year than its predecessor. May all your hopes and dreams come true. See you next year perhaps?

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December 9, 2020 … the song that never ends

Almost every long car trip featured our kids mischievously singing “The Song that Never Ends” … you know the one … Wikipedia describes it as “self referential and infinitely iterative”. Though the calendar tells me that it is December, and we could normally expect the year to end soon, I fear that it might refuse to yield office to 2021. There is still room for some new unpleasantness to raise its head. Leaving aside the world events which have dominated our thinking, my photographic world has been dominated by grey and overcast images.

If and when a new year does take office, I hope that I seize every opportunity to make better use of the brighter days. Meanwhile, let us see what crossed my lenses recently.

Monumental masonry

Whenua Tapu cemetery is on SH1 between Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay. My decision to wander through it was not based on any morbid fascination with cemeteries, but was purely motivated by the patterns of the monumental masonry. This particular area of the cemetery is devoted to the Greek community which has a strong presence in Wellington.

Boutique port

Centreport is the successor to the old Wellington Harbour Board. It is a private company that runs the business of the harbour. It is jointly owned by the Wellington Regional Council and the Horizons (Whanganui and Manawatu) Regional Council. Wellington is not one of the country’s major ports as designated by the big shipping companies. In fact its container activity has just two cranes. From Point Halswell, I looked across to the empty container berth and saw them both parked and looking tidy.

At the end of a lovely day

Camera club meetings start at 7:30 pm and are usually all done by 9 pm. On this day, as I was driving away, I was struck by the lovely light in the sky to the South and West. As always I had my camera and tripod on board so I set out for the Petone foreshore. Ten minutes later with the light fading rapidly I set up to make a panorama. Seven shots at 30 seconds each had to be done as fast as possible since the light difference between the first and last was significant. The bright light along the beach and on the driftwood was from the street lights on the Esplanade. I suppose I could have tried to dim it in the computer.

Spoonbills in shelter

I like high key images. The royal spoonbills at Pauatahanui almost provided one The brilliant white plumage and the silver grey water provide a nice contrast with their black bills. The spoonbills were huddled in the lee of the dune, staying below the mean-spirited Northerly wind.

Ready for the lunch crowd

Portofino is an Italian restaurant on the Wellington waterfront. As I walked past their back window, I was taken by the neatness of the glass and silverware. With the kind permission of the manager I made an image from the back of the restaurant looking over the tables and across the harbour to Roseneath.

Tui at the wine bar in the rain

The tui and other nectar feeders are enjoying Mary’s regular supply of sugar water. An inverted wine bottle into a plastic bowl is all it takes. The tui claim first rights and any lesser birds just get knocked off as the tui lands on the perch, whether or not it is occupied. They are usually wary of humans and you can see this one giving me the evil eye.

Coaching in the Mist

Soft rain and low cloud put Mt Victoria and Roseneath into the mist. Just offshore from Petone beach a rowing eight was getting some apparently forceful coaching from the man in the inflatable. The harbour was blessedly calm.

And then the wind blew

Somehow, I missed the worst of it, but the next day the wind came up and swells of about 4.5 metres started battering the South coast. Here, the Bluebridge ferry, Strait Feronia is starting to lift into the swells on the open water of Cook Strait. I don’t envy the open part of their trip.

Pure gold

Most people are familiar with the pohutukawa, the member of the myrtle family famous for it’s glorious crimson flowers every Christmas. Many are surprised to discover the gold variety. I have to say that I prefer the traditional crimson.

Rubber ducky

While driving along Riverside Drive in Lower Hutt, I spotted some little yellow objects floating down the river. So help me, I was convinced I was seeing plastic toy ducks. Then one of them reversed course and went upstream. What? I got my long lens out and good grief, they were a flock of mallard ducklings. I believe the current word of the day is diversity. Beautiful, and a lift to the spirits in these days of persistent grey cloud and rain.

See you next time