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Cook Strait Landscapes Light Maritime Seasons Weather Wellington

October 26, 2021 … better times will come*

Somehow, this has been the most protracted miserable spring I can remember. I don’t want to be one of those people whose first and only topic of conversation is always the weather. On the other hand, for a landscape photographer, most of the best images are made in conditions governed by the weather.

Likewise, Covid-19 should not be the focus of my thinking. Nevertheless, the restrictions imposed for our protection have undoubtedly changed the way we live, the places we can go and the people we can visit. I don’t resent the measures one little bit. Indeed I am grateful for what I regard as a government that has been among the best in the world in terms of the care taken for us. They have made mistakes, but which government hasn’t?

So where is the focus of my thinking (inadvertent pun)? As far as I can tell, it is to encounter the world in the places where I live and to celebrate its beauty. I seek it even in the ordinariness of everyday life. This means many of the images I make are mediocre, and in my judgement relatively few are high quality images. So be it.

Wellington Harbour Mouth

Misty mornings in calm conditions offer striking views. The harbour entrance is framed by Pencarrow on the left and Miramar Peninsula on the right, with Ward Island in the middle. The sharp line of the horizon contrasted with the incoming weather adds beauty.

Hikoikoi Reserve

The boat sheds at the Hutt River estuary don’t often catch my eye from the Eastern side. Mist on the Western Hills make for a different background. The old familiar workboats, JVee, Sandra II and Maria sit placidly at their moorings.

Japanese Maple

After the rain, nature adds a cascade of sparkling jewels to the early spring leaves on our Japanese Maple. This particular maple is somewhat confusing as it offers red leaves in Spring and again in Autumn.

Symmetry

The sweeping lines of Tanya Ashken’s “Albatross” fountain have always been pleasing to my eye. Whether or not the fountain is in action, the sculpture is appealing. When it is not flowing, and if there is no wind, it provides some interesting reflections of the various light standards.

Oriental Bay

Oriental Bay is a popular spot on Wellington’s waterfront. It has sandy beach imported from Golden Bay by means of barges and diggers. The current sweeping around the bay tends to scour the sand so that it must be replenished each year. Happily, Golden Bay has lots of sand. When the sun shines, the bright young things work on their tan there, or perhaps play beach volleyball. On this day, the sun was making a partially successful attempt to light the scene, but the the mist on Te Ahumairangi Hill was catching my attention.

CBD

I always hope that misty conditions will result in better images than I achieve. I shall keep trying. Somehow, I hope that the grey conditions will speak. Sadly, it is not always true.

Old Thorndon

Up the hill behind the parliamentary precinct is the suburb of Thorndon. One of the city’s oldest suburbs, Thorndon was built when easy pedestrian access to the city centre was more important than ease of vehicle access, or even cheap construction costs. The little enclave to the North of Bowen Street is a village in its own right. Its occupants know the instant an outsider is in their neighbourhood, and perhaps understandably, scowl at photographers.

Coming in from the Sea

We had a few rough days recently with ocean swells in the region of six or seven metres. The authorities asked people to avoid the South Coast where large rocks were being hurled up on the road. A few days later, I ventured out when I judged it was safe to do so and not posing a nuisance to clean-up efforts. At the harbour entrance, the container ship Nefeli was heading for the shelter of the harbour mouth.

Heavy Swells

One of my favourite forms of bad weather is when the sea produces long slow swells. It reminds me of my long forgotten lessons in Physics 101 concerning wavelength, velocity and frequency. I know the sea will be spectacular when the time between wave tops is around ten seconds

Towards the South

The people walking along Petone Beach had thrown a stick into the harbour, and their large German Shepherd was faithfully retrieving it. In the background, the murky weather was canceling anything further than Matiu/Somes Island

Wellington Spring

As I said at the outset, I am hopeful of better weather soon, though the ten day forecast is mediocre at best. This view towards the city shows Miramar Peninsula on the left and Mt Victoria hazily in the middle. It seems to be raining in the city. So be it.

*Better Times Will Come – Janis Ian

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October 2, 2021 …just enjoy the process

Why, is the recurring question. Why do I persist in creating this blog, even when others are declaring that the age of the blog has passed?

I am not musical, but I think I have the heart of a troubadour, or perhaps like Gilbert and Sullivan’s Nankipoo, I might be a wandering minstrel. My aim is to be a story teller. Some do it in song, some in poetry. My chosen style is in a mix of prose and pictures. My principal aim is to take pleasure in making the pictures and using them to tell the story

Botanic Garden, Wellington

I went to the Botanic Garden in hope of tulips. There were some tulips, though fewer than usual and less well presented. Happily, the surrounding gardens possessed a glory of their own. The bands of colour, the shape and splendour of the trees and even the sculpture all give me pleasure.

Gladstone derelict

In my judgement, the back road from Martinborough to Masterton through Gladstone offers some of the most beautiful pastoral landscapes you will find anywhere. And tucked away, here and there, are a few much loved relics of earlier times that are slowly dissolving into the landscape. This old house near Gladstone is one that few photographers will pass by without a pause to make yet another picture. Of course it is a cliche, but I don’t accept that beauty is diminished by multiple viewing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mary had been gifted a voucher for a two night stay at an historic cottage in rural Wairarapa. India Cottage is situated between Castlepoint 40 km to the NE and Riversdale 22 km to the SE. It is part of the ICA station from which the Whareama Coastal Walkway is managed. We had little idea of what to expect, and were surprised and delighted by the beauty of the place. Water is a significant problem throughout the Wairarapa so the estate has a storage pond surrounded by reeds. Someone introduced the Australian green and golden bell frog. so the visual beauty was enhanced by the unceasing chorus from the frogs. Magic!

Oaks

Pioneering farmers had little regard for our native trees and yearned for the beauty of the great trees of their various homelands. And so it comes about that we have stands of magnificent oaks and other deciduous aliens. They are indeed beautiful trees. but so are the natives of this land which were cleared to make way for them.

Perfect stillness

If you have been with me for a while, you will know that morning and I are usually strangers. Here in deepest Wairarapa, with no Internet access, I woke early. No sound save the froggy chorus and the bawling of occasional cattle in the distance. No wind, and no clouds. I arose early and took my camera and tripod outside and caught the sun peering through the trees at the end of the pond.

A fine specimen

Another of those exotic trees … I didn’t pause to identify it but didn’t think it to be an oak. With the sun behind it I thought it made a nice image.

Breakfast

Over the fence, a classic pastoral scene as the sheep munch steadily on the dew-soaked grass. Rim-lit by the rising sun, I thought these were the quintessential “gilt-edged investment”.

Day 1 of Daylight Saving

Our last evening at India House coincided with New Zealand’s annual shift to daylight saving. Since the clock went forward, I expected to wake an hour later than usual. Perversely, I woke almost an hour earlier by the clock than usual. A still starlit morning prompted me to get dressed and tip-toe outside, being as quiet as possible. As you can see this long (56 seconds) exposure was illuminated by the stars and a bright moon. No artificial light. And you know it is still when an exposure this long shows no disturbance in the reflections. I returned to the cottage and Mary asked why I made so much noise when I went out!

Crux

The same scene from a different angle catches the Southern Cross, the much loved constellation emblematic of the Southern hemisphere. With the exception of my bedroom window all light in this image comes from the moon. In case you are unfamiliar with it, the cross in in the upper left quadrant of the picture. The head is down and to the left, and the foot is top right. The pointer Beta Centauri is sending its light 391.4 light years from just above the edge of that cloud.

Pink rock orchid

Back home after a delightful break, the weather forced me indoors. I placed a tiny orchid in my light box. Multiple flowers on a single stem are a bit of a challenge. It is conventional wisdom amongst those who enter competitions, that simple flower images rarely do well. I am getting away from the competition mindset, and the question is did I have fun making it, and does the finished product please me. The answer is yes and yes.

Wind

Wellingtonians are the butt of much joking about the city’s notoriously windy climate. It’s not easy to photograph wind. The best you can hope for is to catch things being moved about by the wind. Waves and trees, birds and rain are all possibilities. These reeds at the boat ramp in Lowry Bay seemed worth a try and another opportunity to use the neutral density filter. I put the camera on its tripod inside the car, and opened the downwind passenger window. Thus, the camera and tripod were not buffeted by the gusting wind. I love the texture of the windblown clumps of reed.

Customhouse Quay

Wellington’s skyline changes at a relatively slow pace. The last time I visited Melbourne, there must have been at least twenty tower cranes each presiding over a new high rise building site. Wellington has three or four. Of course, Melbourne has a population of 5 million compared with 417,000. This view along Customhouse Quay looking South shows the crane on the site of the new BNZ headquarters being built to replace the one destroyed by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.

They take a bottle

The nearer (yellow) crane is on the waterfront across the road from the red one on the BNZ site. This one is assisting a generic office building which will be available for lease. The answer to the unspoken question most people have in respect of the people who operate these machines in solitary splendour is that they have a bottle. I guess that their privacy could be compromised by people with long lenses.

And that’s another edition. I think I am coming to terms with the idea that I can make images for the pure joy of participating in the process. I don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectation. Of course I share them with you in the hope that you will take pleasure in what you see. Until next time.