18 March, 2020 … interesting times

Interesting times are upon us. As far as I know, I and all my loved ones are well. I hope the same goes for you and all who you hold dear.

Today I offer fifteen random images with no apparent connection between them except that they were all made in the last few weeks. Mindful of all the world’s current woes, I am feeling grateful for living in a peaceful and politically stable country with so much beauty on offer. .

Remutaka Forest Park – Catchpool Valley

New Zealand’s bush typically seems much more dense, twisted and tangled than the ancient forests of the Northern hemisphere. Most of it lacks the grandeur of tall parallel tree trunks. So be it. I still love being in the bush, enjoying the shelter it gives from the wind and the pleasure I take in so many shades of green. This short track in the entrance to the Catchpool valley surprised me for the amount of dead leaves on the ground amongst what I thought were predominantly evergreen trees.

Mana Island on a beautiful day in Plimmerton

This picture of Mana Island was made by getting down low, or at least by getting the camera low, hanging inverted off the tripod centre post. Because the water was almost flat calm, it was almost touching the surface.

If you click to enlarge, and look at the gap between the furthest incoming wave and the island, you will see the neck and beak of a shag which popped up as I pressed the shutter. It’s as if it knew I was here, and was checking to see whether I was a threat.

We have had a string of beautiful calm Autumn days. They go some small way towards compensating for the miserable wet windy summer we had in Wellington this year.

Another lovely day in Plimmerton

The local yacht club was racing at Plimmerton despite the apparent lack of wind. As you can see in the picture, some of the yachts are heeling despite the light breeze. They certainly progressed around the course at a reasonable pace, and I liked the metallic effect given by the translucent sailcloth.

Ferry berth

Anyone who understands the term “depth of field” instantly knows that this picture could not have been made with just one exposure. Loosely, depth of field is the distance between the nearest “in focus” point, and the furthest. Most lenses have a relatively shallow depth of field so either the ship or the flower would be sharp, but not both. Many photographers delight in a usually expensive lens with a shallow depth of field and the artistic effects it produces. Others, like me, seek more extreme depth and achieve this by “focus stacking”. In its simplest form, and in this example, that means taking a photo in which the flower is sharp and another in which the ship is sharp. Then the two images are merged and the sharp bits from each are retained. This was possible back in the days of the darkroom, but is much easier now that we have PhotoShop.

If you think this is somehow “cheating”, then avert your eyes now because I don’t care.

I have consistently said that the art is in the final image, no matter how it was achieved.

Sacred Kingfisher

If you have been a WYSIWYG reader for any length of time, you will know that birds are among my favourite subjects. Nevertheless, I lack the patience and skill to stalk and capture the fastest and sneakiest of birds. Some of my friends make superb images, bordering on the impossible. I lack the patience and the willingness to get down in the mud and make the images they do. Now and then, I get lucky. Kingfishers typically fly at about 45 km/h.

From home

I have often presented this viewpoint, from my bedroom window and I justify it on this occasion for the special early morning light. I am grateful every day for the splendour of this view.

From the control bar

Mary and I went to Whitireia Park in Porirua where we intended to have a picnic lunch. While I looked for images, Mary walked the Onepoto Loop Track. As I wandered, a man in a wet suit was setting up to go kite-surfing. He got the kite airborne while he was still on the beach and I cheekily got down near his feet and caught his view of the canvas.

A stranger in a strange land

On one of my many trips through Evans Bay and around into Oriental Bay, I was astonished to encounter this old Seagrave fire appliance. As per the signage, it once belonged to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Made in 1960, it was retired in 1990 and gifted by the City of Los Angeles to the City of Auckland in recognition of their sister-city relationship. Since then it has been on display at Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). This is an articulated 100 foot ladder machine that has a driver in the front, and another at the rear steering the trailer wheels. As you can see it is designed for the Los Angeles climate. The well wrapped crew drove this down from Auckland to Wellington in cool Autumn weather and were on their way to Invercargill for a charity fundraising event. They are going to have to raise quite some funds as it goes through $500 to $600 of fuel a day plus the ferry fares in each direction.

Sisters

Another of those days when, despite the overcast, the glittering sea was relatively still. East-West ferries have two catamarans with which they operate a commuter service that runs from downtown Wellington across the harbour to Days Bay, with stops at Matiu / Somes Island and occasionally at Seatoun. It is marginally quicker than the trip around the harbour by bus, but infinitely more pleasant. They even have a bar on board. Anyway, there I Was as Cobar Cat came in from the right after refuelling at Chaffers Marina, and City Cat approached from across the harbour.

Lavender blue

Simple things sometimes need complex treatment. This little cluster of lavender, growing in a pot at our back door, is captured with another focus stack. You can see that the background trees are well beyond focus as I intended them to be. However there are four different images of the lavender stalks. This only works in windless conditions because if the plants are in different positions as they wave, they can’t be merged.

Abstraction

I was having a coffee with my youngest son, Anthony (Ants) at the Seaview Marina. It was a beautiful morning with the sun smiling on the yachts and lovely reflections in the water. Then a ripple from elsewhere in the marina did interesting things with the reflected masts and rigging.

We had a guest speaker in the camera club about a week ago, and she explained very well how she went about making a wide variety of abstract images. I grasped the “how” well enough, but remain mystified by the “why?” Anyway, here I am offering an abstraction. This is a single shot, as seen by the camera

A rare selfie

I almost never take selfies. Usually I would prefer to make an image of the place or thing that I saw, rather than a picture of myself in the place or with the thing I saw. This image is an unintentional selfie. I saw a trailer which was a bitumen tanker. It had an engine chugging away underneath, presumably powering the burner that keeps the bitumen in its liquid state while the tractor was elsewhere. What caught my eye was the polished stainless steel cladding and I liked the grassy reflections therein. Regrettably I could find no way to exclude myself from the reflection. Though I am substantially built, I am nowhere near the proportions in that distorted reflection.

My favourite kind of day

Among my favourite places in the region are various spots around the shores of Lake Wairarapa, especially on those days when the lake is glassy calm. Whenever I come over the hill to Featherston, I usually start at the Lake Domain Reserve and see whether there is a new image to be had. The rusty steel piles of the yacht club’s old jetty make a nice feature.

Wairio Wetlands

Some thirty km to the South on the Eastern side of the lake, are two sets of wetlands beloved of many of my photographic for their prolific bird life and for the intrinsic beauty of the places. I chose the Wairio Wetlands rather than Boggy Pond on this occasion. Whereas Wellington has had a wet summer, the Wairarapa is officially in drought. This wetland still has water, but the level is lower than I have ever seen it before. There were plenty of birds there, though they were cautiously placed some distance from the walking tracks. If you click on this image to enlarge, and have a close look at the most distant of the birds, at about one third in from the right, there is a white heron (kotuku).

Low and fast over the road

As I came back up the Western side of the lake, I heard a whistle and a roar and saw a top-dressing plane shoot over the road and into the hills to the West. I was ready for it as it came round a second time and was pleased that it was a venerable Fletcher FU-24 950. The basic FU-24 design has served New Zealand agriculture since 1954. No fewer than 297 of them were built and in the later years many were fitted with powerful turbine engines. Sadly many bold Fletcher pilots didn’t get to be old Fletcher pilots because they over-estimated their skill at avoiding high-speed contact with the ground.

That is sufficient for this edition.

I am going to borrow my farewell from Radio New Zealand’s Suzie Fergusson who said at the end of a session the other day, “Wash your hands, keep calm and carry on. Ka kite anō au i a koutou (see you all again).

November 30, 2018 – stillness, real and constructed

My term as president of the camera club is over and I have to say that though I enjoyed it, I am relieved.  Now I can make more pictures. Note the careful choice of the word “make” which frees me from the tyranny of the notion that you stick with what you take.

Sweet pea

Sweet pea in flower

My first image this week was of a sweet pea found as a roadside weed in Paremata. The curling tendrils appealed to me

Kota Lihat

Kota Lihat departs

Wonderful stillness on a misty morning took me to a high lookout in Maungaraki as a large Hong Kong registered container ship, Kota Lihat was departing for Napier.

Sails

Sail training in various forms

A day or two later, and closer to sea level, I was paying attention to a small fleet of Optimist yachts at Petone when I got photo-bombed by the sail training ship, Spirit of New Zealand.

Peonies

These white peonies are about 20 cm across

Mary was gifted a small number of peony blossoms, so of course I had to play with them. They are huge and delicate.

cruise

Cruising in bad weather

My lifelong fascination with all things maritime is no secret, Earlier this week we had an absolutely rotten day with wind and steady drizzle most of the day. Two cruise liners, Golden Princess and Sun Princess turned up with 4,600 hundred sun-seeking tourists between them and turned them loose to enjoy themselves for the day. I suspect many of them stayed on board.

Sail training

Spirit of New Zealand

On Wednesday I spotted the Spirit of New Zealand again, cruising along in the mist off the South  coast. Here, I confess to manipulating the image to flatten the sea and to show the reflection. It’s a much nicer image than the original, and I assert firmly that I do not regard the “straight out of  camera” image as especially sacred or privileged. What I offer are images that I have made in pursuit of my art. I do not promise documentary accuracy.

Pines

Pines in the mist

The mist was fairly random in where I could find and use it. This scene was up the Brooklyn hill at the bottom of the road to the wind turbine.

Sea Lion

Sea Lion

The Sea Lion has been a working vessel around the coasts of Australia and New Zealand since it was completed in  1956. Her latest colour scheme is interesting to say the least

Deloittes

New Architecture on the waterfront

The new Deloitte building on Waterloo Quay on Wellington’s waterfront is an imposing presence.

And that’s all for now.

November 8, 2018 … a little washed out

After five years as president of the Hutt Camera Club, and several years prior to that as newsletter editor and secretary, I am absolutely ready to stand down. Somehow in the last few months, I have run out of steam and the burden of office has taken a toll. About now you might hear the sound of the world’s smallest violin playing sympathetic music. Yes, there is a little self-pity at play, but I am looking forward to getting the most out of my photography time to help me become a better image maker.  Just two more weeks.

Estuary

At the estuary (again)

As you may have heard me say before, I will always seize a calm day, and I grabbed this one down at the Hikoikoi Reserve on the Hutt River estuary. The boats moored in the shelter of the breakwater are unglamorous small fishing vessels. Even so, they create pretty reflections in the unusually still water.

Derelict

I am sure someone really intends to restore the boat, but it has sat unchanged for several years now.

I was hoping to see my old friend “George”, the white heron. After a few brief stops he seems to have found other places to be, so I settled for a shot of the derelict boat in which he practices his skills as a master mariner.

gerbera

Gerbera glory

On days when the weather is less accommodating, I look for still life opportunities. Mary received a bunch of gerberas from a neighbour in gratitude for her care of their cats while they were away.  I just loved their luminance.

Tansy

Purple Tansy

A random weed in our garden caught my eye and I plucked it and then looked again and decided it was worth a closer look. One of my several flower identification apps said it was a Phacelia or Purple Tansy. I put it in the opening of my dark box and used the stacking technique to get the clearest image.

Shag

Little shag – mottled

It is said that if you don’t like our climate, wait twenty minutes, it will change. The reality is that change is a little slower than that, but a nice warm morning earlier in the week found me at Shelly Bay, the old RNZAF flying boat base in Evans Bay. There I found a Little Shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) sitting at the foot of the sea wall, cautious but willing to stay put. It is one of the mottled morph in this variety.

Jetty

Once were flying boats

The old jetties at Shelly Bay are much admired by photographers and this time I tried for a different angle. I admit to removing a number of plastic road cones from the rad works along the far shore.

Catchpool

The Catchpool stream heading outwards to the sea

A windy day and I went down the Wainuiomata coast road to the Rimutaka Forest Park and Catchpool Valley. I clambered down the rock banks of the stream and got the camera perilously close to the water for this shot. I am not good where footing is uncertain, since I have weak ankles and a poor sense of balance.

Forget-me-not

To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower (William Blake)

There were lots of wild forget-me-nots so I stole one and got very close.

That’s all for this time. I hope that my next edition will be crafted on my shiny new iMac since my 6-year-old MacBook is, like me, getting slower by the day.

October 11, 2018 … self-inflicted injury

I have spent most of my free time in the last month,  judging competitions for camera clubs. That amounted to a carefully considered written paragraph for each of 168 images. I needed to be mindful of each photographer’s sensitivity while at the same time trying to being honest enough to be helpful. This calamity came about because I am the kind of fool who tends to say yes, if possible, but forgets to check whether the due date clashes with promises already made to other groups. And so I found myself judging more or less concurrently for three clubs. This was a self-inflicted injury that will not be repeated.

Rail reflection

The new extension to Rutherford House was added after I retired The railway station was opened 81 years ago.

I spent an afternoon wandering downtown and began to enjoy reflections in the various glass tower blocks. This image shows the Wellington Central railway station  reflected in the glass curtain of the recent extension to the Business School of Victoria University of Wellington.

flannel bush

Flannel bush

From my bedroom window, I spotted an interesting looking plant in my neighbour’s garden. With permission, I acquired one of the flowers and in due course, set about identifying it and then photographing it. It is the Flannel bush (Phylica pubescens)

Tarakena

Rock pools in Tarakena Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I got out a place I liked to go to this month, has been Wellington’s South coast, especially Tarakena Bay which runs from the harbour mouth Westward to Moa Point near the Southern end of the airport.  The sea was relatively calm and I used a neutral density filter to get a long exposure and near total stillness.

Hutt River

Hutt River estuary

Grey skies and little wind tempted me away from the drudgery of judging (thereby increasing the pressure as the deadlines loomed). The Hutt River boatsheds caught my eye here.

Sea fever

“…. And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking” (Sea Fever by John Masefield)

It was a misty morning and I just loved the soft greyness of the day as I looked South to the harbour entrance.

Blue

Blue reflections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the sixth consecutive year, I organized the Wellington chapter of the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk. This year, 17,484 walkers registered to walk in 932 locations around the world. A shot I made during the walk was of the new mirror facade of what used to be the Bowen State building.

Parliament

Parliament Building, Wellington

From a different architectural era is the parliament building. It is probably not very distinguished among this kind of building. When you get up close, you have to love the Oamaru Stone cladding.

planes

I’m a sucker for receding planes

I have shot this many times, but I can’t resist the varying shades of the receding hills from Lower Hutt to Upper Hutt and the Tararua Ranges in the background.

Kaitaki

“Thy sea, O God, so great, My ship so small” (Breton Fisherman’s prayer by Winfred Ernest Garrison)

The stillness was coming to an end, and you can see the ominous front away to the South as seen from Petone Beach. The 9 am sailing of the Kaitaki was heading out  into the wild, on its way to Picton

Wellington

How happy I am to live in this beautiful city

My last shot this week is also from Petone Beach is across the silvery harbour to Wellington City. See you next time.

 

 

July 21, 2018 … some nice opportunities

Most of this week’s images depict nature in human settings. I rarely photograph people, and concentrate on things that, in my judgement, work well for me. But you can be the judge of that.

Hutt

Sunlight through the valley mist

At the end of last week, I delivered Mary to the airport as she flew to Queenstown to be with our son and grandchildren for some of the school holidays. It was an odd sort of day, with patches of mist, cloud and sunshine. With Mary safely despatched to the South, I went up Hungerford Rd to the hills overlooking the airport and looked back across Evans Bay to the misty Hutt Valley. The Tararuas were obscured, but I was attracted to the trees and the odd tall building peering through the mist.

Rainbow

When you see something like this, you stop and take the picture now, in case it is not there in a minute or two

From there I went around the Miramar Peninsula and screeched to a halt when I reached Point Halswell. If I were a gambling man, I might have carried on around the corner to catch the full arc of the rainbow, but in my experience, every time I delay taking a shot, it evaporates when I eventually get to it. This was the most intense rainbow I have ever seen, and if you look closely there is a second one outside it.

Fireworks

Matariki Fireworks from Oriental Bay

In recent years, New Zealand has begun to adopt the celebration of Matariki. This is the time when the star cluster Pleiades appears above the horizon each year. Many Maori iwi (tribes) regard this as the start of their year. In Wellington City, the mayor has ceased to provide funding for fireworks to mark Guy Fawkes, and has instead diverted it to a display for Matariki, arguing that it is more appropriate to celebrate a New Zealand event, than a failed political assassination plot in the UK. I agree with him.

Island Bay

Island Bay fishing fleet under a dramatic sky

I had intended to do a road trip during Mary’s absence, but the weather forecast was unpromising, so I confined myself to day trips. Some of them were to old familiar haunts such as this one in Island Bay on Wellington’s South coast. I liked the clouds.

Sunrise

Sunrise artistry

Sunrise and I are very loosely acquainted. Sunsets are no problem, but I am not normally a morning person. Sometimes, if I haven’t closed the curtains properly a flare of red will grab my attention as it did on this day.

Maersk Jabal

When I first joined camera clubs in the 1960s, this would have been called a “contre jour” (against the day) photograph. Happily the pretentious adoption of French phrases is less common now. Maersk Jabal leaves Wellington bound for Napier

Most landscape photography experts advocate that photos are best made in the golden hour (the hour following sunrise or before sunset) or even the blue hour (the hour prior to sunrise or after sunset). I agree that some superb images can be had in those times, but I see no reason to put my camera away in the rest of the day, or even at night. This image from the summit of Mt Victoria was made at 1 pm. It catches the container ship, Maersk Jabal in silhouette against the glittering waters of Wellington Harbour.

Wadestown

Winter traffic

I tend not to venture far at night. However, Mary was still away so without worrying her, I went into Wadestown on the Western Hills above the ferry terminal and made a long exposure on a still (but moonless) night.  It was still early enough to catch the tail-end of the two-way rush hour.

Fountain

The Carter Fountain in Oriental Bay

That same evening, I went to Oriental Bay. The Carter fountain was playing and the water was still. I used a feature of my camera that allows me to make a composite image over an extended period. The coloured floodlights changed several times during the 18 seconds of this exposure. I expected that the additive result might be a muddy colour, but was delighted at the way it separated three of the colour phases.

Nightlights

Waterloo Quay all lit up

From the same vantage point, I turned 90 degrees to the left and loved the night cityscape. The building on the left presents an obsidian black face during the day, but with the lights on at night, all is revealed. As much as I love nature, I also love the colours and textures of of the city.

See you next time

 

 

 

May 2, 2018 … A South Island Ramble

For the last two weeks, more or less, Mary and I spent time in the South Island. We visited the family in Queenstown, though I also had the ulterior motive of the Photographic Society of New Zealand’s  annual convention in Dunedin. The weather forecast was gloomy but somewhat ambiguous as we set out.

Kaiarahi

The Kaiarahi comes in to berth in the place our own ferry has just vacated.

I am always baffled by the loading process on the Interislander ferries. I imagine that they attempt to distribute vehicles fore and aft, port and starboard so that the vessel is properly balanced. However, the selections of who goes next and who goes where is seemingly quite random.

Swan

An elegant white swan at Liffey wetlands near Lincoln

We stopped on the way South at a nice AirBnB in the Lincoln district, near Christchurch. It was a lovely rural location that I might never have found without the aid of a GPS. As we left there on our way to Dunedin, we passed Liffey Springs, a spring-fed creek that flows into the Lincoln wetlands where there are a lot of waterfowl of one sort or another.

Alps

The broad flat lands of South Canterbury bump into the distant Southern Alps

Despite the forecast there was a clear view Westward to the snow-capped Southern Alps, seen here from somewhere near Dunsandel. Our travels took us to Musselburgh in Dunedin where we spent the night before I loaded Mary onto a bus bound for Queenstown the next day.

Harbour

The harbour in Otago looking out towards Port Chalmers and the Taiaroa Heads

Prior to the opening of the convention, I took the road out to Port Chalmers and marvelled that the Otago harbour is more often than not, very calm when I meet it.

Albatross

A white-capped or shy albatross cruises past the boat

The convention was well enough, offering a number of pre-booked field trips, each suited to one of the many genres of photography. My first such adventure was on the charter-vessel Monarch which took us down the placid harbour , offering some nice landscape opportunities, and then past Taiaroa Head to the open sea. There, as expected, we encountered a variety of the great pelagic seabirds including various petrels and gulls, as well as the Buller’s Mollymawk, the White-capped or Shy Albatross, and the greatest of the all, the Southern Royal albatross with its wings spreading over three metres.  Despite my notoriously queasy stomach, my only difficulty on the voyage was maintaining my balance as the vessel pitched and rolled in a swell that seemed to be around two metres. One hand for the ship and one for yourself is the ancient maritime wisdom, which leaves little for the camera.

Steam

A stationary steam engine spinning almost noiselessly at the Gasworks Museum

The trip I chose for the following day was to the Gasworks Museum in South Dunedin. The host club had laid on a local group of steam punk enthusiasts to liven up the trip. To my engineering-oriented mind, they simply got in the way and obstructed my view of the wonderful old steam machinery.

Millers Flat

From the bridge at Millers Flat looking North up the Clutha River

The convention came to its conclusion at lunchtime on Sunday and I set out to rejoin Mary and the family in Queenstown. I took the Southern route in the belief that the weather was going to be miserable. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and the Autumn colours at Millers Flat and Clyde were just magical.

Lake Hayes

Lake Hayes in Autumn

A few days in Queenstown with the family were a delight. I also managed a few side trips to Lake Hayes and even managed some times when the lake was flat calm. All to quickly, it was over and we began the journey homeward.

Balloon

Hot Air balloon near Arrowtown

First we crossed the Crown Range, pausing as we climbed the hill to admire the hot air balloon settling into a paddock near Arrowtown and then it was around Lake Hawea and over the Haast Pass and up the West Coast.

Paringa

Lake Paringa, with another 230 km to Hokitika

A lunch break at lonely lovely Lake Paringa was well worth the hassle of the flying pests. We paused for a travel break spending two nights in Hokitika.

Near Reefton

Near Reefton

As we set out on the long last leg, there was mist and rain, and as day broke, we were near Reefton. The road from there to St Arnaud is narrow and winding and having a logging truck ahead of you is no fun. You just have to wait patiently for a “slow vehicle bay” and you are past, only to find another one ahead of you.

selfie

Gulls leave their signature

Soon enough, we were at Picton where I discovered the ultimate in primitive art, or as I prefer to think of it, a seagull selfie. And then we were home, sad to leave the family behind, but glad to be in our own environment.

dandelion

Seed head

Photography took a very brief rest, and then a little still life took place. Who knows what will follow from there.

 

 

 

March 24, 2018 … suffering for my art

When I left you last week, I had just completed the trip to Pencarrow Lighthouse with the camera club. What I didn’t tell you is that as I came back across the Hutt estuary to Petone, I saw some delightful reflections on the river. I parked across the road and crossed back to the edge of the bay where there is a walkway that drops down beside the water and then under the Waione St Bridge. There was no moon, but lots of spilled light from the road and nearby businesses so, with one eye on the view and half an eye on the track I set out to get the picture. Then there was nothing beneath my feet, and I was suddenly reenacting Alice in Wonderland: “Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well“* I came to a sudden stop, wedged to my waist in a hole where the path had been scoured out by recent rain. And I do mean wedged. I was firmly caught between the collapsed bank and the wooden edging strip. When my elder daughter heard about it later, she sent me the image of Winnie the Pooh (inset below in the picture of the hole)

Hole

This is a pure iPhone record shot of the hole through which I fell (inset borrowed without permission in the hope of forgiveness)

There was no other person nearby and I was trapped below the level of the adjacent road out of sight of passing cars. I heard my camera and tripod crash a metre or so to the rocky beach below. It took me a good five minutes of wriggling and squirming to get a toe-hold in the edge of the hole and then to do a caterpillar-squirm back to the path. After checking that there was nothing more serious than a few grazes and shaken nerves, I clambered over the edge, down to the beach to retrieve my camera which was, astonishingly, undamaged. I took the picture of the hole on my iPhone and sent it to the council who, to their credit, repaired it the next day.

Hutt estuary

Hutt Estuary at night as a sea mist rolls in.

Then I made the image that I had seen in the first place. It wasn’t as good as I envisaged, but it was an adventure.

Wellington

City textures with Victoria University’s Kelburn campus at the rear.

There were some good days and some that were less so in the days that followed. I always hope that when I look across Oriental Bay, the cityscape will tell a new story. Certainly the city looked as if it were washed clean, and the dear old Hunter Building is a jewel in the centre of the picture.

Anthurium

Anthurium

On the less comfortable days, or if it was raining, I tried some still life. I struggle with Anthuriums but this time used a new feature provided by a firmware upgrade to my camera … it makes up to 8 exposures each focused a little further back and then produces a composite using only the sharp bits.  I spent my entire career in computing but can’t imagine how they achieve this.

River

In the Waiotauru River at Otaki Forks. Flowing fast and cold

Mary and I went up to Otaki Gorge and she set out for a brisk walk while I took my shoes and socks off and rolled my jeans up and trod gingerly into the stony river which was very cold. No disasters occurred, though my feet got very cold.

Birds

Confrontation … or perhaps a classroom

A day later, at Pauatahanui, I spotted this white-faced heron apparently conducting classes, or perhaps fomenting rebellion, while facing a neat parade of pied stilts. The ones in the back rows seemed less interested.

Home

Home sweet home

My car was in the dealership getting a new wheel bearing fitted, so I wandered around central Lower Hutt filling in time. The morning sun caught our house on the hill above, and since it has been home for 37 years and is currently for sale I thought I’d catch it too. That’s us, the white one third from the left. As you can see, my bedroom window top left on the front of the house has no obstacles to the view.

Shed

The Greytown shed which has been photographed by most photographers who have passed through

It seems every region has its cliché subject. Wanaka has its tree, Milford has Mitre Peak, and Greytown has its shed. It’s always hard to resist the idea that maybe this time, the light, the season, the surrounding field will make the picture better than the last two dozen times I tried.

Train

Quietly rotting, and a target for the graffitists

Driving into the city on the old Hutt Road, as I passed under the flyover near the ferry terminal, I saw a splash of colour in the rail yards. It was a set of the now obsolete Hungarian Ganz-Mavag commuter units. They had been thoroughly vandalized with spray cans. I detest all forms of graffiti, and though there is a great deal of talent out there, I would respect it more if they painted on a surface that they owned themselves and could perhaps sell to pay for the next one. As I understand it, the Greater Wellington Council still own these units, and their intended sale to other countries has been stalled by the discovery of asbestos in them.

Lagoon

Wellington waterfront lagoon

We have had the most stunning summer in living memory, and are now in a quite rapid transition to a colder wetter state. So far, though, there have been a good number of those days where the sky is full of drama but the wind stays away. I love those days, especially when the light plays nicely on the city’s many reflective surfaces.

That will do for now. See you next week, barring any further holes in the ground.

*Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

 

March 17, 2018 … more than just the best of a bad lot

Introspection can be cruel. I have a habit of using Adobe’s collection management tools to identify and categorise the images that I like best.  It is clear that I am not being critical enough. For example, I have kept 906 images so far in 2018. Of those, I have included 206 in the folder entitled “Images I really like”. I went back over the 206 images and concluded that I am being far too soft.

Now I recently judged for a club that specifies that, in a typical field of 45 entries, approximately half should be “not accepted”, no more than two or three images should get “honours, and just a few should get high acceptances. Educators call this “norm referencing”, which means your work is compared to and ranked against what everyone else is doing. The club for which I am currently judging is more gentle, and I am told I may award whatever grades  are appropriate to any image that deserves it. This is called “criterion referencing” whereby something is evaluated according to how it matches with the agreed measures of success, regardless of what anyone else does.

My problem is that, even if I apply criterion referencing to my own work, I am keeping too many. My introspective gene leads me to believe that I am often keeping merely the best of a bad lot. Don’t mistake this for false modesty. I know I get some good ones, but definitely not 206/906.  So, there may be fewer images in future, but better ones.

Yachts

Friday night sailing regatta in Wellington Harbour

Now and then, I yield to temptation and will prefer fish and chips on a Friday night. I phone the order through, and still have a few minutes to wait when I drive up to the shop in Maungaraki to collect them. When the first image was taken, the sun was painting the small area between Matiu/Somes Island and Petone with a warm but delicate light, and the local yacht club were smack in the middle of it.

Zealandia

Beautiful New Zealand bush in the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary

Some days later, Mary and I went to Zealandia, our local wildlife sanctuary. I was not especially successful with the birds on this occasion, but I do love the bush tracks through the area. There was birdsong all around.

Ngauranga

Early evening rush hour in Ngauranga Gorge

I have been experimenting with various forms of long exposure and this shot was made from a little side street off the Ngauranga Gorge.  As you will see, anything that wasn’t moving should be very sharp, and anything that was moving should be blurred. I tried various exposures, but the longer exposures caused the traffic to disappear altogether. I had to wait patiently for a train to cross the bridge in the foreground.

Mist

Misty morning on the harbour

There were some interesting misty mornings which I love. This image was made from the hillside at Korokoro just above Petone railway station. The harbour was just beautifully calm.

Moonrise

Moonrise as seen from home

And then there were some moon opportunities. I have an app that tells when the moon will rise, but the height of the hills across the valley adds a delay to that. There were also some clouds, but in due course, it arose.

Island Bay

Island Bay at sunset

I found a new viewpoint on the South Coast at the back of Island Bay, and had to make the most of yet another perfect night as I came back down the hill.

Strait

A golden view across the strait

Then, just around the coast towards the airport, at Princess Bay, my rear-view mirror demanded that I stop and turn around to look at the mighty Kaikoura ranges across the strait. What a beautiful spot to be at sunset.

Thorndon

The earliest houses of Thorndon

Early this week, I wandered a lesser known street in the very oldest parts of Thorndon. These are houses of similar age and style to those so much loved in Arrowtown. It really is a very pretty part of our city.

Pencarrow

On the beach at Pencarrow

My final shot this time is one made on a camera club outing which I helped to organise. We got hard-won permission to take a convoy of cars along the coast road from Eastbourne to the lighthouses at Pencarrow to catch the setting sun. Alas, the sun hid behind a cloud bank, but it was a beautiful evening anyway.

 

October 13, 2017 … around the region and further afield

Sometimes I have to work hard to find an image in otherwise drab circumstances, However, sometimes the effort pays off.

Harbour and CBD

A moody evening in Wellington

We have had a lot of grey weather recently, but even in such circumstances I love our city.

Waiwhetu

In the heart of Lower Hutt on the Waiwhetu Stream

Even in dull weather, as long as the wind is absent, I can usually find something worth a look. This is the Waiwhetu Stream on Riverside Drive, near Gracefield. Just out of view above the trees is the Wainuiomata hill with its busy traffic.

Exhibition

Hutt Camera club’s annual exhibition

Every year at about this time, the Hutt Camera club (of which I am president) holds its annual exhibition, and as I have done before, I made a panorama that includes all sixty images. Three of them are mine.

Drizzle

Early morning drizzle in the Hutt Valley

And on the subject of weather, or indeed any other obstacle to my photographic endeavours, sometimes it is an idea to photograph the obstacle itself.  This view from our house looks along High Street through morning drizzle to the Hutt Hospital.

Camborne

Towards the setting sun from the water tower at Camborne

Then the obstacle disappears, and we get what with tongue in cheek, we call “a typical Wellington day at last”. This image was a panoramic stitch made from a small hill in Camborne, looking out towards Mana Island.

Dotterel

Banded dotterel just below the swirling wind and sand

Then the wind returned and outside shooting was just plain uncomfortable. When I say wind, I mean a North Westerly blast in which standing up was actually difficult. I chose to follow the coast road from Wainuiomata to the South coast which was, in many ways a stupid idea. Wind of that strength picks up a significant portion of the sand on the beach and attempts to inject it into any opening, eyes, ears, nostrils, lenses. Nevertheless I struggled down the beach and then lay flat on my back in the lee of a small sand dune. I could hear the wind shrieking and feel the sand bouncing off the back of the hood on my jacket. I lay still and pointed the camera downwind and was lucky to catch this banded dotterel. It seemed unperturbed by the wind and may in fact have been small enough to be in a relatively calm boundary layer.

Otaki Forks

High water levels in the fast flowing Waiotauru River

A day or so later, Mary and I went to Otaki forks. It was a grey day with intermittent rain, but we arrived at Boielle flat in a period of little wind and no rain. Mary explored the beginnings of the Southern Crossing which, for the fit and well-prepared is a three-day hike across the Tararua range to Featherston in the Wairarapa. While she did that I fiddled with my camera to catch this view of the Waiotauru River.

Yachts

Good sailing days are not lost just because it rains

Later in the week we had one of those soft days. In fact it as the day on which I was  to lead the Wellington occurrence of Scott Kelby’s 10th annual Worldwide Photowalk through Newtown. In fact the day was more than soft, it was downright wet. But, since this is Wellington, local sailors were undeterred.

Mist

Though it’s time to go, I shall really miss this view

My last picture for this edition is from a viewpoint that must be familiar to long-term readers. We have lived here since October 1980 … our  five kids grew up here. There have been moments of celebration, of joy and of sadness as you would expect in any house you occupy for such a length of time. We have weathered various storms and remained shaken but not stirred through many earthquakes in the last 37 years, but now, recognising our changing circumstances, it is time to move on, and today we signed a contract with an agency to put our house on the market. We know exactly where we want to purchase, and  it is exactly in the middle of that river mist down in the flat part of the valley.

Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa’s famous “round barn” in July 2012 …. looking Westward in the late evening. The flat grey roof below the ridge was the Fountaingrove Inn. Both are now destroyed along with devastation to housing and lives lost. Ironically the red sky in this image was attributed to wildfires near Clearlake, CA.

Well, it was going to be the last image, but I can’t let this issue end without expressing my sympathy and grief for the people of beautiful Santa Rosa and other parts of  Northern California. In my past life, I spent many months on several occasions working with the New Zealand Dairy Board whose North American headquarters were in Santa Rosa. I spent a lot of time in the Fountaingrove Inn just below the historic round barn on the hill. A large part of this lovely town in the heart of the wine country is destroyed. Lives and homes have been lost and even from this great distance, I grieve with you.

 

 

 

July 28, 2017 … erratic swings of the weather pendulum

A true pendulum swings from one extreme to another at a steady and predictable rate. The idea of the pendulum as an analogy for weather breaks down completely with sudden and unexpected (by me) shifts, sometimes within the same day.

Rain (1)

Locals (and perhaps a visitor) on Willis St

Towards the end of last week, we experienced some really heavy rain over several days. It was sufficient to cause localised flooding and a few landslides. It caused some inconvenience in the city as people rushed about their business, trying to pretend it wasn’t happening. People with umbrellas are probably newcomers to the city or else incurable optimists, as few last more than a few trips before being wrecked if the wind comes up.

Rain (2)

People don’t look surprised or concerned, do they?

Despite the rain and the dark cloud, the city seemed cheerful enough as people did whatever it is that working people do in their lunch hours. As I keep saying to members of the camera club, you can still get some interesting shots even if the weather is unkind.

Rain (3)

Mother shepherds her infant over the crossing at the Wellington City Library

I make sure that, although it is advertised as “weather resistant”, my camera stays reasonably dry, so I shot this image from the shelter of the city library on Victoria St.

Cuba St

This “art” must have cost a fortune in spray cans

A day or so later, it was all dry, so I went looking for images to meet a specific topic for the camera club and found this splash of colour on Cuba St.

Akatarawa

Akatarawa Mood

After that, things got moody but the rain stayed away for a while so I was in the Upper valley on the Akatarawa Road and loved the mist drifting along the river back towards Upper Hutt.

Boggy Pond

Boggy Pond on the edge of Lake Wairarapa

Early this week, I went over the hill to the Wairarapa area to a favourite location – Boggy Pond on the Eastern side of Lake Wairarapa.  The weather was still moody, so Boggy Pond was at its dark and mysterious best.

Tapuae-o-Uenuku

Tapuae-o-Uenuku as seen from Tarakena Bay

Yesterday I went to the South Coast at Tarakena Bay  where the sun was shining, albeit weakly. The sharp rocks of the Wellington coast formed an interesting foreground to Tapuae-o-Uenuku all that distance across the strait near Kaikoura.