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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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October 31, 2020 … push on through

Let me begin by saying that I am experiencing an artistically flat period. There are days when I make no pictures, and it doesn’t seem to matter to me at the time. I can identify no cause and offer no explanation. Perhaps it is the photographer’s equivalent of writer’s block. Back when I was supervising PhD students, my advice to them was put your hands on the keyboard and press some keys. Even if the output is rubbish, you at least have something to work with and to improve upon, which is better than the terrors of an empty page. I suppose I should apply the same logic to making pictures. Press the darned shutter! And so it shall be until such time as the muse re-appears. In the meantime, here are twelve images from a creatively dry October.

Statue of Mohatma Gandhi
Mohatma Gandhi

In the forecourt of Wellington Railway Station, there is a statue of Mohatma Gandhi. Made by the sculptor Gautam Pal, the statue was gifted to the people of New Zealand by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations on behalf of the Indian people. I believe that about 35,000 people trudge past the statue daily, and I hope at least some of them give a moment’s thought to his humility and his concern for others.

Tulips
A fleeting season

Frequently, I look back at the pictures I was making at the same time last year, and wonder whether I can do it better this year. Early to mid-October is the time for the carefully planned display of tulips in the Wellington Botanic Gardens. In reality, nature, aided by the gardeners, does most of the creative work. All I can do is try to make better use of the available light for making pictures. Let me revise that. I can try to be there when the light is better. Thank you, gardeners.

Evans Bay yacht race
Evans Bay

Speaking of better light, I pass through Evans Bay often, and see yachts apparently racing as part of what I take to be a training school. As with the tulips, light makes all the difference and with the sun behind them, the sails light up nicely. I am often frustrated that , between the time I first see them and the time I am safely parked and ready to shoot, the fleet has turned about, and the light I saw is no longer there. Or worse, their race is over and they are dropping their sails as they return to the ramp.

Tui in the rain
I know how he feels

Our little kowhai tree on the front lawn is a favourite feeding station for sparrows, waxes, starlings, song thrush, finches, blackbirds, kereru and bellbirds. On this wet day the tui just sat glumly and tolerated the steady drizzle. Perhaps that is a reasonable analogy for my state of mind at present.

Sorrento Bay
In Sorrento Bay

I really like the days of silver grey when there is no wind and the sea is flat calm. This picture was made in Sorrento Bay just between Pt Howard and Lowry Bay. The rocks are a favourite roosting spot for the black-backed gulls, though few were visible at this time.

Purple ragwort
Purple Ragwort

Every year from August to December, our hills turn purple as the invasive weed, purple ragwort breaks into flower. The effect on the landscape is spectacular, but it is poisonous to stock and takes over large areas of land. It is spread on the wind, and I suspect that accounts for its presence along the highways as vehicle slipstreams pick up the seeds. I read that each plant produces something in the order of 50,000 seeds.

Construction
Remediation

In 2016, the Kaikoura earthquake revealed some serious weaknesses in the local movie theatre complex in Lower Hutt’s Queensgate Mall. The theatres had to be demolished in the interest of public safety. After a long period of inactivity, their replacement is being erected. I was walking nearby last week and spotted the two tower cranes silhouetted against the Western skyline. It seemed worth a shot.

Raindrops
After the rain

Steady rain, not heavy but consistent, offers some opportunities in the form of puddles or droplets. The clothes line outside my office window carried a splendid display of jewels.

More ragwort
Did I mention that it is invasive?

Not long ago, the place where this image was made was bare yellow clay. Now the purple ragwort has filled in the vacant spaces while the more diffident native species get no chance. I confess that they are quite attractive and come in various shades from pale pink to dark purple.

Kina sculpture
Waterfront sculpture

One of the nicer features of the Wellington waterfront is the frequent placement of art works, mostly in the form of sculptures. These are funded by the Wellington Sculpture Trust. Many of them are fragments of poetry by people who love Wellington, rendered in bas-relief on placques on walls or in the walkways. This particular work is “Nga Kina” by Michael Tuffery. Kina shells would have been a significant part of the midden of the old Kumutoto pa (village) which once stood near this spot where the Kumutoto stream ran down to the sea. His sculpture evokes the memory of how this area used to be.

Whairepo lagoon
Under an ominous sky

Whairepo lagoon is a much loved small lagoon in downtown Wellington. It was known for a while as Frank Kitts Lagoon, in memory of a long-serving mayor, however, it has had its original name restored. Whairepo is the Maori word for the eagle ray which is often seen browsing its rocky floor. Despite Wellington’s evil reputation as a windy place, I often see it in conditions of flat calm and when I do, I try to capture it in a different way than before.

Aotea Quay
The other side of the coin

The foot of the vertical white pillars of the walkway is where I stood to make the previous image. Since I rarely if ever make selfies, I chose to move before I made the shot in the other direction.

That will do for this time. Regardless of whether or not I have broken out of the doldrums, I hope to be back in two weeks or so. Stay safe, and may the world be a better place next time we meet.

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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).

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Art Aviation creativity Forest Lakes Light Machinery Maritime Rivers Weather Whanganui

March 10, 2019 … out into the provinces

Restlessness is not a good sign. I find myself wanting to do something, but not sure exactly what. Perhaps it is a signal or trigger that I should change directions for a while, or do something different.  Sometimes I follow the signs, and sometimes not. I can feel a change in the images I make, and to some degree, in the images I choose to show.

Hutt
The Hutt River, drifting down towards the Melling Bridge

My week began at home, with a mild dose of cabin fever. The weather has been somewhat dismal, neither fully fair nor fully foul. Sooner or later, something snaps and I have to get out looking for images. At the beginning of the week I went as far as Waikanae, but returned empty-handed . Then just as I pulled into Block Road at the entrance to Normandale, the state of the Hutt River caught my eye. Not a masterpiece, but it rescued my trip from being a total loss. That’s the Melling Bridge just downstream.  Then Mary decided we needed to spend a few days away, so we booked an Airbnb in Whanganui.

Turakina
Lovely land forms near Turakina in the Manawatu/Whanganui district

I have always loved the gentle undulating landscape between Bulls and Whanganui. These trees just North of Turakina and South of Ratana  invited my attention. I really must revisit that area at dawn or sunset to catch those long shadows and distant mountains in the golden hours.

Sunset (1)
Spectacular sunset off the beach at Castlecliff

We reached Whanganui and found our quirky Airbnb accommodation in the far reaches of Castlecliff. I mean no offence when I say the Castlecliff is perhaps the last bastion of the 1950s working-class houses. Many of them have that home-constructed look, but they always assert their identity as someone’s home. Anyway, working-class or not, it is but a few minutes’ walk to a sea view that anyone would be glad to see.

Paddle steamer
Waimarie – Whanganui

The next day, Mary and I went on the two-hour return cruise up the river to Upokongaro aboard the paddle steamer Waimarie. As we were waiting for time to board, I caught the swirling exhaust and some wisps of steam from her funnel.

Firebox
The whole engine room is run by one man, and all commands from the wheelhouse are just yelled down through the opening above the boiler. That’s a very good fire.

If you are sufficiently agile, and willing to take the risk upon yourself, the Waimarie’s engineer will let you climb down the vertical steel ladder to the engine-room floor. The chief engineer is also the stoker and cleaner and he does a superb job of keeping an evenly spread fire in the firebox. His deft flicks of the shovel scatter the coal where it most needs to be.

DC#
This 74 year-old beauty ZK-AWP belonging to Air Chathams still snarls as the throttles are opened, Isn’t she a beauty?

While we were aboard Waimarie, we discovered that there was a party of twelve Australians participating in a luxury tour of the North Island by DC3, stopping at various places for side-trips of interest. Their immediate side-trip was the Waimarie. Mine instantly switched out to the North end of Whanganui airport to enjoy a picnic lunch, and to watch their fabulous old plane depart. There was a  time when  they were the common-place air transport. Now the snarl of those two R1830 Twin Wasps is increasingly  a memory to be treasured.

Sunset (2)
Another sunset, this time from beside the North Mole at the river mouth. The young lady walked into my field of view so I waited until she was in the sun’s path

Later that night, there was another sunset. Who knew? It wasn’t as spectacular as the one the previous night, but I sat on a piece of driftwood at the North Mole and enjoyed the changing light.

Kowhai Park
Kowhai Park is one of the jewels in Whanganui’s crown

The next day reminded me of Jane Morgan (1958) singing “Le jour où la pluie viendra” … or perhaps in the words of Sister Rosetta Thorpe, “Oh didn’t it rain“. Eventually it eased, and so I went wandering into Kowhai Park. All five of our kids knew and loved the park for its playground, but on this trip, I was staying in the arboretum.

Cabinet
I have no idea whether the decor is officially sanctioned on this utility cabinet, but I like it

Whanganui has the same graffiti and vandalism issues as most other towns. but I liked the way they approached utility cabinets, covering them with whimsical art. At the very least, it seems to discourage the mindless tagging.

Sky
Eastern sky after the rain has passed

As the day cleared up after its many downpours, I enjoyed the view to the North East, and knowing that if I went over to that ridge I would probably get a good view of Ruapehu.

Lake
In Virginia Lake, or Rotokawau, is the Higginbottom fountain, gift of a local philanthropist. At night it is illuminated as it plays.

On our last morning in the river city, I went up St John’s Hill to Virginia Lake. The water was not quite flat calm, nor yet fully ruffled. It’s a very pretty spot.

Te Anau
The hulk of the Te Anau sitting on the sandbar.

My final shot this week stirs me. I have said before that I have a passion for ships and the sea. As we were leaving Castlecliff, I noticed a side road down to the river and poked my nose in. There was a boat ramp and a view of the commercial wharf, but most interestingly, a rusting hulk on the sandbar in the middle of the stream. I asked some local boaties about its history and was told it was just some old barge of no particular significance, just dumped there to straighten the river flow. I did some searching and found that she was the Te Anau, once a proud express liner of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Ltd. She was launched in 1879, and carried passengers across the Tasman 204 at a time. She served 45 years until 1924 when she was sold to serve as a breakwater. It is amazing to me how such an old ship in such a hostile environment still keeps the form of her hull after 140 years.

Back to normal next week.

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Adventure Animals Architecture Botanic gardens Cook Strait creativity Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Rivers Seasons Waves Weather Wellington

September 13, 2018 … getting out and about

Uncharacteristically, I have been feeling good about some of my recent images. Of course, this bubble can easily be burst by submitting them to the tender mercies of a photographic judge. However, in the cycle of my moods I seem to be on the upswing at present. Or at least, I think that my images are improving compared with where they were a while ago.

Ferries
The Aratere is on her way to Picton via the Tory Channel, The Kaitaki and Strait Feronia have just come from there on their way to Wellington

For the second time in just over a month, I scored a ride with the Wellington Cross Country Vehicle Club. This time the route was around the South West coast of the North Island as far as Cave Bay beyond the Karori Rock Lighthouse. This is almost as close as you can get to the South Island while still being in the North Island. Looking across the strait, I saw that three ferries were all going to be in the same area, so I waited until the Aratere, Kaitaki and Strait Feronia were close but evenly spread.

Wave
The boom of solid water smashing into an immovable rock is felt all the way through your being

 

The sea is fairly turbulent in this area, so I enjoyed watching the swells bursting on the red rocks characteristic of the area.

Kaitaki
I liked the light as the sun squeezed through the low cloud base

Technically it is Spring in New Zealand now, though winter seems reluctant to let go. Grey days have been plentiful and from Oriental Bay, a few days later, I caught this view of the Kaitaki leaving port. On a clear day, the Tararuas would be visible behind the ship, but as you can see, low cloud obscures the mountains.

Rocks
The rocks at the end of Island Bay, awash withe the spray from incoming waves

Experimenting with long slow exposures has been fun, aided by a neutral density filter. This ten second exposure flattens the surf and makes a mystical fog where the bursting spray would be. People seem to love or hate these things. I am going through a phase of enjoying the technique.

Pauatahanui
Pauatahanui Inlet … a fantastic morning

A few days later and Spring peered through the clouds. I wandered around the Camborne walkway on the North West corner of the Pauatahanui Inlet. One of my favourite places in the Wellington Region.

Lake Ferry
The thick brown flow of the Ruamahanga heading into the Sea

Earlier this week, I went over the hill to the Southern Wairarapa area, and went first to Lake Ferry. This is where the Ruamahanga River passes through Lake Onoke and out into Palliser Bay and the Eastern Cook Strait. The Southern edge of the Lake is the Onoke Spit, and depending on the way in which the gravel is deposited, it alters the way in which the water gets to the sea. Since I was last here, the spit had extended by a few hundred metres and the fast flowing water was scouring the beach as it flowed to the bay. You can see the colour difference between the pale green water of the bay and the thick brown silt-laden flow of the river.

Seals
Seal pups in the nursery pool

Being this close, I chose to drive from Lake Ferry past Putangirua and Ngawi to Cape Palliser where there is a rocky area used by the NZ fur seals as a nursery. There is a sheltered pool in which the pups gain water skills before they face the violence of the waves off the open sea. I could not get as close as I have in recent years. There were just too many basking adult seals blocking access. They look cute and soulful with their big brown eyes, but if you get too close, they rear up and their teeth turn to fangs and the halitosis would stun an ox. They will chase you and they will bite.  So I stayed my distance.

Cape Palliser
This is the absolute cliché postcard shot of the lighthouse, but since I walked up and back, I had to do it.

A kilometre further on, is Cape Palliser itself. The lighthouse has stood there since 1897, and I read that the keepers rejoiced mightily when the staircase was finally installed , eliminating a dangerous and slippery climb up the rocky hillside. Since I was alone, and not holding anyone else up, I trudged slowly up the 252 steps to the platform and enjoyed the views in all directions. When my pulse returned to normal, I came down again.

Tulips
Tulips in the Wellington Botanic Gardens

I may have mentioned it before, but it is spring, and that means tulip time in the Botanic gardens.

Breaker Bay
A derelict boat shed in Breaker Bay and some wild flowers

Yesterday, I went around the Miramar Peninsula and paused in Breaker Bay. I used that ND filter again to flatten the sea, but enjoyed the juxtaposition of wildflowers and the pebble beach. ]

See you next time.

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February 22, 2018 … a need to take control

I suppose it’s a bit late in life to reach this conclusion, but I really need to stop letting life just happen to me. Every morning, there is a new day. And each day just seems to do what it likes with little or no guidance from me. Of course, any new policy of decisiveness will have to take into account that the weather will be unimpressed and just carry on as if I were not here. But there is more to this notion than weather, and perhaps that will become clear as I continue.

Petone wharf
Nice to see the Petone wharf reopened to recreational users after the earthquake damage some fifteen months ago.

You probably got the idea that we had one of those truly spectacular summers which is likely to be a future standard against which other summers are measured. It seems to have come to an end. Not suddenly, nor with an act of meteorological violence, but rather a soft drifting off into mists and grey cloud. For the most part the wind has remained calm so I can cope nicely with that.

Waikanae
Stillness at Waikanae

There were even some days when summer made a brief attempt at revival. This was at the Waikanae Estuary. I was just setting up when the thud of feet and the sound of dripping sweat and heavy breathing heralded the arrival of a secondary school physical training class. They promptly started attempting to form five-high pyramids with limited success. I grabbed my shot and moved on in the direction of Otaki Forks

Otaki
tumbling brown water near Otaki Forks

The rivers were running quite high and the roads were crumbling in places as the recent rain had undermined a number of the edges above and below the road.

Dandelion
Now is not the time to sneeze

The weather really crumbled after that so I was reduced to still-life. Mary found a dandelion seed-head and I decided to get quite close.

Maple
I don’t know if this is the last of spring or the first of Autumn on our Japanese Maple

The next day, with everything still wet, Mary found another target for me … a solitary new shoot on our Japanese maple. I confess to having fiddled a little with this to separate the new pink shoot from the green leaves in the background.

windmills
I titled this image “the spin doctor”

At the weekend just passed, there was the annual fair at Petone. Crowds are not my thing and you need not scroll back far through this blog to recognise that I don’t often shoot images of people. But it is a colourful occasion and I found someone selling windmills, made of various durable materials.

Evans Bay
Evans Bay calm after the storm

 

Then cam ex-tropical cyclone Gita. Howling winds and heavy rain passed much further South than initially predicted but still gave us a hefty clip during the twelve or so hours of its passing. The prediction also suggested there would be some very serious waves to be had. By the time I got to Evans Bay in search of them, I knew there would be none.

Noordam
Holland America Line’s Noordam stops to pick up the pilot to enter Wellington Harbour

In fact at the South Coast, the cruise liner Noordam was arriving, presumably diverted from somewhere that actually was disrupted by the storm, but this view is of the Pacific Ocean, looking South towards Antarctica. As you can see there is an absence of big waves.

ferry queue
Backlog of trucks waiting to cross the strait after the storm cancelled some ferry sailings

On my way back to town, I spotted what seemed like a colourful ribbon across the harbour. It wasn’t until I put the long lens up to the eyepiece that I realised I was seeing the heavy traffic queue waiting for the next interisland ferry. So, that’s the week as it happened to me.

 

 

 

Categories
Adventure Architecture Art Brisbane Butterflies creativity Family Landscapes Light Museum Reflections Sunset

November 30, 2016 … on the West Island

Here I am in the big brown island next door. It’s 8:20 am and already the thermometer is telling me it’s 26 deg C, and heading for 28. I am enjoying the hospitality of my eldest son David and his wife, and loving being here with them and our two beautiful grandchildren. Apart from the weather, a slight bonus is that the earth has not moved at all while I have been here.

Sunset
Sunset at Bald Hills

I came over on Wednesday, flying into the Gold Coast airport at Coolangatta. An old friend and former colleague kindly transported me the 20 km or so from the airport to Varsity Lakes railway station, which is the southern limit of Brisbane’s commuter rail network. It was a pleasant run of about 90 minutes into Brisbane Central station where I met up with David who drove us home. Nearing Bald Hills in the heavy evening traffic, I enjoyed the magnificent sunset.

Swan plants
This was a tiny part of a vast field of swan plants

On Friday, David took me to a favourite location nearby, the Tinchi Tamba wetlands. Unlike Wellington, South East Queensland has been experiencing a prolonged dry spell, so the “wetlands” were not so fruitful as they have been in the past. However, there was a large open area full of swan plants, that favourite food of the monarch butterfly. It seems we missed the peak event but there were still a lot of butterflies flitting about.

Art
Grace’s art project

The next day, David, Grace, Isaac and I went to Kelvin Grove where Grace is a student at the Queensland Academy of Creative Industries. I can’t say I understood the assignment, but she got very high marks for the project, and she produced a piece made with cane and tissue paper … as I understood it, the mark was for the exploration in writing of the artist(s) who inspired the work and analysis of the creative process.

Scarborough
Scarborough Harbour

On Sunday, with Isaac, David and I drove North to Redcliffe. We had a great fish and chip lunch at the Scarborough harbour where you can be sure the fish in your lunch is fresh.

Brisbane Port
Brisbane is a big city and has a big port whose cranes are visible across Moreton Bay

We came back along the coastline from where there was an interesting view of the distant cranes of Brisbane’s port.

Architecture
Restoration nicely done

Yesterday, Grace and I went to Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art (more her thing than mine, but you don’t often get an excuse to hang out with your 15 year-old granddaughter. The museum is on Southbank and has some interesting architectural neighbours.

Reflections
Reflections in a table

From the third floor of the gallery, I spotted a reflection of the city across the river. It wasn’t the river doing the trick though, but a large glass-topped table up against the window. Brisbane’s river is customary brown and silt laden, so the glass did a better job.

Art
The two islands of New Zealand? A piece by Michael Parakowhai who is also responsible for a statue of an elephant standing on its head outside the gallery.

A piece in the gallery was eye-catching. It was by New Zealand artist, Michael Parakowhai and according to the tour guide it referenced the two islands of New Zealand with all the culture in the North and all the fun bits in the South.

 

Categories
Adventure Arrowtown Camera club creativity Family Forest Kawarau Gorge Lakes Landscapes Light Queenstown Reflections sunrise Sunset

April 28, 2016 – Autumn in Central Otago

To the best of my knowledge, I have never posted sixteen images in one post before. On the other hand, this edition covers a whole week in a photographer’s paradise. It began on Wednesday 20th April when I flew from Wellington to Queenstown to attend the 64th annual convention of the Photographic Society of New Zealand. My son and daughter-in-law very kindly offered me accommodation for the week I would be in Queenstown, even though they are yet to finish unpacking after their move to their brand new house.

Hayes
At the Bendermeer reserve on Lake Hayes before the sun has fully risen

On my first morning there, I woke to a lovely still morning that hinted at a golden day ahead. I borrowed a car and drove the 5 km to my favourite spot on Lake Hayes.

Queenstown
Even in the commercial centre of the town there is Autumn colour

Later in the day, I went into town to meet my son, and enjoyed some excellent tacos in the restaurant which, with his wife, he owns. I am more than a little cynical about tourist towns, but the stunning natural beauty of the place, even downtown, makes it hard not to walk about with a smile on your face.

Remarkables Rd
Lake Hayes mirrors the sky perfectly. This was taken from very high up the Remarkables Road. The back-end of Lake Hayes Estate is at bottom left, and Arrowtown is at top right.

In the afternoon, with my grandchildren Billie and Otis, he drove me up the Remarkables Road. The amazing vistas before me were just breathtaking. I made many images up there, but I particularly enjoyed the view of Lake Hayes from up there.

Kawarau
Kawarau jet races upstream on the Kawarau River

Far below us, the Kawarau Jet was carrying a boatload of tourists down the Shotover River and then up the Kawarau, under the bridge onto Lake Wakatipu and back to Queenstown.

Kenwood.
My beautiful Queenstown grandchildren, Otis and Billie supervising the mixing of the cookie dough.

The next morning was Friday and before the registration for the convention opened, I watched Billie making biscuits (US = cookies) for a fundraising activity for her guide troop. Of course, Otis had to help (he licked the excess dough from the beater).

Gardens
At the lake in the Queenstown gardens

Then it was time for the convention itself. We had some fantastic, world-class guest speakers of whom the most memorable for me were Andris Apse, Jackie Ranken, and Mike Langford. They gave some wonderful talks and led superb field trips. On Sunday Morning, Jackie and Mike led a field trip into the magnificence of the Queenstown Gardens, offering help and guidance to all who asked for it.

Trees
Tree worship?

Autumn leaves were a particular focal point, and at one stage, my fellow conventioneers looked like some new cult of tree-worshippers offering their cameras in sacrifice.

Skippers
“Then sings my soul …”

In the afternoon, I went into the grandeur of Skippers Canyon on a trip led by Andris Apse. In such surroundings it would be impossible for any landscape enthusiast to not have a good time, though my well-known fear of heights gave me a few interesting moments as our driver took us within inches of some very long drops to the river far below. I gritted my teeth and kept shooting.

Pines
Dead wilding pines. The tiny patch of beech on the lower part of the picture is indicative of how the pines overwhelm everything else.

At the end of the road, near the old Skippers School, a stand of wilding pines caught my eye. Like so many in the area, they have been poisoned, and left standing. Apparently the cost of extracting the timber is greater than any value in the trees. If the poisoning is not carried out, Central Otago would lose its magnificent beech and poplar trees, and the fast-growing pines would overwhelm everything else. The policy is controversial.

Shotover
If you get to Queenstown, do not miss a ride on the Shotover Jet. It is expensive but worth it.

After the convention had run its course, I still had a day and a half in Queenstown, so while Andrew was at work in the restaurant, I borrowed his truck and went looking for shots.

Fountain
Back in the gardens … the bright tree across the lake is the same one that was surrounded by all those photographers earlier

Queenstown gardens, this time without all the other photographers seemed like a good idea.

Earnslaw
Earnslaw has been plodding backwards and forwards to Walter Peak for 103 years

Near the harbour, that grand old queen of the lake, the Earnslaw was making her smokey way back to the wharf.

Hydro attack
Hydro Attack in action

From a different era entirely, came the little high speed “Hydro Attack” shark was taking a customer out for a fifteen minute high-speed thrill ride. This thing is capable of 80 km/h and can submerge, and leap into the air. I can feel myself going green thinking about it.

Panorama
Panorama from Crown Range to the Remarkables

Before we went out for dinner that night, Andrew took me up the road towards Coronet Peak from where I compiled this panorama looking towards the Remarkables, and the Crown Range in the last light of a lovely day.

Ahuriri
The Ahuriri River, a little South of Lake Ohau

And then it was time to go home. Having cunningly booked a seat on the Western (left) side of the aircraft, I got some spectacular views. The sun glittering in the sinuous course of the Ahuriri River gave me a lot of pleasure.

Sounds
Over the Marlborough Sounds

As we neared Blenheim and aircraft begin its turn towards Wellington across the strait, I enjoyed a splendid “receding planes” view of the  hills behind the Marlborough Sounds. And just like that the adventure is over. What a week.

 

 

Categories
Architecture Art Camera club creativity Light night Weather Wellington

March 11, 2016 … to the beat of a different drum

I think I am one of those people who can be alone in the midst of a crowd. On Tuesday this week, our camera club had one of its two annual “walkabouts”. The task of planning an interesting route was delegated to one of our more extroverted and energetic younger members. She chose to start in Midland Park in Wellington City. The weather was marginal so the turnout was small, about twenty or so of our seventy-five members turned up. It was a happy gathering and we all chatted together until the event started.

Mansfield
The Katherine Mansfield statue on Midland park. It is illuminated from within, and some of her words are laser cut into the surface of the statue.

Then I went into a different world. I saw people getting into all sorts of interesting positions to see what they could make of the well known state of Katherine Mansfield. I tended to drift to the outside of the group and took a long view.

Sky blues
Camera Club outing at the base of Sky Blues”

Next, we wandered along Customhouse Quay to the Post Office Square where the identified attraction was Bill Culbert’s neon sculpture, “Sky Blues”. My friends gathered around and under the poles around which the neon tubes were crafted. This five-second exposure suggests we are not a fast-moving group.

Traffic
Homeward bound traffic on Customhouse Quay

I saw some wonderful interpretations of the “Sky Blues” sculpture, and even gave it a shot myself. However, I was more interested in the colours of the passing traffic on Customhouse Quay.

Bunting
Colourful bunting thrashing in the strong wind

From there we crossed to Queens Wharf, and strolled along the waterfront. Part of a current festival in Wellington includes a children’s playground which, at this time of night and in this damp and windy weather, was deserted. A flag-decorated structure invited a second look. The necessary long exposure amidst the loudly flapping bunting gave an interesting impression.

City lights
City lights … probably mostly the cleaning crews at work

Next we gathered for refreshments at “Mac’s Brew Bar” at the end of the wharf and after a time of happy conversation, I set off back towards my car. As I walked over the bridge across the entrance to the lagoon, the night lights of the city seemed worth an attempt. I decided that a panorama might work. Eight shots were stitched to make this image, and frequently, I had to pause for other pedestrians to leave the bridge. The tread of even a  single pedestrian induces a perceptible bouncing in the structure.

I wonder whether anyone is seeing a  qualitative difference in recent images. I have certainly noticed a great improvement in my enjoyment of the process. Your constructive feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Categories
Adventure Cars creativity Newtown Wellington

January 5, 2016 … watching the traffic go by

Hello and welcome to the first of my revised efforts for 2016. Many thanks to so many of you who sent messages of thanks and encouragement at the conclusion of the blog in its earlier daily form. Your kindness was much appreciated.

It will take me a while to find my feet and to live up to my own hopes and expectations, so I hope you will bear with me, and at the same time be kind enough to offer any constructive criticism that may occur to you.

Mt Vic (1)
Mt Victoria Tunnel looking towards the Basin Reserve

Today I concentrated on one topic at four different locations in Wellington City. There is still a degree of “happenstance” in today’s edition. All I knew when I left home was the approximate location where I intended to start, and that took me through the Mt Victoria Tunnel. There can be few people who grew up in Wellington who don’t remember the habit of tooting in the tunnel. There are the odd curmudgeons who write disapproving  or enraged letters to the editor about this eccentricity, and I am sure the people plodding along the pedestrian walkway hate it. Anyway, the tunnel itself sparked an idea for me.  A day on “traffic”. After parking in Hataitai, I walked back to the tunnel and about thirty metres inside to see what might be done.

Mt Vic (2)
The traffic through the tunnel pulses, sometimes the lanes are empty, sometimes busy in both directions. It would be a rare transit though the tunnel that you didn’t hear at least one other car blow its horn, and hardly ever for legitimate reasons. It’s just a local custom that is not applied to the other tunnels

Various shutter speeds assisted by the ND400 Neutral Density filter gave differing results.  There were several more in similar vein, but by now I had decided my theme for this blog would be traffic.

Newtown
Busy Adelaide Rd in Newtown

Adelaide Rd in Newtown is always busy by Wellington standards, and the busy-ness is compounded by the heavy presence of the Wellington Hospital at the North, and the Newtown shops in the South. I began at the intersection of Adelaide and Rintoul St. Again using slow exposure on this glorious day, I tried to give a sense of Newtown’s main street.

North view
There is always something moving in Newtown. This view is at the Constable S intersection, looking North towards the hospital.

Undoubtedly the most cosmopolitan centre in the region, Newtown has a lot of quirky shops including Bookhaven, Don Hollander’s very fine second-hand bookshop. The number of serious bookshops dwindles each year, so I hope this one continues the battle. My next standpoint was on the corner of Constable street, looking back to the North.

Taranaki
Molly Malone’s stands empty. I hope someone revives it. Meanwhile the traffic races up and down Taranaki St.

My last choice for the day was on the intersection of Taranaki St and Courtenay Place in the central city.  Most Western cities, including Wellington, seem to have an Irish pub called Molly Malone’s. Sadly, the one across the road went broke and has been closed since early last year.

Anyway, I have left you with five images that give you a sample of traffic in Southern and central Wellington today. I am not sure if this will be how the blog evolves, but would welcome any and all feed back.

regards
Brian