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April 28, 2022 … catching casual beauty

Sadly, the very last exhibition of the now defunct Hutt Camera Club closed this week. Sixty one years of comradeship and photographic endeavour came to an end. No one was willing to stand for any of the essential offices at the AGM, and so it was agreed to dissolve the club. Its assets were distributed to a photographic charity and to other clubs. The bureaucratic rituals were followed, and it is no more.

And that leads me to wonder at the significance of this to my own photography. Even when the club was still in existence, I tended to be a solitary photographer, and rarely participated in field trips with fellow members. I enjoyed their company at club meetings, but kept to myself while making pictures. Though I admired the superb artistry of many of my friends, I was not inclined to mimic their work.

In short, though I am sad to see it go, it has relatively little impact on my artistic endeavour. My style is to be in the world and experience it as best I can. I look for compositions shapes and colours that, in my opinion, might make an attractive image. The result to other eyes is possibly a bit weird or at least eclectic. So, what do I have to share this time?

Say it with flowers

This lovely little cactus was a gift on the occasion of our recent wedding anniversary and it came with some deep thoughts about the nature of marriage. I love it.

Cosmos

We have some kindly neighbours who often share the beauty of their garden with us. These Cosmos flowers are beautiful, though their splendour is all too brief before the petals fall off

Long-tailed pea-blue butterfly

I am not sure how it came about, but I seem to be making more images of botanical subjects recently. Perhaps it’s that the trees and flowers move more slowly and are less evasive than the birds that I also love. Anyway, this was in a public garden on Oriental Parade at the foot of Point Jerningham. I went looking to see what was currently in bloom and loved the deep blue of the lavenders. Then came the butterfly. People malign the social media but I get much benefit from the various groups in which I participate. My bug identification group told me it is a long-tailed pea-blue butterfly (Lampides boeticus).

Sitting in judgement

Pulling away from the garden mentioned above, I ran straight into some road works and had to wait for the stop/go person to allow us to progress. I was taken by the noble pose of the dog in the car ahead of me. S/he seemed to be in a state of mild contempt over the strange antics of the humans.

Home

On a warm Autumn afternoon, I was on my way home from the far side of the valley, along Waterloo Rd. As I crossed the railway bridge, I realised that our house was directly ahead of me. It is above the car ahead of me and to the right of the middle light on the left. It’s hard to make out the shape and extent of the house through the haze, but that’s home.

Old and New-ish

In downtown Wellington just outside the central library (which remains closed pending resolution of the need for seismic strengthening), I was taken by the contrast between the old “Dominion Building” and the “Majestic Centre” behind it. I have mixed feelings about the trend to add one or two extra storeys onto the grand old ladies of the city. This building was once home to reports and editors (remember them?) and clattering linotype machines and thundering presses. Who knows what people get up to in the newer building.

Strait Feronia

A beautiful Autumn afternoon in Eastbourne and I was looking for shots across the harbour in the golden light. The Bluebridge ferry, Strait Feronia sailed in from Picton and presented a pleasant view of herself.

Royalty

Without doubt, the white heron is the head of the preference chain for bird photographers in New Zealand. I am not sure why, but the Royal Spoonbill seems to come a long way down the pecking order. It is visually similar to the heron in most respects except for the extraordinary cartoon-ish bill. These were part of a cluster that seem to have made the Pauatahanui wetlands home.

Mill Creek

Just to the North of Makara, is Mill Creek wind farm. It is a modest sized installation with 26 turbines along the coastal hills. On this day there was a light breeze, and I needed to use a neutral density filter to get the exposure down to 0.5 seconds for the blur on the slowly spinning blades.

Mouse traps

There are many variations on the recipe for “mouse traps”. I love the ones Mary makes, though she has a lightning approach (never the same twice). This batch had sweet chilli sauce, ham, cheese, spring onions, and bell peppers. I had just started eating lunch when I realised their photographic potential. Mary has seen that look on my face countless times before, and she allowed me to interrupt the meal to catch the shot.

A fully functioning death star?

The gem squash does not appeal to me as food, though I like the symmetry and colours. These were taken in my “dark box” and I saw a certain astronomical aspect. Weird.

Afternoon sun

The honey bees have been busy in recent times and I was pleased to catch this one in between two lavender flowers.

That’s all for now. See you next time, I hope.

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January 25, 2022 … Belated Happy New Year Wishes

Warmest greetings to any who still read my ramblings. I am honoured and pleased that you still visit my page. There have been a few memes in circulation that bid a scornful farewell to 2021 and wish for a better year in 2022. My immediate response was “blessed are they that wish for nothing, they shall not be disappointed.”

As I enter my 78th year, I am aware that I have not done a good job of keeping fit as some my friends and colleagues of similar years have done. My fault, no one else is to blame. I hate and resent being nagged, so my nearest and dearest have backed off unless there is an immediate danger or I really annoy them. In short I take each day as it comes.

Some days I feel it’s worth getting my camera out. Other days not so much. Given the somewhat mixed weather in the last month I am starting the year with fewer images than I would usually hope to share.

Let’s see what we have.

Festive food

In the days before Christmas, Mary was very busy baking for family, friends and neighbours. She does superb shortbread, both plain and with ginger. She also does excellent ginger biscuits (in the British use of the word). On one of those wet days back then, her baking served as a substitute subject for my camera. They tasted as good as they looked, though I risked life and limb getting in the way of the baker.

Heavy weather on the South Coast

This has been a strange approximation of summer, and on many days only the numbers on the calendar looked like summer. If we get serious wind for several days, then the ocean swells become worth a look. In this instance the view is across the harbour entrance

Transmission Gully … North End

Transmission Gully has been almost ready, it seems forever. It is still almost ready, and the current narrative is that it is stalled while issues with stormwater drains are resolved. I suspect that we may be able to drive on it by Easter or perhaps mid-year. In case you are away from home, Transmission Gully runs from just North of Paekakariki, up through the hills behind Battle Hill Farm Park and down to Pauatahanui Village where there is an exit that joins the Haywards Hill road to get to the Hutt Valley, or continues on behind Porirua to rejoin the old SH1 at Tawa.

Self-heal

I have recently become fascinated by the many tiny but beautiful flowers/weeds that grow around home. This particular pest is called Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) … lawn enthusiasts hate it. When you get close, it is quite pretty. We have deduced that the birds are at fault. They spill the seeds that Mary puts out to encourage their presence.

Its day has gone

Way back in 1954 when my family first migrated to New Zealand, it was unusual to see other than British cars. There were a few American cars, the odd Ford V8, the big Chevrolets and a Chrysler or two. Europe was represented by the Volkswagen and the odd Mercedes and Citroen, but the very idea of a Japanese car was completely novel. Most private cars were British. There were Austin, Morris, Hillman, Humber, Vauxhall, Riley, Wolseley, Jaguar, Armstrong Siddley, Allard, Bristol, Ford, Land Rover and so on. This weed covered wreck on the Wainuiomata coast road is a 1948 Hillman Minx. It had an 1,100cc motor and in its prime could accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in about 55 seconds. They were gentler and slower times.

Blue

A visit to our green-fingered friends in Waikanae gave me access to this beautiful wall of blue. If my identification app is correct, this is “Mealy sage”, a member of the Salvia family. I like blocks of solid colour.

Salad escargot

My gifted assistant (Mary) found this snail at the door. We placed it on a lettuce leaf which may not have been to its taste, because it immediately began to leave. Not sure what it would have preferred. Sadly it kept moving, waving its various stalks so it was hard to get everything sharp.

Faded glory

Just as the shape of cars has evolved, so too have styles in marine architecture. I mourn the disappearance of the beautiful curving sheer lines on big ships, and the disappearance of the graceful curves on pleasure craft. This sad old yacht in the Clyde Quay marina looks long neglected. On the other hand, with a good suit of sails she would still look like a racer.

Fan club

A near calm day at the West Wind wind farm saw the turbine blades just ticking over, and probably not generating any useful output. I decided not to make a single long exposure, but rather to make several exposures with the blades in different parts of their cycle. I then merged them at home. The result is not perfect but at least interesting.

That’s all for the first post of the year. A nice slow start as in times gone by. Constructive feedback is always welcome. As always thanks for being with me, and I wish you all the happiest of new years.

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June 8, 2021 … winter approaches

Various health issues delayed this edition. Ah well, so be it.

Pikelets

There are many varieties of pancakes and flapjacks around the world. In New Zealand, we call these little things pikelets. They are typically 4″ or 10 cm in diameter and are commonly served with cream and jam. Mary is an expert at making them. It was a drab day in May so I caught some in the process of being made. I caught them even more effectively on a plate later.

Mystery Webmaster

There are gaps in the hedge outside our kitchen window and occasionally the local spiders accept that as a challenge. Here in the Southern hemisphere, North-facing windows catch the morning sun which lights up these amazing structures. Unfortunately the webs bounce vigorously in the lightest of breezes, so I have had to get lucky to capture the silk in focus and not blurred.

different ages

Juxtaposition is an ugly word which simply means placed close together. Usually we use it to suggest that the placement is incongruous … oops … there I go again. St Mary of the Angels on Boulcott St in Wellington sits peacefully across the road from the city’s tallest building, the Majestic Centre. I find each building interesting in its own way, with wildly different textures.

Common Dandelion

“,,, and Heaven in a wild flower” said William Blake. The architects of those two buildings in the preceding image were pretty clever, but in my mind, their designs are not in the same league as the exquisite structure of this simple blossom which we dare to call a weed.

A gift to mother

Mothers’ day came and youngest son delivered a bowl of tulip bulbs with six flowers just starting to break out. Mary (and I) enjoyed watching the flowers emerge into full bloom over the following week or so. Each day they offered a new vision.

Water Lily

When the weather is unkind to photographers, I sometimes revisit the begonia house in the Lady Norwood Rose Garden in Wellington. I especially enjoy the carp pond in the Western room. It has some beautiful water lilies which allow unfettered access with little or no background clutter.

Mood

I wasn’t paying attention, but Mary said come and look at the light out here. Wow! It was spectacular and I am glad she was such a great picture-scout.

Scots College Pipe Band

I was on my way to have lunch with former colleagues from the Dairy Board days and walked past the gates of the law school. Another burst of nostalgia as I saw all the shiny new graduates, several hundred of them in their academic regalia. They were about to set off on the graduation march along Lambton Quay and Willis Street and then to the civic square where speeches would be made prior to the formal graduation ceremonies. Scots College Pipe Band has long provided the music for the march. I participated in those marches at least a dozen times, maybe more.

Lingering

Those Mothers Day tulips lingered on and on and were things of beauty for at least ten days. This image was made on their last day.

Sad site for a beautiful sight

One of the difficulties I occasionally face is persuading people that I rarely “go somewhere to take pictures”. Rather, I travel and hope that my travels put me in a position to see a picture. The picture may be found somewhere on the way or perhaps somewhere off the track. The maps of the two journeys are quite different. One is obviously purposeful and less likely to be productive. The other is obviously random and might or might not produce something useful. I can well understand that being a travel companion on such journeys is not necessarily pleasurable. One such wandering took me to the vicinity of the Remutaka Prison where suddenly, there was an intense rainbow.

Upper Hutt Autumn

There are those who say that Winter begins on 1 June. I work on the theory that the solstice marks mid-Winter and thus winter starts around the 7 May. Whichever appeals to you, the colours of Autumn seem to linger on in Te Haukaretu Park in Upper Hutt. It sits in a corner where the Hutt River swings round to the south at Maoribank, and is sheltered from the wind in all directions.

Winter in Silverstream

Perhaps because it is exposed to the vicious NorWesters off the mountains to the North, Silverstream surrenders to Winter more quickly than that sheltered park in Upper Hutt. These three trees newly bare, caught my attention.

Super Moon just before the eclipse
Super moon half-way through the eclipse

Like almost everyone who owns a camera, I tried for the recent eclipse. I didn’t do well, and to be honest, by reason of distance and parallax, I tend to believe that every moon picture is the same as every other moon picture. The only difference is how well you focus and whether you get the exposure right. After that whatever you get in the foreground makes a difference. I talked myself out of persisting for the remainder of the eclipse, and felt justified by the many thousands of identical moon shots on social media the next day. Bah, humbug! By the way, I know it was a blood moon, but these are full colour images and I chose not to enhance the colour as so many did

The surgery I referred to in the previous edition snow in the past, and the dramatic scars that were with me then are now comparatively faded, and life is almost back to normal. Thanks to those who sent good wishes.

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October 13, 2020 … interesting times

We are in the last week of New Zealand’s electoral cycle, and on Saturday, it will be all over. That combined with the disruptions of our various stages of Covid-19 lockdowns have made the last few weeks some of the fabled “interesting times”. It is not my intention to use this as any kind of excuse for photographic shortcomings, so here’s what I got, and in keeping with our long-running meme, what you see is what you get.

Cornflowers and lavender

After a particularly beautiful August, we have endured a fairly dire September. Rain and gales resulted in a lot of indoor photography. Our neighbour has the cornflowers growing in their garden and they are generous in giving me access to them. I seem to recall that blue is perhaps the least common of the colours in nature, so I am always delighted by the intensity of the cornflowers.

Springtime in Upper Hutt

As in the last two years, Mary and I paid a visit to Aston Norwood Gardens at the foot of the Remutaka hill road because it is cherry blossom time. This year, with the region recently out of lockdown and with some judicious publicity, the place was insanely crowded. On the weekend of peak flowering, some 5,000 people paid to go through the gardens each day. There was about half of the required parking space.

Such brief glory

Somehow, despite the hordes of people making selfies, I managed to get some people-free shots. As the image shows, we visited height of blossom season. The gardens are situated in a gully such that it seems to be sheltered from the wind whistling down from the Tararuas. The petals were falling but there remained plenty of colour.

Spring in the city

Despite my grumbling about the boisterous Spring weather, we got a few rather nice days, though the temperatures were not especially warm. Nice to look at but not yet swimming weather. Soon after this image, there were heavy machines replenishing the sand brought in from the South Island each year.

I love those lemon muffins

Mary is very generous with her baking and shares it with neighbours and friends. I get to smell the good smells, and view the golden textures and even get to eat one or two. I am always available for testing purposes.

Smooth sailing

Some seemingly nice days have a mean streak. The view across the strait was sharp and clear, but the breeze had a very nasty bite. Still, I liked this view of Tapuae-o-Uenuku as the ferry Kaitaki passed in front of it on the way to Picton.

Seasons come and seasons go

My colour printer died on me. Canon NZ pointed me to an agency that undertakes repairs, and it was located in the light industry area in the South of Porirua. Happily, the repair depot was able to resuscitate the purge pump (whatever that is) at a modest cost since the printer was several years out of warranty. On my way there, I spotted the lovely contrast between spring flowers and a red corrugated wall.

Weather

Amidst the days of unpredictable weather we had several days of sustained heavy rain. This shot was maid at night through a rain splattered wind. I do love our view from up on the hill even in such turbulent weather as this.

Search and Rescue

They say you are getting old when policemen look young. Our youngest son Ants has just resigned after 21 years as a police officer and has taken up a new career as an apprentice builder. Ants spent most of his police career in search and rescue duties, and in the latter years, as sergeant in charge of the Wellington region’s land rescue activities. He was also a disaster victim identification specialist, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Among the gifts bestowed at his leaving ceremony was this pewter figurine of a search and rescue person. It’s about 30 cm tall and weighs 5 kg. Ants is now happily learning to be a builder.

Across the harbour

Erratic weather continues and suddenly there was bright sunshine and flat calm. I got low on Petone Bach and looked across the harbour to Wellington City.

Pied stilt

Pauatahanui Inlet has some areas defined as wildlife reserves, of which my favourite is the ponds near Grays Rd. The most common inhabitants of this pond are the pied stilts which usually nest there. They are handsome birds, though a little aggressive. In nesting season they will dive-bomb anyone near their nests or the chicks.

The old bird

The C130 Hercules entered service with the RNZAF in 1965. Who would have thought that they would still be in service 55 years later. Or indeed that they would be replaced by the C130J-30 Super Herculese in 2024. Meanwhile, the old birds soldier on.

That’s all for now. See you after our election.

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May 5, 2020 … so much to be grateful for

A full five weeks of Level 4 lockdown is behind us. It seems to have been the right course of action. Yesterday, in New Zealand, there were no new cases of Covid-19 reported. In terms of our personal well being, Mary has performed daily domestic miracles, so from my perspective, lockdown has been no great hardship. We were warm, well fed, and only mildly inconvenienced. I have much to be grateful for. It did, however, constrain my photography. First world problem.

As I indicated two weeks ago, the main impact of lockdown on making images was that most of them have had to be made at short distances. I couldn’t drive to places that gave me the long view required for landscapes. Let’s see how I did.

Down the hole

In one of the neighbourhood walks into which Mary cajoled me, I looked over the railing at the edge of the footpath and down into the crown of a beautiful Silver Fern, (Alsophila dealbata or ponga). I liked the swirling impression it gave, rather like a whirlpool.

Spruce cone

Items of possible interest from her own much longer walks were delivered almost daily by Mary. As far as I can tell, this is the cone is from one of the 35 or so varieties of spruce. I was intrigued by the general lightness of the cone, and the delicacy of each seed wing. Even the simplest things in nature come with their own beauty.

More neighbourly craft

The last time I posted, I mentioned our neighbour painting rocks. Her rate of production seems to have escalated and she has been gifting them to friends and neighbours and even leaving them in various places near the front of the driveway for strangers to find and treasure. It brings a smile to my face to see such a generous instinct.

Cicada

I associate the cicada with February. To my mind it is the sound of late hot summer weather. The sometimes deafening buzz-click of a million insects in unison is what summer sounds like. It was a surprise, therefore, to get one in late April.This specimen is not the common chorus cicada, but rather, I think it is the native April Green cicada, Kikihia ochrina. I have never encountered one before. I just love the delicacy of its wing structure.

Seizing the moment

Though many things are suspended during lockdown, our hedge keeps growing. So I had to uncoil the power cord, oil the hedge trimmer blades and begin the trimming. The hedge was in copious bloom, and the bees were doing their thing. As the clippers reduced the number of available flowers, the bees became a bit disgruntled and buzzed threateningly. I paused in my domestic duties to get out a camera with a long (400 mm) lens so as to catch the bumble bee visiting the last of the uncut flowers. Sorry bees, I bow to a higher authority and she asked for a tidy hedge.

Glass ware

I participate in making pictures to a daily theme with a group of photographers, most of whom are in or near Grand Bend, Ontario. One day recently, the theme was glassware so I produced this. The glass angel (in reality, a small flower vase) was placed inside a larger glass bowl that contains some of Mary’s found rocks. I had to reshoot this because glass that may appear clean to the naked eye is often not so. Any smooth surface seems to need a good wipe before a clean image can be made.

Lost marbles

Continuing the glass theme, I placed this handful of glass marbles inside a fruit bowl. I considered swirling the marbles and getting some motion blur, but with so many marbles, they stopped orbiting as soon as I put the bowl down.

Familiar scene, different light

ANZAC Day was unique this year. For the first time ever, there were no formal public observances. Instead, at the suggestion of our Prime Minister, citizens were invited to stand at their own front gate by the letterbox at 6am to collectively honour the dead of all our wars. And so it was. Many people stood in the pre-dawn darkness, to honour our fallen. The social-distancing rules were observed as we listened to the basic broadcast rituals of ANZAC day. A neighbour played a lament on his bagpipes, and as we dispersed silently back to our homes the day began. A beautiful red sky in the North East warned of murky weather to come.

Katydid

As you will realise, when the public mantra is “stay at home, save lives”, there are few opportunities to use long lenses, so I am always looking for something interesting at close range. Happily, Mary has a good eye, and is not scared of much so she brought this katydid home from one of her walks. The branch recently vacated by the cicada served as a posing platform. Unfortunately the insect kept waving her feelers about, and the relatively slow exposure meant that they were not as sharp as the rest of her.

Spinster

Another close-up is of a small pewter souvenir I bought for my late mother-in-law while I was in Amsterdam in 1982. The girl at the spinning wheel is described in Dutch as a “spinster”, so I was a little nervous about having an invoice for a spinster on my credit card. As with all my images, if you click on it, you will get a larger view and see the details better. As with most of my photography, this is made using natural light from a West facing window.

For medicinal purposes

Also made for the Ontario group, this time with the them with the theme of “bird’s eye view”, is this jar of marshmallows which I keep because someone told me that they are good for the relief of an irritating cough. I was prepared to take that as gospel with out doing any research to check it out. I suppose I want it to be true, and if it’s not, please don’t tell me.

Longhorn

My lovely assistant turned up with yet another interesting specimen. This one took a lot of Google time to track down, and even then, a friend found the identification before I did. It is a variegated longhorn beetle (Coptomma variegatum) … it is usually a forest dweller, the larvae of which burrow into live twigs. I thought it was a handsome beast, although it was very active. I had to resort to an old photographer’s trick of storing it in the fridge for a while until it slowed down with the cold. I got about ten minutes of relative stillness before it began to recover, and then it was turned loose unharmed.

Yucca flowers

Apparently, yucca plants are a significant cause of domestic injury in New Zealand. Their leaves certainly come to a viciously sharp point, and people manage to stab themselves with them. No matter, the flowers are a delight to the eye. The fine specimen in my neighbour’s garden seems to flower every other year and makes a spectacular show when it does.

Not George, but he’s not far away/

Our old friend George, the white heron is back in town. I hoped to see him in the usual place, but alas, he was elsewhere when we visited. His old and smaller friend, the white-faced heron was there keeping watch on his usual resting place inside the derelict boat.

That is all this time. I am guessing that we shall have at least another week or more in semi-lockdown, but perhaps some of the time ahead may allow travel to places with a longer view. Stay well, stay safe, observe the distance guidelines. See you next time.

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

October 13, 2019 … what did I see?

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

Mallard drake on green water
On seas of green

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

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

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

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

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

Red tulips
Luminosity

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

Rangiora tree flowers
The Rangiora

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

Hutt River rapids

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

Tree trunks in the pond at Te Haukaretu
Stillness

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

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

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

Willis St and Manners Street corner
On Willis St

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

And that will suffice for this week.

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adversity Birds Cook Strait Festivals and fairs Food fungi Landscapes

July 13, 2019 … did anybody get the number of that truck?

I had my surgery ten days ago, and all went well. However, even though it was a minor procedure done with an epidural anaesthetic, it seems to have drained my energy and enthusiasm for chasing images around the country. Many days of ugly weather have not contributed to the recovery. But it will return.

Matariki
Marking Matariki

Matariki is increasingly celebrated in New Zealand as an important national season. It is the time that most Maori recognise as the start of a new year. It is marked when the constellation Pleiades (Matariki) first appears in the Eastern sky. The Mayor of Wellington city persuaded his council that it would be more appropriate to spend money celebrating Matariki than having fireworks for Guy Fawkes day, the anniversary of a British attempted assassination plot. And so it has been for the last two years. I decided that rather than getting in close, I would mount a long lens and with the aid of a tripod and remote trigger, shoot from Lowry Bay on the far side of the harbour. This helped me to avoid the jostling crowds, and the smoke that obscured things if you were downwind.

Esmeralda
Esmeralda anchored behind Matiu/Somes Island.

A visitor to Wellington every few years has been the Chilean Navy’s sail training ship, Esmeralda. During the Pinochet years, she was misused as a prison hulk and torture chamber for political prisoners. This shame has remained with her over all the years since and there are often protests when she visits other countries. From my perspective, she is a beautiful ship and an inanimate object incapable of active participation in human atrocities, and I am always glad to see her.

Grapes
Unrealised wine

After the surgery, I have not gone far looking for photographic subjects and found these in the fridge. I just liked their texture in natural light from the window, and they tasted alright afterwards.

Fungi
Fungus on the lawn

I extended my range by about 30 metres to the front lawn and noticed these little fungi in the damp grass. The tallest was about 50 mm (2″) tall. I have no idea whether or not they are edible, though I did hear that everything is edible at least once. If you get it wrong there is no second chance.

Crossing
Crossing the strait.

A few days ago, I started stretching things and drove out around the coast from Lyall Bay and spotted these two vessels heading for the harbour entrance. The container vessel ANL Elanora and the car carrier Trans Future 7 stood out nicely against the mountain behin Kaikoura. Sadly I ran out of steam quite quickly so retreated home for a nap.

Kingfishers
Sacred Kingfishers

Not wanting to admit defeat too early I went out to Pauatahanui the next day, where I sat and watched the kingfishers hunting for crabs. Initially the bird on the left was alone on the log and then the second bird arrived and devoured a freshly caught crab. The first bird seemed to get grumpy and after complaining loudly, flew off in a huff.

But it happened again, and minor procedure or not, it is clear that anaesthetics and surgery disrupt things. So that is all I have to say this time. I hope and expect that normal service and more images will resume next time.

Categories
Adventure Animals Family flowers Food Machinery Railway

January 26, 2019 … missed opportunities

The week just ended was an odd one. I had a lot of opportunities that, in my assessment, I failed to use to best advantage. I think I need to take more time at each site and each opportunity. I need to evaluate constantly whether it is sufficient to merely “be there”, or whether what I am seeing really makes a good picture. In short, I need to have a more critical approach. I offer just seven images this week, so here we go.

flower
Probably a Dahlia

Our eldest son David came  from Brisbane this week with his wife, Rowena, daughter Grace, and son Isaac. It was, as always, a joy to see some of our far-flung family, and they sweetened the visit with a floral gift for Mary. One of the blooms stood out to me, so I isolated it and have tried to capture my response to it. I like its radial symmetry and the delicacy of its colour. However, the technique of of full frontal approach and focus-stacking does tend to produce the same result each time I face a flower.

Moon
Wolf moon over Cannon Point

Last week we had the “wolf moon”, so I looked at the most widely used photographer’s tool for predicting angles and times for astronomical events (TPE). It let me down badly. Not only was it five degrees out in the azimuth, but the moon rose almost 35 minutes after the predicted time. If the azimuth had been correct I could have placed the moon against the background I had chosen when I selected my viewing point. Either way, Wellington chose to offer a blanket of thin low cloud that somewhat obscured the rising moon. Whenever I do a moon shot I always try to get some of the locality in the background. Otherwise, one well-focused shot of the moon in space is identical to anyone else’s shot. As fate would have it, I caught the trig station at the top of Cannon’s Point near Upper Hutt.

Loco
Massive steel works – in storage

Later in the week, I visited the workshops of Steam Inc at Paekakariki. They allow visitors by donation, requiring only that you first report to one of the staff to learn of the hazards. They don’t want you falling down an inspection pit, or worse, being crushed under some of the very heavy steel objects in the sheds. This was a place that I should definitely have given more time and thought to. That will be rectified soon. The shot above is of one of the two motion sets of the huge ex-Rhodesian Railways Beyer-Peacock locomotive. Briefly, the Beyer-Peacock is one firebox and boiler connected to two complete 4-6-4 locomotive chassis. The weight and scale of everything about this locomotive is impressive. Sadly, it is classed as “in storage” with no sign of any restoration activity. There are many missing parts but I wanted to capture the massive over-engineering of this monster.

Ka945
Firebox and boiler of Ka945

There are many other locomotives in the shed, in various states of running order and restoration.  I was drawn to the firebox and boiler of the mighty Ka945 (a large 4-8-4 mainline express locomotive) undergoing its second restoration. They really do strip things back to the basics. Those pimples are “fusible plugs” designed to melt and release the forces safely in the event of significant overheating. If you want to see what she looks like in her glory days, go here: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/ka945

eels
Long-finned eels at Battle Hill Farm Forest Park

On the Paekakariki Hill Road is Battle Hill Farm Forest Park and in the stream that runs though it there is a place where the native long-finned eels gather. People are allowed to feed them, though bread is considered harmful, and red meat is encouraged. The Mallard ducks compete fearlessly with the eels to receive the gifts offered by tourists and will walk across the writhing swarm of eels. I did note that one of the ducks had just one leg, so perhaps there are some risks to their behaviour.

emu
Mork or Mindy … an emu

David and I took Isaac to Staglands, a farm park on the Akatarawa road that winds from Upper Hutt to Waikanae. They have in their collection, many interesting animals, including a pair of emus called Mork and Mindy. I don’t know which of them posed for me, but am pleased with the result.

sparrow
Hopeful sparrow

When we had completed our circuit of the farm, we returned to the cafe and ordered lunch. While we were waiting, we were entertained by the sparrows hoping for a share of, or at least the droppings from our lunch. The common sparrow is not the most spectacular of birds but sometimes it poses nicely.

That’s all this week. See you soon.

Categories
Arachnids Family Food Industrial insects Whitireia Park

February 23, 2016 … and now it has gone

Time slips through the fingers. Before I know it, it’s nine days since my last blog. I must set myself an automated reminder to ensure regular action. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that the decision to abandon the daily commitment was the right one.  Before I go on, I should warn those of a timid disposition that my last two images today are of the creepy crawly variety.

Whitireia Park
Climbing through the slippery wet grass looking for a good vantage point. Most of these people checked the weather before they left home. I didn’t.

Last week, the taller of the remaining transmission masts at Whitireia Park in Titahi bay was demolished. A friend who works for the company doing the job alerted me to this opportunity, so in the early hours of Tuesday morning, I set out to record the event. We had a week of wonderful summer weather, and the forecast was for more of the same. Dressed, therefore, in shorts and a tee-shirt I was shocked to arrive in Titahi Bay in drizzle and a chilly gusting wind. The park had been closed to the public, except for a hillside  area reserved for spectators which had been roughly mowed to provide easier access through the long dry summer grass.  Of course, it was now wet and slippery.

Mast
Until its demolition, this was the second highest structure in New Zealand. The demolition was effected by explosive cutting of the Southern guy wires.

Having found a suitable position, I wrapped myself and my cameras in the cold nylon groundsheet which was the only thing I had in the car to protect myself from the weather.  Then I sat and waited.  The low cloud swirled around the mast and there was no sigh of activity. It was a somewhat miserable two hours.

Falling
Composite falling shot.

My vision for the event was to capture a sequence of shots as the mast fell. I had practiced and decided that the camera would get enough shots at the slow setting of five frames per second, to cover the entire arc of its fall, before the camera’s buffer filled. I was wrong. Obviously I had not practiced enough.  My grand vision was, alas, only partially met and then the camera  stopped to think for a while. If I had waited until I saw movement, instead of starting from the explosion that severed the guy wires, I might have got the complete arc. Or if I had selected a slightly lower resolution.  This is a composite of 28 images. I am told that the tip of the mast was doing 350 km/h when it hit the ground in a shower of dirt and a formless tangle of rusted steel.

Wellington
Across Wellington to Victoria University on the hill – from the old quarry

During the days that followed, I found a new lookout spot in an old quarry at the top of Ellice Street near the Western entrance of the Mt Victoria tunnel. I really thought I had found most of the good vantage points in the preceding five years, yet new ones keep emerging.

Dessert
Mandarin Bavaroise at Cobar restaurant. I enjoyed every wicked calorie.

For the last few days we have had the parents of our Brisbane daughter-in-law as house guests, so we took them to one of our favourite restaurants on Sunday. Cobar in Day’s bay is a rarity that has both a superb view and wonderful food. Usually, you have to choose between view and food quality. I could have done yet another sunset from our table, but chose instead to capture the delightful Mandarin Bavaroise dessert. Recommended.

WARNING: Creepy Crawlies ahead. Avert your eyes now if you are squeamish.

 

Spider
Vagrant spider

Mary encountered a large spider under the steps into her place of work. I think it is a vagrant spider (Uliodon albopunctatus).

Weta
Wellington tree weta – a gentle creature despite appearances

My next guest is a fine male specimen of the Wellington tree weta (Hemideina crassidens). They are nightmarish creatures to look at, and can inflict a nip with those big mandibles, but are generally shy and gentle creatures. Or so I’m told.

See you soon.

 

Categories
Birds Children Family Festivals and fairs Food Titahi Bay Whitireia Park

December 26, 2015 … a day to treasure

Christmas Day in Wellington, 2015 was one to treasure.

Pavlova
Mary’s pavlova before the addition of cream

It was fine, warm, and clear. We had family gathered, and held those who couldn’t make it in our hearts. All six grandchildren were with us for brunch , as were two of our five children and three daughters in law. Food was eaten, gifts exchanged, fun was had and all was right with the world. In the evening, we were a smaller group for dinner, though we enjoyed the company of a friend. Mary produced an excellent pavlova with fresh Wairarapa berries and cream for those who needed it.

skylark
For the skylark, Christmas is just another day

During the day, after a pleasant siesta, I judged that I was superfluous to requirements and took myself off for some photographs. At Whitireia Park, there are usually skylarks hidden in the long grasses that cover its hills.

Titahi Bay
From Titahi Bay beach looking across the strait to the South Island

Heading homeward, I stopped briefly at Titahi Bay and the scene there was just idyllic, people in the water, on the beach, having picnics, having fun as you would when Christmas comes at midsummer.

Sand castle
A bigger than usual sand castle

Of course a family trip to the beach is a great opportunity for sand castles.

Christmas Day was great.