Categories
adversity Arachnids flowers fungi Light Machinery Petone Wairarapa Weather

March 18, 2022 … peaks and troughs or vice versa.

It’s hard to categorise the images gathered for this edition. I like some. Others not so much. Nevertheless, these are what I regard as my best shots since I last posted.

I urge you to click on each image to see the a larger version of the picture.

At Dolly Varden Beach

In the South West corner of the Pauatahanui Inlet, is Ivey Bay and Dolly Varden Beach. It is a sheltered area popular for swimming with children. On this occasion I liked it because the still water reflected the blue doors of the boat sheds so well.

Craftsmanship

The bird hide at Queen Elizabeth Park wetlands has some hatches that swing up to give a clear view over the water. Despite the high usage of the hides, I can guarantee that the industrious spiders have almost always used the frames to spin their webs since the last visitor. Normally, if there had been birds to see I would have cleared the openings, but on this occasion, I chose to photograph the web itself. The randomness of the web fits nicely with that whole wabi-sabi thing I mentioned last time

Fresh water drill

Test drills in theWellington Harbour have been happening for at least a couple of years now. What they are doing is looking for the flow of fresh water in the strata below the harbour bed. The intention is to access aquifers close to the city that can be accessed with out crossing the fault lines as all present supplies do. I loved the colourful reflections below the platform despite the fact that the bright pink and green came from the two “portaloo” cabins.

Te-Wheke-a-Muturangi

This temporary art work will sit in Whairepo lagoon until 20 March. It is an inflatable piece, by Auckland artist, Lisa Reihana as part of the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of Arts. Art seems to take a different form each year. In this case it is of the giant inflatable octopus. It represents Te-Wheke-a-Muturangi which was chased and killed by the legendary warrior, Kupe.

Seeing is the challenge

Our neighbour allowed me to make images in her garden. I suspect she was surprised that I spent time on this spiny succulent which I think is a spiral aloe. Light was the key to its attraction for me.

Unexpected treasure

Just North of Featherston, there is a memorial park that is on the site of a major army camp of WWI. At its peak, it was home to 60,000 trainees, many of who died on European battlefields It was also the site of a WWII prisoner of war camp that held up to 800 Japanese soldiers. It now serves also as a memorial for the deaths of 48 Japanese soldiers who were shot by their New Zealand captors during an altercation over being required to work. One New Zealand soldier also died from a ricochet fired by his fellow guards. The site today is small, and has a beautiful grove of flowering cherry trees and several memorial plaques. As we walked Mary spotted a cluster of fungi at eyelet on the trunks of some of the beech (?) trees. They looked to me like common mushrooms, but I firmly believe that unless you are 100% sure, leave them be.

Market gardens, Otaki

We had been to Foxton Beach and Mary was at the wheel as we drove home. I love the orderliness of the market gardens in the Otaki region. A large proportion of the farmers in this area seem to be of Chinese ethnicity, and at the risk of perpetuating stereotypes, I observe how long and hard they work. The rubbish fire at the foot of the hills added interest to this image which was taken through the open window of the moving car.

Self heal

The tiny flowers that propagate down in the lawn are attractive, but increasingly harder for me to get close to with the camera. I got down really low for this image of the self heal flower (weed). It took me much longer to get up than it did to compose and make the picture.

Golden hour

Rarely do I venture out in the evenings to make pictures, but this evening was just so perfect that I asked for a leave pass and went down to the beach at Petone. I was lining up for a low angle shot across the harbour when a young woman decided to launch her paddle board right beside me. I took that as permission to include her in the photograph that I was obviously about to make. Her skill in getting up and paddling was admirable.

Daddy Long Legs

There are various arachnids and even some insects that get called “daddy longlegs”. I think this one is Pholcus phalangioides. I was in the smallest room and spotted it climbing up the edge of the door. After the necessaries were done, I grabbed my camera and got close, by which time it was almost at the top of the door Happily it stayed still while I got it in frame.

Friendly neighbours

Nice neighbours occasionally provide flowers to Mary who looks after their cat when they are away. I get to take advantage and attempt some floral portraits. I think the white flowers are Cosmos and the red one a dahlia variety, as is the quite different pink flower.

Southerly blow

Looking North towards Evans Bay beach from around the Western edge of the Bay and I noticed a gaggle of kite surfers. If I am on the beach I am too close and thus unable to get them and their kites in a useful image. It’s still a squeeze but three kites in one shot is satisfying.

Not the first, probably not the last time

I collected a posy of dandelion seed heads during the week just ending. Of the seven heads collected, five were persuaded to dump their seeds by the stiff Southerly on the way into the house. Not pleased.

One of the landscape photographers whose weekly vlog I follow said this week that some weeks are flat. He doesn’t always have good weeks. I agree with him. The last two weeks have not been great but we do what we can.

Advertisement
Categories
adversity fungi Lower Hutt Machinery Maritime Plant life Weather Wellington

September 14, 2021 … diary of my interaction with the world

Alaster Benn is a softly spoken Scot who is a passionate musician as well as a superb landscape photographer. He makes his living at least in part by teaching photography. I purchased and downloaded a course from him with the improbable title of “Dodging and Burning Masterclass”. I crudely summarise this course as about reacting to the landscape, and about steering your audience towards sharing your experience.

You can find him on YouTube where, as well as his many tutorials, he has produced an excellent series of interviews with other great landscape photographers. The interview series is called “Vision and Light”. There are at least 32 episodes in this series. If you have a hankering to make landscape images, I recommend you seek out his work on YouTube. He has helped me greatly.

I should add that because of the recent Covid lockdown, the images I am offering in this edition are mostly not landscapes. Any shortcomings in these pictures are mine and mine alone and should not reflect badly on Alaster or any others from whom I have taken guidance. Besides, I have so far watched just six of the twenty six chapters in this particular course.

Daffodils, heralds of Spring

Spring has arrived in Wellington according to the calendar and as shown by nature. Daffodils give me pleasure, in the elegance of their trumpets, and in their spectacular choice of colours. I seem to make similar shots at this time most years. Having done this before, should I refrain from doing it again? Or do I try to capture anew, the pleasure I take in this year’s encounter with an old friend?

Turkey tail fungus

I almost passed this by. It was Mary who saw it and drew it to my attention. The turkey tail fungus (Trametes versicolor) was hiding in plain sight. They seemed at first sight to be brown. I came back the next day with the intent to see what I might achieve with the shapes of the fungus. And then through the viewfinder, I saw the colours. How had I not seen this the first time round? Pointing the camera at things that excite you is a rewarding exercise, and it paid off this time.

Rhododendron

The fungus in the previous image was found in the Rhododendron Dell in the Belmont Recreation Reserve. Though not yet at the peak of their season, the rhododendrons in the dell are quite spectacular, and are accompanied by a happy display of daffodils.

Too few to make a parliament

Certain kinds of weather discourage landscape photography. The light is flat and uninteresting, and the conditions are unpleasant outside. If the the light was interesting, I might brave the chill and damp. It wasn’t so I played with some of Mary’s collection of ornaments. It’s not a great image, but I like it, and had fun creating it, and that’s why I pick up the camera in the first place.

Light in the eyes

As the unpleasant conditions continued, I stretched even further in my search for photographic opportunity. This is a pottery candlestick holder, with a lit candle providing the somewhat sinister light through holes around the eyes and the beak. So the question I need to ask is, do I like the image, and additionally, why do I like or dislike it? That might boil down to “should I have made it?” Well I had fun making it. It’s not an image I would hang, but I quite like it. And that opens my eyes to the idea that photographic value is not a binary condition. Images can give some pleasure without having to be a masterpiece.

Euphorbia

There was a time when Lower Hutt took enormous pride in its public gardens and every berm and traffic island in the CBD was covered with superbly laid out gardens. As each batch of flowers reached the peak of its display, the city gardeners would be planting the next species for a completely different and equally brilliant display. And then the city administrators placed a higher value on the cost than on the enormous pleasure and pride that the gardens brought. Suddenly our city looked bleak and brutal. In recent times, there has been a loosening of the grip and I am seeing some interesting planting around the CBD and especially near the civic buildings. This splash of lurid green attracted my attention, though I didn’t know what it was. It turns out to be Euphorbia. Colour and form make it appealing to me.

The tree

Riddiford garden has been a feature of the civic area near the town hall of Lower Hutt since 1923, so for almost a century. There was a half-way reasonable day so I decided to meander through it looking for any eye-catching views. There were many individual plants that I liked , but this tree on the Eastern side of the garden had real character.

Heirloom

Another rough day and I was not inspired to venture outside. Still life is often an excuse for lack of willingness to face discomfort. Anyway, we have this little brass bell that belonged to my mother. She used it to summon help in her last days at home. I polished it up and placed it on a silver tray.

Give us a lift

In downtown Wellington, on the site of a former petrol station, a new headquarters building is being erected for BNZ. It will replace the other brand new headquarters building that was irreparably damaged by the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016. The predecessor was demolished in the last year after sitting unusable for some years. Anyway, as I walked down Featherston Street, I stopped to watch frames for the new building being lifted from the deck of the truck on which they came. My eye was caught by the cab of the tower crane doing the big lifts. That’s not a clumsy vignette on my part. There is a streak of cloud aligned with the crane’s boom.

Strait Feronia

Bluebridge operate two ferries between Wellington and Picton in competition with the Interislander line which currently runs three. I was coming back to my car on Customhouse Quay and saw the Strait Feronia arriving from Picton. By the time I got in position, she was moving backwards at a smart clip ready to lower her stern ramp. I was intrigued at the almost total absence of any visible turbulence from the propeller.

Oriental Bay

I looked down on the city from the parking lot in front of the Cotton Building at Victoria University of Wellington. The Carter Fountain in Oriental Bay added some brightness to an otherwise chill Spring morning

Oil Terminal at Seaview

In the North East Corner of the harbour is the Seaview Oil Terminal where various tankers call to offload petrochemicals and other more scary chemicals to be piped into the tanks at the various terminals around Seaview. I like the curve of the deck and the blue sky is OK too.

So endeth another edition. I really must make progress with the course.

Categories
Academic Birds Cook Strait Family flowers fungi Landscapes Light Maritime Plant life Rivers Tararuas Waves Weather Wellington

April 4, 2010 … everything is changed … a locked down but nevertheless golden celebration

This week marks a special occasion which you can read about under the final image.

When I last wrote, everything was more or less normal here in New Zealand. I no longer know what “normal” means. Back then, there was little indication of the changes to come. Now we are in lockdown, and since Mary and I are both in the over 70 age group, society is taking special care of us. We are not even supposed to go to the supermarket because we are apparently especially vulnerable to catching the infection.

When I first heard the lockdown regulations, I formed some preconceptions as to how this would play out and where I would still be able to go for photography. Reality is a little different and rather more restrictive. The basic rules are:

  1. Stay at home
  2. Wash and dry your hands frequently.
  3. Stay within your own domestic “bubble”
  4. Stay at least two metres from anyone from outside of your bubble
  5. You can leave home for essential purposes such as visits to supermarket, or a doctor unless you are over 70 in which case you need to get someone else to shop for you because you are more vulnerable
  6. Go back to rule 1 … rinse and repeat

Despite rule 1, it is permitted to exercise in your own neighbourhood by walking, running, cycling etc, as long as you remain close to home and don’t come closer than two metres to anyone else. More adventurous exercises such as hiking, surfing etc are not permitted because if you need assistance you endanger others.

So, with all that in mind let us explore the images I have made since last time, in chronological order.

Spoonbills in the river
Browsing the mud in the Pauatahanui inlet

A pleasant morning and the likelihood of some bird shots resulted in Mary packing a lunch and the two of us setting out in the direction of Waikanae. Remember, this was when things were still “normal”. On Gray’s Rd around the Northern edge of the Pauatahanui Inlet, we saw the spoonbills. I thought that the cluster of them dredging for crabs in the soft mud of a serpentine creek might make a picture. I like the wandering path made by the creek, but the spoonbills were less prominent than I hoped for in my mind’s eye. I think, if you click to get the enlarged image, you will see the grey teal in between the two nearest spoonbills.

Juvenile dabchick
Still dependent on its parents

In Queen Elizabeth II Park at Paekakariki, I checked out the US Marines memorial Wetlands and was delighted to find that the dabchick families were still in residence. This one still wears the black and white facial markings of a juvenile bird, and indeed it was still being fed by its parents. I have to say I always enjoy the deep green colour of the QEII wetlands as they reflect the surrounding bush.

Yachts in the marina at Oriental Bay
In Oriental Bay

It needs to be acknowledged that Wellington is a small city, and there are relatively few parts of it that I have not yet been to in search of picture opportunities. The obvious consequence is that there are some places that I have used over and over and over again. My excuse is that they are attractive or interesting spots to begin with, and different days present different conditions, and thus different pictures.

This image was made from inside the breakwater on the Eastern side of the Clyde Quay Wharf (formerly known as the Overseas Passenger Terminal). As you can see, the conditions were calm.

Northward view across Oriental Bay Marina
The other direction

On the same day as the preceding image I crossed in front of the boat sheds, to catch the stillness of the day. Many leading photographers tell us that clear blue skies are boring, I still make blue sky images if the scene appeals, but I do enjoy grey skies if the clouds have textures. On this occasion, I liked the patterns and their reflections in the remarkably still water. So far, life is still normal.

Purple water lily
Water Lily

If I had known that my photographic activity in the near future would be almost exclusively based on still life, I might have gone elsewhere. However, the Begonia House in Wellington’s Botanic Garden offers some visual pleasure, even in normal times. There were some nice shots of orchids, and begonias to be had, but the vivid purple of the water lilies made this an image of power for me.

Pauatahanui looking moody but still
Pauatahanui Inlet

Another place I visit often in normal times is the Pauatahanui Inlet. I have over 3,000 images in my catalogue from there. So many different moods, but always my favourites are when the water is still and offering reflections.

The Hutt Valley was misty so I had hoped there might be similar conditions at Pauatahanui. Sadly that rarely happens, and I am guessing that the exposure to the sea air on the Western side of Haywards Hill prevents the mist forming. Anyway. I regret that E.L.James seems to have captured the phrase “shades of grey”as I love these conditions (the meteorological ones).

Swells on Wellington South coast
South coast

There are days when, even though conditions are calm, the South Coast still gets heavy swells. The sheer majesty of a big slow moving wave and the weight of water thudding into the rocks never fails to move me. I could watch those green walls coming in for hours.

View across Cook Strait from Makara
The day before it all changed

And now the change begins. The New Zealand Government implemented a series of conditions numbered 1 through 4 each with increasing levels of control measures to manage the spread of Covid-19. It opened at level 2, and then on March 24 went to level 3 with the warning that it would be at level 4 for at least four weeks from the following day.

Careful to minimise contact with others, Mary and I made the last of our final day of freedom for a while and drove first to Makara and then on to Plimmerton for a picnic lunch. On the way, we visited the West Wind wind farm. There standing beside one of the big turbines, we enjoyed this view across the Cook Strait to Arapawa Island and parts of the Kaikoura ranges.

I wholeheartedly endorse the government’s management of this crisis even though it means that for at least the next four weeks, we are required to stay home except as required to obtain the necessities of life. All businesses except those providing essential goods and services are firmly closed. People over 70 (you may be surprised to learn that that includes us) are instructed fairly firmly to stay at home and rely on others to shop for them. So here we go.

Sea Urchin shell
Sea Urchin shell

Day one of the lockdown. While taking that last walk on the beach at Plimmerton the previous day, Mary found this lovely little sea urchin shell. It’s rare to find an intact one and this is a very small one … about 50 mm (2″) in diameter … I was unaware of its beautiful colours until after I made the picture.

Fly Agaric toadstool
Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric

Mary is a walker. There are few days indeed when she doesn’t walk briskly around the hills or along the riverbank for 90 minutes or more. I on the other hand, am a couch potato. Mary knows that a four week lockdown is going to be hard for me as an obsessive photographer. Bless her heart, on the first day of lockdown, she gathered a bunch of objects that she knows will make interesting still life images. The common fly agaric toadstool is quite toxic, but also presents a striking appearance. My darkbox is going to get used often, I suspect. Focus stacking may also be used for this kind of image.

Collected sea shells
Memories of beaches past

Not only is she good at gathering things while walking, but Mary also has a large collection of small mementoes gathered on various trips over many years. And so, I was allowed access to her box of small sea shells. The background in this picture is a glass drinks coaster with etched concentric circles.

Kiwi feathers
Genuine honest to goodness kiwi feathers

Back in 2014, our local hospice was involved with the Department of Conservation in a fundraising exercise involving the naming and release of a young kiwi. Mary and granddaughter Maggie got to handle the young bird, and even walked with the DoC rangers to release it in the hills behind Wainuiomata. The bird left some of its feathers behind and they found their way into Mary’s souvenir tin.

Beach souvenirs
Indoor beach

On day five of the lockdown, I was given access to some of the larger beach memories. I borrowed the sand from my long forgotten mini Zen garden and spread it in the floor of my lightbox. A couple of starfish, some sponges and some interesting shells were arranged over the sand and thus we have instant beach though no water was involved. While attempting to return the sand to its proper space, I managed to spill some on the carpet. Vacuum cleaner duty!

Dandelion and reflection
On reflection

Another of Mary’s finds (isn’t she a gem?) was this dandelion. I decided against the straightforward ‘head and shoulders” portrait since I have done it so many times before. A paper plate was filled with water to a depth of one or two millimetres. The dandelion was then drooped until I had a clear reflection.

Early morning view up the Hutt Valley
A landscape day and I am trapped at home

Landscape images are very much harder to arrange now that we can not go anywhere in the car. The best I can manage is shots of the valley from the front yard. Happily, different day, different light, different weather means a different picture. On this day, river mist coming down from the upper valley made a difference.

Starling in the bird bath
The Spin Cycle

We have a bird bath on the front lawn, and it is well used. Sometimes five or six sparrows splash about in it, sometimes a huge kereru fills it to overflowing. On this occasion a starling was taking heed of the instruction to wash frequently and thoroughly. This was taken through the glass window of our dining room, but I enjoyed the scene.

More fly agaric specimens
More found treasures

A bunch of fly agaric toadstools were in Mary’s latest collection so I arranged them in some compost from one of our pot plants. I know they are toxic, but as far as I know that refers to ingestion, and anyway, the hand washing regime should take care of everything else.

A personal celebration

Mary and I on the day before our golden wedding anniversary
Fifty Wonderful Years Together

On April 4, 1970, Mary and I got married in St Patrick’s Church in Patea. We had a Nuptial Mass celebrated by the late Father Brian Sherry from New Plymouth. Being so long ago, some details of the day are hazy in my memory. However, one thing is clear, this was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Together we have five amazing children of whom we are extraordinarily proud. They in turn brought their spouses into the family and gave us six wonderful grandchildren who light up our lives, even though, in the present circumstances visitation is not possible.

Mary does not like to be the centre of attention, and I shall probably catch it for what follows, but something has to be said on such an occasion, so here goes …

She is a woman of deep faith who believes her purpose in life, her calling, is to serve others, especially those in most need. I have never met anyone who better understands the true meaning of the word “vocation”. I and my kids have benefitted enormously from this. Mary was a registered nurse for fifty years and in the last decade or so of her employment was a social worker helping patients and their families in Te Omanga Hospice.

She also volunteered for various good causes. Since her retirement in 2017 she has become busier than ever, volunteering for an organisation that offers care and assistance to young mothers, and another that supports the partners of people who have dementia. She is the most selfless person I know. It is a matter of some grief to her that, being over 70, the lockdown rules prohibit her from carrying on those tasks until it is over.

Mary has been there for me and for all our family throughout our fifty years of marriage. We have shared many joys and a few tough times. I particularly admired the way she supported me when I lost the plot and undertook to do a PhD late in life. Even more, she allowed me to leave a well paid management role in industry for a job as a university lecturer on literally half the salary.

Mary is a wise and loving woman who I am privileged to have as my wife. She is nevertheless real, and each of us occasionally does things that drive the other nuts. (I really should exercise more and eat less) But she is also a forgiving woman so here we are together still, and if my luck holds, we will continue to be so until the end of our days. Our planned celebration with the family is of course cancelled, and alas, not even the florists are open.

Thank you Mary for all that you have done, and for all that you are. You are a beautiful person and the light of my life.


Categories
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 adversity Architecture Birds Colonial Knob Cook Strait Foxton Beach fungi insects Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Military Moon Petone Plant life Plimmerton Weather Wellington

June 26, 2018 … and still it goes

With a very few exceptions, in the last week or so, we have been experiencing Wellington’s version of winter. That translates as heavy overcast, strong wind, interspersed with rain or occasionally hail. We rarely get snow, but some of our worst days are chilling to the bone. And then there are the exceptions. So let’s see what happened since the last post.

terns
White fronted terns on parade, with a gull seconded to learn from them

You know it’s a rough day when you see the terns taking shelter. It was very unusual to see them lined up on the handrail of Petone Wharf with one red-billed gull intruding.

dog
The dog was having great fun ignoring all orders to hand over the stick

A day or so later, the wind died away, though the overcast persisted. Nevertheless, the day was sufficiently benign that people were out walking their dogs on Oriental Bay beach.

Hawea
HMNZS Hawea leaving port

While I was at Oriental Bay, a different shade of grey made its way into my field of view. The Inshore patrol vessel, HMNZS Hawea was visiting the city. Despite its ferocious military appearance, this is a typically New Zealand version of the military as the ship is unarmed except for hand-held weapons. It has neither missiles nor a main gun.

Stilt
Pied stilt juvenile at Pauatahanui

Then we had one of the exceptions, so Pauatahanui called me. A juvenile pied stilt is seen here stalking slowly around the pond looking for food.

Pauatahanui
A lovely morning on Pauatahanui Inlet

From a little further around the inlet, the reflections were very nice and Mt Rangituhi and Colonial Knob appear above and below Paremata.

Naenae
Winter fires in Naenae

The next day began well enough, but very cold with a deep frost making the roads icy. Across the valley, home fires added to the river mist drifting Southward from Naenae.

Hokio
Hokio Beach

A day later, Mary and I took a packed lunch and went up to the Foxton Beach area in search of birds or pleasant scenes. Unsuccessful up there, we arrived at Hokio Beach just South of Levin where the water was perfectly still. I turned to pick up my camera and the wind came in from the West destroying the perfection I had just glimpsed. We ate our lunch in the shelter of the sand dunes and went searching for some fragment to recover from the day. A small fishing boat being recovered was the best I could manage.

fungi
Tiny fungi – type unknown

Then the wind came back in earnest. I suggested to Mary that we visit Trelissick Park which follows the Kaiwharawhara  stream as it flows down the sheltered Ngaio Gorge. I was delighted to spy these tiny fungi, each smaller than the nail of my little finger. Note the two aphids on the rear-most fungus.

VUW
School of business – Wellington … I used to have an office on the fifth floor

Yesterday I was in the city to collect a replacement iPad, so while I was waiting, walked around Thorndon from a different direction. Here is Victoria’s Business School where I worked until 2012. They have added more office and teaching space in that addition to the left since I took my leave.

Rush
“Rush” hour at Ngauranga

Having collected the new iPad (that’s how Apple deal with defective batteries) I set out on the return home, and for the first time in a long while found myself entangled in the evening rush hour. Since my Apple repair people were in Thorndon, I followed the Hutt Road and rejoined SH2 at Ngauranga where everything ground to a halt. The moon was rising at about the same rate as the drivers’ blood pressure, but things cleared up and I got home to spend the next several hours restoring my iPad from the iCloud backup.

Kaitaki
Kaitaki on her way to Picton

This morning was threatening dire weather and from Houghton Bay I saw the ferry Kaitaki on its way to Picton crossing the Wairau Valley where there was snow on what I think is Mt Richmond.

Kaikouras
Inland and Seaward Kaikoura ranges with a good dusting of snow … as seen from Wellington

Is Winter here yet? The coating of snow on the Kaikoura Ranges would tend to support that idea. We are past the Winter Solstice and should be headed in the direction of longer warmer days, Spring and Summer, but I suspect we have t

Categories
flowers fungi Silverstream

September 18, 2015 … when all you have is a hammer …

… everything looks like a nail.

Mos
A moss, I presume. It is much more translucent up close than it looks when you stand up.

An old joke, I know, but the parallel is there. When I go out armed with a particular lens, I tend to make my shooting match the capability of the lens.  As it happens this particular lens is very versatile, capable of excellent portraiture as well as the extreme close-up which is its real purpose. On this occasion, I had it set for very close shooting, and went back to the are of Pinehaven where I visited a few days ago, this time with a tripod.

Lichen
This lichen is perhaps 3cm across. On the forest floor below it I think that is a liverwort

I have no real narrative to accompany individual images because I have no expertise in the micro-foliage of the forest floor.

Spiky
These spiky little tufts of vegetation are perhaps 5mm in diameter

Each time a moved a metre to the left or right there was something new to see. From a distance it all looked like a soft green baize, but as you get closer the intricacy and the complexity of each plant became visible.

Moss
Moss on a wooden gate post

Even the moss on top of an old fence post presents itself differently in extreme close-up.

This too shall pass.

Categories
Architecture flowers fungi Staglands

September 16, 2015 … a thing of shreds and patches*

You wouldn’t like it if I were to sing.

Blue Mountains
Lovely wooded area up in Blue Mountains near Silverstream

But I do regard myself as a wandering teller of stories, with pictures thrown in. On some days, I go where the whim takes me, with no plan or intention in mind. I have said before, that serendipity is not a recipe for great images. Nevertheless, absent any grand plan, I shall take what I can. And so I found myself above Silverstream on a back road in the Blue Mountains area.  The people who live up here enjoy a wonderful mix of bush, birdsong, views and isolation.

Fungus
Purple fungus

The road I was on was barely wider than the car, and I had my window down, so I spotted the various mosses, lichens, liverworts and fungi on the forest floor. At first glance I thought I was looking at a colourful stone, but a careful prod suggested it was a fungus of some sort. Friends have tentatively identified it as purple pouch fungus (Cortinarius porphyroideus). It mixed well with the moss surrounding it.

Moss
Unidentified moss

The moss seemed worth a closer look. Though I had my macro lens with me, I didn’t have the tripod. The light was low so a slow shutter speed was required. The macro lens has an extremely shallow depth of field so getting a sharp hand-held shot was a real lottery. I have no idea which particular moss this is, but it’s amazing how the dense green from a metre away gets to be translucent from closer in.

Library
Study in the city library

In the afternoon, I went to the city where I found myself in the civic square. It always impresses me to see lots of young people working in the city library, assuming they are not tweeting or on Facebook.

Office
Outdoor office … Welling City Administration building in the background

Not everyone likes the discipline of the library, and if it is at least reasonably fine there are always people perched in unlikely places around the square with their laptops in action.  It’s not my idea of a comfortable work environment.

That’s all for now.

  • “The Mikado” by Gilbert and Sullivan
Categories
Architecture fungi Wellington

January 11, 2015 … art in the city

I was minding my own business, to begin with.

Stinkhorn
It seems I got lucky and did not detect the normally powerful stench from this little fungus. The flies obviously liked it.

 

Then Mary came rushing in and said I had to come with her to a place where she had just walked with a friend. Ever the dutiful husband, I grabbed my camera and jumped into the shotgun seat and off we went, a few kilometres up Normandale Road. There, we parked and walked a hundred metres of so down a narrow bush track where she showed me some interesting “flowers” The bush was dark and I hadn’t brought a tripod or flash so the handheld shot is not as sharp as it might have been. I posted the picture on Facebook, and learned that this is a fungus of the type known as Anemone Stinkhorn (Aseroe rubra). The brown slime in the centre is said to smell like a rotting corpse and it thus attracts flies which spread its spores.

Terrace
On the Terrace at the top of Woodward St.

 

In the afternoon, I took a  ride to the city and walked around in the CBD. I began on The Terrace where a striking old building seemed worth a look. It is currently being strengthened to bring it up to earthquake code, Someone should look at that pole outside the building next door.

Top
“The Spinning Top” by Robert Jahnke is at the top of Woodward St.

 

The old building is on the corner of Woodward Street, a narrow little road wide enough for one vehicle though it is now a pedestrian precinct. When I came to Wellington, there was a vehicle turntable at the top. Cars would be driven onto it and the driver would pull down on a dangling rope which would activate the electric motor to turn the car through 180 degrees ready for the return journey. How appropriate, the that the piece of art at the top of the road where the turntable once was, should take the form of a spinning top.

Mansfield
Katherine Mansfield, woman of letters, in the garden at Midland park

 

At the bottom of Woodward street and across the road at the edge of Midland Park, is the statue of Katherine Mansfield. I have photographed it before, but the struggle for a different way of seeing it continues.

Braille
“Invisible City”

 

My final shot in today’s batch is of another piece of public art across the road from the entrance to Cable Car lane on Lambton Quay. The sculpture by Anton Parsons is called “Invisible City” and takes the form of two stainless steel tablets with raised braille-like dots. If I understand correctly, the dots are not actually Braille and spell out no words.

That’s all for now.

 

Categories
adversity fungi Silverstream Vehicles Weather

November 10, 2014 … brevity …

This edition should embody the soul of wit.

Cyclists
On my way to the convention venue at Silverstream I passed six or so bunches of cyclists out for a long training spin.

It is brief because yesterday I took very few images. It was the last day of the convention, and like the rest of the days, we had organized fine weather. Well, we are taking the credit for everything we can, but as far as I can tell, this was a very successful convention and barring a few minor glitches with the venue, people were going away happy. We were fortunate to have an experienced and hardworking person in charge of the committee (she knows who she is).  I got a bit distracted attending sessions, so I was not the hardest working person on the team. Nevertheless, I felt at the end, as if I had ridden a hundred kilometres with these people who I saw in the morning as I drove in.

fungi
Fungi of species unknown

While we enjoyed our lunch in the open air, someone drew some fungi to my attention . I have no idea what they were, but as the person conduction the nature photography session wisely told us, they can’t run very fast.

I hope normal service will resume tomorrow.

Categories
fungi Geology Landscapes Light Pukerua Bay Waves Weather

May 7, 2014 … wind, waves and spores

Nor’Westers in Wellington are frustrating.

Kapiti coast
Pukerua Bay, looking towards Paekakariki. If you click to enlarge, you will see the Southern tip of Kapiti on the left hand side at the horizon

If they are strong enough, they make it unpleasant to be out in. They spoil the chances of photography on the inlet, and you have to go quite a distance to see decent waves on the sea. Yesterday I decided that Pukerua Bay was the nearest place that gets the full force of swells off the Tasman Sea. From high on the road that leads down to the beach, the sea state was less than I had hoped for, but the clouds around the Paekakariki Hill were dramatic. Kapiti Island was likewise hiding, and you can just see its Southernmost tip on the horizon.

Pukerua Bay
Pou tangaroa … the Maori equivalent of a totem pole … a statement of guardianship

At beach level, once you reach the end of the road, almost the first thing you encounter is the big pou tangaroa … a carving by Ngati Toa carver and Pukerua Bay resident, Herman Salzmann. It represents the guardianship of that coastline felt by the local Ngati Toa people. As you can see, the waves in the background were vigorous but not massive.

rocky coast
The Paekakariki coast line with cloud

Back up the coast to the North, that cloud was even more dramatic from sea-level, and the glitter of the sun on the water was in striking contrast to the dark bulk of the coastal rocks.

Wave action
Foaming tide in Pukerua Bay. Note the untouched pool at bottom right. Yes, this is a slow exposure with the ND filter.

In the bay itself, the waves were surging into the jagged rocks, seeking out every cranny and coming perilously close to giving me wet feet.

in Normandale
Colourful roadside fungi

In the afternoon, the wind had not abated, but there was more sunshine, so I went looking in my own neighbourhood. I had collected Cooper from School again, and on the way, noticed some fungi that were worth a second look.

Poto Road Reserve
More fungi growing in the wood chips in the new reserve

A new reserve further up the hill has been cleaned out and planted in native trees and shrubs. Weed control is by way of a layer  of wood chips. They seem ineffective in that role, but provide a fine nursery for all kinds of fungi. I shall visit there again

Time to meet a friend for lunch so that’s all for today.