June 7, 2019 … thanks for your many kindnesses

Since I last wrote, the region has had more than its fair share of wild and downright ugly days. If I were a depressive personality this would be getting me down. Happily, I can sometimes use the bad days to my advantage. And in any case, many of you have sent me kind and affirming messages which have been balm to my soul. Thank you to those kind people who take the trouble to send messages.

A month or so ago, WordPress changed their default editor, and I didn’t notice that images no longer provided a “click-to-enlarge”. I have corrected that as of this issue and may eventually get back to the issues that were affected. Please do click for a much bigger image

A Little shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) flying in close formation with its reflection at Pauatahanui

When I look up from my keyboard and notice that the trees outside are not moving, I check on the other side of the house for confirmation, and unless domestic courtesies require otherwise, head for the nearest body of water likely to deliver attractive reflections. On this occasion, I went to the Pauatahanui Inlet where the bright blue sky and the gold reeds provided a nice contrast with the Little Shag. “Little” is not a casual adjective here. That is the formal name of the species, as distinct from the Little Black, the Pied, the Spotted and about half a dozen more common types in New Zealand.

Reflections don’t always depend on still water. This architectural study is on The Terrace

Very occasionally I will turn my attention to the structure of the city. I have probably commented before that, for a seismically risky city, Wellington has a large number of buildings with glass curtain frontages. Leaving aside the question of what happens when the earth moves, these buildings present some nice reflections. In this case, the building at 155 the Terrace is reflected from a tower block down on Lambton Quay. I took care to line the framework as well as possible, and cropped and trimmed the last bit in the computer.

It takes sustained high wind to generate lenticular clouds of this magnitude

On the Haywards Hill one evening two weeks ago, I just had to pull over to the side of the road to catch this spectacular formation. I was on my way to act as judge for another camera club’s competition, otherwise I might have lingered longer to catch the brilliant orange colour which came with the setting sun. Dozens of my photographic friends produced stunning images of this event.

Pukerua Bay Lookout offers a fine view towards Kapiti and then a challenge to get back into the North-bound traffic

Mary and I were driving to Waikanae the next day to enjoy lunch with some friends of very long standing. Despite the clear blue sky and the glitter on the water, the thing that caused me to stop at the Pukerua Bay lookout was the impression of relentless power from the waves being driven in from the Tasman by that strong Nor’Wester. The other thing that lookout offers is the challenge of forcing your way back into the North-bound traffic.

Williwaws swirling up Evans Bay

The wind did not abate, and if anything it started to get serious. According to the TV news, it peaked at 121 km/h the next day. I went looking for waves, but found little of interest. That proves that I was not looking clearly because some of my friends produced some great wave shots. However, the wind coming into Evans Bay after its journey across the harbour produced some interesting effects. The swirling williwaws lifted their spouts a hundred metres or more from the surface, and I had to work hard to keep my lens dry. I loved the dark sky over the Western hills.

Downtown glassware

I know that modern architects work really hard to ensure that all the bits of the building remain attached even when the earth moves. Nevertheless, recent demolitions pursuant to the Kaikoura earthquake (14 November 2016) tend to suggest that there are some factors that even the best of them didn’t think of. I love the shapes, colours and textures of a modern cityscape. On the other hand I see hundreds of tonnes of sheeet glass seemingly just hanging on the outside of the building, and I imagine it falling as a huge guillotine. As long as the fixing methods perform as expected I am happy.

Wellingtons winds suck and blow North West then Southerly, most of the time.

If we are lucky, after we have endured a few days of sustained wind, we get a break for a day or two before it all comes roaring back in the other direction. I like the Southerlies for the spectacular waves they deliver on the coast between the harbour entrance and Owhiro Bay. Jagged rocks which are typical of our Southern shoreline help to break the incoming waves and sometimes create astonishing explosions of water. A technique advocated by one of my photographic idols is to be deliberate about the tonal relationships between various elements of the image. Notice the clarity of the rocks and the successive reduction in tonal intensity as we progress to the mountains across the strait.

Pied stilt – Pauatahanui Inlet

And just like that, the new day dawns still and golden. Mary recognises the signs and packs a lunch for me to take on my wandering. I know how lucky I am. Unlike the preceding image, this one presents a clear sharp day and a relatively short distance between near and far, so the tonal range need not be an issue. I really love the golden tones of the reeds at Pauatahanui and the comparison with the formal attire worn by the stilt/.

It has been a long time between kingfishers

One of my photographic friends tells me I lack the patience to be a real bird photographer. She is probably right, and she has it in abundance. On the other hand, I get lucky now and then. Just below the big tree that most of my birding friends know, I spotted this sacred kingfisher hovering for a moment before it dived. In my experience they rarely signal their intentions so I was lucky to have time to point the lens at the ring of water. A moment or so later and it emerged, but without the crab that I assume it was seeking. A real bird photographer would have been lined up before it hit the water and made a dozen images with the shutter set fast enough to freeze the wings. Even so, I like the image. The bird’s eye is sharp and much can be forgiven if you achieve that.

Mighty mountains across the strait

A few consecutive days of stillness are a joy. Not all still days are equal. As I headed to Lyall Bay, the weather was overcast and the light was flat. I drove around the coast towards Owhiro bay and got a suddenly clear view of the great peaks of the inland Kaikoura range. And there’s that tonal range problem again. The mountains were startling in their clarity considering that they are over 120 km distant. I hoped the cloud would clear itself from the peak of Tapuae-o-Uenuku but took the shot while it was there. The typically red rocks of Wellington’s South Coast provide a lovely foreground.

The only constant is change

Drizzle and streamers of mist are not necessarily a disaster in my opinion. I drove down the Wainuiomata coast road and back up again. These receding hills caught my eye. A friend said he wanted to cut along the dotted line. I suspect he is referring to the row of bee hives beneath the nearest tree.

Some real rarities

Another packed lunch day developed and I was motivated to go to Hokio beach on the West coast just South of Levin. To my great joy when I parked for lunch on the estuary of the Hokio Stream, I found a patch of relatively still water and there scurrying back and forth, were a lot of black-fronted dotterels. I love the dotterels for their delicate beauty and the black-fronted variety is especially attractive to my eye. In the picture above, the bird at the back is a banded dotterel which seems to a little bigger than its cousins. I counted ten of them all racing around pecking at some food source in the sand. They it worth the journey.

That’s sufficient till I gather more images. I hope you got some pleasure from my random wanderings and as always, if you have constructive criticism please let me know.

August 24, 2017 … across the hill and down the other side

It seems I have let time get away on me again.

Dotterel

Banded dotterel on the Wainuiomata coast

Since I last wrote I have spent a lot of time trying to improve my ability to see things in creative ways. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the seeing is ordinary. I seem to have a strong tendency to see things as they first present themselves. I suppose it is the visual equivalent of literal interpretation of texts.  Sometimes that works out alright, as in the case of this little banded dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus) lurking on the edge of the reeds on the beach at Wainuiomata.

Mist

Mist in the Belmont Regional Park near home

We have had a lot of “interesting” weather, with swirling mists. Though I am ready for some brighter weather, I am always a  little excited if there is some mist about, as long as it is not too uniformly dense and grey. The dips and folds of the Wellington landscape allow the mists to create some wonderful sheaths, and I have a good idea where to go for the best effects. This river of mist was in the Belmont Regional Park at the top end of the road on which I live.

Normandale

Normandale looking mysterious in the mist

On another day, with another mist, I needed to travel less than a kilometre up the road and the view back up the hill was totally transformed.

Waterfront

Waterfront at night

Sometimes, when a day or two goes by without a reasonable photo, and if the night is still and there are no domestic obligations, a gather up my tripod and camera and see what  photographic opportunities the night offers. This shot was made from the old Interisland wharf. Now it is used as a base for the tugs and a few fishing trawlers and during the day it is a car park.

Haywards

The Haywards Interchange at Manor Park

Another slightly odd day sent me out in search of mist. At Manor Park, the new pedestrian overbridge is finally open and I got this shot of the almost complete Haywards Interchange, where traffic coming over the hill from Porirua can now join SH2 without the need to for traffic lights.

River

Racing river in the Kaitoke regional park

From there, I went onwards to the regional park at Kaitoke North of Upper Hutt. There had been some heavy rain and the Hutt River was flowing fast even this far up the valley.

Tararuas

Tararua morning

Yesterday, we had a sudden fine clear day. My lovely wife gave me a packed lunch and said go forth and photograph. Often as I head North to the Rimutaka Hill Road, if the light is right, I am captivated by the great South wall of the Tararua range, and so it was on this occasion.

Wairarapa

South Wairarapa

On the other side, I made my way towards Tora on the East coast of the Wairarapa. As I climbed the hill out of Martinborough my rear view mirror suggested that I stop and look at the view to the West. Yes, there is some snow on the high peaks of the range and the sky was clear and blue.

Wind farm

Hau Nui wind farm

A few kilometres further to the East, some of the turbines at the Hau Nui wind farm. There is a public lookout from which six of the fifteen turbines are visible and four of them were ticking over in the light breeze.

Opua

The wreck of the Opua at Tora

By lunch time I was at Tora. To my great delight, the wreck of the collier, Opua was more accessible than I have seen it on previous visits. A combination of low tide and near calm sea allowed me to clamber over the rocks on which it was wrecked without loss of life on October 2, 1926. If I had stronger ankles and a better sense of balance, or was willing to get wet, I might have got closer still. As it was I was about 30 metres from the wreck, and could see much detail. This view is near the stern. We can see the rudder pintle at the left and  the top of the toppled triple expansion steam engine is visible just to the right of the great bulk of the boiler.

 

 

August 16, 2016 … lovely light regardless of the weather

I really want some serious storm weather for a project I have in mind. However, all I am getting is a range of weather that is neither one thing nor the other.

Morning

Magical mystical morning in the Hutt Valley

Nevertheless, sometimes the variable weather can present a dramatic face to the world.

Mountains

The Snow-capped Tararua range provides a lovely backdrop for the early morning traffic on SH2 near the Haywards Hill

There have been some very nice days, and the view to the North East in the mornings is particularly spectacular. This view from a pedestrian overbridge near Naenae nearly came to grief as I slipped on the ice on the wooden boards.

Marina

Magic in Mana Marina

From there I went to Paremata where a perfectly still morning made the Mana Marina very attractive.

Paremata

Stillness at the Paremata boat sheds

Across the road to Ivey Bay I spotted another patch of very still water, with some interesting boats behind it. The Neutral density filter and a long exposure helped to make it a better image.

Herons

Keeping the place warm for the boss

A day or so later, I was on my way to town for lunch with some former Dairy Board colleagues and called by the Hutt Estuary in the hope that our friendly white heron, George might be there. He wasn’t, but two of his cousins, the white-faced herons were keeping his spot warm.

Harbour

Inner harbour from Mt Victoria

As is my custom, I was in town well ahead of the appointed hour, so went up to the Mt Victoria lookout from where our beautiful city was at its sparkling best.

Waka

Ceremonial waka rehearsal

Back down at sea-level, near the entrance to the lagoon at Frank Kitts park, I saw this waka (canoe) with a trainee crew practicing for ceremonial paddling. The waka was a fibreglass replica rather than the real thing, but even so, the rhythmic chanting raised the hairs on my neck.  See you again soon.

June 8, 2016 … through the lower middle

True to my word, I have returned more quickly than last time.

Sandra II

Sandra II now seems to be a permanent resident at Hikoikoi

We have had an astonishing spell of fine weather in the last week, not only sunny, but for the most part, flat calm. Those who have been with me for a while know that if there is calm, I will be near the harbour. Down at Hikoikoi, a newcomer has joined the J.Vee thus doubling the number of working boats moored there. She is the Sandra II.

Web

Nature – the master jeweller

With further fine weather in view, Mary and I chose to go to Dannevirke on Friday. This was a “just because” trip with no other purpose than to enjoy the journey, and perhaps to make an image or two on the way. It was a crispy day to begin with, and just North of Upper Hutt, there was mist wreathed around the hills and gullies, and many of the roadside fences were decorated with dew-coated spider webs.

Woodville

Pastoral landscape near Woodville

I had hopes of capturing the turbines spinning above the Manawatu Gorge near Woodville. I do love flat calm, but of course, that spins no turbines. Accordingly, I zoomed back out and settled for a landscape from just South of Woodville.

Wreck 1

Inside the old wrecker’s yard at Dannevirke

We got to Dannevirke, and enjoyed a very nice lunch at the Vault Cafe. Then to lend some semblance of purpose to our journey, we bought some splendid beef sausages from “The Meat Company”, a butcher shop just near the vault. They are the best beef sausages I have found so far. And then I finally managed to make contact with the owner of the old car-wrecker’s yard I saw last time I was in the area. He generously granted permission  for me to climb the fence and wander through the property.

Cars

Vehicles from almost all eras are being swallowed. The Ford Transit van, the Vauxhall Velox from the mid fifties and a real oddity on the right, the Utility model of the Hillman Imp were all intriguing.

I spent over an hour there, and saw perhaps five percent of the property. It is a truly post-apocalyptic scene, withe a large proportion of the old vehicles almost entirely engulfed in brambles or the pest variant of the clematis, “Old Man’s Beard” . Few surfaces are not covered with lichen ans the place was a photographer’s delight.

Waihi Falls

Waihi Falls in the late afternoon

Choosing the scenic route home, we passed through Waihi falls where the water was putting on a fine display. From there we went down through Mauriceville and Alfredton and suffered a blow-out at some 90 km/h on a patch of gravel road. After laboriously emptying the back of the car to reach the spare, and then jacking up the car to swap the wheel, we were soon on our way again, through Masterton and down through the Southern Wairarapa. It was nerve-wracking to drive over the Rimutaka hill with no spare, but we made it home without further incident.

Yacht

The yacht made speedy progress across the horizon near Red Rocks

On Sunday, we went to the South Coast and while Mary explored the seal colony at Sinclair Head, I made images near Red Rocks.

Stilts

Pied stilts at Pauatahanui

On Tuesday, the clam conditions were still lingering, so I went over to Pauatahanui. I have heard of houses on stilts, but here, reflected in the pond, are some stilts on houses.

Herons

White-faced herons are wary

Further around the inlet, a handsome pair of white-faced herons paused in their preening to keep an eye on me as I attempted to get close.

Inlet

Reflections on the inlet near Ration Point

It was a morning of breathtaking beauty and undisturbed reflections .

SH2

Near Haywards Hill on SH2

Remarkably, the fine weather persisted until today (Wednesday) and so I went North to Silverstream where a friend had predicted spectacular landscape opportunities on a frosty morning.

Silverstream

Misty morning at Silverstream

My friend was right, the mist on the frosty grass was just delightful. See you next time.

 

July 23, 2015 … on the side roads

I have a new toy.

farm building

Old farm buildings are a delight. I doubt that this would get a permit today.

A wide-angle lens offers different opportunities, so I acquired one for the Olympus. Yesterday I decided to spend the day experimenting with it. There are many ways in which such a lens might be used. Yesterday’s exercise was primarily with landscapes and buildings at various ranges.  The side roads off the Haywards Hill Road were where I chose to go.

Judgeford

A stream near the Judgeford golf course.

Oddly, a wide-angle lens is often just as useful in portrait mode as in landscape, ging access to extreme foreground and far distance.

Panorama

Panorama in the Judgeford Valley

The side roads I mentioned, present interesting viewpoints of familiar landscapes from new points of view. This is a panorama of seven stitched images using the wide-angle to give vertical depth.

St Joseph's

Historic St Joseph’s Church at Pauatahanui

The other advantage of these side roads is the discoveries that are made. Yesterday, for example I was shocked to discover, after living in the region for 35 years, that there is not just  one, but two historic churches at Pauatahanui. St Alban’s Anglican church  in the village is pretty well known since it is visible from most parts of the inlet. St Joseph’s Catholic Church is almost totally invisible to motorists passing by at 100 km/h, and it was not until I came back down Bradey Road that I finally saw this building that dates back to 1878. It is number 205 on the Historic Places Trust register.

Squash

Squash

My final image was of a different type entirely. Mary has recently found a source of small edible squash, and they are such colourful character-filled vegetables, I had to try  something using the new lens.

That’s enough for the day.

 

June 7, 2015 … on a seasonal roll

There seems to be a seasonal theme developing.

Leaves

Chestnut tree and flowering cherries look pretty but make a mess

Yesterday afternoon, I went seeking the season, beginning at Te Omanga Hospice where Mary works. New Zealand is predominantly a land of evergreens, so the problem of Autumn leaves is not as severe as it is in the Northern hemisphere. Of course there are pockets of introduced trees, and since Te Omanga is on the site of a historic stately mansion, it is blessed with chestnuts, apples and other deciduous varieties.

apples

Crab apples

In the hospice grounds, a little crab apple tree demanded attention. The birds love them, but generally they ripen and fall to the ground where, like the Autumn leaves they get mulched by the mowers.

Crepuscular rays

A fleeting instant, and then it disappeared

On my way to Pauatahanui, I had just crossed the summit of the Haywards Hill and saw a dramatic weather moment unfolding in front of me. I knew that with the road works, there was nowhere to stop for the next several kilometres, so I made a last-minute right turn into Mt Cecil Rd, knowing that the scene could evaporate at any moment. I found a place to stop with a clear view down the valley to Judgeford and leapt out to grab a few hand-held shots in case the opportunity was lost before I could set up the tripod. I set up the tripod, and the scene was gone. This is one of the “just-in-case” hand-held shots.

Birds

Look for the tiny dotterels on either side of the Oystercatcher. The bird on the right upper is a Caspian tern

Resuming my journey, I was rounding Ration Point on the Pauatahanui inlet when it occurred to me that those little rocks might be interesting birds. After a hasty lens change, I walked back to the point and lost interest since I saw masked lapwing and oystercatchers, neither of which were of great interest to me. I took a shot for the record and carried on. It wasn’t until I looked at it on the big screen that I saw the banded dotterels sitting, one on either side of that pied oystercatcher about one third in from the left. Intense frustration.

Stilts

Pied stilts. I am not sure what they eat. Despite the prolific crab population, I never saw a crab retrieved

My bird photography has been neglected in recent times, but not for lack of interest. These two pied stilts made a nice closing shot for the day in a small patch of calm at the water’s edge.

And that’s the day done.

May 8, 2014 … a changing city and a constant landscape

Wellington’s Central Business District has evolved.

Wellington CBD

Midland Park across Waring Taylor St.

When I first came here to learn computer programming way back in 1966, the trams had not long gone. There were many more old-style pubs, and a lot of the large movie theatres. A particular memory was the Midland Hotel, now commemorated only in the name of the park where it once stood. I stayed there for seven weeks, enjoying the privilege as a house guest, of being allowed to drink in the upstairs bar after the closure of the main bars at six pm. It was not until September 1967 that a referendum overthrew the tyranny of six o’clock closing.  But I digress. I found myself looking across Midland Park, and saw the symmetry of the adjacent buildings reflected in the black marble columns of another building across Waring Taylor St.

Gliding On

The former Defence Headquarters seen through a shelter on Stout Street

On my way to a pleasant lunch with a friend in a  pub which didn’t exist back in those early days, I spotted this view of the old Defense Headquarters building on Stout Street. Older locals may recall it as the setting for the TV comedy series “Gliding On” .  It caught my eye because many of Wellington’s more exposed street corners are blessed with glass shelters which would theoretically keep pedestrians dry as they wait for the lights at pedestrian crossings. Of course they are useful only in the rare event of rain that falls vertically. If it’s raining and you are on foot, you will get wet. Get used to it.

Masked lapwings

Masked lapwings

As I often do I took the scenic route home. I have just learned that Canon expect a ten-day delay in the repair of my long lens due to the lack of crucial parts, so it was unlikely I would get close to any birds. Nevertheless I was happy to see these masked lapwings on parade at the shoreline.

Landscape

The Haywards Valley

A diversion up a side road in the Haywards valley provided me with this pleasant pastoral landscape.

That’s enough for today.