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October 2, 2021 …just enjoy the process

Why, is the recurring question. Why do I persist in creating this blog, even when others are declaring that the age of the blog has passed?

I am not musical, but I think I have the heart of a troubadour, or perhaps like Gilbert and Sullivan’s Nankipoo, I might be a wandering minstrel. My aim is to be a story teller. Some do it in song, some in poetry. My chosen style is in a mix of prose and pictures. My principal aim is to take pleasure in making the pictures and using them to tell the story

Botanic Garden, Wellington

I went to the Botanic Garden in hope of tulips. There were some tulips, though fewer than usual and less well presented. Happily, the surrounding gardens possessed a glory of their own. The bands of colour, the shape and splendour of the trees and even the sculpture all give me pleasure.

Gladstone derelict

In my judgement, the back road from Martinborough to Masterton through Gladstone offers some of the most beautiful pastoral landscapes you will find anywhere. And tucked away, here and there, are a few much loved relics of earlier times that are slowly dissolving into the landscape. This old house near Gladstone is one that few photographers will pass by without a pause to make yet another picture. Of course it is a cliche, but I don’t accept that beauty is diminished by multiple viewing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mary had been gifted a voucher for a two night stay at an historic cottage in rural Wairarapa. India Cottage is situated between Castlepoint 40 km to the NE and Riversdale 22 km to the SE. It is part of the ICA station from which the Whareama Coastal Walkway is managed. We had little idea of what to expect, and were surprised and delighted by the beauty of the place. Water is a significant problem throughout the Wairarapa so the estate has a storage pond surrounded by reeds. Someone introduced the Australian green and golden bell frog. so the visual beauty was enhanced by the unceasing chorus from the frogs. Magic!

Oaks

Pioneering farmers had little regard for our native trees and yearned for the beauty of the great trees of their various homelands. And so it comes about that we have stands of magnificent oaks and other deciduous aliens. They are indeed beautiful trees. but so are the natives of this land which were cleared to make way for them.

Perfect stillness

If you have been with me for a while, you will know that morning and I are usually strangers. Here in deepest Wairarapa, with no Internet access, I woke early. No sound save the froggy chorus and the bawling of occasional cattle in the distance. No wind, and no clouds. I arose early and took my camera and tripod outside and caught the sun peering through the trees at the end of the pond.

A fine specimen

Another of those exotic trees … I didn’t pause to identify it but didn’t think it to be an oak. With the sun behind it I thought it made a nice image.

Breakfast

Over the fence, a classic pastoral scene as the sheep munch steadily on the dew-soaked grass. Rim-lit by the rising sun, I thought these were the quintessential “gilt-edged investment”.

Day 1 of Daylight Saving

Our last evening at India House coincided with New Zealand’s annual shift to daylight saving. Since the clock went forward, I expected to wake an hour later than usual. Perversely, I woke almost an hour earlier by the clock than usual. A still starlit morning prompted me to get dressed and tip-toe outside, being as quiet as possible. As you can see this long (56 seconds) exposure was illuminated by the stars and a bright moon. No artificial light. And you know it is still when an exposure this long shows no disturbance in the reflections. I returned to the cottage and Mary asked why I made so much noise when I went out!

Crux

The same scene from a different angle catches the Southern Cross, the much loved constellation emblematic of the Southern hemisphere. With the exception of my bedroom window all light in this image comes from the moon. In case you are unfamiliar with it, the cross in in the upper left quadrant of the picture. The head is down and to the left, and the foot is top right. The pointer Beta Centauri is sending its light 391.4 light years from just above the edge of that cloud.

Pink rock orchid

Back home after a delightful break, the weather forced me indoors. I placed a tiny orchid in my light box. Multiple flowers on a single stem are a bit of a challenge. It is conventional wisdom amongst those who enter competitions, that simple flower images rarely do well. I am getting away from the competition mindset, and the question is did I have fun making it, and does the finished product please me. The answer is yes and yes.

Wind

Wellingtonians are the butt of much joking about the city’s notoriously windy climate. It’s not easy to photograph wind. The best you can hope for is to catch things being moved about by the wind. Waves and trees, birds and rain are all possibilities. These reeds at the boat ramp in Lowry Bay seemed worth a try and another opportunity to use the neutral density filter. I put the camera on its tripod inside the car, and opened the downwind passenger window. Thus, the camera and tripod were not buffeted by the gusting wind. I love the texture of the windblown clumps of reed.

Customhouse Quay

Wellington’s skyline changes at a relatively slow pace. The last time I visited Melbourne, there must have been at least twenty tower cranes each presiding over a new high rise building site. Wellington has three or four. Of course, Melbourne has a population of 5 million compared with 417,000. This view along Customhouse Quay looking South shows the crane on the site of the new BNZ headquarters being built to replace the one destroyed by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.

They take a bottle

The nearer (yellow) crane is on the waterfront across the road from the red one on the BNZ site. This one is assisting a generic office building which will be available for lease. The answer to the unspoken question most people have in respect of the people who operate these machines in solitary splendour is that they have a bottle. I guess that their privacy could be compromised by people with long lenses.

And that’s another edition. I think I am coming to terms with the idea that I can make images for the pure joy of participating in the process. I don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectation. Of course I share them with you in the hope that you will take pleasure in what you see. Until next time.

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March 13, 2021 … Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth*

I begin this edition with a tribute to a valued friend and long time reader who died last month. George Combs Berger, Lt Col USAF (Ret) died on 2 Feb 2021 aged 98. In my experience, George was the ultimate gentleman, and was a frequent and very generous contributor to the earlier versions of WYSIWYG News back when we paid an assistant to format the news. He and his late wife,Patricia had a particular affinity with New Zealand and most years he would attend the ANZAC ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral, and then post me the printed programme from the service. George told me the story of him flying a B47 Stratojet bomber across the Atlantic to the UK and having its generators fail mid-journey. He turned off everything that could be done without, and arrived at the RAF base with barely sufficient battery power to illuminate his navigation lights. My condolences to his family. He will be missed. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

Photographically it has been a mixed period. I was quite pleased with myself, almost smug in the previous issue. This time some of my shots have fallen back into the mediocre category but, what the heck, keep shooting.

Ferry and the fisherman

I have made similar shots to this one many times before. On this occasion Kaitaki was leaving the harbour, hotly pursued by a fisherman in a “fizz boat”. As with my similar prior shots, the attraction to me was the delightful “blue on blue” of the clear sky over a calm sea.

Surface confusion

Across the harbour on this near perfect day, a young couple were setting out fishing from Lowry Bay in their little boat. Across the harbour, anyone with a nostalgic connection with Victoria University of Wellington will see the red brick of the old Hunter building above the yellow buoy on the left.

An extremely rare selfie

It has long been part of our family tradition to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Our kids always loved this, and we are passing it on to the grandchildren, or at least those who live close enough to join in. This year, Mary had other commitments on the day so I brushed off long neglected skills. To my great delight, I had not lost the knack of tossing them from the pan, and contrary to the skepticism of some friends did not spoil or lose any. The device in my left hand is my iPhone which I used to trigger the camera on its tripod. Who says men can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

Hawkweed flowers

I always thought they were dandelions. Apparently not. These are hawkweed or more scientifically, Hieracium. These examples were found on a riverbank in Wainuiomata

Days Bay Ferry

Unless the weather is really rough the two little catamarans, Cobar Cat and City Cat scuttle across the harbour on a regular schedule carrying tourists and commuters between the Queen’s Wharf terminal in the city and the jetty at Day’s Bay. They drop in at Matiu/Somes Island for people who wish to explore the island (highly recommended), and on a few trips, they divert to the jetty at Seatoun. One is seen here approaching Day’s Bay as observed from Lowry Bay.

Paremata Boat Sheds

In many parts of the world, it seems to be a tradition that any collection of boat sheds should be painted in motley colours. The sheds at Paremata follow this plan, and each owner seems to have had their own pot of leftover paint to use up. This is seen from across the inlet at the Pauatahanui Wildlife sanctuary.

Economy class

Over in Ivey Bay, there are some character-filled moorings where boats seem to sit and rarely move. I suspect that the owners have dreams of restoration that rarely come to fruition. I occasionally see the owners sitting on their deck beside the water, just basking in the pleasure of being there.

Military relics

Over the hill from Upper Hutt is the Mangaroa Valley where there are some old buildings which once served as part of the Maymorn military camp. If I understand correctly, they are long surplus to the needs of the defence ministry and have been given to the local iwi in part reparation for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. History hangs heavy on the buildings.It has been a long while since they saw any paint.

Moonlit bay

I rarely go out at night for photographic purposes. If conditions are still, I will carry my camera and tripod when I go to camera club and see whether there is anything worth shooting near the harbour after the meeting. On this particular night, I went down to Lowry Bay and looking to the North made this 40 second exposure. Despite the long exposure, the boat moved very little. Remember that boat. You might see it again.

Blue Globe Thistle

Our very good friends, Jane and Roy are superb gardeners and their home is often visited by the local garden circle. From my perspective, as one who avoids most forms of physical labour, I love their results but am unlikely to follow in their footsteps. I enjoy strolling around their property seeing all the unusual and interesting flowers. This specimen is a Blue Globe Thistle which I would not have known without the aid of https://identify.plantnet.org which is right more often than it is wrong.

In stillness

It was a nice still morning at Petone, but I was struggling to find anything of interest. There is a set of small piles just to the Western side of Petone wharf. I speculate that they exist to hold an old stormwater outlet pipe in place. Anyway, I was intrigued by the multi-coloured weeds growing on the ancient timbers.

It’s that darned yacht again

A misty day in the city imposes a moody atmosphere. Not so much waves, but sharp ripples arrive on the beach at Lowry Bay. The mood was worth the effort, I think.

If you have no interest in aviation, please skip the next three images.

Atmospherics

Last time I went to an airshow, I was disappointed and said I would probably not bother again. I backed down and joined my Son Anthony, daughter-in-law Sarah, and grandson Jack at the recent “Wings Over Wairarapa” airshow at Hood Aereodrome, Masterton. One of the highlights for me was the Yakovlev YAK-3U, a radial engined version of a Russian WWII fighter. It has a very powerful P&W R2000 engine and is extremely fast. In this shot you can see the condensate spiralling back from the tips of its propeller during a high speed run . The trails at the wingtips are made by oil burning.

Scribbles

The Yak pilot put on a masterful performance in a beautiful machine with an engine almost twice the power of the original. He zipped through the sky leaving smoke trails with which he made the most amazing patterns.

Age is no barrier

For the 2019 iteration of this air show, the US ambassador used his influence to persuade the US Air Force to do a fly-by with a B-52 on its way from its base in Guam to the much larger airshow at Avalon in Australia. Sadly, a mechanical malfunction meant that it didn’t arrive. So here we are again, and truth to tell, the promise of a B-52 was a strong influence in my decision to visit one more air show. It came from Avalon this time and was on its way back to Guam. The B-52 is notoriously smokey so its presence was visible long before the aircraft itself. They did three wide passes, including one with its bob doors open. I hope I am never beneath one when it does that in anger. I don’t want to glorify war or militarism, but this grand old machine is a tribute to its designers and builders, and to the brave crews that fly them.

When shall we three meet again?**

Mary has a sharp eye for things that might be photo-worthy. She saw the shed exo-skeletons of these three cicada nymphs all clinging to one little stick. Astonishing! I have never seen two together before, let alone three.

Help from the sky

This air ambulance was basking in the sun at Wellington Airport. Used mainly for the transport of patients between various specialist hospitals this Jetstream 400 makes a brave picture. Lurking behind it is the local search and rescue helicopter.

A rare visitor

Were this just a common white-faced heron, which is what I thought I had taken, I would have discarded this image. It wasn’t until I got home that closer examination showed I had caught a very rare reef heron. Apparently the total number of them in NZ lies between 300 and 500.

What, again?

Yes, it is that darned yacht again. The excuse for this image, however is that rainbow fragment behind it. You will be relieved to know that the yacht has since been moved from the open mooring into the nearby marina, so it no longer offers itself as a feature of the landscape.

The oil terminal

Sometimes, the light falling on the oil wharf lifts an otherwise banal structure and makes it quite attractive. I liked it anyway.

That will do for now. See you next time.

  • *High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, RCAF
  • **Shakespeare, Macbeth
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May 15, 2019 … grinding of teeth

I spend a lot of time agonising over my photographic ability. I get lots of positive feedback from you, gentle readers and I thank you for it. But my severest critic remains unsatisfied. My best images still fall far short of the best images in the competitions I occasionally  enter.

The infuriating thing is that most of their winning images are within my technical capability. What my images usually lack is their genius way of seeing, of extracting something extraordinary, and usually very simple, from the banal complexity of ordinary life. A self-inflicted handicap is my tendency to shoot in broad daylight rather than in the dramatic low light of the blue and golden hours associated with the start and end of each day. Perhaps I need to get up earlier.

Wanting some images to submit for two prestigious national competitions, I spent half a day skimming through the 5,500 or so images I have retained since January 2018. I make far too many images and retain far too many “snapshots”. In case you are unaware, snapshot is a very derogatory term in photographic circles. I extracted about 50 images that would not embarrass me. I reduced that to 14 images a very few of which might be deemed worthy of acceptance for display. As an accredited judge myself, I am aware of the mercurial fate that makes a judge like or dislike an image so more in hope than expectation I have entered the two competitions and will let you know in due course how I fared.

But as for now, I am engaged in culling the sad images that I should never have kept and am trying even harder to see with the eyes of genius to which I aspire. But enough of the flagellation, here are some shots made since I last wrote.

Autumn colour
Pastoral scene in Silverstream

Silverstream is one of those Hutt Valley places settled early by homesick pioneers who were desperate for the sights and colours of their distant homeland. Seeds were planted and a century or so later we see the lovely colours of deciduous trees in Autumn. It is a brief splash of colour and I needed to position myself carefully to exclude power poles and the severe evergreens of native bush in the background.  I might have gone for a square format to show just the foliage. On the other hand the fence and the horse tell part of the settlers’ story.

Tide
Incoming tide at the boatsheds, Hutt estuary

Many times before I have shown images from the Hikoikoi reserve, so the boats and the boatsheds may be familiar. In my opinion, each visit is different. The boats swing, the tide comes and goes, the clouds and the light vary and each visit offers the chance to see the same place in a new way. I used a wide angle lens (equivalent to 18 mm on a full frame camera) and positioned the camera very close to the sand, I was so intent on the visual aspect of the incoming tide that I didn’t realise how fast it was coming until it seeped through my shoes into my socks.

blue
Blue on blue … the new Lyall Bay Surf Lifesaving club’s premises

Wellingtonians who have been away for a while may recall the surf lifesaving club’s wooden building on Lyall Bay. The old building is dead and gone, and a vividly coloured replacement now stands there. The child in the picture was incidental but I like his red hat. For anyone concerned for his welfare, his father was seated around the corner out of sight, keeping a close watch. I liked the geometry of the composition and blue of the sea and sky and the many shades of blue in the tiles,

Harbour
Captain Herd of the Settler ship Rosanna said in 1826 of Wellington Harbour “Here all the navies of Europe might ride in perfect safety”. He was presuming they wouldn’t shoot at each other.

Stillness always appeals to me, especially on the water. From my son and daughter-in-law’s housein Maungaraki,  I borrowed their front balcony which offers a great view of Wellington’s inner harbour. The light was a little flat, but there was a glittering quality to the water which made it worth the shot

Nga Kina
The closing gaps and the art works

Town planners speak of “view shafts” by which they mean the ever-declining number of places from which their citizens can see between the high-rise buildings to the waterfront and the sea. I fear that this gap at Queens Wharf gates at the bottom of Whitmore St is endangered. I remember in more innocent times being allowed to wander on the wharves alongside ships even as cargo operations were in progress. Alas the parts of the port to which the public have access seems to shrink each year. However, the authorites allow and even commission art works in the remaining areas to soften the blow. In this case, the fibreglass reinforced concrete work in the foreground is “Nga Kina” by Michael Tuffery. I used a neutral density filter to allow a 20 second exposure to tame the water.

Pukeahu
Though it symbolises the “Red Heart of Australia”, the 300 tonnes of sandstone in the memorial were sourced from Agra in India.

The Pukeahu national war memorial  park is located in front of the old Museum part-way up Taranaki St.  One of its feature memorials consisting of 15 red sandstone columns with inlays of New Zealand grey basalt was gifted to the people of New Zealand by the people of Australia. It’s a struggle to see it from other than the obvious angles so I laid my camera on the ground between the columns and fired it remotely. It was quite a challenge to find a view spot that did not include unwanted external items.

Bee
“How doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour …” (Isaac Watts)

Earlier in the year I reported a visit to the cherry blossoms at the Aston Norwood gardens to the North of Upper Hutt. Mary and I went back there a few weeks ago for lunch, and to seek Autumn colour. There was some, but what caught my eye was the industrious honey bees working on the lovely expanse of flowering yellow shrubs. I had a long lens mounted, and this shot was made at a 300 mm equivalent

tree
Standing against the wind

The South Wairarapa district calls me often, and I love it all the more when there is mist in the background. This shot was made on the Lake Ferry Road looking Westward to the Rimutaka ranges. I tried hard to make that weather-worn tree separate from the backgrounde

Autumn
Red carpet

My last shot in this edition is to re-affirm that Autumn is here, and indeed almost over. These leaves are from one of the two Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) in our front yard. It always amazes me how little time passes between the first browning of the summer leaves to a full blown dump of dead red leaves. But each season has its beauty.

So ends another edition. Constructive feedback is always welcome

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Adventure Architecture Camera club History Landscapes Maritime Reflections Weather Wellington

October 11, 2018 … self-inflicted injury

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

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

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

flannel bush
Flannel bush

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

Tarakena
Rock pools in Tarakena Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Hutt River
Hutt River estuary

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

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

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

Blue
Blue reflections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Parliament
Parliament Building, Wellington

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

planes
I’m a sucker for receding planes

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

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

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

Wellington
How happy I am to live in this beautiful city

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

 

 

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Adventure Architecture Camera club Cook Strait History Island Bay Landscapes Light Maritime Moon mountains night Sunset Weather Wellington

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

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

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

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

Yachts
Friday night sailing regatta in Wellington Harbour

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

Zealandia
Beautiful New Zealand bush in the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary

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

Ngauranga
Early evening rush hour in Ngauranga Gorge

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

Mist
Misty morning on the harbour

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

Moonrise
Moonrise as seen from home

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

Island Bay
Island Bay at sunset

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

Strait
A golden view across the strait

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

Thorndon
The earliest houses of Thorndon

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

Pencarrow
On the beach at Pencarrow

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

 

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Adventure Architecture Camera club History Landscapes Light Otaki Paremata Santa Rosa sunrise Sunset Weather Wellington

October 13, 2017 … around the region and further afield

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

Harbour and CBD
A moody evening in Wellington

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

Waiwhetu
In the heart of Lower Hutt on the Waiwhetu Stream

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

Exhibition
Hutt Camera club’s annual exhibition

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

Drizzle
Early morning drizzle in the Hutt Valley

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

Camborne
Towards the setting sun from the water tower at Camborne

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

Dotterel
Banded dotterel just below the swirling wind and sand

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

Otaki Forks
High water levels in the fast flowing Waiotauru River

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

Yachts
Good sailing days are not lost just because it rains

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Categories
Adventure Birds Haywards Hill History Landscapes Machinery Maritime Martinborough Wairarapa

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.

 

 

Categories
Academic Architecture Camera club History Kelburn Landscapes Light Military Paekakariki Railway Weather Wellington

October 5, 2016 … the sun comes back again

There was a dinner in town for my friend, PhD supervisor and former colleague, Emeritus Professor Pak Yoong to mark the occasion of his retirement. Several of us who were successfully navigated by him to our doctorates gathered to honour his dedication to our success. It was a delightful occasion.

Hutt
The Hutt Valley as seen from the Cable Car terminus at Kelburn

As always, I arrived early, so to fill in time went up to Kelburn and made some landscape shots from the top of the cable car. This image is looking up the harbour to the Hutt Valley. My home is just around the corner of the hill on the left.

Coffee
They serve excellent coffee and make some fine hamburgers, I am told

On Saturday, for the fourth year in a row, I was the leader of the Wellington Worldwide Photowalk. Each year, up to 50 photographic walkers in any one location gather and walk for somewhere between one and two hours around a route planned by the leader, making images and enjoying each other’s company. We usually conclude our efforts in a hostelry and share the successes and failures of the walk. This year, the numbers were down with just 18 registered, but those of us ho walked, despite grey and damp weather had a good time anyway. One of my shots, taken at the starting point on Abel Smith St, was of a bus that has been converted to a coffee shop.

Seating
Tables and chairs, usually more congenial when the sun is out

The customer seating inside the fence is just as quirky as the bus.

Memorial
War memorial … one of my walkers gives it scale

From there, we walked along to the national war memorial at Pukeahu Park on Buckle St. I had timed this walk to be close to sunset, knowing that this was the first weekend of Daylight Saving Time, and anticipating warm sunshine and interesting shadows. Sadly, the strongest colour came from the red stone of the Australian contribution to the memorial. It had rained before we started and again, heavily after we finished, so I suppose we should count ourselves lucky.

Marina
Seaview Marina on a grey day

The greyness continued for a few more days , and I decided to try the new adapter I had acquired to allow me to use my ND filters on my wide angle lens. As you can see, I wasn’t kidding about the grey.

Marines
US Marines memorial at Paekakarariki

A visit was made to Queen Elizabeth II Park, on the Kapiti coast, in the hope of finding dabchick chicks. I found dabchicks and a few ducklings but no chicks.I did get a slightly different view of the memorial to the United States Marines, in honour of the 15,000 or so young men who camped and trained here before setting out to fight and in many cases die,  in  the famous battles of the Pacific War. This particular memorial is n the form of profiles representing the little huts that typified the camps.

Train
Commuter train at Paekakariki

A train bound for Waikanae held up the exit from the park. The track curves, here, so be assured I was taking no foolish risks.  Look closely at the waves in the tracks. I saw a similar perspective in a shot of a high speed train in Germany recently and was struck by the absolute precision of their tracks. A fast train would go airborne  on this kind of engineering.

Categories
Architecture Christchurch History

July 27, 2015 … darkness and hope

Yesterday we came home passing through Christchurch.

Restart mall
The Restart Mall, made of containers. It was a tremendous morale booster in those early days.

Since the devastating earthquake on 22 February, 2011, 1,616 days have passed. Human expectations vary, but for those who don’t live there, it comes as a shock to see how much, and how little has been done to restore this beautiful city. Perhaps the most telling thing, to me, is the number of empty spaces where fine buildings once stood.  True that there are a lot of construction sites, a lot of cranes, a lot of fenced off areas where work is happening. My memory goes back to the time I spend in Osnabruck, Germany as a child in the early fifties, when bomb sites were still common, seven years after the war. Among the earliest defiant beacons of hope for recovery in Christchurch was the Restart Mall in the area adjacent to Oxford Terrace between Cashel and Lichfield Streets. It was constructed using 40 foot shipping containers as the structural basis. Bright colours and varied food outlets defy the misery that might follow the disaster.

Building
From the Restart Mall , a view of the new Christchurch arising

Across the road to the South between Lichfield and Tuam Streets the block has been cleared and new tower blocks are going up, and I would wager the structural integrity of these buildings will be the highest in the world.

Survivor
A survivor on High Street

Next, we parked on Manchester Street and went back round the corner to High Street where at least one older building survives, though its near neighbours did less well.

Tram
Tourist tram on High St

Looking back down High Street to the South East, I was delighted to see the tourist tram rumbling towards us. It was knocked out in the September 2010 earthquake, and they got it up and running again before the big one in February 2011. And here it is again, making its jaunty way around the tourist loop from Cathedral Square down Oxford Tce and Cashel St, then back up High St to the square.

Coranes
Early days on a construction site

Cranes are everywhere. This block to the west of High Street between Hereford and Cashel has two tower cranes, three large mobile cranes and a pile driver. It’s going to be a long haul.

Hope
Reflection of hope

I saw the cranes as a symbol of hope, and noticed one reflected in surviving windows of the old BNZ building on the corner of Hereford and Colombo streets.

Post Office
Post Office building in Cathedral Square

Cathedral Square was almost deserted on a bright Winter Sunday morning. The old Post Office building looks remarkably intact, though the safety fence around it suggests that it is unsafe. It is still a fine looking building and I would like to see it preserved.

Godley
John Robert Godley, founder of the Canterbury colony

John Robert Godley still maintains his watch over the city, as he has done since 1850. Sadly, the plinth on which he stands is shaky, and steel barriers keep the public at a distance.

Cathedral
The ultimate symbol of Christchurch

Of course no visit to the square is complete without viewing the cathedral. Heartbreak and hope combine in this most Cantabrian building of all. Opinions are many on the replacement or restoration question. I have no stake in that battle except to say that I think the people who should decide are the members of the Cathedral parish of the Anglican diocese in Christchurch.

Kia kaha, stay strong, good people of Christchurch.

 

Categories
Animals Aviation History Horowhenua Landscapes Machinery

February 8, 2015 … a day on the farm

Thanks to a friend the previous night, Mary and I spent much of yesterday on a farm a little North of Levin.

Caterpillar
Pull, bump, rumble. No electric starters here.

The Horowhenua Vintage Machinery Club were having their Harvest Weekend. It was a bit like an old-time Agricultural and Pastoral show without the fun fair. Don’t get me wrong, for those of us who love this stuff, it was enormous fun. It was a joy and a delight and I have struggled to keep the number of images down. I skipped over a genuine “Surrey with a fringe on top” and went to the heavy equipment. The man leaning over this 1926 Caterpillar tractor is starting it. He inserts a steel rod into a hole in the flywheel and gives a mighty heave. There is a bump, a cloud of smoke and she is rumbling away, ready to resume service. I hate to think of the consequences if that rod didn’t come free.

Fordsons
A celebration of Fordson tractors

The next group on the paddock was dedicated to a special anniversary for the Fordson tractors and it seems that you could have them in any colour as long as it was blue with orange trim. But if you look closely on the ridge above the man in the hat, there is a team of Clydesdales hauling a plough.

Clydesdales
Six might Clydesdales at work

Oh great glory, what a magnificent sight. Six mighty animals pulled that plough to create a furrow that was straight and true. There was a bit of trouble with the remains of the old oat crop getting tangled in the blades so there was a pause while the paddock was mowed.

Furrows
A 1919 Fordson creating beautiful furrows under the expert hand of a master of his craft

Meanwhile, one of the old Fordsons dating from 1919 was doing alternate ploughing runs. Its driver had obviously been doing this for many long years, and his furrows too were impressively straight.

Traction engines
Behind the lineup for the Concours, a Burrell and a Garret traction engine taking people for rides

My next moment of enchantment was seeing a pair of steam-powered traction engines trundling around the paddock at the top of the slope.

At the helm
At the wheel of the Garret, it is necessary to steer every inch of the way

I was privileged to be allowed to climb up into the driver’s seat of the Garrett, and with an expert beside me operating throttle and brake, I steered it on a circuit of the paddock. The steering is very low geared, and the chains that connect the steering wheel to the rigid front axle are a bit slack, so it was took a lot of turns of the handle to get where I was supposed to be. My admiration to the men who took eight hours to drive them on the public roads from Feilding to Levin.

Ag-cat
A modern visitor pays his respects

There was a top-dressing aircraft working nearby and its pilot decided to do a fly by. The stream of smoke is clearly a display gimmick since it is emitting from the turbine’s exhaust stack. In any event, this Grumman Ag-Cat is set up for spraying and it couldn’t drop a concentrated stream like that.

Tractor
1935 McCormick-Deering

In the main ring, each of the tractors was being introduced and welcomed by the master of ceremonies before it did a circuit for the admiring crowd. This lady is driving a 1935 McCormick-Deering W12 and is towing another period piece in the form of a potato planting machine.

Oil engine
Oil engine in full song

All around the perimeter were groups of displays of various equipment including some very old oil engines and devices for powering threshers or shearing equipment. A modern-day inspector of Occupational Safety and Health would have conniptions at all the ways you could lose a limb while working on these machines. Look at that flywheel spin.

Farmalls
… and in the red corner, the Farmalls

At the other end of the main paddock there was a great collection of red tractors, mostly the McCormick-Deering Farmalls. There were refreshments available, tea, coffee, and good old-fashioned farm scones. There were hobby displays and signs saying beware, men at play.  It was the most delightful day, with lovely friendly people who loved their association with the land, and with the machinery that worked it.

Tired but very happy.