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April 28, 2022 … catching casual beauty

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

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

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

Say it with flowers

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

Cosmos

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

Long-tailed pea-blue butterfly

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

Sitting in judgement

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

Home

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

Old and New-ish

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

Strait Feronia

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

Royalty

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

Mill Creek

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

Mouse traps

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

A fully functioning death star?

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

Afternoon sun

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

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

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adversity Evans Bay flowers harbour insects Landscapes Light Maritime Reflections Weather Wellington

April 4, 2022 … procrastination rules

Mary and I recently celebrated fifty two years of marriage. Wow! How did that happen? I have to say, I got lucky. Very lucky.

I recommend, as always, that you click on each image to see a larger version.

This edition was scheduled for 4 April, but various distractions held me up. Now it is Good Friday. To those who celebrate the season with me, I wish you a Happy Easter.

We all live in a yellow submarine?

Oriental Bay Marina on a very nice morning. The boat sheds are reflected in the still water and a young couple come striding past with their dog.

Yucca

Our neighbours have a trio of yucca plants at their front gate. They are spectacular during their all too brief flowering season.

A splash of red

From Lowry Bay looking across the harbour on a beautiful morning. The two kayakers in mid-harbour were taking advantage of the conditions and fishing. I am always surprised that the kayak is a sufficiently stable platform for this, especially if the fish is a big one.

Finger licking clean

Sitting in my car in the automatic car wash, I was intrigued by the patterns in the soap bubbles through which a far-flung outpost of Colonel Sanders’ empire was visible.

Staged disaster

When the weather turned unpleasant I decided to play with some still life. I enjoyed this one. I wasted the minimum possible amount of wine, transferring it to the glass with an eye-dropper

Evans Bay

The weather was a bit up and down, so whenever the water was still I seized the opportunity, even though I have done the same scene many times before.

CentrePort

Way back in 1951, during the great waterside strike, there were over fifty ships in port, with perhaps 20 of them alongside the wharves. Back in those days there was much more usable wharf space. These days, four modest sized ships seem to constitute a near full port.

Making the most of it

Another weather opportunity grabbed. In Oriental Bay I liked the view back past the Carter Fountain. The red monstrosity in the lower centre is the “boat cafe”. It grieves me because it was once a very fine and powerful steam tug, the Aucklander, built on the Clyde in 1958. She supplemented the William C Daldy and the Te Awhina in guiding the big ocean liners of the day for the Ports of Auckland. She must have been amongst the last of the tugs powered by triple expansion reciprocating steam engines. My Dad took me down in her engine room and I was hugely disappointed that they were both cased in sheet steel with no visible moving parts and lacked the elegance of the visible castings of earlier years.When its time was up, the Auckland Harbour Board sold it to a Wellington business and now it’s a darned restaurant. Bah!

Heavy industry

The hedge outside our kitchen window was recently trimmed, thus depriving the various bees of access to the flowers. Despite this, the bees were able to locate the few remaining blooms and I could locate the bees through the open kitchen window with a long lens.

Web master

A recent series of still foggy mornings allowed me to catch spider webs covered in the morning dew. There are so many varieties of web and this was my favourite on the day.

Stillness

The Point Howard Marina was just perfect from my perspective. The water was a perfect mirror and the sea mist hid the city and its hills.

Out fishing

This little fizz-boat with its two 90hp Evinrudes scarcely ruffled the surface as the owner set out on his trip.

That will do for now. See you next time.

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adversity Art Dolphins flowers insects Weather Wellington

February 14, 2022 … looking for new ways of seeing

The remains of tropical cyclone Dovi was battering Wellington as I began to write. Summer feels more like winter today, despite the 15°C temperature. A howling Southerly was blasting rain against the windows and the Cook Strait ferries were cancelled. Add to that the burgeoning covid numbers, and the ridiculous protest at parliament, and the world seems to have gone mad. Nevertheless, I am still taking pleasure from the small things I find nearby, and have begun getting interested in the simplicity to be found in the world around me. And everything is so much clearer after the two recent cataract procedures.

Argentine ants?

We have lived in Normandale since 1980. In all that time we have never been troubled by ants. That might be about to change. I suspect that these are not the common black ants. They are probably the invasive Argentine ants. I found them difficult to photograph. These were revealed when a small rock was turned over and they were scurrying all over, moving quickly in and out of my focus zone.

Seed head

This weird alien was given to me as a possible photographic subject. I was baffled, having no idea what it was. Happily my preferred plant identification app (https://identify.plantnet.org) took a shot and suggested that it might be the seed head of a plant called Alpine avens. That ID seems unlikely since the object was found in Normandale and that is a truly alpine plant, but I am reasonably confident that it is indeed a seed head of some kind.

Nature is red in tooth and claw

A buzzing noise on the front corner of the house caught the attention. It seems that the bumble bee had flown too close to the spiders web. The bee was putting up a valiant fight, trying to position its sting towards its foe. The spider however was agile and aggressive dancing all around the bee, gradually wrapping the bee in more and more silk. Eventually the bee subsided and was dragged into the spider’s lair.

Incoming

Mid summer is not behaving well at all. I was in Oriental bay looking back up the harbour towards the Hutt Valley where there were heavy clouds delivering a downpour on the washing we had hung out under almost clear skies an hour earlier. When we got back to the valley everything had been thoroughly rinsed, and the drying process had to start all over.

Even if she did, you can’t prove it.

Lovely green insect. It took me a while to get the identification but it is a Katydid. It was moving around vigorously so it spent a little time in the fridge and that slowed it down significantly. I got several shots in while she was slowed down, but the effects soon wore off and I had to turn her loose outside.

Lavender

Mary has a cluster of lavender plants in a pot at the back door . I see them in various lights from dawn to dusk, and in wind sun and rain and always find them attractive. I decided to arrange a parade.

Heavy lifter

The old myth about bumble bees is that they have insufficient wing area to fly according to conventional aerodynamic theory, but since they can’t read they go ahead and fly anyway. The reality is that they flap their wings forward and backwards and generate some powerful vortices … yes I have explained it inadequately but it will do for this purpose. There have been a lot of bumble bees around recently including this one on a rose in the Wellington Botanic Garden.

Dahlia

While I was having a recent period of downtime from driving, a kindly neighbour gave me one of her dahlias. It seemed so perfect and so delicate that I had to give it a shot. My prior experience with dahlias is that tend to be quite heavy and substantial flowers. This one was quite translucent in the lightbox.

Sunflower

The local birds get well cared for with the provision of fruit and wild bird seed. however, their table manners leave a lot to be desired and a lot of the seed gets dropped. Thus we have a couple of self-sown or bird-sown sunflowers. They are not spectacular specimens but pretty enough in their own way.

Maidenhair fern

l have recently started to enjoy the Japanese idea of “Wabi-Sabi” In photography terms this is usually manifested in terms of minimalist images of transience and beauty. Imperfection and decay are common themes. In this instance, I used the newly emerged branch of a maidenhair fern against a porcelain bathtub.

Daddy Longlegs

This little chap has spun a minimal sort of web across the mouth of a yellow plastic bucket. Unfortunately he/she is hanging beneath the web so the image is of the arachnid’s underside.

St Francis of Assisi

This character-filled statue of Francis of Assisi belongs to Mary. I love its gentle simplicity and thought the candles add an attractive ambience. The long exposure didn’t treat the flames kindly, but it will do for now.

High flyer

I was at Seatoun Beach on my way around the peninsula when I saw two kite-surfers enjoying the stiff Nor’Wester. I was amazed at how high this young lady got when she decided to leave the water.

Fishing expedition

There was a significant pod of dolphins in Lyall Bay last week. Perps a hundred of these magnificent creatures were stirring the bay into a froth. And then out of the South nine of so dolphins came bouncing across the bay in unison and I speculate that they were herding a school of fish towards the larger part of the pod.

That will do for this week. See you next time. Don’t forget to click on the images for a larger view.

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Adventure Arachnids Birds Butterflies insects Lakes Landscapes Light Moon night Plant life

November 29, 2021 … with new eyes

That’s a fairly heavy handed reference to my cataract operation scheduled for later today, for which I have high hopes. So, for now, let’s see whether my metaphorical new eyes are making progress:

Improve each thing hour … (Isaac Watts)

Wellington’s Botanic Garden is always worth a visit in my opinion. Some seasons are more spectacular than others, but there is always something to see. I was too late for the tulips, but a few prolific Rock Rose shrubs were displaying nicely. and were attracting the Honey bees.

Primulaceae

There are seasons of the year when certain flowers have dominance. I love it when there are tulips or poppies for example. At other times, there are random displays of less spectacular species such as a cluster of primulas just above the duckpond. This particular bed of flowers contained a lovely variety of colours arranged in small geometric clusters.

Upstream

Just a little upstream from the duckpond, the creek runs between some stepping stones and the creates little rippling ladder of water which, to paraphrase the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, sparkles out among the fern and bickers down a valley.

Love’s Labours Lost

Beside the steps to our front door, there is a collection of shrubs most dominant of which is the kowhai much loved by the kereru. As I get older, I find my gaze is directed downwards more. This is a self-defence mechanism to avoid trip hazards. It has the advantage that I spot treasures that, in the arrogance of my youth, I would have passed by. I have no clue which bird lost this egg, nor whether its loss was by accident or enemy action. However it came about this is as I found it under the kowhai shrub.

I’m called Little Buttercup

The weather has prevented lawn mowing for a week or two and consequently our lawn is rich with a splendid crop of buttercups and daisies. I am so glad that the American notion of the Home Owners’ Association (HOA) has never been a thing here. Buttercups have always presented a photographic challenge to me. I suspect this might be overcome by the use of a polarising filter to tame the reflections in the flowers. On this occasion I managed to get the surface of the petals reasonably exposed without the aid of the filters. I was a bit surprised after all these years on the planet, to learn that they are poisonous to humans and many animals.

Your best guess?

Many people wondered why I made pictures of new potatoes. If it helps, these little objects are about 1mm x 1.5mm x 2mm and in this case are firmly stuck to the painted surface at the top of a bedroom door. With no idea of what I was looking at, I posted this image to the FaceBook group, “NZ Bug Identification – Spiders, Insects etc”. Within minutes someone said those are the eggs of a Gum Emperor Moth. We have no gum trees nearby so I was baffled. We reasoned that if a gum emperor had laid them, it would be still in the room somewhere, so we started a more thorough search. Mary found it on a window sill

Gum Emperor Moth (female)

The Gum Emperor is among the most spectacular of the New Zealand Moths. This was a moderate example with a span of about 120 mm (about 4.75″). She was absolutely flawless, Like many moths she emerges with neither mouth parts nor waste disposal. Her sole function is to mate, lay eggs and then die. Sadly she found no male so the eggs duly withered and died and a few days later, so did she.

The source

We wondered where our Gum Emperor moth had come from , and the penny finally dropped. Mary had found a fallen eucalyptus branch which had a cocoon on it, and she thought I might wish to photograph it. I had forgotten about it, and in the meantime, the moth had emerged, laid eggs and died. Nature is so extravagant.

Treasure Flower

The wind was howling across the valley and I was waiting outside the War Memorial Library in Lower Hutt for Mary to collect a reserved book. This flower caught my eye and when I found an example that was in a relatively sheltered spot, set up to make the picture. I had no idea what it was, but should not have been surprised that it is yet another South African immigrant. It is Gizania riggers, or more commonly, Treasure flower.

Australian Shoveler

I need scarcely tell you that a favourite place is the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park near Paekakariki. I had been looking for the dabchick carrying its young on its back. I was unsuccessful on this particular day, but did catch this handsome Australian shoveler drake. Look at the length of that extraordinary bill.

Welcome Swallow

This image has a comic back story. Again I went to the bird hide at the Queen Elizabeth park wetlands. Although the door is normally closed with heavy magnetic catch, I couldn’t get in. I administered a hefty kick which should have opened it. It didn’t. Then a voice from inside asked me to wait a moment. There were sounds of hasty rearrangements followed by the bench being dragged away from the door. A few moments later an embarrassed young couple emerged red-faced and made themselves scarce. I felt guilty that I had interrupted them, but it gave me access to this view of the Welcome swallow which is beautifully coloured.

Ripples

The longest arm of the wetlands is surrounded by dense bush and when the water is relatively still, it reflects the green of the bush beautifully. This black shag cruised rapidly across and completed the picture for me. The closely spaced ripples made a beautiful background of black and green.

Parental duty

Then came the sight I hoped to see. The dabchick or weweia is a member of the grebe family. It is apparently rarely found in the South Island. Despite the glossy brown colours of the adult, the chicks are born with dark stripes on a white background. They are carried about in the plumage on the adult’s back until they get too big

Manuka

A visit to the home of daughter Lena and son-in-law Vasely let me see a beautiful manuka specimen. The intensity of the colour attracted me to make the image

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A small pine in the pot next to the manuka had what appeared to be prolific flowers. Closer inspection identified them as tin seed cones.

Before the eclipse

Last week there was the partial eclipse. We got lucky with relatively clear skies over the Hutt Valley. Early in the evening, the red moon rose in the North East and I made this image. Perhaps because I don’t have the very high quality optics and thus rarely do one of those amazing moon shots, I always like to capture some foreground. In this case we can see both sides of Stokes Valley and in the background, the foothills of the Tararuas. Later in the evening when the eclipse proper occurred, the moon was higher in the sky and was obscured by clouds at our place.

That’s all for now. Might see you again in a few weeks.

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Airport Aviation Birds Cook Strait Day's Bay Family flowers harbour History insects Landscapes Light Maritime Masterton Military Paremata Waves Weather Wellington

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
Categories
Arachnids Bees Birds flowers insects Light Rivers Weather

May 22, 2020 … birds and bees

The weeks since my last post have been strange. Despite the easing of our lockdown status to level 2, life feels markedly different to the way it was before the restrictions. Perhaps it’s just the onset of winter weather.

As you will see from the pictures I display this time, I have not been to many places that afford a long view. Traditional landscape shots have been hard to come by. In fact, under the rules of level 2 lockdown, domestic travel is now permitted but I still feel obliged to stay close to home.

WARNING: The penultimate image in this edition is of a spider, so if spiders upset you, approach with caution.

Vivid colour

I was walking down the walkway beside Te Mome Stream near the Shandon golf course in search of our old friend “George”, the white heron. I never did find George on that trip, but these bright pegs (US = clothespins) seemed to make a picture.

Graffiti in the bush

On the same walkway, I encountered this shed tucked into the bush beside the track. I have no tolerance at all for graffitists who I regard as the equivalent of dogs marking their territory. Nevertheless the overall effect was interesting.

Hi, George

A few days later, I finally found George. More precisely, Mary found George while she was out on one of her long walks and texted me as to where she had seen him. I then drove to a street nearby and tip-toed into the area. There he was standing in a place where a storm-water drain empties into the Te Mome stream. I had to engage in a combination of sneaky approach and weird contortions to get a clear shot of him. So nice to see him again.

To see the world in a grain of sand

One of Mary’s treasured pieces of driftwood suddenly revealed the surface pattern that I had been looking at but not seeing for a long time. The Lockdown seems to have developed that skill a little. Please do click to enlarge in order to see the pattern.

A white-faced heron

This image was made at the Hutt River estuary while I was checking to see whether George had returned to his old haunts. George had gone elsewhere, but his smaller cousin, the white-faced heron was standing in the an area of sunlit water, producing an interesting high-key effect.

Madonna

Even as we came out of the level three restrictions, we had some less than pleasant weather. So, back inside for still life shots. Mary has a small sandstone madonna about 75 mm (3″) tall. I used my light tent and made this high key image. It was fun to do.

Pukeko

Still in pursuit of George, I prowled the banks of the Te Mome stream and encountered this handsome pukeko. The pukeko (Porphyrio melanotus) is a member of the swamphen family and there are numerous joke recipes for preparing it for the table. It usually goes, boil with an axe head until the axe head goes soft then discard the bird and eat the axe head. Regardless of its suitability for eating it is a fine looking bird with a vivid red shield on its head and beautiful blue and purple plumage. Did I mention that it has huge feet?

white on white

This flower was part of a bouquet that Mary received recently. As far as I can tell, it is one of the fleabane family and as you might guess, is related to daisies. I rather like the idea of high key images (usually very bright images with minimal shadows). So the faithful light tent was pushed into action again and I think it did a good job displaying the purity of the petals.

Bumble-bee resting

I was hanging washing on the line in our back yard when Mary drew this bumble bee to my attention. It was clinging to a down-pipe on the outside of the house, and looked as if it were about to die. I raced inside for camera and tripod and made images from several angles while it obligingly stayed very still. Then I completed my domestic duties and when I next looked, it had flown away.

Sandra II

Before the lockdown, I used to visit Hikoikoi quite often and am familiar with the working boats that are usually moored there. Sandra II is a sturdy little fishing vessel that, I suspect, rarely goes beyond the harbour limits. Nevertheless, I have seen her owner unloading good hauls of fish. On this occasion he seemed to be preparing to go out.

The elusive George

Another day searching for George and I found him, lurking among the reeds beneath some trees overhanging the stream. He certainly doesn’t make it easy. When I got to close he departed for distant places.

Glass

Another wet day and more indoor work. I am not sure how to describe this piece, but I suspect it to be a bas relief. It qualifies by virtue of no undercutting, but it is inverted, carved into the back of the glass block. Again about 75 to 100 mm tall.

Imperial gaze

This statue of Queen Victoria was cast it’s steely gaze over Kent and Cambridge Terraces since it was moved there in 1911 to make way for the trams in its original location in Post Office Square, It’s a fine statue, but the panels on the plinth were controversial because the Scottish artist had a rose-tinted view of the signing of the Treaty of Waiting.

Vagrant spider (Uiliodon albopunctatus)

Mary spotted this large black spider in the upstairs bedroom. It was moving pretty fast so she yelled for me to bring my camera. She then caught it in a glass jar and put some cling film to secure the beast. Neither of us was aware of it at the time but Uiliodon albopunctatus has a reputation for being aggressive and capable of inflicting a nasty bite. Like almost all New Zealand spiders, its bit is non-toxic. An hour in the fridge slowed it down considerably and I was able to pose it on a sheet of white paper and make my images. As it started to warm up and show signs of animation, I released it unharmed into the garden where it might normally live.

Leucanthemum (I think)

This flower is growing on a large shrub in a neighbour’s somewhat overgrown piece of undeveloped land. Botanical identification is quite difficult to me and often a flower seems to match at least five or six candidates.

That will suffice for this round. I look forward to your company in a few weeks.

Categories
adversity Art Bees Family flowers Food insects Landscapes Light Plant life sunrise Weather

May 5, 2020 … so much to be grateful for

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

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

Down the hole

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

Spruce cone

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

More neighbourly craft

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

Cicada

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

Seizing the moment

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

Glass ware

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

Lost marbles

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

Familiar scene, different light

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

Katydid

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

Spinster

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

For medicinal purposes

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

Longhorn

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

Yucca flowers

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

Not George, but he’s not far away/

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

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

Categories
Adventure Architecture Art Birds Cook Strait flowers insects Landscapes Light Machinery Maritime Turakirae Waves Weather Wellington

February 8, 2020 … articulation

A random post on Facebook last week caused me to think about the processes and mechanisms of human thought, and especially my own. The writer was a person who thought verbally and was shocked to learn that there were people who think in other ways such as in images. This came as a shock to me too, but from the other side of the fence. Somehow, until now I had never understood the difference between verbal and visual thinking. I seem to be a visual thinker.

There is nothing linear, logical or even verbal in my usual thought pattern, as far as I can tell. Nothing that remotely resembles a coherent verbal sentence in my native language. Though I don’t suffer from synesthesia, I can sense that this moves in that direction. Whatever is on top at the moment can be displaced in an instant by something triggered by a smell, a sound, a taste, a touch or something glimpsed out of the corner of my eye. If someone asks what I am thinking about, it takes quite some effort to put together a coherent answer. This can be frustrating to those who want to know what I am thinking, when I am unable to respond. I am not being difficult, I just have nothing useful to give them.

It makes me wonder how, in Heaven’s name, I ever completed my post graduate degrees which obviously required lots of linearly evolving verbal exploration of the topics. If I were to choose a word to describe my thinking processes, it would be “scatterbrained”. Now these are matters for me to explore in more depth and in some other arena. However, I wanted to see how all this impacts on my photography and how it affects my sense of what is art. So this week, you may notice a slight change in the style of the purple prose.

Varnish

On the city side of Wellington’s Clyde Quay is Chaffers Marina, characterised by a generally upmarket fleet of glossy yachts. On the other side of the quay, nearer to the Freyberg Pool is the Oriental Bay marina where the moored boats are much more humble. I made this picture for a number of reasons. First, there is that boat with its lovely juxtaposition of red/gold varnish and white paint. Second, the hull is reflected nicely in almost calm water. Finally, this is an honest-to-goodness home-built yacht, Look at the uneven seams between the planks clearly visible on its side.

While I try not to be rule-bound in making my compositions, I also know that some time-worn conventions help make a better image. For example, I try to avoid having eye-catching material intruding at the edges of the picture. I also try to ensure that it is clear to the viewer what the subject of the picture is.

Seeds of an idea

Mary came into the house with a beautifully symmetrical dandelion seed head and thought I might like to make a picture. At first, I was not enthusiastic, but conditions outside were uninviting, so I set up the camera with tripod, macro lens and my “dark box”. To be clear, the seed head was positioned outside the box, and was illuminated by light from the window. I rarely use artificial light. I use the box to provide a totally black background behind the subject.

This image is made using a technique called focus stacking . It consists of about eight images, the first focused on the nearest point, in the front centre of the subject and each successive image is focused a little further back until the last one reaches the “equator” of my little globe. The images are then merged in Photoshop (which is not a bad word, nor is it in any way “cheating”). The software takes the in-focus sections of each image and if I made enough images produces a fully focused whole. I have attempted this several times before, but I think this one is the most successful to date.

Giant dragonfly

In the Pauatahanui Wildlife Refuge, I was walking along the trail to the Thorpe Family bird hide when my peripheral vision was captured by a transparent blue thing flitting about. To be honest it was not until it paused on a bush that I got a clear view and could identify it as a dragonfly. Later inspection of the picture suggests that it is the New Zealand bush giant dragonfly (Uropetala carovei) or in Maori, kapokapowai. I had the long lens on ready for birds so had to step back to be able to focus … and the darned thing instantly zipped off on its erratic zig-zag course. However, it didn’t stray far from where I first saw it so I stood patiently and attempted a shot each time it paused. The autofocus systems on modern cameras are wonderful in many circumstances, but not in this case. The camera doesn’t know whether I want to focus on the third stalk of grass, the eighth, the insect or anything else that might be in the direction I am pointing it. Most of the images I took were not as sharp as I hoped for but I got lucky with this one. Isn’t nature beautiful? I would have liked to miss the shiny blade of grass across the lower left, but I’ll take it.

Dabchicks with a dabchick chick

Many of my favourite photographic gurus counsel against setting out with a photograph or even a plan in mind. Rather they advise keeping an open mind and waiting until something grabs your attention. This is consistent with my erratic way of thinking as discussed earlier. However, I am prepared to make an exception for dabchicks. The New Zealand dabchick (Poliocephalus rufopectus) is a member of the grebe family and it holds a special charm for me. This is especially true when they have chicks. In the first week or two the chicks ride on the back of one or other parent, hidden in the plumage except when they stick their heads up to be fed. By three or four weeks they are too big to be carried. They are still fed by the parents for up to ten weeks after which they make their own way in the world. Their legs are very far back on their body and the feet are much better for propulsion in water than walking on land. Scientific naming conventions are rarely as direct and prosaic as in this case – Poliocephalus rufopectus translates as grey head, red breast.

Near the end of the free ride

Here we see two chicks on the back of the left parent, hoping that the other parent will dive to the bed of the pond to get food. What they may not know is that the success of the almost constant feeding will make them too big to be carried after about two weeks. To my eye, the appeal of the two dabchick images above is more in the story than in any artistic value or composition. This tends to confirm the advice that it is often better to shoot what catches the eye than to make a preplanned image.

Soft shades

Most of my photography is a solitary activity. I don’t mind being in my own company. On this occasion, I had a friend with me and after visiting the dabchicks together, we went up over the ridge into the Maungakotukutuku Valley where there seemed to be some swirling mist about the tops. Well, when we got down into the valley, no swirling mist, just soft but steady drizzle. It was different to the effect I expected to find, but I am always a sucker for receding layers of landscape in soft shades of grey. Sadly, they tend not to do well in the eyes of other judges. On the other hand, I don’t care. I like them.

The Prancing Pony

In Oriental Bay, I pulled in to a rare empty car park slot with the intent to get a shot across the harbour. My butterfly brain was instantly distracted by this beautiful Ferrari California in the adjacent slot. Pininfarina was a design genius, and the underlying machinery is amazing also. I am torn between admiration for the sheer beauty of the thing and my revulsion for the ostentatious consumerism. Despite being a ten year old car, these things sell for about NZD$160,000. A new one would go for double that. I would never spend more than a tenth of that on a car.

Hanging in there.

After I made the image of the seed head earlier, I neglected to clean up after myself. A day or three passed by and the poor thing began to droop. It was in a water-filled vase, so it fought the good fight for a while before it began to droop. Finally remembering that I needed to put things away, I went back to the dandelion, and loved the beautiful curve that I saw. A few seeeds had dropped so the head was not quite as symmetrical as it had been, but close enough that it still made a nice image. Since I had not yet put the dark box away, it was pressed into service again, and another image was made before the dandelion was finally discarded. This is still in natural light from the window.

Lindanger is not in danger

A hazy morning with no wind tempted me down to the harbour in Lowry Bay where the tanker Lindanger was emerging from the mist near Miramar. CentrePort’s two tugs, Tiaki and Tapuhi emerged from the mist behind Matiu/Somes Island and made fast at the designated tug-safe areas. As the trio approached the Seaview oil terminal, the red paint became more obvious. A friend who is both a professional photographer and an experienced photographic judge once told our camera club that any image that contained a large clear splash of red had a significantly greater chance of being accepted by other photographic judges. As an accredited judge myself, I suppose there is some truth in this, but usually I want more than just a splash of colour. In this case the reason I made the image was the separation from the bank of mist in the background.

White fronted tern getting rest while it can.

My many encounters with terns always reinforce the delight I take in their delicacy, the sheer elegance of their presence whether in flight or at rest. If the red-billed gulls are weight-lifting gymnasts, then the white fronted terns are a ballet troupe. They tend to come ashore in times of sustained strong wind and find a place where they flatten themselves below the flow of the wind. The whole flock usually weathercock into the wind. In this case, the flock was on the crumbling jetty near the remains of the old patent slip in Evans Bay. I was amused at the way they merged with the guano-mottled concrete of the wharf.

Wind, wind, and more wind

When the wind is strong enough to be annoying and nothing else comes to mind, I often choose to follow the Wainuiomata Coast Road down to the Southern shore near Baring Head. On this occasion, though the wind was not all that strong, I saw some fairly forceful waves near Turakirae. I love watching long slow waves. If the waves are more than ten seconds apart they tend to be worth watching. Slow majestic walls of water advance towards the rocky beach and arrive with a thump that you can feel in the ground through your feet. The white wind-whipped wave crests contrast beautifully with the deep green wall of each succeeding wave.

One of many stairways in Wright’s Hill Fortress

A few days ago we observed Waitangi Day, New Zealand’s national day. After attending morning observances I drove to the South side of Karori intending to look for landscape opportunities from the top of Wright’s hill. When I got to the top, I discovered that the people who manage the old World War II fortifications were having an open day. The fortress is an extensive network of tunnels and gun emplacements under the upper part of Wright’s Hill. Though I am not fond of enclosed spaces, I had never visited before so I paid the $8 to the restoration society and set out along the tunnels. There were lots of other visitors but the extensive nature of the tunnels meant that I could easily get images without other people in them.

The Engine Room in Wright’s Hill

In the 1940s when the complex was built, it was necessary for the facility to have its own power to enable all the activities associated with the two big 9.2 inch guns installed there. To the great sadness of the restoration society, the two Ruston Hornsby 6VCR diesel generators which provided power for the guns are both missing major vital parts. Ruston Hornsby is long defunct, so spare parts are no longer an option, and any replacement bits will likely need to be made from scratch. The smaller 4VRO provided lighting and forced air for the facility and it has recently been restored to running order. Why did I make this image? My dad spent much of his life working in ships’ engine rooms and I was often allowed to clamber down the oily companionways to inspect the mighty machinery. Engines like these hold a place in my heart and remind me of my Dad.

That is all for this issue. I am not sure whether my thoughts about thinking make sense to anyone else, but they may explain the scattergun approach to subject selection.

Categories
Adventure Birds Cook Strait Forest insects Landscapes Light Maritime Reflections Rivers Rotorua sunrise Wellington

June 20, 2019 … an odd variety

Thank you to those who pointed out to me that I had lost the ability for readers to click on images and see a larger copy. I believe I have now restored that. The images give a better account of themselves in their larger versions. Just click on each image.

Since the last edition I have made several hundred new pictures, of which I now present the fourteen that most appeal to me. Other than that they are all outdoor shots, I seem to have no consistent theme. Perhaps I am the photographic equivalent of a general practitioner rather than a specialist.

The weather played a role as always, and there were a number of days which were so bleak and unpleasant that I didn’t venture out at all.

Tararua sunrrise
A somewhat surly sunrise – from home

Assuming that I have indeed overcome the technical issue, have a look at the large version of the image above. There was no wind and plenty of cloud but this sunrise had a real presence. It is a tribute to the stabilization capability of the modern camera that this low-light shot was made hand-held at 1/8 second.

Otoroa
Otoroa sets out on its journey home

For many years the Otago Harbour Board’s former pilot vessel has been an elegant and sturdy presence in Chaffers Marina. Built in Port Chalmers in 1965 by the well-known builders Miller and Tunnage, this double-ender looks very seaworthy to my inexpert eye and has been converted to a very fine private yacht. Anyway, she has been sold again and is seen here leaving Wellington on her way back to Otago harbour. I was in Oriental Bay when she cruised past on a somewhat hazy day. I liked the separation between the vessel and the Tararua ranges in the background.

Weta
Wellington tree weta – Male

The weta is a creature that you love or hate. This specimen was found guilty of adopting a threatening posture while Mary was hanging out the washing. It was sentenced to being photographed and relocated. It was about 50 mm long (about 2″). That’s a good sized adult though they can be up to 70 mm long. I got down as near as possible to eye level and took a series of images at different focal points and then stacked them to ensure that the result was entirely in focus.

Incoming wave
Heavy onshore swell – South Coast

A strong Nor’Westerly breeze ripped the crests off the waves coming in from the South. This image was caught at Island Bay. Apart from the flying foam, my attention was caught by the light on the face of the incoming wave. I got other images without the gulls but decided they gave a sense of scale.

Turbulence
Agitation

On the same day, at a place just below Palmer head in Tarakena Bay near the harbour entrance, the washing-machine like turbulence near the rocky shore was just amazing.

Running Water
A tumbling forest stream

A day or two later, the wind persisted, and I sought out a place that was sheltered. Quite some time had elapsed since my last venture onto the Cannon’s Point walkway near Upper Hutt. Almost as soon as you leave the car park you are in the shelter of the bush and all you can hear is the rush of the wind overhead and the sound of the running water coming down the hills. Like forest streams everywhere, these are naturally chaotic, full of water-borne debris and it is a challenge to find a clear view of the water.

Green
Dense greenery

Many of the landscape photographers whose work I admire and follow on YouTube make their images in the wide open forests of the Europe. You could ride a horse through them. New Zealand bush is a different kettle of fish entirely. The moment you leave the path you encounter a nearly impenetrable wall of damp green foliage. It has its own beauty but you have to work hard to choose a subject in all the chaos.

Pauatahanui
Breathless moment at the Pauatahanui Inlet

I was driving home after a largely fruitless exploration of the Kapiti area and I became aware that something special was forming in my rear-view mirror. The inlet itself was beautifully still, but the scene was made special by the vast arc of cloud above. I have a fondness for delicate greys and this scene delivers them in plenty. The image needs to be viewed as large as possible so click for the larger version.

Estuary
Hutt Estuary from Waione Street Bridge

Walking over the Waione Street Bridge in search of a view back towards the Hikoikoi reserve I came across these reflections. The gentle waves coming into the mouth of the river made attractive patters in the reflections of the industrial area on Port Rd. You take what you can when it is offered.

Old man and the sea
A Hemingway moment

We have been here so very many times before. However, the tight clustering of the boats and above all, the presence of the man in the dinghy made it irresistible to me. I believe the man is the owner of the Sandra, and he often takes it out fishing. I am sure that Ernest Hemingway would have loved to meet him.

Weir
The weir at Silverstream

Yet another scene that I have used before. This was never intended to be a weir, but rather the place where the main sewer pipe from the upper valley crosses the river. The underlying geology allowed the turbulence of the water after crossing the pipe to undercut the river bed and thus form the waterfall. It seems to be a little different each time I visit. This is a long (13 second) exposure hence the creamy area around the rocks.

Silverstream
Morning moisture

Misty mornings almost always tempt me Northwards. This scene is just above and to the East of Silverstream. It was the row of straggly pines against the swirling mist that grabbed my attention. Once I saw it on the computer screen I realised that the strong contrasting light had misled me, and the trees are closer than I thought. I like it anyway.

Falcon
The New Zealand Falcon (Karearea)

As Mary and I pulled up outside our church in Waiwhetu last Sunday, she saw a bird eating something and drew it to my attention. I realised it was a karearea … our beautiful and regrettably rare native falcon. Because of its rarity we jealously guard the kiwi (of which there may be as few as 65,000 left). Estimates put the karearea’s population at between 6.000 and 8,000 so it is much rarer. As I reached for my camera (always in the car when I drive), it picked up its breakfast and flew a few metres to the entrance of the church. I had the wrong lens and the wrong settings but in these circumstances you grab a few shots before you risk changing anything. As I straightened up for a clearer view, she picked up that pigeon and flew away with it. I am advised by Debbie Stewart, the executive director of Wingspan, the bird-of-prey centre in Rotorua, that this is a female of about one year old. The fact that the pigeon has a leaf trapped under its wing suggests to me that it was in the tree when the falcon crashed through the branches and killed it with that wicked hooked beak. 1/15 sec at f6.3 are not the settings I would have chosen if I had time to change things.

Garden
Market garden at Kuku near Otaki

A road trip to Levin yielded little, but as I was getting near to Otaki on the way home, the meticulous rows of what I think are lettuce attracted my attention. The tree in its winter nakedness added to the image as did the lovely green/brown contrast in the field.

That’s all this time. See you when I have some more images.

Categories
Adventure adversity Architecture Art Aviation Bees insects Light Lower Hutt Masterton night Reflections Rivers Weather Wellington

February 24, 2019 …. if you haven’t grown up by now, you don’t have to

This somewhat belated edition is slightly longer than normal because, well, there was an airshow. If you have been reading my ramblings for any length of time, you know that I love a good airshow.  But first, let’s get some random images out of the way. Truth to tell, they are not all that random. They follow the trajectory of my wandering, but the subject matter is fairly random.

Architecture
Architectural quirkiness in Eastbourne

Sometimes my search for artistic form gets a bit desperate. I grit my teeth and clench my fists, hold my breath and strain to see something attractive hidden in the ordinariness around me. It rarely works. Now and then I am rewarded by an image which may not be great, but which pleases me. This architectural detail is on the main road into Eastbourne. I am not sure how practical the house is for its owners but I liked the shapes and proportions of the towers.

Stream
The stream above the ford on the Waiohine Gorge Road

When the members of the family were here from Brisbane recently, we went up the Waiohine Gorge road just North of Greytown in the Wairarapa. As we were coming back, we crossed a ford and from the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a tree-shaded steam  which ran across the road and down into the Waiohine River below. Holiday traffic on the dusty road made it impractical to stop. A week or so ago, I went back there on a quiet week-day morning, to try again. The ford was dry and I thought I had missed the opportunity. Happily the stream was still there and the residual flow goes under the road. You might wonder why the reflected leaves seem blurred. The answer is that there was a strong wind overhead and the highest parts of the canopy were thrashing around.

Bridge
ANZAC Memorial Bridge – Kaiparoro

On the same day after some fruitless wandering in the South Wairarapa,  I was on my way home  via SH2 and had just passed through Ekatahuna when I arrived at the ANZAC Bridge at Kaiparoro. In all the years I have been passing this, I have never stopped to look. The bridge was built in 1921 to cross the previously unbridged Makakahi River, and to serve as a memorial for the six men from the district whose lives were lost in the first world war. I made this picture from beneath the much larger bridge that now carries the busy SH2 traffic over the stream. The old bridge is no longer connected to any roads and its sole remaining purpose is as a memorial.

Cicada
Discarded shell of cicada nymph

Mary likes to be in the garden. I like to look at gardens but rarely participate, except when Mary finds something. This discarded shell of a cicada nymph seemed worth a look. The image is a stacked composite of about seven images to ensure every part is in focus.

Harbour
Wellington Harbour Entrance

At the top of Mt Crawford on the Miramar peninsula sits the deserted but still  grimly locked Mt Crawford Prison. Looking down from its Eastern wall, there is a lovely view of the harbour entrance. In the foreground is Miramar. Seatoun is behind that, and across the water you can see the upper and lower lights at Pencarrow. If you have sharp eyes you can see the Baring Head light to the left of the upper Pencarrow light. Baring Head is the only one of the three that is still operational. If you use your imagination and squint really hard, the Antarctic ice shelf is just 3,200 km over the horizon.

Night
Looking down on Lower Hutt

Earlier this week, there was a super moon, and I tried to catch it rising over the Eastern hills. Sadly heavy cloud obscured its rising and I had to be satisfied with a night shot of the valley below. The darkened tower block in the centre is Hutt Hospital on High St.

Khandallah
It’s always good to find a new viewing platform

I found a new view window down onto the port that provides a more broadside view of the vessels berthed there. On this occasion I caught the Ovation of the Seas and the US Coast Guard icebreaker, Polar Star. Apparently this is the only operational icebreaker left in US Cost Guard service, and she is the first coast guard vessel to visit New Zealand since the suspension of the ANZUS treaty in 1984. Welcome back.

Sunset
It had been a miserable windy overcast day and then this happened

Sometimes I see a sunset only because there is a rosy tint on the Eastern hills. On this night the colour was so intense that I mounted a grab and dash mission. Click for a better view of this image which I caught from the slopes of Maungaraki.

The following images are from the Wings Over Wairarapa airshow held at Masterton this weekend, so if it’s not your thing, skip to the end.

LAV III
A heavier than air machine at the Air show

No matter how fast it goes down the runway, this General Dynamics LAV-III will never take off. Belonging to the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles regiment, it was part of the NZ Defence Forces contribution to the show. Apparently it just fits inside a C-130

Agricola
A beautifully restore piece of history

This ugly duckling is the world’s last surviving Auster Agricola. The prototype of this aerial topdresser was flown in 1955 but no more than ten were ever built. It was good at its job, but the Auster company were not good at selling it to the world. Pity.

PC-12
Horsepower … it would need some serious power to spin that five-bladed propeller

Much more glamorous than the Auster is the Pilatus PC-12 seen here on display at the show. If you click to enlarge, you will see a honey bee sitting on the apex of the spinner, I didn’t see it when I made the image, and was about to tidy up what I thought was a photographic flaw.

Yak 3
Full Noise – a Yak-3

As I have written elsewhere, the airshow was a disappointment to me, with a very limited selection of serious warbirds on display or in action apart from the superb WWI machines belonging to The Vintage Aviation Limited (TVAL). There were lots of Yak-52 trainers and this excellent Yak-3. It has made its presence felt at the Air Races in Reno, racing under the name “Full Noise”. But missing were any real Spitfires, Mustangs, Corsairs or Kittyhawks.

PBY
PBY-5a Catalina rumbles off the runway

The other piece of real hardware on display was this lovely PBY-5a painted in the WWII colours of XX-T of the RNZAF’s number 6 squadron. An aviator and dear friend wrote of them that they took off at 90 mph, cruised at 90 mph and landed at 90 mph.

And now we come to the bit about growing up. After all these years, I got bored at an airshow, and left long before the end. The entry fee was triple what I expected to pay and the aircraft on display were far less varied than in previous years. They would need to up their game by a very long way to get me back to the Wairarapa show. If my Saturday Night Investment Plan (SNIP) ever pays off, I might consider a trip to Oshkosh, but I fear my days at airshows could be in the past.