September 1, 2020 … a change of pace

Oh my goodness, time has slipped by and it has been almost a month since my last post. I have no clue how many regular readers still remain, but if you are one, thank you.

Winter morning – Oriental Bay – August 1

I know that August is generally the kindest of our winter months, but this one was extraordinary. According to the books, Spring is now with us I shall not be surprised if we now get some of the rough weather that we missed in winter. Even as I write, we have a howling Norwester with rain. On this morning, at the beginning of August, my attention was caught by the black-billed gulls at rest on the water at the Eastern end of Oriental Bay. That, and I am always intrigued by the textures of the cityscape from here.

Looking good for 112 years – August 4

At the intersection of Lambton Quay, Mulgrave St and Thorndon Quay this grand old lady has stood in various states since 1908. As the engraved letters attest, this was once the headquarters of the long defunct Wellington Corporation Tramways. Indeed I remember being here in the early sixties when the trams were still operating. My memory is of a constant stream of uniformed drivers and “clippies” coming and going through those doors. The rooftop amendments are not entirely to my liking but I suppose they could have been worse.

Off-peak storage – August 5

Just behind the spot from which I made the image of the old tramways building is a stairway that leads to the concourse of the city’s Sky Stadium. It is a featureless flat concrete walkway that crosses the railyards. This image was made just after 10 am., long after the morning commuter rush is over. I liked the moody atmosphere and the glittering tops of the Korean-made commuter units as they wait for the rush to resume in the afternoon.

At Te Haukaretu Park, Upper Hutt – August 6

The duck pond in Te Haukaretu Park, Upper Hutt is sheltered from the wind and often provides a peaceful scene. I particularly like the form of the trees in the pond.

Atrium – Wellington Station – August 9

Having seen some of the truly great rail terminals of the world, I know that Wellington railway station is a relatively small competitor. Nevertheless it has a handsome and well proportioned main atrium. It lacks the stalls and shops that you might find in Washington or New York, but on the other hand it has a mere 30,000 passengers per day compared with 750,000 in New York.

At Pencarrow Head -August 10

I have the privilege of being allowed to accompany a group of conservationists who specialise in the care and observation of the dotterel population along the South East coast of Wellington harbour. This gets me to Baring Head and beyond in comfort in a car as opposed to the four hour return walk. We saw few dotterels on this day, but I enjoyed the view across the harbour entrance. I should acknowledge that this was one of the few windy days in August.

Pipit – August 11

A second trip to Baring head was also a bust as far as dotterel sightings went, but I enjoyed the company of this New Zealand pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae). They characteristically bob their tail up and down as they walk.

Dabchick at QEII park – August 15

When there is little or no wind, the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park in Paekakariki are a favourite place for me. The still dark waters reflect the green of the surrounding bush and provide a lovely contrast for the water fowl that visit. In this case, the dabchick is moving quickly to escape the photographer.

Pauatahanui Inlet – August 17

Some calm days are better than others. In this case, the water on the Northern side of Pauatahanui Inlet was just perfectly still. I rather liked the pattern made by the rocks.I almost wonder whether I should have cropped out everything above the sandbar.

Shoveler ducks – August 17

I am always fascinated by the Australasian Shoveler duck (Anas rhynchotis). It is the duck equivalent of a baleen whale. It feeds by filtering water through a curtain of fibres in its extraordinary bill to catch plankton, seeds and other edible material. This was also made at QEII park.

Puzzle time – August 20

I mentioned a change of pace. We had long planned trips to see our more distant grandchildren. Sadly the virus has taken away the possibility of a visit to Brisbane any time soon. However, since New Zealand is at alert level 2, domestic travel is possible, so we could fly to Queenstown in time for our youngest grandson’s tenth birthday. For that journey I love to get a Westward facing window seat, and Mary always generously yields it to me. I look for interesting land forms below. I can usually identify the larger settlements and geographic features, but I have fun with the smaller places, grab the shot and try to match it against Google Earth when I get home. In this case, the river caught my eye and then the little township sliding into the view at bottom left. It took me a while to identify the town as Luggate and the river as the Clutha.

Lake Hayes Estate – August 22

Our middle son Andrew lives in Lake Hayes Estate which can be described as a dormitory suburb about 15 km to the North East of Queenstown. I was intrigued by the oak trees that lined many of its streets,. The leaves had turned colour and died many months ago, but refused to let go. Spring in New Zealand is generally regarded as the months of September through November, so we are still seeing Autumnal brown even as nature starts applying some green to the landscape.

Wild Irishman – August 22

Despite the severe economic impact of the covid virus on Queenstown’s tourist industry, there is still a great deal of development to provide new housing. At the Southern end of Kelvin Heights, on the narrow part of the isthmus just beyond the golf course, a large patch of land has been cleared for development. Among the few plants remaining was a sturdy example of the matagouri (Known in colonial times as Wild Irishman). Happily, it is relatively rare in the North Island. It too will go to be replaced no doubt by upscale housing.

Para-penting in Queenstown – August 22

Before anyone gets too excited, no I did not lash out the $219 required for a tandem jump. I don’t do heights, remember. We were at the base of the gondola to the skyline complex where the young folks were about to have a ride on the luge when this pilot and his passenger caught the light as they passed in front of the gondolas.

On Lake Hayes – August 23

I can’t visit Queenstown without spending time at Lake Hayes. I mean the lake itself which seems to enjoy a lot of shelter from the wind. The bird life is interesting and varied. I always hope to see and get close to the crested grebe which we just don’t see in the North. Alas, I saw coots and scaup, oystercatchers and a huge variety of ducks but no grebes. This common mallard drake gets the call because it was bold enough to take centre stage.

Rushing in Arrowtown – August 23

Down below the historic huts in which Chinese miners lived, Bush Creek tumbles through the bush to join the Arrow river. I liked the little waterfall. The light was low enough that I didn’t need a neutral density filter. The rushing effect is conveyed well enough with a mere 2 second exposure.

Clyde Bridge – August 26

Andrew was at work, and the children were at school so Mary and I did a tour through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell to Clyde, Earnscleugh and Alexandra looking for whatever the landscape might reveal. After a great morning tea in Dunstan House, Clyde, we drove over then under the historic Clyde Bridge to catch this view of the Clutha.

Rock of ages – August 26

When we reached Earnscleugh, I made a fortuitous turn into Conroy’s road (recommended) and up through the scientific reserve where the rocks are shaped in fantastic ways. This view from near Black Ridge Winery includes one such formation and then looks beyond across the Manuherakia Valley to the Dunstan Mountains in the background. Somehow, the plentiful birdsong did not spoil the silence of the magnificent landscape.

Coronet Peak – August 27

Family trips always come to an end and so we were homeward bound. Mary gave me her window seat again, and as we left Queenstown we passed over Coronet Peak where the ski-field operators were desperately trying to wring the last out of a virus-ruined season. The snow guns were working hard overnight to keep the popular trails useable. We loved our time with the family, and as always, loved coming home.

I am Groot – August 29

Our amazing spell of benign weather was obviously coming to an end so we looked for a walk that kept us out of the boisterous wind. I suggested the Catchpool Valley area of the Remutaka Forest Park. Mary set out on a brisk circuit of the various tracks while I explored the beech forest areas.This tiny shoot, growing out of a dead log tickled my fancy. The title of the image is borrowed from the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Remutaka Forest Park, – the Five Mile Loop Track – August 29

That tree root in the foreground is fairly obvious so I crossed it without incident. I failed the test on the next one which was concealed in the leaf mould, and did a face-plant. I landed on my camera which ripped my recently repaired macro-lens in two pieces. Waaaahhhhh! No significant personal injury, so I returned to the car park to await Mary.

I hope to post again after a shorter time lapse.

August 8, 2020 … strange weather, but I’ll take it

For almost two weeks now, we have had consecutive days of calm fine weather. In that period, I count some still grey days in which the harbours were still. Wellington has a reputation for its mean winters. According to the calendar, this one has plenty yet to come, but so far it has been a delight.

Centre of bureaucracy
Down to the centre

High in the suburb of Northland is the Te Ahumairangi Hill lookout which affords a view over the bureaucratic centre of New Zealand. The tower block with the green top is the Business School of Victoria University of Wellington. The flat building in front is the high court and then the grey roof of parliament and the “beehive” which houses parliamentary offices. To the right of the beehive is the law school in the old wooden building and behind that the IRD. On the extreme right is Bowen House which contains the overflow for all our pariamentarian’s offices. Oh, and the brick building behind the business school is Wellington railway station.

rapids
Tumbling down the gorge

The Ngaio Gorge carries the Kaiwharawhara stream through lovely Trelissick Park from Ngaio at the top of the hill down to the harbour. It’s a modest stream but I liked the little rapids seen here.

Kayak
Sustained stillness.

A lovely morning at Pauatahanui Inlet and I decided to follow the Camborne walkway around its North West corner. The water was glassy and a bright red kayak entered the frame. As I lined up for my shot, the kayaker put his paddle across the cockpit and became a photographer himself.

Demolition

A long delayed casualty of the Kaikoura Earthquake (14 November 2016), the almost new BNZ building on Centreport’s land near the railway station is finally being demolished. Unlike most demolition work in the city, they recovered as much of the building materials as possible. Now it is down to the sadly compromised concrete skeleton, and the big crane is nibbling away at the remnants.

Kereru

We’ve been here before. The kereru is perched in the small kowhai shrub on our front lawn and was nibbling new shoots as efficiently as a motor trimmer. Somehow the shrub always recovers

Seaview Marina

Seaview Marina is a favourite place when the water is still. I was down at water level with the camera hanging inverted on the tripod centre-post just above the water to get this view. I heard my name called and there was Mary taking her lunch break between volunteer roles. We enjoyed our lunch together on a lovely mid-winter day.

Tapuae-o-Uenuku

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you will have seen Tapuae-o-Uenuku many times before. I always love to see it clear and proud across the strait. It’s weird to know that distant Kaikoura is just near the foot of Manakau, the mountain on the left. In case you were unaware, Manakau is the highest peak in the Seaward Kaikoura range while Tapuae-o-Uenuku is the highest in the Inland Kaikoura range. Despite the apparent calm, waves were slapping against the rocks with some force.

Waingawa River

Mary and I went over the hill into the Wairarapa and up the road to Holdsworth lodge. A lot of people had the same idea and the beautifully formed tracks in the lower parts were quite busy. The Waingawa river was tumbling down the hill to join the Ruamahanga river and thence via Lake Onoke to the sea.

Pied shag

Zealandia wildlife reserve gives the visitor access to a great variety of birdlife as well as providing opportunities for close encounters with Tuatara and various other lizards. This pied shag is enjoying the calm of the nest but keeping a wary eye on the tourists

North Island robin

Also in Zealandia is this lovely little North Island robin. They enjoy the insects stirred up as people walk by, and come very close, even to the extent of perching on the toe of your shoes to get the best harvest. They seem quite unafraid.

Lowry Bay

It has been an extraordinary run of weather, with two weeks in mid-winter with almost no wind, and mostly sunny days. In Lowry Bay, the usual fleet of moored yachts is down to just one at present.

Little black shag

Inside the breakwater of the Seaview Marina there are a few rocks that serve as a resting place for shags. This Little Black shag is airing its laundry .

Seaview Marina (2)

And still, day after day the eerie calm continues. Overcast weather I can live with but I do prefer conditions such as these that give reflections.

Jetski

As I write this edition, the weather has broken with rain and wind. It would be churlish to complain after so long. This image was made a few days earlier as a jet-ski rider was heading out to make noise and spray in the open water of the harbour.

That will do for now. See you next time.

July 17, 2020 … everything changes

I seem to have let things slip for a few weeks. Ah well, the solution is to pick them up again.

In Avalon Park

Stillness speaks louder than the strongest gale. It demands my attention. The first thing I do every morning when I pull back the curtains is check whether the fronds on the ponga tree are waving or still. If they are still, life speeds up and after shower and breakfast, I head out. If they are waving I spend time at the keyboard. This still moment occurred at the end of the day and I was driving through Naenae. The duck pond in Fraser park was free of ripples and I was able to get low enough to separate the tree from the background.

Naenae Fog

On several mornings recently, we have experienced river fog drifting slowly down the valley. It doesn’t always follow the river exactly and takes a shortcut through Naenae. The various heating equipment at Hutt Hospital contributed to scene and showed the generally Southbound movement,

Someone left the plug out

There was a mist in Evans Bay. The ex-naval whaler owned by the Sea Scouts was in need of a good baling out. but was still afloat, and separated from the other nearby boats by the fog.

On the road to Shelly Bay

It was an unusually thick fog, so I went around Shelly Bay road to see what opportunities might arise. I was setting up my tripod for a shot across the bay when two cyclists emerged out of the mist behind me and were disappearing away to the North. I swung the camera and seized the moment.

In Shelly Bay

Back to the view across the harbour and the old jetties at the former Air Force flying boat base. I got the shot I wanted and within thirty minutes the fog had lifted and the view across Evans Bay was back to normal

What a mighty mountain

Mary and I chose to spend four nights away recently. We looked at the various AirBnB opportunities and settled on Opunake on the Taranaki coast. It’s about half an hour North of Hawera and 50 minutes South of New Plymouth. I had driven through it before but had spent no time there. Just getting there fulfils the first rule of landscape photography: first go somewhere where there is a good landscape.

Sunset in Opunake

The weather was variable while we were in Taranaki but we had a few memorable sunsets. Though there was a chill Southerly breeze, the sky was clear apart from some haze on the horizon. This shot was made in Middleton Bay, just North of Opunake beach.

North Island Tomtit

A nice thing about Opunake is the number of interesting places that are with less than an hour’s drive. One such is Dawson Falls at the edge of the tree line high on the South Eastern side of Taranaki. The day we went up there was complicated with low cloud, and though I made some shots of the snow and glimpses of the summit, the mountain was not displayed to best advantage. I was happy however, to see this delightful little North Island tomtit (Petroica macrocephala). It was happy to see me too since my passing by stirred up insects for it to catch.

Carved life-sized hawk

While we were in Taranaki, we visited our friend Wayne Herbert. I posted an image of his tui last edition. This is one of an American hawk . What a gift this man has. I swear I can see life in the eye of this wooden carving.

Waxeye in the red-hot pokers

One of my favourite places near New Plymouth is Lake Mangamahoe. We stopped in there on our way back to Opunake. It was a grey overcast day, but colour was provided by the extensive growth of red hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria) along the lake’s edge. And then there were the lovely waxeyes browsing among the flowers, presumably for insects.

Live steam

Steam Inc, at Paekakariki was having an open weekend recently and I happened to be driving past when I spotted the plumes of steam as the locomotives were being fired up for the event the next day. There were two locomotives out in the sunshine. One was Ja1271 and the other was Ab608 “Passchendaele”. Both were hissing gently and occasionally blowing steam.

The dog walker

On Petone Beach late this week, I saw a dog-walker with nine or ten “clients” which he had walked oolong the stormwater outlet. Several of his dogs were off the leash and he seemed to be calling them to heel with varying degrees of success.

That will suffice this time. Stay safe and well everyone. I look forward to catching up in two weeks or so.

June 18, 2020 …seize the day

“Up we go! Up we go!’ till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.” (Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows)

Like Mole, I feel I have emerged from the darkness and am enjoying the world with new eyes after the long weeks of lockdown. Even as I visit familiar haunts, I seem to see them differently now. Whether or not this results in new or better images is open for discussion. Either way, I am having fun.

Distand land under a grey sky

How many times, I wonder, have I shared an image of the Tararuas from our front lawn. From a photographer’s perspective each set of light conditions and cloud formations creates a scene different to the many times I have seen it before. The bones of the landscape are unchanged, but the season, the light and the weather add flesh to the view. I am always tempted by those receding layers of hills leading to the great South wall of the Tararuas.

Superb craftsmanship

I have recently made a friend in New Plymouth whose hobby and passion is carving wildfowl in wood to life-size. I know nothing about this hobby except that Wayne Herbert is a master of his craft. For various reasons, the bird he is entering into a global competition this year is in the possession of a near neighbour, so he asked me to make photographs of it. Yes, that beautiful tui really is made of wood.

Morning mist

River mist changes the character of the landscape. Most mornings it disperses fairly quickly and the day turns out well. The tower block in the background is the former TVNZ studios and office block at Avalon. It’s hard to figure out what it’s used for these days. The trees in the mid-ground are on the Boulcott golf course.

Premature symbols of spring

Folklore is fun, but often implausible. There is a fable to the effect that a sure sign of spring is when there are six daisies on the lawn that you can cover with your hand. Well here we are. But how can this be a sign of spring with the winter solstice still a a few days in the future? And why are there early jonquils in flower? I suspect spring may not actually come early, but our warming planet may show us things that, in previous times, were not seen until much later in the year.

Nature – the jeweller

The Japanese maple beside the path to our front door is now bare. The last living leaves have fallen and so begins the long wait for the new season. Or perhaps it won’t be such a long wait. A day of soft rain decorated the branches with sparkling droplets.

Hansa Freyburg departs for Nelson

Several viewpoints around the region afford a good view of the Kaikoura ranges. I was at the lookout at the top of the Wainuiomata Hill road and admiring the view of snow-tipped Tapuae-o-Uenuku when I noticed the container vessel Hansa Brandenburg and the pilot launch Te Haa emerging from the port. I had to wait a few minutes to catch it in front of the mountain. That peak is 2,885 metres high and 140 km from my standpoint.

Autumnal carpet

The flaming Autumn colour of our Japanese maples made a small but spectacular showing and then, in the space of a few days, the colour was all on the ground. Mary’s moss covered driftwood contrasts nicely with the various reds of the dying drying leaves.

Commuting

In Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” (which I have never seen or even read) there is a well-known monologue that outlines the seven ages of man. The words that always resonated with me were “And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school“. In the days when I still commuted to work, I loved to watch the people getting off the train or bus with expressionless faces trudging towards whatever new misery fate might deliver to them today. Rain or shine the expressions never changed as they trudged unwillingly to work. I was aiming to catch the reflection of the portico in the puddle, but I think the two pedestrians capture the day perfectly.

Petone foreshore

At the Western end of the Petone esplanade, is a park which is commonly used by people bringing their dogs for exercise. Its formal name is Honiana Te Puni Park though I doubt that many know it as such. It seems that the car park surface is far from horizontal, judging by the puddles that form after a little rain. I am always happy to find large still puddles as they present an opportunity for reflection shots and in this case a minimalist image. The bollards are there to prevent motorists driving across the narrow strip of grass and over the sea wall into the harbour.

Red

A Canadian photographic group that I joined proposed “Red” as the theme of the week. A strip of florist’s ribbon and a macro lens (just before it died) allowed my to produce this image. It might make more sense if you click on it to see the larger version. Or not. The lens has gone to the maker’s agent in Christchurch and is awaiting the arrival of a replacement barrel with the electronics. Ouch! $450.

A sea horse?

Some of the beaches on the West coast of the North Island are wild and lonely places characterised by black iron sand and lots of driftwood. The long smooth beaches are popular with drivers of off-road vehicles and the occasional equestrian. This picture was captured at Hokio Beach, a little to the South of Levin. There was a heavy swell and the sea was glittering in the afternoon sun. The young lady was clearly enjoying her time with the horse.

Sandra II

Sandra II has featured in many other shots, though usually at her mooring in the Hikoikoi reserve. I saw the two gentlemen preparing for their trip and then they cast off and headed out into the harbour. It seems to have a permanent list to port. It made me think of the old Picton ferry Tamahine (1925 – 1963) which also had a permanent list that gained her the nickname “Tilting Tam”

Deceptive weather

On the South coast near Island Bay, the sun was shining brightly and the sea state was quite moderate. However, the temperature was about 9°C and the spiteful Nor’Westerly wind was ripping the tops off the incoming waves. In the background, the lighthouse on Baring Head gleamed in the morning sun.

Dawn

Early mornings are not familiar territory for me. Nevertheless the rosy glow through the curtains caught my attention. This view from my bedroom window is to the North and the lights on the hills on the left are at the entrance to Stokes Valley. The dark patch in the right foreground is the Boulcott golf course with Naenae and Avalon beyond. Despite ancient warnings about red skies it was the first of several flawless days.

Lake Wairarapa at Featherston

Another lovely day and Mary and I decided to take a picnic lunch to the Southern Wairarapa. Flat calm conditions in Featherston led me to hope that the lake might present opportunities. We got off to a late start so I was pressing my luck. Nevertheless, at 11 am the water was still unruffled. I hung the camera inverted on the centre pole of the tripod and got it close to the surface of the water and looked to the South. A reader commented that she was accustomed to the lake seeming always brown and scruffy. Happily, a smooth surface reflects the colour of the sky above so we have a nice blue lake. I noticed with some regret that the two rows of rusting steel piles that were once a jetty for the yacht club had been removed.

Pole dweller

As we were pulling away from the lake, I saw this white-faced heron perched on the only surviving steel pile and reflecting nicely in the water below. I rolled the window down and shot this from the driver’s seat. There was no other traffic on the road.

I hope the new vision continues and look forward to seeing you next time/

18 March, 2020 … interesting times

Interesting times are upon us. As far as I know, I and all my loved ones are well. I hope the same goes for you and all who you hold dear.

Today I offer fifteen random images with no apparent connection between them except that they were all made in the last few weeks. Mindful of all the world’s current woes, I am feeling grateful for living in a peaceful and politically stable country with so much beauty on offer. .

Remutaka Forest Park – Catchpool Valley

New Zealand’s bush typically seems much more dense, twisted and tangled than the ancient forests of the Northern hemisphere. Most of it lacks the grandeur of tall parallel tree trunks. So be it. I still love being in the bush, enjoying the shelter it gives from the wind and the pleasure I take in so many shades of green. This short track in the entrance to the Catchpool valley surprised me for the amount of dead leaves on the ground amongst what I thought were predominantly evergreen trees.

Mana Island on a beautiful day in Plimmerton

This picture of Mana Island was made by getting down low, or at least by getting the camera low, hanging inverted off the tripod centre post. Because the water was almost flat calm, it was almost touching the surface.

If you click to enlarge, and look at the gap between the furthest incoming wave and the island, you will see the neck and beak of a shag which popped up as I pressed the shutter. It’s as if it knew I was here, and was checking to see whether I was a threat.

We have had a string of beautiful calm Autumn days. They go some small way towards compensating for the miserable wet windy summer we had in Wellington this year.

Another lovely day in Plimmerton

The local yacht club was racing at Plimmerton despite the apparent lack of wind. As you can see in the picture, some of the yachts are heeling despite the light breeze. They certainly progressed around the course at a reasonable pace, and I liked the metallic effect given by the translucent sailcloth.

Ferry berth

Anyone who understands the term “depth of field” instantly knows that this picture could not have been made with just one exposure. Loosely, depth of field is the distance between the nearest “in focus” point, and the furthest. Most lenses have a relatively shallow depth of field so either the ship or the flower would be sharp, but not both. Many photographers delight in a usually expensive lens with a shallow depth of field and the artistic effects it produces. Others, like me, seek more extreme depth and achieve this by “focus stacking”. In its simplest form, and in this example, that means taking a photo in which the flower is sharp and another in which the ship is sharp. Then the two images are merged and the sharp bits from each are retained. This was possible back in the days of the darkroom, but is much easier now that we have PhotoShop.

If you think this is somehow “cheating”, then avert your eyes now because I don’t care.

I have consistently said that the art is in the final image, no matter how it was achieved.

Sacred Kingfisher

If you have been a WYSIWYG reader for any length of time, you will know that birds are among my favourite subjects. Nevertheless, I lack the patience and skill to stalk and capture the fastest and sneakiest of birds. Some of my friends make superb images, bordering on the impossible. I lack the patience and the willingness to get down in the mud and make the images they do. Now and then, I get lucky. Kingfishers typically fly at about 45 km/h.

From home

I have often presented this viewpoint, from my bedroom window and I justify it on this occasion for the special early morning light. I am grateful every day for the splendour of this view.

From the control bar

Mary and I went to Whitireia Park in Porirua where we intended to have a picnic lunch. While I looked for images, Mary walked the Onepoto Loop Track. As I wandered, a man in a wet suit was setting up to go kite-surfing. He got the kite airborne while he was still on the beach and I cheekily got down near his feet and caught his view of the canvas.

A stranger in a strange land

On one of my many trips through Evans Bay and around into Oriental Bay, I was astonished to encounter this old Seagrave fire appliance. As per the signage, it once belonged to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Made in 1960, it was retired in 1990 and gifted by the City of Los Angeles to the City of Auckland in recognition of their sister-city relationship. Since then it has been on display at Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). This is an articulated 100 foot ladder machine that has a driver in the front, and another at the rear steering the trailer wheels. As you can see it is designed for the Los Angeles climate. The well wrapped crew drove this down from Auckland to Wellington in cool Autumn weather and were on their way to Invercargill for a charity fundraising event. They are going to have to raise quite some funds as it goes through $500 to $600 of fuel a day plus the ferry fares in each direction.

Sisters

Another of those days when, despite the overcast, the glittering sea was relatively still. East-West ferries have two catamarans with which they operate a commuter service that runs from downtown Wellington across the harbour to Days Bay, with stops at Matiu / Somes Island and occasionally at Seatoun. It is marginally quicker than the trip around the harbour by bus, but infinitely more pleasant. They even have a bar on board. Anyway, there I Was as Cobar Cat came in from the right after refuelling at Chaffers Marina, and City Cat approached from across the harbour.

Lavender blue

Simple things sometimes need complex treatment. This little cluster of lavender, growing in a pot at our back door, is captured with another focus stack. You can see that the background trees are well beyond focus as I intended them to be. However there are four different images of the lavender stalks. This only works in windless conditions because if the plants are in different positions as they wave, they can’t be merged.

Abstraction

I was having a coffee with my youngest son, Anthony (Ants) at the Seaview Marina. It was a beautiful morning with the sun smiling on the yachts and lovely reflections in the water. Then a ripple from elsewhere in the marina did interesting things with the reflected masts and rigging.

We had a guest speaker in the camera club about a week ago, and she explained very well how she went about making a wide variety of abstract images. I grasped the “how” well enough, but remain mystified by the “why?” Anyway, here I am offering an abstraction. This is a single shot, as seen by the camera

A rare selfie

I almost never take selfies. Usually I would prefer to make an image of the place or thing that I saw, rather than a picture of myself in the place or with the thing I saw. This image is an unintentional selfie. I saw a trailer which was a bitumen tanker. It had an engine chugging away underneath, presumably powering the burner that keeps the bitumen in its liquid state while the tractor was elsewhere. What caught my eye was the polished stainless steel cladding and I liked the grassy reflections therein. Regrettably I could find no way to exclude myself from the reflection. Though I am substantially built, I am nowhere near the proportions in that distorted reflection.

My favourite kind of day

Among my favourite places in the region are various spots around the shores of Lake Wairarapa, especially on those days when the lake is glassy calm. Whenever I come over the hill to Featherston, I usually start at the Lake Domain Reserve and see whether there is a new image to be had. The rusty steel piles of the yacht club’s old jetty make a nice feature.

Wairio Wetlands

Some thirty km to the South on the Eastern side of the lake, are two sets of wetlands beloved of many of my photographic for their prolific bird life and for the intrinsic beauty of the places. I chose the Wairio Wetlands rather than Boggy Pond on this occasion. Whereas Wellington has had a wet summer, the Wairarapa is officially in drought. This wetland still has water, but the level is lower than I have ever seen it before. There were plenty of birds there, though they were cautiously placed some distance from the walking tracks. If you click on this image to enlarge, and have a close look at the most distant of the birds, at about one third in from the right, there is a white heron (kotuku).

Low and fast over the road

As I came back up the Western side of the lake, I heard a whistle and a roar and saw a top-dressing plane shoot over the road and into the hills to the West. I was ready for it as it came round a second time and was pleased that it was a venerable Fletcher FU-24 950. The basic FU-24 design has served New Zealand agriculture since 1954. No fewer than 297 of them were built and in the later years many were fitted with powerful turbine engines. Sadly many bold Fletcher pilots didn’t get to be old Fletcher pilots because they over-estimated their skill at avoiding high-speed contact with the ground.

That is sufficient for this edition.

I am going to borrow my farewell from Radio New Zealand’s Suzie Fergusson who said at the end of a session the other day, “Wash your hands, keep calm and carry on. Ka kite anō au i a koutou (see you all again).

February 29, 2020 … I’ll take what I can find

I seem to have fallen into a rhythm of posting every two weeks, perhaps in the hope that I might have produced sufficient images that I am happy to share. Obviously, I would like to produce great images, but even the best photographers produce a modest number of great shots out of the hundreds of images they make.

Let there be no illusion, my images are rarely, if ever, in that “great” category, and any that come near are usually the result of serendipity. On the other hand perhaps it is not too immodest of me to hope that I can deliver five or six images each week that, to my own eye at least, are pleasing. If you like some of them too, that’s a bonus.

Courting ritual

Dabchicks fascinate me. Like others in the grebe family, their legs are very far back on their body and they are designed for water propulsion rather than walking. I love their parenting technique which includes hiding their chicks in the plumage on their backs. I hoped to see the little black and white chicks sticking up like periscopes from one or other of this pair. Things seem to have moved further on than I thought. I am told the dance I observed is a part of their courting ritual, so the previous youngsters are on their own and the parents are thinking of a second brood.

Photographs such as this would be better taken from nearer to the waterline, perhaps at their eye level. Sadly, neither my agility nor my sense of balance is what it once was, and if I get down low, I have to think about getting back up again. So I tend to shoot from a standing position. I am working on solutions to this that don’t involve getting the camera wet, or me actually falling in.

Super moon

Though I tend to take it for granted, the view across the Hutt Valley from the front of our house is one to be treasured. This shot was taken from our front lawn at about 9 pm on the day of our most recent super moon. I am a little cynical about moon shots. Unless there is something else in the image, and provided the shot is basically well exposed, there is very little to distinguish one moon shot from another. I concede that high quality optics and a solid tripod can help make a better image, but I prefer to have a recognisable context. In this instance, the foreground includes the Avalon tower, formerly headquarters and production studios of TVNZ. The tower is not artificially lit here, but is catching the last light of the setting sun behind me.

Just hanging around

This branch may look familiar. It should. I have used it many times before as it is a favourite roosting site for various shags. I have a particular affinity for the little blacks and the lovely patterns visible in their plumage. These birds made me smile for their gangster-like pose. Apart from small numbers of rooks, New Zealand has no significant population of corvidae, so these are the nearest we come to seeing the sinister bird characters portrayed so well by Edgar Allan Poe. The setting is the Waiwhetu stream where it passes through the channel at Seaview. It often provides nice background colours.

Get your warthogs sharpened here

Petone retains its own separate character, despite having been absorbed into Lower Hutt City. It is slowly becoming “gentrified” which is a matter for regret. A few weeks back it had its annual street fair in which Jackson Street was blocked off for the day and filled with various food and craft stalls. Though I rarely make images of people I thought I had better have a look. This stall made me laugh out loud. I am sure the company concerned makes really good sharpeners but the ambiguity of their name amused me. I should mention that Warthog Sharperners is a reputable company based in South Africa,

Nature’s architects

My workshop has not been seriously used for a very long time, so other tenants have moved in. Mary drew my attention to the amazing curves of a spider web. A little exploration revealed that it was made by the “daddy long legs” spider. Their webs are notoriously messy but every so often they achieve some beautiful curves.

A scented gift

I am happy to observe that my kids all really appreciate their mother, and that this is often demonstrated by a random “just because” bunch of flowers. In this case, she received red roses, and to Mary’s great pleasure they were quite strongly scented. Sadly, most roses supplied by florists lack any scent. Not these. They are lit with natural light from the window against the blackness of my “dark box”.

Sunset in the Eastern Sky

Often, if the clouds are right, a lovely sunset in the west projects its colour in the East. This is another view from our front door looking across the Hutt Valley. Though it was taken at 9 pm the sun is still lighting the lenticular clouds and provides a little colour down on the valley floor.

Midsummer drizzle

Summer cruises around the New Zealand coast and especially to Wellington seem to be a lottery. It is sad that a one-time visitor to our fair city who strikes it on a day of bad weather goes away with a warped view of the place. Still, as a photographer, I find that the misty conditions have a charm of their own. I hope that the visitors travelling on Europa come again on a better day.

Armada

In the bird viewing hide at Queen Elizabeth II park near Paekakariki I waited in vain for any interesting bird life. The only thing moving was the vast cluster of feathers from some moulting event. They put me in mind of a vast fleet of sailing ships. I have to say that this is my favourite image in this edition.

Lingering on after the wind has died

A few days of consistent Nor’Westerly wind can usually be relied upon to generate some lenticular cloud above the Eastern hills. They often linger for a while even after the wind drops. This image was made from the park at the Western end of Petone Beach looking towards Eastbourne.

Wary, but standing its ground

Petone wharf is on shaky ground, and is not as straight as it once was. It has wooden hand rails on most of its length, and these serve as a handy perch for the variety of gulls and shags in the area. The little shag is the most common of the varieties in New Zealand. They can be easily identified by their long tail feathers and short beak. This one was less skittish than normal and allowed me to walk past it without it taking flight.

A summer morning

I use and like the paid online video tuition provided by Scott Kelby. Almost his first piece of advice for making good landscape images is “go somewhere where there is a good landscape”. Most of us tend not to think of our own back yard in those terms. And indeed there are days when I look cynically at a grey wet Wellington landscape and dream wistfully of distant scenes of great beauty. However, if I wait long enough, the harbour goes still, the sky clears and the Tararuas provide some lofty mountain grandeur as a backdrop.

It’s raining as I write this, but earlier in the week we had several days of pure magical stillness. I was driving from Evans Bay around Pt Jerningham in the late morning. The temperature was a modest 24°C … not really hot, but sufficient to deliver a haze on the distant mountains. The harbour was almost perfect, and the various vessels moving about were leaving clean sharp wakes. On such a day, I did not have to go far to find a pleasing landscape. In case you were wondering, Mary and I live on those distant hills just a little to the left of the edge.

That will suffice for this edition. I hope you enjoy what you see and read here. Your feedback is always welcome.

September 29, 2019 …some local colour

Since I last wrote, there have been a lot of days that were, at best grim and uninviting as far as photography goes. It’s officially Spring, and that has brought grey skies and bitter winds. Of course there have been exceptions and I have made some images that I quite like. Let’s have a look.

At the back of the boat sheds

The Hutt River estuary is a place I have photographed on many occasions, usually looking at either the birds or the boats on the water. On this occasion I was sitting in my car at the back of the boat sheds waiting for Mary to meet me at the end of her six or seven kilometre walk down the river bank. I spotted a puddle on the gravel road and started thinking about the recent trend towards low-level wide-angle reflection shots. It seems that almost any pool of still water bigger than a dinner plate will work for this technique. Putting that idea together with the bold paint on the sheds it seemed worth the experiment. It seems that, no matter how banal the subject, the addition of its reflection improves the image.

Kereru

The kereru, or NZ Native wood pigeon is a regular subject of mine. They are reportedly fewer in number around Wellington this season. Nobody seems to have passed the word to the ones that visit our little kowhai bushes and this one was about 3 metres from our front door. Whereas the Tui is a nectar feeder that looks for the liquid in the flowers, the kereru is the avian equivalent of a motorised hedge trimmer. It chops young shoots and flowers indiscriminately. Their iridescent plumage is a delight to my eye so I forgive their greedy habits..

Tulip season

Wellington’s Botanic Gardens puts on a splendid display of tulips each year at about this time. Since they use the same beds each time, it gets harder and harder to find a different way to capture their splendour. Using the “less is more” principle, I aimed at the glow of some side-lit blooms. The contrast with the distant hedge worked nicely. I thought.

Nemo me impune lacessit

I was driving Eastward from Owhiro Bay towards the airport when I spotted a man on the roadside with a long lens shooting at something on the beach. I paused and was surprised and delighted to see a young leopard seal had hauled itself out of the water. I am told that this is an immature male, but even so, I too used a long lens so as not to come too close to an animal with such fearsome reputation for aggression. It was obviously there for a rest, and apart from yawning a lot, it did little while I was there.

Sakura season

On SH2 at the foot of the Remutaka hill, there is a cafe and function centre called Aston Norwood Gardens. It has a delightful formal garden that is worth a visit in most seasons of the year, but especially when the cherry blossoms are on display. The main catch is that you sometimes have to wait for other visitors to the garden to move out of the way before you get a clear picture. Of course cherry blossoms and reflections make nice images but always on the edge of cliche.

At the Supreme Court

While I have a strong preference for nature, I also love the way that the colours and textures in our cities catch my eye. In this case, I used the “low-wide” technique in the reflecting pools at the front of the Supreme Court building. This picture was made in the weekend so this end of Lambton Quay was untypically quiet. I was particularly attracted to the patchwork quilt effect of the two light-coloured buildings.

Singing competitively

In Sladden Park, Lower Hutt, there is a lovely grove of mature kowhai trees near the Hospice Garden of Remembrance. It is a favourite haunt of many tui when the kowhai is in flower. I suspect that there is something of a competitive courtship ritual taking place as the birds whistle and honk melodically in the hope of impressing a mate.

Weather warning

I was driving somewhat aimlessly though Oriental bay not seeing anything until those lenticular clouds registered on my brain. I am often drawn to patterns in subtle shades of grey and those well defined layers just demanded attention.

Oppressive

At the Western end of the Pauatahanui Inlet, the water was pleasantly still, though the cloud on the far side suggested that change was on its way. It certainly was, since there was a heavy, but brief downpour soon afterwards.

Banded dotterel

Sometimes I drive down the Wainuiomata coast road in the hope of seeing something worthy of shooting. The forest park, the seascape, or sometimes, the beautiful dotterels which nest on the shingle beach. It can be an uncomfortable place, with bitter winds blasting the sand at you. Sometimes, I get all the way to the coast and find nothing that makes me want to press the shutter button. On this visit, I was greeted by a lovely dotterel pulling the old diversion trick … “follow me, follow me, nothing to see over there”. Ideally I want to get down at the bird’s eye level, but I have to confess that sometimes getting up afterwards is a challenge.

Clear all the way across

Often when I am on the coast at Wainuiomata, the salt haze prevents a clear view of the mountains in the South. On this trip, there was startling clarity and the mountains stood clean and proud. But what caught my eye most was the spray ripped from the wave crests. It gives a sense of how bleak the conditions were on the beach. I must remember to keep a warm jacket in the car. It’s no fun on that beach if the clothing is too light.

Hogwarts or Neuschwanstein?

On the way home, I paused at the Seaview Marina and noticed a stack of the old cast-iron fence posts saved from the city wharves. I have no idea what fate awaits them, but they seemed worth a shot.

That will do for now. I wonder what the weeks ahead hold.

September 5, 2019 … road trip

Mary and I are just back from a South Island road trip. We decided that our youngest grandson, Otis’s ninth birthday was a good reason to go, and so we did.

Kaiarahi
Kaiarahi was standing in for the larger Kaitaki which was in Australia for an overhaul

After several weeks of ugly weather, the day we crossed the strait dawned clear and still. How lucky is that? We arrived nice and early but to this day I have never figured whether there is science or merely mysticism in how the crew decide the loading sequence. Of course it doesn’t really matter, the ship never leaves until the doors close behind the last person with a ticket. Nevertheless, I hate it when they let all the &@#$%@# motorhomes out onto the highway ahead of me.

We spent two pleasant nights at an AirBnB in Greymouth. I was disappointed that recent weather patterns and some dire forecasts prevented fishing vessels from crossing the notorious Greymouth Bar as they present a spectacular sight when they do so in big swells. Likewise, the weather was not conducive to birdwatching on Cobden Lagoon. But our accommodation was warm and dry and sufficient for our needs.

Magical Lake Ianthe

Our next destination was Tarras, just a little out of Wanaka so that meant a long drive from Greymouth with rest breaks here and there for photographic purposes. One of my favourite lakes in the South Island is Lake Ianthe about 55 km South of Hokitika. It is a smallish lake with few access points, but when it is still, it is just perfect. There are others such as Brunner, Mapourika, Mahinapoua, Kaniere, and each is beautiful in its own way.

Roadside wetlands as we neared Haast

It’s a long and seemingly endless 480 km from Greymouth to Tarras, and as the signs say, New Zealand roads are different and you should expect to take longer. The road has its charms, and where it was possible to stop safely we did. I rather liked the various wetlands on the road between Fox Glacier and Haast.

Towards Hawea from Tarras

Our accommodation in Tarras was a modern cottage with all of the usual facilities and to Mary’s delight, a log burner for warmth. The next morning, looking back towards Lake Hawea, the rising sun lit up the snow capped peaks. I am unsure which range this might be, but is is a spectacular view to wake up to.

Sunset at Lake Hayes Estate

We got to our son’s house in Lake Hayes Estate without incident and settled in. A spectacular sunset was experienced on our first night. This view is to the South West. I am guessing that those peaks are Ben Lomond and Bowen Peak in the range behind Queenstown township.

Opposing forces

I rather liked Andrew’s chess set which is apparently modelled on the one used in a Harry Potter movie. I don’t play the game myself, so my interest was purely aesthetic.

Murky weather on the Remarkables

As the ski season winds to its close, most of the schools in the region seem to spend some time up on the ski fields. Both grandchildren had two full days up there in each of the last two weeks. Otis spent his school day up there on this particular day, but in conditions like these, it was apparently not very pleasant. I suppose that is a good lesson to learn in itself.

Lake Wanaka

I was turned loose with the car and my cameras so I spent the day going over the Crown Range to Wanaka, then along Lake Dunstan to Clyde and then back through Cromwell to Queenstown. I came within a few hundred metres of “the tree” at Wanaka but chose to ignore it. The lake was still, so I spent some time there. I was a little sad to see the intensive development happening to the town since I last looked.

Look the other way

I have mentioned before, the 180˚ rule … if there is something interesting in front of you, don’t leave without checking behind you. A spectacular sunset over Queenstown was nicely reflected in the clouds over the Crown Range to the North East.

Near Glenorchy

The kids were at school, Andrew was at work, so Mary and I went along the Glenorchy road. We did a bit of a walk along the track towards Bob’s Cove and then carried on to Glenorchy itself. The spectacular mist in the far corner of the lake behind Pig and Pigeon Islands would appear to be sand from the Dart River delta being picked up by a vicious wind. In fact I struggled to open my car door against the wind to make this image.

At Lindis Summit

All too soon, it was time to leave Queenstown, so we set out early in the morning to our next booked accommodation in a farm stay near Rangiora. We took the route through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell, across the river to Tarras and over the beautiful Lindis Pass. I had been anxious that conditions might require snow chains. Happily that didn’t happen.

Across Lake Pukaki to Aoraki/Mt Cook

It was great weather for travelling and the view across Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook was irresistible even if the image has been made a million times before by almost every tourist who passed this way. Aoraki/Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak at 3,724 metres (12,218 ft)

On the road from Fairlie to Geraldine

South Canterbury’s lovely landscape was nicely displayed on the road from Fairlie across to Geraldine. We paused there for lunch and resumed the journey to Rangiora.

Terra Cotta and Rust

We enjoyed two nights at the farm stay before completing the journey home from Picton. Regrettably I seem to have acquired an outbreak of pre-patellar bursitis which happens from time to time and is uncomfortable rather than dangerous. It tends to limit my mobility but “this too shall pass”

June 7, 2019 … thanks for your many kindnesses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Williwaws swirling up Evans Bay

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

Downtown glassware

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

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

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

Pied stilt – Pauatahanui Inlet

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

It has been a long time between kingfishers

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

Mighty mountains across the strait

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

The only constant is change

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

Some real rarities

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

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

September 29, 2018 … to be in the same place but see it again

Since I last wrote, it has been a crazy couple of weeks. As an accredited judge for the Photographic Society of New Zealand, I get to view and assess entries for competitions held by other clubs. Now if only I could get my head together, I would not accept judging for three different clubs with results due all within the same three-week period.  I really must keep better records of what I have agreed to.  On the other hand, I get to see some superb work, and to be truthful, some work that is less  so.  So, an insanely busy period in which I still found time to go out and make a few images of my own.

Kereru

New Zealand native wood pigeons (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae), or in Maori, kereru. If startled they depart with much thrashing of wings and clattering of broken twigs.

I didn’t have to go far for these two splendid wood pigeons who were busily demolishing a shrub a few metres from our front door. Part of the charm of these birds, apart from their irridescent feathers is their clumsiness on takeoff or landing. They seem to aim at a tree at full speed and stick out an arrester hook in the hope of catching a branch. Not so much a landing as a controlled crash is a phrase I have heard elsewhere.

reflections

One of the reflecting pools at the Supreme Court of New Zealand, stripped of distractions

A beautiful day in the city found me outside the Supreme Court building. I liked the reflecting pool but wanted the reflections without the passing traffic or pedestrians. I used the statistics feature of Photoshop. Basically this means taking several identical photos and then Photoshop extracts anything that is not present in all of the images. Thus the buses and the passers-by disappear. The only vehicle in the image was parked.

pigeons

Litigants awaiting a hearing at the Supreme Court. Or perhaps they are just pigeons

I needed no such trickery for these two common pigeons sitting in the pool at the side of the same building.

Kotuku

George has come home for the season – welcome back White heron (Ardea modesta) or in Maori, kotuku

On the way home, I went to the Hikoikoi reserve at the Hutt River estuary where, to my great joy I renewed my acquaintance with “George”, our resident white heron returned after a long absence. I imagine that he has been down to their only known nesting colony in New Zealand at Waitangiroto near Whataroa. This is 450 km away  on the West Coast of the South Island. Welcome back, old friend.

George

Warp 5 Mr Sulu!

George is something of a character, and one of his favourite spots to rest as at the wheel of a derelict motor boat on a slipway in the reserve. If he had more flexible lips, I can imagine him at the wheel going “Brrrrrm, brrrrrm”.  Or perhaps he imagines himself as Captain Picard saying “make it so, Mr Data”

tulips

Wellington Botanic Gardens tulip display

It’s tulip time again. Although the gardeners are apologetic that the flowers are less than perfect this year, they looked fine to my eyes. One of the pleasures of retirement is the ability to visit the gardens at times when the crowds are small.

Cherry

Flowering cherry display in the Aston Norwood Garden

A new discovery for me has been the Aston Norwood Gardens at the foot of the Remutaka Hill on SH2 just North of Upper Hutt. There has been a restaurant there for a long time, but the current owner has developed the gardens to a place of stunning beauty. Right now they are coming to the end of the cherry blossom season and I understand there are over 300 mature trees in the grounds. The result is magnificent.

Aston Norwood

Cherry blossom petals drift over the pond

I got down low, close to the surface of one of the several ponds on the property and with the aid of a neutral density filter made a long exposure (13 seconds) as the breeze pushed the fallen petals in interesting paths across the surface.

Aston Norwood

The Remutaka stream flows though the Aston Norwood Garden

The Remutaka stream runs through the property and again, the ND filter was used to good effect. I shall be visiting this place again (and again, and again)  as they have rhododendrons and camellias as well.

Dory

Finding another Dory – at Hikoikoi reserve

This little boat is a newcomer to the Hikoikoi reserve and I think it falls into the classification of a dory. I visited in the hope of seeing George, but he  was having an away day, so I looked for other subjects and was pleased to find this. It is a good example of going to a familiar place and seeing it with new eyes.  It’s a matter of pointing the camera at the bits of the landscape that constitute the picture you want to make, and leaving everything else out.

Spring

A breath of ice on a spring day

Despite all the signs of spring, the winter snow lingers on the tops of the Tararua range as seen here from Masterton in the Wairarapa.

And so