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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).

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November 14, 2019 … time slides by

Somehow, though it seems just yesterday that 2018 ended, another year is coming to an end right before our eyes. Despite all my grand intentions, I have achieved very few of my photographic aspirations. There have been a few images that I liked, but far too many that were merely mediocre. I suppose I have left it far too late in life to begin the search for mastery, but I believe it is never too late to begin the search for improvement. So that is my intention for the year ahead. I want to combine improvement with the maximum of enjoyment. It has to be fun.

Pine trees at Cross Hills
Cross Hills, Kimbolton

Last week, Mary and I drove up SH1 and then through Feilding to Kimbolton to visit the wonderful Cross Hills Gardens. This expansive garden park in the Manawatu has a vast collection of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, and somehow the spectacle is overwhelming. I find it difficult to extract a pleasing image from such a vast expanse of colour. I chose this image in a stand of pines instead.

Kinetic art work
Stainless wind sculpture

We ate our picnic lunch in the park near a rather odd art work. It took some while to realise that it was a kinetic work, but a puff of wind started it spinning and it changed shapes and colours. I discovered that it is called “Stainless wind art” and is created by Charlie Jaine from Ashburton and is yours for only NZD$3,500.

Rolls Royce
Classic perfection

A few days later, I drove to Southwards Car museum near Paraparaumu. Their collection of more than 400 cars is superb and, just as with the gardens, it is necessary to focus on parts in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the whole.

The unmistakeable “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament atop the classic radiator of the Rolls Royce Phantom was worth a close look. I did have to polish some grubby tourist fingerprints off the chrome surfaces.

Red sports cars
Red is for go fast

I have mixed feelings about the role of curators in museums. The ways in which they group and display the artefacts can often seem at odds with the the items on display. In this case, a line-up of red sports cars works very well, and illustrates nicely the old joke that all sports cars are red, no matter what colour they are painted.

Automotive grandeur
Grandeur from a bygone age

Across the aisle from the sports cars is a display of conspicuous wealth. I love the superb engineering and the elegant styling, though I recoil from the ostentatious consumerism. This group of British cars speaks of class distinction on a grand scale. The Mercedes cars further on are no better.

Beech trees in the Remutaka park
In the Remutaka State Forest

After a few days of grey cloud and increasing rain, there was a break in the weather . For some reason, I thought there might be some opportunities in the Remutaka State Forest Park. I parked my car in the Catchpool valley car park and it was the only vehicle there. I decided it would be unwise to go very far or to leave the main trail since there was no one else about. Happily, the forest presented an attractive face quite early on the track.

Reflections in a puddle
Stillness

A few metres further along the trail, I found what I hoped for … some puddles. As I have observed before, if I get my lens close enough to the surface, almost touching it in fact, then a very small puddle will provide some nice effects.

Yellowhammer
Sitting back, he thinks I can’t see him

A day or so later, I was at the Marines Memorial Wetlands in Queen Elizabeth Park near Paraparaumu, hoping to see some dabchicks on the water. I didn’t. On the track towards the ponds, I got lucky with some colourful passerines. For some reason they are very shy in this area, but this little yellowhammer thought he was invisible while sitting in the tree.

Scaup
Scaup

Once I got to the water, I was disappointed at the small number of birds there. I didn’t see a single dabchick. There was a solitary scaup or black teal. The yellow eyes suggest it was a drake. I am always taken by the intense green reflections on these ponds.

Goldfinch
Goldfinch

One way to find and photograph a bird is to come across another photographer with a long lens and see what they are pointing it at. I acknowledge Carol for having this goldfinch in her sights. I hope she forgives me for stealing it.

So ends another edition. I look forward to talking to you again soon.

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2 May, 2019 … back from the dead

Perhaps it’s just that I was too lazy to find out how to use it properly, or maybe it was the lack of a feedback mechanism. Whatever the reason, my venture into another platform  for the regular sharing of my photography and writing proved unsatisfactory.  I overlooked the difference between a portfolio and a blog.

So it is that the blog lives on for a while longer. I shall retain the Adobe Portfolio site (https://harmerbrian.myportfolio.com) as a receptacle for a permanent core gallery, but I have resuscitated the Wysiwygpurple site for periodic posts of recent work. Perhaps not weekly as in the past, but we shall see how it evolves.

Accordingly, in this post, you will find a collection of 18 images that I liked best in the month of April.

post
Red painted post

April in Wellington was grey. We had some long periods of rain which might be expected to slow down my photographic urges. On the other hand there is cabin fever, and I ended up hoping to make a feature of the weather. This was a puddle in the gravel road into the park at the Western end of Petone beach. It was just a puddle except for the red-painted post and its reflection which transformed it.

Geese
Canada geese in flight

Another grey day and comparative calm led me to hope for still water on Pauatahanui inlet. Sadly there were a lot of residual ripples on the water. On the other hand there was a substantial flock of Canada geese. I attempted to sneak up on them, but they have sharp senses and flew off as I got near. Shooting season starts in the coming weekend and many of them are smart enough to gather on these protected waters.

reflection
Stillness and light

A little further around the edge of the inlet, I found that a small pond was blessed with exactly the kind of stillness I was seeking and reflected the reeds beautifully. And then a break in the clouds caused the Belmont hills to light up. If I were judging, I would say I now have two separate disconnected images, one of the reflections and one of the hills.  Not a prizewinner, but interesting.

Ja1271
Parked, cold and still Ja1271

At Paekakariki, Steam Inc restore and maintain their fleet of locomotives and other rolling stock. As I was driving past I spotted Ja1271 parked on a siding between the sheds and the road. They needed the space in the shed to work on another locomotive. It’s fairly rare to get clear walk-around access to one of these splendid machines. How odd that I should have made an image from the same sort of angle that I might have done inside the shed. On the other hand I like the contribution that the tracks make to the image.

Wet
City bound traffic on a wet morning

As I said it has been a dull month, and this shot looking North up SH2 from the Normandale overbridge catches the general spirit of the day. Despite the headlights and windscreen wipers, this is 9:30 am in Lower Hutt.

orchid
“Feed me Seymour”* … detail of an orchid

No matter the weather outside, there is always colour to be had in the begonia house of Wellington’s Botanic Garden. This shot is down the throat of a lovely orchid, taken close enough to exclude all background distractions.

Water lily
Water lily in the begonia house

Also inside the begonia house there is a pond full of carp and water lilies. I always love getting close to water level for a different perspective.

Sea Lion
Sea Lion launched in 1946 and looking her age

Sea Lion is an old and well-loved work vessel with lots of character. In recent times its owner has either caused or allowed it to be painted with cartoon birds. Though I think this 73-year-old vessel deserved a more dignified treatment it makes me smile nevertheless

Lady Elizabeth
Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV engaged in inshore rescue duties

Lady Elizabeth IV is the Wellington police launch. It is seen here bouncing in choppy waters off Shelly Bay and its RIB cradle is empty because the inflatable is effecting a rescue closer inshore. I have the sad memory of watching her next but one predecessor sailing out through the heads in a gale and never returning.

Tram
The 109 tram leaving Graham St, Port Melbourne

On Good Friday, Mary and I flew to Melbourne to spend a week with our elder daughter Catherine and her husband Mark. We had a great time and enjoyed their tremendous hospitality. I love Melbourne, though I wonder if the day will ever come when there are not at least a dozen new high-rise buildings under construction, each with multiple tower-cranes. The world’s most extensive tram system and the Myki electronic ticketing make it an easy city to get around, though I don’t enjoy the rush-hour.

Beacon
One of the two navigation beacons in Beacon Cove

Port Philip Bay is a vast expanse of water and it puzzles me just how often it is glassy calm. I confess to assisting it a little in this case with a neutral density filter and an 8 second exposure. Just to the West of the Tasmania Ferry terminal is Beacon cove where this beacon and an identical one a few hundred metres inland provide a navigational aid for ships bound for the port.

Shrine
Inside the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

We visited Melbourne in the week of ANZAC day and took the opportunity to visit the Shrine of Remembrance in the city’s stunning Royal Botanic Gardens. We went inside the main building and I was intrigued by the interior of the pyramid-like roof.

Melbourne
St Kilda Rd and Swanston St, downtown Melbourne

From the upper levels of the shrine’s roof there is a great view of the city’s downtown skyline. This view looks past the spire of the Art Centre, across the bridge over the Yarra. St Paul’s Cathedral and up the length of Swanston St. In the distance (three km away) is the Portrait building. This 32 story apartment block has the portrait of Aboriginal leader William Barak etched in the white concrete of its balcony facings.

Lake
Lake Daylesford, Victoria

The next day Mark and Catherine took us on a very pleasant road trip to Daylesford, 110 km to the North West of the city. Daylesford is a very pretty rural spa town at the foot of the Great Dividing range. With a population of about 2,500 it seems to cater for the tourists who visit the many spas nearby. We spent some time at Lake Daylesford before a pleasant lunch in a local restaurant and a leisurely  trip back to Port Melbourne.

Arcade
Shopping arcade, Melbourne

Melbourne’s CBD has a large number of shopping arcades, most of which have been restored to their original glory or better. There are some great restaurants in the various lanes, and far too many chocolate shops for the good of my waist line.

Miner
Noisy Miner on colourful shrub, Port Melbourne

I walked down to Beacon Cove again, and on the way through Port Melbourne’s Garden City Reserve, spotted this very musical bird which, as far as I can tell is a Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala), an Australian Native, not to be confused with the introduced Common Myna from India. It is a member of the honeyeater family.

Port Philip Bay
A grey wet morning in Melbourne

Several visits to Beacon Cove produced some interesting opportunities. This was a wet morning on which Port Philip Bay disappeared into the grey distance. The iron fence is on Princes Pier. It’s like one of those comic book gates with no surrounding fence. There seems to be nothing to stop people walking out to the pier itself.

Piles
The historic piles of Princes Pier

That being the case, I went around the end of the fence and stood on the edge of the restored part of the pier and attempted to capture something of its original piles. Again the neutral density filter was used to enable a 25 second exposure and provide stillness on the water’s surface. In the local ANZAC memorial service which we attended, much was made of this pier as the departure point for the Australian soldiers setting sail for the Gallipoli campaign.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them**

* Little Shop of Horrors by Frank Oz

** For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon

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May 2, 2018 … A South Island Ramble

For the last two weeks, more or less, Mary and I spent time in the South Island. We visited the family in Queenstown, though I also had the ulterior motive of the Photographic Society of New Zealand’s  annual convention in Dunedin. The weather forecast was gloomy but somewhat ambiguous as we set out.

Kaiarahi
The Kaiarahi comes in to berth in the place our own ferry has just vacated.

I am always baffled by the loading process on the Interislander ferries. I imagine that they attempt to distribute vehicles fore and aft, port and starboard so that the vessel is properly balanced. However, the selections of who goes next and who goes where is seemingly quite random.

Swan
An elegant white swan at Liffey wetlands near Lincoln

We stopped on the way South at a nice AirBnB in the Lincoln district, near Christchurch. It was a lovely rural location that I might never have found without the aid of a GPS. As we left there on our way to Dunedin, we passed Liffey Springs, a spring-fed creek that flows into the Lincoln wetlands where there are a lot of waterfowl of one sort or another.

Alps
The broad flat lands of South Canterbury bump into the distant Southern Alps

Despite the forecast there was a clear view Westward to the snow-capped Southern Alps, seen here from somewhere near Dunsandel. Our travels took us to Musselburgh in Dunedin where we spent the night before I loaded Mary onto a bus bound for Queenstown the next day.

Harbour
The harbour in Otago looking out towards Port Chalmers and the Taiaroa Heads

Prior to the opening of the convention, I took the road out to Port Chalmers and marvelled that the Otago harbour is more often than not, very calm when I meet it.

Albatross
A white-capped or shy albatross cruises past the boat

The convention was well enough, offering a number of pre-booked field trips, each suited to one of the many genres of photography. My first such adventure was on the charter-vessel Monarch which took us down the placid harbour , offering some nice landscape opportunities, and then past Taiaroa Head to the open sea. There, as expected, we encountered a variety of the great pelagic seabirds including various petrels and gulls, as well as the Buller’s Mollymawk, the White-capped or Shy Albatross, and the greatest of the all, the Southern Royal albatross with its wings spreading over three metres.  Despite my notoriously queasy stomach, my only difficulty on the voyage was maintaining my balance as the vessel pitched and rolled in a swell that seemed to be around two metres. One hand for the ship and one for yourself is the ancient maritime wisdom, which leaves little for the camera.

Steam
A stationary steam engine spinning almost noiselessly at the Gasworks Museum

The trip I chose for the following day was to the Gasworks Museum in South Dunedin. The host club had laid on a local group of steam punk enthusiasts to liven up the trip. To my engineering-oriented mind, they simply got in the way and obstructed my view of the wonderful old steam machinery.

Millers Flat
From the bridge at Millers Flat looking North up the Clutha River

The convention came to its conclusion at lunchtime on Sunday and I set out to rejoin Mary and the family in Queenstown. I took the Southern route in the belief that the weather was going to be miserable. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and the Autumn colours at Millers Flat and Clyde were just magical.

Lake Hayes
Lake Hayes in Autumn

A few days in Queenstown with the family were a delight. I also managed a few side trips to Lake Hayes and even managed some times when the lake was flat calm. All to quickly, it was over and we began the journey homeward.

Balloon
Hot Air balloon near Arrowtown

First we crossed the Crown Range, pausing as we climbed the hill to admire the hot air balloon settling into a paddock near Arrowtown and then it was around Lake Hawea and over the Haast Pass and up the West Coast.

Paringa
Lake Paringa, with another 230 km to Hokitika

A lunch break at lonely lovely Lake Paringa was well worth the hassle of the flying pests. We paused for a travel break spending two nights in Hokitika.

Near Reefton
Near Reefton

As we set out on the long last leg, there was mist and rain, and as day broke, we were near Reefton. The road from there to St Arnaud is narrow and winding and having a logging truck ahead of you is no fun. You just have to wait patiently for a “slow vehicle bay” and you are past, only to find another one ahead of you.

selfie
Gulls leave their signature

Soon enough, we were at Picton where I discovered the ultimate in primitive art, or as I prefer to think of it, a seagull selfie. And then we were home, sad to leave the family behind, but glad to be in our own environment.

dandelion
Seed head

Photography took a very brief rest, and then a little still life took place. Who knows what will follow from there.

 

 

 

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Adventure Animals Art Birds Evans Bay insects Landscapes Light Museum Weather Wellington

April 3, 2018 … drop anchor

Another week, another post. I seem to be going through a flat spot, with little or no inspiration. However, we persist, as we always have.

Gallery
In the National Art Gallery which was, to my eye, truly disappointing

Mary and I went to the national museum, Te Papa. We had heard that the part of it that is the National Art Galley had been renewed. Alas, the only part of it that I regarded as traditional art consisted of mostly colonial era portraits. There are apparently in excess of 2.5 million items in the collection and this was the best they could do? I am convinced that art gallery curators march to a different drummer to the majority of us.

Mantis
A mantis, waiting patiently for something edible to come within range

A few days of really fine weather brought out a number of New Zealand mantises which is bad luck if you are on their diet, but interesting for the rest of us.

Sunrise
From our front door across the valley to Naenae

A few spectacular moments in the morning sometimes yield a useful image, though often, I miss it entirely.

coast guard
Coast guard in Evans Bay

In Evans Bay, the Coast Guard were setting out for a training exercise and cutting a fine figure on the blue water.

Landscape
An empty landscape … or is it?

Over Easter weekend, we got a nice break.  I found a new technique that allows me to add a whole lot of images together and apply statistical techniques to eliminate any elements that are not present in most or all of the images. A landscape that was full of cars, bikes, people and dogs is suddenly empty. I love it.

shelter
Sheltering from the ugly wind

This morning, the wind was blustery, and indeed, miserable. A flock of royal spoonbills was huddled among the reeds at Pauatahanui.  There were 28 in all, which is quite a flock for this area.

In view of the scarcity of offers on our house, we have decided to withdraw from the market for a while. We have no urgent external need to move so here we stay.

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Adventure Aviation Catlins Lakes Landscapes Moeraki Museum Queenstown Queenstown Reflections Rivers Weather

April 14, 2017 … now where was I?

Karitane was a delight, both as a place to stay, and as a place from which to visit other places. I got a year older since I last wrote, and to celebrate, Mary took me to the famous “Fleur’s Place” restaurant at Moeraki. It was brilliant, and lived up to the very best of my expectations, and we got to chat with Fleur herself, a delightfully extroverted character. While at Moeraki, we visited Mary’s cousin Rosalie who runs a hospital for sick and distressed sea life at Katiki Point where the endangered yellow-eyed penguins come ashore.

River
Waikouaiti River – stillness

On the way home, I asked Mary to pause as we crossed the Waikouaiti river. I suppose it was flowing towards the sea, but from the road above, it was mirror-calm  and made interesting patterns with the bridge supports.

First Church
First Church, Dunedin

Next day with continued fine weather, we drove to Dunedin for a bit of shopping. A pause at the lights on Stuart Street reminded me of my long-held opinion that First Church is one of the most beautiful of the traditional churches in New Zealand.

estuary
Waikouaiti estuary

The next day, still in Karitane was just perfect and I was out of bed uncharacteristically early.

Wetlands
Wetlands at Karitane

As the day wore on, the stillness and the sunshine continued. By now most of you know I am a sucker for reflections.

Waihola
Lake Waihola looking its best, but currently toxic

Then it was time to move on. Due to accommodation complications, we changed our original plan, and instead of going to Riverton near Invercargill, we went instead to Owaka in the Catlins. This took us down SH1 towards Balclutha, passing Lake Waihola on the way. This is a lovely lake to look at but due to an infestation of algal bloom, is currently unsafe to swim in.

Ducks
Ducks seem immune to the algae

Nevertheless, in company with many other tourists, I went to the water’s edge and was delighted to be “photobombed” by a flock of ducks.

Nugget Point
Lighthouse at Nugget Point on the Catlins Coast

Check-in time at our accommodation was 2 pm so we diverted to Nugget Point on the Catlins coast.

Bridge
Hinahina bridge on the “Catlins Lake”

By the time we arrived in Owaka, we were catching the edge effects of tropical cyclone Cook. Next morning, skies were grey and rain and wind were promised. I wanted to visit the “Catlins Lake” which is in reality the estuary of the Catlins River. My luck held out and despite the grey sky, the water was perfectly still except for the occasional splash of jumping fish. This is the Hinahina bridge.

Falls
Purakaunui falls in reduced circumstances

From there, since the weather was still reasonable, we drove up to the park for the Purakaunui falls and walked through the magnificent bush to see them. What a let down! Scarcely any rain had fallen, it seems and the usually splendid falls were a mere trickle.

rain
Old house in the rain

Next day, the weather arrived. It is impossible to be in the Catlins and just sit inside, so I went out looking for scenes and character. If you click on this image you will see the rain belting down. Our accommodation had a log burner and plentiful firewood, so we stayed warm and dry for the rest of the stay.

Dragonfly
De Havilland Dragonfly at Mandeville

Yesterday (Thursday) we drove from Owaka to Queenstown, but on the way I was able to fulfil a long-held wish to visit the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre at Mandeville, just a little out of Gore.

Mandeville
De Havilland Fox Moth and others of the breed at Mandeville

This is both a museum and a working aviation restoration facility. Almost everything on display is flight-worthy. They have a strong history with aircraft from the de Havilland stable but do other aircraft as well. Thoroughly recommended to my fellow aviation nuts.

 

 

 

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Adventure Architecture Art Brisbane Butterflies creativity Family Landscapes Light Museum Reflections Sunset

November 30, 2016 … on the West Island

Here I am in the big brown island next door. It’s 8:20 am and already the thermometer is telling me it’s 26 deg C, and heading for 28. I am enjoying the hospitality of my eldest son David and his wife, and loving being here with them and our two beautiful grandchildren. Apart from the weather, a slight bonus is that the earth has not moved at all while I have been here.

Sunset
Sunset at Bald Hills

I came over on Wednesday, flying into the Gold Coast airport at Coolangatta. An old friend and former colleague kindly transported me the 20 km or so from the airport to Varsity Lakes railway station, which is the southern limit of Brisbane’s commuter rail network. It was a pleasant run of about 90 minutes into Brisbane Central station where I met up with David who drove us home. Nearing Bald Hills in the heavy evening traffic, I enjoyed the magnificent sunset.

Swan plants
This was a tiny part of a vast field of swan plants

On Friday, David took me to a favourite location nearby, the Tinchi Tamba wetlands. Unlike Wellington, South East Queensland has been experiencing a prolonged dry spell, so the “wetlands” were not so fruitful as they have been in the past. However, there was a large open area full of swan plants, that favourite food of the monarch butterfly. It seems we missed the peak event but there were still a lot of butterflies flitting about.

Art
Grace’s art project

The next day, David, Grace, Isaac and I went to Kelvin Grove where Grace is a student at the Queensland Academy of Creative Industries. I can’t say I understood the assignment, but she got very high marks for the project, and she produced a piece made with cane and tissue paper … as I understood it, the mark was for the exploration in writing of the artist(s) who inspired the work and analysis of the creative process.

Scarborough
Scarborough Harbour

On Sunday, with Isaac, David and I drove North to Redcliffe. We had a great fish and chip lunch at the Scarborough harbour where you can be sure the fish in your lunch is fresh.

Brisbane Port
Brisbane is a big city and has a big port whose cranes are visible across Moreton Bay

We came back along the coastline from where there was an interesting view of the distant cranes of Brisbane’s port.

Architecture
Restoration nicely done

Yesterday, Grace and I went to Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art (more her thing than mine, but you don’t often get an excuse to hang out with your 15 year-old granddaughter. The museum is on Southbank and has some interesting architectural neighbours.

Reflections
Reflections in a table

From the third floor of the gallery, I spotted a reflection of the city across the river. It wasn’t the river doing the trick though, but a large glass-topped table up against the window. Brisbane’s river is customary brown and silt laden, so the glass did a better job.

Art
The two islands of New Zealand? A piece by Michael Parakowhai who is also responsible for a statue of an elephant standing on its head outside the gallery.

A piece in the gallery was eye-catching. It was by New Zealand artist, Michael Parakowhai and according to the tour guide it referenced the two islands of New Zealand with all the culture in the North and all the fun bits in the South.

 

Categories
Adventure Aviation Landscapes Museum Queenstown

November 23, 2015 … over the range

Billie was at a camp for guides at Lake Hawea.

Truck
One of the few vehicles that gave a clear view

The family set out to retrieve her at the end of the camp, and dropped me in Wanaka at a transport and toy museum. This place has an amazing collection, but is hugely frustrating because they have so many items they have insufficient space to display anything well. Nevertheless, some items can be seen in part, if not in whole.

displays
Trucking back in time

If they have attempted to organize the collection in any way, their plan eludes me. Trucks facing a glass cabinet full of clocks were a surprise but allowed for a little whimsy.

Bikes
Mary Poppins?

A random collection of bicycles hung in the rafters made an interesting opportunity to make some passing reference to ET and/or Mary Poppins.

Hangar
The C60A Lodestar

In another hangar, a beautiful Lockheed C60A Lodestar was backed up so tightly that its tailfin was actually in contact with the fuselage of a de Havilland DH104 Devon. Every space was filled with vehicles, spare parts, armoured fighting vehicles.

F27
Fokker Friendship … flaps lying atop the wing

In the adjacent hangar, the centre piece was a Fokker F27 Friendship complete except for the tailfin. Parking vehicles between the fuselage and the undercarriage legs was an act of bravery. Don’t be put off. It’s a fantastic collection.

Cardrona
Through the Dry Cardrona*

We took the road over the Crown Range to get home, and I tried a slow exposure through the windscreen.

Runway
Looking down the Queenstown runway from the top of the Crown Range

At the top of the hill, looking down on Queenstown is a splendid reward for the long trip through the winding road of the Cardrona valley.

That’s all for now.

 

By the Dry Cardrona by James K Baxter and D. Tomms

 

Categories
Adventure Art Landscapes Light Museum Upper Hutt Weather

June 21, 2015 … midwinter according to the calendar

The worst is yet to come.

Fenwick
Depiction of army surgeon, Lt.Col. Percival Fenwick, who survived the war and went on to pioneer the use of radium and x-rays in New Zealand. Remember that this art work is two and a half times larger than real life. (Art by Weta Workshop)

Bad weather provides an incentive to do indoor things, so yesterday, Mary and I went to the national museum, Te Papa, to see the ANZAC exhibition, “The Scale of Our War“. Mounted by Weta Workshops this is a tribute to the fallen to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landing. The primary exhibits are a series of models or sculptures two and a half times larger than life, of actual New Zealanders in wartime situations. They are stunning in their execution. Every hair is perfect. Dental records were consulted to ensure the individuals were portrayed accurately. Family members of those shown have attested to the accuracy of the portrayals. My first picture is of the military surgeon, Lt. Col. Percival Fenwick. The scene shows him sitting devastated at the end of a particularly bloody day of surgery.

Le Gallais
Staff Nurse Lottie Le Gallais in a moment of personal grief. Every detail is depicted to perfection by the Weta Workshop people … I can’t even imagine how you go about representing fabrics two and a half times enlarged, but they did it.

There were many very powerful scenes depicted, but among the most moving was that of Staff Nurse Lottie Le Gallais, New Zealand Army Nursing Service, who was on the hospital ship, Maheno. She is shown grieving as she learns that her own brother had been killed. The news was conveyed to her by the brutally honest rubber stamp on the letters she had sent to him: “Killed. Return to Sender”.  Personal note: I have done my best to depict these figures well, but want to acknowledge that the real art, the astonishing skill, is that of the people at Weta Workshops.

Upper Hutt
Eastern Hills behind Upper Hutt in mist and rain

Later in the day, as heavy rain disrupted most main roads in the lower North Island, I wandered about near Upper Hutt looking for the misty shots of clouds wreathed around the hills.

Rimutaka
The Rimutaka landscape looking Eastward from Kaitoke

I went as far as the Plateau at Maymorn and enjoyed the beauty of the mist-shrouded landscape, hoping that there were no trampers in those rugged hills who might need to be rescued.

It was a good day, despite the weather.

Categories
Birds Children Day's Bay Family Maritime Museum

January 17, 2015 … Grandson and gull chicks

Yesterday was spent with Grandson Cooper.

Orc
Cooper stares undaunted at a 3.5 metre statue of Azog the Defiler, an Orc from the movie, the Hobbit, Battle of the Five Armies

 

We discussed what he would like to do and he asked if we could go to Te Papa. Cooper gets excited about many things and he usually makes a beeline for the exhibits that involve volcanoes, lava, earthquakes and so on. This time he paused on his way to the “awesome forces” display to look at the very imposing stature of an Orc made by Weta Workshops here in Wellington. We had a good day together, but that left me challenged at the end of the day for images I could use in the blog.

Gull chick
Black-backed gull chick can swim efficiently

 

After Cooper had been picked up by his Dad, I went out to Lowry Bay where I knew there were some Black-backed gull chicks. When I arrived, three of them were in the water cruising about. Alarm calls from their mother as I approached caused them to get out of the water onto the rocks which seem to be their nest.

Chicks
Three chicks from one brood. These things are huge.

 

I have no sense of how old these chicks are, but in physical bulk, they are almost as big as their mother. They are bigger than the average supermarket chicken.

Gull
Mother puts herself in harm’s way

 

Though I was keeping a respectful distance, mother was very concerned, and circled close to me with a view to scaring me away. Since II was under the eves of the boatshed,  her last resort was to put herself between me and her babies. The black-backed gull (Larus dominicanus)  is perhaps the most widely distributed gull in the sudden hemisphere, and it is a clean and elegant flier.

Ferry
Mother and chick

 

A little further offshore, I lined up on another gull and was surprised to see yet another chick. In the background, the ferry Arahura is coming through the heads

That’s all for today.