adversity Birds creativity Family Hokio Beach Lakes Landscapes Maritime Music Weather Wellington

December 31, 2020 … thank goodness that’s over

…. but who knows what 2021 will bring? It’s possible that we might look back on 2020 as “the good old days?”

Petone wharf with mist behind it

I remember August with fondness. It was mostly calm and sunny. However, December in Wellington has been mostly complete rubbish, with lots of rain and wind. Some days offered calm, but with mist or drizzle. I can live with that. This image was made at Petone wharf and as you can see, Matiu/Somes is almost obscured in the rain, and there is no sign at all of the Miramar peninsula.

Looking back

The same morning, I took a trip up Malvern road which runs up the side of the hill at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge. It offers a fairly generous panorama over the Northern parts of the harbour. On this particular day, low cloud obscured the lower parts of the Hutt Valley and it offered a different view to the usual. .

Handel’s Messiah with the NZSO

Our daughter Lena and son-in-law Vasely generously took us to hear the NZSO with the Tudor Consort Choir performing Handel’s Messiah. No matter how many times I hear it it seems always new. The conductor, Gemma New encouraged the ancient tradition of all standing for the Hallelujah Chorus. The performance earned them a rarely given standing ovation from the capacity crowd in the Michael Fowler Centre. Of course I didn’t take my camera so this is a sneaky grab shot from my iPhone.


On one of the few fine days this month, I went to the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park at Paekakariki in the hope of finding some interesting bird life. sadly, the birds had made other plans so I was out of luck. There was the sound of a million frogs, and though I was very close, I saw not one. I settled for the remnants of some rushes in the water.

Welcome Swallow

Despite the lack of water fowl, there were, as always, Welcome Swallows flitting about and performing impossible changes of direction in mid air as they gathered insects. They are fast and unpredictable so I was pleased when one sat on a branch near me.

Kota Lestari

Sunshine is nice, but it would be better without the Southerly wind. I was on the South coast when the Singapore registered container vessel Kota Lestari picked up her pilot. She has a gross registered tonnage of 41,578 and has the capacity to carry 4,300 twenty foot containers. She berthed soon after 3 pm and left just after midnight bound for Napier and then on to Hong Kong.

Canada Geese

Mostly I like all the Canadians I have met. I am less fond of their geese, despite their handsome appearance. They always seem to choose pathways as a place to deposit their calling cards. Even so, I enjoyed seeing this family at QEII park.

Thunder of wings

A favourite spot on a calm day is Hokio beach. It is just over 100 km to the North from home and is situated on the West Coast of the North Island, a little to South of Levin. The Hokio stream runs Westward from Lake Horowhenua and forms a beautiful estuary where it meets the Tasman Sea. There are seabirds aplenty most times, though my favourites, the black-fronted dotterels were missing. A large flock of black-backed gulls were basking in the sun when some idiot in a small SUV came racing towards them and instantly there was feathered chaos.

On Brooklyn Hill

Like many landscape photographers before me, I love conditions of mist or fog, though sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Driving up the hill from Aro Street to Brooklyn, conditions were clear, though overcast. Then from just above Brooklyn shops things got heavy. These misty pines are a few hundred metres up the hill towards the wind turbine. The turbine itself was scarcely visible even as I stood at its base.

Not monochrome

I hardly ever make monochrome images. Sometimes nature presents itself in black and white and then I am happy to capture it if I can. This view from the Titahi Bay road looks South towards Porirua City. It is an eight-image panoramic stitch.

Sparrows feeding

Mary was given a new bird-feeder that allows birds to sit on various perches around its base and access the seeds. They will empty that pile in about an hour, after which no matter how they sulk, they wait until tomorrow.


I recall a respected photographer friend telling our camera club that any image containing a splash of red had a much better chance of favourable treatment. This little yacht in Evans Bay certainly grabs attention

So ends 2020. Though we have lamented its many downsides, we in New Zealand have come through it fairly well. Our covid-19 statistics are among the best, and even the impact on our country’s economy has been much less than was feared. Our biggest personal sadness is our inability to visit family in Brisbane and Melbourne, or indeed for them to come here. But they and we are well and we can talk to each other, so again things are less bad than they might have been.

I wish you all the warmest of wishes for 2021. May it be a kinder and better year than its predecessor. May all your hopes and dreams come true. See you next year perhaps?

Adventure Birds Lakes Landscapes Light Music night Reflections Wairarapa Waves Weather

October 25, 2018 … here we are again

A busy time since the last post.

The sun has gone to bed and so must I

Out in the gloaming (do people still use that word?) and I just loved the colours in the Seaview Marina. I was a bit nervous about this long exposure because I was standing on a floating pontoon, and the risk of movement was high.

Ornamental pond at Cross Hills Gardens, Kimbolton

Mary and I drove to Cross Hills Gardens near Kimbolton in the Manawatu district. The gardens specialise in rhododendrons and azaleas. I made lots of images but the one I liked best was of the ornamental pond.

NZ Falcon in Lower Hutt

My youngest son is a police officer in charge of land search and rescue operations in the region. He was out looking for a missing person and got dive-bombed by a pair of New Zealand falcons. My ears pricked up because a pair of falcons defending a territory suggests nesting is happening. I visited the area and sure enough the pair came in very fast and low. I sat down and they sat above me just a few metres away.  Love these birds.

A blare of trumpets

On my way to a function in Tinakori Rd, I passed the open door of a shop that sells brass and wind instruments. I was impressed by the array of brass on the display board and with permission took a few shots.

Onoke Spit – all closed off

A day or two later I was in the South Wairarapa at Lake Ferry. To my surprise, the outlet where Lake Onoke flows to the sea was closed off and the Onoke Spit went all the way across from East to West.  To my even greater surprise, the ocean swells were coming up over the spit and  sliding down the inland slope to the lake. I got wet shoes out of it.

Mighty mountain across a green sea

The view from the spit across the strait to Tapuae-o-Uenuku was spectacular, and I have not adjusted those colours

Fast flowing stream – Korokoro

There was a gap of a few days and then I went wandering up the Korokoro stream track. When I first encountered this stream in 1980, you crossed the stream and got wet feet 23 times. The track is now so developed that all the crossings are bridged and the socks remain dry.

Hutt River
The Hutt River near Upper Hutt

In Upper Hutt, one beautiful morning early this week, I had to stop to catch the Hutt River flowing down past Totara Park.

Across Lake Wairarapa to the Aorangi Range

From there, it was over the hill again to Lake Wairarapa where the conditions were nearly perfect.

Dancing patterns

On Monday night this week, was the final night of Lower Hutt’s Carnival of Lights. Despite the coincidence of timing, there was no overt connection between this and the festival of Diwali. Anyway, as we arrived, there was a young woman dancing with what I can only describe as illuminated hula-hoops. I opened the shutter for a long exposure as she twirled and danced and got this.

Noise and smoke

The young people were gathered around a sound stage from which a group was performing. Nothing that sounded like my idea of music, but it was a good visual spectacle.

Fireworks closing ceremony

The night concluded with a fireworks display, and again the long exposure allowed the sequence of fireworks to paint patterns in the air.

Architecture Birds Camera club Karori Music Staglands Uncategorized

March 22, 2016 … stopping the runaway

Whatever shortcomings the photo-a-day discipline had, the resulting posts were at least reliable. I now have to rein in that well known thief of time, procrastination.

The altar in the Futuna chapel, illuminated by the stained-glass windows

Truth to tell, my photography since my last post has been lacklustre, and I am posting now as my first attempt to regain control. Mary and I have a road trip planned in the near future and I hope that will reignite the fires of creativity.  Anyway, let’s begin. Sunday the 13th, I went to the Futuna chapel in Karori to hear a concert buy a group called WOSOSI (World Song Singers). The Architectural award-winning chapel was a familiar and loved venue for me, since I had participated in a number of spiritual retreats there. The retreat house has long gone, and the chapel itself is de-consecrated,  but it is a registered historic building and the concert was part of a fund-raising endeavour to help in its preservation.

WOSOSI in song

One of the co-leaders of WOSOSI is a former colleague from my days at the New Zealand Dairy Board, and though I saw her posting about it on Facebook, I went with no real expectations. They were an absolute delight. Their repertoire is global and in this concert we had songs from Norway, various parts of Africa, France, Australia and New Zealand. They are an a capella group, so the voices had to be perfect, and they were.

Loving what they do

Part of the group’s charm is that they absolutely love what they do and take great joy in singing, whether it’s a psalm, the softest of lullabies or full-throated drinking songs.


More recently, I joined members of our camera club on a trip to Staglands Wildlife reserve on the Akatarawa road. Like our choristers above, my fellow club members love what they do which is why it is a pleasure to join them, despite my natural inclination to solitude. We began with a pleasant lunch in the cafe and then followed the ranger to feed the birds in the kea enclosure. The kea is an alpine parrot, and it is rare to be this close to one outside of the mountains.

White-fronted terns

Today I went out to Plimmerton where I was happy to get close to a very large flock of white-fronted terns on the rocks near the fire station. I find the tern a very attractive bird, clean agile and graceful.

I hope for better things to come.

Children Eastbourne Maritime Music Seasons Weather

December 15, 2013 … signs of the season

A friend asked for help running a photographic slide show at a carol service.

Voyager of the Seas
After leaving the port, bound for Sydney, she seemed to go up the East coast which was surprising.

As a generality, if someone wants me to do photography or to lend my somewhat limited technical expertise, I am happy to oblige. Weeding the garden tends to come with a bit more pain and suffering. Since the technical connection between computer and projector is an unknown quantity, I set out early. Unfortunately the hall at Eastbourne was still locked when I arrived. No problem, I had my camera with me so went down to the beach opposite the Eastbourne bus barns. I arrived just as the Cruise Liner Voyager of the Seas was about to disappear behind Pencarrow after dropping off the harbour pilot.

Kite Surfer in Day's Bay
Seconds later he did a U-turn and then crashed.

As usual, I did the “check behind” and saw a kite-surfer racing up and down. Based on the number of times he dumped off in relatively benign conditions and the total lack of any attempts at flying, I am guessing that he was at an early stage in his kite-surfing career. This image caught him at the Northern end of his run near the little spit at the end of Day’s Bay. If you magnify the image, there is a family enjoying a picnic on the beach. In the background, the petroleum/chemical tanker with the unromantic and somewhat mystifying name Overseas Ariadmar is unloading at Point Howard terminal. Our house is just out of shot halfway up the hill to the right.

The littlest angels
The audience was equipped with ribbons to wave in synchronization with the tiny carol singers on the stage.

By now it was time to see if the hall was yet open. It was. The projector didn’t have the HDMI connection that works with my Macbook Pro, so we used Mary’s PC and a good old-fashioned VGA cable and we were up and running. But Mary doesn’t have Lightroom so there was a bit of fumbling to install Picasa as a quick and dirty solution. We got there.


Eastbourne is has a real village style to it. People turn out in their numbers to an ecumenical carol service. My friend Phil had put together a set of photographs illustrating the Christmas story or reflecting Christmas themes using images of local people and places. That many people all smiling at once has to be a force for good in the world.

At the end of the service
Santa is against the back wall and the kids are following under the spell of the season

The children sang, performed and at the end Santa arrived and led them all out into the school playground for a lolly scramble (lolly = candy (US) =sweetie (UK)).

Here endeth the carols.


Architecture Birds harbour Moon Music night Wellington

June 24, 2013 … a different aspect

You may recall that we recently had a significant storm.

Well halfway through this movie, someone must have switched reels, and suddenly we have calm sunny weather. If there is food around, the birds don’t care, one way or the other. And with Mary around, the birds are always going to get fed!

Waxeye looking "cute"
Actually, I think they look the same, whether cute or angry.

This little waxeye is perched in a macrocarpa tree that was once our family Christmas tree, and is waiting for a vacancy on the feeder.

I am always intrigued by the way that the waxeye can look cute, or angry, and yet nothing changes. It’s pretty hard to make a beak “smile”.

In the afternoon, Mary and I went to a concert of Gregorian chant put on by the very talented choir of the church of St Mary of the Angles in Boulcott Street. From my first exposure to Wellington in the mid sixties, that church has always had a superb choir. Of course back then, Maxwell Fernie was the choirmaster and he was a musical giant. The current choirmaster is a former professor of music at Victoria University, and despite the very small size of the choir now, he too, manages to coax a wonderful sound.

St Mary of the Angels
The Junior choir is rehearsing at the front

The building itself contributes to this. It is a ferro-cement building in the Gothic style, built to the design of Frederic de Jersey Clere and opened in 1922. At present it is subject to severe warnings about its ability to resist earthquakes.  It has a warm wooden charm inside and provides a pleasant contrast to the larger blocks in the neighbourhood.

Unlikely neighbours
The Majestic Centre is one of the largest high-rise buildings in Wellington

After the concert, Mary and I went up to the Mt Victoria lookout in hopes of getting a good shot of the “supermoon” rising. As we waited in the clear chilly evening, I took some shots of the view from the top and in particular, of the sunset over the city.

The sun has gone
I love our city and harbour

The moon rose, and I took a few shots but somehow the settings are all wrong.

Supermoon arising over the Eastern hills
I shall keep trying over the next day or so

On the way home we paused at the bottom of the hill, and I couldn’t help but be astonished that this is the same place from which just two days earlier, I had photographed the tug struggling to hold the ferry against the screaming wind.

Can this really be the same city?
Winds of up to 200 km/h just two days ago.

Enough for today.

Landscapes Maritime Melbourne Music

December 23, 2012 … to the beat of a different drum

A beautiful summer day on Port Philip Bay.

Along the parks and beaches of St Kilda, everything was happening. In enclosed area,s, concert stages were surrounded by many hundreds of young people dancing to the crashing sound of what passes for music these days.  Cyclists, walkers and runners thronged the many pathways and a few swimmers braved the waters.

Out on the bay, kite surfers were skimming back and forth across area inside the breakwater.  Dozens of the colourful kites made a spectacular sight. Three in a row caught in this first image.Kite surfing on the bay

But what noise is this to my right?

In a tree-shaded park adjacent to the beach was a group of what I can only describe as bongo drummers. The flying hands were a real eye catcher, and I tried to expose so as to get a sharp image, but allow the hands to blur.Drumming group in the park

There was no melody, but lots of rhythm. Shades of the movie “The Visitor” in which people gather in a park to express themselves on drums. There seemed to be no definite coordinating force, but some prominent players.Serious players

They were having a great time. I draw no conclusion from the many empty green bottles in the grass. It was a happy group and the rhythm was compelling. Some members even joined in by dancing in a style that reminded me of “Zorba the Greek”.Invitation to the dance

On this fine longest day of the year, and the day on which the world did not end, the citizens of Melbourne had much to celebrate.