Children Eastbourne Festivals and fairs flowers Photographic commissions

December 7, 2015 … the reason for the season

My friend Phil normally does most of the socially necessary photographs for the community at Eastbourne.

Six images are sandwiched to give a suitably focused composite image

Unless, of course, he is taking an active part in the event to be photographed, in which case he often calls on me to stand in for him. Yesterday was Eastbourne’s annual carol service organized jointly by three churches in the area, and held at the Muritai School Hall. As usual, I arrived early, so wandered around outside practicing macro photography in the flower beds outside. I have no idea what kind of flower this is, but I used multiple exposures and focus stacking. It wasn’t until later, I spotted the tiny spider in between the stalks of the flowers on the top left and another small insect (aphid?) in the top right corner.

In need of care and attention

I must moderate this extreme punctuality business. I wandered around into the Eastbourne shops and was pleased to see this unrestored old Ford truck. I hope that it gets the treatment one day.

The community carol service at Eastbourne

In due course, the service started, and there were lots and lots of families with young children and several children’s choirs, as well as the Hutt City Brass Band. I was amused that several of the youngsters in one of the school choirs held their hands over their ears when the band played. Brass in an enclosed space can be too much for some. This is the first time I have attempted a multi-image panorama on a crowd scene, and it seems to have worked well enough.

The children of San Antonio’s School, Eastbourne open wide to sing

During one of the children’s performances the siren went off next door to summon the local volunteer fire brigade. A few members galloped off to the station, but to their enormous credit, the choir kept singing and were not drowned out.  Traditional carols were sung with feeling and a few new ones were learned. It was all topped off by the arrival of Santa

That’s it for today.

Birds harbour Lower Hutt night Normandale Photographic commissions Sunset Trees

October 30, 2012 … a bit of this and a bit of that

Tofu, I should assure you,  is not normally on my menu.

However, some days are like tofu. They have no flavour of their own, but pick up hints of whatever rubbed up against it in the pot. That’s how it seemed yesterday. I had a photoshoot in the morning. I don’t  normally attempt portraiture, but a friend had a request, was unable to be there, so he passed the gig on to me.

In the afternoon, I was experimenting with low angle bird photography. I placed my camera on the lawn sitting on the tiny “Gorillapod”. I had a long lens mounted, and the wireless remote trigger. I manually focussed on a spot across the lawn, and then sprinkled bird food on the spot and concealed myself in the house. The food attracted the birds which in turn attracted the neighbour’s cat. Some experimenting is still required in terms of depth of field and shutter speed, but I can see potential here.  Here a common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) takes fright as the cat attempts to sneak up from behind. Starling invokes cat-avoidance procedures

Later in the afternoon, I had to walk up to Normandale School to collect my grandchildren since we were babysitting in the afternoon and early evening. On the way up there, I spotted this handsome native wood pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) sitting atop the trunk of a dead Mamaku or black tree fern (Cyathea medullaris) . I got quite close, and did not need a long lens. It showed no inclination to move. New Zealand wood pigeon takes a rest Despite its lovely plumage, it is a remarkably clumsy bird in flight. On landing it seems to crash through the foliage of the trees until it slows enough to grab a perch. I have seen it described as not so much a landing, as a controlled crash.

It’s always a joy to collect my grandchildren from school.  There are lots of young parents waiting to pick their children up, and when I go I tend to be the oldest guy there. But whenever Cooper or Maggie see me, there is a glad cry of “Grandad!” and they rush over, arms outstretched for a hug.  I can hear the “Aaaaawwww!” reaction around me. They will soon be too cool for this sort of thing, but I’ll lap it up while it lasts. They are really lovely kids.

After dinner, with the youngsters bathed and changed, ready for bed, we  took them home and put them to bed. The view from their house is magnificent, looking as it does, straight down the harbour mouth. Wellington harbour sunsetThere is nothing out there until you hit the Antarctic ice.

It was a lovely soft sunset.

Art creativity Photographic commissions Seaview Vehicles

October 15, 2012 … strange activities

Weirdness rules.

One of the assignments for the 2012 Canon EOS Photo5 competition was specified as follows:

Spaghetti: Portraiture – Create a unique image which makes use of the interaction between spaghetti and people”

I had many ideas, most of which I simply lacked the skills to execute because of the difficulty of handling the material.

Dry, it is inflexible and dull, and visually boring. Cooked, it is limp and sticky. I tried weaving it, but that was beyond my capabilities.

For some reason, perhaps the word “portraiture”,  I interpreted the brief as needing to involve one person and some spaghetti. Like a lot of the posted entries to date, I thought of spaghetti hair. Then I thought of moulding the spaghetti to model the contours of the human face.

Mary bravely volunteered to model for me. I am not sure I would like to lie still for heaven knows how long while clammy sticky spaghetti strands were draped across my face. It didn’t work. The strands kept falling off the angles of the face. She was very patient, but I had to concede defeat on that approach.

Rethink, and down to the $2 shop where I bought a plastic mask. A new batch of spaghetti was cooked, and then laboriously, the strands were super-glued to the mask and to each other in horizontal stripes. Despite the glue, it was not a robust structure and gaps kept opening. Mary reclined on a bean bag with the mask precariously in place, while I was on a stepladder near the ceiling to set the camera on my fully extended tripod.  Curtains closed, with just a narrow streak of light coming in to the room. I submitted the image less than a day before the deadline and if you want to see final picture, go here: The navigation keys allow you to see other entries in this brief.

My kids find my  image “spooky” or “terrifying”. That was never the intended outcome, so I shall now have to wait for the judges and the voting public in due course.

On a totally different style of photography, I went to Seaview Marina in the afternoon. The water was choppy and brown after a weekend of wild weather. However, sitting prettily on the wharf were three trucks. Two of them were vintage machines which remind me of my childhood. Both as an army brat in England and Germany, and later in civilian life in England and New Zealand, I recall the Bedford MSD as the ubiquitous British truck. There were other brands, such as Leyland and Commer, but the Bedford was everywhere, and did everything. None, in my recollection, were ever as prettily painted, or as beautifully polished as this 1953 restored model.1953 Bedford MSD

There was a small Commer truck of similar vintage, but yet to be restored, and a huge immaculately painted modern Mack tractor unit alongside.Grandson, is that you?

Neither of the old trucks were engineering marvels, but they were emblematic of their time, which is now long ago.

The Bedford truck was new in the year Hilary and Tenzing ascended  Everest, and Elizabeth II ascended the throne.

Art creativity hobbies Photographic commissions

October 9, 2012 … a very sticky situation

My father was a model maker.

Like me, he was not always a good one, but he was always enthusiastic. My earliest memory of his model making dates back to about 1949 or ’50 when, for some reason, he made a model of one of the railway cars of the London Underground. He was better at models that could use his undoubted skills in heavier engineering, and I recall a large working model of one of the huge hammerhead cranes that were a feature of most shipyards of that era.

Down in my shed, in a glass-fronted cabinet, I have a nearly complete live steam model traction engine made by him in his later years.

My own model making was in the area of flying scale models, and though I was capable of reproducing the shape of a real aircraft, I was less successful at getting them to fly, or to survive the flight.

This fascination for the world in miniature has continued in my eldest son, David, who makes superb plastic models of aircraft and armoured fighting vehicles. I envy his dexterity and expertise in reproducing the world in miniature to a very high standard indeed.

A few days ago, I referred to the annual Canon EOS 5 competition, and its series of briefs,  one of which goes under the banner of “Little People: Scale”.

It plays right into my fascination for the miniature. So here is one of a series of shots made using the two little figures supplied in the competition kit.

I have created a scenario for my miniature men  with the addition of a length of cotton, some super glue, a small stainless steel dish, and a couple of tablespoons of treacle.  It is a fairly old tin of treacle and very dark.I told you not to go near the treacle

My scenario is that the two little guys have been racing around the big people’s pantry in the night, and one of them has slipped off the edge of the dish and become trapped  in the treacle. His young companion is trying to effect a rescue with a rope. The title is “I told you not to go near the treacle”.

One of this series may be my entry for this brief.

Art Aviation Light Photographic commissions

October 6, 2012 … miniature mayhem

Competitions are fun and challenging.

I am participating currently in Canon’s annual  EOS Photo 5 competition. The format of this, is that you receive a box of oddments, and must use them to create an entry for each of five briefs.  One of the briefs this year requires the use of some miniature figures. Other figures may be added, and other props deployed.  A number of possibilities have come to mind for this exercise.

Since I had done nothing serious with the camera yesterday, I experimented with the figures, supplemented by one of the model aircraft left behind by my son David (a good photographer and a very talented model maker) when he and his family migrated to Australia a few years ago.  I know he is very critical of his own models from that long ago, but to my eye they are still excellent and I am still proud to have them on the shelves in my office.

Anyway, these two tiny plastic figures are about 15 mm tall and quite unstable. I had to use super glue (cyano-acrylate)  to attach them to the background paper.  Then I used David’s F-18 Hornet model as a background to set up a scenario on the dining room table, in which a young aviation geek is being chased away from the hangar by an irate mechanic.

The intruderAll the lights were turned out and the only illumination was from a hand-held LED flashlight.

I have other ideas to explore. Thanks David for the F-18


adversity creativity Photographic commissions

May 25, 2012 … better to light a candle than curse the darkness

From the beginning, I have said I value feedback.

My eldest son David asked a valid question on the forum  at the end of yesterday’s blog entry … “Is ‘a photo a day’ cramping your style – discuss?”

Hm. There are two dimensions to this.  First, there is the inevitable conclusion that the picture that provoked the question (wine glasses)  is rubbish. He is right. It is. Second, and more importantly, there is the recognition that images produced under duress are less likely to be good ones. Images made for the joy of it are more likely to be winners.

On the other hand, I am not yet ready to abandon the photo a day idea, because every time I press the shutter, it teaches me something. All too often it teaches me what doesn’t work, but that too is valuable knowledge. I am not sure I can afford to give up such a  valuable aid to learning. As a result, I inflict my failures and mediocrities on those who read these journeys, but I hope there is a fair mix of successes amongst them.

Yesterday I had no chance to engage in creative photography, as I was working on a commissioned work. Amazing how much time it took to tweak and adjust them afterwards.

Interior photography

I have just acquired Photoshop CS6, but haven’t learned how to use it yet. It might have made it much easier to achieve distortion free verticals.

Please keep up the feedback. Even if I don’t follow your advice, I value it.

Lower Hutt Photographic commissions Rescue Social

April 22, 2012 … if I am lost, I want people like these looking for me

What an amazing day, with amazing people.

My youngest son is currently the relieving Wellington Search and Rescue Coordinator for the New Zealand Police. With his colleagues, he organised a regional  Search and Rescue training day. Since the Belmont Regional Park is almost at my back door, he invited me to come and photograph the event.

I  roped in a friend from the camera club, and so the two of us spent most of yesterday watching weathered  wiry people scramble up steep banks, administer first aid, and lower “bodies” down steep grades.  They dealt with crime scenes and had their powers of observation thoroughly tested. They erected (and dismantled) temporary repeater stations to give radio coverage where there was  previously none. There were eight exercises in all, and each of the eight teams had to demonstrate their capability at solving the relevant aspect of search and rescue skills. Each task was overseen and assessed by an experienced person who was a  combination tutor and judge (I learned a few things myself, just by listening).

Some of the scenarios were situated at the top of some very long steep grades, and I was well pleased that I managed to get to most of them under my own power.  I was prepared to take the easy way when it came to the summit.

The park itself is lovely, and one of yesterday’s benefits was the rare chance to get a  ride to the Belmont summit (451 metres ASL) in an SUV. The road is normally closed to private vehicles. Of course, the competitors had to do it the hard way, but they arrived at the top in under 30 minutes with little more than a glow.

Of course the temptation was to follow yesterday’s theme of another hill another point of view.

Instead I am using a shot of one of the exercises. The teams arriving at the top of the road then had to lug the repeater station including its aerial and all its fittings the last hundred metres or so to the summit. Though the weather most mostly reasonable yesterday, at that altitude there was a stiff Northerly breeze, so getting the flimsy rope-guyed aerial up was no mean feat. Temporary repeater station on Belmont summit

Yes that is the harbour entrance in the South. Then they had to repack it and cart it back to the gate in readiness for the next team. The day ended with a very sociable barbecue and some very fine steaks. I found myself in awe of a very fine bunch of people, and I enjoyed being in their company.