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Architecture Art Butterflies Family flowers Landscapes Maritime Railway Waves Weather Wellington

January 30, 2021 … the road goes ever on and on*

I occasionally evaluate my reality. Mary and I are retired, living in leafy suburbia in a small city (pop 104,700) adjacent to our small capital (population 215,100) in a small peaceful and politically stable country (pop 5 million) in the bottom right hand corner of the world (population 7,794,798,739). We have so much to be grateful for.

From my perspective as a photographer, while other parts of the country may offer more spectacle, even the region in which I live offers many opportunities within an hour’s drive and even more within a four hour round trip. So why, you might ask, have I been so grumpy of late? Well, I continue to claim the right to grumble about almost two solid months of grey dismal blustery weather, but remain hopeful of some semblance of summer weather in the remainder of the season. I know I should be more appreciative of what I have. The landscape and seascapes around me have good bones. When the weather precludes those shots, there are interesting possibilities in the close up.

Tree Mallow

Sometimes I encounter a plant or flower and identify it confidently. Then I find that I have been wrong for years. In the certain knowledge that this flower was a hollyhock, I submitted the image to my favourite plant identifying site looking for the scientific name. It seems that this is in fact, a tree mallow. Pride cometh before a fall.

Monarch butterfly

Mary came in from her walk in bleak and blustery conditions, carefully nursing something very delicate. A monarch butterfly! It was unwilling to sit still and fluttered about until it settled on a piece of foliage I had been using for other purposes. Snap. Then it flew away.

Unexpected stillness

A promised and long awaited calm day appeared, and brought some mist with it. I can live with that. My wandering took me to Hataitai Beach in Evans Bay. I loved the appearance of the distant yachts sandwiched between the cloud above and the glutinous sea below. The tiny wavelets lowered themselves almost silently onto the gravel beach.

Paint and varnish, masts and rigging

The conditions in Evans Bay allowed me to narrow the focus onto a few of the yachts. I like these “old school” yachts, with no sign of moulded plastic or meaningless shapes. These are the shapes taught by the sea, shapes that have served generations of mariners well. I suspect that these will still be here even as the plastic gin-palaces crumble to dust.

Van Gogh Alive (1)

At the instigation of Mary’s brother Paul and his wife Robyne, we went together to see the “Van Gogh Alive” at an exhibition centre on the Wellington Waterfront. I used the word “see” … perhaps I should have said “experience”. This was an immersion with beautifully selected elements of Van Gogh’s art projected on the multiple surfaces at various angles all around us. If this exhibition comes near you, don’t miss it. It is a joy.

Sunflowers

The final element of the Van Gogh exhibition was a mirrored room filled with artificial sunflowers. The effect was truly spectacular. As I said, don’t miss it. That pink sunflower against a black background in the back centre is not a sunflower. It is me. A rare but inadvertent selfie.

The city railyard on a public holiday

An actual fine day came as a surprise, so I drifted along the less travelled roads around the city. It was Wellington’s provincial anniversary day and a public holiday, so the town was quiet. I paused at a gate on Thorndon Quay where I had a view of the railyards and many commuter units sitting dark and quiet in orderly rows.

In Wellington

That same public holiday, I was walking around the inner city and found myself at the intersection of Willis Street, Manners Street and Boulcott Street. Across the street, the little old house, now a pub, was long known as “The House of Ladies” due to its time as a massage parlour. It was physically relocated from a little to the right, to make way for the 116 metre “Majestic Centre” tower block behind. The spot from which the image was made, used to be known as Perrett’s Corner. It was so named for the Chemist shop which was a significant landmark through most of the early twentieth century, and I have added a link to a fine National Library photograph.

Italian grace

I had a brief flirtation with the idea of buying upmarket cars as a photographic portfolio topic. I had no intention of buying such a car. With the dealer’s permission, I made several trial images and decided that I was less excited than I expected to be. Nevertheless, this Maserati does embody my expectations of Italian automotive style. The idea is paused rather than abandoned.

A cliche but a good one

No matter how often I drive from Evans Bay around Pt Jerningham to Oriental Bay, my breath is always taken away by the great Southern Wall of the Tararua ranges. On days such as this when the morning light makes layers the view is especially wonderful.

On Bowen Street

Behind the parliamentary precinct, Bowen Street curves up the Thorndon gully to Tinakori Rd. It passes through some of Wellington’s oldest and most picturesque dwellings. To my regret, the government (I presume the State Services Commission) seems to be transforming the area into an administrative precinct. Whereas I think the old houses are protected by legislation, glass and steel are changing the nature of the area.

Wild Onshore Wind

There have been ugly blustery winds for most days over several weeks. I shall be glad when they depart. On the other hand, the kite surfers at Lyall Bay reveal in the conditions.

See you again in a week or two. Stay safe. Keep recording your locations and observing your local protocols to avoid the virus.

*J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

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Adventure Bees Birds Cook Strait flowers harbour Landscapes Light Maritime night Railway South Coast Sunset Weather Wellington

January 24, 2020 … making lots of images

Challenging weather in the last few weeks has been a mixed blessing. There have been days which offered little inspiration. When the light has been reasonable, it has made me look more closely at whatever is in front of me. It has made me actively seek shapes, patterns, colours and ideas.

Steel and grease

Mary and I took a friend who is a train enthusiast up to Paekakariki to the sheds where Steam Inc work on their locomotives. It was a gloomy overcast day and there was nowhere that offered the space to see any of the locomotives in full. Instead, I selected part of the valve linkage to represent the whole. The sheer weight of metal, the array of nuts and bolts and the heavy coat of oil all speak of the power of this mighty machine (Ja1271 for anyone wondering).

Giant Bush Dragonfly

At the wetlands in Queen Elizabeth Park in Paekakariki, I looked in vain for any dabchicks, so settled for this large dragonfly. Despite its name, it is much smaller than the enormous ones I remember seeing in Colorado. Nevertheless, since they rarely sit still I was pleased to get this one. hovering in one spot. I also got lots of shots which were blurred or contained no dragonfly.

Reeds

There’s something about the various reeds in the wildlife reserve in the Pauatahanui wetlands that just demands attention. They sway and swirl, and seem to change colour through a spectrum of brown green and gold. It’s quite a small area, but one that I love very much.

Sleeping on Parade

Also in the Pauatahanui wetlands, I found group of Royal Spoonbills sleeping together with remarkable military precision. Not only were they arrayed in a straight line, but were evenly spaced. I am intrigued that they always seem to pull one leg up and fold their bill along their back when they sleep. Still water gave nice reflections.

A pied stilt chick

While I was in the hide making spoonbill pictures, I was aware of a noisy pied stilt squawking at anything that moved. It was chasing other birds and clumsy humans away, circling around and diving towards any intruder, regardless of size. Then I saw her chick. Against the sandbanks, it seemed like a small clump of wind-blown fluff. Not until it went into the water did I realise what I was seeing. I suspect that much of its mother’s squawking was telling it to look out for the many dangers.

Bombus terrestris – the heavy lifter of the bee world

I am unsure what the flower in this picture is, though it seemed to be coming to the end of its season. Like a heavy-lift helicopter the bumble bee came in slowly, hovering above the flowers to gather nectar and I could feel the energy transferred by its wings to the air that supported it. I had been about to attempt a long-range landscape shot, so I already had the long zoom lens on the camera. It worked quite well allowing me to focus on the insect just a few metres away.

Passion vine hopper – nymph

I get easily confused by the developmental stages of various insects, and as far as I can tell, this is the nymph stage of the passion vine hopper (Scolypopa australis). Surprisingly for the scientific website I used, I learned that the nymphs are universally known as “fluffy bums”. This particular example was at most, 4 mm long (5/32 inch). The fibres at the rear are apparently extrusions of wax, the purpose of which is not known.

The odd couple

I have always loved ships. Though I mourn the passing of the ships I kew in my youth, with their graceful curved sheer line, I am slowly becoming accustomed to their modern replacements with huge apartment block accomodation sections that look as if squeezed from a toothpaste tube before being chopped off to selected length. Cruise liners tankers and container ships are all straight lines these days. The two in this image are both relatively small ships. They are the Seabourn Encore (604 passengers) and the Seven Seas Explorer (700 passengers) . If they don’t look small compare them with the Ovation of the Seas (see later in this edition) which comes with 4,900 passengers.

Skylark

Whitireia park is a large open area which occupies the Southern headland of Porirua Harbour. Most people who know Wellington will recognise it as the place near Porirua where the old AM radio mast for station 1YA was. It is characterised for most of the year by long grass. Large areas of open grass are attractive to skylarks, though they are usually quite shy. For some reason, this one was bolder than most so I got down low and pointed the camera at it. It looked indignant and flew away.

Glassware

My son and daughter-in-law live near our house. They have a magic view across the harbour and out through the heads towards Antarctica. Looking at that view through a large glass bowl on their table just appealed to me. I don’t feel the need to justify it further.

Le Laperouse

The French were in town. Ponant Cruises boutique luxury liner Le Laperouse is small enough to be able to berth at Queens wharf right on the edge of downtown. She is a fine looking vessel, though I suspect her small size means she might be more lively in a big sea. She carries just 264 passengers so does not instil the sense of dread that comes when I contemplate the giant liners. From Oriental Bay I thought she fitted well with the glass and steel textures of the tower blocks across the road.

From small to oh my goodness

Monday this week was a a lovely day with clear skies and no wind. As well as Le Laperouse mentioned above, there were two large cruise liners in port and Ovation of the Seas, the larger of the two, was scheduled to leave at 8 pm, much later than usual for most cruise liners. Bearing in mind the disruption to our evening domestic routines, I asked to be excused and went out into the golden evening to capture her departure. I settled down to wait at Point Halswell. She eventually left her berth and headed towards the harbour entrance. I then found a suitable viewing spot literally at sea level on the Eastern side of the Miramar Peninsula. Soon enough in the beautiful golden light, she came ghosting past. I remain astonished that a ship of 168,600 Gross Tonnes and powered by 67,200 kW (over 90,00 hp) could move so quickly and in almost total silence. The pilot launch Te Has made more noise. There was remarkably little wake from this huge ship.

In the golden West

By the time the Ovation of the Seas had dropped the pilot and resumed her journey towards her next port, there was a lovely light in the sky and the mountains of the Kaikoura ranges were nicely silhouetted. Bonus!

Evans Bay

Fully content with my photographic adventures that evening I set out on the homeward journey through Evans Bay. Oh, oh, oh! The stillness was just beautiful. Out with the tripod again and I set up a long exposure to catch the tail of the blue hour.

That will suffice for this edition. Somehow I am feeling less insecure this week than in recent editions. I think it is that I am trying to be satisfied with an image if it pleases me, regardless of how I think others might judge. See you next time.

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Art Belmont Regional Park Birds harbour Korokoro Landscapes Light Maritime Railway Seasons Weather Wellington

December 29, 2019 … yet another year is ending

I hope you all had a great festive season in whatever way you celebrate it. Those of our family who were in Wellington gathered for Christmas lunch, and in the evening we were invited to dinner with the family of elder daughter’s in-laws. All in all, they were happy occasions and we took care to stay within the law as far as driving goes.

Long ago, I recall being on a management course, in which someone said that the motto of management accountants was “follow me, I have a rear view mirror”.I laughed out loud and got scowled at by some of the accountants present. I have known some very fine management accountants and am not setting out to offend them. However, the joke appealed to my sense of humour. It also reverberates with the nature of this blog where I am forever looking backwards. This edition, the last one for 2019, is no different.

I seem to have spent a lot of the year lamenting the weather, often blaming it for my lack of photographic inspiration. Perhaps it is time to just rejoice in what has been achieved and to attempt to do better in each new edition.

Glass ornament
Glassware

Mary is an irrepressible volunteer who helps many in the community from young mothers to older folk with dementia. One of the organisations with whom she works gave her this small glass ornament as a token of their appreciation. It is designed as a vase and a flower stem can pass through the halo and a hole in the top into some water inside. I liked the simplicity of the object.

Red-billed gull
Red-billed gull

I was in a coastal car park at Lowry Bay and noticed this gull. It is a red-billed gull (Larus novaehollandiae) … the most common of gulls in New Zealand. It seems that many people stop here to eat their fish and chips or other food, and the gulls associate cars with free food and gather closely in the hope of getting the leftovers. This fellow was very close and quite unafraid.

The tug, Tapuhi
Tug Tapuhi emerging from the rain

We had several days with rain but little wind. I went out looking for opportunities and caught the Wellington harbour tug Tapuhi scuttling across to the Seaview Oil terminal to assist a tanker in its departure. For the technically minded, this is one of two Dammen ASD 2411 tugs in the port. These vessels are a combination of a broad flat platform (24.7 metres long by 10.7 metres in the beam) and two massive Caterpillar diesel engines which drive the two Aquamaster thrust units in any direction. They just push the water aside as they get where they are going. They are not elegant but are certainly effective.

The front door of Wellington railway station
Coming and going at Wellington railway station

The ebb and flow of the commuters at Wellington railway station is always interesting to me. Increasingly, people come and go with a mobile device in one hand and their attention focused on the screen until they become aware of the person coming the other way.

Weather at Wellington Railway station
Midsummer in Wellington … wet, wet, wet

The forecourt of Wellington station is well enough when the sun shines, but on those rare days when it rains in Wellington (grin), it demands a covered walkway. Real Wellingtonians don’t use umbrellas because they self-destruct for no apparent reason. Someone using an umbrella is usually from out of town and has yet to discover the mysterious suicidal tendencies of umbrellas in this city.

Variable oystercatchers
Oystercatchers

The wonderful New Zealand Birds Online website understates the case when it describes the Variable Oystercatcher as being “very vocal”. They scuttle around the shoreline looking for molluscs and invertebrates and scream their outrage if disturbed. They are often seen with a bivalve mollusc clamped firmly on their beak in a last desperate bid to avoid going down that path. The bird always wins.

Graffiti on pill boxes
Remnants of war

High above Wellington on the Polhill reserve below the Brooklyn wind turbine, there are a number of architecturally brutal pill boxes, or gun emplacements. The anti-aircraft guns and the soldiers who manned them are long gone, and only the rusting brackets on which the guns were mounted remain to bear witness. These days, they serve as a canvas for the entertainment of the graffitist. While I acknowledge flashes of brilliance and sometimes actual artistry in the commissioned murals, I generally dislike most forms of graffiti, and wonder what percentage of the gross national product is wastefully consumed in the use of aerosol paint cans. I can’t help thinking that the manufacturers and retailers would hate it if there were ever a serious move to eliminate the practice.

Cruise liner in Wellington
A newcomer on the cruise circuit

Explorer Dream is a cruise ship that, to the best of my knowledge, is new to the New Zealand cruise circuit. It is a relatively undistinguished vessel on which the most unusual feature is its three funnels all side-by-side across the width of the ship. In the background, the tugs Tapuhi and Tiaki can be seen assisting the container ship ANL Wendouree into her berth while the bulk carrier La Chambordais sits between them loading logs and hopes for the best.

A glade in the Korokoro valley
In the Korokoro stream area

A late afternoon walk from Cornish Street in Petone, up the valley beside the Korokoro stream … there was a magnificent chorus of birdsong and a plethora of wildflowers. For the most part the track is sheltered from the vicious wind whipping overhead. It is almost impossible to exaggerate the number of shades of green in the bush that envelopes the track and its tumbling stream.

In Frank Kitts Park
Christmas Day … warm and still

On Christmas morning I got sent out of the house so as to not be underfoot while our lunch was being prepared by the experts. The weather had taken a dramatic turn for the better and there was a warm haze across the windless harbour. I stopped at Wairepo Lagoon near Frank Kitts park and rather liked this view of people enjoying the morning. The lady was striding briskly along the waterfront and the young man in the squatting posture was catching up with his device. The hills behind Eastbourne almost disappeared in the mist.

Kaiarahi heading into the berth
Preparing for a Christmas sailing

I went to the edge of the wharf (the same one seen in the previous image) and saw the Interisland ferry Kaiarahi doing rather aimless little circuits to the South of Matiu/Somes Island. I liked the contrast between the clarity of the vessel and the haze on the distant Tararua ranges. As I set up my tripod, the ferry seemed to sense that it was being watched and made a sudden beeline back to its berth.

Little black shags
Little Black Shags

After a very happy Christmas day in the company of a fair proportion of the family, we come now to that interesting period before the new year. With guests coming for dinner I was again despatched to be clear of the kitchen so I was wandering around the Waiwhetu Stream in Seaview and spotted a gaggle of Little Black Swans perched on a favourite driftwood log. From my own observations I would say that the Little Blacks are the most gregarious of all the shag/cormorant family and they hunt in packs and roost together.

So ends 2019 and we begin to prepare for the new year. Who knows what shape it will take. I hope that as a nation, we continue to pursue the kinder gentler options as we have done for the last two years. I hope that, as individuals, we will live up to the sentiments we expressed about togetherness after the mosque tragedy in March.

And to the greatest extent possible I hope you all experience a heathy and prosperous New Year. I hope to see you in 2020.

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Birds Evans Bay harbour Maritime Railway Tararuas

December 15, 2019 … that old man river … just keeps rolling along

I have just watched a video by a well known photography personality and teacher. Among other things, he was lamenting the somewhat lacklustre progress of his own photography in recent times, and the way his self-image suffered as a consequence. It caused me to re-examine my own situation. Far too much introspection. Not enough simple enjoyment of the process.

Waves slapping the sea wall in Evans Bay
Salt water incursion

For days on end, we have had horrible blustery Northerly wind. Needless to say, this has had its impact on the harbour and beyond. In Evans Bay, the waves were arriving at the sea wall with a resounding slap and then spreading the salt spray across the road. This was not a good time to be driving if your windscreen washer bottle is empty and all the wipers do is give you a salt smear across the glass. And if you point the camera the wrong way, the salt obscures the lens as well.

Life Guard RIB approaching its base
Coast Guard coming home

Further round the bay, Spirit of Wellington, the coastguard’s local rescue vessel was returning to base from a trip out in the rough weather. Her bright fluorescent colour scheme certainly lifts her out of the dull background

Three white-fronted terns
Tern, tern, tern

The white fronted tern is a common visitor to the region, but especially during prolonged windy periods when they huddle in relatively sheltered spots. They always appeal to me because despite their superficial resemblance to common gulls, they are somehow much more delicate, both on the ground and in the air.

Trays of fresh biscuits
Seasonal goodies

Mary is a very fine cook and is generous with providing various baking to the people she is involved with in her volunteer work. Trays of gingernut biscuits and shortbread fresh from the oven offered a visual treat as well as tasting good. I get to benefit too.

A dabchick on green water
New Zealand Dabchick

A change in the weather tempted me to go towards Queen Elizabeth II Park at McKay’s Crossing. I am always pleased if I find some New Zealand Dabchick there. They are a small member of the grebe family with legs set far back on the body and feet designed more for swimming than walking. They have almost zero mobility on land

Rusty locomotive tenders and boilers
Steam Incorporated … possible future projects

Back at Paekakariki, Steam Inc has its base where, as well as the fine restored engines, they have a good collection of items that may someday become part off another restoration. A collection of locomotive boilers and tenders look as if they are retained more in hope than real expectation.

Pied stilts
Pied stilts

Just as Marley haunted the house of Ebenezer Scrooge, I could be said to haunt the wetlands at Pauatahanui in my pursuit of wading and shore birds. The variety seems to have diminished a little of late, but the pied stilts are always there. It’s a sad reality that such beautiful birds seem to behave so viciously towards each other. I am sure there is a parable to be seen in this.

Spectacular sunset
the end of a perfect day

After so many weeks of strong wind and grey skies. a few consecutive days of flat calm and bright sunshine really lift the spirits. This shot from Petone beach looking towards the Miramar peninsula catches the last light of a lovely day. I am at a loss to explain that diagonal trail. It looks like a man-made phenomenon, but if so, by what? Possibly a flight from Santiago to Sydney or perhaps a random military flight.

Ovation of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas at Wellington
Two of the big ones

An unscheduled meeting of two Royal Caribbean giants, Ovation of the Seas and Radiance of the seas brought 7,600 passengers and 1360 crew to Wellington. The Ovation of the Seas had been scheduled a day earlier but she was delayed in Tauranga where 27 of her passengers were killed or injured in the volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island. The delay was to allow police to gather material that would assist in identification of the victims. I imagine that for some, the continuation of the cruise was a bit incongruous, in the spirit of W.H. Auden’s “Stop all the Clocks …”. On the other hand there were another 4900 passengers for whom this might have been a once in a lifetime cruise.

Yellow pohutukawa
Metrosideros excelsa (Aurea)

Everyone knows that the pohutukawa celebrates Christmas in all its splendid crimson glory. Except that is for the apparently rare yellow variety “Metrosideros excelsa (Aurea)” Despite its rarity I can drive to at least a dozen specimens quite close to home.

Moonrise over the Tararuas
Last full moon 2019

Mary’s chair is closer to the window so she saw it first. A magnificent full moon rising over the Tararuas into a clear sky! My Olympus camera is in the workshop for a repair under warranty so I grabbed my Canon, a much bigger and less capable camera and just missed the decisive moment … this is looking North East from home across Stokes Valley

Just ten more days to Christmas. I am retired so it poses no special threat to me. Those of you whose work flow becomes frantic, breathe slowly and stay calm and I wish you the strength to deal with the season. See you next time.

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adversity Airport Aviation Evans Bay Maritime Military Railway

August 8, 2019 – brittle cold

I seem to have slowed down again. I blame this on some unpleasant weather and perhaps a lack of motivation, rather than health issues. The upside is that it gives me time to seek guidance and inspiration from experts whose work I admire. Sometimes this leads me in strange directions. For example, I came across a speech made to the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) by comedian/musician/artist, Tim Minchin. He is often asked for career advice. I paraphrase his response:

First get good. Really good. This is not easy and there are no short cuts. Just be really really good. You achieve this by working very hard.

Another superb photographer whose work I love is the great Jay Maisel. As I have mentioned before, I like his work. In particular I love his philosophy that you should always be ready to shoot anything that you encounter if it moves you. He is against going out with plans or intentions. Let the subject reveal itself to you. And his crowning piece of advice is “walk slow”. That way you get a chance to see a subject develop.

This week, I offer just six images, and hope they make up in quality for what they lack in numbers

Whitby
Across the Pauatahanui Inlet towards Whitby

Pauatahanui is a place I visit frequently. My hope is always to find some bird life. If there is none close enough to be photographed well, then I revert to the landscape. Note the emphasis on “photographed well”. I am not interested in merely recording that I saw the bird. I want the image to be an artistic interpretation of my response. This is no less true of my landscape images. I rarely make a shot if the water is choppy. It needs to be either flat calm or a raging storm. On this occasion the scene possessed a crystal clarity that just couldn’t be faked. When it is there, I try to grab it. I deliberately excluded the sky above the ridge and attempted balance between the reality and its reflection.

Ja1271
Steam Incorporated crew at work

A little further up the line at Paekakariki, I was pleased to see a plume of smoke rising from the preserved mainline locomotive, Ja1271. As I lined up to make a head-on portrait, two of the staff clambered up on the front and began unscrewing the many clamps that seal the smokebox door. This surprised me since the locomotive was in steam and presumably there was a deal of hot smoke and flue gas from the firebox emerging into this space. Undeterred, the man in the blue overalls proceeded to sweep soot from the front of the boiler. It seems that Ja1271 was due for its annual inspection the next day and they were making sure everything was in perfect order.

Reflection
Wetland reflections

Just a little further still to the North, I came to the Queen Elizabeth II Park at Mackay’s Crossing. This too is a place where I look for water birds, especially dabchicks. Sadly the place was over-run by Canada Geese and Black Swans which are of little interest to me. As before, I swung back into landscape mode and captured the reflection of the bush in the wetlands. As Maisel says, if it moves you, make the image.

Masterton Train
On its way to Masterton

My car has been off the road for a few days to repair damage caused by another driver who got too close to me. I caught a train into the city at Waterloo station (much smaller than its namesake in London) and while I was waiting for the local city-bound commuter train, the Wairarapa service which was also running late rumbled into the other platform. The light was poor to begin with and the train blocked even more, so I had to risk the noise of a high ISO image. I like trains.

Evans Bay
Evans Bay with incoming weather

How could I not be moved by still waters in Evans Bay backed up by a dramatic sky in the South. This was followed by several days of rough cold weather. I like getting down low to the water for shots like this, but I was very nervous standing on a slime-covered sloping boat ramp in this case. I managed to retain my footing.

C130
A true veteran

A few days later I was out near the airport when I heard the unmistakable sound of a C130 winding up. I parked and went onto a mound near the Western side of the runway just in time to catch 03 departing. This aircraft was purchased from the US in 1965 … and has served the RNZAF for 54 years. It has had the wing centre section replaced, and had a whole new set of glass instrumentation installed but it is the same airframe. I had hoped that the replacements would be the Airbus A300M but with a record like that, I can see why the RNZAF has opted for the C130J Super Hercules to arrive in 2020.

That will suffice for this edition. As always your constructive criticism an suggestions for improvement would be we

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Adventure Architecture Birds flowers harbour Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Melbourne Museum Railway Vehicles

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

Categories
Adventure Animals Family flowers Food Machinery Railway

January 26, 2019 … missed opportunities

The week just ended was an odd one. I had a lot of opportunities that, in my assessment, I failed to use to best advantage. I think I need to take more time at each site and each opportunity. I need to evaluate constantly whether it is sufficient to merely “be there”, or whether what I am seeing really makes a good picture. In short, I need to have a more critical approach. I offer just seven images this week, so here we go.

flower
Probably a Dahlia

Our eldest son David came  from Brisbane this week with his wife, Rowena, daughter Grace, and son Isaac. It was, as always, a joy to see some of our far-flung family, and they sweetened the visit with a floral gift for Mary. One of the blooms stood out to me, so I isolated it and have tried to capture my response to it. I like its radial symmetry and the delicacy of its colour. However, the technique of of full frontal approach and focus-stacking does tend to produce the same result each time I face a flower.

Moon
Wolf moon over Cannon Point

Last week we had the “wolf moon”, so I looked at the most widely used photographer’s tool for predicting angles and times for astronomical events (TPE). It let me down badly. Not only was it five degrees out in the azimuth, but the moon rose almost 35 minutes after the predicted time. If the azimuth had been correct I could have placed the moon against the background I had chosen when I selected my viewing point. Either way, Wellington chose to offer a blanket of thin low cloud that somewhat obscured the rising moon. Whenever I do a moon shot I always try to get some of the locality in the background. Otherwise, one well-focused shot of the moon in space is identical to anyone else’s shot. As fate would have it, I caught the trig station at the top of Cannon’s Point near Upper Hutt.

Loco
Massive steel works – in storage

Later in the week, I visited the workshops of Steam Inc at Paekakariki. They allow visitors by donation, requiring only that you first report to one of the staff to learn of the hazards. They don’t want you falling down an inspection pit, or worse, being crushed under some of the very heavy steel objects in the sheds. This was a place that I should definitely have given more time and thought to. That will be rectified soon. The shot above is of one of the two motion sets of the huge ex-Rhodesian Railways Beyer-Peacock locomotive. Briefly, the Beyer-Peacock is one firebox and boiler connected to two complete 4-6-4 locomotive chassis. The weight and scale of everything about this locomotive is impressive. Sadly, it is classed as “in storage” with no sign of any restoration activity. There are many missing parts but I wanted to capture the massive over-engineering of this monster.

Ka945
Firebox and boiler of Ka945

There are many other locomotives in the shed, in various states of running order and restoration.  I was drawn to the firebox and boiler of the mighty Ka945 (a large 4-8-4 mainline express locomotive) undergoing its second restoration. They really do strip things back to the basics. Those pimples are “fusible plugs” designed to melt and release the forces safely in the event of significant overheating. If you want to see what she looks like in her glory days, go here: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/ka945

eels
Long-finned eels at Battle Hill Farm Forest Park

On the Paekakariki Hill Road is Battle Hill Farm Forest Park and in the stream that runs though it there is a place where the native long-finned eels gather. People are allowed to feed them, though bread is considered harmful, and red meat is encouraged. The Mallard ducks compete fearlessly with the eels to receive the gifts offered by tourists and will walk across the writhing swarm of eels. I did note that one of the ducks had just one leg, so perhaps there are some risks to their behaviour.

emu
Mork or Mindy … an emu

David and I took Isaac to Staglands, a farm park on the Akatarawa road that winds from Upper Hutt to Waikanae. They have in their collection, many interesting animals, including a pair of emus called Mork and Mindy. I don’t know which of them posed for me, but am pleased with the result.

sparrow
Hopeful sparrow

When we had completed our circuit of the farm, we returned to the cafe and ordered lunch. While we were waiting, we were entertained by the sparrows hoping for a share of, or at least the droppings from our lunch. The common sparrow is not the most spectacular of birds but sometimes it poses nicely.

That’s all this week. See you soon.

Categories
Adventure adversity Architecture Camera club Family flowers Greytown Landscapes Light night Railway Reflections Rivers Weather Wellington

March 24, 2018 … suffering for my art

When I left you last week, I had just completed the trip to Pencarrow Lighthouse with the camera club. What I didn’t tell you is that as I came back across the Hutt estuary to Petone, I saw some delightful reflections on the river. I parked across the road and crossed back to the edge of the bay where there is a walkway that drops down beside the water and then under the Waione St Bridge. There was no moon, but lots of spilled light from the road and nearby businesses so, with one eye on the view and half an eye on the track I set out to get the picture. Then there was nothing beneath my feet, and I was suddenly reenacting Alice in Wonderland: “Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well“* I came to a sudden stop, wedged to my waist in a hole where the path had been scoured out by recent rain. And I do mean wedged. I was firmly caught between the collapsed bank and the wooden edging strip. When my elder daughter heard about it later, she sent me the image of Winnie the Pooh (inset below in the picture of the hole)

Hole
This is a pure iPhone record shot of the hole through which I fell (inset borrowed without permission in the hope of forgiveness)

There was no other person nearby and I was trapped below the level of the adjacent road out of sight of passing cars. I heard my camera and tripod crash a metre or so to the rocky beach below. It took me a good five minutes of wriggling and squirming to get a toe-hold in the edge of the hole and then to do a caterpillar-squirm back to the path. After checking that there was nothing more serious than a few grazes and shaken nerves, I clambered over the edge, down to the beach to retrieve my camera which was, astonishingly, undamaged. I took the picture of the hole on my iPhone and sent it to the council who, to their credit, repaired it the next day.

Hutt estuary
Hutt Estuary at night as a sea mist rolls in.

Then I made the image that I had seen in the first place. It wasn’t as good as I envisaged, but it was an adventure.

Wellington
City textures with Victoria University’s Kelburn campus at the rear.

There were some good days and some that were less so in the days that followed. I always hope that when I look across Oriental Bay, the cityscape will tell a new story. Certainly the city looked as if it were washed clean, and the dear old Hunter Building is a jewel in the centre of the picture.

Anthurium
Anthurium

On the less comfortable days, or if it was raining, I tried some still life. I struggle with Anthuriums but this time used a new feature provided by a firmware upgrade to my camera … it makes up to 8 exposures each focused a little further back and then produces a composite using only the sharp bits.  I spent my entire career in computing but can’t imagine how they achieve this.

River
In the Waiotauru River at Otaki Forks. Flowing fast and cold

Mary and I went up to Otaki Gorge and she set out for a brisk walk while I took my shoes and socks off and rolled my jeans up and trod gingerly into the stony river which was very cold. No disasters occurred, though my feet got very cold.

Birds
Confrontation … or perhaps a classroom

A day later, at Pauatahanui, I spotted this white-faced heron apparently conducting classes, or perhaps fomenting rebellion, while facing a neat parade of pied stilts. The ones in the back rows seemed less interested.

Home
Home sweet home

My car was in the dealership getting a new wheel bearing fitted, so I wandered around central Lower Hutt filling in time. The morning sun caught our house on the hill above, and since it has been home for 37 years and is currently for sale I thought I’d catch it too. That’s us, the white one third from the left. As you can see, my bedroom window top left on the front of the house has no obstacles to the view.

Shed
The Greytown shed which has been photographed by most photographers who have passed through

It seems every region has its cliché subject. Wanaka has its tree, Milford has Mitre Peak, and Greytown has its shed. It’s always hard to resist the idea that maybe this time, the light, the season, the surrounding field will make the picture better than the last two dozen times I tried.

Train
Quietly rotting, and a target for the graffitists

Driving into the city on the old Hutt Road, as I passed under the flyover near the ferry terminal, I saw a splash of colour in the rail yards. It was a set of the now obsolete Hungarian Ganz-Mavag commuter units. They had been thoroughly vandalized with spray cans. I detest all forms of graffiti, and though there is a great deal of talent out there, I would respect it more if they painted on a surface that they owned themselves and could perhaps sell to pay for the next one. As I understand it, the Greater Wellington Council still own these units, and their intended sale to other countries has been stalled by the discovery of asbestos in them.

Lagoon
Wellington waterfront lagoon

We have had the most stunning summer in living memory, and are now in a quite rapid transition to a colder wetter state. So far, though, there have been a good number of those days where the sky is full of drama but the wind stays away. I love those days, especially when the light plays nicely on the city’s many reflective surfaces.

That will do for now. See you next week, barring any further holes in the ground.

*Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

 

Categories
harbour Landscapes Light Moon mountains night Railway Weather Wellington

December 8, 2017 …

Just a few short months ago, I was complaining about our weather and its constant wind and rain. Over the last week or so, we have enjoyed some genuine summer, warm, calm, and yesterday the temperature in Lower Hutt reached 31 deg C. Unheard of. And now we are hearing concerns about drought on the farms, normally expected in February.

Harbour
A still but misty day on Wellington Harbour from Petone beach.

Since I last wrote, things started slowly, but at least the sea was calm.

Dawn
Hutt River Estuary at Dawn

Gradually as the days passed, things got better and better. Something woke me early one morning and this view from my bedroom catches the morning light on the Hutt River estuary.

Aotea
Standard class railcar RM30 Aotea

Last weekend, the Silverstream Railway Museum had an open day with trains offering rides. When Mary and I were first engaged, she was a theatre nurse in New Plymouth and I was a computer geek in Wellington. Since I didn’t own a car, the only way to see her was to catch the train. In those days (1969) NZR used their Standard or “Canoe” class railcars for the Wellington to New Plymouth service. Each bore the name of one of the canoes of the great Maori migration. Last weekend, the museum was running RM 30 “Aotea”. Nostalgia required that I take the ride.

Steam locomotive
Getting along nicely after 140 years of service

They also had a train hauled by the 140 year old steam locomotive. How could I resist?

Supermoon
Supermoon on 4 December from my bedroom window looking in the direction of the Rimutaka summit

Then there was the so-called “super moon”  which I caught rising over the Tararuas  from my bedroom window.

Estuary
Hutt River Estuary looking South to the harbour mouth

And still the weather kept getting better.

Wainuiomata Hill
Wainuiomata Hill Panorama

The evenings have been fine, warm and still, and I have been tempted to wander far and wide at night. This panorama is a three-image stitch from the top of the Wainuiomata hill taking in the view from the city on the left to Lower Hutt CBD on the right. If you click for the larger version, you will see the high peaks of the Kaikoura ranges in the red glow of the setting sun.

No significant movement on the house as yet. We are lucky that we have no external imperative to move, so we are quite relaxed and can wait for a suitable offer. There is just the mild inconvenience of living with many of life’s comforts packed away. On the positive side, we did get rid of another three tonnes of hoarded rubbish in a hired 7.5 cubic metre skip.

 

Categories
Airport Animals Birds Kapiti Island Landscapes Light Pukerua Bay Railway Sunset Weather

November 25, 2017 … it has been a crazy busy month

As you might have noticed, my busy-ness did not extend to keeping up with the blog for quite a while. Both Mary and I have had dealings with the heath system (good outcomes all round, we think). And then there is the business of selling the house. We have been packing, discarding, giving away, and all the while, trying to retain a semblance of tidiness for the recurring “open homes” that our real estate agent has been running. This too, shall pass. Christmas is looming with just one month to go. But every now and then, I have managed to get out and make images.

Mokopuna
This is Mokopuna, the small island at the North end of Matiu/Somes in Wellington harbour. It was on this island that a Chinese immigrant who was wrongly suspected of having leprosy was quarantined, and where he died.

I like stillness. When the sun comes through the curtains in the morning, my heart lifts. When I draw the curtains back and see that the leaves on the flax bush are perfectly still, my heart soars and I know that I must go. Sadly there have been few such days in the last month, though some days were better than others.

Sunset
The Western sky near Wellington Airport

During the month we have had some spectacular colour in the evening sky, though I suspect that is often attributable to the amount of wind-blown sea salt in the air.

Walkers
Heroes, firefighters, extreme walkers arrive at the Westpac Stadium after walking 170 km from Palmerston North to raise funds for MND

Annually, the Motor Neuron Disease Association (US = Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS) conducts fund-raising activities. Mary is involved on the local committee so I got roped in to make images of the proceedings. Most striking event of the day for me were the five extreme walkers of the New Zealand Fire Service who had walked the entire distance from Palmerston North , 170 km, in full fire-fighting gear with breathing apparatus in return for sponsorship.

trains
Commuter trains get little usage in the weekends

While I was at the stadium, I was struck by the patterns on the roof lines of rows of electric commuter trains at rest over the weekend.

Kapiti
Kapiti Island as seen from Pukerua Bay

And then we had some real Wellington weather, of the kind on which Wellington can’t be beaten. This shot was made at Pukerua Bay, and yes, that is the stormy Tasman sea at its benign best. Kapiti is the island in the distance.

Shag
Pied shag drying its wings at Pukerua Bay

If you look closely at the rock in front of the right hand (Northern) end of the island you will notice a shag drying its wings.  I decided to look more closely.

frog
Jeremiah was a bullfrog …

From there I went to Queen Elizabeth Park just North of Paekakariki, and there, the wetland area was just alive with the call of frogs who have not yet discovered Tinder. I’d like you to meet Jeremiah. He’s a very good friend of mine