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Adventure adversity Art Birds Evans Bay Landscapes Light Maritime Normandale Reflections Wellington

September 27, 2022 … changing times

Queen Elizabeth II was a remarkable women who became queen in my 9th year. Despite my distaste for the notion of monarchy in general, Queen Elizabeth has served all her peoples with grace, dignity and unswerving commitment over seventy years. I do not intend to enter into debate with anyone on these matters, but it seems appropriate to acknowledge such a span of service.

Meanwhile, life continues at the coal face. Sometimes I find the routines of life a little uninspiring, and even depressing. Still, I love the process of making images. On the other hand, if I am not seeing or finding the images that bring me joy, the mood barometer swings downward again.

Hutt Valley rainbow

Mary and I had driven up to Palmerston North in the hope of finding birds or signs of spring. While I enjoyed travelling with Mary, the day was photographically, a bust. Then, as she was serving our evening meal back at home, Mary said “look out of the front window!” I begged a slight delay in the meal and grabbed my camera and a wide angle lens and went out onto the front lawn. Ever the sign of hope, the rainbow made up for much that we had missed earlier.

Cloudscape over Pt Halswell

It’s slightly weird when I am lamenting a down mood, that I can take pleasure in heavy clouds and grim outlooks. From Balaena Bay across Evans Bay to Point Halswell and the Miramar peninsula, I was attracted to the imposing cloudscape.

Rosemary in the rain

At the back door, Mary grows various flowers and herbs. They are just so ever-present that I often fail to see them. Now and then, they catch my eye. In this case, the rosemary’s blue flowers took some time on an otherwise damp and dismal day.

Evans Bay ripples

Evans Bay is a frequently visited site that occasionally yields a nice image. The still patch of water near the shore was disrupted by a row of incoming waves. Why do these waves differ from the chop on the water further out?

Interesting art in the back alleys

As I often do, I arrived too early for an excellent yum char lunch with friends and former colleagues in Courtenay Place. I filled the time by exploring nearby laneways. This image was made in Forresters Lane and is the front of a cocktail bar called “Love Bite”. Foreign territory to me.

Old familiar territory

Although I have done it many times before, I can’t resist still water in Oriental Bay marina.

Australasian shoveller

Despite the number of trips I make to Queen Elizabeth Park wetlands, I have not been rewarded with the hoped for birdlife in recent months. The only capture on this trip was this Australasian shoveller.

Tumbling water

Wellington’s Botanic Gardens are full of little surprises. This little waterfall is perhaps only a metre high, but adds to the music of the garden.

Tulip display

It’s tulip time again. Sadly it’s all too brief , but the gardeners always manage to arrange a good display of tulips for a few weeks. I got there the week prior to the annual tulip festival, so was limited as to the available colours.

Single bloom

I find it hard not to love tulips, singly or en masse.

Kaiarahi returns to service

Here is Kaiarahi (formerly Stena Alegra) just back in Wellington after many months sitting in Picton with a broken gearbox. The required parts were finally installed and here she is ready to resume service.

Urban forest

A splash of colour at the head Evans Bay. Urban forest’ (2008) by Leon van den Eijkel and Allan Brown is a stack of cubes designed to spin in the wind, of which there is plenty at the site. Sadly it fails often and just sits. Nevertheless, it is interesting and nine metres high.

See you next time, I hope.

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Architecture Birds Day's Bay flowers harbour Industrial Landscapes Light Lowry Bay Lyall Bay Machinery Paremata Reflections Seasons The Plateau Waves Weather

June 12, 2022 … back to normal

With the road trip behind me, my challenge now is to keep the photographic flame alive. That can be hard while living an everyday life in suburbia. Many times before, I have referred to seeing familiar things in a different way. Some of my photographic friends have the gift of “finding a different place” to stand when making pictures of things that I see every day. What I need to do in my search for something worth photographing is to pause, and to not make the picture until I have considered other ways of looking at it. This might be to go round the other side. It might be to include (or exclude) another element. Perhaps it is looking at the subject through a different lens. The wide angle offers a different picture to that made by the telephoto. Anyway, for now at least, we are at home on the Western Hills of Lower Hutt and Winter has officially begun.

Before I totally forget the road trip, many thanks to all the nice readers who sent kind words and affirmation. Your messages were greatly appreciated.

Fizz

A crranberry flavoured tablet made a spectacular fizz. I tried to catch it in my lightbox. That went OK, but I wondered whether a dark box might give a better image. The illusion of a reflection is createrd by the simple trick of standing the glass on the base of an identical glass inverted.

Receding planes

One trick for seeing a view differently is to make a part of the scene substitute for the whole. Looking from Oriental Parade up the harbour, Wellingtonians are familiar with the view of the hills to the North. I have tried to present that view differently. The dark mass in the foreground is Matiu/Somes Island. Behind that are three folds in the Eastern hills of the Hutt Valley and I suspect the highest visible hill through the haze is Mt Climie behind Upper Hutt. A popular track with runners runs 6km from Tunnel gully to the summit. Masochism at its finest.

Depth charge?

Big swells on the South coast tend to attract the surfing community to Lyall Bay. It also attracts photographers. I am not sure why. Though the surfers may be different, it’s essentially the same picture each time. The only thing that rescues such an image from being the same as last time is the extent to which the light conditions or the waves are different. In this case I think the explosive burst of a big swell on the breakwater at the end of the airport runway makes a difference.

Royal spoonbills

Recently a flock of Royal spoonbills has taken to spending time on the Pauatahanui wetlands. It is often the case that, even when the rest of the inlet has a bit of a chop on the surface, the wetlands are perfectly still. These birds are still not quite the equal of the white heron, but they run a close second.

Morning glory

On Ivey Bay, there is often a variety of shore birds. In this case, a pied shag is proclaiming dominance over the bay. Across the inlet, the hills to the North of Grays Rd tower above the foreshore. I mainly liked the light.

Ivey Bay anchorage

That same morning, the water was perfect and one of the classic older wooden boats in the bay served as a focal point for my image making. I have no idea which boat it was, but as with previous captures, I have a preference for the simple old-fashioned working boats.

Swells in Owhiro Bay

We have been blessed with a relatively mild winter thus far. No deep cold, no sign yet of snow on the Tararuas. The only real symptom of winter has been a few heavy swells from the South. I like to try to catch these big waves, and hope to convey the weight of water behind each one. I am fascinated by their slow ponderous advance. I know conditions will be interesting when the gap between each wave is about ten seconds.

Lodden Lily

In the grounds of St James Church, Lower Hutt, shared by the public library except on Sundays, there is a lot of history and a great deal of horticulture, mostly carried out at the expense of the Lower Hutt City Council. I spotted these little beauties and thought they were some kind of spring flower that got confused. These Loddon lilies, however, are a winter flower so they were perfectly on schedule and it was only me that was confused.

Abandoned

Unilever has been part of Petone’s scenery scenery since 1919. The big factory building with its constantly steaming exhaust stacks came much later, sometime mid-century. At its peak, about 600 people worked there. Automation in the latter years apparently reduced the on-site numbers to about 30. The distinctive glass office block was built in the 1980s. In 2014, pursuant to global restructuring, Unilever transferred its New Zealand operations to Australia and the Petone factory fell silent. Some of the lesser buildings at the Eastern end of the 5 hectare property seem to have been leased or sold to small businesses. The office block remains dark and reflects the equally still factory block.

Wet feet

A long-proposed cross-harbour pipeline will improve resilience of Wellington’s water supply. The present sole pipeline runs alongside the main highway and crosses known seismic fault lines in several places. Construction began on the new line this year and is expected to be complete in 2025. A barge with some heavy machinery has been in Lowry Bay for several months now and has established some piles. I saw these two intrepid workers being lowered on a work platform to inspect one of the piles. I got the impression that they were controlling the crane themselves. If so, they were not afraid to get their feet wet.

So many still days lately

I shouldn’t tempt fate with a caption like that. We have endured some vile weather in recent days. No surprise then, that when conditions are good, I seize the day. This image is from the walkway beside the marina below Pt Howard. You can see traces of the morning mist dissipating over the Western Hills.

May I urge you to click on any image that appeals to you to see a larger version.

I don’t know why I didn’t discover it earlier, but WordPress has a feature that allows its readers to sign up to receive each new edition of a blog by email. Simply enter your email address once in the space below. Once only and not if you are already getting it by email.

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adversity Evans Bay flowers harbour insects Landscapes Light Maritime Reflections Weather Wellington

April 4, 2022 … procrastination rules

Mary and I recently celebrated fifty two years of marriage. Wow! How did that happen? I have to say, I got lucky. Very lucky.

I recommend, as always, that you click on each image to see a larger version.

This edition was scheduled for 4 April, but various distractions held me up. Now it is Good Friday. To those who celebrate the season with me, I wish you a Happy Easter.

We all live in a yellow submarine?

Oriental Bay Marina on a very nice morning. The boat sheds are reflected in the still water and a young couple come striding past with their dog.

Yucca

Our neighbours have a trio of yucca plants at their front gate. They are spectacular during their all too brief flowering season.

A splash of red

From Lowry Bay looking across the harbour on a beautiful morning. The two kayakers in mid-harbour were taking advantage of the conditions and fishing. I am always surprised that the kayak is a sufficiently stable platform for this, especially if the fish is a big one.

Finger licking clean

Sitting in my car in the automatic car wash, I was intrigued by the patterns in the soap bubbles through which a far-flung outpost of Colonel Sanders’ empire was visible.

Staged disaster

When the weather turned unpleasant I decided to play with some still life. I enjoyed this one. I wasted the minimum possible amount of wine, transferring it to the glass with an eye-dropper

Evans Bay

The weather was a bit up and down, so whenever the water was still I seized the opportunity, even though I have done the same scene many times before.

CentrePort

Way back in 1951, during the great waterside strike, there were over fifty ships in port, with perhaps 20 of them alongside the wharves. Back in those days there was much more usable wharf space. These days, four modest sized ships seem to constitute a near full port.

Making the most of it

Another weather opportunity grabbed. In Oriental Bay I liked the view back past the Carter Fountain. The red monstrosity in the lower centre is the “boat cafe”. It grieves me because it was once a very fine and powerful steam tug, the Aucklander, built on the Clyde in 1958. She supplemented the William C Daldy and the Te Awhina in guiding the big ocean liners of the day for the Ports of Auckland. She must have been amongst the last of the tugs powered by triple expansion reciprocating steam engines. My Dad took me down in her engine room and I was hugely disappointed that they were both cased in sheet steel with no visible moving parts and lacked the elegance of the visible castings of earlier years.When its time was up, the Auckland Harbour Board sold it to a Wellington business and now it’s a darned restaurant. Bah!

Heavy industry

The hedge outside our kitchen window was recently trimmed, thus depriving the various bees of access to the flowers. Despite this, the bees were able to locate the few remaining blooms and I could locate the bees through the open kitchen window with a long lens.

Web master

A recent series of still foggy mornings allowed me to catch spider webs covered in the morning dew. There are so many varieties of web and this was my favourite on the day.

Stillness

The Point Howard Marina was just perfect from my perspective. The water was a perfect mirror and the sea mist hid the city and its hills.

Out fishing

This little fizz-boat with its two 90hp Evinrudes scarcely ruffled the surface as the owner set out on his trip.

That will do for now. See you next time.

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Adventure Animals Architecture Art Castlepoint flowers History Lakes Landscapes Light Moon night Reflections Rivers sunrise

October 2, 2021 …just enjoy the process

Why, is the recurring question. Why do I persist in creating this blog, even when others are declaring that the age of the blog has passed?

I am not musical, but I think I have the heart of a troubadour, or perhaps like Gilbert and Sullivan’s Nankipoo, I might be a wandering minstrel. My aim is to be a story teller. Some do it in song, some in poetry. My chosen style is in a mix of prose and pictures. My principal aim is to take pleasure in making the pictures and using them to tell the story

Botanic Garden, Wellington

I went to the Botanic Garden in hope of tulips. There were some tulips, though fewer than usual and less well presented. Happily, the surrounding gardens possessed a glory of their own. The bands of colour, the shape and splendour of the trees and even the sculpture all give me pleasure.

Gladstone derelict

In my judgement, the back road from Martinborough to Masterton through Gladstone offers some of the most beautiful pastoral landscapes you will find anywhere. And tucked away, here and there, are a few much loved relics of earlier times that are slowly dissolving into the landscape. This old house near Gladstone is one that few photographers will pass by without a pause to make yet another picture. Of course it is a cliche, but I don’t accept that beauty is diminished by multiple viewing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mary had been gifted a voucher for a two night stay at an historic cottage in rural Wairarapa. India Cottage is situated between Castlepoint 40 km to the NE and Riversdale 22 km to the SE. It is part of the ICA station from which the Whareama Coastal Walkway is managed. We had little idea of what to expect, and were surprised and delighted by the beauty of the place. Water is a significant problem throughout the Wairarapa so the estate has a storage pond surrounded by reeds. Someone introduced the Australian green and golden bell frog. so the visual beauty was enhanced by the unceasing chorus from the frogs. Magic!

Oaks

Pioneering farmers had little regard for our native trees and yearned for the beauty of the great trees of their various homelands. And so it comes about that we have stands of magnificent oaks and other deciduous aliens. They are indeed beautiful trees. but so are the natives of this land which were cleared to make way for them.

Perfect stillness

If you have been with me for a while, you will know that morning and I are usually strangers. Here in deepest Wairarapa, with no Internet access, I woke early. No sound save the froggy chorus and the bawling of occasional cattle in the distance. No wind, and no clouds. I arose early and took my camera and tripod outside and caught the sun peering through the trees at the end of the pond.

A fine specimen

Another of those exotic trees … I didn’t pause to identify it but didn’t think it to be an oak. With the sun behind it I thought it made a nice image.

Breakfast

Over the fence, a classic pastoral scene as the sheep munch steadily on the dew-soaked grass. Rim-lit by the rising sun, I thought these were the quintessential “gilt-edged investment”.

Day 1 of Daylight Saving

Our last evening at India House coincided with New Zealand’s annual shift to daylight saving. Since the clock went forward, I expected to wake an hour later than usual. Perversely, I woke almost an hour earlier by the clock than usual. A still starlit morning prompted me to get dressed and tip-toe outside, being as quiet as possible. As you can see this long (56 seconds) exposure was illuminated by the stars and a bright moon. No artificial light. And you know it is still when an exposure this long shows no disturbance in the reflections. I returned to the cottage and Mary asked why I made so much noise when I went out!

Crux

The same scene from a different angle catches the Southern Cross, the much loved constellation emblematic of the Southern hemisphere. With the exception of my bedroom window all light in this image comes from the moon. In case you are unfamiliar with it, the cross in in the upper left quadrant of the picture. The head is down and to the left, and the foot is top right. The pointer Beta Centauri is sending its light 391.4 light years from just above the edge of that cloud.

Pink rock orchid

Back home after a delightful break, the weather forced me indoors. I placed a tiny orchid in my light box. Multiple flowers on a single stem are a bit of a challenge. It is conventional wisdom amongst those who enter competitions, that simple flower images rarely do well. I am getting away from the competition mindset, and the question is did I have fun making it, and does the finished product please me. The answer is yes and yes.

Wind

Wellingtonians are the butt of much joking about the city’s notoriously windy climate. It’s not easy to photograph wind. The best you can hope for is to catch things being moved about by the wind. Waves and trees, birds and rain are all possibilities. These reeds at the boat ramp in Lowry Bay seemed worth a try and another opportunity to use the neutral density filter. I put the camera on its tripod inside the car, and opened the downwind passenger window. Thus, the camera and tripod were not buffeted by the gusting wind. I love the texture of the windblown clumps of reed.

Customhouse Quay

Wellington’s skyline changes at a relatively slow pace. The last time I visited Melbourne, there must have been at least twenty tower cranes each presiding over a new high rise building site. Wellington has three or four. Of course, Melbourne has a population of 5 million compared with 417,000. This view along Customhouse Quay looking South shows the crane on the site of the new BNZ headquarters being built to replace the one destroyed by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.

They take a bottle

The nearer (yellow) crane is on the waterfront across the road from the red one on the BNZ site. This one is assisting a generic office building which will be available for lease. The answer to the unspoken question most people have in respect of the people who operate these machines in solitary splendour is that they have a bottle. I guess that their privacy could be compromised by people with long lenses.

And that’s another edition. I think I am coming to terms with the idea that I can make images for the pure joy of participating in the process. I don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectation. Of course I share them with you in the hope that you will take pleasure in what you see. Until next time.

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Birds Day's Bay Family flowers Landscapes Maritime Plant life Reflections Weather Wellington

11 Aug 2021 … when you find the thing you weren’t looking for*

It has never been my intention to have ponderous photographic aspirations. Instead, I want to understand what moves me and why, and photograph it well. Like most people who want to be creatives, I get pleasure when my family and friends, or others who I respect express approval of my efforts. On the other hand, before I share my work with you, it needs to meet my own expectations first.

I have been casting an eye on what images I have chosen to share with you recently. To nobody’s great surprise they have been mostly landscapes in the Wellington Region, ships, the sea when it is either flat calm or wild storm, birds or flowers. It’s a very rare occasion that I shoot people. I never do glamour, and very rarely do abstracts. I often have lively curiosity about the subjects I shoot, and like Alister Benn’s idea of pointing the camera at things that excite me.

Why those topics, you might ask. The only answer I can give, is that that’s who I am. Those genres appeal to me. If I get better at making those kinds of image, I’m happy. So let’s see how I did in this edition.

Ken Jyo waiting for a berth

Mid July and the weather has been up and down. We had a wonderful string of calm days and some really rough ones. On this morning, things had calmed down and the freighter Ken Jyo was anchored in the harbour waiting for a place at the berth where they load logs. I loved the glittering sea in contrast to the solid bulk of the ship.

Birthday Bouquet

An unexpected visit from our middle son Drew came with a nice bouquet to mark Mary’s birthday. To my eye, it was a very attractive arrangement, though, as always, the greatest joy was having our son home, however briefly.

Adam and Eve

The Tui is a native honeyeater from New Zealand. At first sight it looks black apart from the white ruff which caused the colonists to name it “the parson bird”. But it is not black. Its plumage is a glorious irridescent mixture of brown, blue and green with flecks of white.There was a time when they were relatively rare. I think a careful management programme has resulted in a significant boom in their numbers.I love to see them as they have a beautiful song of their own as well as being capable of mimicking cell-phones or reversing trucks.

Daphne

The Daphne is a pretty shrub, popular with gardeners around the world, including in New Zealand. Unfortunately, I struggle to make appealing images of it, even when its flowers are in good condition. I decided to try using it in conjunction with a sheet of florist’s tissue. It helped, after a fashion, but not one of my better shots

On the Waiwhetu Stream

The Waiwhetu Stream winds its way down pleasant suburban landscapes on the Eastern side of the the Hutt Valley from the slopes above Naenae until it reaches the light industrial area at Gracefield. Once it passes under Seaview Road it is contained within concrete embankments and the charm evaporates. Except for a hundred metres on the Southern side adjacent to the Owhiti Urupa (cemetery). The black swan added to the appeal of this view of that stretch. I was astonished to learn that after being almost eliminated from New Zealand, they were deliberately reintroduced from Melbourne in the 1860s, presumably as game birds. There are now about 50,000 of them in New Zealand.

The Wellington Harbour Tug Tiaki heading back to Wellington

After assisting the coastal tanker Matuku to its berth at the oil terminal, the two local Damen 2411 tugs Tapuhi (nurse) and Tiaki (carer) then set out on the return journey to their home berth in the city. Tiaki is seen here hurrying along the coast of Matiu/Somes Island . My friend and well know photographer Simon Woolf expresses the view that a significant patch of red in an image is usually a positive influence on the opinion of a photographic judge. Having stepped down as an accredited judge myself, I am less interested than I used to be in the opinions of judges, but I think he is right.

Stillness at Ivey Bay

This one is hands down my favourite shot in this edition, I don’t know if it is the best shot, but it is the one I like the most. And that, my friends is what I believe counts the most. So why? Firstly, the camera is pointed at a subject that is of interest to me. Secondly, the scene is still and the image is sharp. Thirdly the image is simple and unambiguous. We can all see what the subject of the image is. Yes, I like it.

Camborne Boat Sheds

Across the inlet from Ivey Bay are the boat sheds on the Camborne walkway. The poet, Sam Hunt lived in one of those at some time. The walkway behind them goes from the beach at Camborne around the shoreline to Grays Road on the Northern shore of the inlet. It is a favourite walk for dog owners though the rules about leads are often flouted. On days such as this one I find the scenery to be magical, and it’s not often I look at it from the other direction.

Weather

During a brief stay in Dammam, Saudi Arabia some thirty years ago, I encountered the story of a British expatriate who came close to being strangled by his compatriots because he greeted them at the bus stop every morning with “well, I see it’s turned out nice again!”. In case you are unaware, almost every day in Saudi Arabia “turns out nice again”. Nevertheless, I understand the obsession with the weather because the weather governs the light, and light governs photography. So, we had some weather recently. Strong Southerly winds and even snow in the Remutakas made for interesting conditions. Heavy swells breaking across the road in Lowry Bay make commuting interesting.

Fantail in Hiding

The New Zealand fantail is a favourite, perhaps because it flits so close to people walking. I believe this is because they chase the insects that are stirred up by the passing of humans. They are pretty little songbirds. This one seemed to be hiding behind the dead stalk of a nearby flax bush.

Semper Fi

A feature of the Queen Elizabeth II Park at Mackays Crossing is the memorial to the members of the United States Marines who were based there in transit to the war in the Pacific. These little profiles represent the hundreds of huts that stood on this ground almost eighty years ago.

That will suffice for this edition. I might see you next time.

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Art Birds flowers Lakes Landscapes Lower Hutt Machinery mountains Petone Reflections Sunset Taranaki

July 17, 2020 … everything changes

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

In Avalon Park

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

Naenae Fog

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

Someone left the plug out

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

On the road to Shelly Bay

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

In Shelly Bay

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

What a mighty mountain

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

Sunset in Opunake

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

North Island Tomtit

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

Carved life-sized hawk

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

Waxeye in the red-hot pokers

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

Live steam

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

The dog walker

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

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

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Adventure Art Birds Cars Forest Lakes Landscapes Light Manawatu Museum Reflections Rimutaka Forest park

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.

Categories
adversity Birds Children Family flowers Food Maritime Plant life Reflections Rivers Weather Wellington

October 13, 2019 … what did I see?

I suppose that a useful technique for improvement might be to ask myself questions about the images that I like. Why did I make this image? What appealed? Now that I’ve made it, what might I have done better? Let’s have a look.

Mallard drake on green water
On seas of green

Just to the North of Upper Hutt is Haukaretu Park with a large pond that, in most circumstances, is sheltered. As you might know, I love still waters. This image includes a mallard drake crossing the luminous green waters of the pond. I love the syrupy texture of the water, the green reflection of the surrounding bush and the lovely colours of the bird itself. It might have been a better image if I had achieved a better result of focussing exactly on the bird’s eye.

Wellington in the rain with passing car raising spray
Wonderful weather for a photographic walkabout

Last weekend, for the sixth successive year, I was the leader of the Wellington part of a world-wide photowalk. Because the idea is that the walk takes place on the same day all around the world, postponement for bad weather is not an option. So, we were a small group of just seven doing a somewhat damp photowalk with about 900 other groups involving more than 10,000 photographers. Did I mention that it was raining? I made this shot as a record of the conditions. It was hand-held and intended to catch the spray kicked up by passing cars. I didn’t want to pan (swing the camera with the car) because I wanted to get the wet background of lower Taranaki St. I needed a much faster shutter speed to “freeze” the car. One member of our group normally participates in the walk in his native Manila. This year he was working as a staff member on the cruise liner “Radiance of the Seas” so he joined our walk. What a miserable day for the passengers to spend in Wellington.

The cruise-liner Majestic Princess reflected in a puddle
What a difference a day makes

The very next day, another large cruise liner was in and enjoyed much better weather. Here I have caught “Majestic Princess” reflected in a puddle left over from the previous day. These reflection shots rely on a suitably placed puddle and a wide angle lens. I could only just catch the full 330 metre length of this vast vessel. I would have preferred a puddle that allowed a full broadside shot, but this was the best I could find. I really liked the sheer scale of the vessel.

Red tulips
Luminosity

Tulip season in the Wellington Botanic Gardens is always worth a look. However it is a challenge to do more than capture a snapshot. You should understand that, in photographic circles, “snapshot” is a pejorative word. Somehow, the mere record of being there needs to be transformed into something with artistic merit. The gardens are laid out more or less the same each year, so it is necessary to select a different viewpoint or find lighting conditions that make a difference. I liked the vivid lighting in this bed of red tulips.

Rangiora tree flowers
The Rangiora

This has been a season of prolific growth for many of our spring-flowering trees and shrubs including the Rangiora (Brachyglottis repanda). I decided to get up close to the the flowers on a small branch. I need to find other ways of interpreting such flowers. I tend to put the camera in front of the flowers and press the button. It works but it fails to add that artistic dimension that I so desperately seek.

Hutt River rapids

Just a little to the North of the Upper Hutt CBD near Maoribank on the Western side of River Road, the Hutt River comes in from the West and is forced into a sharp turn to the South. I made this a long exposure. It may have been a mistake. The creamy streaking of the water does not match what we expect running water to look like. Sometimes you can get away with it but I am not so sure of this one.

Tree trunks in the pond at Te Haukaretu
Stillness

The duckpond in Te Haukaretu Park in the same area is a delight to my eye. It offers still water and some spectacular trees which reflect beautifully in the green water. And if you are quick, you can catch a shot without the wake of a passing duck. This image appealed to me for the shape of the trunks, and the green of the moss on the trees and in the reflections. Next time I might try a wide angle lens to include more of the trees.

Mary provides a rainbow cake to help celebrate Jack's birthday
Jack’s 13th birthday

You may have noticed that I rarely make images of people. But our grandson Jack turned 13 this week. He is a really great kid and we love him dearly, as we do all of our six grandchildren. He came to have lunch with us the day before his birthday and Mary provided a rainbow cake to finish things. This image is more of a record shot than an attempt at the photographic art.

Willis St and Manners Street corner
On Willis St

When I first came to Wellington, back in the 1960s, this spot on the corner of Willis St and Manners St was universally known as Perret’s Corner. It was named for the pharmacy that occupied the corner that is behind and to the right in this view. There were tram lines in all directions back then. The name has faded into history and few Wellingtonians know it now. The image catches the narrowness of Wellington’s pre-eminent shopping precinct. I have friends who disagree with me, but now that the trolley wires are gone, I love being able to see an almost clear sky between the tower blocks.

And that will suffice for this week.

Categories
Architecture Birds Cook Strait flowers Landscapes Reflections

September 15, 2019 … stop! breathe in! think! try harder.

Looking back at the last few posts, I have noticed a slide back towards mediocrity. I let images get in that really did not deserve a place in this blog. What do I mean by that? I want each image to reflect my own emotional response to what I saw through the viewfinder. Too many recent images are merely a record of my presence at a particular venue rather than an interpretation of the scene. I have no easy solution. Of course no one promised it would be easy. So, I must take a deep breath, grit my teeth and try harder.

The texture of the city

The very word “landscape” suggests to some, a view of open pastoral or wild countryside. My own interpretation is much wider, including seascapes, cloudscapes and cityscapes. All are, in my opinion, legitimate interpretations of the landscape genre. In fact, I have a particular fondness for cityscapes, and love the contrasts, colours and textures of our cities. Each era tends to have a way of expressing itself in wood, concrete, steel and glass. In a seismically prone landscape such as ours the structures are somewhat constrained in height and in other ways.

Last minute grab-shot

Every year, at the beginning September, the Masterton-based newspaper, the Wairarapa Times-Age sponsors a steam-hauled rail excursion from Wellington to the Wairarapa so that the passengers can gather daffodils in Carterton. I believe that this results in donations to the Cancer Society to support cancer research. I was caught by surprise this year, and saw the distant plume of smoke and the scream of the whistle as the train headed North. What goes up must come down, so I was ready for it’s return. I got greedy and tried to operate two cameras, and consequently did well with neither.

This image was the best I could salvage. Unfortunately I chose a vantage point where the upgrading of the overhead catenary system was still in progress, so there were twice as many posts as there would be a week or two later. Nevertheless. Ja1271 obliged with an impressive blast of smoke and steam as it came thundering out of Woburn station.

Inner city repairs

As I observed earlier, each era has its own architectural style. Some have withstood the test of time very well, and others are no longer up to current standards in the event of an earthquake. I believe that all buildings in the city must be up to at least 33% of the current seismic building codes. So some of our more elderly structures have to be strengthened. This is Toomath’s Building on Ghuznee St in downtown Wellington. The modified shipping containers are used as a safe walkway for passing pedestrians.

Beach-side wildflowers

When I go out looking to make pictures, I could end up almost anywhere. My mind flits hither and yon, and my driving follows. It would be maddening for any passenger who wanted to get purposefully from A to B, so most of my wandering is on a solo basis. In this instance I was in Worser Bay on the Eastern side of the Miramar peninsula and I caught a glimpse of colour among the green succulents that protect the dunes. I imagine someone planted them deliberately.

I have no idea about the egg

While wandering North of Waikanae, I followed the road from Pekapeka beach back to SH1 when I encountered this sadly decaying Bedford J2 school bus. These were built in some numbers to serve small rural communities. It wasn’t until I first got the image on the large screen at home that I saw the “egg” under the rear of the bus. Very odd! I can offer no explanation.

Can you smell the lavender?

Several days of greyness and persistent rain caused me to play with some still life. Mary has some nice robust lavender plants at the back door, so with permission, I “borrowed” some. This image is a composite of seven images to gain depth of focus.

Eventually, regardless of the weather, still life is insufficient

At the end of the Wainuiomata coast road, there is a good view of Baring Head and on a clear day, across the strait to Tapuae-o-Uenuku near Kaikoura. The weather on this day was not so generous and so the clouds themselves became the subject of my picture.

Beautiful but not very smart

While I was walking across the pebble beach on the Wainuiomata coast, I saw one of the banded dotterels (Charadrius bicinctus) that nest in the area. They seem to choose wide flat stony beaches on which to nest, and the nest is nothing more than a shallow scraping in the sand. It is prone to attack by larger birds, or wandering cats and dogs, or even the clumsy foot of wandering photographers. It is such a beautiful little bird that I can overlook the stupidity of its nesting habits.

Seeing a scene within a scene

While I was watching (in vain) for more dotterels, I enjoyed the stillness of a small pond on the beach and noticed a small outcrop with rocks and grass. They seemed worth a second look. The area in the photograph is a tiny fragment of a much larger scene.

Yellow carpet

On the way back up the coast road, I encountered a paddock that seemed to be more gorse than grass. A few sheep and a horse were grazing the small patches of grass and the rest was a riot of yellow flowers. A plague upon those early settlers who thought it would make a good hedge plant. It grows so well in New Zealand that it takes up all the space it can get as it has in this paddock and up the hills behind it.

That’s all this time. As always constructive comment is welcome

Categories
Architecture Art Birds Children Evans Bay harbour Landscapes Light Lower Hutt Maritime Oriental Bay Reflections Rivers Wellington

July 25, 2019 … almost back to normal

I am happy to report that I am restored to near normal after a period of recuperation. This restoration seems to have coincided with a a particularly mild period in what would normally be a bleak winter month. I am enjoying it immensely.

Boy
In his own good time

Mild weather does not necessarily mean every day is fully fine. On a recent wet Sunday, I set out to practice a skill demonstrated by a photographic friend … that of using rain puddles to get symmetrical reflections. I hadn’t understood the trick as I made this image outside the Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt, but it worked, after a fashion. I enjoyed a human sideshow as a mother and father tried to persuade their small boy to join them in the museum cafe. For his part, stamping in every available puddle was much more fun.

Still life

While I was taking things easy, Mary was attempting to lift my spirits by fetching home various items that she thought I might like to use for still life images. Bless her. What we see here is a double exposure comprised of a sprig of manuka over a small (but photographically enlarged) sheet of bark. I quite like the result.

Sunset at the back door

There were a few days in quick succession in which we enjoyed blazing sunrises and sunsets. This image was made literally at our back door step, looking Westward towards Maungaraki. The wonderful colours lasted for about 15 minutes and then faded to grey and died.

At the waterfront

It’s great when the penny finally drops and you learn at last how your friends achieve their results. The trick to those lovely reflections is to use a wide angle lens and to have the camera so low that it is within millimetres of actually touching the puddle in which you seek the reflection. The puddle need be no bigger than a dinner plate and no more than a few millimetres in depth.

Getting down so low is not so much a problem as getting back up again. However, I have trick for this too. I hang the camera upside down on the centre-post of my tripod and lower it until it is almost touching the water. Then I use my iPhone as a remote trigger and can see on its screen what the camera sees. Thus these low shots are made with me standing comfortably upright. The building in the centre is the former offices of the Wellington Harbour Board. Now it contains the gallery of the Academy of Fine Art and some rather nice apartments.

The fog was just enough to to be charming (though it did close the airport)

Most people who have a passing acquaintance with our city associate it with wind rather than fog. And yet, for three successive days this week, our mornings have begun with flat calm and varying degrees of fog. I love such days. This image is taken from the Wellington waterfront looking back towards Lambton Quay. It’s a rare day that you can look West from downtown Wellington and see no hills.

Oriental Bay Marina

The same morning was just paradise for me. Oriental bay was perfectly still and provided an enchanting background for the boats moored in the marina. The old marina on the Eastern side of Clyde Quay is typically home for elderly wooden vessels with fewer of the plastic gin-palaces that seem to abound in Chaffers Marina to the West of the quay. I hold that blue naval whaler in the foreground in particular affection.

Evans Bay and splashes of colour

Round in Evans Bay, the fog was still present but rapidly thinning. The sun was breaking through and the colours were just breathtaking. My use of a wide-angle lens in this shot made it harder for me to see it as I was composing the image, and it wasn’t until later that a meteorogically expert friend drew to my attention the “fog-bow” in the backround at the right. Apparently fog-bows are caused in the same way as rainbows, as the sunlight works on the tiny droplets in the fog to produce the white arc.

Red

I am sure I have caught this yacht several times before, but its bright red in contrast with the blue-grey of the sea and fog was irresistible. The simplicity of the shot just worked for me. Normally you would see the Northern end of the airport behind her.

Gentle morning in the Hutt Valley

More fog the next day seemed different in character to that of the previous day. This shot was made from the front door of our house as I was setting out in the hope of more fog at sea level. It is looking slightly East of North and on a clear day, we would see the Avalon tower block in the distance.

To my regret, the fog around the harbour was already thin and disappearing. At Seaview, the tanker “British Cadet” was preparing to leave after delivering its load. At the same time as two Greenpeace protesters were climbing the face of the Majestic Centre in Willis street to attach an anti-oil banner, here was a 46,000 Tone carrier of the product not only delivering oil and chemicals, but emitting visible exhaust fumes. While I have some general green tendencies, I sincerely hope that those protesters who want there to be no more oil exploration anywhere, ever, walked to the site, and climbed using ropes with only natural fibres. As a society we are irrevocably dependent on petrochemicals.

Pied shag – Waiwhetu Stream

As I wandered still hoping to find effects of the fog. I enjoyed the presence of this pied shag which created rings on the still surface, and dived every time I pointed the camera at it. It always has to come up somewhere, and this time, I was ready for it.

Breathessness in Evans bay

Despite the early disappearance of the fog, Evans Bay was sparkling and worthy of an effort to capture it. It is almost the same shot as this week’s image number seven. Though people often get excited about blue skies, I think the clouds make the image more interesting.

Soundless water

Those days when the sea is so calm that it seems to develop a skin are always pleasing. This little pier adjacent to the Coastguard base just begged to be photographed. I think this looks better if you click to enlarge.

In Waiwhetu Stream

My last image this time is back in the Waiwhetu stream near Seaview. The log swept downstream from who-knows where has jammed itself into a state of permanence, embedded in the stream floor and has become a favourite resting spot for a variety of shages.

That’s my lot for now. Constructive criticism is, as always, welcome.