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18 March, 2020 … interesting times

Interesting times are upon us. As far as I know, I and all my loved ones are well. I hope the same goes for you and all who you hold dear.

Today I offer fifteen random images with no apparent connection between them except that they were all made in the last few weeks. Mindful of all the world’s current woes, I am feeling grateful for living in a peaceful and politically stable country with so much beauty on offer. .

Remutaka Forest Park – Catchpool Valley

New Zealand’s bush typically seems much more dense, twisted and tangled than the ancient forests of the Northern hemisphere. Most of it lacks the grandeur of tall parallel tree trunks. So be it. I still love being in the bush, enjoying the shelter it gives from the wind and the pleasure I take in so many shades of green. This short track in the entrance to the Catchpool valley surprised me for the amount of dead leaves on the ground amongst what I thought were predominantly evergreen trees.

Mana Island on a beautiful day in Plimmerton

This picture of Mana Island was made by getting down low, or at least by getting the camera low, hanging inverted off the tripod centre post. Because the water was almost flat calm, it was almost touching the surface.

If you click to enlarge, and look at the gap between the furthest incoming wave and the island, you will see the neck and beak of a shag which popped up as I pressed the shutter. It’s as if it knew I was here, and was checking to see whether I was a threat.

We have had a string of beautiful calm Autumn days. They go some small way towards compensating for the miserable wet windy summer we had in Wellington this year.

Another lovely day in Plimmerton

The local yacht club was racing at Plimmerton despite the apparent lack of wind. As you can see in the picture, some of the yachts are heeling despite the light breeze. They certainly progressed around the course at a reasonable pace, and I liked the metallic effect given by the translucent sailcloth.

Ferry berth

Anyone who understands the term “depth of field” instantly knows that this picture could not have been made with just one exposure. Loosely, depth of field is the distance between the nearest “in focus” point, and the furthest. Most lenses have a relatively shallow depth of field so either the ship or the flower would be sharp, but not both. Many photographers delight in a usually expensive lens with a shallow depth of field and the artistic effects it produces. Others, like me, seek more extreme depth and achieve this by “focus stacking”. In its simplest form, and in this example, that means taking a photo in which the flower is sharp and another in which the ship is sharp. Then the two images are merged and the sharp bits from each are retained. This was possible back in the days of the darkroom, but is much easier now that we have PhotoShop.

If you think this is somehow “cheating”, then avert your eyes now because I don’t care.

I have consistently said that the art is in the final image, no matter how it was achieved.

Sacred Kingfisher

If you have been a WYSIWYG reader for any length of time, you will know that birds are among my favourite subjects. Nevertheless, I lack the patience and skill to stalk and capture the fastest and sneakiest of birds. Some of my friends make superb images, bordering on the impossible. I lack the patience and the willingness to get down in the mud and make the images they do. Now and then, I get lucky. Kingfishers typically fly at about 45 km/h.

From home

I have often presented this viewpoint, from my bedroom window and I justify it on this occasion for the special early morning light. I am grateful every day for the splendour of this view.

From the control bar

Mary and I went to Whitireia Park in Porirua where we intended to have a picnic lunch. While I looked for images, Mary walked the Onepoto Loop Track. As I wandered, a man in a wet suit was setting up to go kite-surfing. He got the kite airborne while he was still on the beach and I cheekily got down near his feet and caught his view of the canvas.

A stranger in a strange land

On one of my many trips through Evans Bay and around into Oriental Bay, I was astonished to encounter this old Seagrave fire appliance. As per the signage, it once belonged to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Made in 1960, it was retired in 1990 and gifted by the City of Los Angeles to the City of Auckland in recognition of their sister-city relationship. Since then it has been on display at Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). This is an articulated 100 foot ladder machine that has a driver in the front, and another at the rear steering the trailer wheels. As you can see it is designed for the Los Angeles climate. The well wrapped crew drove this down from Auckland to Wellington in cool Autumn weather and were on their way to Invercargill for a charity fundraising event. They are going to have to raise quite some funds as it goes through $500 to $600 of fuel a day plus the ferry fares in each direction.

Sisters

Another of those days when, despite the overcast, the glittering sea was relatively still. East-West ferries have two catamarans with which they operate a commuter service that runs from downtown Wellington across the harbour to Days Bay, with stops at Matiu / Somes Island and occasionally at Seatoun. It is marginally quicker than the trip around the harbour by bus, but infinitely more pleasant. They even have a bar on board. Anyway, there I Was as Cobar Cat came in from the right after refuelling at Chaffers Marina, and City Cat approached from across the harbour.

Lavender blue

Simple things sometimes need complex treatment. This little cluster of lavender, growing in a pot at our back door, is captured with another focus stack. You can see that the background trees are well beyond focus as I intended them to be. However there are four different images of the lavender stalks. This only works in windless conditions because if the plants are in different positions as they wave, they can’t be merged.

Abstraction

I was having a coffee with my youngest son, Anthony (Ants) at the Seaview Marina. It was a beautiful morning with the sun smiling on the yachts and lovely reflections in the water. Then a ripple from elsewhere in the marina did interesting things with the reflected masts and rigging.

We had a guest speaker in the camera club about a week ago, and she explained very well how she went about making a wide variety of abstract images. I grasped the “how” well enough, but remain mystified by the “why?” Anyway, here I am offering an abstraction. This is a single shot, as seen by the camera

A rare selfie

I almost never take selfies. Usually I would prefer to make an image of the place or thing that I saw, rather than a picture of myself in the place or with the thing I saw. This image is an unintentional selfie. I saw a trailer which was a bitumen tanker. It had an engine chugging away underneath, presumably powering the burner that keeps the bitumen in its liquid state while the tractor was elsewhere. What caught my eye was the polished stainless steel cladding and I liked the grassy reflections therein. Regrettably I could find no way to exclude myself from the reflection. Though I am substantially built, I am nowhere near the proportions in that distorted reflection.

My favourite kind of day

Among my favourite places in the region are various spots around the shores of Lake Wairarapa, especially on those days when the lake is glassy calm. Whenever I come over the hill to Featherston, I usually start at the Lake Domain Reserve and see whether there is a new image to be had. The rusty steel piles of the yacht club’s old jetty make a nice feature.

Wairio Wetlands

Some thirty km to the South on the Eastern side of the lake, are two sets of wetlands beloved of many of my photographic for their prolific bird life and for the intrinsic beauty of the places. I chose the Wairio Wetlands rather than Boggy Pond on this occasion. Whereas Wellington has had a wet summer, the Wairarapa is officially in drought. This wetland still has water, but the level is lower than I have ever seen it before. There were plenty of birds there, though they were cautiously placed some distance from the walking tracks. If you click on this image to enlarge, and have a close look at the most distant of the birds, at about one third in from the right, there is a white heron (kotuku).

Low and fast over the road

As I came back up the Western side of the lake, I heard a whistle and a roar and saw a top-dressing plane shoot over the road and into the hills to the West. I was ready for it as it came round a second time and was pleased that it was a venerable Fletcher FU-24 950. The basic FU-24 design has served New Zealand agriculture since 1954. No fewer than 297 of them were built and in the later years many were fitted with powerful turbine engines. Sadly many bold Fletcher pilots didn’t get to be old Fletcher pilots because they over-estimated their skill at avoiding high-speed contact with the ground.

That is sufficient for this edition.

I am going to borrow my farewell from Radio New Zealand’s Suzie Fergusson who said at the end of a session the other day, “Wash your hands, keep calm and carry on. Ka kite anō au i a koutou (see you all again).

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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.

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Birds Camera club flowers Landscapes Maritime Plant life Reflections Rimutaka Forest park Rivers Wellington

November 8, 2018 … a little washed out

After five years as president of the Hutt Camera Club, and several years prior to that as newsletter editor and secretary, I am absolutely ready to stand down. Somehow in the last few months, I have run out of steam and the burden of office has taken a toll. About now you might hear the sound of the world’s smallest violin playing sympathetic music. Yes, there is a little self-pity at play, but I am looking forward to getting the most out of my photography time to help me become a better image maker.  Just two more weeks.

Estuary
At the estuary (again)

As you may have heard me say before, I will always seize a calm day, and I grabbed this one down at the Hikoikoi Reserve on the Hutt River estuary. The boats moored in the shelter of the breakwater are unglamorous small fishing vessels. Even so, they create pretty reflections in the unusually still water.

Derelict
I am sure someone really intends to restore the boat, but it has sat unchanged for several years now.

I was hoping to see my old friend “George”, the white heron. After a few brief stops he seems to have found other places to be, so I settled for a shot of the derelict boat in which he practices his skills as a master mariner.

gerbera
Gerbera glory

On days when the weather is less accommodating, I look for still life opportunities. Mary received a bunch of gerberas from a neighbour in gratitude for her care of their cats while they were away.  I just loved their luminance.

Tansy
Purple Tansy

A random weed in our garden caught my eye and I plucked it and then looked again and decided it was worth a closer look. One of my several flower identification apps said it was a Phacelia or Purple Tansy. I put it in the opening of my dark box and used the stacking technique to get the clearest image.

Shag
Little shag – mottled

It is said that if you don’t like our climate, wait twenty minutes, it will change. The reality is that change is a little slower than that, but a nice warm morning earlier in the week found me at Shelly Bay, the old RNZAF flying boat base in Evans Bay. There I found a Little Shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) sitting at the foot of the sea wall, cautious but willing to stay put. It is one of the mottled morph in this variety.

Jetty
Once were flying boats

The old jetties at Shelly Bay are much admired by photographers and this time I tried for a different angle. I admit to removing a number of plastic road cones from the rad works along the far shore.

Catchpool
The Catchpool stream heading outwards to the sea

A windy day and I went down the Wainuiomata coast road to the Rimutaka Forest Park and Catchpool Valley. I clambered down the rock banks of the stream and got the camera perilously close to the water for this shot. I am not good where footing is uncertain, since I have weak ankles and a poor sense of balance.

Forget-me-not
To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower (William Blake)

There were lots of wild forget-me-nots so I stole one and got very close.

That’s all for this time. I hope that my next edition will be crafted on my shiny new iMac since my 6-year-old MacBook is, like me, getting slower by the day.

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Adventure Animals Art Aviation Bees Birds Boggy Pond Children Cook Strait Festivals and fairs insects Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Martinborough Masterton Masterton Rimutaka Forest park Rivers Sunset Upper Hutt Wairarapa Wellington

December 31, 2017 … closing the curtains on another year

I hope the year has been kind to you, as it mostly has for Mary and me.

Lagoon
From the lagoon – Wellington offers interesting views even n grey days

Since I last wrote, photographic opportunities have been variable, and there have been times when I have had to make my own luck. I prefer it if any water in the picture is not too ruffled. On this occasion the day was a bit drab so I went under the edge of the walkway bridge at the edge of the lagoon at Frank Kitts Park.

Demolition
Defense HQ Demolition

Later in the day I had a coffee with our younger daughter Lena (long time readers will remember her as Helen) . Across the road from her place of work, the headquarters building for the Ministry of Defence is being demolished. It was supposedly strong enough to withstand a hit from a cruise missile. A Wellington earthquake was stronger so now, a year later, it is being reduced to rubble.

Dry
On Dry Creek Road – near Martinborough

Then there were days of such perfection that a road trip was needed. Over the Rimutaka Hill near Martinborough, conditions were very dry.

Spoonbills
Royal spoonbills in mating plumage – Wairio Wetlands

A little further down the road from there, are the Wairio wetlands on the Eastern shore of Lake Wairarapa. There were a lot of Royal spoonbills browsing the ponds and they were wearing their breeding plumage.

Pohutukawa
Feliz navidad – the national flower of Christmas – the pohutukawa

Early in December, someone threw the switch that initiated the pohutukawa flowering season. Almost overnight, there were crimson blooms everywhere. I tried for a different take.

ferries
Ferries crossing – mid-strait

Another lovely evening with a golden sunset prompted me to go to Moa Point above the airport. The ferries Aratere and Kaitaki passed each other in the middle of the Cook Strait, and the Kaikoura ranges can be seen in the haze at the rear.

Grass
Hare’s Tail grass

Sometimes the simple things appeal. Backlit hare’s tail grass always catches my eye.

Christmas
Unto us a child is born

Then it was Christmas. Mary and I like to attend the children’s Mass on Christmas eve, and this image is of our parish priest, Fr Michael carrying the statue of the Christ child to be installed in the crib. The sculptor was obviously unfamiliar with the actual dimensions and character of a newborn.

memorial
Memorial

Passing through the city I caught a glimpse of the newly revealed  sculpture in the Pukeahu National War memorial. It is a gift from the people of Britain to the people of New Zealand, and is intended to represent the shelter formed as the royal oak and pohutukawa intertwine. It has had a mixed reception from the artistic community, but I quite like it.

River
Hutt River

And then another fine day in that lost period between Christmas and New Year. The Hutt River has a few interesting spots. This one is just on the corner near Totara Park in Upper Hutt.

slow and easy
Gladstone rush-hour

From there I went back over the hill to Gladstone, to begin with, where I encountered rush-hour traffic. This image is taken through the windscreen of my car which needed a clean.

Grain
Ripe Grain

I went from Gladstone via the back road to Masterton and was again attracted to a dry-looking field of ripe grain.

Sir Peter
BE-2C taking care not to run over the boss, Sir Peter Jackson – Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit … love the bare feet

As I was setting up my tripod for the grain, I saw some biplanes overhead and instantly knew that there was activity at the Vintage Aviator Limited, on Hood Aerodrome, Masterton. I drove there in all cautious haste and managed to wheedle my way onto the apron outside their hangar. It was apparently a private event for “friends of friends” so I was fortunate to be allowed inside the barriers. I got some shots I liked. This one captured the spirit of the event. A BE-2c taxiing slowly behind the boss, Sir Peter Jackson. He is the ultimate aviation nut and those of us who live near enough are grateful for the opportunities to see the magnificent work done by the Vintage Aviator Limited (TVAL).

Wairarapa
Lake Wairarapa in a rare calm moment

From there I drove south via Boggy Pond and across the East-West link and then back up the Western Lake road where I caught this panorama of Te Moana Wairarapa (Lake Wairarapa). It was a stunning day.

bee
Everything here has a sharp point … bee and thistle both

My last image for 2017 was captured at the Catchpool Valley in the Rimutaka Forest Park. We had to vacate the house while our real estate agent showed a potential buyer through. We think an offer may follow. Meanwhile, I saw a honey bee enjoying a Scotch Thistle.

And so the year is ended. Thanks to all who follow my somewhat self-indulgent rambling. Thanks to everyone who has offered supportive comments. Thanks for your company. Warmest wishes for a safe and happy new year in 2018. May it be your best year yet.

 

 

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Birds Children Family Rimutaka Forest park Weather

October 26, 2015 … a sudden and unexpected burst of summer

It’s a long weekend in New Zealand.

Maggie
Our sunshine girl sets out the rolls to prove before baking. The form of each roll was her choice.

On the fourth Monday in October, we observe Labour Day. As a statutory paid holiday, it celebrates the struggle 175 years ago, for a universal eight-hour working day, though many still don’t have that protection. It also tends to mark the return of the golden weather. And so it has been this weekend. However our weekend began with our own little ray of sunshine – granddaughter Maggie who will soon be 11 years old, came for a sleepover. Yesterday, with guidance form her grandmother she made bread rolls to accompany a picnic lunch planned for later in the day.

Rolls
The finished product

In due course, after the rolls had been allowed to prove for the required time, they were committed to the oven, and duly emerged as small masterpieces.

Oak
In the shade of a handsome oak

We went to the Catchpool Valley in the Rimutaka Forest Park and laid claim to a suitable picnic spot in the shade of a nice oak tree.

barbecue
A view across one of the many picnic spots … the covered structure to the left is a barbecue

For most, the Catchpool Valley is the starting point for much longer walks heading towards the Orongorongo river, but the area surrounding the car parks are widely enjoyed as a picnic area and camping ground. I am pleased to see the provision of stainless steel gas-fired barbecues in the park. They are everywhere in the parks around many Australian cities, and usually free. Here, perhaps because the hot plate is gas-fired and not electric, they are coin-operated.

Kereru
Nervous but lazy

Anthony and Sarah took the kids to a lesser known swimming hole through a long disused trail through the bush and some of them braved the chilly water. I was not one of them. It is easy to be fooled by the bright blue skies into thinking this is really summer. As I made my way back through the bush, I encountered a kereru which looked nervous but was way too lazy to interrupt its siesta unless real danger was imminent.

May the sunny days continue, preferably without the wind.

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Adventure Birds Machinery Rimutaka Forest park

October 12, 2015 … from motorcycle thunder to forest birdsong

Hundreds of rumbling motorcycles.

Bikes (!)
A tiny fraction of the many hundreds of bikes ready for the ride to Paraparaumu

I really do mean hundreds of them. Yesterday the Women’s International Motorcycling Association organized it’s annual “Pink Ribbon Ride” in support of breast cancer research. The riders gathered in Petone, row upon row of gleaming machines, mostly big heavy bikes with a goodly sprinkle of the three wheelers as well. There were very few of the lighter commuter style bikes. Though it was organized by WIMA, the majority of the riders seemed to be the stereotypical hairy-chested grizzled bikers.

Bikes (2)
Nothing conveys the sound of several hundred big bikes

I learned that they were heading South over the Petone overbridge and then up the Ngauranga Gorge and up SH1 to Paraparaumu. I chose a spot on the footpath (US = sidewalk) and waited at the roundabout near the overbridge. Soon a deep rumble announced the arrival of the first riders  who blocked other traffic for safety reasons and then it began. A seeming endless stream of motorbikes, many of them with that deep Harley-Davidson throb, streamed past.

Adam
My friend Adam and his daughter Lauren (in pink) pass through Petone roundabout

I used the burst mode on my camera which was, frankly, silly. I ended up with 536 images of which I have kept very few.  After the first hundred or so, one bike looked much like another, so I knew that I had caught a shot of my friend Adam with his daughter on the pillion only by way of looking for their pink fluorescent jackets when I was processing later.

Stream
Catchpool stream

With that done, Mary and I took a picnic lunch to the Rimutaka Forest Park at Catchpool Valley. I fiddled with the ND filter and slow exposure again to see what I could do with the stream near our lunch spot.

Downstream
A view downstream from the Taonga track

A walk through one of the shorter tracks was just such a delight. The wind in the trees overhead did not drown out the exquisite melodies of the bird life in the bush. The stream meandered through the everlasting greenery of this beautiful park.

Kereru
Yet another kereru … love the colours

On the return leg of our brief bushwalk, yet another wood pigeon sat fearlessly near the path and caught the sun in such a way that its irridescent plumage absolutely glowed.

Enough for now.

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adversity Birds flowers Landscapes Rimutaka Forest park Rivers Wainuiomata Weather

September 23, 2015 … play Misty for me*

When a photographer meets a barrier, the only option is to photograph the barrier.

Rain and road
On the Wainuiomata Coast road

Rain, wind and mist have been the constant feature of recent days. Yesterday was particularly misty and though I don’t want a constant diet of it, I like misty scenes. Perhaps the Wainuiomata Coast road might offer some chances of catching the mist.

Kereru
Kereru and the willow

As I drove down towards the forest park, I spotted a native wood pigeon or kereru. This week is the annual census for kereru with people asked to report all sightings to a special website. I stopped to watch this heavyweight systematically mowing a very small willow sapling. If you look closely you can see the fine water droplets on its plumage. There were more of them inside the forest park.

Ford
This ford is dry on about 362 days of the year.

Then I came to another barrier. There is a ford where the road to the carpark crosses the Catchpool Stream. Normally  the stream passes through a culvert under the road, but there has been so much rain recently that the stream had swollen beyond the capacity of the culvert and was running about 30 cm above the concrete ford. A big Toyota Landcruiser from the police search and rescue unit had just crossed it. I contemplated the idea for a millisecond or two,  but the signs said do not attempt to cross when the water is over the road. My car is simply too light to withstand that volume of water so again, I had to photograph the barrier. On several previous occasions I have posted images taken from the middle of the ford, of the upstream reflections in the normally placid stream.

Sheep
Motherly patience

Retracing my tracks brought me past this world-weary ewe with her twin lambs.

Gorse
Gorse and trees

A little further up the road, there was another misty landscape, with bright gorse in the foreground. I like the delicacy of the receding landscape provided by the mist, but I have had my fill of it for now, so please don’t play Misty for a while.

That’s all for today.

 

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Animals Landscapes Light Maritime Rimutaka Forest park Weather Wellington

August 19, 2015 … lost plot

My attempt at thematic photography came a little unstuck yesterday.

Star life
Star Life comes to collect logs

In Oriental Bay, an empty log carrier , the Star Life, was being guided towards its berth by the two red tugs, with Tiaki hanging off the stern as a brake. There was a streak of sunlight on the water and it seemed like it was following the lighted path.

Oriental Bay
Oriental Bay is pretty in almost any weather

At the Eastern end of the bay there was a nice view of the buildings catching some stray light too.  And that was really all I caught while I was in the city.

Catchpool
Catchpool Stream slowed down

In the afternoon, I went to the Rimutaka Forest Park hoping to do some slow exposures of running water. The Catchpool Stream was running fairly high.

Kereru
A very handsome wood pigeon

As I went back to the car, I had a close encounter with a wood pigeon or kereru in a kowhai tree. I stopped still and let it get comfortable again, then inched towards it as silently as I could. I got to about two metres before it started to get really twitchy and if I had taken another step, it would have flown. I took my shot and backed away, and it settled down again.

Spring
Spring is here, no doubt about it

On the road back towards Wainuiomata I saw an unmistakable sign of change. You people in the Northern hemisphere are hereby noticed that your summer is over, and that winter is coming. We want our sunshine back please.

My friend died in the very small hours of this morning, and I shall pay tribute to him later.

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adversity Animals Cook Strait Maritime Plant life Retirement Rimutaka Forest park Trees Wainuiomata Wellington

May 8, 2015 … moist mist and sharp points

This has the makings of a long winter, and in theory we are still in Autumn.

Sheep
In moist conditions, farmers often bring the sheep together in densely stopped paddocks to minimise the risk of facial eczema.

Nevertheless, there is something to be seen each day, provided I manage my time somewhat better than I have recently. Mary is still working while I am very happily retired. It seems only fair that I pick up some portion of domestic duties, but as a lifelong procrastinator, this sometimes gets me into trouble. Yesterday I needed to be at home for the grandchildren to come from school. This left me with a bit of a scramble, and it was perhaps too ambitious to fit in a trip down the Wainuiomata Coast Road before I had to be back. But that’s what I did.

Violet Ace
Violet Ace makes her way to Wellington. That’s the South Island in the distance

Despite the vicious wind of the preceding days the South Coast was comparatively calm, and the only thing of immediate interest was the big vehicle carrying vessel Violet Ace passing briefly into Wellington before moving on to Lyttelton.

Catchpool Valley
Catchpool Valley

A quick side trip into the Catchpool Valley offered a view of the mist over the hills.  Despite the wind having dropped away, things were still grey and damp.

Stream
Reflections on a rock in the Catchpool stream

At the ford, I looked upstream and despite the high water level, the stream was prettily calm. I have taken this before in different circumstances.

Thistle
Prickly pest

A jab in the ankle might cause alarm in some countries but with no snakes and relatively few harmful spiders, the reaction is irritation rather than panic. It was just a thistle, but the water droplets and the spikes seemed worth a closer look.

See you tomorrow.

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Birds flowers Hutt River Rimutaka Forest park Rivers Wainuiomata Weather

December 1, 2014 … an ill wind

Wild winds continue to plague the supposedly warm season.

Grass
Hare’s tail grasses bobbing in the wind at the coast

 

I followed the Wainuiomata Coast Road to the South Coast where nothing was happening, or at least nothing that caught my eye. Hare’s tail grass was thrashing frantically under the unrelenting force of the Northerly.

Stream
Catchpool Stream

 

A few kilometres up the road I went into the Catchpool Valley and from the ford across the stream looked to the North. The steep hills protected the river from the wind.

Spoonbill
Royal spoonbill searching for food

 

From the top of the Wainuiomata Hill, the view over the harbour was flat and the clarity spoiled by the salt in the air. Down at the Hutt Estuary, a pair of Royal Spoonbills were foraging in the mud. This one was crippled and was limping badly.

Pohutukawa
Nature’s finest natural Christmas tree

 

The switch has been pulled and from now on, pohutukawa trees in the region will burst into brief but magnificent blossom.

I’m tired, so off to bed.