September 14, 2020 … but a walking shadow*

It’s well known to everyone of a certain age, that time moves faster as you get older. So here I am and it’s already two weeks since my last post, and relatively little seems to have happened. That last bit is the subject of a separate complaint. So let us see what is in the cupboard this time.

Cornflower blue

Spring is undoubtedly with us. There are lambs, cherry blossoms, daffodils, other flowers and a gale which today is expected to reach 120 km/h. My images this week seem to have a botanical leaning. I hope those of you with an engineering bent can cope.

Flannel plant

My neighbour kindly permitted me to steal a bit of this intriguing plant. From a distance it looks like a clump of yellow daisies. When you get close, it takes a different and more three-dimensional form.

First leaf of spring

It’s almost exactly four months since I made an image of the last leaf of the season on our Japanese maple, and now it has clad itself in new season’s clothes.

Follow your nose

The day was a bit rough, with a strong chilly wind. As I was coming back from the boat sheds at Hikoikoi Reserve, I saw a couple in silhouette, walking their dog along the ridge near the shore. The dog was on a long lead, and it was excitedly scanning the path for the scent of any potential enemy or past girl friends.

Cherry blossom

The season of cherry blossom is such a brief glory. A Japanese friend of Mary died recently, and knowing how she loved the ones in Upper Hutt, Mary obtained a sprig of it to leave on the casket.

Sculpture – artist unknown

In the suburb of Kingston, there is a reserve in which there is a stone pou whenua. According to Maori custom, a pou whenua (which is more usually carved from wood) is an assertion of ownership or custodianship of an area. This one was apparently erected by the people of the nearby Tapu Teranga marae. According to an article in Stuff, “The sculpture depicts Te Rauparaha, who faces Kapiti Island to the east, and his nephew Te Rangihaeata, who looks out to Tapu Te Ranga Motu, the island in Island Bay that once served as a refuge for local Maori.”

Tui in a cabbage tree

A brief visit to QEII Park near Paekakariki this well-built tui seemed unafraid.

Black-fronted dotterel at Hokio Beach

Though it’s a 200 km round trip, I love going to Hokio Beach to see the black-fronted dotterel. This tiny bird runs so fast that it appears to blow across the beach like so much fluff. They are a delight to watch.

the un-daffodil express

Each year at about this time, Steam Inc combine with the cancer society to organise a steam-hauled train from Wellington to Carterton where, in normal times, passengers are free to gather daffodils from a field planted for the purpose. Sadly, the organisation decided that social distancing rules made the daffodil collection unsafe this year. Steam Inc went ahead with the train journey anyway, since all seats had been sold ($99.00 per adult return). I caught it as the locomotive clattered across the steel bridge at Moera. I hoped for a more dramatic image on the return journey. Sadly, the train returned an hour ahead of the published schedule, so I was distressed to hear the steam whistle telling me I had missed it.

A host of golden daffodils **

So be it. There were still plenty of daffodils in various public gardens and on traffic islands so it’s easy to find consolation. for other disappointments.

  • *Macbeth, William Shakespeare
  • ** I wandered lonely as a cloud, Wordsworth

April 19, 2020 … If I had the wings of an angel*

Three weeks of lockdown at level 4 (the highest) are now completed in New Zealand. At least one more week to go, and perhaps more. Even if the government does loosen the reins, I suspect there will still be considerable restrictions on movement, especially for those of us over 70.

If as a result, I don’t pass the virus to anyone else, or indeed receive it as an unwelcome gift from another person, then it is a price worth paying.

Mary and I are doing well in our shared confinement, and have much to be grateful for, especially having Mary as my “bubble companion”. Of course the confinement has a limiting effect on my photography. It does however, give me lots of practice in photographing things that are closer than usual. It also enables me to observe just how very hard Mary works (and has always done) to keep the house running smoothly and still keep supporting other people by phone.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Mary brings home things that might make a good image. I really liked this roadside plant. My web search suggests it is a Yarrow (also known as Achillea). The density of the little flowers made it especially attractive to me.

Autumn

Just about a kilometre down the road, and well within our permitted walking distance is the grand old house originally built for George von Zedlitz, one of the four founding professors of Victoria University of Wellington. Sadly, being German, he was interned on Somes Island as an enemy alien during the first world war. The university did not cover itself in glory with their support for him. The house is in what is now Jubilee Park, just across the road from us. It is currently designated as Hutt Minoh House, and is the focus of the sister city relationship between Lower Hutt and the Japanese city of Minoh. Although the park in which it is situated is predominantly native bush, there are patches of deciduous trees which allow me to find a touch of Autumn colour in the otherwise unrelenting green.

Super Moon

The full moon just prior to Easter looked as if it was going to emerge into a clear sky. Then the Eastern hills acquired a blanket of low cloud. The moon appeared but hid behind the scudding clouds. I took the shot and was quite pleased with the result … click to enlarge for a better view. This shot was made from our front door.

The owner of this bear keeps changing its persona

I gather that in many countries where lockdowns are in force, people are putting “teddy bears” in their windows to cheer up the kids walking in the neighbourhood. Some householders are putting a lot of effort into their bear displays. This home owner changes the persona of the bear every so often and most recently it has a red wig and a guitar in its guise as Ed Bearan.

Thoughtful gift

A near neighbour has been painting rocks to give to friends and neighbours to cheer them up in these times of lockdown and anxiety. Some are left on the roadside as treasures to be found by random strangers and they each have a message of encouragement on the back. She does very nice work. People are really good.

Leptospermum

The flow of things that might be worth photographing continue as Mary does her regular daily walk around the hills, anywhere from seven to twelve kilometres a day. This lovely piece of leptospermum is a derivative of the Manuka shrub, much prized for the medicinal quality of the honey made from it. I like it for the delicacy of the flowers perhaps a centimetre in diameter. .

Floating flora

Sometimes I spend a lot of time setting up images that, while they may look attractive to me, make no sense. In this case, a chrysanthemum blossom floating in a glass vase is accompanied by some dandelion blossoms from the (un-mowed) back garden. I like it but can offer no other reason for making the picture.

A rare visitor

Despite the cuteness of Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, the common hedgehog is a pest animal in New Zealand. It is a serious predator of many of our ground-dwelling birds, and as a friend described it they are a “rat with spines”. It is rare that we see them near home and especially in daylight. I am not equipped either in tools or in my nature to kill the animal so it was allowed to wander on its way.

A howling Nor’Westerly

At the bottom of the front yard there is a ponga fern which is a good indicator of whether the wind is the prevailing Nor’Wester or a colder Southerly. It just depends on which side its skirts are lifted. At this stage the wind was well in excess of 60 km/h. Even had there been no lockdown, I probably would not have gone far on such a day.

Driftwood

Our home at 150 metres above sea level is very far above even the highest of tides, so the only explanation for this piece of driftwood is that it took Mary’s attention while on some beach walk and I was persuaded to load it into the car. It’s a very heavy lump of wood and thus not suitable for setting up on my usual photography table. The stump takes on various characters depending on the weather and the way its coating of moss and lichen catches the light.

Random Web

I have not seen the spider that made this web. The randomness of the pattern is astonishing. Even more so is the question of how it went about building it. I tend to view it as a little like Gaudi’s plan for the Sagrada Familia cathedral … for a very long time, though they admired the work, other architects struggled to understand how the design derived its strength and how it worked.

Koru

Though I have spent a lot of time focus stacking recently, I suspect I shall be glad to move onto other techniques when the present lockdown is relaxed. Meanwhile, here we have a new unfurling frond from a silver fern. the circle of light is a shot glass in the background.

As you can see, most of the images in this edition have been made in close proximity to the subject. Despite the relative comfort of our metaphorical prison, I shall look forward to the chance to get further away whenever it finally arises.

*The Prisoner song (Guy Massey)

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.

February 01, 2019 … turning up the heat

Before I start my regular blog this week, I want to pay tribute to a former colleague.

When I first joined Victoria University of Wellington as an academic rather than a student, it was as a member of a very small group called Communications Studies. It ran a postgraduate programme leading to a Master’s degree in Communications. It was led by Professor John Tiffin, ably assisted by the stylish and colourful Dr Lalita Rajasingham (also recently deceased), a technical specialist, the late Mr John Baber, and our remarkable secretary, Mrs Paddi Wilson. Paddi was a delight, with an impish sense of humour and a heart of gold. She had a sense of how things ought to be run and did her utmost to make it so. And woe to anyone who was perceived to be critical of her colleagues. Paddi died on 12 December, and typically, she left instructions that there was to be no funeral. And so it was. Thanks Paddi for being an important part of my introduction to the academic life. Rest in Peace.

The week just ending was a busy one. My youngest son and his family returned from a six-week tour of Thailand and Vietnam. My eldest son and his family flew home to Brisbane after an all too brief stay. And then came the heat. To be classed a s a heat wave, a weather pattern must be 6°C or more above the seasonal average for at least five days. Some parts of New Zealand did indeed experience a heatwave and the rest of us came very close. A good Wellington Summer day might usually reach 26°C, so days when it got to 31°C stirred things up. Elsewhere in the country there were times when it reached 37°C and considering we are a small narrow country surrounded by sea, that is unusual.

Wharf

Strolling on Petone Wharf in the evening

At the beginning of the week, with Mary away and the family all gone, I went down to the Petone foreshore as the day was coming to an end. Conditions were hazy but warm, despite a breeze blowing the grasses around. I liked the silhouetted people at the end of the wharf. I don’t think I got the skyline right.I wanted to echo the long low line of the jetty but perhaps I would have been better to crop down to eliminate the white sky altogether. I struggle too, with the grass. If I had the grass in focus, the jetty might have been to blurred. Focus stacking might have worked if the wind had not been moving the grass so vigorously  I shall give this some thought, as  I think there is a better image to be had. I did like seeing the glint of the fishing lines at the end of the jetty. (Click to enlarge).

carnival

Spinning at the carnival

At the Western end of the beach there was a transient carnival. You wouldn’t get me on one of these things since I suffer from acrophobia, but I am willing to exploit the spinning and the lights. I quite like this image, but later, saw another image of the same scene which caught the motion in a completely different way. It always fascinates me that two photographers can stand in the same position and see the world very differently.

Grey

Still warm but offering a grey face

Wellington was exempt from the extremes of the passing hot spell and had some grey patches though still warm. I spent some time in Oriental Bay and was intrigued at the gentle tones of the city in its morning mood. I suspect this is Wellington before the first coffee of the day.

blue

Still blue

Two days later in approximately the same location, the day was so much brighter, though there was a lot of mist rolling down from the Hutt Valley.  Given that this is a five second exposure to give them smooth sea, I am impressed at how relatively still the masts stayed. This was a five-image panoramic stitch. Note the stream of fog down the Western side of the harbour.

Eagle rays

Eagle rays in Oriental Bay

Walking back to my car, I chose to walk along the edge of the Oriental Bay Marina, in front of the picturesque boat sheds. To my great delight I came across a shoal of eagle rays. These are a little smaller than the more familiar sting ray, and have a more rounded profile. The picture is not great, but I include it as a  record of an unusual event.

Swimming

Evening swimming – Lowry Bay

Beaches are not the first things that come to mind when people think of Wellington. When the mercury started heading towards 30 degrees and with sunset not until nearly 9 pm, Wellingtonians found every accessible strip of seashore  and went swimming to cool down. This shot, at Lowry Bay was made at 7 pm, and every beach from Eastbourne to Petone was crowded. Again, this is more of a record shot than a good image.

Lake Ferry

Pastoral landscape on Lake Ferry Rd

I was on my way to Cape Palliser via Lake Ferry and I spotted the trees against the dry grass on the hill. The four trees appealed to me, and I might revisit them at some stage.

nursery

The nursery at Cape Palliser

The Fur-seal colony at Cape Palliser was just booming. I have never seen so many pups frolicking in the nursery pool before. There may have been upwards of a hundred of them variously swimming, basking or attempting to feed. It’s a delightful spot.

launching

Launching and boarding

Ngawi is a small fishing village near Cape Palliser. I think it’s where all the old bulldozers come to die. The steep rocky beach is overcome with large wheeled cradles connected to a bulldozer by means of a long steel towbar. The bulldozer backs the cradle into the water until the boat is afloat, then the driver locks everything in place by lowering the blade. In this case, he them walked confidently down the tow bar, onto the cradle and clambered aboard the boat. All very practiced.

sunset

Sunset at Moa Point

My last shot this issue was made last night as the heatwave came to a shuddering halt. A nasty Nor’Wester dropped the temperature by six or more degrees, but the setting sun continued on its way. This shot is from Moa Point near the airport and looks across the strait to the Kaikouras.

That’s all for this edition.

 

 

 

 

September 29, 2018 … to be in the same place but see it again

Since I last wrote, it has been a crazy couple of weeks. As an accredited judge for the Photographic Society of New Zealand, I get to view and assess entries for competitions held by other clubs. Now if only I could get my head together, I would not accept judging for three different clubs with results due all within the same three-week period.  I really must keep better records of what I have agreed to.  On the other hand, I get to see some superb work, and to be truthful, some work that is less  so.  So, an insanely busy period in which I still found time to go out and make a few images of my own.

Kereru

New Zealand native wood pigeons (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae), or in Maori, kereru. If startled they depart with much thrashing of wings and clattering of broken twigs.

I didn’t have to go far for these two splendid wood pigeons who were busily demolishing a shrub a few metres from our front door. Part of the charm of these birds, apart from their irridescent feathers is their clumsiness on takeoff or landing. They seem to aim at a tree at full speed and stick out an arrester hook in the hope of catching a branch. Not so much a landing as a controlled crash is a phrase I have heard elsewhere.

reflections

One of the reflecting pools at the Supreme Court of New Zealand, stripped of distractions

A beautiful day in the city found me outside the Supreme Court building. I liked the reflecting pool but wanted the reflections without the passing traffic or pedestrians. I used the statistics feature of Photoshop. Basically this means taking several identical photos and then Photoshop extracts anything that is not present in all of the images. Thus the buses and the passers-by disappear. The only vehicle in the image was parked.

pigeons

Litigants awaiting a hearing at the Supreme Court. Or perhaps they are just pigeons

I needed no such trickery for these two common pigeons sitting in the pool at the side of the same building.

Kotuku

George has come home for the season – welcome back White heron (Ardea modesta) or in Maori, kotuku

On the way home, I went to the Hikoikoi reserve at the Hutt River estuary where, to my great joy I renewed my acquaintance with “George”, our resident white heron returned after a long absence. I imagine that he has been down to their only known nesting colony in New Zealand at Waitangiroto near Whataroa. This is 450 km away  on the West Coast of the South Island. Welcome back, old friend.

George

Warp 5 Mr Sulu!

George is something of a character, and one of his favourite spots to rest as at the wheel of a derelict motor boat on a slipway in the reserve. If he had more flexible lips, I can imagine him at the wheel going “Brrrrrm, brrrrrm”.  Or perhaps he imagines himself as Captain Picard saying “make it so, Mr Data”

tulips

Wellington Botanic Gardens tulip display

It’s tulip time again. Although the gardeners are apologetic that the flowers are less than perfect this year, they looked fine to my eyes. One of the pleasures of retirement is the ability to visit the gardens at times when the crowds are small.

Cherry

Flowering cherry display in the Aston Norwood Garden

A new discovery for me has been the Aston Norwood Gardens at the foot of the Remutaka Hill on SH2 just North of Upper Hutt. There has been a restaurant there for a long time, but the current owner has developed the gardens to a place of stunning beauty. Right now they are coming to the end of the cherry blossom season and I understand there are over 300 mature trees in the grounds. The result is magnificent.

Aston Norwood

Cherry blossom petals drift over the pond

I got down low, close to the surface of one of the several ponds on the property and with the aid of a neutral density filter made a long exposure (13 seconds) as the breeze pushed the fallen petals in interesting paths across the surface.

Aston Norwood

The Remutaka stream flows though the Aston Norwood Garden

The Remutaka stream runs through the property and again, the ND filter was used to good effect. I shall be visiting this place again (and again, and again)  as they have rhododendrons and camellias as well.

Dory

Finding another Dory – at Hikoikoi reserve

This little boat is a newcomer to the Hikoikoi reserve and I think it falls into the classification of a dory. I visited in the hope of seeing George, but he  was having an away day, so I looked for other subjects and was pleased to find this. It is a good example of going to a familiar place and seeing it with new eyes.  It’s a matter of pointing the camera at the bits of the landscape that constitute the picture you want to make, and leaving everything else out.

Spring

A breath of ice on a spring day

Despite all the signs of spring, the winter snow lingers on the tops of the Tararua range as seen here from Masterton in the Wairarapa.

And so

September 13, 2018 … getting out and about

Uncharacteristically, I have been feeling good about some of my recent images. Of course, this bubble can easily be burst by submitting them to the tender mercies of a photographic judge. However, in the cycle of my moods I seem to be on the upswing at present. Or at least, I think that my images are improving compared with where they were a while ago.

Ferries

The Aratere is on her way to Picton via the Tory Channel, The Kaitaki and Strait Feronia have just come from there on their way to Wellington

For the second time in just over a month, I scored a ride with the Wellington Cross Country Vehicle Club. This time the route was around the South West coast of the North Island as far as Cave Bay beyond the Karori Rock Lighthouse. This is almost as close as you can get to the South Island while still being in the North Island. Looking across the strait, I saw that three ferries were all going to be in the same area, so I waited until the Aratere, Kaitaki and Strait Feronia were close but evenly spread.

Wave

The boom of solid water smashing into an immovable rock is felt all the way through your being

 

The sea is fairly turbulent in this area, so I enjoyed watching the swells bursting on the red rocks characteristic of the area.

Kaitaki

I liked the light as the sun squeezed through the low cloud base

Technically it is Spring in New Zealand now, though winter seems reluctant to let go. Grey days have been plentiful and from Oriental Bay, a few days later, I caught this view of the Kaitaki leaving port. On a clear day, the Tararuas would be visible behind the ship, but as you can see, low cloud obscures the mountains.

Rocks

The rocks at the end of Island Bay, awash withe the spray from incoming waves

Experimenting with long slow exposures has been fun, aided by a neutral density filter. This ten second exposure flattens the surf and makes a mystical fog where the bursting spray would be. People seem to love or hate these things. I am going through a phase of enjoying the technique.

Pauatahanui

Pauatahanui Inlet … a fantastic morning

A few days later and Spring peered through the clouds. I wandered around the Camborne walkway on the North West corner of the Pauatahanui Inlet. One of my favourite places in the Wellington Region.

Lake Ferry

The thick brown flow of the Ruamahanga heading into the Sea

Earlier this week, I went over the hill to the Southern Wairarapa area, and went first to Lake Ferry. This is where the Ruamahanga River passes through Lake Onoke and out into Palliser Bay and the Eastern Cook Strait. The Southern edge of the Lake is the Onoke Spit, and depending on the way in which the gravel is deposited, it alters the way in which the water gets to the sea. Since I was last here, the spit had extended by a few hundred metres and the fast flowing water was scouring the beach as it flowed to the bay. You can see the colour difference between the pale green water of the bay and the thick brown silt-laden flow of the river.

Seals

Seal pups in the nursery pool

Being this close, I chose to drive from Lake Ferry past Putangirua and Ngawi to Cape Palliser where there is a rocky area used by the NZ fur seals as a nursery. There is a sheltered pool in which the pups gain water skills before they face the violence of the waves off the open sea. I could not get as close as I have in recent years. There were just too many basking adult seals blocking access. They look cute and soulful with their big brown eyes, but if you get too close, they rear up and their teeth turn to fangs and the halitosis would stun an ox. They will chase you and they will bite.  So I stayed my distance.

Cape Palliser

This is the absolute cliché postcard shot of the lighthouse, but since I walked up and back, I had to do it.

A kilometre further on, is Cape Palliser itself. The lighthouse has stood there since 1897, and I read that the keepers rejoiced mightily when the staircase was finally installed , eliminating a dangerous and slippery climb up the rocky hillside. Since I was alone, and not holding anyone else up, I trudged slowly up the 252 steps to the platform and enjoyed the views in all directions. When my pulse returned to normal, I came down again.

Tulips

Tulips in the Wellington Botanic Gardens

I may have mentioned it before, but it is spring, and that means tulip time in the Botanic gardens.

Breaker Bay

A derelict boat shed in Breaker Bay and some wild flowers

Yesterday, I went around the Miramar Peninsula and paused in Breaker Bay. I used that ND filter again to flatten the sea, but enjoyed the juxtaposition of wildflowers and the pebble beach. ]

See you next time.

August 17, 2018 … nor any drop to drink*

Though I am not an ancient mariner, I seem to find water, water everywhere*.

Hutt River

Hutt River rounds the bend

My first image this week is of the bend in the Hutt River near Totara Park, Upper Hutt. Apart from the patch of white water, the river looked clean and blue.

School

Children of Owhiro Bay Primary School listening to their teacher

A day or two later, I spotted what we used to refer to as “a crocodile” … a column of primary school kids walking in an orderly fashion down Happy Valley Road towards Owhiro Bay. A while after that I saw them again, all sitting on the beach listening to the senior teacher. Being nosy I asked what school they were from and what they were doing.

Seal

One eye open – NZ Fur Seal at Owhiro Bay

They were from Owhiro Bay School and were there because, while walking to work earlier, their principal had spotted a New Zealand Fur Seal  sleeping among the rocks on the shore. So I tagged along and when they had finished looking and then moved on to explore other aspects of the local environment, I got a close look. You can see that the lower eye is open, watching that I don’t get too close.

Sunset

Sunset in Normandale

No water in this image, just a rather nice sunset as seen from our back door.

Petone

Magic morning at Petone

Then we had one of those days. I have mentioned them  often enough, the kind where the great expanse of the harbour is flat calm. From Petone Beach to the Miramar Peninsular just right of centre is eight kilometres, and apart from the few ripples close to the beach, there is nothing to disturb the surface.

Yacht

Sailing in light airs

I drove round to the city and then to Evans Bay and looked back the other way. The solitary yacht was just ghosting along in a nearly non-existent breeze.

Red Yacht

Red yacht in Evans Bay

Further round Evans Bay at Hataitai Beach, the red yacht emphasised the utter stillness of the harbour.

Daphne

Daphne

Then the weather changed, so I played around again with my new light-box and a sprig of daphne provided by our kind neighbour.

Yanker

Tanker in the rain

Did I mention that the weather changed? To avoid cabin fever, I went out anyway and from Lowry Bay looked back to the tanker “Ocean Mars” looming though the rain at the Seaview oil terminal.

Leaving

Leaving port

My last image this week is the departure of the container ship “ANL Walwa” assisted by Centreport’s two tugs.

  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner  by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

A personal request now:

For readers not resident in New Zealand, family or friends. Though it is now six years since I retired I still like to assist students struggling to gather data for their post-graduate thesis. In this case, the student is Marlini Bakri who is exploring the influence of photographic images on friends and relatives who might decide to visit New Zealand. I provided a number of images to Marlini and said I would ask some friends and family if they would be kind enough to complete the associated survey.  I would be most grateful if you would consider participation.

The survey which can be completed on a computer or a mobile device, can  be found at http://vuw.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3OWArxbrb8teeAB

Here is her Participant Information Letter:

My name is Marlini Bakri and I am a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate in Marketing at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). Your friend/relative Brian has expressed interest to participate in my study, titled “More than words: Decoding the influence of user-generated images on VFR (visiting friends & relatives) travel”. They have provided your contact as a prospective participant for my study. The study would involve you completing a simple survey. The objective of this research is to understand if photographs shared online can communicate information about a destination to overseas friends and relatives.
You can access the survey on desktop computers and mobile devices (e.g. tablets and mobile phones). The survey should not take more than 30 minutes, and can be terminated at any time. The survey platform saves your answers automatically, allowing you to return to the form, using the same device, at different times. All information you provide is completely confidential, and only the researcher and her supervisor will have access to the information. The data will be destroyed three years after the completion of the thesis (estimated June 2021).
To participate click here: http://vuw.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3OWArxbrb8teeAB

Should you require further information about the study, please contact:

Human Ethics Committee information
If you have any concerns about the ethical conduct of the research you may contact the Victoria University HEC Central Convenor: Dr Judith Loveridge. Email hec@vuw.ac.nz or telephone +64-4-463 9451.

PhD Candidate:
Marlini Bakri
PhD Candidate
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington
6140 New Zealand
marlini.bakri@vuw.ac.nz

Supervisor:
Dr Jayne Krisjanous
Senior Lecturer
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington
6140 New Zealand
+64 4 4636023
jayne.krisjanous@vuw.ac.nz

Supervisor:
Dr James E. Richard
Senior Lecturer
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington
6140 New Zealand
+64 4 463 5415
james.richard@vuw.ac.nz

 

July 21, 2018 … some nice opportunities

Most of this week’s images depict nature in human settings. I rarely photograph people, and concentrate on things that, in my judgement, work well for me. But you can be the judge of that.

Hutt

Sunlight through the valley mist

At the end of last week, I delivered Mary to the airport as she flew to Queenstown to be with our son and grandchildren for some of the school holidays. It was an odd sort of day, with patches of mist, cloud and sunshine. With Mary safely despatched to the South, I went up Hungerford Rd to the hills overlooking the airport and looked back across Evans Bay to the misty Hutt Valley. The Tararuas were obscured, but I was attracted to the trees and the odd tall building peering through the mist.

Rainbow

When you see something like this, you stop and take the picture now, in case it is not there in a minute or two

From there I went around the Miramar Peninsula and screeched to a halt when I reached Point Halswell. If I were a gambling man, I might have carried on around the corner to catch the full arc of the rainbow, but in my experience, every time I delay taking a shot, it evaporates when I eventually get to it. This was the most intense rainbow I have ever seen, and if you look closely there is a second one outside it.

Fireworks

Matariki Fireworks from Oriental Bay

In recent years, New Zealand has begun to adopt the celebration of Matariki. This is the time when the star cluster Pleiades appears above the horizon each year. Many Maori iwi (tribes) regard this as the start of their year. In Wellington City, the mayor has ceased to provide funding for fireworks to mark Guy Fawkes, and has instead diverted it to a display for Matariki, arguing that it is more appropriate to celebrate a New Zealand event, than a failed political assassination plot in the UK. I agree with him.

Island Bay

Island Bay fishing fleet under a dramatic sky

I had intended to do a road trip during Mary’s absence, but the weather forecast was unpromising, so I confined myself to day trips. Some of them were to old familiar haunts such as this one in Island Bay on Wellington’s South coast. I liked the clouds.

Sunrise

Sunrise artistry

Sunrise and I are very loosely acquainted. Sunsets are no problem, but I am not normally a morning person. Sometimes, if I haven’t closed the curtains properly a flare of red will grab my attention as it did on this day.

Maersk Jabal

When I first joined camera clubs in the 1960s, this would have been called a “contre jour” (against the day) photograph. Happily the pretentious adoption of French phrases is less common now. Maersk Jabal leaves Wellington bound for Napier

Most landscape photography experts advocate that photos are best made in the golden hour (the hour following sunrise or before sunset) or even the blue hour (the hour prior to sunrise or after sunset). I agree that some superb images can be had in those times, but I see no reason to put my camera away in the rest of the day, or even at night. This image from the summit of Mt Victoria was made at 1 pm. It catches the container ship, Maersk Jabal in silhouette against the glittering waters of Wellington Harbour.

Wadestown

Winter traffic

I tend not to venture far at night. However, Mary was still away so without worrying her, I went into Wadestown on the Western Hills above the ferry terminal and made a long exposure on a still (but moonless) night.  It was still early enough to catch the tail-end of the two-way rush hour.

Fountain

The Carter Fountain in Oriental Bay

That same evening, I went to Oriental Bay. The Carter fountain was playing and the water was still. I used a feature of my camera that allows me to make a composite image over an extended period. The coloured floodlights changed several times during the 18 seconds of this exposure. I expected that the additive result might be a muddy colour, but was delighted at the way it separated three of the colour phases.

Nightlights

Waterloo Quay all lit up

From the same vantage point, I turned 90 degrees to the left and loved the night cityscape. The building on the left presents an obsidian black face during the day, but with the lights on at night, all is revealed. As much as I love nature, I also love the colours and textures of of the city.

See you next time

 

 

 

May 31, 2017 – still but chill

Winter is almost upon us. So far it has been relatively mild, but Wellington can be deceptive in that regard. Though the thermometer may register as much as six or seven degrees, winter in the area can produce a sense of wet misery that seems much colder.

Maple

Japanese Maple – last colour of the season

The last colours of autumn linger with us. A few more days or even a windy day will see the last of the colour on our Japanese maple fall to the ground.

Web

tiny jeweller in the centre of its universe

Despite my whining, we have had a good string of still days. On such a cool damp day, the best jewellery show in town is staged by the tiniest of crafts-people. This dew-covered web is about the size of a small plate. I think the spider at the centre is a garden orbweb, but would welcome expert advice if I am wrong.

Spider

Webmaster

If you are an arachnophobe, look away for a moment while I get closer. This specimen is about 5mm in size.

Lowry Bay

Lowry Bay

Continuing with the theme of calmness, I have been making a lot of images at nearly water level, and you can see just how still the harbour has been. This one is on the beach at Lowry Bay.

Day's Bay

Day’s Bay wharf

A few kilometres further South, the Days Bay wharf caught my eye as the sun headed inexorably towards night.

Loma

Loma brings her catch home

On my way home from there I paused at Pt Howard as the fishing vessel Loma returned to its berth after what the following flock of gulls obviously  regard as a successful trip.

 

 

1 March, 2017 … oh what a week it has been

Himatangi

Looking North along Himatangi Beach at the end of a beautiful day

Most of my week was centred on the RNZAF’s celebration of their 80th year with an airshow at Ohakea. If you have no interest in aviation skip to the end. The last shot is worth it, in my opinion.
Mary and I booked accommodation at Himatangi Beach for three days so as to avoid the peak traffic coming and going. We arrived on Friday evening and Mary persuaded me to walk to the beach to observe the sunset.

Taranaki

As the sun sinks towards the horizon, Taranaki is visible 155 km away to the North

The weather was most promising for a good day for the airshow the next day and Taranaki stood proud and clear in the distance.

Sunset

Sunset

I was caught quite unawares by a pair of RAAF F/A-18 Hornets streaking low and fast down the coast, presumably as a rehearsal for the next day. The sun was moving considerably slower and so I caught that without trouble.

Sunrise

Sunrise somewhere near Oroua Downs on the way to the airshow

Next morning, show day, I was up early and on the road in the dark, soon after six. During the 37 km drive, the sun made its first appearance and revealed a ground mist which I feared might disrupt things. It didn’t.

Airshow

Before the crowd built up – an F-15SG from the Singapore Air Force and a Boeing KC-767J of the Japanese Self Defense Force

Despite my early start, there were several hundred cars in the park ahead of me, and a couple of hundred camper-vans on site. We lined up waiting for the gates to open. The advertised time was 7 am, but they didn’t admit us until 0740. It was good to get access to the aircraft in the static displays with the sun at a low angle and relatively few people around compared with later in the day.

Heavies

Lines to get inside the big aircraft

There were fighter aircraft from Australia (F/A-18), Singapore (F-15SG) and the USA (F-16). There were transport aircraft from the UK (A400M), France (CASA 235), Australia (C-17) and New Zealand (C-130), Japan (KC-767J) and the USA (KC-135, C-17).

C-17

Inside the mighty C-17 of the RAAF

We lined up for a look inside and I was mightily impressed by the vast cavernous fuselage of the C-17, and a little surprised at the exposed ducting in the roof.

C130

RNZAF C-130 taking off, leaving spirals behind the props.

Flying commenced at 10 am and I had missed a trick by not claiming a spot on the flightline. Nevertheless, the planes are big enough to make themselves seen.

B757

100% of the RNZAF’s long-range VIP transport capability

Some of the earlier movements were simply logistics associated with the show. The RNZAF owns two converted Boeing 757 aircraft which are pressed into service as VIP transports. It’s relatively rare, outside of their home base, to see them both together.

Formation

An improbable but impressive formation of heavies

Among the morning’s displays were a lot of “heavies” and one such flight was a formation flight involving one B757, one Lockheed P3C Orion and two C130 Hercules. They passed over Ruapehu which was sparking clear in the morning sun and then swung in from the South at which time the two C-130s peeled off.

Plonky

TBM Avenger restored in the colours of “Plonky”, the aircraft flown by NZ aviation personality, Fred Ladd

Some historic aircraft were involved, and as well as the inevitable Spitfire there was a beautifully restored Grumman TBM Avenger.

Devon

Beautifully restored DH104 Devon

One that I remember form my days in the Air Training Corps was the De Havilland DH104 Devon which was used in the RNZAF as a light transport and a Navigation trainer.

F-16

USAF F-16 creates some pressure at low altitude

In the afternoon, came the fast movers which, in reality amounted to the USAF’s F-16 and the Australian F/A-18

F/A-18

RAAF F/A-18 puts its wheels away before starting its show routine

The thunderous crackle of a fighter at full throttle is surely as effective as a bowl of prunes for curing certain ailments and I enjoyed the sheer power of the displays. While all this was happening, Mary , who has scant interest in airshows, walked from Himatangi Beach to Foxton Beach and back (a mere 22 km round trip). I got out before the end of the airshow because I have no real interest in formation aerobatics which was the final event.

Birds

On the sandbank in the river at Foxton Beach

Next day we spent enjoying the rural quiet apart from the distant thunder of the airshow’s second day in the distance, a mere 20 km away as the crow flies. We drove down to Foxton Beach where there was abundant birdlife on the sandbar. Oystercatchers, pied stilts, bar-tailed godwits, red-billed gulls, black-backed gulls, and lesser knots were all crowded into one small space.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWasp

Her majesty, the Queen – Asian Paper Wasp

Later in the day, Mary and I were walking and she spotted the nest of the Asian Paper Wasp, so of course I got up close and personal. I think, from the described behaviour, that this is the queen.

Tararuas

Tararua ranges under morning cloud near Levin

The next day, with all the airshow traffic having dissipated we made the leisurely drive back down SH1 to home, pausing for a shot of the Tararua Range near Levin.

Pauatahanui

Boat sheds at Pauatahanui

Yesterday, officially the last day of what we have laughingly called “summer”, was perfect. I went for a wander to Pauatahanui and Queen Elizabeth Park.

dabchicks

Dabchick with chicks

The long-sought dabchick chicks were at last visible. As you can see the parents often carry the chicks nestled deep within their own plumage, but as the youngsters get older they become more independent and often branch out on their own.

Herons

Herons reflecting

My last shot in this extended edition, is possibly my best shot of the year to date. Two white-faced herons perched on a piece of driftwood, reflected in the mirror-calm waters. I am pleased with this.