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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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June 18, 2020 …seize the day

“Up we go! Up we go!’ till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.” (Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows)

Like Mole, I feel I have emerged from the darkness and am enjoying the world with new eyes after the long weeks of lockdown. Even as I visit familiar haunts, I seem to see them differently now. Whether or not this results in new or better images is open for discussion. Either way, I am having fun.

Distand land under a grey sky

How many times, I wonder, have I shared an image of the Tararuas from our front lawn. From a photographer’s perspective each set of light conditions and cloud formations creates a scene different to the many times I have seen it before. The bones of the landscape are unchanged, but the season, the light and the weather add flesh to the view. I am always tempted by those receding layers of hills leading to the great South wall of the Tararuas.

Superb craftsmanship

I have recently made a friend in New Plymouth whose hobby and passion is carving wildfowl in wood to life-size. I know nothing about this hobby except that Wayne Herbert is a master of his craft. For various reasons, the bird he is entering into a global competition this year is in the possession of a near neighbour, so he asked me to make photographs of it. Yes, that beautiful tui really is made of wood.

Morning mist

River mist changes the character of the landscape. Most mornings it disperses fairly quickly and the day turns out well. The tower block in the background is the former TVNZ studios and office block at Avalon. It’s hard to figure out what it’s used for these days. The trees in the mid-ground are on the Boulcott golf course.

Premature symbols of spring

Folklore is fun, but often implausible. There is a fable to the effect that a sure sign of spring is when there are six daisies on the lawn that you can cover with your hand. Well here we are. But how can this be a sign of spring with the winter solstice still a a few days in the future? And why are there early jonquils in flower? I suspect spring may not actually come early, but our warming planet may show us things that, in previous times, were not seen until much later in the year.

Nature – the jeweller

The Japanese maple beside the path to our front door is now bare. The last living leaves have fallen and so begins the long wait for the new season. Or perhaps it won’t be such a long wait. A day of soft rain decorated the branches with sparkling droplets.

Hansa Freyburg departs for Nelson

Several viewpoints around the region afford a good view of the Kaikoura ranges. I was at the lookout at the top of the Wainuiomata Hill road and admiring the view of snow-tipped Tapuae-o-Uenuku when I noticed the container vessel Hansa Brandenburg and the pilot launch Te Haa emerging from the port. I had to wait a few minutes to catch it in front of the mountain. That peak is 2,885 metres high and 140 km from my standpoint.

Autumnal carpet

The flaming Autumn colour of our Japanese maples made a small but spectacular showing and then, in the space of a few days, the colour was all on the ground. Mary’s moss covered driftwood contrasts nicely with the various reds of the dying drying leaves.

Commuting

In Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” (which I have never seen or even read) there is a well-known monologue that outlines the seven ages of man. The words that always resonated with me were “And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school“. In the days when I still commuted to work, I loved to watch the people getting off the train or bus with expressionless faces trudging towards whatever new misery fate might deliver to them today. Rain or shine the expressions never changed as they trudged unwillingly to work. I was aiming to catch the reflection of the portico in the puddle, but I think the two pedestrians capture the day perfectly.

Petone foreshore

At the Western end of the Petone esplanade, is a park which is commonly used by people bringing their dogs for exercise. Its formal name is Honiana Te Puni Park though I doubt that many know it as such. It seems that the car park surface is far from horizontal, judging by the puddles that form after a little rain. I am always happy to find large still puddles as they present an opportunity for reflection shots and in this case a minimalist image. The bollards are there to prevent motorists driving across the narrow strip of grass and over the sea wall into the harbour.

Red

A Canadian photographic group that I joined proposed “Red” as the theme of the week. A strip of florist’s ribbon and a macro lens (just before it died) allowed my to produce this image. It might make more sense if you click on it to see the larger version. Or not. The lens has gone to the maker’s agent in Christchurch and is awaiting the arrival of a replacement barrel with the electronics. Ouch! $450.

A sea horse?

Some of the beaches on the West coast of the North Island are wild and lonely places characterised by black iron sand and lots of driftwood. The long smooth beaches are popular with drivers of off-road vehicles and the occasional equestrian. This picture was captured at Hokio Beach, a little to the South of Levin. There was a heavy swell and the sea was glittering in the afternoon sun. The young lady was clearly enjoying her time with the horse.

Sandra II

Sandra II has featured in many other shots, though usually at her mooring in the Hikoikoi reserve. I saw the two gentlemen preparing for their trip and then they cast off and headed out into the harbour. It seems to have a permanent list to port. It made me think of the old Picton ferry Tamahine (1925 – 1963) which also had a permanent list that gained her the nickname “Tilting Tam”

Deceptive weather

On the South coast near Island Bay, the sun was shining brightly and the sea state was quite moderate. However, the temperature was about 9°C and the spiteful Nor’Westerly wind was ripping the tops off the incoming waves. In the background, the lighthouse on Baring Head gleamed in the morning sun.

Dawn

Early mornings are not familiar territory for me. Nevertheless the rosy glow through the curtains caught my attention. This view from my bedroom window is to the North and the lights on the hills on the left are at the entrance to Stokes Valley. The dark patch in the right foreground is the Boulcott golf course with Naenae and Avalon beyond. Despite ancient warnings about red skies it was the first of several flawless days.

Lake Wairarapa at Featherston

Another lovely day and Mary and I decided to take a picnic lunch to the Southern Wairarapa. Flat calm conditions in Featherston led me to hope that the lake might present opportunities. We got off to a late start so I was pressing my luck. Nevertheless, at 11 am the water was still unruffled. I hung the camera inverted on the centre pole of the tripod and got it close to the surface of the water and looked to the South. A reader commented that she was accustomed to the lake seeming always brown and scruffy. Happily, a smooth surface reflects the colour of the sky above so we have a nice blue lake. I noticed with some regret that the two rows of rusting steel piles that were once a jetty for the yacht club had been removed.

Pole dweller

As we were pulling away from the lake, I saw this white-faced heron perched on the only surviving steel pile and reflecting nicely in the water below. I rolled the window down and shot this from the driver’s seat. There was no other traffic on the road.

I hope the new vision continues and look forward to seeing you next time/

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May 5, 2020 … so much to be grateful for

A full five weeks of Level 4 lockdown is behind us. It seems to have been the right course of action. Yesterday, in New Zealand, there were no new cases of Covid-19 reported. In terms of our personal well being, Mary has performed daily domestic miracles, so from my perspective, lockdown has been no great hardship. We were warm, well fed, and only mildly inconvenienced. I have much to be grateful for. It did, however, constrain my photography. First world problem.

As I indicated two weeks ago, the main impact of lockdown on making images was that most of them have had to be made at short distances. I couldn’t drive to places that gave me the long view required for landscapes. Let’s see how I did.

Down the hole

In one of the neighbourhood walks into which Mary cajoled me, I looked over the railing at the edge of the footpath and down into the crown of a beautiful Silver Fern, (Alsophila dealbata or ponga). I liked the swirling impression it gave, rather like a whirlpool.

Spruce cone

Items of possible interest from her own much longer walks were delivered almost daily by Mary. As far as I can tell, this is the cone is from one of the 35 or so varieties of spruce. I was intrigued by the general lightness of the cone, and the delicacy of each seed wing. Even the simplest things in nature come with their own beauty.

More neighbourly craft

The last time I posted, I mentioned our neighbour painting rocks. Her rate of production seems to have escalated and she has been gifting them to friends and neighbours and even leaving them in various places near the front of the driveway for strangers to find and treasure. It brings a smile to my face to see such a generous instinct.

Cicada

I associate the cicada with February. To my mind it is the sound of late hot summer weather. The sometimes deafening buzz-click of a million insects in unison is what summer sounds like. It was a surprise, therefore, to get one in late April.This specimen is not the common chorus cicada, but rather, I think it is the native April Green cicada, Kikihia ochrina. I have never encountered one before. I just love the delicacy of its wing structure.

Seizing the moment

Though many things are suspended during lockdown, our hedge keeps growing. So I had to uncoil the power cord, oil the hedge trimmer blades and begin the trimming. The hedge was in copious bloom, and the bees were doing their thing. As the clippers reduced the number of available flowers, the bees became a bit disgruntled and buzzed threateningly. I paused in my domestic duties to get out a camera with a long (400 mm) lens so as to catch the bumble bee visiting the last of the uncut flowers. Sorry bees, I bow to a higher authority and she asked for a tidy hedge.

Glass ware

I participate in making pictures to a daily theme with a group of photographers, most of whom are in or near Grand Bend, Ontario. One day recently, the theme was glassware so I produced this. The glass angel (in reality, a small flower vase) was placed inside a larger glass bowl that contains some of Mary’s found rocks. I had to reshoot this because glass that may appear clean to the naked eye is often not so. Any smooth surface seems to need a good wipe before a clean image can be made.

Lost marbles

Continuing the glass theme, I placed this handful of glass marbles inside a fruit bowl. I considered swirling the marbles and getting some motion blur, but with so many marbles, they stopped orbiting as soon as I put the bowl down.

Familiar scene, different light

ANZAC Day was unique this year. For the first time ever, there were no formal public observances. Instead, at the suggestion of our Prime Minister, citizens were invited to stand at their own front gate by the letterbox at 6am to collectively honour the dead of all our wars. And so it was. Many people stood in the pre-dawn darkness, to honour our fallen. The social-distancing rules were observed as we listened to the basic broadcast rituals of ANZAC day. A neighbour played a lament on his bagpipes, and as we dispersed silently back to our homes the day began. A beautiful red sky in the North East warned of murky weather to come.

Katydid

As you will realise, when the public mantra is “stay at home, save lives”, there are few opportunities to use long lenses, so I am always looking for something interesting at close range. Happily, Mary has a good eye, and is not scared of much so she brought this katydid home from one of her walks. The branch recently vacated by the cicada served as a posing platform. Unfortunately the insect kept waving her feelers about, and the relatively slow exposure meant that they were not as sharp as the rest of her.

Spinster

Another close-up is of a small pewter souvenir I bought for my late mother-in-law while I was in Amsterdam in 1982. The girl at the spinning wheel is described in Dutch as a “spinster”, so I was a little nervous about having an invoice for a spinster on my credit card. As with all my images, if you click on it, you will get a larger view and see the details better. As with most of my photography, this is made using natural light from a West facing window.

For medicinal purposes

Also made for the Ontario group, this time with the them with the theme of “bird’s eye view”, is this jar of marshmallows which I keep because someone told me that they are good for the relief of an irritating cough. I was prepared to take that as gospel with out doing any research to check it out. I suppose I want it to be true, and if it’s not, please don’t tell me.

Longhorn

My lovely assistant turned up with yet another interesting specimen. This one took a lot of Google time to track down, and even then, a friend found the identification before I did. It is a variegated longhorn beetle (Coptomma variegatum) … it is usually a forest dweller, the larvae of which burrow into live twigs. I thought it was a handsome beast, although it was very active. I had to resort to an old photographer’s trick of storing it in the fridge for a while until it slowed down with the cold. I got about ten minutes of relative stillness before it began to recover, and then it was turned loose unharmed.

Yucca flowers

Apparently, yucca plants are a significant cause of domestic injury in New Zealand. Their leaves certainly come to a viciously sharp point, and people manage to stab themselves with them. No matter, the flowers are a delight to the eye. The fine specimen in my neighbour’s garden seems to flower every other year and makes a spectacular show when it does.

Not George, but he’s not far away/

Our old friend George, the white heron is back in town. I hoped to see him in the usual place, but alas, he was elsewhere when we visited. His old and smaller friend, the white-faced heron was there keeping watch on his usual resting place inside the derelict boat.

That is all this time. I am guessing that we shall have at least another week or more in semi-lockdown, but perhaps some of the time ahead may allow travel to places with a longer view. Stay well, stay safe, observe the distance guidelines. See you next time.

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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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September 5, 2019 … road trip

Mary and I are just back from a South Island road trip. We decided that our youngest grandson, Otis’s ninth birthday was a good reason to go, and so we did.

Kaiarahi
Kaiarahi was standing in for the larger Kaitaki which was in Australia for an overhaul

After several weeks of ugly weather, the day we crossed the strait dawned clear and still. How lucky is that? We arrived nice and early but to this day I have never figured whether there is science or merely mysticism in how the crew decide the loading sequence. Of course it doesn’t really matter, the ship never leaves until the doors close behind the last person with a ticket. Nevertheless, I hate it when they let all the &@#$%@# motorhomes out onto the highway ahead of me.

We spent two pleasant nights at an AirBnB in Greymouth. I was disappointed that recent weather patterns and some dire forecasts prevented fishing vessels from crossing the notorious Greymouth Bar as they present a spectacular sight when they do so in big swells. Likewise, the weather was not conducive to birdwatching on Cobden Lagoon. But our accommodation was warm and dry and sufficient for our needs.

Magical Lake Ianthe

Our next destination was Tarras, just a little out of Wanaka so that meant a long drive from Greymouth with rest breaks here and there for photographic purposes. One of my favourite lakes in the South Island is Lake Ianthe about 55 km South of Hokitika. It is a smallish lake with few access points, but when it is still, it is just perfect. There are others such as Brunner, Mapourika, Mahinapoua, Kaniere, and each is beautiful in its own way.

Roadside wetlands as we neared Haast

It’s a long and seemingly endless 480 km from Greymouth to Tarras, and as the signs say, New Zealand roads are different and you should expect to take longer. The road has its charms, and where it was possible to stop safely we did. I rather liked the various wetlands on the road between Fox Glacier and Haast.

Towards Hawea from Tarras

Our accommodation in Tarras was a modern cottage with all of the usual facilities and to Mary’s delight, a log burner for warmth. The next morning, looking back towards Lake Hawea, the rising sun lit up the snow capped peaks. I am unsure which range this might be, but is is a spectacular view to wake up to.

Sunset at Lake Hayes Estate

We got to our son’s house in Lake Hayes Estate without incident and settled in. A spectacular sunset was experienced on our first night. This view is to the South West. I am guessing that those peaks are Ben Lomond and Bowen Peak in the range behind Queenstown township.

Opposing forces

I rather liked Andrew’s chess set which is apparently modelled on the one used in a Harry Potter movie. I don’t play the game myself, so my interest was purely aesthetic.

Murky weather on the Remarkables

As the ski season winds to its close, most of the schools in the region seem to spend some time up on the ski fields. Both grandchildren had two full days up there in each of the last two weeks. Otis spent his school day up there on this particular day, but in conditions like these, it was apparently not very pleasant. I suppose that is a good lesson to learn in itself.

Lake Wanaka

I was turned loose with the car and my cameras so I spent the day going over the Crown Range to Wanaka, then along Lake Dunstan to Clyde and then back through Cromwell to Queenstown. I came within a few hundred metres of “the tree” at Wanaka but chose to ignore it. The lake was still, so I spent some time there. I was a little sad to see the intensive development happening to the town since I last looked.

Look the other way

I have mentioned before, the 180˚ rule … if there is something interesting in front of you, don’t leave without checking behind you. A spectacular sunset over Queenstown was nicely reflected in the clouds over the Crown Range to the North East.

Near Glenorchy

The kids were at school, Andrew was at work, so Mary and I went along the Glenorchy road. We did a bit of a walk along the track towards Bob’s Cove and then carried on to Glenorchy itself. The spectacular mist in the far corner of the lake behind Pig and Pigeon Islands would appear to be sand from the Dart River delta being picked up by a vicious wind. In fact I struggled to open my car door against the wind to make this image.

At Lindis Summit

All too soon, it was time to leave Queenstown, so we set out early in the morning to our next booked accommodation in a farm stay near Rangiora. We took the route through the Kawarau Gorge and Cromwell, across the river to Tarras and over the beautiful Lindis Pass. I had been anxious that conditions might require snow chains. Happily that didn’t happen.

Across Lake Pukaki to Aoraki/Mt Cook

It was great weather for travelling and the view across Lake Pukaki to Mt Cook was irresistible even if the image has been made a million times before by almost every tourist who passed this way. Aoraki/Mt Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak at 3,724 metres (12,218 ft)

On the road from Fairlie to Geraldine

South Canterbury’s lovely landscape was nicely displayed on the road from Fairlie across to Geraldine. We paused there for lunch and resumed the journey to Rangiora.

Terra Cotta and Rust

We enjoyed two nights at the farm stay before completing the journey home from Picton. Regrettably I seem to have acquired an outbreak of pre-patellar bursitis which happens from time to time and is uncomfortable rather than dangerous. It tends to limit my mobility but “this too shall pass”

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Adventure Birds Cook Strait Forest insects Landscapes Light Maritime Reflections Rivers Rotorua sunrise Wellington

June 20, 2019 … an odd variety

Thank you to those who pointed out to me that I had lost the ability for readers to click on images and see a larger copy. I believe I have now restored that. The images give a better account of themselves in their larger versions. Just click on each image.

Since the last edition I have made several hundred new pictures, of which I now present the fourteen that most appeal to me. Other than that they are all outdoor shots, I seem to have no consistent theme. Perhaps I am the photographic equivalent of a general practitioner rather than a specialist.

The weather played a role as always, and there were a number of days which were so bleak and unpleasant that I didn’t venture out at all.

Tararua sunrrise
A somewhat surly sunrise – from home

Assuming that I have indeed overcome the technical issue, have a look at the large version of the image above. There was no wind and plenty of cloud but this sunrise had a real presence. It is a tribute to the stabilization capability of the modern camera that this low-light shot was made hand-held at 1/8 second.

Otoroa
Otoroa sets out on its journey home

For many years the Otago Harbour Board’s former pilot vessel has been an elegant and sturdy presence in Chaffers Marina. Built in Port Chalmers in 1965 by the well-known builders Miller and Tunnage, this double-ender looks very seaworthy to my inexpert eye and has been converted to a very fine private yacht. Anyway, she has been sold again and is seen here leaving Wellington on her way back to Otago harbour. I was in Oriental Bay when she cruised past on a somewhat hazy day. I liked the separation between the vessel and the Tararua ranges in the background.

Weta
Wellington tree weta – Male

The weta is a creature that you love or hate. This specimen was found guilty of adopting a threatening posture while Mary was hanging out the washing. It was sentenced to being photographed and relocated. It was about 50 mm long (about 2″). That’s a good sized adult though they can be up to 70 mm long. I got down as near as possible to eye level and took a series of images at different focal points and then stacked them to ensure that the result was entirely in focus.

Incoming wave
Heavy onshore swell – South Coast

A strong Nor’Westerly breeze ripped the crests off the waves coming in from the South. This image was caught at Island Bay. Apart from the flying foam, my attention was caught by the light on the face of the incoming wave. I got other images without the gulls but decided they gave a sense of scale.

Turbulence
Agitation

On the same day, at a place just below Palmer head in Tarakena Bay near the harbour entrance, the washing-machine like turbulence near the rocky shore was just amazing.

Running Water
A tumbling forest stream

A day or two later, the wind persisted, and I sought out a place that was sheltered. Quite some time had elapsed since my last venture onto the Cannon’s Point walkway near Upper Hutt. Almost as soon as you leave the car park you are in the shelter of the bush and all you can hear is the rush of the wind overhead and the sound of the running water coming down the hills. Like forest streams everywhere, these are naturally chaotic, full of water-borne debris and it is a challenge to find a clear view of the water.

Green
Dense greenery

Many of the landscape photographers whose work I admire and follow on YouTube make their images in the wide open forests of the Europe. You could ride a horse through them. New Zealand bush is a different kettle of fish entirely. The moment you leave the path you encounter a nearly impenetrable wall of damp green foliage. It has its own beauty but you have to work hard to choose a subject in all the chaos.

Pauatahanui
Breathless moment at the Pauatahanui Inlet

I was driving home after a largely fruitless exploration of the Kapiti area and I became aware that something special was forming in my rear-view mirror. The inlet itself was beautifully still, but the scene was made special by the vast arc of cloud above. I have a fondness for delicate greys and this scene delivers them in plenty. The image needs to be viewed as large as possible so click for the larger version.

Estuary
Hutt Estuary from Waione Street Bridge

Walking over the Waione Street Bridge in search of a view back towards the Hikoikoi reserve I came across these reflections. The gentle waves coming into the mouth of the river made attractive patters in the reflections of the industrial area on Port Rd. You take what you can when it is offered.

Old man and the sea
A Hemingway moment

We have been here so very many times before. However, the tight clustering of the boats and above all, the presence of the man in the dinghy made it irresistible to me. I believe the man is the owner of the Sandra, and he often takes it out fishing. I am sure that Ernest Hemingway would have loved to meet him.

Weir
The weir at Silverstream

Yet another scene that I have used before. This was never intended to be a weir, but rather the place where the main sewer pipe from the upper valley crosses the river. The underlying geology allowed the turbulence of the water after crossing the pipe to undercut the river bed and thus form the waterfall. It seems to be a little different each time I visit. This is a long (13 second) exposure hence the creamy area around the rocks.

Silverstream
Morning moisture

Misty mornings almost always tempt me Northwards. This scene is just above and to the East of Silverstream. It was the row of straggly pines against the swirling mist that grabbed my attention. Once I saw it on the computer screen I realised that the strong contrasting light had misled me, and the trees are closer than I thought. I like it anyway.

Falcon
The New Zealand Falcon (Karearea)

As Mary and I pulled up outside our church in Waiwhetu last Sunday, she saw a bird eating something and drew it to my attention. I realised it was a karearea … our beautiful and regrettably rare native falcon. Because of its rarity we jealously guard the kiwi (of which there may be as few as 65,000 left). Estimates put the karearea’s population at between 6.000 and 8,000 so it is much rarer. As I reached for my camera (always in the car when I drive), it picked up its breakfast and flew a few metres to the entrance of the church. I had the wrong lens and the wrong settings but in these circumstances you grab a few shots before you risk changing anything. As I straightened up for a clearer view, she picked up that pigeon and flew away with it. I am advised by Debbie Stewart, the executive director of Wingspan, the bird-of-prey centre in Rotorua, that this is a female of about one year old. The fact that the pigeon has a leaf trapped under its wing suggests to me that it was in the tree when the falcon crashed through the branches and killed it with that wicked hooked beak. 1/15 sec at f6.3 are not the settings I would have chosen if I had time to change things.

Garden
Market garden at Kuku near Otaki

A road trip to Levin yielded little, but as I was getting near to Otaki on the way home, the meticulous rows of what I think are lettuce attracted my attention. The tree in its winter nakedness added to the image as did the lovely green/brown contrast in the field.

That’s all this time. See you when I have some more images.

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adversity Architecture Aviation Lakes Landscapes Light Rivers sunrise Wairarapa Wellington

March 22, 2019 … denial is futile

Yesterday was our autumnal equinox. It is obvious therefore that I can no longer cling to the idea that we still have not used all of our share of summer. That doesn’t stop me resenting the comparatively poor quality of this year’s allocation. We had some really good days. My grievance is that there were far too few of them.

dawn
A grey dawn

As I recorded last week, in the aftermath of the terrorism in Christchurch, these have been dark days for our country. Most of us are justifiably proud of the leadership displayed by our young prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. We have been groping our way to how best to respond to these unprecedented circumstances. Somehow, this particular morning offered an analogy to what we were experiencing … a very dark dawn with a glimmer of light for the day ahead.

Vigil
Approximately 11,000 Wellingtonians come together to mourn and support out our Muslim brethren

Most cities and towns have held some kind of memorial observance. Sorrow for the loss and support for the survivors has been the main thrust. Mary and I joined our son and daughter-in-law and our grandchildren at the memorial vigil in Wellington. It had been planned to be held in the civic square, but the numbers who indicated their intention to attend caused the civic leaders to switch the venue to the Basin Reserve, our major cricket stadium. Approximately 11,000 Wellingtonians were there. I was proud of our city and the respectful way in which they conducted themselves.

Tuba
Getting out of the Basin Reserve may have been harder than getting out of the tuba

My chosen point for participation at the vigil  locked me in for a while when the ceremonies were over. As the crowds moved out slowly, I spotted the reflections in the tuba being carried by a member of Orchestra Wellington which had provided beautiful music.

dawn
A rosy dawn on the Hutt River estuary

Later in the week, I was awake earlier than usual for some reason, and enjoyed a splendid rosy dawn from my bedroom window.

BK117
A rescue angel

Later in the day I heard the heavy sound of a BK117 helicopter circling in the valley below me. I am not sure precisely where it landed but I guess it was on some mission of mercy, perhaps filling in for the similar helicopter normally operated by the Life Flight Trust in Wellington.   After a period in which I could hear but not see it, it re-emerged into contrast with the hazy Eastern hills.

Wairarapa
Lake Wairarapa near Featherston

Then we had one of those days that just demanded a road trip. From Wellington, that can only mean up SH1 through Otaki  or over the hill through Featherston into the Wairarapa. I am most likely to choose the latter if I suspect that the conditions are calm on Lake Wairarapa. They were. How can I not love this area? Those are the Rimutaka ranges in the background and Wellington is on the other side.

Lake
Lake reflections

I spent the day circumnavigating the lake, pausing at Lake Ferry for the lunch that Mary had kindly packed for me. As the afternoon wore on, and I came up the Western Lake road, I was astonished that despite the overcast that had developed, the lake was still just magical in its stillness.

St Mary of the Angels
St Mary of the Angels … after restoration

This week, Wellington was forced to close its central library as an engineering report indicates it needs work to bring it up to standard for earthquake resistance. That reminded me of the church of St Mary of the Angels on Boulcott St in the city. It too needed significant remediation to make it safe. It’s a place I often visit (well, I am a Catholic) for a few moments of meditation. Its architect, Frederick de Jersey Clere may not have been abreast of current seismic standards, but he had a great eye for elegant form.

Majestic Centtre
The Majestic Centre atrium on Willis St

As I left the church and walked down Willis St, I spotted the atrium of the Majestic Centre. This is the tallest building in Wellington. Though it is on a far grander scale, I can’t say I like it as much as I like the church.

Warm greetings to all my readers

 

 

 

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Adventure Architecture flowers Horowhenua Landscapes Light Pauatahanui Reflections Rivers sunrise Tararuas Vehicles Wairarapa Weather Wellington

August 8, 2018 … undirected wandering

As I was uploading the images for this edition, I wondered how much of my allocated space I had used, and how many images were there. It seems that, since I started this photo-blog manifestation of WYSIWYG on January 1, 2012, I have shared 6,579 images with you. That’s a little scary. However, here we are again with another 12 images.

Owhiro
Relative calm at Owhiro Bay

You may recall that we had a wonderful sunny summer. Winter has gone the other way, and I can’t recall such an extended period of greyness. Still, I try to find something even when it is grey so here we are in Owhiro Bay, looking in the direction of Kaikoura.

Lake
Magic conditions on Lake Wairarapa at the Northern end of the lake

One of those days that started out misty at home, led me over the hill to Lake Wairarapa where the conditions were just delightful. I am unsure why, but there is some charm in the contrast between rusting relics and perfect nature. This jetty was constructed in 1973. It has not lasted well.

Naenae
The morning sun sends its beams sliding down the hillside

There was even more mist the following day , leading to these long shafts of light echoing the slope of the hills in Naenae.

Convy
Rubber Duck: “looks like we got us a convoy …” (C.W. McCall)

I was lucky to be offered a seat in the lead vehicle of a club outing by the local off-road club, and we went up into the Tararuas near Levin to the Mangahao Hydro dams. It was a fantastic day.

Mangahao
National white water centre – Mangahao

 

At the Mangahao power station, which was the first, and for a long time the biggest generator in the country, I was astonished at the apparatus suspended over the river downstream from the station’s outflow. It seems that many of the world’s top slalom athletes choose to come here for their off-season training in various white-water sports.

Lowry Bay
Morning mist at Lowry Bay

More mist the next day and lovely still conditions on the harbour. Mist was wreathed over the Eastern hills and it was, to my eyes, beautiful.

Oil
Pt Howard oil terminal at Seaview

Even where there was no mist, the stillness itself was a delight.

tulips
Tulips

A really rough day brought about a change of pace, and the opportunity  to try out my newly acquired light box. Mary had some early season tulips so here we are.

Pauatahanui (1)
Pauatahanui Inlet looking Westward

The rough weather stepped aside for a while and I found some nice reflections on Pauatahanui Inlet

St Albans
St Alban’s is a much loved landmark in Pauatahanui village

When the water is really smooth like this, I like to invert the centre column of my tripod, and have the camera dangling inverted a few centimetres above the water. The tide was low and I walked across the gravel bed at Ration Point to take in the view back towards the historic St Alban’s Anglican church at Pauatahanui village.

 

Chapel
Chapel at the monastery of the Holy Archangels, Levin

Yesterday, I chose to retrace some of the area traversed by the off-roaders and went to Levin where I visited the Greek Orthodox monastery of the Holy Archangels. It is a delightful setting with a tint chapel and a retreat centre. I sought permission from the resident monk and explored it.

Interior
Chapel interior

The interior of the chapel was fascinating to my eyes, and the various icons were stunning.

Enough for this edition … oh good grief … I did everything but press the publish button so it has sat in draft for a week

 

 

 

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Adventure Boggy Pond Lakes Landscapes Light Reflections Rivers sunrise Sunset Wairarapa Weather

July 29, 2018 … the soul of wit

This week I offer just six images. I am revisiting the idea that when I have nothing to say, I should remain quiet. Photographically, this suggests to me that it is better to offer less than to pad my posts with mediocrity.

Wainuiomata
Wainuiomata River emerging from the water catchment reserve

Though it is a mere 10 km away by road, Wainuiomata is a different world to the rest of Hutt Valley. Among its many positive attributes, it has some great recreation areas. It was on one of those rainy days recently that I thought to visit the water catchment area. I saw no one else in the several kilometres of walkways, perhaps because it was  cold and drizzly day, and everyone else was sensibly staying inside in the warmth.  Even in the rain the Gums Loop walk is a delight.

Sunrise
Hutt Valley sunrise

Our recent climate has alternated almost daily between rainy gales and soft calm days. Likewise we have had a succession of spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

Mist
Mist streaming over the hill from Wainuiomata

One of the better days began with mist. From our front door*, I looked across the valley  and was entranced by the mist pouring over the summit of the Wainuiomata Hill road and pouring down the hills to the valley.

Tree
It was necessary to be quite close to a tree to get a clear view, as the mist obscured backgrounds

Whenever there is a mist I hope to find the swirling conditions on the Remutaka Hill road. And if I don’t, then at least I am in the Southern Wairarapa which has many other possibilities to explore. On this occasion, there was an extensive mist stretching from Lake Ferry in the South to at least Masterton in the North. I liked the contrast between nearby trees and the white background.

Wairio
Wairio wetlands – perfect calm

If I am in the lower part of the Wairarapa I usually visit Boggy Pond and the Wairio Wetlands, especially if there is no wind and the water is calm. Despite the moodiness of the clouds and mist the wetlands were breathtakingly beautiful.

Sunset
Sunset over Normandale

Clouds in the West yesterday prevented a view of the lunar eclipse. I thought yesterday would end without an image, but as it was coming to an end, almost as if to compensate,  clouds in the West flared into life and gave me a picture.

* Not sure if I told you, but we have abandoned plans to move from our present home, so unpacking has begun.

 

 

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Adventure Animals Birds Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime night Reflections sunrise Weather Wellington

July 12, 2018 … wanderlust strikes again

When I wander, it is rarely any great distance, and most often is either to the Wairarapa or Horowhenua districts. This is logical as they are the only two provinces which are contiguous with Wellington. In short, I can drive there. Sometimes this is a bit of a trial as it means passing through large tracts of familiar territory. On the other hand, someone just reposted the famous quote from Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  I am working on it. Meantime, may I remind you that the images you see are but thumbnails, and to get the full detail, you are urged to click on the image for a full view.

Ruamahanga
Lake Wairarapa near the Ruamahanga River

At the flood barrage at the Southern end of Lake Wairarapa, I was entranced by the dramatic cloudscape and its reflection.

Lake Wairarapa
Lake Wairarapa on the Western Lake side

From there, I followed the East-West bypass road to Western Lake road where I paused at a favourite resting spot to admire Lake Wairarapa in its most beautiful still state. All too often the surface is ruffled but on this visit, it was perfect.

Mangaroa
The Mangaroa lifestyle

A day or so later, with an interesting morning mist at play, I went over into the Mangaroa Valley to the East of Upper Hutt. A pair of horses with a cycle escort came over a ridge towards me.

reflections
Disrupted reflections

 

Days alternated between spiteful wind and chilly stillness. At the edge of the Waiwhetu stream, I was attracted to the reflections of a corrugated warehouse wall, and then got “photo-bombed” by a little black shag surfacing in the middle of the intriguing patterns. The random splashes of colour are from the signs on the building.

Night
Wellington by night

A few days in which I neglected my camera led to a dose of cabin fever. I could tell that the wind had abated so I went out into the cold night and caught reflected city lights from Petone Beach.

Whale
The rare visitor, a Southern Right Whale in the harbour

 

A very rare visitor to Wellington Harbour became a major talking point in the region, and a target for every photographic device in town. A Southern Right Whale spent almost a week frolicking in the harbour, occasionally breaching and sometimes just waving his tail.  He has since left the harbour, but I hear that he is still nearby just off the coast near the airport.

Rain
And the rain came down

 

And then the rain came. I decided to make a feature of it and was driving along Grays Road at Pauatahanui when the sky really opened up. Sadly it eased off before I could find a safe place to stop, but I hope this image conveys a sense of the day.

Sunrise over the valley

Yesterday morning offered another of those breathless misty starts and the sunrise was a thing of beauty. The day lived up to its promise, and that will suffice for this edition.