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April 4, 2010 … everything is changed … a locked down but nevertheless golden celebration

This week marks a special occasion which you can read about under the final image.

When I last wrote, everything was more or less normal here in New Zealand. I no longer know what “normal” means. Back then, there was little indication of the changes to come. Now we are in lockdown, and since Mary and I are both in the over 70 age group, society is taking special care of us. We are not even supposed to go to the supermarket because we are apparently especially vulnerable to catching the infection.

When I first heard the lockdown regulations, I formed some preconceptions as to how this would play out and where I would still be able to go for photography. Reality is a little different and rather more restrictive. The basic rules are:

  1. Stay at home
  2. Wash and dry your hands frequently.
  3. Stay within your own domestic “bubble”
  4. Stay at least two metres from anyone from outside of your bubble
  5. You can leave home for essential purposes such as visits to supermarket, or a doctor unless you are over 70 in which case you need to get someone else to shop for you because you are more vulnerable
  6. Go back to rule 1 … rinse and repeat

Despite rule 1, it is permitted to exercise in your own neighbourhood by walking, running, cycling etc, as long as you remain close to home and don’t come closer than two metres to anyone else. More adventurous exercises such as hiking, surfing etc are not permitted because if you need assistance you endanger others.

So, with all that in mind let us explore the images I have made since last time, in chronological order.

Spoonbills in the river
Browsing the mud in the Pauatahanui inlet

A pleasant morning and the likelihood of some bird shots resulted in Mary packing a lunch and the two of us setting out in the direction of Waikanae. Remember, this was when things were still “normal”. On Gray’s Rd around the Northern edge of the Pauatahanui Inlet, we saw the spoonbills. I thought that the cluster of them dredging for crabs in the soft mud of a serpentine creek might make a picture. I like the wandering path made by the creek, but the spoonbills were less prominent than I hoped for in my mind’s eye. I think, if you click to get the enlarged image, you will see the grey teal in between the two nearest spoonbills.

Juvenile dabchick
Still dependent on its parents

In Queen Elizabeth II Park at Paekakariki, I checked out the US Marines memorial Wetlands and was delighted to find that the dabchick families were still in residence. This one still wears the black and white facial markings of a juvenile bird, and indeed it was still being fed by its parents. I have to say I always enjoy the deep green colour of the QEII wetlands as they reflect the surrounding bush.

Yachts in the marina at Oriental Bay
In Oriental Bay

It needs to be acknowledged that Wellington is a small city, and there are relatively few parts of it that I have not yet been to in search of picture opportunities. The obvious consequence is that there are some places that I have used over and over and over again. My excuse is that they are attractive or interesting spots to begin with, and different days present different conditions, and thus different pictures.

This image was made from inside the breakwater on the Eastern side of the Clyde Quay Wharf (formerly known as the Overseas Passenger Terminal). As you can see, the conditions were calm.

Northward view across Oriental Bay Marina
The other direction

On the same day as the preceding image I crossed in front of the boat sheds, to catch the stillness of the day. Many leading photographers tell us that clear blue skies are boring, I still make blue sky images if the scene appeals, but I do enjoy grey skies if the clouds have textures. On this occasion, I liked the patterns and their reflections in the remarkably still water. So far, life is still normal.

Purple water lily
Water Lily

If I had known that my photographic activity in the near future would be almost exclusively based on still life, I might have gone elsewhere. However, the Begonia House in Wellington’s Botanic Garden offers some visual pleasure, even in normal times. There were some nice shots of orchids, and begonias to be had, but the vivid purple of the water lilies made this an image of power for me.

Pauatahanui looking moody but still
Pauatahanui Inlet

Another place I visit often in normal times is the Pauatahanui Inlet. I have over 3,000 images in my catalogue from there. So many different moods, but always my favourites are when the water is still and offering reflections.

The Hutt Valley was misty so I had hoped there might be similar conditions at Pauatahanui. Sadly that rarely happens, and I am guessing that the exposure to the sea air on the Western side of Haywards Hill prevents the mist forming. Anyway. I regret that E.L.James seems to have captured the phrase “shades of grey”as I love these conditions (the meteorological ones).

Swells on Wellington South coast
South coast

There are days when, even though conditions are calm, the South Coast still gets heavy swells. The sheer majesty of a big slow moving wave and the weight of water thudding into the rocks never fails to move me. I could watch those green walls coming in for hours.

View across Cook Strait from Makara
The day before it all changed

And now the change begins. The New Zealand Government implemented a series of conditions numbered 1 through 4 each with increasing levels of control measures to manage the spread of Covid-19. It opened at level 2, and then on March 24 went to level 3 with the warning that it would be at level 4 for at least four weeks from the following day.

Careful to minimise contact with others, Mary and I made the last of our final day of freedom for a while and drove first to Makara and then on to Plimmerton for a picnic lunch. On the way, we visited the West Wind wind farm. There standing beside one of the big turbines, we enjoyed this view across the Cook Strait to Arapawa Island and parts of the Kaikoura ranges.

I wholeheartedly endorse the government’s management of this crisis even though it means that for at least the next four weeks, we are required to stay home except as required to obtain the necessities of life. All businesses except those providing essential goods and services are firmly closed. People over 70 (you may be surprised to learn that that includes us) are instructed fairly firmly to stay at home and rely on others to shop for them. So here we go.

Sea Urchin shell
Sea Urchin shell

Day one of the lockdown. While taking that last walk on the beach at Plimmerton the previous day, Mary found this lovely little sea urchin shell. It’s rare to find an intact one and this is a very small one … about 50 mm (2″) in diameter … I was unaware of its beautiful colours until after I made the picture.

Fly Agaric toadstool
Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric

Mary is a walker. There are few days indeed when she doesn’t walk briskly around the hills or along the riverbank for 90 minutes or more. I on the other hand, am a couch potato. Mary knows that a four week lockdown is going to be hard for me as an obsessive photographer. Bless her heart, on the first day of lockdown, she gathered a bunch of objects that she knows will make interesting still life images. The common fly agaric toadstool is quite toxic, but also presents a striking appearance. My darkbox is going to get used often, I suspect. Focus stacking may also be used for this kind of image.

Collected sea shells
Memories of beaches past

Not only is she good at gathering things while walking, but Mary also has a large collection of small mementoes gathered on various trips over many years. And so, I was allowed access to her box of small sea shells. The background in this picture is a glass drinks coaster with etched concentric circles.

Kiwi feathers
Genuine honest to goodness kiwi feathers

Back in 2014, our local hospice was involved with the Department of Conservation in a fundraising exercise involving the naming and release of a young kiwi. Mary and granddaughter Maggie got to handle the young bird, and even walked with the DoC rangers to release it in the hills behind Wainuiomata. The bird left some of its feathers behind and they found their way into Mary’s souvenir tin.

Beach souvenirs
Indoor beach

On day five of the lockdown, I was given access to some of the larger beach memories. I borrowed the sand from my long forgotten mini Zen garden and spread it in the floor of my lightbox. A couple of starfish, some sponges and some interesting shells were arranged over the sand and thus we have instant beach though no water was involved. While attempting to return the sand to its proper space, I managed to spill some on the carpet. Vacuum cleaner duty!

Dandelion and reflection
On reflection

Another of Mary’s finds (isn’t she a gem?) was this dandelion. I decided against the straightforward ‘head and shoulders” portrait since I have done it so many times before. A paper plate was filled with water to a depth of one or two millimetres. The dandelion was then drooped until I had a clear reflection.

Early morning view up the Hutt Valley
A landscape day and I am trapped at home

Landscape images are very much harder to arrange now that we can not go anywhere in the car. The best I can manage is shots of the valley from the front yard. Happily, different day, different light, different weather means a different picture. On this day, river mist coming down from the upper valley made a difference.

Starling in the bird bath
The Spin Cycle

We have a bird bath on the front lawn, and it is well used. Sometimes five or six sparrows splash about in it, sometimes a huge kereru fills it to overflowing. On this occasion a starling was taking heed of the instruction to wash frequently and thoroughly. This was taken through the glass window of our dining room, but I enjoyed the scene.

More fly agaric specimens
More found treasures

A bunch of fly agaric toadstools were in Mary’s latest collection so I arranged them in some compost from one of our pot plants. I know they are toxic, but as far as I know that refers to ingestion, and anyway, the hand washing regime should take care of everything else.

A personal celebration

Mary and I on the day before our golden wedding anniversary
Fifty Wonderful Years Together

On April 4, 1970, Mary and I got married in St Patrick’s Church in Patea. We had a Nuptial Mass celebrated by the late Father Brian Sherry from New Plymouth. Being so long ago, some details of the day are hazy in my memory. However, one thing is clear, this was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Together we have five amazing children of whom we are extraordinarily proud. They in turn brought their spouses into the family and gave us six wonderful grandchildren who light up our lives, even though, in the present circumstances visitation is not possible.

Mary does not like to be the centre of attention, and I shall probably catch it for what follows, but something has to be said on such an occasion, so here goes …

She is a woman of deep faith who believes her purpose in life, her calling, is to serve others, especially those in most need. I have never met anyone who better understands the true meaning of the word “vocation”. I and my kids have benefitted enormously from this. Mary was a registered nurse for fifty years and in the last decade or so of her employment was a social worker helping patients and their families in Te Omanga Hospice.

She also volunteered for various good causes. Since her retirement in 2017 she has become busier than ever, volunteering for an organisation that offers care and assistance to young mothers, and another that supports the partners of people who have dementia. She is the most selfless person I know. It is a matter of some grief to her that, being over 70, the lockdown rules prohibit her from carrying on those tasks until it is over.

Mary has been there for me and for all our family throughout our fifty years of marriage. We have shared many joys and a few tough times. I particularly admired the way she supported me when I lost the plot and undertook to do a PhD late in life. Even more, she allowed me to leave a well paid management role in industry for a job as a university lecturer on literally half the salary.

Mary is a wise and loving woman who I am privileged to have as my wife. She is nevertheless real, and each of us occasionally does things that drive the other nuts. (I really should exercise more and eat less) But she is also a forgiving woman so here we are together still, and if my luck holds, we will continue to be so until the end of our days. Our planned celebration with the family is of course cancelled, and alas, not even the florists are open.

Thank you Mary for all that you have done, and for all that you are. You are a beautiful person and the light of my life.


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

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

Waves slapping the sea wall in Evans Bay
Salt water incursion

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

Life Guard RIB approaching its base
Coast Guard coming home

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

Three white-fronted terns
Tern, tern, tern

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

Trays of fresh biscuits
Seasonal goodies

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

A dabchick on green water
New Zealand Dabchick

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

Rusty locomotive tenders and boilers
Steam Incorporated … possible future projects

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

Pied stilts
Pied stilts

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

Spectacular sunset
the end of a perfect day

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

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

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

Yellow pohutukawa
Metrosideros excelsa (Aurea)

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

Moonrise over the Tararuas
Last full moon 2019

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

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

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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

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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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January 10, 2018 … Happy New Year

Thank you for staying with me. Some of you have been Internet friends since about 1994, and I value your continued company on this ever-changing journey. My presence on the Internet, and then on the Web, has evolved over the years, from its initial purpose of providing home news to disconnected kiwis. It has been through several stages since then and is now a vehicle for the photographic expression of my love for this region, this country, and wherever else I find myself.

If you have been with me for a while, you will know that I am somewhat insecure when it comes to the evaluation of my own skills.  This is not false modesty. I know that I make some really nice shots now and then, but I also produce a regrettable number of mediocrities. My journey is about changing the proportions of each. I want more really nice shots.

My challenge each day, is to be a better photographer than I was yesterday. For the sake of clarity, I regard photography as the making of images using whatever tools help me to illustrate the possibility I saw when I picked up the camera. I am an unashamed user of Lightroom and Photoshop to bring my vision to life in print or on the screen. So, 2018, bring it on. Here are some of my first efforts for the year.

Trees
When you see that descending line of trees you know you are almost at Featherston

When our family came to Wellington in 1980, the trip across the hill to the Wairarapa was much more challenging than it is now. The old “greasy spoon” cafe and the awful rest-rooms at the summit are long one. The road is now well sealed, and there are safety barriers on all the nasty corners. Only the landscape is unchanged. On the last sharp corner before the road crosses the bridge to head into Featherston, there is an iconic stand of trees that I have long wanted to photograph. However, there is no safe place to stand, and you would need to be on the outside of the Armco barrier at risk of falling into the valley below. On this occasion, Mary was driving, so I would the camera strap around my wrist, adjusted the swivelling rear screen and held the camera out of the window firing as we drove.  It’s not the image I envisaged or aspire to, but it’s a start.

Harbour
It’s 2018 already but the Christmas decorations are still up. The inner harbour from Kelburn

A few days later I was wandering the quiet city and found myself in Kelburn where the university campus was closed and quiet. I drove to where I used to park when I was a staff member there, and looked out over the moody city. As you can see the pohutukawa was making its seasonal presence felt.

Gun emplacement.
1942 Gun emplacement on Brooklyn hill intended to defend the city from Japanese air attacks which never eventuated.

From there I drove up to the wind turbine at Brooklyn and thence down the hill again, pausing at the Polhill Reserve to have a look at the old anti-aircraft gun emplacements. The 109 men who were stationed there at any one time in all weathers from 1942 until the end of the war would probably not comprehend the desire to be there at all, and even less the desire to waste so much paint on the pointless graffiti. And yes, the despite reserving the right to process my images, the sea to the South  really was that blue on the day.

Kingfisher
Kingfisher having a bad hair day at Pauatahanui

On some of the grey days, cabin fever was prevented by some wandering in the direction of the Pauatahanui wildlife reserve. I was in the Forest and Bird hide with not much happening when I realised that the large rock a few metres away had changed shape. It has been a long while since I was this close to a kingfisher, even one as scruffy as this. Nice to see you again, little fellow.

Water lilies
A glimpse of a secret garden with water lilies at Pauatahanui

I crossed the road from there to see what was happening in the fresh water ponds. The answer was that there was nothing, not even water there. Where the ponds are normally, found there were  moon-craters, cracked and dry. And, in the words of Farley Mowat, “no birds sang”. Trudging back to the car, I caught a glimpse  between the slats of the boundary fence of somebody’s “secret garden” (Wow – two literary allusions in one paragraph).
And then it rained.

Didn’t it rain, children?
Talk ’bout rain, oh, my Lord
Didn’t it, didn’t it, didn’t it, oh, my Lord?
Didn’t it rain?*

Though I didn’t go back to the dry ponds, they would surely have been filled, at least temporarily.

Rain
From our front door towards Seaview in heavy rain at night

Though not exactly forty days and forty nights, it rained quite heavily, and I decided to see if I could catch the experience in a night shot from our front door looking down towards the Seaview oil terminal

Rowers
This is a small section of the competitors at the Clive river. Apart from the rattle of the seats sliding and the oars splashing, it was an eerily silent armada

In the weekend just ended, Mary and I went up to Clive, just South of Napier. Some of Mary’s family were having a get together at Te Awanga. It was a joyous occasion with much laughter, good food and great company.  Before we went out exploring on the Sunday morning, I strolled the 100 metres or so from our rented accommodation to the banks of the Clive River where there was a rowing regatta under way. The river was still, though somewhat clogged with weed. Down at the river mouth, heavy swells after the recent storm could be seen crashing on the bar, but I loved the steady procession of rowers moving steadily down the river to the start line. Though the racing shells would be wildly impractical in that situation, their purposeful passage looked like a latter-day Dunkirk.

Tern and gull
The local bully waiting to steal the little kid’s school lunch

My brother-in-law, Gerard later took us to a place along the beach where the was a  significant nesting site of shore-birds. There were white-fronted terns, pied stilts, banded dotterels and New Zealand dotterels. The dotterels are very hard to see on the rocky shore but the terns and stilts were more visible. A recent storm had disrupted the season and many eggs were washed away, according to a birder I met. There were juveniles aplenty, squawking loudly and demanding ever more fish. I felt for the term parents who would dash in at high speed from the sea with a fresh fish and attempt to get the youngster to swallow it before the marauding red-billed gulls could snatch it mid-transfer.

Old house
I have done this before but the rate of decay is accelerating

Homeward bound the next day, I had to pause just South of Hastings to record the latest stage of the slow and inevitable decay of an old house. I have shot this house many times and perhaps even shown it in this blog. Last time I was there, there was a blackberry thicket at the rear. It has been cleared, and perhaps that has allowed the house to lean gently inwards towards the earth.

Harbour
Wellington Harbour in brooding weather

Yesterday was a moody sort of day in the Capital and I went up the hill to the entrance to the Horokiwi quarry and from there caught the wide view of the Eastern side of the harbour, The island to the left is Matiu/Somes and the hill to the right is the Miramar peninsula.

road and rail
Tenuous link

From the same spot, looking ninety degrees to the right, the winding path that carries road and rail between Wellington and the Hutt Valley shows just how vulnerable that vital link would be in the event of an earthquake like the Kaikoura one last year.

  • “Didn’t it rain” is a Negro Spiritual, according to Wikipedia, that long predates Mahalia Jackson’s version

 

Categories
Adventure Aviation Birds Landscapes Light Machinery Manawatu Ohakea Reflections Rivers Seasons sunrise Sunset Taranaki Tararuas Weather

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.

 

Categories
adversity Architecture Evans Bay harbour Miramar Tararuas Waves Weather

May 29, 2014 … around the harbour

Yesterday was a photographic drought day in the midst of a meteorological downpour.

Pt Halswell
Point Halswell Light from Mahanga Bay looking across to Khandallah and Mt Kaukau

In the city for lunch with a friend, I took a detour around Miramar first. On the Eastward side of the peninsula, there was a pleasant view of the Pt Halswell light, newly painted, vandalised and repainted. Mt Kaukau is in the background and you may get the impression that it was a damp and somewhat grey day.

Hutt Valley
Dirty weather in the upper valley

Looking to the North, the receding planes of the Western hills, and the South wall of the Tararuas attracted my attention.

Pt Halswell again
Point Halswell Light from across Evans Bay

From Balaena Bay, I looked back across the harbour to Pt Halswell again, with the Eastern Hills in the background. I think 80% of Wellingtonians will tell you that they are looking at the Orongorongos. Geographically, it seems they are wrong, and that there is no such place on any official map. As far as I can see, only the Orongorongo River  bears that name.

From Mt Victoria
The new “Clyde Quay Wharf” apartments nearing completion

I went up to Roseneath and then around the Northern face of Mt Victoria, pausing near St Gerard’s Monastery to take advantage of one of the view windows down to the harbour. As you can see, the new apartment block where the Overseas passenger terminal used to be is nearly complete. It retains the roofline and the steeple as designed by former mayor and architect, Sir Michael Fowler.

That’s all for today.

Categories
Architecture Manawatu Moon Tararuas Wairarapa

May 26, 2013 … road trip

We did a big round trip yesterday in search of some specific subjects.

I didn’t really find them, and will do the same trip again soon, with a better idea of where to look.  It is well known that I rarely see the sunrise, and it is even less likely that I will see the moonset, especially if it happens before the dawn. Yesterday I caught it, mainly because it was illuminating a bank of cloud flying in from the North behind the ridge at Maungaraki. The “star” just below the moon is a street lamp on Cypress Drive.

Moonset over Maungaraki
Those clouds were whizzing by

But, on with the road trip … we were on SH1 near Foxton when I saw this sad old lady decaying in a paddock. I confess to trespassing since there was no obvious dwelling or entry to the farm to ask permission.  As a young man, I thought the Rover 2000 was a beautiful car. And so it was in its heyday, back in the mid sixties. This old girl is past her best, though I imagine a dedicated restorer could salvage her.

Rover 2000 slowly returns to the earth
Sad end for a fine lady

Nearby, an old house was decaying at a glacial pace. The former occupier lived next door and he gave me permission to go in to the paddock to make some pictures. He was kind enough to suggest that without decent boots, I was going to get wet in the shin-high crops.  I put my boots on.

Decaying house near Foxton
The broken windows add to the pathos

As we neared Bulls, an aircraft flew overhead. My jaw dropped and I pulled to the side and grabbed my long lens at full stretch. A Grumman TBM Avenger! It did turn round and commenced an approach for runway 33 at RNZAF Ohakea.  There are very few still flying anywhere, and this would certainly be the only one in New Zealand.  The distance was too great for a good shot, but here it is anyway.

Grumman TBM Avenger landing at Ohakea
Just for the record …

From there, we went through Feilding and then along the back road to Ashhurst. This little town is one of those places which has a love/hate relationship with wind turbines and there seem to be hundreds of them nearby. The Te Apiti Wind farm adjacent to the town has 55 turbines, and they all seemed to be spinning well yesterday.

Looking down on Ashhurst from the road to Feilding
Some of the wind turbines are on that ridge in the background

From there, we chose the Pahiatua Saddle road which is very scenic, if somewhat narrow and twisting road. During the recent landslide-enforced closure of the Manawatu Gorge this normally quiet road carried thousands of heavy vehicles every day. We paused at the top, and looked out to the East where some welcome rain was drenching those hills.

Rain on the hills to the East of Pahiatua
It felt cold and bleak up there

Down at the bottom of the hill near Mangamaire  (South of Pahiatua, North of Ekatahuna) this old dairy factory (I think) was being repurposed as a storage shed for firewood and hay.

A deserted dairy factory
At the height of local dairying there were over 400 individual dairy factories in New Zealand

It was an interesting round trip which may bear fruit eventually.

 

 

 

Categories
Birds Cook Strait harbour Light Maritime mountains Seaview South Coast Tararuas

May 9, 2013 … on a clear day

Yesterday was  as near perfect as I could reasonably expect for an Autumn day.

Earlier in the week, the city experienced torrential rain and flooding. Yesterday was a golden day. It was cool, but bright. I enjoyed making images in several places.

HMNZS Wellington executes a tight turn
look at that wake

On the Miramar Peninsula, I stopped to watch one the Royal New Zealand Navy’s Offshore Patrol vessels, the HMNZS Wellington (P55)  racing around the harbour. I imagine that it was giving a joy ride to visitors and demonstrating its capabilities. It was certainly racing around much faster than any civilian ship would be allowed to, and her propellers were kicking up a mighty wake.

HMNZS Wellington near Horokiwi
Crew seem to be standing casually on the flight deck despite the heel.

Looking up the harbour to the North, the Eastern hills, and the Tararua ranges carried a light mist which made them look attractive.

Looking North across the oil storage tanks at Seaview
Nice mist

Out on the Southern horizon, the Maersk container ship, Jens Maersk  was pausing on her way into port to pick up the pilot.

Jens Maersk slows to pick up the pilot
The Tarakena races to put the pilot on the access ladder

Across the strait, the  Kaikoura ranges were sharp and crisp against a clear sky, with a dusting of snow on the high peaks.

Across the strait from near the airport
Some early snow

In normal circumstances I would be satisfied with this for the day’s work, but who knows when the next such day might be? Thus I travelled out to the Hutt River Estuary where our friend the white heron was once more in residence. There is a white-faced heron that keeps it company, and I am minded of those odd pairings in animated cartoons … Timon and Poomba from the Lion King, perhaps.

Patriotic heron
I like the colour contrast

I focused on the white heron and realised that I had a New Zealand ensign in the background, which I liked.  I also caught it strutting along the cabin roof of a small boat against a whitish background.

White heron
An elegant bird

My last shot of the day is of the extraordinary gathering of shags on the little sea wall. The oddity was the different varieties on one gathering.

A Shag council
Unusual mixture

I would like more days like this.

Categories
harbour Light Maritime Seasons Sunset Tararuas Wellington

January 31, 2013 … “a beaker full of the warm South”*

Back in the mid nineties I spent a couple of weeks in Saudi Arabia.

Among the inhabitants of the expatriates’ compound there was a story of a certain Brit who drove them all to distraction. Every morning, as he waited for the bus to take them to office in Jeddah, he would say in his broadest Yorkshire accent, “I see it’s turned out nice again”.  In a land of almost perpetual blue skies and temperatures in the high thirties, it was a wonder he was not assassinated.

I need to be careful not to become equally weather-fixated. Perhaps it’s my own British heritage, but the current weather patterns are pure magic after a string of miserable summers. Rain is forecast for Monday through Wednesday of next week, and then good weather is expected to return.

Oriental Bay, in Wellington, is an artificial beach, imported by barge from Golden Bay across the Cook Strait. The location is great for a beach, but the natural currents in the harbour tend to work against it. The sand washes away, so the good citizens of Wellington pay through their rates each year to have it topped up, and the beach groomed.

Oriental Bay eveningLast night they were out in their hundreds, cashing in on their investment. I got there at about 8 pm and went up on the roof of the restaurant on the old band rotunda.   There were people swimming, watching others swim, or just paddling at the edge. Youngsters were out on the raft moored a little way off the beach. paddling, drinking, taking in the sightsSerious swimmers were doing laps out to the fountain and back. A couple of motor launches were ostentatiously at anchor. People on kayaks and people just splashing about.

trimming the sailsA couple of historic gaff-rigged yachts were stooging about, their sails catching the last low rays of sun as the shadow of the hills began the closing ceremonies of the day.C18 passes astern of the Interisland feryy Kaitaki

I decided to stretch things, and went to the top of Mt Victoria and constructed a panorama looking North towards the Hutt Valley and the Tararuas. This needs a click to enlarge.Another panorama

This really is building up as a summer to treasure.

*Ode to a Nightingale, John Keats