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2 May, 2019 … back from the dead

Perhaps it’s just that I was too lazy to find out how to use it properly, or maybe it was the lack of a feedback mechanism. Whatever the reason, my venture into another platform  for the regular sharing of my photography and writing proved unsatisfactory.  I overlooked the difference between a portfolio and a blog.

So it is that the blog lives on for a while longer. I shall retain the Adobe Portfolio site ( as a receptacle for a permanent core gallery, but I have resuscitated the Wysiwygpurple site for periodic posts of recent work. Perhaps not weekly as in the past, but we shall see how it evolves.

Accordingly, in this post, you will find a collection of 18 images that I liked best in the month of April.

Red painted post

April in Wellington was grey. We had some long periods of rain which might be expected to slow down my photographic urges. On the other hand there is cabin fever, and I ended up hoping to make a feature of the weather. This was a puddle in the gravel road into the park at the Western end of Petone beach. It was just a puddle except for the red-painted post and its reflection which transformed it.

Canada geese in flight

Another grey day and comparative calm led me to hope for still water on Pauatahanui inlet. Sadly there were a lot of residual ripples on the water. On the other hand there was a substantial flock of Canada geese. I attempted to sneak up on them, but they have sharp senses and flew off as I got near. Shooting season starts in the coming weekend and many of them are smart enough to gather on these protected waters.

Stillness and light

A little further around the edge of the inlet, I found that a small pond was blessed with exactly the kind of stillness I was seeking and reflected the reeds beautifully. And then a break in the clouds caused the Belmont hills to light up. If I were judging, I would say I now have two separate disconnected images, one of the reflections and one of the hills.  Not a prizewinner, but interesting.

Parked, cold and still Ja1271

At Paekakariki, Steam Inc restore and maintain their fleet of locomotives and other rolling stock. As I was driving past I spotted Ja1271 parked on a siding between the sheds and the road. They needed the space in the shed to work on another locomotive. It’s fairly rare to get clear walk-around access to one of these splendid machines. How odd that I should have made an image from the same sort of angle that I might have done inside the shed. On the other hand I like the contribution that the tracks make to the image.

City bound traffic on a wet morning

As I said it has been a dull month, and this shot looking North up SH2 from the Normandale overbridge catches the general spirit of the day. Despite the headlights and windscreen wipers, this is 9:30 am in Lower Hutt.

“Feed me Seymour”* … detail of an orchid

No matter the weather outside, there is always colour to be had in the begonia house of Wellington’s Botanic Garden. This shot is down the throat of a lovely orchid, taken close enough to exclude all background distractions.

Water lily
Water lily in the begonia house

Also inside the begonia house there is a pond full of carp and water lilies. I always love getting close to water level for a different perspective.

Sea Lion
Sea Lion launched in 1946 and looking her age

Sea Lion is an old and well-loved work vessel with lots of character. In recent times its owner has either caused or allowed it to be painted with cartoon birds. Though I think this 73-year-old vessel deserved a more dignified treatment it makes me smile nevertheless

Lady Elizabeth
Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV engaged in inshore rescue duties

Lady Elizabeth IV is the Wellington police launch. It is seen here bouncing in choppy waters off Shelly Bay and its RIB cradle is empty because the inflatable is effecting a rescue closer inshore. I have the sad memory of watching her next but one predecessor sailing out through the heads in a gale and never returning.

The 109 tram leaving Graham St, Port Melbourne

On Good Friday, Mary and I flew to Melbourne to spend a week with our elder daughter Catherine and her husband Mark. We had a great time and enjoyed their tremendous hospitality. I love Melbourne, though I wonder if the day will ever come when there are not at least a dozen new high-rise buildings under construction, each with multiple tower-cranes. The world’s most extensive tram system and the Myki electronic ticketing make it an easy city to get around, though I don’t enjoy the rush-hour.

One of the two navigation beacons in Beacon Cove

Port Philip Bay is a vast expanse of water and it puzzles me just how often it is glassy calm. I confess to assisting it a little in this case with a neutral density filter and an 8 second exposure. Just to the West of the Tasmania Ferry terminal is Beacon cove where this beacon and an identical one a few hundred metres inland provide a navigational aid for ships bound for the port.

Inside the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne

We visited Melbourne in the week of ANZAC day and took the opportunity to visit the Shrine of Remembrance in the city’s stunning Royal Botanic Gardens. We went inside the main building and I was intrigued by the interior of the pyramid-like roof.

St Kilda Rd and Swanston St, downtown Melbourne

From the upper levels of the shrine’s roof there is a great view of the city’s downtown skyline. This view looks past the spire of the Art Centre, across the bridge over the Yarra. St Paul’s Cathedral and up the length of Swanston St. In the distance (three km away) is the Portrait building. This 32 story apartment block has the portrait of Aboriginal leader William Barak etched in the white concrete of its balcony facings.

Lake Daylesford, Victoria

The next day Mark and Catherine took us on a very pleasant road trip to Daylesford, 110 km to the North West of the city. Daylesford is a very pretty rural spa town at the foot of the Great Dividing range. With a population of about 2,500 it seems to cater for the tourists who visit the many spas nearby. We spent some time at Lake Daylesford before a pleasant lunch in a local restaurant and a leisurely  trip back to Port Melbourne.

Shopping arcade, Melbourne

Melbourne’s CBD has a large number of shopping arcades, most of which have been restored to their original glory or better. There are some great restaurants in the various lanes, and far too many chocolate shops for the good of my waist line.

Noisy Miner on colourful shrub, Port Melbourne

I walked down to Beacon Cove again, and on the way through Port Melbourne’s Garden City Reserve, spotted this very musical bird which, as far as I can tell is a Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala), an Australian Native, not to be confused with the introduced Common Myna from India. It is a member of the honeyeater family.

Port Philip Bay
A grey wet morning in Melbourne

Several visits to Beacon Cove produced some interesting opportunities. This was a wet morning on which Port Philip Bay disappeared into the grey distance. The iron fence is on Princes Pier. It’s like one of those comic book gates with no surrounding fence. There seems to be nothing to stop people walking out to the pier itself.

The historic piles of Princes Pier

That being the case, I went around the end of the fence and stood on the edge of the restored part of the pier and attempted to capture something of its original piles. Again the neutral density filter was used to enable a 25 second exposure and provide stillness on the water’s surface. In the local ANZAC memorial service which we attended, much was made of this pier as the departure point for the Australian soldiers setting sail for the Gallipoli campaign.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them**

* Little Shop of Horrors by Frank Oz

** For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon

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July 23, 2017 … there and back again

Since I last wrote, Mary and I spent eleven days in Queensland with our eldest son and his lovely family. In so doing we missed most of the wildest and coldest storm Wellington has had in four or five years.

Fishing at Tinchi Tamba Wetlands Reserve

The very first evening in Brisbane was just the opposite of hat was starting to happen already back in Wellington. It was a warm evening  with a delightful rosy sunset starting to happen on the North Pine river at Tinchi Tamba wetlands.

Wild Kangaroos at Tinchi Tamba

On the way in, Mary and I had spotted the mob of feral kangaroo and I really should have taken the shot then before the sun disappeared.  I am told this is a mature female with its immature offspring.

Glass House Mountains
Glass House Mountain sunset

Rowena and David had arranged for us all to spend three days on the Sunshine Coast at Noosa. On the way there, we visited the stunning Mary Cairncross reserve. If you are in the area North of Brisbane and like nature this is not to be missed. Regrettably we arrived rather late in the day, so it was very dark inside the rainforest area. Happily, there was a lovely view out over the Glass House Mountains, before we carried on to Noosa.

Lagoon at Noosaville

As luck would have it, it rained on our first day at Noosa, but it didn’t prevent a nice sunset glow on the lagoon behind our accommodation.

Brush Wattlebird at Noosa

On our last day there,  we went out on Noosa Sound on a rented boat, and during a brief walk ashore at the Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve, I managed a shot of this handsome Brush Wattlebird.

Golden Orbweb Spider

Not to everyone’s taste, but equally handsome to my eye was this Golden Orbweb spider … apparently a small one at about the size of the palm of my hand.

There’s always one who can’t keep the rhythm – Pelicans

The youngsters went back to school and parents back to work, so Mary and I spent some time exploring the delights of the Brisbane River on the excellent Rivercat ferries.  It was a  delight to see the formation of Pelicans flying over us against a clear blue sky.

Water Dragon
Water Dragon – Gardens Point

Back in the city, in the magnificent gardens at Gardens Point, we encountered a water dragon. In summer there are dozens of them, but since this was midwinter and the temperature a mere 22 deg C, they were harder to find.

Goodbye to Brisbane til next time … not bad for an iPhone shot

All to soon it was time to return to reality. Having stowed my camera in the overhead locker, I resorted to my iPhone to capture a departing shot of this lovely city.

Into the storm over the Marlborough Sounds
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December 7, 2016 … a happy conclusion

Now I am home. No matter how much I love being with my sons and daughters and grandchildren, there is an inevitable time when being home is the right place to be.

A bright day in downtown Brisbane

Last Wednesday in Brisbane started off in spectacular Queensland fashion, with bright sunshine and high temperature. I went to town to meet my son, David and the day seemed perfect. After lunch, he went back to work, and I set out to take in the sights.

Bush Stone Curlews in Brisbane’s botanic garden

The Botanic Gardens in Brisbane are intrinsically beautiful but are also a place where you can find exotic wild life such as water dragons and lizards of various types. For me, the greatest joy was coming across a family of the somewhat rare bush stone curlew. I got down on my belly and wriggled close. These birds have as their first line of defense the habit of freezing in place when disturbed, so I was doing quite well. Then a pair of lead-footed runners came galloping through and scattered them.

storm (1)
Coming back towards the city on the River Cat, into the approaching storm

From there I used my Brisbane transport card and boarded one of the River Cat ferries and went upstream to St Lucia and then back down to the city terminal. Remember that perfect weather? It disappeared before my very eyes and the sky got dark very quickly.

Victoria Bridge and everyone knows the rain is coming

I got off at the North Quay and looked over my shoulder across the Victoria Bridge from Queen Street. This was starting to look serious.

There are a lot of gaps in the verandahs in Brisbane. I think I found most of them

Then there was a flash and the stunning crash  to signify that the skies were now officially open.Oh Lord, didn’t it rain!  I was unwilling to stand out in the open with almost continuous lightning strikes and a calamitous downpour.  By the time I got back to David’s work, I was drenched.

Brisbane Panorama from High over Southbank

The next day, the family took me out to dinner on the city’s Southbank area where we were able to look at the brand new workplace where my daughter-in-law Rowena works. Outside another storm was threatening but I took the opportunity to compile a nine shot panoramic stitch of the the view from her floor. I like Brisbane very much.

Port Melbourne
On the beach at Port Melbourne

The next day I flew out to Melbourne to visit my elder daughter Catherine and her husband, Mark. Though still warm by Wellington standards, Melbourne was being gentle with me. Port Melbourne is a delightful suburb and gives access to some wonderful views out over the vastness of Port Phillip Bay.

Prince’s Pier, Port Melbourne

One of the great cliché photos from Port Melbourne is Prince’s Pier which was once a busy working wharf, but is now a mixture of preserved piles and a work of art. My stay was over all too soon, and it was back home. I loved visiting the kids, but being back home with Mary and in our own house just feels right.

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November 30, 2016 … on the West Island

Here I am in the big brown island next door. It’s 8:20 am and already the thermometer is telling me it’s 26 deg C, and heading for 28. I am enjoying the hospitality of my eldest son David and his wife, and loving being here with them and our two beautiful grandchildren. Apart from the weather, a slight bonus is that the earth has not moved at all while I have been here.

Sunset at Bald Hills

I came over on Wednesday, flying into the Gold Coast airport at Coolangatta. An old friend and former colleague kindly transported me the 20 km or so from the airport to Varsity Lakes railway station, which is the southern limit of Brisbane’s commuter rail network. It was a pleasant run of about 90 minutes into Brisbane Central station where I met up with David who drove us home. Nearing Bald Hills in the heavy evening traffic, I enjoyed the magnificent sunset.

Swan plants
This was a tiny part of a vast field of swan plants

On Friday, David took me to a favourite location nearby, the Tinchi Tamba wetlands. Unlike Wellington, South East Queensland has been experiencing a prolonged dry spell, so the “wetlands” were not so fruitful as they have been in the past. However, there was a large open area full of swan plants, that favourite food of the monarch butterfly. It seems we missed the peak event but there were still a lot of butterflies flitting about.

Grace’s art project

The next day, David, Grace, Isaac and I went to Kelvin Grove where Grace is a student at the Queensland Academy of Creative Industries. I can’t say I understood the assignment, but she got very high marks for the project, and she produced a piece made with cane and tissue paper … as I understood it, the mark was for the exploration in writing of the artist(s) who inspired the work and analysis of the creative process.

Scarborough Harbour

On Sunday, with Isaac, David and I drove North to Redcliffe. We had a great fish and chip lunch at the Scarborough harbour where you can be sure the fish in your lunch is fresh.

Brisbane Port
Brisbane is a big city and has a big port whose cranes are visible across Moreton Bay

We came back along the coastline from where there was an interesting view of the distant cranes of Brisbane’s port.

Restoration nicely done

Yesterday, Grace and I went to Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art (more her thing than mine, but you don’t often get an excuse to hang out with your 15 year-old granddaughter. The museum is on Southbank and has some interesting architectural neighbours.

Reflections in a table

From the third floor of the gallery, I spotted a reflection of the city across the river. It wasn’t the river doing the trick though, but a large glass-topped table up against the window. Brisbane’s river is customary brown and silt laden, so the glass did a better job.

The two islands of New Zealand? A piece by Michael Parakowhai who is also responsible for a statue of an elephant standing on its head outside the gallery.

A piece in the gallery was eye-catching. It was by New Zealand artist, Michael Parakowhai and according to the tour guide it referenced the two islands of New Zealand with all the culture in the North and all the fun bits in the South.


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April 16, 2015 … flight home and a new friend

I was not impressed by the Met Service’s idea of a welcome home.

Goodbye Melbourne. At this moment, the plane had started its take-off run and I was being pushed back in my seat.

We left Melbourne a little behind schedule at 1 am. We enjoyed every moment of our stay over there except for the previously mentioned incident, and now it was time to say goodbye. We were travelling economy, so despite an empty seat beside me, sleep was elusive. We arrived in Wellington after a three-hour flight  at about 6:15 am (you are smart enough to work it out).

Petone Wharf
Welcome home weather … Petone Wharf looking mean and green

There was a light Northerly breeze and a fine day was forecast. What lies! The wind soon went round to the South, the temperature plummeted and suddenly, people were talking massive waves on the South Coast. I was cold, tired, grumpy, and when a friend suggested I go to the South Coast, since waves were my thing, I was resistant. Of course I should have gone, but I had another excuse. My new “new camera” had just arrived. You may recall that I got all excited with a mirrorless camera back in December. Sadly it proved to have persistent problems with imbedded dust in its sensor, and despite three replacements, each with the same problem, it ended up going back to the vendor for a full refund. I now have an Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk II (Ollie, to its friends). I rejoice to say that a photograph with a  lot of clear sky now has no detectable blemishes except seagulls.  Anyway, I had to take Ollie for a test drive.

View to the city from the car park at the Western end of Petone

Did I mention the Southerly? I stayed in the car as much as possible and shot through the briefly opened window.

The Terns hunched down getting what little shelter they could from the dips in the road surface

At the Western end of Petone Beach I found a bunch of white-fronted terns shivering in the cruel buffeting wind.

Petone Beach
This is not a welcoming shore. Petone Beach in a blustery Southerly

Looking back along the beach, I decided I should go home to a warm room and spend some time reading the manual and learning how to use the camera. There is so much to learn.

Though I loved family time on the other side, I am glad to be home.


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April 15, 2015 … wet and dry

And so we are home again.

The rain it falls upon the just and on the unjust fella, but falls more on the just ‘cos the other fella’s stole his umbrella (source unknown)


It is hard for me to believe that ta this time yesterday, we were dining with Catherine and Mark in Melbourne. Mary  was cook for the day so Mary to St Kilda where I could wander about taking photographs while she continued to work by phone with her organization.  Melbourne seems to have more than its share of affluence and this shows up in the brands of the cars all around. Even the upmarket ones get wet though.

Wet art


Earlier in the day, I had rushed into the city to buy a new lens, and while I was there, I saw more rain drops, this time on something that is either a work of art or else a public seat.  Either way, it is shaped like a blob of mercury, and it too looked more interesting when it was wet.

Trams in the city


With my new lens in hand and receipt ready to reclaim the goods and service tax as we left the country, I went down to Collins Street to catch the tram home, I was under strict instructions not to run after trams as there is always another within a few minutes. Sure enough you can see the 109 tram approaching in the distance this view along Collins St as another tram heads down Elizabeth St towards the  Flinders St Station. You can see that the blue skies were seemingly at an end.

Skyline from St Kilda


But back to St Kilda, where I walked slowly along the pier and liked the busy skyline across the marina.

I prefer to think of them as dabchichs


Swimming in the calm waters inside the breakwater was a pair of hoary-headed grebes. In New Zealand, we know them as dabchicks.

We arrived in Wellington at 6 am so I am very sleepy.


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April 14, 2015 … almost home

I have loved every minute of our visit to the big brown land (with the exception of the nose dive while running for the tram).

Port Melbourne
Port Melbourne housing area

Now, in Port Melbourne, our journey is almost over, and tonight we shall catch a plane that arrives in Wellington around 6am tomorrow. We arrived back from Echuca yesterday morning and have enjoyed time with our elder daughter and son-in-law. I went for a walk around the waterfront, drawn back to Princes Pier. I am not sure what was in the surrounding area in early times. but the port has undergone serious residential development in recent years, and I can see that it is an attractive area to many.

HMAS Canberra being fitted out at Williamstown

At the end of the pier, I looked across to Williamstown at the naval vessel which I understand will become the name ship of the Canberra class of assault vessels. As I understand it, there will be two of them, capable of launching helicopters from the deck, and landing craft from an internal dock. I am a little mystified by the bow ramp which I understand are useful for Harrier jump-jets, but as far as I know the Australian defence forces have none of those.

Port Philip Bay
Busy Port Philip Bay

Port Philip Bay is usually a busy place and yesterday was no exception. Tankers were coming and going, two tug boats and a police launch were out on the bay and the piles provided an interesting foreground.

Piles of Princes Pier

I turned my attention to the piles themselves. I lament that airline baggage restrictions make it impractical to carry a sturdy tripod so some shots I wanted were impossible. I had to make do with what was available.

Firefighting practice

Meanwhile, out on the water, one of the tugs was exercising its fire-fighting water monitors and sending spectacular arcs of salt water across the bay. The police launch returned to base as we are about to do.

Next post will be from Wellington.


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April13, 2015 … wide open spaces

Being back in Melbourne helps me to think about yesterday.

The classic lone tree in the empty paddock

We went Westward from Echuca, through a tiny town called Mitiamo on our way to the Terrick Terrick National Park.I know the spell checker will complain about that duplication, but that’s what it’s called. On the way, I was struck by the vastness of the horizons, the emptiness of the land, the amount of bare brown soil exposed to the elements. A recurring feature that I liked was the single lonely tree in the middle of a usually immense paddock.

Wide open spaces near Mitiamo

We got to Mitiamo and went up the track into the park. I have decided that Australia, or at least Victoria does its best to baffle tourists by having the least possible signage pointing the way to anywhere, or when there absolutely has to be a sign to label it in the way that is least useful to the stranger. Despite their best efforts we found our way to Mt Terrick Terrick which is the highest point in the park and we walked up the hill to get a higher view. As you ascend, you get a better sense of the enormity, the majesty and the dryness of this landscape.

A sixteen-shot stitched panorama from the summit of Mt Terrick Terrick … about 150 degrees of arc.

At the top, 148 metres above sea level, there is some sort of satellite dish, and a splendid 360 degree view of Northern Victoria. Of course, the distance fades into the heat haze very quickly so despite the height advantage, you don’t see far at all.

Wedge-tailed eagle

I was lined up on a bird in he forest when we came down, and Mary called out. I reacted unkindly since she had spoiled my shot, but she was pointing upwards and I stood there like a slack-jawed yokel as the most beautiful wedge-tailed eagle circled overhead. I didn’t even have the wit to lift my camera until its second circuit by which time it had drifted to my left and I missed the clear shot of the bird as the trees obscured one wing.

Always listen to your wife!

Adventure Echuca Lakes Landscapes

April 12, 2015 … lakes and more lakes

We wandered further afield yesterday.

Third lake
This is apparently known as “Third Lake” … I wonder what happened to all those drowned trees.

From Echuca to Lake Boga is about 140 km. Though the distance is not enormous, the nature of the landscape in Northern Victoria is such that the distance between any two points on the landscape seems immense, and is characterised by long straight roads with enormous paddocks on either side. We got to Kerang and enjoyed a coffee and went a little up  the highway to the first of many lakes. Lake Reedy advertises an excellent bird hide overlooking an ibis rookery. Sadly, it was a triumph of architecture over fitness for purposes, When you reach the upper floor, every opening was covered with steel grills and the chicken wire. The place was totally useless to a bird photographer, and what’s more was infested to plague proportions by bull ants. You could dip these in varnish and sell them as picnic tables.  Another lake nearby was picturesque but eerily empty.

The eponymous Lake Charm

Heading North we paused for lunch at Lake Charm. There is very little there apart from a holiday camp, and perhaps that is part of its charm. The clouds in a blue sky over a deep blue lake were irresistible, if somewhat clichéd.

Catalina PBY-5 at Lake Boga museum

At Lake Boga itself, I was delighted to find a very fine museum dedicated to the role of the town and the lake  as a wartime base for repair of flying boats. Everything from the PBY Catalina, the Martin Mariner, the Short Sunderland and even the Dornier Do-24 used by the remnants of the Dutch Air Force in Indonesia, they were all serviced here. A thousand skilled workers restored damaged aircraft and returned them to take their place in the conflict.

Gunbower Creek at Cohuna

On the way home I stopped at Gunbower Creek in the town of Cohuna to catch some reflections.

Near sunset in the wetlands at Torrumbarry

Our last stop of the day was at the Torrumbarry weir, on the Murray River. I’m not sure how anyone else would pronounce that name. but  the local usage seems to be approximately “Trumbree”. However, impressive though the weir and its associated shipping lock are, I was more captivated by the wetland area at the start of the access road.

Back to Melbourne tomorrow.

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April 11, 2015 … in and around the Echuca area

The whole Echuca-Moama area has much to offer.

Flying valve gear on the PS Pevensey

Before we went back to the forest, we felt we needed to do one of  the iconic paddle steamer rides that brought the area to some degree of fame back in the 1980s with the TV series “All the Rivers Run” starring Sigrid Thornton. I love anything to do with live steam so spent a fair amount of my time on the Pevensey, watching the pistons and valve gear flying back and forth.

Welcome Swallow in flight

The time I spent on the upper deck was pre-occupied with trying to catch the Welcome Swallows in flight. I think this is the best I have achieved of this elusive bird to date.

Barmah forest
Barmah State forest on Broken Creek

The area of yesterday’s cruise is the Barmah State Forest. The notion of a forest in Australia is quite different to what we expect in New Zealand. It is much more open and vertical. It is less dense and tangled, and much less green than ours. In thee case of the Barmah forest, it is also much flatter. Both have their dangers, though few of ours have venom or teeth.  Both are extremely beautiful, each in their own way.

Pelicans perched

After a drive past an old stock mustering yard, we paused at the Barmah Lake camping ground and were delighted to find a parking lot for used pelicans. Or perhaps it was the assembly line for new ones. Either way, I was happy to see them.

Tired, must sleep.