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July 3, 2022 … winter is upon us

Winter solstice was in the week just ended. Spring seems so far away. And yet there are signs already. We have had a few bright winter days but for the most part, strong winds, cloud and rain. I try to convince myself that there is beauty to be found even in bad weather, but some days do not encourage me to venture out with the camera.

Nevertheless, I do get out in rough weather now and then, especially if there is the hope of large swells on the South or West coast. If, however the water is merely ruffled, and the weather is grey and bleak, I stay home. I seem to have got out reasonably often since my last posting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pukerua Bay normally offers a view across the water to Kapiti Island. On this day a howling Nor’Wester was driving swells in excess of 4 metres directly towards the beach. I chose to make my images from inside the car, using the passenger window as my portal to the storm, and the width of the car to protect my lens from the spray. I got some reasonable wave shots, but my favourite of the day was this image taken after I rolled the window back up. And that’s when I found that the passenger seat was absolutely soaked!

Seed spreaders

Aaaghhh! I had finished typing this edition when WordPress suddenly decided to stop saving and to go back four days and lost everything from here forward. Everything from here on is a rewrite.

Another dull day and my attention turned to the birds in the tree just outside our dining room window, Common house sparrows were doing battle over access to the birdseed bell that Mary had hung out there. They are messy eaters so if there any viable seeds on that thing, there is a strong likelihood of something exotic growing from fallen seeds around the tree. Last season, it was sunflowers. Who knows what next.

Steam excursion

The observant among you may notice the red light on the right hand end of the locomotive’s buffer beam. Yes, this is the back of the train. Steam Inc were running out and back trips between Paraparaumu and Manakau. If you look closely or click to enlarge, you will see a vintage diesel locomotive down the other end. The diesel hauls the train in the Southbound trips, and the steam locomotive leads the way back North. It burned 5 tonnes of coal in the two days on which the excursions were running.

Under tow

In contrast this ship, La Richardais was burning no fuel except by the generators. She had lost power a few hundred km off the coast of New Plymouth and had been under tow ever since. The large tug is MMA Vision which normally spends her time as a tender to the Taranaki oil fields, and was released to tow La Richardais first to New Plymouth and then to Wellington. They are seen here arriving in Wellington assisted by the two local tugs, Tiaki and Tapuhi. They spent a week in Wellington. I suspect that no local firm was equipped to achieve a repair so the tow resumed. MMA Vision will take her to New Caledonia and another tug will take her onwards to Singapore and presumably a repair.

Weight of water

Long long ago, when I almost understood such things, I did an applied mathematics course at the University of Auckland. I bandied around terms like amplitude, frequency and period and knew a few formulae on how to find one of those if I had the other two. I have a lingering sense of the importance of those characteristics of a wave. The ones that impress me the most are the amplitude (Height from trough to crest) and period (the time between successive crests). I know I am in for a visual spectacle if the amplitude is greater than 4 metres and the period is greater than 10 seconds. This image was made at Pukerua Bay.

Kaitaki bound for Picton

In a different set of circumstances, I was at Owhiro Bay when the view across the strait was crisp and clear. Mighty Tapuae-o-Uenuku was soaring skyward up into the clouds hovering around its peak. The Interisland ferry Kaitaki which seems sorely in need of a paint job passed at speed across the face of the mountain., heading towards Tory Channel and Picton.

Straitsman bound for Wellington

Even as Kaitaki was heading West, the competing ferry Straitsman emerged from Tory Channel. She has recently had a major overhaul, and her crisp clean paint job was quite a contrast.

Throw no stones

From Oriental Bay, the high-rise blocks of Wellington’s CBD are eye-catching. The Deloitte building is especially so. Recent seismic losses were undoubtedly in the minds of the architects when they used such a thoroughly triangulated structure. I imagine that those angled tubular columns are a nuisance in the building’s interior, but offer some reassurance whenever the earth moves, as it often does in Wellington.

Spotlight

I have no idea which site is served by this crane, but the way it was picked out of the late afternoon gloom by that shaft of sunlight made it an image worth taking.

Ash clearance

As I mentioned earlier, the weekend of running up and down between Paraparaumu and Manakau consumed 5 Tonnes of coal. This produces a lot of ash, much of which remains in the firebox and the rest is carried through the boiler tubes and falls to the base of the smokebox. There are access hatches in the sides of the locomotives, but that is the only concession to convenience. After that, it is shovelled by hand from the collection area into a wheelbarrow, and then wheeled to a tipping area behind the locomotive shed. It is a tedious task, but these members of the crew laboured away until the job was done

Steel grey

Crepuscular rays are a magnet for most landscape photographers. This view from Oriental Bay looking North conceals the usual view of the Tararuas. It’s a full colour image that could easily pass as monochrome. The steel grey colour of the harbour is probably a good indicator of just how cold the day was.

Dandelion

I am sure there is someone who could dispute the botanical identity of this seed head. I don’t care. It walks like a dandelion and quacks like a dandelion, so … I struggle to choose an exposure that does justice to the outer sphere, and to the spectacle of the inner parts where each seed attaches to the plant.

Kelburn Park

Kelburn Park fountain is perhaps outclassed by the Carter Fountain in Oriental Bay, despite its spectacular coloured lighting at night. Nevertheless, it is worth a look. It wasn’t until I got home that I saw that I had caught a gaggle of sightseers the lookout platform atop Mt Victoria 2,240 metres away.


Pineapples and Bananas

The Kakariki is less than a year old, and her paint reflects that. The only significant marks are those left by the black rubber buffers on the nose of numerous tugs assisting her into her berth.

That will do for this edition. I hope to see you again soon.

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Adventure adversity Birds Forest Lakes Landscapes Light Mangakino Maungatautari Military mountains Rotorua Seasons Travel Vehicles Volcanic Plateau Waikato

23 May, 2022 … Waikato road trip (part 1)

Travelling to foreign lands is but a distant memory. Even our closest neighbour presents some interesting bureaucratic hurdles these days, and I am hearing people say that going is relatively easy, but coming back can be tricky. Travel insurance is ridiculously expensive now too. The risk being trapped by the bureaucracy of a sudden lock-down due to the pandemic are, for now at least, deterring us from leaving New Zealand.

So, we decided to do a road trip. As long as there are places to walk, Mary tends to defer to my photographic obsession so asked me to choose a location. My somewhat random choice was dictated by the memory of a photograph that I should have taken in 2016 but didn’t.

Any photographer who sees something worth photographing should do it now! Those of us who say “I’ll catch it on the way back”, or “I’ll come back another time” will rarely see the same scene. Do it NOW! At this time of year, it is quite common that mornings on the Waikato river are characterised by no wind and drifting mist. In the hope of finding such conditions, we booked a week in the nearest Airbnb house to that area. And so we begin with the first part of the journey:

Hunterville in Autumn

Monday was wet in Wellington. It was wet all the way up SH1 through Levin, Bulls and Hunterville. Happily, Autumn colours were all the more vivid for being freshly washed. This image is on SH1 as it leaves Hunterville to the North. Mary was driving at this stage, and I was not at all sure that I would get a clear shot through the windscreen between the strokes of the wipers. I think I got lucky.

Following the Army through Taihape

Soon enough, we were at Taihape which claims the title of Gumboot capital of the world. It was once a significant railway town, though trains seem to pass straight through these days. It is a significant business centre for the local farming community, and has a couple of popular cafes used by both locals and long distance travellers. It is not at all uncommon to find yourself behind a convoy of trucks heading through the town towards the Army training base at Waiouru.

Ruapehu dons its cloak

Waiouru is a place of both misery and beauty. Those who have trained in the army base, especially in the winter will understand the misery aspect. The landscape provides all the beauty you could ask for, whatever the weather. Mighty Ruapehu is an active volcano that stands 2,797 metres (9,177 feet) above sea level on the volcanic plateau in the centre of the North Island. As we approached Waiouru, I could see that the mountain was wrapping itself in cloud and would soon disappear from view. A shot from the roadside in a biting breeze caught that cloud rolling over the summit.

Along the Desert Road

The “Desert Road” is the stuff of legends in New Zealand. It runs 63 km from Waiouru in the South, to Turangi in the North. It passes to the East of the mountain, through the Rangipo desert, and to the West of the Kaimanawa Forest through a wild and barren landscape. There are neither sand nor camels in this desert but its very barrenness justifies the description. Regardless of the weather, there is always something to see and appreciate. Even after the clouds blocked off the view of the mountain, I found drama in the march of the power pylons beside the road. Signs warn of army exercises with live ammunition on either side, so stay in your car or risk staring down the barrel of a 25mm cannon on an armoured fighting vehicle. The other feature of the Rangipo desert is its herd of wild horses. Those I have yet to see.

Tragedy on the Desert Road

Though it has some long straight stretches, the Desert Road has some tight and nasty bends that can bring drivers to grief in the wet and icy conditions that are common at this elevation. If you look a little to the right of the second black and yellow sign, you will see the wreck of a car that has departed from the road at speed and embedded itself in the bank. I have no information as to the fate of its occupants.

Maraetail Mist

Mangakino as it is today has its origins in the mid-late 40s as a dormitory town for the workers who were engaged in the construction of the hydro dams on the Waikato. The houses are modest but sufficient, and the one we rented for the week was very well equipped. Mary loved lighting the fire each day and using the copious supply of firewood included in the rental.

Mangakino is on the shore of the Waikato River where it becomes Lake Maraetai which provides the energy for the two power stations at the nearby Maraetai dam. When I booked the accommodation, I jokingly asked our host to arrange a week of no wind and some river mist. Well goodness gracious, she pulled it off!

Regrettably I suffered a calamity here when I dropped my Olympus camera and wrecked the mounting plate of my favourite lens. As if my insurers did not already hate me.

Dunham Reserve on Lake Whakamaru

Almost as if I anticipated the disaster, I had packed my two venerable Canon cameras (the 5DII and the 7D) so all images for the remainder of the trip were made on these huge, heavy, but still optically excellent cameras.

Anyway, back to the trip. If you are unfamiliar with the geography of the Waikato River, there are a series of hydro dams each of which creates a lake on the river. Coming downstream from Lake Taupo, they are in turn, Aratiatia, Ohakuri, Atiamuri, Whakamaru, Maraetai I and II (both on the same dam), Waipapa, Arapuni and Karapiro.

About halfway between Atiamuri and Whakamaru, there is a beautiful spot on the river called Dunham’s Reserve. This was the place that I failed to shoot back in 2016. Regrettably, on this trip, I didn’t find anything like the beautiful conditions of that earlier opportunity. Nevertheless, the river produced a scene worthy of photographing in its own right. I believe the lily pads are regarded as a pest to the hydro dams and were due to be sprayed with weed killer from the air.

Autumn tones at Dunham Reserve

As already observed, the colours of Autumn were still lingering and this clearing on the Dunham Reserve was a delight to me.

Stillness and River mist at Mangakino

The next day offered those lovely misty conditions on the river, so I went down to the Mangakino Lakefront Reserve where I took pleasure in the stillness of the water on the lake, and mystery provided by the mist. Bear in mind that this apparently still body of water is part of a river system with a mean flow rate of 340 Cumecs (12,000 cubic ft/sec)

River scene

The same morning, from a little further round the reserve edge, I found another view looking downstream towards the Maraetai dams. These are the conditions I came for.

Pastoral scene in the South Waikato

Later the same day, we drove North along the river to the stunning Maungatautiri Mountain Reserve. The South Waikato region offers some delightful scenery that ranges from heavy pine forests to soft rolling pastoral land. The reserve itself is a 3,400 hectare wildlife sanctuary on the Maungatautiri Mountain with a 47 km pest-proof perimeter fence. Within are a wonderland of native bush laced with many delightful walking tracks from which to observe the magnificent bush and the variety of birdlife.

Friendly visitor

I am less agile than I used to be and set out on the so-called Rata-trail with a view to going part of the way and then returning to the entry. The canopy is quite dark, and I struggled to catch the fast moving bird-life flitting about. Fortunately, the little North Island Robin (Toutouwai, or Petroica longipes) is not shy, and will fly around your feet chasing the insects you disturb as you walk. Many a photographer has been trapped with the bird sitting on his or her boots while having a telephoto lens that just won’t focus that close. Foolishly, I went further round the trail than I intended, and soon it seemed better to complete the loop walk than to turn back.

So that’s the end of the first part of this three-part road-trip narrative. If you like what I do, please come back soon for a trip to the amazing, the stunning, the magnificent Wingspan Bird of Prey Centre.

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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 (https://harmerbrian.myportfolio.com) 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.

post
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.

Geese
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.

reflection
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.

Ja1271
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.

Wet
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.

orchid
“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.

Tram
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.

Beacon
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.

Shrine
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.

Melbourne
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
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.

Arcade
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.

Miner
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.

Piles
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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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 adversity Birds Cars Cook Strait Haywards Hill Kaitoke Landscapes Light Maritime Pauatahanui Vehicles Wairarapa Waves Weather

June 8, 2016 … through the lower middle

True to my word, I have returned more quickly than last time.

Sandra II
Sandra II now seems to be a permanent resident at Hikoikoi

We have had an astonishing spell of fine weather in the last week, not only sunny, but for the most part, flat calm. Those who have been with me for a while know that if there is calm, I will be near the harbour. Down at Hikoikoi, a newcomer has joined the J.Vee thus doubling the number of working boats moored there. She is the Sandra II.

Web
Nature – the master jeweller

With further fine weather in view, Mary and I chose to go to Dannevirke on Friday. This was a “just because” trip with no other purpose than to enjoy the journey, and perhaps to make an image or two on the way. It was a crispy day to begin with, and just North of Upper Hutt, there was mist wreathed around the hills and gullies, and many of the roadside fences were decorated with dew-coated spider webs.

Woodville
Pastoral landscape near Woodville

I had hopes of capturing the turbines spinning above the Manawatu Gorge near Woodville. I do love flat calm, but of course, that spins no turbines. Accordingly, I zoomed back out and settled for a landscape from just South of Woodville.

Wreck 1
Inside the old wrecker’s yard at Dannevirke

We got to Dannevirke, and enjoyed a very nice lunch at the Vault Cafe. Then to lend some semblance of purpose to our journey, we bought some splendid beef sausages from “The Meat Company”, a butcher shop just near the vault. They are the best beef sausages I have found so far. And then I finally managed to make contact with the owner of the old car-wrecker’s yard I saw last time I was in the area. He generously granted permission  for me to climb the fence and wander through the property.

Cars
Vehicles from almost all eras are being swallowed. The Ford Transit van, the Vauxhall Velox from the mid fifties and a real oddity on the right, the Utility model of the Hillman Imp were all intriguing.

I spent over an hour there, and saw perhaps five percent of the property. It is a truly post-apocalyptic scene, withe a large proportion of the old vehicles almost entirely engulfed in brambles or the pest variant of the clematis, “Old Man’s Beard” . Few surfaces are not covered with lichen ans the place was a photographer’s delight.

Waihi Falls
Waihi Falls in the late afternoon

Choosing the scenic route home, we passed through Waihi falls where the water was putting on a fine display. From there we went down through Mauriceville and Alfredton and suffered a blow-out at some 90 km/h on a patch of gravel road. After laboriously emptying the back of the car to reach the spare, and then jacking up the car to swap the wheel, we were soon on our way again, through Masterton and down through the Southern Wairarapa. It was nerve-wracking to drive over the Rimutaka hill with no spare, but we made it home without further incident.

Yacht
The yacht made speedy progress across the horizon near Red Rocks

On Sunday, we went to the South Coast and while Mary explored the seal colony at Sinclair Head, I made images near Red Rocks.

Stilts
Pied stilts at Pauatahanui

On Tuesday, the clam conditions were still lingering, so I went over to Pauatahanui. I have heard of houses on stilts, but here, reflected in the pond, are some stilts on houses.

Herons
White-faced herons are wary

Further around the inlet, a handsome pair of white-faced herons paused in their preening to keep an eye on me as I attempted to get close.

Inlet
Reflections on the inlet near Ration Point

It was a morning of breathtaking beauty and undisturbed reflections .

SH2
Near Haywards Hill on SH2

Remarkably, the fine weather persisted until today (Wednesday) and so I went North to Silverstream where a friend had predicted spectacular landscape opportunities on a frosty morning.

Silverstream
Misty morning at Silverstream

My friend was right, the mist on the frosty grass was just delightful. See you next time.

 

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Birds Landscapes Light Vehicles Weather Wellington

February 27, 2015 … getting back to normal

I got my car back at the end of the day.

Heron
Solitary and unhappy white-faced heron

My first shot of the day once mobility was restored was of this white-faced heron sitting at the roadside on top of a grassy bank by the sea. Unusually for these normally skittish birds, it seemed unmoved by passing traffic, so a pause to get close was in order. Anthropomorphism is always dangerous, but I judged this bird to be depressed. Being in breeding plumage and alone might account for this.

Harbour
From Kelburn across the Harbour

In the evening, I went into the city to try for some “rosy evening” shots. The building I wanted was covered in scaffolding and plastic wrap. I surmise that the North facing stained glass window of Victoria University’s Hunter building still has water issues. Oh well, up to Kelburn by the cable car terminus. The spot I wanted to use was occupied by a young couple engaged in an intense but quiet debate of the deep and meaningful variety so I backed off. I came back half an hour later to find that peace had broken out with kissing and couple-selfies happening. I like to think that my discretion played a small part in this. When I set up my tripod, at last, I thought the soft pink light was worth the wait.

Kelburn
Inner city from Kelburn. Kelburn park is in the foreground with the fountain sitting idle.

A little further around the walkway and looking back into the city gave a different view.

That’s all for now.

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adversity Architecture Birds Lake Taupo Lakes Landscapes mountains Reflections Vehicles

January 29, 2015 … this old house*

Home again and glad to be here.

Sunrise
Looking to the rising sun across Lake Taupo from the historic wharf at Tokaanu

It was a great trip in all its various parts. Yesterday began very early in Tokaanu, where I overcame my habitual avoidance of mornings. I went down the road towards Little Waihi to catch the sun rise over the lake. Click on this and all the pictures for a better view.

Colours
The duck enjoys geothermal warmth and fits right into the wondrous colours of the new day at Tokaanu

Beside the road there are places where local rivers mingle with geothermal steam and the growth in the various pools is lush and colourful The duck is incidental. It  was the colours that attracted me. Other shots not shown here show clouds of steam hovering over the surface.

Weather
Heavy weather to the East of the Desert Road

After breakfast, we completed our packing and took a fairly direct route home down SH1. The Desert Road was less clear than on the Northward journey and there were some heavy-looking clouds out to the East.

Mountains
The central mountains – Ruapehu in the Centre and Ngauruhoe to the Right

On the other side of the road, there was more clear sky, but the mountain peaks were shrouded in cloud.

Taihape
Memories of days gone by – Taihape

Down the road, a little past Taihape, there is an old derelict house. It is obviously photographed often because the sign posted beside the door is apparently a notice telling photographers that they are unwelcome. I never got close enough to see.  However a friend said it put her in mind of the lyrics to the song by Shakin Stevens Stuart Hamblen …

This old house once knew my children,
this old house once knew my wife,
this old house was home and comfort
as we fought the storms of life*

Mangaweka
Fruit trees around this old house in Mangaweka suggest it was a happy place

At Mangaweka, another old house demanded my attention. It was obviously someone’s well-loved home because it is surrounded by pip and stone fruit trees, many of which still bear fruit. Stevens Hamblen comes to mind again:

this old house once rang with laughter,
this old house heard many shouts,
now it trembles in the darkness
when the lightning walks about.*

LAV III
They take a firm approach to speeding motorists at Hunterville (kidding). The army passes by.

A comfort stop at Hunterville was made more memorable as a squadron of Canadian-built LAV III armoured fighting vehicles passed through. I think they belong to the Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles, a regiment of the New Zealand Army, Based at Linton Military Camp near Palmerston North. I think we are blessed as a country that, except on ceremonial occasions, we very rarely encounter the weapons of war.

And now, as I said, we are home again.

* This Old House by Stuart Hamblen

Note: The use of the lyrics to This Old House is not intended to refer in any way to the real owners or occupiers, past or present of the houses pictured.

Categories
adversity Birds Landscapes Lower Hutt Petone Vehicles Weather

December 11, 2014 … at the bottom of a new learning curve

For the next few days I need to beg your indulgence.

Hutt
From our front door looking down towards Lower Hutt in the rain

 

I have acquired a new camera. Yes, I already have two fine cameras, the Canon 7D and the 5DII. Why would I be tempted to get another? It is the Fujifilm XT-1 mirrorless camera. There are many deep technical reasons why this is a different kind of camera. Suffice it to say that this extract from a hard-nosed reviewer is fairly typical of the reviews this camera is getting: “The Fujifilm X-T1 is an outstanding camera, boasting superb image quality, a fantastic viewfinder and continuous autofocus which actually works, letting you successfully capture subjects in motion. All this plus superb manual focusing assistance and Wifi with smartphone remote control packed into a compact but perfectly proportioned weatherproof body. It’s one of the best cameras around at this price point whether mirrorless or DSLR and one I can highly recommend.” (Gordon Laing, Cameralabs, March 2014*). Will it make me a better photographer? Of course not. It might make it easier for me to make better photographs, but that’s a different thing. On full Auto, it does a great job.  On other settings, it is very complex and I have a lot to learn. Of course I didn’t read the manual first and went to the front door and shot through the rain down into Lower Hutt.

Truck
Beautifully restored Bedford OLB truck that lives in the salt air at Seaview Marina

 

Despite the dismal weather I had to try it out, so made some shots from the driver’s seat of my car. Though the camera body claims to be “weather sealed” the lenses are not (unless you buy some of the newest models which are way above my budget).

birds
Swan and spoonbills each minding their own business

 

These are very ordinary shots, but in my defense, I really had no clue what I was doing with some of the fundamentals of the camera.

Grass
Fascinating texture in the grass

 

As I waited at a traffic light I had a minute or two to spare so snatched a close shot of the hardy sea-grasses planted in the median strip on the Esplanade. Bear with me for a few days as  I find out how to fly this thing.

Goodnight.

* Cameralabs review of the Fujifilm XT-1 by Gordon Laing http://cameralabs.com/reviews/Fujifilm_X-T1/index.shtml

Categories
Architecture Day's Bay Reflections Seaview Vehicles

December 3, 2014 … lonely as a cloud*

Wandering aimlessly again, hoping to see something.

house
New house in Day’s Bay

 

I know it’s a strategy that gives poor returns, but for now, it’s what I do.  I went down to Day’s bay and quite liked the clean lines of the upper house in this shot, taken from the Day’s Bay beach. I am not so sure about the somewhat ad hoc appearance of the path that leads from the lower to the upper house, but the views from those windows across and down the harbour must be stunning.

gallery
Ivy covered window

 

At the foot of the hill is the Van Helden Gallery right next door to the wonderful Cobar Restaurant. In the courtyard beside the gallery there are some windows which serve both as a source of light and as a display setting. I think they are works of art in their own right.

Tractor
Western Star tractor unit

 

Back in Seaview, I saw the big shiny “Western Star” tractor unit from Hookers’ fleet of bulk liquid haulers.  I have never lost the small boy’s fascination with big trucks and engineering generally, so I had to stop.

Bumper
The last thing the possum ever saw was its own reflection

 

As I wandered around it, I was intrigued by the amount of chrome plating from grille to bumpers, air cleaners, exhaust stacks  and wheel hubs. The only thing not polished was the “fifth wheel” which was coated in thick black grease for the trailer units to pivot on. I did wonder about the economic rationale for so much cosmetic work on the trucks. I am guessing that the idea is that the driver will take pride in a smartly dressed truck and treat it with respect.

That’s all for now.

* I wandered lonely as a cloud by William Wordsworth

 

Categories
Birds Industrial Landscapes Light Seaview Vehicles Weather Wellington

November 21, 2014 … scrap metal

Another grey day in late spring.

Ford
Beautifully restored 1931 Ford Model AA

The wind was whistling, though the sun was out in a fairly half-hearted sort of way. I chose to head towards the Eastern bays and as I drove through the Seaview area, I spotted a magnificent old truck outside a scrap metal merchant. A 1931 Ford AA was obviously not long out of the restoration process. The tyres were so new that the sprues (soft bristles from the moulding process) had not yet worn off. The vehicle was immaculate and in the tray a pile of scrap steel was artfully arranged and carefully spot-welded in place to prevent it falling off or being stolen.

Tree
Looking up through a scrap metal Christmas tree. If you look closely the steel wrapping has nasty teeth

 

Behind the truck was the weirdest Christmas tree I have ever seen. Constructed on a spine of steel pipe with carefully arranged pipe branches, the tree’s “foliage”was a careful wrapping of industrial bandsaw blades. My first thought was that it was some sort of razor wire, but the teeth were even more vicious than that. Dangling throughout the tree were decorative pieces of scrap metal. Very clever,  but not a thing of beauty.

Oystercatcher
Pied Oystercatcher

 

In Lowry Bay I spotted an oystercatcher. Normally shy birds, this one allowed me to get quite close as I peered around he edge of the colourful boatshed. As you can see the wind is getting under its plumage.

Boatshed
Boatshed at Lowry Bay with Kaukau in the background

 

From the other end of the bay, the boatshed’s vibrant colours stood out well against the hazy grey of Mt Kaukau so I got down to the waterline and tried to capture that contrast.

Something different tomorrow, perhaps