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March 24, 2018 … suffering for my art

When I left you last week, I had just completed the trip to Pencarrow Lighthouse with the camera club. What I didn’t tell you is that as I came back across the Hutt estuary to Petone, I saw some delightful reflections on the river. I parked across the road and crossed back to the edge of the bay where there is a walkway that drops down beside the water and then under the Waione St Bridge. There was no moon, but lots of spilled light from the road and nearby businesses so, with one eye on the view and half an eye on the track I set out to get the picture. Then there was nothing beneath my feet, and I was suddenly reenacting Alice in Wonderland: “Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well“* I came to a sudden stop, wedged to my waist in a hole where the path had been scoured out by recent rain. And I do mean wedged. I was firmly caught between the collapsed bank and the wooden edging strip. When my elder daughter heard about it later, she sent me the image of Winnie the Pooh (inset below in the picture of the hole)

This is a pure iPhone record shot of the hole through which I fell (inset borrowed without permission in the hope of forgiveness)

There was no other person nearby and I was trapped below the level of the adjacent road out of sight of passing cars. I heard my camera and tripod crash a metre or so to the rocky beach below. It took me a good five minutes of wriggling and squirming to get a toe-hold in the edge of the hole and then to do a caterpillar-squirm back to the path. After checking that there was nothing more serious than a few grazes and shaken nerves, I clambered over the edge, down to the beach to retrieve my camera which was, astonishingly, undamaged. I took the picture of the hole on my iPhone and sent it to the council who, to their credit, repaired it the next day.

Hutt estuary
Hutt Estuary at night as a sea mist rolls in.

Then I made the image that I had seen in the first place. It wasn’t as good as I envisaged, but it was an adventure.

City textures with Victoria University’s Kelburn campus at the rear.

There were some good days and some that were less so in the days that followed. I always hope that when I look across Oriental Bay, the cityscape will tell a new story. Certainly the city looked as if it were washed clean, and the dear old Hunter Building is a jewel in the centre of the picture.


On the less comfortable days, or if it was raining, I tried some still life. I struggle with Anthuriums but this time used a new feature provided by a firmware upgrade to my camera … it makes up to 8 exposures each focused a little further back and then produces a composite using only the sharp bits.  I spent my entire career in computing but can’t imagine how they achieve this.

In the Waiotauru River at Otaki Forks. Flowing fast and cold

Mary and I went up to Otaki Gorge and she set out for a brisk walk while I took my shoes and socks off and rolled my jeans up and trod gingerly into the stony river which was very cold. No disasters occurred, though my feet got very cold.

Confrontation … or perhaps a classroom

A day later, at Pauatahanui, I spotted this white-faced heron apparently conducting classes, or perhaps fomenting rebellion, while facing a neat parade of pied stilts. The ones in the back rows seemed less interested.

Home sweet home

My car was in the dealership getting a new wheel bearing fitted, so I wandered around central Lower Hutt filling in time. The morning sun caught our house on the hill above, and since it has been home for 37 years and is currently for sale I thought I’d catch it too. That’s us, the white one third from the left. As you can see, my bedroom window top left on the front of the house has no obstacles to the view.

The Greytown shed which has been photographed by most photographers who have passed through

It seems every region has its cliché subject. Wanaka has its tree, Milford has Mitre Peak, and Greytown has its shed. It’s always hard to resist the idea that maybe this time, the light, the season, the surrounding field will make the picture better than the last two dozen times I tried.

Quietly rotting, and a target for the graffitists

Driving into the city on the old Hutt Road, as I passed under the flyover near the ferry terminal, I saw a splash of colour in the rail yards. It was a set of the now obsolete Hungarian Ganz-Mavag commuter units. They had been thoroughly vandalized with spray cans. I detest all forms of graffiti, and though there is a great deal of talent out there, I would respect it more if they painted on a surface that they owned themselves and could perhaps sell to pay for the next one. As I understand it, the Greater Wellington Council still own these units, and their intended sale to other countries has been stalled by the discovery of asbestos in them.

Wellington waterfront lagoon

We have had the most stunning summer in living memory, and are now in a quite rapid transition to a colder wetter state. So far, though, there have been a good number of those days where the sky is full of drama but the wind stays away. I love those days, especially when the light plays nicely on the city’s many reflective surfaces.

That will do for now. See you next week, barring any further holes in the ground.

*Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll


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November 16, 2016 … the earth moved and then it rained

It was an ordinary week, to begin with. I went about my business, muttering about the sustained bad weather and looking for things to photograph in such circumstances.

Old St Pauls
Old St Paul’s is a jewel in Wellington’s architectural treasury. It is de-consecrated and is now merely a historic place.

On Wednesday, I went into town, prowling. Old St Paul’s caught mu eye. There were no cars outside and the open flag was waving. so I decided to try to capture the golden glow of some wonderful wooden architecture. Barely had I unpacked my tripod when not one, but two busloads of tourists pulled up and they came in chattering and blocking the view. Several of the Chinese tourists thought I would make a good prop for their travel photos so I found myself grinning inanely with my new best friend for several photographs. As you can see there is still a cluster of the Americans getting the tourist guide speech up the front.

The lovely stillness lasted an hour or two

Saturday started out well enough, and by now you know me well enough that I dashed down to the marina while the water was still.

On Sunday with more rough weather in prospect, and recognising the signs of cabin fever,  Mary instigated a “just because” road trip. We drove up SH1 to Palmerston North, through a few heavy bursts of rain, and had a picnic lunch beside the Centennial Lagoon. We came back via the Manawatu Gorge. I paused briefly on one of the very few lay-by parks on that spectacular road and made an unspectacular image or two. I had just resumed driving when a steam whistle blew and there, across the river was a steam locomotive hauling an excursion train. Many expletives needed to be deleted. If I had stayed parked for another two minutes I would have had some great shots.

Shed at Greytown

At Woodville, we turned South and headed towards home through Mangatainoka, Pahiatua, Ekatahuna, Masterton, and Carterton. There is an old shed at the Northern end of Greytown  which has been photographed far too often, but the newly planted maize made it tempting this time. We carried on with a diversion through Martinborough and then through Featherston and over the Rimutaka Hill to home.

I was in bed that night when the earth moved for me. It moved for something over 2 minutes and registered 7.5 on the Richter Scale. It was a violent lurching and rolling which I hope never to experience again. A little later, a friend of Mary’s rang. Her apartment in downtown Lower Hutt had twisted and flexed  to such an extent that all her windows blew out, so like many in Wellington that night, we acquired a refugee. We sat and drank a medicinal whisky before returning nervously to bed. Aftershocks have continued since. Most of them are thankfully small and distant but every now and then there is a bump that pushes the scale over 5.5 and I clench everything ready for fight or flight.

Flooding under the Ewen Bridge in Lower Hutt. The driver appears to not care that his wake is inconveniencing others and what’s that he is holding to his ear?

On Monday I stayed home, processing images and contemplating the meaning of life. To add to the drama facing our city, we were struck with a gale and heavy rain. As well as damaged buildings we had flooding to contend with. Every main road in and out of Wellington was closed by slips or floods, and we had to feel sorry for the rest of the country which was now cut off from us.

Contained flood
The Hutt River has burst its normal banks, inundated the car parks but is still within the stop banks

The Hutt River is normally a small placid river. Yesterday it flexed its shoulders and burst its banks. The riverside car park disappeared from view  but the stop banks did their job and protected most of the city and suburbs. The lesser Waiwhetu Stream was not so well contained and a few houses were inundated on the Eastern Side of the valley. Things eased off today and the rivers have subsided but there is another gale forecast for tomorrow. Bah, humbug!


Adventure Greytown Wairarapa

August 25, 2015 … fierce wind at altitude

Aimless wandering yesterday got indifferent results.

North West from the summit

Some interesting low level clouds in the upper valley suggested there might be something worth seeing on the Rimutaka Hill road. There was, but nothing to make a great image with. Once you are on the road, there are few places to change your mind, so I carried on to the summit and attempted to take a photograph of the road back to the Hutt Valley. It may surprise some to know that from the summit, the road back to Wellington heads to the North West. I looked to the North West straight into the teeth of the gale. A tripod would have blown away, and I struggled to stay upright myself.

A pleasant if somewhat brief bush walk provided a welcome respite from the howling wind

There is a short loop walkway at the summit which in better weather would be very pleasant. Once I got into the lee of the lookout, the bush was indeed nice to be in, though it was being whipped about by the wind across its tops.

Wairarapa view
Looking Eastward to Greytown and beyond

Just before the track re-emerged into the wind, there was a view out to the East with the Wairarapa plains and Greytown visible through the notch  in the far distance.

That will do for the day


Family Greytown Hawkes Bay Napier sunrise Sunset

April 22, 2014 … from an unaccustomed part of the day

Apparently there is a whole world out there before morning coffee.

Sunrise, Monday 21 April, 2014
The very first edge of the sun peeks over the horizon yesterday. The sea was calm with just a modest swell coming in from the East.

Who knew? I always thought that my coffee at 10am actually caused the day to begin. My natural inclination, if I wake earlier, is to pull the covers up and close my eyes until eventually the desire for breakfast triumphs. For some reason, my normal reactions failed yesterday and my eyes remained open.  I could see through the curtains that there was some light in the sky. Perhaps it was time to discover whether these rumours of a phenomenon called “sunrise” were based on fact. The motel was a few hundred metres from the beach so I walked out, across the railway line, and over Marine Parade. Though the sun had not yet risen, the sky was quite light, and looking North along the beach, I could see that there were many other photographers along the beach, all pointing out to sea, awaiting the arrival of the new day. Gisborne is the nearest city to the International date line, and is thus  first city in the world to see the light of each new day. Napier will be just seconds behind.

Beach sunrise
Beautiful light on the clouds at sunrise

The sky was reasonably clear for the most part, but there was a line of cloud along the beach that was catching the light of the newly emerged sun. The building to the left is the national aquarium.

Delicately floating on the weed-covered water

After a visit to Mary’s mother, we set out for home. Without the urgency of the Northbound journey, we had the freedom to stop now and then for photographic purposes. Mary is very patient, most of the time, and  has knitting and a book at hand. One such stop was the Pekakpeka wetlands, just South of Hastings. The water level was quite high, and though it was tea-brown, seemed quite clear. Bird life was disappointing, though, with little to see but the ubiquitous black swans. Usually I can rely on this site for dabchicks and Australian coots. It is perhaps symbolic that my image from this part of the trip is a solitary feather left behind to float on the water.

Dark cloud
Rain in the hills to the East of Dannevirke

Near Dannevirke, the weather started to deteriorate. The hills to the East were shrouded in some heavy-looking cloud, and rain was falling, no doubt to the delight of the farmers in this often drought-plagued region.

Old farm building
Greytown landmark in the maize

Nearer to home, at the North end of Greytown, there is an old shed in a field of maize. It presents different aspects at different times of the cropping cycle, and at different times of day. Most photographers in the area have probably given it a shot. I finally stopped and Mary didn’t actually roll her eyes as she got out her knitting. I liked the warm afternoon light and te height of the maize.

Well, it’s been a longer day than usual and I am still unsure about this “morning” thing.