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December 31, 2017 … closing the curtains on another year

I hope the year has been kind to you, as it mostly has for Mary and me.

Lagoon
From the lagoon – Wellington offers interesting views even n grey days

Since I last wrote, photographic opportunities have been variable, and there have been times when I have had to make my own luck. I prefer it if any water in the picture is not too ruffled. On this occasion the day was a bit drab so I went under the edge of the walkway bridge at the edge of the lagoon at Frank Kitts Park.

Demolition
Defense HQ Demolition

Later in the day I had a coffee with our younger daughter Lena (long time readers will remember her as Helen) . Across the road from her place of work, the headquarters building for the Ministry of Defence is being demolished. It was supposedly strong enough to withstand a hit from a cruise missile. A Wellington earthquake was stronger so now, a year later, it is being reduced to rubble.

Dry
On Dry Creek Road – near Martinborough

Then there were days of such perfection that a road trip was needed. Over the Rimutaka Hill near Martinborough, conditions were very dry.

Spoonbills
Royal spoonbills in mating plumage – Wairio Wetlands

A little further down the road from there, are the Wairio wetlands on the Eastern shore of Lake Wairarapa. There were a lot of Royal spoonbills browsing the ponds and they were wearing their breeding plumage.

Pohutukawa
Feliz navidad – the national flower of Christmas – the pohutukawa

Early in December, someone threw the switch that initiated the pohutukawa flowering season. Almost overnight, there were crimson blooms everywhere. I tried for a different take.

ferries
Ferries crossing – mid-strait

Another lovely evening with a golden sunset prompted me to go to Moa Point above the airport. The ferries Aratere and Kaitaki passed each other in the middle of the Cook Strait, and the Kaikoura ranges can be seen in the haze at the rear.

Grass
Hare’s Tail grass

Sometimes the simple things appeal. Backlit hare’s tail grass always catches my eye.

Christmas
Unto us a child is born

Then it was Christmas. Mary and I like to attend the children’s Mass on Christmas eve, and this image is of our parish priest, Fr Michael carrying the statue of the Christ child to be installed in the crib. The sculptor was obviously unfamiliar with the actual dimensions and character of a newborn.

memorial
Memorial

Passing through the city I caught a glimpse of the newly revealed  sculpture in the Pukeahu National War memorial. It is a gift from the people of Britain to the people of New Zealand, and is intended to represent the shelter formed as the royal oak and pohutukawa intertwine. It has had a mixed reception from the artistic community, but I quite like it.

River
Hutt River

And then another fine day in that lost period between Christmas and New Year. The Hutt River has a few interesting spots. This one is just on the corner near Totara Park in Upper Hutt.

slow and easy
Gladstone rush-hour

From there I went back over the hill to Gladstone, to begin with, where I encountered rush-hour traffic. This image is taken through the windscreen of my car which needed a clean.

Grain
Ripe Grain

I went from Gladstone via the back road to Masterton and was again attracted to a dry-looking field of ripe grain.

Sir Peter
BE-2C taking care not to run over the boss, Sir Peter Jackson – Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit … love the bare feet

As I was setting up my tripod for the grain, I saw some biplanes overhead and instantly knew that there was activity at the Vintage Aviator Limited, on Hood Aerodrome, Masterton. I drove there in all cautious haste and managed to wheedle my way onto the apron outside their hangar. It was apparently a private event for “friends of friends” so I was fortunate to be allowed inside the barriers. I got some shots I liked. This one captured the spirit of the event. A BE-2c taxiing slowly behind the boss, Sir Peter Jackson. He is the ultimate aviation nut and those of us who live near enough are grateful for the opportunities to see the magnificent work done by the Vintage Aviator Limited (TVAL).

Wairarapa
Lake Wairarapa in a rare calm moment

From there I drove south via Boggy Pond and across the East-West link and then back up the Western Lake road where I caught this panorama of Te Moana Wairarapa (Lake Wairarapa). It was a stunning day.

bee
Everything here has a sharp point … bee and thistle both

My last image for 2017 was captured at the Catchpool Valley in the Rimutaka Forest Park. We had to vacate the house while our real estate agent showed a potential buyer through. We think an offer may follow. Meanwhile, I saw a honey bee enjoying a Scotch Thistle.

And so the year is ended. Thanks to all who follow my somewhat self-indulgent rambling. Thanks to everyone who has offered supportive comments. Thanks for your company. Warmest wishes for a safe and happy new year in 2018. May it be your best year yet.

 

 

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Adventure Birds Haywards Hill History Landscapes Machinery Maritime Martinborough Wairarapa

August 24, 2017 … across the hill and down the other side

It seems I have let time get away on me again.

Dotterel
Banded dotterel on the Wainuiomata coast

Since I last wrote I have spent a lot of time trying to improve my ability to see things in creative ways. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the seeing is ordinary. I seem to have a strong tendency to see things as they first present themselves. I suppose it is the visual equivalent of literal interpretation of texts.  Sometimes that works out alright, as in the case of this little banded dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus) lurking on the edge of the reeds on the beach at Wainuiomata.

Mist
Mist in the Belmont Regional Park near home

We have had a lot of “interesting” weather, with swirling mists. Though I am ready for some brighter weather, I am always a  little excited if there is some mist about, as long as it is not too uniformly dense and grey. The dips and folds of the Wellington landscape allow the mists to create some wonderful sheaths, and I have a good idea where to go for the best effects. This river of mist was in the Belmont Regional Park at the top end of the road on which I live.

Normandale
Normandale looking mysterious in the mist

On another day, with another mist, I needed to travel less than a kilometre up the road and the view back up the hill was totally transformed.

Waterfront
Waterfront at night

Sometimes, when a day or two goes by without a reasonable photo, and if the night is still and there are no domestic obligations, a gather up my tripod and camera and see what  photographic opportunities the night offers. This shot was made from the old Interisland wharf. Now it is used as a base for the tugs and a few fishing trawlers and during the day it is a car park.

Haywards
The Haywards Interchange at Manor Park

Another slightly odd day sent me out in search of mist. At Manor Park, the new pedestrian overbridge is finally open and I got this shot of the almost complete Haywards Interchange, where traffic coming over the hill from Porirua can now join SH2 without the need to for traffic lights.

River
Racing river in the Kaitoke regional park

From there, I went onwards to the regional park at Kaitoke North of Upper Hutt. There had been some heavy rain and the Hutt River was flowing fast even this far up the valley.

Tararuas
Tararua morning

Yesterday, we had a sudden fine clear day. My lovely wife gave me a packed lunch and said go forth and photograph. Often as I head North to the Rimutaka Hill Road, if the light is right, I am captivated by the great South wall of the Tararua range, and so it was on this occasion.

Wairarapa
South Wairarapa

On the other side, I made my way towards Tora on the East coast of the Wairarapa. As I climbed the hill out of Martinborough my rear view mirror suggested that I stop and look at the view to the West. Yes, there is some snow on the high peaks of the range and the sky was clear and blue.

Wind farm
Hau Nui wind farm

A few kilometres further to the East, some of the turbines at the Hau Nui wind farm. There is a public lookout from which six of the fifteen turbines are visible and four of them were ticking over in the light breeze.

Opua
The wreck of the Opua at Tora

By lunch time I was at Tora. To my great delight, the wreck of the collier, Opua was more accessible than I have seen it on previous visits. A combination of low tide and near calm sea allowed me to clamber over the rocks on which it was wrecked without loss of life on October 2, 1926. If I had stronger ankles and a better sense of balance, or was willing to get wet, I might have got closer still. As it was I was about 30 metres from the wreck, and could see much detail. This view is near the stern. We can see the rudder pintle at the left and  the top of the toppled triple expansion steam engine is visible just to the right of the great bulk of the boiler.

 

 

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adversity Architecture Greytown Manawatu Maritime Martinborough Masterton Palmerston North Railway Rivers Wairarapa Weather Wellington

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.

Marina
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.

Greytown
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.

Splash
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!

 

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adversity Animals Cape Palliser Landscapes Martinborough

September 27, 2015 … mixed outcomes

A visit to the South Wairarapa seemed like a very good idea.

Ngawi
Each fishing boat in Ngawi has its own bulldozer for launching purposes

Weather wise, it was a gamble with the forecast suggesting it could go either way. Sure enough, it did. We went over the hill and down through Martinborough, and Pirinoa until we were on the road towards Cape Palliser.  Near the end of the road is the little fishing village of Ngawi. This is where all the old bulldozers come to die. Actually, they are put into service pushing and pulling the big crudely welded launching cradles for the fishing boats down, and back up the steep shingle beach in any weather.

Cape Palliser
Mary and Paul descent from the lighthouse.

We went as far as the Cape Palliser Lighthouse where Mary and her brother Paul climbed the 253 steps yo the top. I heroically volunteered to stay at the bottom to get a photographic record of their attainment. In this image they have just started the descent.

Seal
Amazing eyes

We ate our lunch near the seal nursery and enjoyed the company of a large number of soulful New Zealand fur seal pups with the biggest most liquid eyes imaginable.

Sail
Kupe’s sail

From our chosen spot, despite the intermittent rain we had a good view of “Kupe’s Sail” an extraordinary sandstone outcrop near the tiny settlement of Mangatoetoe. From this angle, the layers are visible. From the West, the huge triangular sail is visible.

Rain
South Wairarapa in the rain

On the return journey we took the road through Kahutara to the East of Lake Wairarapa. It is lovely pastoral landscape, and in the odd lighting with the Rimutaka range as a backdrop, it was very dramatic in places.

Hill
Over the hill

From there we passed through Featherston, and into some dreary weather for the remainder of the journey home.

That’s all for today.

 

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Art Camera club Landscapes Maritime Martinborough Tora White Rock

January 3, 2015 … a convoy to the sea

Photography is not a team sport in my opinion.

Panorama
The dry landscape just to the East of Martinborough

 

My preference is to wander at my own pace, to see what I see, and to make images that evoke the sensations of being in the situation as I saw it. That does not have to mean as it actually was it the time. I have spoken before about eidetic writing. I would extend the idea to images, if they enable the viewer to experience something of the same sensations that the image maker had. Yesterday I joined in a camera club expedition to White Rock on the Southern coast of Wairarapa. We met up in Featherston, and drove in a loose convoy though Martinborough and then to the South East towards White Rock. Though it is a mere 73 km from Featherston, Google Maps suggests it takes two hours. With photographers this could blow out to three.

River bed
A shingle river bed near the coast. I suspect the thistles in the foreground had been sprayed

 

This was a road I had not previously travelled so there were many new views to take in. Not very far from the coast, this view back the way we had come gave a good sense of a wide valley with a broad bed of river shingle. This would be impressive with the river in flood, but at present there is the merest dribble.

Near White Rock
There’s always room for a few more curves as we make our way to the coast.

 

From the same ridge, and looking in the other direction towards the coast, there was a nice view of the road winding its way down to sea level.

White Rock
White Rock … a limestone outcrop

 

and then there is White Rock itself. To quote a report from Boffa Miskell Ltd (2101) “The rocky shore platform and formations at Te Kaukau Point are uplifted layered limestone, sandstone and mudstone sediments. The White Rock Reef is the exposed end of a tilted limestone sheet that extends about 700m offshore.

DSCF1095Opua
The Opua ran aground on October 2, 1926 and is now rapidly disappearing. This is her stem

 

After we had taken our fill of pictures around White Rock, we meandered collectively back towards the Gladstone Country Inn where we were booked for dinner. Since I was a passenger in somebody else’s vehicle, I was happy that we had time to go to Tora, a little further up the coast. I had visited Tora before, and was quite surprised at how suddenly, the wreck of the steamship Opua had deteriorated. After being part of the landscape for about eighty years, the old ship seems to be yielding to wind and waves, and the only significant remnants above the water are her stem and the boiler.

DSCF1098

Looking North up the coast, I was reminded of how beautiful the area is. And apart form the dinner, that was the day. I enjoyed the company of my fellow photographers and had a lot of fun with them, but I remain convinced that photography is a solitary art form.

That’s all for now.

*Wairarapa Landscape 2010 by Boffa Miskell Ltd