Queen Elizabeth II was a remarkable women who became queen in my 9th year. Despite my distaste for the notion of monarchy in general, Queen Elizabeth has served all her peoples with grace, dignity and unswerving commitment over seventy years. I do not intend to enter into debate with anyone on these matters, but it seems appropriate to acknowledge such a span of service.
Meanwhile, life continues at the coal face. Sometimes I find the routines of life a little uninspiring, and even depressing. Still, I love the process of making images. On the other hand, if I am not seeing or finding the images that bring me joy, the mood barometer swings downward again.
Mary and I had driven up to Palmerston North in the hope of finding birds or signs of spring. While I enjoyed travelling with Mary, the day was photographically, a bust. Then, as she was serving our evening meal back at home, Mary said “look out of the front window!” I begged a slight delay in the meal and grabbed my camera and a wide angle lens and went out onto the front lawn. Ever the sign of hope, the rainbow made up for much that we had missed earlier.
It’s slightly weird when I am lamenting a down mood, that I can take pleasure in heavy clouds and grim outlooks. From Balaena Bay across Evans Bay to Point Halswell and the Miramar peninsula, I was attracted to the imposing cloudscape.
At the back door, Mary grows various flowers and herbs. They are just so ever-present that I often fail to see them. Now and then, they catch my eye. In this case, the rosemary’s blue flowers took some time on an otherwise damp and dismal day.
Evans Bay is a frequently visited site that occasionally yields a nice image. The still patch of water near the shore was disrupted by a row of incoming waves. Why do these waves differ from the chop on the water further out?
As I often do, I arrived too early for an excellent yum char lunch with friends and former colleagues in Courtenay Place. I filled the time by exploring nearby laneways. This image was made in Forresters Lane and is the front of a cocktail bar called “Love Bite”. Foreign territory to me.
Although I have done it many times before, I can’t resist still water in Oriental Bay marina.
Despite the number of trips I make to Queen Elizabeth Park wetlands, I have not been rewarded with the hoped for birdlife in recent months. The only capture on this trip was this Australasian shoveller.
Wellington’s Botanic Gardens are full of little surprises. This little waterfall is perhaps only a metre high, but adds to the music of the garden.
It’s tulip time again. Sadly it’s all too brief , but the gardeners always manage to arrange a good display of tulips for a few weeks. I got there the week prior to the annual tulip festival, so was limited as to the available colours.
I find it hard not to love tulips, singly or en masse.
Here is Kaiarahi (formerly Stena Alegra) just back in Wellington after many months sitting in Picton with a broken gearbox. The required parts were finally installed and here she is ready to resume service.
A splash of colour at the head Evans Bay. Urban forest’ (2008) by Leon van den Eijkel and Allan Brown is a stack of cubes designed to spin in the wind, of which there is plenty at the site. Sadly it fails often and just sits. Nevertheless, it is interesting and nine metres high.
See you next time, I hope.
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I can’t recall a more miserable winter than this one. Not in the sense of a Northern hemisphere snowy winter. Rather, it has been a season of persistent rain and sustained strong wind. Not a season to encourage much in the way of landscape photography in my opinion. And so it has been that I have made fewer images, and that the images were constrained by the subjects available, and by the often unkindly light of bleak wet winter’s days.
Apart from that, I somehow let time slip by, so I have accumulated a few more images than usual.
The little black shag intrigues me. As far as I know, it is is the only shag that hunts in packs. All of the others are solitary hunters.
It fascinates me to watch the flock herding a shoal of fish into the shallows where they can feast on the fish which have no escape route.
I mentioned the winter weather. One aspect of it that I rather like is the Southerly swells. Big slow moving waves with long intervals between each crest are so impressive. This is at the Western end of Island Bay.
Huge swells (by local standards) seem to glide almost silently towards the coast. Of course, the wind is shrieking but that seems separate from the water.
We’ve met this guy or one of his relatives before. For whatever reason, the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park have not had the usual variety of bird life. No coots or dabchicks have been seen in my recent visits. It’s a really tough day when there are no Welcome swallows. The flax branch just outside the bird hide is a favourite resting spot for them, and if I am lucky, it is open to the occasional shaft of light.
The tui was named Parson bird by early colonists because the white throat tufts have the look of a clerical collar. It is a member of the honeyeater family. Many people tend to think that its plumage is dark, almost black. If you catch it in the light, however, you find that its coat is an iridescent blend of blues and greens, brown and white. It seems to be increasing in numbers over recent years and that brings me joy, despite its bullying behaviour towards the smaller passerines.
Somedays it sucks and then it blows. Though it’s warmer than the Southerlies, the Northerly wind can produce miserable conditions. Here we are in Evans Bay as the strong Northerly squalls rip the top off waves on Wellington Harbour.
Another tui shot, with the clerical collar in full view. As I said above, it is a honey eater, and likes any source of nectar. I was surprised to see this one slurping on a banana that Mary had placed there for the waxes.
One of my struggles is to find different ways of looking at the broad scenes in front of me. In this case, I was at the Mana Marina. Normally I would choose a wider angle that reveals more of the boats, but on this occasion I liked the pattern or texture of all the boat bows nosed into the marina gangway.
I promise this is the last tui in this edition. Spring is with us next week, but some of the flowers are ahead of the officially approved timetable. As I said, this is a nectar feeder so the sudden outbreak of new flowers is a delight to it.
I think I have done this before. The bird hide at Queen Elizabeth park is not always productive, and I fill in time by making images of the spider webs around the view ports. I suppose the existence of the webs suggests that not much photography has happed here in recent days.
There are some cliffs near the Seaview Marina, and as I was driving past, I spotted a beautiful splash of deep blue. Later investigation identified it as a member of the borage family called Pride of Madeira (Echium fastuosum) . Anyway, I snaffled a single bloom and photographed it in my dark box and quite liked it.
Wet windy weather persisted. Mary had braved the weather to walk Petone beach and she found some shells. OK, still life is good practice. I have no idea which particular mollusc this is but I liked the translucence.
More still life – guess what the weather was doing. These walnuts have sat in the bowl for several months now.
I despise most forms of graffiti, especially the ones that are the equivalent of a dog marking its territory. Now and then, the colour choices catch my eye, as in this case in Lyall Bay.
I was eating my lunch in my car on the corner of Lyall Bay near the airport when this Pilatus PC12 approached the South end of the runway. It’s not a great shot of this fine little 9 seat aircraft, but I paid attention because it was making the perfect three-point landing without the usual nose-high flare more commonly seen. OK, so I’m a nerd.
More graffiti. This example is on one of the water reservoirs at the top of the Haywards Hill. If I had my way, the manufacturers and distributors of spray cans would be taxed annually based on the estimated square footage of external private property that is covered in their product. That includes every rail wagon and every wall defaced.
I don’t often look at Wellington from the East. This is from Elizabeth Street on the lower slopes of Mt Victoria. Those who know the city will recognise the Hunter building at Victoria University across the valley.
Further up Mt Victoria, near the summit lookout, is this fine pou whenua. I suppose a pou whenua is roughly equivalent to a totem pole. It is a statement of heritage by the tangata whenua (the people of the land).
Somehow, I find panoramic images are rarely satisfying, yet I keep attempting to make them. This one is a stitch of eight or nine images. I knew something was different in this one and struggled to identify it. It was only as I was checking that the stitching between images had worked that I realised there was no scaffolding on the Post Office headquarters building (extreme right). Scaffolding has surrounded this building since before I retired in 2011. Apparently apart from many other issues, this has involved asbestos remediation.
And so ends another edition. Sorry for the long gap this time. The weeks slip by ever faster. If you want your copy emailed, please subscribe below
One of my favourite mentors, Alastair Benn this week asked his subscribers what makes a good photograph/photographer. Any of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that this is a sure way to trigger all my anxieties and self doubt. He also asked whether we thought it was feasible to judge your own work.
Solely in relation to my own work, I regard a good photograph as one that I like, that I am pleased to have made and one to which my first reaction is not how much better it could have been “if only I had done something else.” In my view, although I love to get affirming opinions from others, the vital component is that I like it myself. I take it for granted that the image is made competently. After that it is a matter of what I saw and how I extracted that seeing from all that was in front of me.
So here follows the usual collection of images made since the last edition of this blog. I like some of them. Others not so much.
Winter mist on the harbour and all is blank beyond Pt Halswell. The Hutt Valley is probably still out there, though there is no evidence of it.
I like the little black shags. Their plumage is beautifully patterned but not coloured. This one was hanging the wings out to dry in whatever thin substitute for sunshine was available.
Misty conditions appeal to me, though the resulting images rarely match the vision I had when I made them. This was on the road South to the Wainuiomata coast. Silhouettes against the mist always appeal to me.
Now and then I get the urge to go up Wright’s Hill at the Western end of Karori. The problem with geographic lookouts such as Wrights Hill, is that they are constraining. Every time I go up there, I end up in the same place looking at the same view. Only the light, time of day and the weather change. I need to get more inventive.
Unlike Wright’s Hill, Evans Bay offers myriad different vantage points. Some face East, some West. Some look into bays, others look out. I liked this view because it is an angle not often seen.
As far as I can tell, this caterpillar is going from left to right. I will further venture that this is probably a white cabbage butterfly seen here hanging under a parsley plant. Two aspects caught my eye. A droplet of water on the caterpillar’s back was interesting because I have no idea where it came from. The other thing that drew my attention was its pointy little feet.
A seemingly perfect day seemed to promise a spectacular sunset. Sadly, it didn’t happen. Instead, a wall cloud developed to the West and we had a fairly ordinary sunset. The only consolation were the glittering reflections in the Hutt River and the Waiwhetu Stream.
Ivey Bay is a frequent haunt of mine. Among other things, I like it because of the character of the boats moored there. As I have observed before, these are not plastic “gin palaces”, but rather, honest working boats, probably built by the original owner.
Looking from the top of the Wainuiomata Hill across the Cook Strait, there is usually a splendid view of the Kaikoura mountains. Tapuae-o-Uenuku is always magnificent, especially considering that summit is 130 km away.
Here is the new kid on the block. This is Tākina. It is the almost finished Wellington Convention Centre. I quite like it, though birders are not pleased with so much glass that could injure the birds.
Aquilla is one of the local fishing trawlers seen here returning from the Cook Strait with a swarm of sea birds hovering hopefully in her wake.
Porirua Harbour has its moments. I especially like it when there is no wind, and that is much more often than you might think. This is a multi-image panoramic stitch made between two trees near the Whitireia Polytchnic.
Mary had a birthday recently and the family turned up and provided morning tea at a local cafe. Jack (15) arrived with a bunch of tulips for the occasion. Flowers for the win!
And that’s another edition in the can, though I had a repeat of that sudden loss of editing. I might have to see if there is something more reliable than WordPress.
With the road trip behind me, my challenge now is to keep the photographic flame alive. That can be hard while living an everyday life in suburbia. Many times before, I have referred to seeing familiar things in a different way. Some of my photographic friends have the gift of “finding a different place” to stand when making pictures of things that I see every day. What I need to do in my search for something worth photographing is to pause, and to not make the picture until I have considered other ways of looking at it. This might be to go round the other side. It might be to include (or exclude) another element. Perhaps it is looking at the subject through a different lens. The wide angle offers a different picture to that made by the telephoto. Anyway, for now at least, we are at home on the Western Hills of Lower Hutt and Winter has officially begun.
Before I totally forget the road trip, many thanks to all the nice readers who sent kind words and affirmation. Your messages were greatly appreciated.
A crranberry flavoured tablet made a spectacular fizz. I tried to catch it in my lightbox. That went OK, but I wondered whether a dark box might give a better image. The illusion of a reflection is createrd by the simple trick of standing the glass on the base of an identical glass inverted.
One trick for seeing a view differently is to make a part of the scene substitute for the whole. Looking from Oriental Parade up the harbour, Wellingtonians are familiar with the view of the hills to the North. I have tried to present that view differently. The dark mass in the foreground is Matiu/Somes Island. Behind that are three folds in the Eastern hills of the Hutt Valley and I suspect the highest visible hill through the haze is Mt Climie behind Upper Hutt. A popular track with runners runs 6km from Tunnel gully to the summit. Masochism at its finest.
Big swells on the South coast tend to attract the surfing community to Lyall Bay. It also attracts photographers. I am not sure why. Though the surfers may be different, it’s essentially the same picture each time. The only thing that rescues such an image from being the same as last time is the extent to which the light conditions or the waves are different. In this case I think the explosive burst of a big swell on the breakwater at the end of the airport runway makes a difference.
Recently a flock of Royal spoonbills has taken to spending time on the Pauatahanui wetlands. It is often the case that, even when the rest of the inlet has a bit of a chop on the surface, the wetlands are perfectly still. These birds are still not quite the equal of the white heron, but they run a close second.
On Ivey Bay, there is often a variety of shore birds. In this case, a pied shag is proclaiming dominance over the bay. Across the inlet, the hills to the North of Grays Rd tower above the foreshore. I mainly liked the light.
That same morning, the water was perfect and one of the classic older wooden boats in the bay served as a focal point for my image making. I have no idea which boat it was, but as with previous captures, I have a preference for the simple old-fashioned working boats.
We have been blessed with a relatively mild winter thus far. No deep cold, no sign yet of snow on the Tararuas. The only real symptom of winter has been a few heavy swells from the South. I like to try to catch these big waves, and hope to convey the weight of water behind each one. I am fascinated by their slow ponderous advance. I know conditions will be interesting when the gap between each wave is about ten seconds.
In the grounds of St James Church, Lower Hutt, shared by the public library except on Sundays, there is a lot of history and a great deal of horticulture, mostly carried out at the expense of the Lower Hutt City Council. I spotted these little beauties and thought they were some kind of spring flower that got confused. These Loddon lilies, however, are a winter flower so they were perfectly on schedule and it was only me that was confused.
Unilever has been part of Petone’s scenery scenery since 1919. The big factory building with its constantly steaming exhaust stacks came much later, sometime mid-century. At its peak, about 600 people worked there. Automation in the latter years apparently reduced the on-site numbers to about 30. The distinctive glass office block was built in the 1980s. In 2014, pursuant to global restructuring, Unilever transferred its New Zealand operations to Australia and the Petone factory fell silent. Some of the lesser buildings at the Eastern end of the 5 hectare property seem to have been leased or sold to small businesses. The office block remains dark and reflects the equally still factory block.
A long-proposed cross-harbour pipeline will improve resilience of Wellington’s water supply. The present sole pipeline runs alongside the main highway and crosses known seismic fault lines in several places. Construction began on the new line this year and is expected to be complete in 2025. A barge with some heavy machinery has been in Lowry Bay for several months now and has established some piles. I saw these two intrepid workers being lowered on a work platform to inspect one of the piles. I got the impression that they were controlling the crane themselves. If so, they were not afraid to get their feet wet.
I shouldn’t tempt fate with a caption like that. We have endured some vile weather in recent days. No surprise then, that when conditions are good, I seize the day. This image is from the walkway beside the marina below Pt Howard. You can see traces of the morning mist dissipating over the Western Hills.
May I urge you to click on any image that appeals to you to see a larger version.
I don’t know why I didn’t discover it earlier, but WordPress has a feature that allows its readers to sign up to receive each new edition of a blog by email. Simply enter your email address once in the space below. Once only and not if you are already getting it by email.
Mary and I recently celebrated fifty two years of marriage. Wow! How did that happen? I have to say, I got lucky. Very lucky.
I recommend, as always, that you click on each image to see a larger version.
This edition was scheduled for 4 April, but various distractions held me up. Now it is Good Friday. To those who celebrate the season with me, I wish you a Happy Easter.
Oriental Bay Marina on a very nice morning. The boat sheds are reflected in the still water and a young couple come striding past with their dog.
Our neighbours have a trio of yucca plants at their front gate. They are spectacular during their all too brief flowering season.
From Lowry Bay looking across the harbour on a beautiful morning. The two kayakers in mid-harbour were taking advantage of the conditions and fishing. I am always surprised that the kayak is a sufficiently stable platform for this, especially if the fish is a big one.
Sitting in my car in the automatic car wash, I was intrigued by the patterns in the soap bubbles through which a far-flung outpost of Colonel Sanders’ empire was visible.
When the weather turned unpleasant I decided to play with some still life. I enjoyed this one. I wasted the minimum possible amount of wine, transferring it to the glass with an eye-dropper
The weather was a bit up and down, so whenever the water was still I seized the opportunity, even though I have done the same scene many times before.
Way back in 1951, during the great waterside strike, there were over fifty ships in port, with perhaps 20 of them alongside the wharves. Back in those days there was much more usable wharf space. These days, four modest sized ships seem to constitute a near full port.
Another weather opportunity grabbed. In Oriental Bay I liked the view back past the Carter Fountain. The red monstrosity in the lower centre is the “boat cafe”. It grieves me because it was once a very fine and powerful steam tug, the Aucklander, built on the Clyde in 1958. She supplemented the William C Daldy and the Te Awhina in guiding the big ocean liners of the day for the Ports of Auckland. She must have been amongst the last of the tugs powered by triple expansion reciprocating steam engines. My Dad took me down in her engine room and I was hugely disappointed that they were both cased in sheet steel with no visible moving parts and lacked the elegance of the visible castings of earlier years.When its time was up, the Auckland Harbour Board sold it to a Wellington business and now it’s a darned restaurant. Bah!
The hedge outside our kitchen window was recently trimmed, thus depriving the various bees of access to the flowers. Despite this, the bees were able to locate the few remaining blooms and I could locate the bees through the open kitchen window with a long lens.
A recent series of still foggy mornings allowed me to catch spider webs covered in the morning dew. There are so many varieties of web and this was my favourite on the day.
The Point Howard Marina was just perfect from my perspective. The water was a perfect mirror and the sea mist hid the city and its hills.
This little fizz-boat with its two 90hp Evinrudes scarcely ruffled the surface as the owner set out on his trip.
It’s hard to categorise the images gathered for this edition. I like some. Others not so much. Nevertheless, these are what I regard as my best shots since I last posted.
I urge you to click on each image to see the a larger version of the picture.
In the South West corner of the Pauatahanui Inlet, is Ivey Bay and Dolly Varden Beach. It is a sheltered area popular for swimming with children. On this occasion I liked it because the still water reflected the blue doors of the boat sheds so well.
The bird hide at Queen Elizabeth Park wetlands has some hatches that swing up to give a clear view over the water. Despite the high usage of the hides, I can guarantee that the industrious spiders have almost always used the frames to spin their webs since the last visitor. Normally, if there had been birds to see I would have cleared the openings, but on this occasion, I chose to photograph the web itself. The randomness of the web fits nicely with that whole wabi-sabi thing I mentioned last time
Test drills in theWellington Harbour have been happening for at least a couple of years now. What they are doing is looking for the flow of fresh water in the strata below the harbour bed. The intention is to access aquifers close to the city that can be accessed with out crossing the fault lines as all present supplies do. I loved the colourful reflections below the platform despite the fact that the bright pink and green came from the two “portaloo” cabins.
This temporary art work will sit in Whairepo lagoon until 20 March. It is an inflatable piece, by Auckland artist, Lisa Reihana as part of the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of Arts. Art seems to take a different form each year. In this case it is of the giant inflatable octopus. It represents Te-Wheke-a-Muturangi which was chased and killed by the legendary warrior, Kupe.
Our neighbour allowed me to make images in her garden. I suspect she was surprised that I spent time on this spiny succulent which I think is a spiral aloe. Light was the key to its attraction for me.
Just North of Featherston, there is a memorial park that is on the site of a major army camp of WWI. At its peak, it was home to 60,000 trainees, many of who died on European battlefields It was also the site of a WWII prisoner of war camp that held up to 800 Japanese soldiers. It now serves also as a memorial for the deaths of 48 Japanese soldiers who were shot by their New Zealand captors during an altercation over being required to work. One New Zealand soldier also died from a ricochet fired by his fellow guards. The site today is small, and has a beautiful grove of flowering cherry trees and several memorial plaques. As we walked Mary spotted a cluster of fungi at eyelet on the trunks of some of the beech (?) trees. They looked to me like common mushrooms, but I firmly believe that unless you are 100% sure, leave them be.
We had been to Foxton Beach and Mary was at the wheel as we drove home. I love the orderliness of the market gardens in the Otaki region. A large proportion of the farmers in this area seem to be of Chinese ethnicity, and at the risk of perpetuating stereotypes, I observe how long and hard they work. The rubbish fire at the foot of the hills added interest to this image which was taken through the open window of the moving car.
The tiny flowers that propagate down in the lawn are attractive, but increasingly harder for me to get close to with the camera. I got down really low for this image of the self heal flower (weed). It took me much longer to get up than it did to compose and make the picture.
Rarely do I venture out in the evenings to make pictures, but this evening was just so perfect that I asked for a leave pass and went down to the beach at Petone. I was lining up for a low angle shot across the harbour when a young woman decided to launch her paddle board right beside me. I took that as permission to include her in the photograph that I was obviously about to make. Her skill in getting up and paddling was admirable.
There are various arachnids and even some insects that get called “daddy longlegs”. I think this one is Pholcus phalangioides. I was in the smallest room and spotted it climbing up the edge of the door. After the necessaries were done, I grabbed my camera and got close, by which time it was almost at the top of the door Happily it stayed still while I got it in frame.
Nice neighbours occasionally provide flowers to Mary who looks after their cat when they are away. I get to take advantage and attempt some floral portraits. I think the white flowers are Cosmos and the red one a dahlia variety, as is the quite different pink flower.
Looking North towards Evans Bay beach from around the Western edge of the Bay and I noticed a gaggle of kite surfers. If I am on the beach I am too close and thus unable to get them and their kites in a useful image. It’s still a squeeze but three kites in one shot is satisfying.
I collected a posy of dandelion seed heads during the week just ending. Of the seven heads collected, five were persuaded to dump their seeds by the stiff Southerly on the way into the house. Not pleased.
One of the landscape photographers whose weekly vlog I follow said this week that some weeks are flat. He doesn’t always have good weeks. I agree with him. The last two weeks have not been great but we do what we can.
An old joke asks “what am I doing in this hand basket, and where am I going?” Recent world and local events seem to reflect this theme. I lack the kind of spirit that might cause me to be personally involved, other than expressing my opinion. (Putin is a war criminal and the local anti-mandate protest movement is based on culpable disinformation.) And so I divert myself by seeking the beauty around me. Mostly, I find it in small scale things. For sure, New Zealand has a lot of beauty on a grand scale, but this is not the time to be travelling and among crowds of people. In recent times, the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi has appealed to me. Crudely summarised, it seeks beauty in imperfection. Imperfection is a specialty of mine 🙂
Out in the Pauatahanui inlet there is a resident flock of royal spoonbills. They are wabi-sabi personified. While its cousin the white heron is undeniably beautiful, the spoonie wears a clown costume. The grotesque bill is efficient at dredging the mud for food, but makes it hard for me to take them seriously. Watching a pair squabbling is akin to seeing two people engaged in a duel using salad servers.
Near the yacht club at Foxton Beach, Mary and I were enjoying a picnic lunch on the stop bank when a flight of black swans came over low and slow. I grabbed my camera and lined them up but even so, they were past me when I finally got them in the viewfinder and in focus. If you thought the black swans were all black, then this shows otherwise.
There was a clump of sweet peas beside the lookout platform at Foxton Beach. It was being visited by a number of bumble bees. To my surprise, they were not all of the common black and yellow bumble bee variety (Bombus terrestris). There were several others and various expert groups have suggested that the strangers were the large garden bumble bee (Bombus ruderatus). This is narrower, and is more black and white than my old familiar friend.
It is a rare visit to Featherston that I don’t divert down Murphy’s Line to the Lake Domain Reserve. I am often disappointed. On this occasion, the lake was perfect, and reflected the silvery blue clouds beautifully. The rusting steel piles of the old Hansell’s jetty make a delightful focal point for the photographer. Yes, I have made similar shots before, but I take joy in beauty no matter how often I encounter it.
The lovely blue chicory flower seems to spread along the roadside grasses of the back country roads in the South Wairarapa. How does it get distributed? I assume that somehow the slipstream of passing vehicles is involved in the spreading of the seeds.
Misty weather is always interesting to me, and I always imagine a more romantic picture than the one I capture on the day. One day I shall get the picture that I envisaged when I pressed the shutter.
Wabi-sabi means different things to different people. For some, it involves simplicity and beauty, akin to minimalism. Other interpretations include age and decay, and the deliberate inclusion of imperfection. I thought I saw elements of it in this sheet of fallen bark that Mary brought home for me.
There was a time when I went to the city library every two weeks and would take home a bag of eight or ten adventure novels. If I finished them all before the fortnight was up, I would refresh my stash ahead of time. Now I find I lack the necessary attention span to deal with books at that rate. Instead I load books into the Kindle app on my iPad/iPhones and read my preferred styles of adventure as and when the mood takes me. I can divert to YouTube if I wish, and go back to Kindle when I am ready to resume.
As I walked the streets of Newtown, I passed the open door of a traditional men’s barber shop. I think the barbers are of middle Eastern origins, judging by the posters with Arabic script on the walls. Whatever, the shop was immaculate and attractively presented. I walked on by and then thought, if I don’t ask, how can he say yes? So I went back, scanned the QR code at the door and went in. I asked permission to shoot from the door. Both he and his client consented and here we are.
Newton is a place of magical diversity. As well as the middle Eastern barbers, there are specialist shops and restaurants from many different countries. In the few shops nearest me in this image we have a Mexican restaurant, Mr Bun (a Chinese-owned bakery and coffee shop, a Halal butcher, a (Japanese) sushi shop, and the ever colourful Jimmy’s Fruitmart. Jimmy’s is an old school greengrocer that, as well as the fruit and vegetables with which I am familiar, sells many interesting items that are welcomed by the people of the varied ethnicities that make Newtown so special.
I always suggest that Ngawi, on the South Wairarapa coast is where the bulldozers of the world come to die. Despite their decrepitude, almost all of the bulldozers on this beach are hitched by a very long drawbar to a large steel trailer, crudely welded out of girder stock and on large rubber tyres. These trailers are backed down the steep shingle beach into the sea to launch and retrieve the owner’s fishing vessel. No matter how rusty and run-down these tractors, they all seem to fire up on demand and trundle down to the sea. When it finally dies, it is replaced soon enough by another of similar condition.
The most common truck of my childhood years was the Bedford OLB. I have an affection for them, though now they are either beautifully restored by enthusiasts, or else quietly rotting in rural situations. In their prime, they looked just how I thought a truck should look. This old girl is near the bulldozers in Ngawi and is slowly being absorbed by the trees growing up around and through it.
If you drove the 120 or so km from Lower Hutt to Ngawi, then it would not be sensible to not drive the extra 5km to visit the New Zealand fur seals nursery at Cape Palliser. There is a sheltered pool among the vicious rocks where the new season’s pups frolic and splash. They are a joy to watch if you can get close to them. The limiting factor is the protective mothers. Mostly they snooze in the lee of the rocks, but if you come between them and the sea, or worse, between them and their pup, expect trouble. A large boulder with halitosis and big teeth suddenly turns into a raging matriarch, and you had better run. This wee pup is probably a few weeks old and is curious about the guy with the camera.
This pup scuttled to its mother’s side when I got too close (sorry, pup!) Mother was a bit irritated to have her siesta disturbed, but make no mistake she was aware of my presence and swift action might have followed had I got closer.
Thanks for visiting. I always appreciate any constructive feedback.
The remains of tropical cyclone Dovi was battering Wellington as I began to write. Summer feels more like winter today, despite the 15°C temperature. A howling Southerly was blasting rain against the windows and the Cook Strait ferries were cancelled. Add to that the burgeoning covid numbers, and the ridiculous protest at parliament, and the world seems to have gone mad. Nevertheless, I am still taking pleasure from the small things I find nearby, and have begun getting interested in the simplicity to be found in the world around me. And everything is so much clearer after the two recent cataract procedures.
We have lived in Normandale since 1980. In all that time we have never been troubled by ants. That might be about to change. I suspect that these are not the common black ants. They are probably the invasive Argentine ants. I found them difficult to photograph. These were revealed when a small rock was turned over and they were scurrying all over, moving quickly in and out of my focus zone.
This weird alien was given to me as a possible photographic subject. I was baffled, having no idea what it was. Happily my preferred plant identification app (https://identify.plantnet.org) took a shot and suggested that it might be the seed head of a plant called Alpine avens. That ID seems unlikely since the object was found in Normandale and that is a truly alpine plant, but I am reasonably confident that it is indeed a seed head of some kind.
A buzzing noise on the front corner of the house caught the attention. It seems that the bumble bee had flown too close to the spiders web. The bee was putting up a valiant fight, trying to position its sting towards its foe. The spider however was agile and aggressive dancing all around the bee, gradually wrapping the bee in more and more silk. Eventually the bee subsided and was dragged into the spider’s lair.
Mid summer is not behaving well at all. I was in Oriental bay looking back up the harbour towards the Hutt Valley where there were heavy clouds delivering a downpour on the washing we had hung out under almost clear skies an hour earlier. When we got back to the valley everything had been thoroughly rinsed, and the drying process had to start all over.
Lovely green insect. It took me a while to get the identification but it is a Katydid. It was moving around vigorously so it spent a little time in the fridge and that slowed it down significantly. I got several shots in while she was slowed down, but the effects soon wore off and I had to turn her loose outside.
Mary has a cluster of lavender plants in a pot at the back door . I see them in various lights from dawn to dusk, and in wind sun and rain and always find them attractive. I decided to arrange a parade.
The old myth about bumble bees is that they have insufficient wing area to fly according to conventional aerodynamic theory, but since they can’t read they go ahead and fly anyway. The reality is that they flap their wings forward and backwards and generate some powerful vortices … yes I have explained it inadequately but it will do for this purpose. There have been a lot of bumble bees around recently including this one on a rose in the Wellington Botanic Garden.
While I was having a recent period of downtime from driving, a kindly neighbour gave me one of her dahlias. It seemed so perfect and so delicate that I had to give it a shot. My prior experience with dahlias is that tend to be quite heavy and substantial flowers. This one was quite translucent in the lightbox.
The local birds get well cared for with the provision of fruit and wild bird seed. however, their table manners leave a lot to be desired and a lot of the seed gets dropped. Thus we have a couple of self-sown or bird-sown sunflowers. They are not spectacular specimens but pretty enough in their own way.
l have recently started to enjoy the Japanese idea of “Wabi-Sabi” In photography terms this is usually manifested in terms of minimalist images of transience and beauty. Imperfection and decay are common themes. In this instance, I used the newly emerged branch of a maidenhair fern against a porcelain bathtub.
This little chap has spun a minimal sort of web across the mouth of a yellow plastic bucket. Unfortunately he/she is hanging beneath the web so the image is of the arachnid’s underside.
This character-filled statue of Francis of Assisi belongs to Mary. I love its gentle simplicity and thought the candles add an attractive ambience. The long exposure didn’t treat the flames kindly, but it will do for now.
I was at Seatoun Beach on my way around the peninsula when I saw two kite-surfers enjoying the stiff Nor’Wester. I was amazed at how high this young lady got when she decided to leave the water.
There was a significant pod of dolphins in Lyall Bay last week. Perps a hundred of these magnificent creatures were stirring the bay into a froth. And then out of the South nine of so dolphins came bouncing across the bay in unison and I speculate that they were herding a school of fish towards the larger part of the pod.
That will do for this week. See you next time. Don’t forget to click on the images for a larger view.
Warmest greetings to any who still read my ramblings. I am honoured and pleased that you still visit my page. There have been a few memes in circulation that bid a scornful farewell to 2021 and wish for a better year in 2022. My immediate response was “blessed are they that wish for nothing, they shall not be disappointed.”
As I enter my 78th year, I am aware that I have not done a good job of keeping fit as some my friends and colleagues of similar years have done. My fault, no one else is to blame. I hate and resent being nagged, so my nearest and dearest have backed off unless there is an immediate danger or I really annoy them. In short I take each day as it comes.
Some days I feel it’s worth getting my camera out. Other days not so much. Given the somewhat mixed weather in the last month I am starting the year with fewer images than I would usually hope to share.
Let’s see what we have.
In the days before Christmas, Mary was very busy baking for family, friends and neighbours. She does superb shortbread, both plain and with ginger. She also does excellent ginger biscuits (in the British use of the word). On one of those wet days back then, her baking served as a substitute subject for my camera. They tasted as good as they looked, though I risked life and limb getting in the way of the baker.
This has been a strange approximation of summer, and on many days only the numbers on the calendar looked like summer. If we get serious wind for several days, then the ocean swells become worth a look. In this instance the view is across the harbour entrance
Transmission Gully has been almost ready, it seems forever. It is still almost ready, and the current narrative is that it is stalled while issues with stormwater drains are resolved. I suspect that we may be able to drive on it by Easter or perhaps mid-year. In case you are away from home, Transmission Gully runs from just North of Paekakariki, up through the hills behind Battle Hill Farm Park and down to Pauatahanui Village where there is an exit that joins the Haywards Hill road to get to the Hutt Valley, or continues on behind Porirua to rejoin the old SH1 at Tawa.
I have recently become fascinated by the many tiny but beautiful flowers/weeds that grow around home. This particular pest is called Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) … lawn enthusiasts hate it. When you get close, it is quite pretty. We have deduced that the birds are at fault. They spill the seeds that Mary puts out to encourage their presence.
Way back in 1954 when my family first migrated to New Zealand, it was unusual to see other than British cars. There were a few American cars, the odd Ford V8, the big Chevrolets and a Chrysler or two. Europe was represented by the Volkswagen and the odd Mercedes and Citroen, but the very idea of a Japanese car was completely novel. Most private cars were British. There were Austin, Morris, Hillman, Humber, Vauxhall, Riley, Wolseley, Jaguar, Armstrong Siddley, Allard, Bristol, Ford, Land Rover and so on. This weed covered wreck on the Wainuiomata coast road is a 1948 Hillman Minx. It had an 1,100cc motor and in its prime could accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in about 55 seconds. They were gentler and slower times.
A visit to our green-fingered friends in Waikanae gave me access to this beautiful wall of blue. If my identification app is correct, this is “Mealy sage”, a member of the Salvia family. I like blocks of solid colour.
My gifted assistant (Mary) found this snail at the door. We placed it on a lettuce leaf which may not have been to its taste, because it immediately began to leave. Not sure what it would have preferred. Sadly it kept moving, waving its various stalks so it was hard to get everything sharp.
Just as the shape of cars has evolved, so too have styles in marine architecture. I mourn the disappearance of the beautiful curving sheer lines on big ships, and the disappearance of the graceful curves on pleasure craft. This sad old yacht in the Clyde Quay marina looks long neglected. On the other hand, with a good suit of sails she would still look like a racer.
A near calm day at the West Wind wind farm saw the turbine blades just ticking over, and probably not generating any useful output. I decided not to make a single long exposure, but rather to make several exposures with the blades in different parts of their cycle. I then merged them at home. The result is not perfect but at least interesting.
That’s all for the first post of the year. A nice slow start as in times gone by. Constructive feedback is always welcome. As always thanks for being with me, and I wish you all the happiest of new years.
Another year reaches a conclusion, and what a year it has been for the world, and for our country, for my family and for me. Despite the fact that I try to live with hope in my heart, I look forward to 2022 with trepidation. On the personal front, I seem to crumbling at the edges. As well as the cataract, I have now been fitted with hearing aids, and hope to become accustomed to them. Then, following some sort of event that resulted in double vision, vertigo and nausea (unconnected with the cataract procedure), I ended up in hospital for a couple of nights undergoing a CT scan and MRI. No clear causes identified, but nothing sinister found. And thank heavens for free public health care which was superb for me. Nevertheless, with the vertigo and visual disturbances, my doctors say I am not permitted to drive for four weeks. Grrr.
Christmas has passed and family is scattered in Melbourne, Brisbane, Queenstown and Gisborne. Happily youngest son Anthony,, his wife Sarah and our lovely grandkids Maggie and Jack are at home nearby, so we spent some of our Christmas with them. OK, enough with the babble, what images did I get this round?
Fine days have been rare in recent times, so when one occurs, I select from one of my preferred locations. On this occasion , it was Hokio Beach (again). Since the whitebait season is ended, it was peaceful with no whitebaiters to deter the bird life. In fact, we had the beach entirely to ourselves. Mary went for a walk along the beach to the South while I lay back on the water’s edge and waited. In just a few minutes, I was blessed with a visit from one of my favourite birds, the black-fronted dotterel. These tiny creatures move very quickly and their legs are almost invisible in motion. They appear to hover across the sand and water. Just beautiful.
Also present at Hokio were the bar-tailed godwits, champions of long distance flight. They fly to tidal estuaries in New Zealand from Western Alaska in epic non-stop flights lasting 8 to 9 days. Barring the great albatrosses, they are the olympic athletes of the bird world. And they are handsome birds, aren’t they?
It was a great trip. Dotterels, godwits and even dabchicks. In this visit, the chicks have grown too big to be carried around on the parent’s back any longer. In fact they seem even bigger than the parents now, Nevertheless, they are still dependent on the parents for food. As always, the water in the Wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park is reasonably sheltered and echoes the deep green of the surrounding bush.
On another damp but windless day, Mary drove me up to the regional waterworks at Kaitoke. I was delighted to spot a small cluster of female Californian quails browsing in the lawns there beside the road. The males are more spectacular, I suppose, but the females as seen here are beautiful in their own way.
Stick insects are always problematic for me. They are interesting but very hard to make an attractive image with. They seem to need a context, so in this case it was moving slowly among the flax and lavender at the back door. It’s the first time I have seen a stick insect with a face.
It drives me nuts that, every year, the mainstream media are surprised to discover the existence of Metrosideros excelsa aurea. Breathless headlines about “rare yellow pohutukawa” appear without regard that they used the same story last year and the one before that. To be fair, I probably make the same complaint about them each year too. The yellow variety is definitely less common than the more familia crimson variety, but I think they are far from rare. There are plenty of very fine yellow specimens in the Wellington region.
This little Hebe moth is, like many others quite spectacular when up close. Mary drew it to my attention on our stairwell, so I switched to my trusty macro lens and got really close. Do click on the image to see it in the larger version. It reminds me of some of the more spectacular weaving that I have seen, though I think it would be a talented weaver indeed who could produce work as beautiful as this.
Like the pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) , the rata (Metrosideros robusta) is a member of the myrtle family and of the genus metrosideros. The flowers are, to my eye, indistinguishable from those of the pohutukawa. If you get close, the leaves of the pohutukawa are larger and a darker green, and have small hairs on the underside. Rata leaves are smaller, glossy on both sides and have a notch on the tip. A good friend alerted me to the spectacular colours of the rata trees in bloom in the rain up at Kaitoke. He was right.
Most people think of somewhere else when Waterloo Station is mentioned. Our local version would probably fit in the cafeteria of the other one. Nevertheless, it is a locally important interchange between the Upper Hutt/Wairarapa railway line and the Hutt Valley bus services. The wind-shelters in the station are an interesting and necessary feature. As I said before, I am not permitted to drive until early January so I decided to use public transport and roam around the region by train and bus for the day.
On arrival at Wellington railway station, I made this image. It occurred to me that not much has changed since the first time I passed through here in February 1954. Well, there are no steam locomotives, and the electric units have advanced through two generations. And then there are the face masks, and the cell phones. And the women wear trousers and the men don’t wear hats. No-one is smoking. Apart from that, nothing much is different
Part of my day wandering the region by public transport was to take a trip from the railway station to Island Bay by double-decker bus. Like the schoolboy I sometimes am, I grabbed the front row seat on the top deck, and enjoyed the different perspective from up there. A feature of the city at this time of year is the proliferation of pohutukawa trees in magnificent bloom. This specimen is about midway along Kent Terrace.
On my return from the Southern suburbs, I decided to take the train out to Upper Hutt and thence back to Petone Station from where I would catch a bus back up the hill to home. This was all for the pleasure of riding the rails and seeing our city from different points of view. I paused for a pizza lunch in the station before heading North. Since I wasn’t driving, a glass of Pinhead Supercharger IPA helped that go down.
Through the train windowI was intrigued by the extent of the “Bob Scott Retirement Village”. This was built on the site which was once Hutt Valley Memorial College and before that Petone Technical College. In its latter days as it was rotting, graffitied and increasingly vandalised, it suffered an arson attack and was totally destroyed. It has taken several years but the retirement village that stands in its place is now complete. Despite its somewhat forbidding appearance, I know many people who enjoy living there, and liken it to living on a cruise liner. I am happy for them, but the lifestyle does not appeal to me.
I am very blessed that Mary works so hard to compensate for my driving prohibition and she made a picnic lunch and drove us over the hill to Lake Wairarapa. We also visited Boggy Pond and had our lunch on the shores of Lake Onoke at Lake Ferry.
Time was when the trip over the hill was a long and arduous journey, especially with kids in the car. Now you wonder why it was such a big deal back then. Heck there was even a greasy spoon cafe at the summit to break the journey. Obviously the places have not got closer together, but modern cars are more powerful, more comfortable and more reliable. The journey from Te Marua to Featherston is a mere 25 minutes. My favourite spot is a corner just to the North of bridge number 6 where there is a bank of trees down a steep ridge. There is no footpath and no safe space to stop to get my desired view. This shot is not what I desired. I should have waited until we got to where that next car ahead is, but it will do as a grab shot. As a passenger I can stick the camera out the window and point it in the right direction.
That is my last blog post for the year. I hope the festive season treated you kindly and you all had a great time. For any who are locked down or constrained by Covid, my sympathies. I look forward to your company in 2022. I enjoyed a cartoon I saw (but can’t find) which depicts the occupiers of 2021 cowering behind a corner in a dark corridor, reaching out tentatively with a very long pole to nudge open the door to 2022. I would like to hope for a much better year than this has been for the world, and I wish all the very best for the new year to all those who share my journey in this blog. Thank you for being with me and for the kind words from so many of you.