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24 August, 2022 … mostly birds and botanicals

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.

Little black shags getting ready for a hunting foray

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.

The flock in pursuit of a shoal of fish

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.

Winter weather in Island Bay

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.

Weight of water

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.

Welcome swallow

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.

Tui in the rain

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.

Hard to keep the lens dry in such squalls

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.

Tui tries exotic foodMana

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.

Mana marina

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.

Flowering cherry appeals to the tui

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.

The answer is always on the web

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.

Pride of Madeira

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.

Sea shells from the sea shore

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.

Nuts

More still life – guess what the weather was doing. These walnuts have sat in the bowl for several months now.

Graffiti colours

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.

Beautifully flat landing

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 … I wonder how much this paint cost

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.

Elizabeth St, Mt Victoria

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.


Pou Whenua

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).

Central city

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

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Adventure adversity Airport Aviation Birds Family flowers harbour Landscapes Light Maritime Oriental Bay Pauatahanui Rongotai

July 27, 2021 … taking life as it comes

After some mysterious point, the ageing process suddenly starts forcing certain changes. No longer can I hop confidently from rock to rock. Nor can I clamber down steep slopes. The only way in which my spatial awareness has improved is in my knowledge of the direction and distance to the nearest public toilet.

These gradual changes have made their presence felt in my photography. I started thinking about this after a consultation with a health practitioner recently. She suggested I might be losing my enthusiasm for photography. I rejected that idea vigorously, but realised that the kind of the images that I observe are being brought about by the gradual changes brought on by age. Most obviously, I find myself treading old familiar paths and more rarely finding the energy or enthusiasm for long trips to new places.

One of those days

When the sky is clear and blue and the water mirrors it back, Oriental Bay has a special charm. I prefer the openness of the old Clyde Quay Boat Harbour to the regimentation of the Chaffers Marina on the city side of the wharf. On this particular day, I was tempted to hang my camera underneath the tripod as close to water level as possible. I know that the green algae on the concrete ramps down to the water has an evil reputation for being slippery. In keeping with the increasing caution I mentioned earlier, I was edging gingerly towards the water when a janitor called out and warned me that two others had already slipped and come close to taking an unexpected swim that morning. I find that the heightened risk awareness limits my mobility even further, so I didn’t quite make it to the water’s edge. Incidentally, if you want to moor your boat there, the annual fee is NZ$1,293.

New Zealand Native Wood Pigeon

The next image was made without leaving home.This magnificent bird was munching happily on the fresh leaves of a kowhai tree less than two metres from our front door. I saw it through the window so very quietly unsnibbed the front door and let it swing slowly open. I stayed well back from the door and used the long lens to get close to a bird that was very near to begin with.

Alpacas

Again, close to home I went over the Wainuiomata Hill and down the coast road to the beach. It was a frosty morning, which happens less often than it used to in my opinion. Anyway, on the way, a small herd of alpaca was casting long shadows and defrosting patches of grass.

Clinker built

Certain weather patterns raise the idea of going to places that have been previously successful in similar weather. Mist suggests a trip to the Wairarapa, or perhaps the upper valley or maybe Evans Bay. Calm water prompts me to go to the Hutt estuary, Pauatahanui, Oriental Bay or again Evans Bay. Strong Southerly wind takes me to the beach on the Wainuiomata Coast, or anywhere along Wellington’s rocky South coast.I suppose that the region’s folded landscape constrains human access to places where roads can more easily be made, leaving the ridge lines free to be farmed or to remain in native bush. And so it is that the number of accessible photo sites is fewer than the overall land area might suggest. On this occasion, the stillness took me to the Hutt River estuary. There, I struggled to to make an image different to those made in my many previous visits. Down low and select just one of the small boats, perhaps. A splash of red is always worth having.

Walkway

High tide or low, I love the Pauatahanui Inlet. Of course, I prefer it when there is no wind, and the water is totally still as it was on this day. Well done to the Porirua City Council and its various sponsors who now have a well made walkway beside the water along the entire length of Grays Road from Pauatahanui Village to the Camborne Walkway. Even when the bird life is modest, I love the reeds that lend such colour to the landscape.

Sacred Kingfisher

A trip to the Waikanae Estuary brought me close to this kingfisher. It was sitting on a branch beside the road. I didn’t even have to get out of the driver’s seat to make the image. Apparently this fellow is well known locally and is not as skittish as most kingfishers I have encountered.

Royal Spoonbills

Pauatahanui is not only a place that you have to pass through on your way north up SH1 from the Hutt Valley, but also a site worthy of visitation in its own right. Apparently there is a flock of royal spoonbills who hold a similar view. For them, the attraction may be the small mud crabs which number in the thousands per square metre. Not for me though, to deny them the enjoyment of the visual beauty of the place.

Ivey Bay

At Paremata on the South Western end of the Pauatahanui inlet where the water passes under the motorway and rail bridges to the Porirua Harbour, is Ivey Bay. It provides sheltered moorings for some of the old classic motor launches. From Camborne on the opposite shore, it provides a lovely view of the little known suburb on Moorhouse Point. I knew murky weather was imminent, so had to take advantage of conditions such as these. Blue skies are well enough, but the quilted effect of the clouds really appeals to me.

Lily parts

And then came the rough weather. I stayed home. Perhaps this is part of that decreasing appetite for discomfort and adventure. Happily, Mary had recently celebrated a birthday and I got very close to the inner workings of a lily which was part of a bouquet she had received. Not being gifted with a green thumb, I have not bothered to familiarise myself with the reproductive organs of flowers, but the lily is quite spectacular. I know that the anthers (the rough brown bits) leave a vicious almost indelible stain on fabrics. Handle with care.

Another familiar view

After the worst of the storm passed, the weather was still murky, and it was utterly unappealing to wander out. So this image was shot from the front door looking across the valley along High Street towards Naenae.

Faithful old workhorse

If memory serves (and it doesn’t always) this old girl (NZ7004) entered RNZAF service in 1969. As with the rest of the five-strong fleet, it underwent major life-extension upgrades in the first few years of the new century, and is now fated to be replaced by much more capable C130J aircraft beginning in 2024. I love the condensation around the tips of its massive propellers in the moist conditions as the captain pushes the throttle levers forward.

King Alfred Daffodils

A very pleasant lunch with friends in Waikanae allowed us to see early daffodils. I always regard them as one of the first portents of spring. In mid-late July, this is perhaps a bit optimistic, and there is probably plenty of rough weather to come before the season of lambs and new growth. These flowers from the garden of our friends are of the King Alfred variety.

Magic morning

Back to where we began, though from the other end of that little harbour. Last Friday Wellington was still and bright though a little hazy. Again, I was very cautious about walking on the green algae at the water’s edge so this image was made from a higher viewpoint.

Naval Whaler

Rear Admiral Victor Montagu apparently proposed this design as a standard workboat for the Royal Navy in 1890. Originally there was no engine housing inboard, nor was there a mount for an outboard hanging off the stern as on this one. Sailing was done with a fore and main mast, and rowing was with six oars and a coxswain at the tiller. They served with the navies of Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in these roles until as late as 1970, and to this day remains in use by many youth organizations. I have always loved the elegant simplicity of the design. This one in the Clyde Quay Boat Harbour and the one in Evans Bay have been shot by me on many prior occasions.

And then came the calamity. It was, as you can see, a beautiful morning so I began crossing the carpark on Clyde Quay Wharf to see whether there might be some useful reflections in Chaffers Marina. With my eyes fixed firmly on the boats ahead, I missed the fact that there were some barriers on the ground to stop cars from banging into the electric charging stations. Whoops! I crashed to the ground and to add to my pain, I heard the camera and tripod bounce beside my head.

I lay there for a minute or so before some other seniors came rushing over to my rescue. To be honest, I needed their assistance to get up. I was assisted to a seat nearby where I gathered my scattered wits and checked the hardware. As the old cliche has it, ageing is not for sissies. Be assured that I am well, though going to a physiotherapist this afternoon. Photos will continue to be made.

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Airport Aviation Birds Cook Strait Day's Bay Family flowers harbour History insects Landscapes Light Maritime Masterton Military Paremata Waves Weather Wellington

March 13, 2021 … Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth*

I begin this edition with a tribute to a valued friend and long time reader who died last month. George Combs Berger, Lt Col USAF (Ret) died on 2 Feb 2021 aged 98. In my experience, George was the ultimate gentleman, and was a frequent and very generous contributor to the earlier versions of WYSIWYG News back when we paid an assistant to format the news. He and his late wife,Patricia had a particular affinity with New Zealand and most years he would attend the ANZAC ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral, and then post me the printed programme from the service. George told me the story of him flying a B47 Stratojet bomber across the Atlantic to the UK and having its generators fail mid-journey. He turned off everything that could be done without, and arrived at the RAF base with barely sufficient battery power to illuminate his navigation lights. My condolences to his family. He will be missed. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

Photographically it has been a mixed period. I was quite pleased with myself, almost smug in the previous issue. This time some of my shots have fallen back into the mediocre category but, what the heck, keep shooting.

Ferry and the fisherman

I have made similar shots to this one many times before. On this occasion Kaitaki was leaving the harbour, hotly pursued by a fisherman in a “fizz boat”. As with my similar prior shots, the attraction to me was the delightful “blue on blue” of the clear sky over a calm sea.

Surface confusion

Across the harbour on this near perfect day, a young couple were setting out fishing from Lowry Bay in their little boat. Across the harbour, anyone with a nostalgic connection with Victoria University of Wellington will see the red brick of the old Hunter building above the yellow buoy on the left.

An extremely rare selfie

It has long been part of our family tradition to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Our kids always loved this, and we are passing it on to the grandchildren, or at least those who live close enough to join in. This year, Mary had other commitments on the day so I brushed off long neglected skills. To my great delight, I had not lost the knack of tossing them from the pan, and contrary to the skepticism of some friends did not spoil or lose any. The device in my left hand is my iPhone which I used to trigger the camera on its tripod. Who says men can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

Hawkweed flowers

I always thought they were dandelions. Apparently not. These are hawkweed or more scientifically, Hieracium. These examples were found on a riverbank in Wainuiomata

Days Bay Ferry

Unless the weather is really rough the two little catamarans, Cobar Cat and City Cat scuttle across the harbour on a regular schedule carrying tourists and commuters between the Queen’s Wharf terminal in the city and the jetty at Day’s Bay. They drop in at Matiu/Somes Island for people who wish to explore the island (highly recommended), and on a few trips, they divert to the jetty at Seatoun. One is seen here approaching Day’s Bay as observed from Lowry Bay.

Paremata Boat Sheds

In many parts of the world, it seems to be a tradition that any collection of boat sheds should be painted in motley colours. The sheds at Paremata follow this plan, and each owner seems to have had their own pot of leftover paint to use up. This is seen from across the inlet at the Pauatahanui Wildlife sanctuary.

Economy class

Over in Ivey Bay, there are some character-filled moorings where boats seem to sit and rarely move. I suspect that the owners have dreams of restoration that rarely come to fruition. I occasionally see the owners sitting on their deck beside the water, just basking in the pleasure of being there.

Military relics

Over the hill from Upper Hutt is the Mangaroa Valley where there are some old buildings which once served as part of the Maymorn military camp. If I understand correctly, they are long surplus to the needs of the defence ministry and have been given to the local iwi in part reparation for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. History hangs heavy on the buildings.It has been a long while since they saw any paint.

Moonlit bay

I rarely go out at night for photographic purposes. If conditions are still, I will carry my camera and tripod when I go to camera club and see whether there is anything worth shooting near the harbour after the meeting. On this particular night, I went down to Lowry Bay and looking to the North made this 40 second exposure. Despite the long exposure, the boat moved very little. Remember that boat. You might see it again.

Blue Globe Thistle

Our very good friends, Jane and Roy are superb gardeners and their home is often visited by the local garden circle. From my perspective, as one who avoids most forms of physical labour, I love their results but am unlikely to follow in their footsteps. I enjoy strolling around their property seeing all the unusual and interesting flowers. This specimen is a Blue Globe Thistle which I would not have known without the aid of https://identify.plantnet.org which is right more often than it is wrong.

In stillness

It was a nice still morning at Petone, but I was struggling to find anything of interest. There is a set of small piles just to the Western side of Petone wharf. I speculate that they exist to hold an old stormwater outlet pipe in place. Anyway, I was intrigued by the multi-coloured weeds growing on the ancient timbers.

It’s that darned yacht again

A misty day in the city imposes a moody atmosphere. Not so much waves, but sharp ripples arrive on the beach at Lowry Bay. The mood was worth the effort, I think.

If you have no interest in aviation, please skip the next three images.

Atmospherics

Last time I went to an airshow, I was disappointed and said I would probably not bother again. I backed down and joined my Son Anthony, daughter-in-law Sarah, and grandson Jack at the recent “Wings Over Wairarapa” airshow at Hood Aereodrome, Masterton. One of the highlights for me was the Yakovlev YAK-3U, a radial engined version of a Russian WWII fighter. It has a very powerful P&W R2000 engine and is extremely fast. In this shot you can see the condensate spiralling back from the tips of its propeller during a high speed run . The trails at the wingtips are made by oil burning.

Scribbles

The Yak pilot put on a masterful performance in a beautiful machine with an engine almost twice the power of the original. He zipped through the sky leaving smoke trails with which he made the most amazing patterns.

Age is no barrier

For the 2019 iteration of this air show, the US ambassador used his influence to persuade the US Air Force to do a fly-by with a B-52 on its way from its base in Guam to the much larger airshow at Avalon in Australia. Sadly, a mechanical malfunction meant that it didn’t arrive. So here we are again, and truth to tell, the promise of a B-52 was a strong influence in my decision to visit one more air show. It came from Avalon this time and was on its way back to Guam. The B-52 is notoriously smokey so its presence was visible long before the aircraft itself. They did three wide passes, including one with its bob doors open. I hope I am never beneath one when it does that in anger. I don’t want to glorify war or militarism, but this grand old machine is a tribute to its designers and builders, and to the brave crews that fly them.

When shall we three meet again?**

Mary has a sharp eye for things that might be photo-worthy. She saw the shed exo-skeletons of these three cicada nymphs all clinging to one little stick. Astonishing! I have never seen two together before, let alone three.

Help from the sky

This air ambulance was basking in the sun at Wellington Airport. Used mainly for the transport of patients between various specialist hospitals this Jetstream 400 makes a brave picture. Lurking behind it is the local search and rescue helicopter.

A rare visitor

Were this just a common white-faced heron, which is what I thought I had taken, I would have discarded this image. It wasn’t until I got home that closer examination showed I had caught a very rare reef heron. Apparently the total number of them in NZ lies between 300 and 500.

What, again?

Yes, it is that darned yacht again. The excuse for this image, however is that rainbow fragment behind it. You will be relieved to know that the yacht has since been moved from the open mooring into the nearby marina, so it no longer offers itself as a feature of the landscape.

The oil terminal

Sometimes, the light falling on the oil wharf lifts an otherwise banal structure and makes it quite attractive. I liked it anyway.

That will do for now. See you next time.

  • *High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, RCAF
  • **Shakespeare, Macbeth
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Adventure Airport Birds Cars Cook Strait Evans Bay Forest Landscapes Machinery Maritime Waves Weather Wellington

January 10, 2020 … happy new year

Hello! Happy new year to all who read this. I hope 2020 will be your best year yet. I also hope that it will see an improvement in the images and stories that I offer you. So, let’s begin this new year.

When shall we three meet again, in thunder lightning or in rain?

New Year’ day produced no images. The second of January dawned fair and blue, so I went to the Hikoikoi reserve with the ever-present hope of seeing a white heron. Sadly, none were found. On my way out, my attention was caught by the row of pohutukawa trees along the ridge that protects the sport field from the encroaching dunes on the beach. Their precise spacing and similar sizes suggest that they were deliberately planted, perhaps as a part of Project Crimson. This was a project commenced in 1990 to reverse the loss of coastal pohutukawa. I selected three of the thirty or so trees, and liked the fact that the middle tree was at the peak of its flowering season.

Trans-Tasman haze

At the other end of the Petone foreshore the next day, I attempted to capture the very visible haze blown across the Tasman Sea from the Australian bushfires. We have experienced this many times in the past though never as intensely or for so long as now. The prevailing winds carry the smoke from the fires approximately to the South East where it makes landfall on the West Coast of the South Island. The intensity of the smoke and the ash that it carried was such that it discoloured our alpine glaciers, leaving them coated with a thick orange layer of ash rather than the expected pristine white snow. Here in Wellington, local winds diverted the cloud our way, and we are occasionally experiencing quite intense haze. This shot from Petone Beach shows the Wellington hills obscured by it. Our hearts go out to our Australian cousins.

Kereru … the native Wood Pegeon

There have been stories of fewer kereru (native wood pigeon) around Wellington this year. I have to say that I have not noticed this around home, despite the presence of two pairs of nesting New Zealand falcons nearby. Despite being twice the size of the falcon, the kereru just explodes in a shower of feathers when caught mid air by the deadly little raptor. On a very warm day, this kereru was obviously thirsty so it perched on Mary’s birdbath which was obviously designed with smaller birds in mind.

Demolitions on hold

Much of New Zealand goes on summer vacation from just before Christmas to about mid or late January. This is often exaggerated and scorned by the media, but the line of idle demolition machines tends to reinforce the notion. I was unable to get inside the wire fence but the neat row of hydraulic diggers was worth a shot. I often wonder what is the capital value of all the agricultural and engineering machines that are sitting idle at any given time.

Crossing at the horizon

On one of those days when the blue of the sea and the sky to the South are almost the same, I caught a shot of the ferry Kaiarahi inbound, and the Kaitaki outbound. They were far enough away for there to be optical distortions at the waterline.

Airport

On some days, the conditions tempt me to seek high viewpoints, On this occasion, I went up to Newlands from where there are great views to the South and East. There are many opinions among landscape photographers as to which lenses are most appropriate. Most often, conventional opinion suggests a fairly wide angle. Several of the people whose work I most admire will often go the other way and choose a long lens. In this case, I used my 300 mm zoom which, because of the micro four thirds crop factor, gives the same angle of view as would a 600 mm lens on a full frame camera. So here, from 9km across the harbour is a close view of Wellington airport. To the left, moored near the Miramar cutting, is the research vessel, Tangaroa. On the runway is an Air New Zealand Link Bombardier Q300 just touching down from Napier. To the South, nothing until Antarctia.

Long green

Five days into the new year, and the weather is already variable. Mary decided she wanted to walk the Eastern Walkway from the Pass of Branda in Seatoun, down to Tarakena Bay. I dropped her off at the pass, and went to Tarakena bay to await her arrival, and watched the waves rolling in. I love it when the waves are long and slow with a period of 10 seconds or more between each crest. They may look slow, but their power is undeniable. Even better when they are backlit, and the deep green looks like the stained glass of a cathedral. The spray ripped off the tops by the offshore wind adds to the spectacle.

Shabby Chic

I was wandering around behind our national museum, Te Papa, when I spotted this sad old lady. She is a 1974 Citroen Super D. I remember when these beauties first appeared and they were the wonder of the age. The complexity of their systems was such that one reviewer warned potential owners not to suffer a breakdown in Taranaki because “you might as well ask the mechanic for a valve-grind on a flying saucer”. If the car had been in showroom condition, I might still have made the picture, but the rust and the mis-matched panels made this especially interesting to me. A fellow photographer coined the phrase “shabby chic”. In many jurisdictions this car would not be allowed on the road, but it seems to have a current warrant of fitness.

Defying the laws of physics

Walking around Chaffers Marina with a friend, I came across this young man who was practicing some derivative of the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. It seems to involve repealing the law of gravity. From a standing start on the grass he seemed to simply levitate. Of course that fanciful description is nothing like the reality. It involved a violent flick of one or more limbs and using the momentum to carry the rest of him into the air. The landings were as amazing as the lift off and flowed into an astonishing sequence of routines. I hope to see him again at some time and use different settings to get better results .

The day does not begin until after my first coffee

With the same friend, I went Staglands on the Akatarawa Rd. Sadly (for us) the place was filled, indeed over-filled, with hundreds of small children, and this would not result in the photographic opportunities we hoped for. So we abandoned the tour of the park and settled for a pleasant lunch in the cafe. We then spotted this rooster picking over the leftovers on the tables. I was surprised at what it deemed appropriate food. It explored every opportunity.

Leaf contrast

From Staglands, we carried on to the West across the narrow winding Akatarawa road towards Waikanae and as we neared the coast, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this little tree.On its own, it was not spectacular, but in contrast with the dark pines I liked it very much.

So ends the first post of 2020. I hope to have your company as the year goes on.

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adversity Airport Aviation Evans Bay Maritime Military Railway

August 8, 2019 – brittle cold

I seem to have slowed down again. I blame this on some unpleasant weather and perhaps a lack of motivation, rather than health issues. The upside is that it gives me time to seek guidance and inspiration from experts whose work I admire. Sometimes this leads me in strange directions. For example, I came across a speech made to the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) by comedian/musician/artist, Tim Minchin. He is often asked for career advice. I paraphrase his response:

First get good. Really good. This is not easy and there are no short cuts. Just be really really good. You achieve this by working very hard.

Another superb photographer whose work I love is the great Jay Maisel. As I have mentioned before, I like his work. In particular I love his philosophy that you should always be ready to shoot anything that you encounter if it moves you. He is against going out with plans or intentions. Let the subject reveal itself to you. And his crowning piece of advice is “walk slow”. That way you get a chance to see a subject develop.

This week, I offer just six images, and hope they make up in quality for what they lack in numbers

Whitby
Across the Pauatahanui Inlet towards Whitby

Pauatahanui is a place I visit frequently. My hope is always to find some bird life. If there is none close enough to be photographed well, then I revert to the landscape. Note the emphasis on “photographed well”. I am not interested in merely recording that I saw the bird. I want the image to be an artistic interpretation of my response. This is no less true of my landscape images. I rarely make a shot if the water is choppy. It needs to be either flat calm or a raging storm. On this occasion the scene possessed a crystal clarity that just couldn’t be faked. When it is there, I try to grab it. I deliberately excluded the sky above the ridge and attempted balance between the reality and its reflection.

Ja1271
Steam Incorporated crew at work

A little further up the line at Paekakariki, I was pleased to see a plume of smoke rising from the preserved mainline locomotive, Ja1271. As I lined up to make a head-on portrait, two of the staff clambered up on the front and began unscrewing the many clamps that seal the smokebox door. This surprised me since the locomotive was in steam and presumably there was a deal of hot smoke and flue gas from the firebox emerging into this space. Undeterred, the man in the blue overalls proceeded to sweep soot from the front of the boiler. It seems that Ja1271 was due for its annual inspection the next day and they were making sure everything was in perfect order.

Reflection
Wetland reflections

Just a little further still to the North, I came to the Queen Elizabeth II Park at Mackay’s Crossing. This too is a place where I look for water birds, especially dabchicks. Sadly the place was over-run by Canada Geese and Black Swans which are of little interest to me. As before, I swung back into landscape mode and captured the reflection of the bush in the wetlands. As Maisel says, if it moves you, make the image.

Masterton Train
On its way to Masterton

My car has been off the road for a few days to repair damage caused by another driver who got too close to me. I caught a train into the city at Waterloo station (much smaller than its namesake in London) and while I was waiting for the local city-bound commuter train, the Wairarapa service which was also running late rumbled into the other platform. The light was poor to begin with and the train blocked even more, so I had to risk the noise of a high ISO image. I like trains.

Evans Bay
Evans Bay with incoming weather

How could I not be moved by still waters in Evans Bay backed up by a dramatic sky in the South. This was followed by several days of rough cold weather. I like getting down low to the water for shots like this, but I was very nervous standing on a slime-covered sloping boat ramp in this case. I managed to retain my footing.

C130
A true veteran

A few days later I was out near the airport when I heard the unmistakable sound of a C130 winding up. I parked and went onto a mound near the Western side of the runway just in time to catch 03 departing. This aircraft was purchased from the US in 1965 … and has served the RNZAF for 54 years. It has had the wing centre section replaced, and had a whole new set of glass instrumentation installed but it is the same airframe. I had hoped that the replacements would be the Airbus A300M but with a record like that, I can see why the RNZAF has opted for the C130J Super Hercules to arrive in 2020.

That will suffice for this edition. As always your constructive criticism an suggestions for improvement would be we

Categories
Airport Architecture Cook Strait Evans Bay harbour Landscapes Light Maritime night Petone Reflections Weather Wellington

January 19, 2019 … Wellington, my “Tūrangawaewae”

I love the Maori concept of Tūrangawaewae. Literally, it translates as the standing place on which you plant yourself. More specifically, it is the place of special significance to you, the place of empowerment, your place in the world.

A friend recently wondered how I could keep shooting images of Wellington. The answer is both simple and difficult. It is simple in that it is where I am most of the time. It is difficult in the way that it challenges me to see it with new eyes each time I look. So this week I explore some images that I hope capture various moods of Wellington, my Tūrangawaewae.

Paper Tigers
Paper Tiger catamarans lining up for a racing start

In Evans Bay, there was a fleet of small one-person catamarans in a neat line. I learned later that I was seeing a heat in the national championships of the “Paper Tiger” class. What caught my attention apart from their neat line, was the glitter of their translucent sails against the dark green of the bush.

Last week, I spent of lot of time discussing aspect ratios. The long line of yachts demanded a long narrow treatment and I had to crop downwards to avoid the suburbia above. I wanted the attention to be on the yachts.

Linesmen
I am sure there were many safety features at work, but watching these guys handling live wires was scary

We had received notification at home of a planned power outage. It seemed that some poles, insulators and cross members need replacing. In the week prior, poles were laid on the ground, and a fleet of specialised trucks assembled. On the day, the crew were afflicted with a wind gusting around 50 km/h. They went ahead anyway. I regard these guys as heroes, strapped to poles amidst a swinging tangle of high-voltage wires. I tried to get as many of them in frame as possible but could get no more than a third of the crew,. I wish I could have captured the way everything was swinging in the wind.

Terrace
Office blocks from here to there

My younger daughter showed me the place where she works, and I was delighted to catch this previously unseen view of The Terrace in Wellington. The Terrace is a street of corporate offices where I used to work before the years of academia. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me, so had to make do with the iPhone 7 which I rarely use as a camera. As they say, the best camera in any situation is the one you have with you.

Shelly Bay
To Mt Victoria from Shelly Bay

It’s always an occasion of great joy when any of our family come to stay. David and Rowena came from Brisbane with Grace and Isaac, and it was my task to collect them from the airport. Inbound flights from Brisbane tend to arrive at around 00:30 so I decided to capitalize on the still night by making some night shots. This shot was made from Shelly Bay on the Eastern side of Evans Bay. Night shots are fun, but in my opinion, require a sturdy tripod and a remote trigger. I knew I would need a long exposure, but with the lovely crescent moon in the sky, I had to compromise as it moves quite a long way in a short time. This image was made with the shutter open for 64 seconds which was a bit too long, but on the whole, I almost got away with it. Do click to enlarge to see the detail on the water

Mt Vic
The heart of the city from the Mt Victoria Lookout

The same night, I went up to the lookout platform on Mt Victoria. The reflections tell how relatively still the night was. The image might give some sense of why this city is so special to me.

Tugs
The little tugboats that could

A day or two later, I was in Oriental Bay and noted the splash of bright colour across the bay. The tug boats Tiaki and Tapuhi have maintained the tradition established by their three predecessors of a bright red colour scheme. And then, behind them was the red brick of the former harbour board offices, now upmarket apartments. Above them to the right is the parliamentary library building, and above and centre is the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, currently closed for remediation of seismic risk factors. This image was given the horizontal chop treatment to emphasise the strong lines of the buildings.

Houghton Bay
Houghton Bay from Te Raekaihau Point

I mentioned at the beginning, a place on which to stand. It’s always nice to find a new one. As I was leaving Lyall Bay, I went up Hungerford Rd and spotted a sign that referred to a walkway. I parked and followed it to the top of Te Raekaihau Point which is the Western tip of Lyall Bay. I just loved the view along Houghton Bay to Taputeranga Island which is the centrepiece of Island Bay. In the very far distance, 130 km away, the summit of Tapuae-o-Uenuku can be seen peering above a solid cloud bank.  I shall visit here again in different light and different weather. The ferry Kaiarahi is in the distance, inbound from Picton.

Hare's-tail
They are an invasive weed, but very pretty when the sun catches them

The family went to the Marlborough sounds for a few days and I volunteered to collect them from a late-evening ferry. Once more it was a reasonably still night, so I set out to have time to make images. I had shot some from Petone Beach looking to the harbour entrance and was coming back to the car when I spotted the light of the setting sun on the Hare’s-tail grass. I set the camera on its tripod so as to catch the sun at the level of the seed heads and was pleased with the result. I have been agonising over whether to get rid of that rogue stalk.

sunset
Petone Beach sunset

A few moments later from a little further along the beach, the view across the harbour called for a further record of the sunset. It’s a well-worn path, but each time I see a scene like this, I try to see it as a  new event to be seen in a new way.

Aratere
Aratere prepares to swing around for berthing

I had some photographic fun at the ferry terminal, catching the comings and goings of various vessels, until at last the Aratere came round Point Halswell and began to position itself to reverse into the berth. By now it was well past twilight and I had to boost the ISO setting all the way to 2500 to catch this shot. Since the vessel was still moving at a fair clip, I could not use a long exposure and stretched my luck at 0.4 seconds without too much motion blur. I enjoyed the reflections on the water, but am baffled by the vertical green streak. I presume that it must be from the starboard navigation light, but the light itself is obscured  by the superstructure. Nevertheless, I’ll take it since it adds to the pleasure of the arrival.

That’s all this time. As always your feedback is welcome.

 

 


Categories
Airport Architecture Camera club Cars Cook Strait Festivals and fairs harbour Landscapes Light Maritime night Reflections Seasons Weather Wellington

July 21, 2018 … some nice opportunities

Most of this week’s images depict nature in human settings. I rarely photograph people, and concentrate on things that, in my judgement, work well for me. But you can be the judge of that.

Hutt
Sunlight through the valley mist

At the end of last week, I delivered Mary to the airport as she flew to Queenstown to be with our son and grandchildren for some of the school holidays. It was an odd sort of day, with patches of mist, cloud and sunshine. With Mary safely despatched to the South, I went up Hungerford Rd to the hills overlooking the airport and looked back across Evans Bay to the misty Hutt Valley. The Tararuas were obscured, but I was attracted to the trees and the odd tall building peering through the mist.

Rainbow
When you see something like this, you stop and take the picture now, in case it is not there in a minute or two

From there I went around the Miramar Peninsula and screeched to a halt when I reached Point Halswell. If I were a gambling man, I might have carried on around the corner to catch the full arc of the rainbow, but in my experience, every time I delay taking a shot, it evaporates when I eventually get to it. This was the most intense rainbow I have ever seen, and if you look closely there is a second one outside it.

Fireworks
Matariki Fireworks from Oriental Bay

In recent years, New Zealand has begun to adopt the celebration of Matariki. This is the time when the star cluster Pleiades appears above the horizon each year. Many Maori iwi (tribes) regard this as the start of their year. In Wellington City, the mayor has ceased to provide funding for fireworks to mark Guy Fawkes, and has instead diverted it to a display for Matariki, arguing that it is more appropriate to celebrate a New Zealand event, than a failed political assassination plot in the UK. I agree with him.

Island Bay
Island Bay fishing fleet under a dramatic sky

I had intended to do a road trip during Mary’s absence, but the weather forecast was unpromising, so I confined myself to day trips. Some of them were to old familiar haunts such as this one in Island Bay on Wellington’s South coast. I liked the clouds.

Sunrise
Sunrise artistry

Sunrise and I are very loosely acquainted. Sunsets are no problem, but I am not normally a morning person. Sometimes, if I haven’t closed the curtains properly a flare of red will grab my attention as it did on this day.

Maersk Jabal
When I first joined camera clubs in the 1960s, this would have been called a “contre jour” (against the day) photograph. Happily the pretentious adoption of French phrases is less common now. Maersk Jabal leaves Wellington bound for Napier

Most landscape photography experts advocate that photos are best made in the golden hour (the hour following sunrise or before sunset) or even the blue hour (the hour prior to sunrise or after sunset). I agree that some superb images can be had in those times, but I see no reason to put my camera away in the rest of the day, or even at night. This image from the summit of Mt Victoria was made at 1 pm. It catches the container ship, Maersk Jabal in silhouette against the glittering waters of Wellington Harbour.

Wadestown
Winter traffic

I tend not to venture far at night. However, Mary was still away so without worrying her, I went into Wadestown on the Western Hills above the ferry terminal and made a long exposure on a still (but moonless) night.  It was still early enough to catch the tail-end of the two-way rush hour.

Fountain
The Carter Fountain in Oriental Bay

That same evening, I went to Oriental Bay. The Carter fountain was playing and the water was still. I used a feature of my camera that allows me to make a composite image over an extended period. The coloured floodlights changed several times during the 18 seconds of this exposure. I expected that the additive result might be a muddy colour, but was delighted at the way it separated three of the colour phases.

Nightlights
Waterloo Quay all lit up

From the same vantage point, I turned 90 degrees to the left and loved the night cityscape. The building on the left presents an obsidian black face during the day, but with the lights on at night, all is revealed. As much as I love nature, I also love the colours and textures of of the city.

See you next time

 

 

 

Categories
Adventure Airport Animals Architecture Cook Strait Evans Bay Landscapes Lower Hutt Reflections Seaview Weather Wellington

May 16, 2018 … for the simple pleasure of it

The more I think about the recent photographic convention, the more I am persuaded that my favourite keynote speaker was exactly right. I should be attempting to create images that convey how the opportunity to make that picture made me feel. Most of the time, that should mean that the viewer should sense the simple pleasure I get in making the image.

Stairs
Stairs and shadows at Seaview

Sometimes I get a guilty sense that I am borrowing from those who have gone before. There can be few photographers who have not at least contemplated the old shadow of the stairs on the oil tank. OK, I have got that one off my chest now.

Jervois Quay
Golden moment in the traffic

Opportunities often present themselves at inconvenient moments. This one occurred while I was paused at a traffic light on Jervois Quay and the reflection of a nicely lit building just stood out. My camera was on the seat beside me, so it was grab, shoot, and whoops, the light is green again.

Evans Bay
Evans Bay in a moment of stillness

Recently, we have been blessed with some days of flat calm, the kind that has me leaping into the car to seek opportunities wherever they may be. This one offered itself in mid afternoon, and thee red-hulled yacht just screamed for attention. The fluorescent green car-rental building in the background provided some kind of counter-point.  But for me the pleasure was in the smooth surface of the harbour.

Kaukau
Panorama from the Kaukau lookout

 

Calm days persisted for a while, and I knew of a place in Broadmeadows up behind Johnsonville from where there were some nice views to be had. I went up the steep walkway, and made a few shots. As usual, I looked behind me and saw the transmission tower on Mt Kaukau looking very close. OK, up to the next  crest and see what can be seen from there. Incrementally, one step at a time, I found myself at the summit of Kaukau looking down on our lovely city. It may have been calm at sea level, but was less so at the lookout. In case you think my photography has distorted that seat in the lower right, not so.  The seat is in a state of collapse, as was I after so much unaccustomed exercise.

Brothers
Across the cold blue water of the Cook Strait

From the same viewpoint, I looked to the West and there through the blue haze across the Cook Strait were the Brothers Islands with Cape Jackson just out of frame to the right. I love those receding planes.

Upper Hutt
Swirling mists in Upper Hutt

The weather changed, but still the wind stayed away. Things went dark and grey and the hills were wreathed with cloud. I wandered around the upper and lower parts of the valley and caught this shot near Upper Hutt.

Matiu/Somes
Matiu/Somes Island

I have a weakness for contrasty shots in shades of grey, though not black and white. From Petone Beach looking Southward, Matiu/Somes Island made its presence felt against the still grey water of the harbour.

Dogs
Just having fun

My final image in this edition is also on Petone Beach. Some people who seem to be professional dog-walkers turned up and let their charges loose. The sheer joy of these dogs was a delight. See you next time.

Categories
Airport Architecture Cars flowers Landscapes Light night Weather Wellington

December 17, 2017 … another year runs its course

Even though I have been retired for six years now, the end of the year still brings with it that sense of a burden lifting. Of course, a few weeks after that and the circus begins again. Mary and I are in housing Limbo, with no offers on our present place as yet. On the other hand, we have no external impetus to move, so we need not look for a replacement until we have a sale. In the meantime, we live in a somewhat Spartan state of semi-preparedness to move.

Tansy
Purple Tansy

Photography has had to step back a little despite the stunning burst of early Summer. Now and then I take the camera for a walk on a short leash, and found these little flowers in the rockery. I think they are Phacelia tanacetifolia commonly known as purple tansy. The whole cluster is just 25mm or one inch across. We think they have propagated from the wild bird seed Mary likes to have for the local birds.

Sunset
South Wellington looking across the airport

 

It seems only a short time ago that I was complaining week after week about wet and windy weather. Astonishingly we have now had a string of warm sunny days with the temperature reaching 30 degrees C on occasion. We have had no significant rain for almost two months and there are restrictions on water usage. Still a bit of wind , but some beautiful days.

Lights
Christmas lights on Oriental Bay

Some of the nights were warm and clear too. This shot was on Oriental Bay with the ornamental Christmas lights reflecting on the parked cars.

Mt Vic
Wellington from Mt Victoria

Last week I went to the summit of Mt Victoria and looked down on our picture-postcard city. It’s hard to be original up here, but worth doing anyway.

Architecture
CBD variety

There are those who dislike cityscapes, but I always love the contrasting colours and textures of an unregimented architectural environment.

 

 

Categories
Airport Animals Birds Kapiti Island Landscapes Light Pukerua Bay Railway Sunset Weather

November 25, 2017 … it has been a crazy busy month

As you might have noticed, my busy-ness did not extend to keeping up with the blog for quite a while. Both Mary and I have had dealings with the heath system (good outcomes all round, we think). And then there is the business of selling the house. We have been packing, discarding, giving away, and all the while, trying to retain a semblance of tidiness for the recurring “open homes” that our real estate agent has been running. This too, shall pass. Christmas is looming with just one month to go. But every now and then, I have managed to get out and make images.

Mokopuna
This is Mokopuna, the small island at the North end of Matiu/Somes in Wellington harbour. It was on this island that a Chinese immigrant who was wrongly suspected of having leprosy was quarantined, and where he died.

I like stillness. When the sun comes through the curtains in the morning, my heart lifts. When I draw the curtains back and see that the leaves on the flax bush are perfectly still, my heart soars and I know that I must go. Sadly there have been few such days in the last month, though some days were better than others.

Sunset
The Western sky near Wellington Airport

During the month we have had some spectacular colour in the evening sky, though I suspect that is often attributable to the amount of wind-blown sea salt in the air.

Walkers
Heroes, firefighters, extreme walkers arrive at the Westpac Stadium after walking 170 km from Palmerston North to raise funds for MND

Annually, the Motor Neuron Disease Association (US = Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS) conducts fund-raising activities. Mary is involved on the local committee so I got roped in to make images of the proceedings. Most striking event of the day for me were the five extreme walkers of the New Zealand Fire Service who had walked the entire distance from Palmerston North , 170 km, in full fire-fighting gear with breathing apparatus in return for sponsorship.

trains
Commuter trains get little usage in the weekends

While I was at the stadium, I was struck by the patterns on the roof lines of rows of electric commuter trains at rest over the weekend.

Kapiti
Kapiti Island as seen from Pukerua Bay

And then we had some real Wellington weather, of the kind on which Wellington can’t be beaten. This shot was made at Pukerua Bay, and yes, that is the stormy Tasman sea at its benign best. Kapiti is the island in the distance.

Shag
Pied shag drying its wings at Pukerua Bay

If you look closely at the rock in front of the right hand (Northern) end of the island you will notice a shag drying its wings.  I decided to look more closely.

frog
Jeremiah was a bullfrog …

From there I went to Queen Elizabeth Park just North of Paekakariki, and there, the wetland area was just alive with the call of frogs who have not yet discovered Tinder. I’d like you to meet Jeremiah. He’s a very good friend of mine