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Adventure adversity Art Birds Evans Bay Landscapes Light Maritime Normandale Reflections Wellington

September 27, 2022 … changing times

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.

Hutt Valley rainbow

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.

Cloudscape over Pt Halswell

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.

Rosemary in the rain

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 ripples

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?

Interesting art in the back alleys

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.

Old familiar territory

Although I have done it many times before, I can’t resist still water in Oriental Bay marina.

Australasian shoveller

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.

Tumbling water

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.

Tulip display

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.

Single bloom

I find it hard not to love tulips, singly or en masse.

Kaiarahi returns to service

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.

Urban forest

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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adversity Evans Bay flowers harbour insects Landscapes Light Maritime Reflections Weather Wellington

April 4, 2022 … procrastination rules

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.

We all live in a yellow submarine?

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.

Yucca

Our neighbours have a trio of yucca plants at their front gate. They are spectacular during their all too brief flowering season.

A splash of red

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.

Finger licking clean

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.

Staged disaster

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

Evans Bay

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.

CentrePort

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.

Making the most of it

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!

Heavy industry

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.

Web master

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.

Stillness

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.

Out fishing

This little fizz-boat with its two 90hp Evinrudes scarcely ruffled the surface as the owner set out on his trip.

That will do for now. See you next time.

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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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Birds Evans Bay harbour Maritime Railway Tararuas

December 15, 2019 … that old man river … just keeps rolling along

I have just watched a video by a well known photography personality and teacher. Among other things, he was lamenting the somewhat lacklustre progress of his own photography in recent times, and the way his self-image suffered as a consequence. It caused me to re-examine my own situation. Far too much introspection. Not enough simple enjoyment of the process.

Waves slapping the sea wall in Evans Bay
Salt water incursion

For days on end, we have had horrible blustery Northerly wind. Needless to say, this has had its impact on the harbour and beyond. In Evans Bay, the waves were arriving at the sea wall with a resounding slap and then spreading the salt spray across the road. This was not a good time to be driving if your windscreen washer bottle is empty and all the wipers do is give you a salt smear across the glass. And if you point the camera the wrong way, the salt obscures the lens as well.

Life Guard RIB approaching its base
Coast Guard coming home

Further round the bay, Spirit of Wellington, the coastguard’s local rescue vessel was returning to base from a trip out in the rough weather. Her bright fluorescent colour scheme certainly lifts her out of the dull background

Three white-fronted terns
Tern, tern, tern

The white fronted tern is a common visitor to the region, but especially during prolonged windy periods when they huddle in relatively sheltered spots. They always appeal to me because despite their superficial resemblance to common gulls, they are somehow much more delicate, both on the ground and in the air.

Trays of fresh biscuits
Seasonal goodies

Mary is a very fine cook and is generous with providing various baking to the people she is involved with in her volunteer work. Trays of gingernut biscuits and shortbread fresh from the oven offered a visual treat as well as tasting good. I get to benefit too.

A dabchick on green water
New Zealand Dabchick

A change in the weather tempted me to go towards Queen Elizabeth II Park at McKay’s Crossing. I am always pleased if I find some New Zealand Dabchick there. They are a small member of the grebe family with legs set far back on the body and feet designed more for swimming than walking. They have almost zero mobility on land

Rusty locomotive tenders and boilers
Steam Incorporated … possible future projects

Back at Paekakariki, Steam Inc has its base where, as well as the fine restored engines, they have a good collection of items that may someday become part off another restoration. A collection of locomotive boilers and tenders look as if they are retained more in hope than real expectation.

Pied stilts
Pied stilts

Just as Marley haunted the house of Ebenezer Scrooge, I could be said to haunt the wetlands at Pauatahanui in my pursuit of wading and shore birds. The variety seems to have diminished a little of late, but the pied stilts are always there. It’s a sad reality that such beautiful birds seem to behave so viciously towards each other. I am sure there is a parable to be seen in this.

Spectacular sunset
the end of a perfect day

After so many weeks of strong wind and grey skies. a few consecutive days of flat calm and bright sunshine really lift the spirits. This shot from Petone beach looking towards the Miramar peninsula catches the last light of a lovely day. I am at a loss to explain that diagonal trail. It looks like a man-made phenomenon, but if so, by what? Possibly a flight from Santiago to Sydney or perhaps a random military flight.

Ovation of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas at Wellington
Two of the big ones

An unscheduled meeting of two Royal Caribbean giants, Ovation of the Seas and Radiance of the seas brought 7,600 passengers and 1360 crew to Wellington. The Ovation of the Seas had been scheduled a day earlier but she was delayed in Tauranga where 27 of her passengers were killed or injured in the volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island. The delay was to allow police to gather material that would assist in identification of the victims. I imagine that for some, the continuation of the cruise was a bit incongruous, in the spirit of W.H. Auden’s “Stop all the Clocks …”. On the other hand there were another 4900 passengers for whom this might have been a once in a lifetime cruise.

Yellow pohutukawa
Metrosideros excelsa (Aurea)

Everyone knows that the pohutukawa celebrates Christmas in all its splendid crimson glory. Except that is for the apparently rare yellow variety “Metrosideros excelsa (Aurea)” Despite its rarity I can drive to at least a dozen specimens quite close to home.

Moonrise over the Tararuas
Last full moon 2019

Mary’s chair is closer to the window so she saw it first. A magnificent full moon rising over the Tararuas into a clear sky! My Olympus camera is in the workshop for a repair under warranty so I grabbed my Canon, a much bigger and less capable camera and just missed the decisive moment … this is looking North East from home across Stokes Valley

Just ten more days to Christmas. I am retired so it poses no special threat to me. Those of you whose work flow becomes frantic, breathe slowly and stay calm and I wish you the strength to deal with the season. See you next time.

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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
Architecture Art Birds Children Evans Bay harbour Landscapes Light Lower Hutt Maritime Oriental Bay Reflections Rivers Wellington

July 25, 2019 … almost back to normal

I am happy to report that I am restored to near normal after a period of recuperation. This restoration seems to have coincided with a a particularly mild period in what would normally be a bleak winter month. I am enjoying it immensely.

Boy
In his own good time

Mild weather does not necessarily mean every day is fully fine. On a recent wet Sunday, I set out to practice a skill demonstrated by a photographic friend … that of using rain puddles to get symmetrical reflections. I hadn’t understood the trick as I made this image outside the Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt, but it worked, after a fashion. I enjoyed a human sideshow as a mother and father tried to persuade their small boy to join them in the museum cafe. For his part, stamping in every available puddle was much more fun.

Still life

While I was taking things easy, Mary was attempting to lift my spirits by fetching home various items that she thought I might like to use for still life images. Bless her. What we see here is a double exposure comprised of a sprig of manuka over a small (but photographically enlarged) sheet of bark. I quite like the result.

Sunset at the back door

There were a few days in quick succession in which we enjoyed blazing sunrises and sunsets. This image was made literally at our back door step, looking Westward towards Maungaraki. The wonderful colours lasted for about 15 minutes and then faded to grey and died.

At the waterfront

It’s great when the penny finally drops and you learn at last how your friends achieve their results. The trick to those lovely reflections is to use a wide angle lens and to have the camera so low that it is within millimetres of actually touching the puddle in which you seek the reflection. The puddle need be no bigger than a dinner plate and no more than a few millimetres in depth.

Getting down so low is not so much a problem as getting back up again. However, I have trick for this too. I hang the camera upside down on the centre-post of my tripod and lower it until it is almost touching the water. Then I use my iPhone as a remote trigger and can see on its screen what the camera sees. Thus these low shots are made with me standing comfortably upright. The building in the centre is the former offices of the Wellington Harbour Board. Now it contains the gallery of the Academy of Fine Art and some rather nice apartments.

The fog was just enough to to be charming (though it did close the airport)

Most people who have a passing acquaintance with our city associate it with wind rather than fog. And yet, for three successive days this week, our mornings have begun with flat calm and varying degrees of fog. I love such days. This image is taken from the Wellington waterfront looking back towards Lambton Quay. It’s a rare day that you can look West from downtown Wellington and see no hills.

Oriental Bay Marina

The same morning was just paradise for me. Oriental bay was perfectly still and provided an enchanting background for the boats moored in the marina. The old marina on the Eastern side of Clyde Quay is typically home for elderly wooden vessels with fewer of the plastic gin-palaces that seem to abound in Chaffers Marina to the West of the quay. I hold that blue naval whaler in the foreground in particular affection.

Evans Bay and splashes of colour

Round in Evans Bay, the fog was still present but rapidly thinning. The sun was breaking through and the colours were just breathtaking. My use of a wide-angle lens in this shot made it harder for me to see it as I was composing the image, and it wasn’t until later that a meteorogically expert friend drew to my attention the “fog-bow” in the backround at the right. Apparently fog-bows are caused in the same way as rainbows, as the sunlight works on the tiny droplets in the fog to produce the white arc.

Red

I am sure I have caught this yacht several times before, but its bright red in contrast with the blue-grey of the sea and fog was irresistible. The simplicity of the shot just worked for me. Normally you would see the Northern end of the airport behind her.

Gentle morning in the Hutt Valley

More fog the next day seemed different in character to that of the previous day. This shot was made from the front door of our house as I was setting out in the hope of more fog at sea level. It is looking slightly East of North and on a clear day, we would see the Avalon tower block in the distance.

To my regret, the fog around the harbour was already thin and disappearing. At Seaview, the tanker “British Cadet” was preparing to leave after delivering its load. At the same time as two Greenpeace protesters were climbing the face of the Majestic Centre in Willis street to attach an anti-oil banner, here was a 46,000 Tone carrier of the product not only delivering oil and chemicals, but emitting visible exhaust fumes. While I have some general green tendencies, I sincerely hope that those protesters who want there to be no more oil exploration anywhere, ever, walked to the site, and climbed using ropes with only natural fibres. As a society we are irrevocably dependent on petrochemicals.

Pied shag – Waiwhetu Stream

As I wandered still hoping to find effects of the fog. I enjoyed the presence of this pied shag which created rings on the still surface, and dived every time I pointed the camera at it. It always has to come up somewhere, and this time, I was ready for it.

Breathessness in Evans bay

Despite the early disappearance of the fog, Evans Bay was sparkling and worthy of an effort to capture it. It is almost the same shot as this week’s image number seven. Though people often get excited about blue skies, I think the clouds make the image more interesting.

Soundless water

Those days when the sea is so calm that it seems to develop a skin are always pleasing. This little pier adjacent to the Coastguard base just begged to be photographed. I think this looks better if you click to enlarge.

In Waiwhetu Stream

My last image this time is back in the Waiwhetu stream near Seaview. The log swept downstream from who-knows where has jammed itself into a state of permanence, embedded in the stream floor and has become a favourite resting spot for a variety of shages.

That’s my lot for now. Constructive criticism is, as always, welcome.

Categories
Birds Evans Bay Geology Haywards Hill Hokio Beach Kapiti Island Landscapes mountains Pukerua Bay Reflections Rivers Sunset Waves Weather Wellington

June 7, 2019 … thanks for your many kindnesses

Since I last wrote, the region has had more than its fair share of wild and downright ugly days. If I were a depressive personality this would be getting me down. Happily, I can sometimes use the bad days to my advantage. And in any case, many of you have sent me kind and affirming messages which have been balm to my soul. Thank you to those kind people who take the trouble to send messages.

A month or so ago, WordPress changed their default editor, and I didn’t notice that images no longer provided a “click-to-enlarge”. I have corrected that as of this issue and may eventually get back to the issues that were affected. Please do click for a much bigger image

A Little shag (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) flying in close formation with its reflection at Pauatahanui

When I look up from my keyboard and notice that the trees outside are not moving, I check on the other side of the house for confirmation, and unless domestic courtesies require otherwise, head for the nearest body of water likely to deliver attractive reflections. On this occasion, I went to the Pauatahanui Inlet where the bright blue sky and the gold reeds provided a nice contrast with the Little Shag. “Little” is not a casual adjective here. That is the formal name of the species, as distinct from the Little Black, the Pied, the Spotted and about half a dozen more common types in New Zealand.

Reflections don’t always depend on still water. This architectural study is on The Terrace

Very occasionally I will turn my attention to the structure of the city. I have probably commented before that, for a seismically risky city, Wellington has a large number of buildings with glass curtain frontages. Leaving aside the question of what happens when the earth moves, these buildings present some nice reflections. In this case, the building at 155 the Terrace is reflected from a tower block down on Lambton Quay. I took care to line the framework as well as possible, and cropped and trimmed the last bit in the computer.

It takes sustained high wind to generate lenticular clouds of this magnitude

On the Haywards Hill one evening two weeks ago, I just had to pull over to the side of the road to catch this spectacular formation. I was on my way to act as judge for another camera club’s competition, otherwise I might have lingered longer to catch the brilliant orange colour which came with the setting sun. Dozens of my photographic friends produced stunning images of this event.

Pukerua Bay Lookout offers a fine view towards Kapiti and then a challenge to get back into the North-bound traffic

Mary and I were driving to Waikanae the next day to enjoy lunch with some friends of very long standing. Despite the clear blue sky and the glitter on the water, the thing that caused me to stop at the Pukerua Bay lookout was the impression of relentless power from the waves being driven in from the Tasman by that strong Nor’Wester. The other thing that lookout offers is the challenge of forcing your way back into the North-bound traffic.

Williwaws swirling up Evans Bay

The wind did not abate, and if anything it started to get serious. According to the TV news, it peaked at 121 km/h the next day. I went looking for waves, but found little of interest. That proves that I was not looking clearly because some of my friends produced some great wave shots. However, the wind coming into Evans Bay after its journey across the harbour produced some interesting effects. The swirling williwaws lifted their spouts a hundred metres or more from the surface, and I had to work hard to keep my lens dry. I loved the dark sky over the Western hills.

Downtown glassware

I know that modern architects work really hard to ensure that all the bits of the building remain attached even when the earth moves. Nevertheless, recent demolitions pursuant to the Kaikoura earthquake (14 November 2016) tend to suggest that there are some factors that even the best of them didn’t think of. I love the shapes, colours and textures of a modern cityscape. On the other hand I see hundreds of tonnes of sheeet glass seemingly just hanging on the outside of the building, and I imagine it falling as a huge guillotine. As long as the fixing methods perform as expected I am happy.

Wellingtons winds suck and blow North West then Southerly, most of the time.

If we are lucky, after we have endured a few days of sustained wind, we get a break for a day or two before it all comes roaring back in the other direction. I like the Southerlies for the spectacular waves they deliver on the coast between the harbour entrance and Owhiro Bay. Jagged rocks which are typical of our Southern shoreline help to break the incoming waves and sometimes create astonishing explosions of water. A technique advocated by one of my photographic idols is to be deliberate about the tonal relationships between various elements of the image. Notice the clarity of the rocks and the successive reduction in tonal intensity as we progress to the mountains across the strait.

Pied stilt – Pauatahanui Inlet

And just like that, the new day dawns still and golden. Mary recognises the signs and packs a lunch for me to take on my wandering. I know how lucky I am. Unlike the preceding image, this one presents a clear sharp day and a relatively short distance between near and far, so the tonal range need not be an issue. I really love the golden tones of the reeds at Pauatahanui and the comparison with the formal attire worn by the stilt/.

It has been a long time between kingfishers

One of my photographic friends tells me I lack the patience to be a real bird photographer. She is probably right, and she has it in abundance. On the other hand, I get lucky now and then. Just below the big tree that most of my birding friends know, I spotted this sacred kingfisher hovering for a moment before it dived. In my experience they rarely signal their intentions so I was lucky to have time to point the lens at the ring of water. A moment or so later and it emerged, but without the crab that I assume it was seeking. A real bird photographer would have been lined up before it hit the water and made a dozen images with the shutter set fast enough to freeze the wings. Even so, I like the image. The bird’s eye is sharp and much can be forgiven if you achieve that.

Mighty mountains across the strait

A few consecutive days of stillness are a joy. Not all still days are equal. As I headed to Lyall Bay, the weather was overcast and the light was flat. I drove around the coast towards Owhiro bay and got a suddenly clear view of the great peaks of the inland Kaikoura range. And there’s that tonal range problem again. The mountains were startling in their clarity considering that they are over 120 km distant. I hoped the cloud would clear itself from the peak of Tapuae-o-Uenuku but took the shot while it was there. The typically red rocks of Wellington’s South Coast provide a lovely foreground.

The only constant is change

Drizzle and streamers of mist are not necessarily a disaster in my opinion. I drove down the Wainuiomata coast road and back up again. These receding hills caught my eye. A friend said he wanted to cut along the dotted line. I suspect he is referring to the row of bee hives beneath the nearest tree.

Some real rarities

Another packed lunch day developed and I was motivated to go to Hokio beach on the West coast just South of Levin. To my great joy when I parked for lunch on the estuary of the Hokio Stream, I found a patch of relatively still water and there scurrying back and forth, were a lot of black-fronted dotterels. I love the dotterels for their delicate beauty and the black-fronted variety is especially attractive to my eye. In the picture above, the bird at the back is a banded dotterel which seems to a little bigger than its cousins. I counted ten of them all racing around pecking at some food source in the sand. They it worth the journey.

That’s sufficient till I gather more images. I hope you got some pleasure from my random wanderings and as always, if you have constructive criticism please let me know.

Categories
Eastbourne Evans Bay Forest harbour Maritime Uncategorized Weather

March 16, 2019 … a time of grief

Our time of innocence is ended. For a very long time, New Zealand has been blessed to be  largely free of hate crimes. Yesterday, Friday 15 March, a deluded white supremacist burst into a mosque during Friday prayers. In an act of supreme cowardice, he opened fire with an automatic weapon aiming at men women and children. When he and his cowardly accomplices were done, there were 49 dead and 48 seriously wounded. Our collective heart is broken. We want no part of his so-called racial purity. He awaits trial, and I hope a very long time in prison.

Trees
Dead trees in the mist above Eastbourne

I have relatively few images to offer this week, but let’s begin with this shot taken from the main street of Eastbourne on a wet and misty day. There are tracks up through the bush to the ridge, and over to Butterfly Creek. This might not have been the best day for it, but I always like misty conditions.

Tapuhi
Tapuhi bustling to keep an appointment

A day or so later, we got one of those “blue-on-blue” days, and I got lucky as one of Centreport’s bright red tugs scooted across the horizon on its way to assist a tanker about to leave the oil terminal. The red against the blue is quite striking I think

Shelly Bay
Shelly Bay fading into obscurity

A grey day later, I was at Shelly Bay, a one-time flying boat base of the RNZAF. The city has dithered over the future of the base for as long as I can remember, and all the while, the old jetties are slowly collapsing.

Crane
A mighty Liebherr 1400 crane makes easy work of a concrete beam placement

Out at Pauatahanui, the works associated with the Transmission Gully motorway are becoming increasingly visible. This crane has a 400 Tonne lift capacity and is seen here placing bridge beams in place. The moody sky adds to the image.

Lowry Bay
Across the harbour from the Eastern bays

One of the on-line photographic tutorials that I watched this week referred to magic light. It classified this as when the light picks out the subject of your image and leaves everything else in the shade. This view of downtown Wellington as seen from Lowry Bay comes close to that light.

Golden Princess
Golden Princess … available by the kilometre

The cruise season is almost at an end with perhaps  just a few weeks more to run until next spring. Today, we had Golden Princess in port. Though I yearn for the grace of ships from an earlier era, I was impressed by the sheer grandeur of this vessel.

That’s all from me this week as I join my country in mourning the disgusting act of violence.

 

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
Academic Children Day's Bay Evans Bay flowers Landscapes Light mountains Petone Seasons Upper Hutt Weather Wellington

August 17, 2018 … nor any drop to drink*

Though I am not an ancient mariner, I seem to find water, water everywhere*.

Hutt River
Hutt River rounds the bend

My first image this week is of the bend in the Hutt River near Totara Park, Upper Hutt. Apart from the patch of white water, the river looked clean and blue.

School
Children of Owhiro Bay Primary School listening to their teacher

A day or two later, I spotted what we used to refer to as “a crocodile” … a column of primary school kids walking in an orderly fashion down Happy Valley Road towards Owhiro Bay. A while after that I saw them again, all sitting on the beach listening to the senior teacher. Being nosy I asked what school they were from and what they were doing.

Seal
One eye open – NZ Fur Seal at Owhiro Bay

They were from Owhiro Bay School and were there because, while walking to work earlier, their principal had spotted a New Zealand Fur Seal  sleeping among the rocks on the shore. So I tagged along and when they had finished looking and then moved on to explore other aspects of the local environment, I got a close look. You can see that the lower eye is open, watching that I don’t get too close.

Sunset
Sunset in Normandale

No water in this image, just a rather nice sunset as seen from our back door.

Petone
Magic morning at Petone

Then we had one of those days. I have mentioned them  often enough, the kind where the great expanse of the harbour is flat calm. From Petone Beach to the Miramar Peninsular just right of centre is eight kilometres, and apart from the few ripples close to the beach, there is nothing to disturb the surface.

Yacht
Sailing in light airs

I drove round to the city and then to Evans Bay and looked back the other way. The solitary yacht was just ghosting along in a nearly non-existent breeze.

Red Yacht
Red yacht in Evans Bay

Further round Evans Bay at Hataitai Beach, the red yacht emphasised the utter stillness of the harbour.

Daphne
Daphne

Then the weather changed, so I played around again with my new light-box and a sprig of daphne provided by our kind neighbour.

Yanker
Tanker in the rain

Did I mention that the weather changed? To avoid cabin fever, I went out anyway and from Lowry Bay looked back to the tanker “Ocean Mars” looming though the rain at the Seaview oil terminal.

Leaving
Leaving port

My last image this week is the departure of the container ship “ANL Walwa” assisted by Centreport’s two tugs.

  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner  by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

A personal request now:

For readers not resident in New Zealand, family or friends. Though it is now six years since I retired I still like to assist students struggling to gather data for their post-graduate thesis. In this case, the student is Marlini Bakri who is exploring the influence of photographic images on friends and relatives who might decide to visit New Zealand. I provided a number of images to Marlini and said I would ask some friends and family if they would be kind enough to complete the associated survey.  I would be most grateful if you would consider participation.

The survey which can be completed on a computer or a mobile device, can  be found at http://vuw.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3OWArxbrb8teeAB

Here is her Participant Information Letter:

My name is Marlini Bakri and I am a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate in Marketing at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). Your friend/relative Brian has expressed interest to participate in my study, titled “More than words: Decoding the influence of user-generated images on VFR (visiting friends & relatives) travel”. They have provided your contact as a prospective participant for my study. The study would involve you completing a simple survey. The objective of this research is to understand if photographs shared online can communicate information about a destination to overseas friends and relatives.
You can access the survey on desktop computers and mobile devices (e.g. tablets and mobile phones). The survey should not take more than 30 minutes, and can be terminated at any time. The survey platform saves your answers automatically, allowing you to return to the form, using the same device, at different times. All information you provide is completely confidential, and only the researcher and her supervisor will have access to the information. The data will be destroyed three years after the completion of the thesis (estimated June 2021).
To participate click here: http://vuw.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3OWArxbrb8teeAB

Should you require further information about the study, please contact:

Human Ethics Committee information
If you have any concerns about the ethical conduct of the research you may contact the Victoria University HEC Central Convenor: Dr Judith Loveridge. Email hec@vuw.ac.nz or telephone +64-4-463 9451.

PhD Candidate:
Marlini Bakri
PhD Candidate
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington
6140 New Zealand
marlini.bakri@vuw.ac.nz

Supervisor:
Dr Jayne Krisjanous
Senior Lecturer
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington
6140 New Zealand
+64 4 4636023
jayne.krisjanous@vuw.ac.nz

Supervisor:
Dr James E. Richard
Senior Lecturer
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington
6140 New Zealand
+64 4 463 5415
james.richard@vuw.ac.nz