Adventure Architecture Camera club Cook Strait History Island Bay Landscapes Light Maritime Moon mountains night Sunset Weather Wellington

March 17, 2018 … more than just the best of a bad lot

Introspection can be cruel. I have a habit of using Adobe’s collection management tools to identify and categorise the images that I like best.  It is clear that I am not being critical enough. For example, I have kept 906 images so far in 2018. Of those, I have included 206 in the folder entitled “Images I really like”. I went back over the 206 images and concluded that I am being far too soft.

Now I recently judged for a club that specifies that, in a typical field of 45 entries, approximately half should be “not accepted”, no more than two or three images should get “honours, and just a few should get high acceptances. Educators call this “norm referencing”, which means your work is compared to and ranked against what everyone else is doing. The club for which I am currently judging is more gentle, and I am told I may award whatever grades  are appropriate to any image that deserves it. This is called “criterion referencing” whereby something is evaluated according to how it matches with the agreed measures of success, regardless of what anyone else does.

My problem is that, even if I apply criterion referencing to my own work, I am keeping too many. My introspective gene leads me to believe that I am often keeping merely the best of a bad lot. Don’t mistake this for false modesty. I know I get some good ones, but definitely not 206/906.  So, there may be fewer images in future, but better ones.

Friday night sailing regatta in Wellington Harbour

Now and then, I yield to temptation and will prefer fish and chips on a Friday night. I phone the order through, and still have a few minutes to wait when I drive up to the shop in Maungaraki to collect them. When the first image was taken, the sun was painting the small area between Matiu/Somes Island and Petone with a warm but delicate light, and the local yacht club were smack in the middle of it.

Beautiful New Zealand bush in the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary

Some days later, Mary and I went to Zealandia, our local wildlife sanctuary. I was not especially successful with the birds on this occasion, but I do love the bush tracks through the area. There was birdsong all around.

Early evening rush hour in Ngauranga Gorge

I have been experimenting with various forms of long exposure and this shot was made from a little side street off the Ngauranga Gorge.  As you will see, anything that wasn’t moving should be very sharp, and anything that was moving should be blurred. I tried various exposures, but the longer exposures caused the traffic to disappear altogether. I had to wait patiently for a train to cross the bridge in the foreground.

Misty morning on the harbour

There were some interesting misty mornings which I love. This image was made from the hillside at Korokoro just above Petone railway station. The harbour was just beautifully calm.

Moonrise as seen from home

And then there were some moon opportunities. I have an app that tells when the moon will rise, but the height of the hills across the valley adds a delay to that. There were also some clouds, but in due course, it arose.

Island Bay
Island Bay at sunset

I found a new viewpoint on the South Coast at the back of Island Bay, and had to make the most of yet another perfect night as I came back down the hill.

A golden view across the strait

Then, just around the coast towards the airport, at Princess Bay, my rear-view mirror demanded that I stop and turn around to look at the mighty Kaikoura ranges across the strait. What a beautiful spot to be at sunset.

The earliest houses of Thorndon

Early this week, I wandered a lesser known street in the very oldest parts of Thorndon. These are houses of similar age and style to those so much loved in Arrowtown. It really is a very pretty part of our city.

On the beach at Pencarrow

My final shot this time is one made on a camera club outing which I helped to organise. We got hard-won permission to take a convoy of cars along the coast road from Eastbourne to the lighthouses at Pencarrow to catch the setting sun. Alas, the sun hid behind a cloud bank, but it was a beautiful evening anyway.


adversity Cook Strait flowers Island Bay Landscapes Maritime South Coast Weather Wellington

November 15, 2015 … on the South side

For some reason, when I am in doubt, I go South.

Weeds they may be, but they can be spectacular en masse

This is a mixed blessing. A friend said to me the other day that my images provided a great regional resource, and that there were few places I hadn’t been. There is a grain of truth in that, especially in respect of Wellington’s Southern suburbs.  Nevertheless, it is still a surprise and delight to see something I haven’t noticed before. In this case there were two very large patches of purple ragwort. It is a pest and an invasive weed, but where there are great patches of it, the effect can be striking. These two infestations were on the steep slopes on the Western side of Happy Valley Rd, near the Owhiro Bay School.

Nous pleurons avec la France

At Island bay, one of the fishing fleet was flying the Tricolor in solidarity with the people of France after yesterday’s act of barbarism. Flags tend to get tangled in brisk winds such as ours and this one was wrapped around its halyard.

Voyaging under a cloudy sky

In the far distance, the Bluebridge ferry Strait Feronia was making its way across the horizon towards Wellington under an interesting set of clouds.

Shimmering seeds

At home as I was lugging my kit up the steps form the garage to the house I noted a weed in the garden. I am pretty adept at not noticing weeds, but this one was different. It had those shimmering little seeds and Mary and I suspect it is probably a survivor from the birdseed that she scatters for the birds.

That’s all today.

adversity Aviation Cook Strait Island Bay South Coast Waves Weather Wellington

September 8, 2015 … to the Southern edge

A howling Southerly and white caps on a green harbour told me to go to the South Coast.

From Lyall Parade, looking past the airport breakwater to the jagged rocks of Moa Point and the huge wall of cloud in the South. The wire fence just visible in the foreground is to protect the dunes from people and dogs. Nothing will protect them from nature.

So I did. I missed the spectacular moments at high tide when waves crashed over Lyall Parade, leaving weed and driftwood across the road, together with the inevitable sand.  Despite the sunshine, the blast from the sea was bone-chilling. Great cascades of white spray were launched skyward from the southern wall of the airport runway and Lyall Bay breakwater. Heavy green water surged towards the  shore and far to the South a towering bank of cloud hinted at worse to come.

There it is again,Tapuae-o-Uenuku across troubled waters

From Palmer Head, the oft-photographed view to the Kaikoura ranges was shot yet again with a confused and turbulent sea in the foreground.

A fine old bird undergoing an overhaul – Fokker F27-500 Friendship

A side trip up Tirangi Road caused a double take. It’s been a while since I last saw a Fokker F27 Friendship at the airport. This one, ZK-PAX from the Airworks NZ fleet, seems to be in the midst of a major overhaul or perhaps a  conversion as all the cabin windows were masked. It was a very fine design in its day, but as I understand it, very expensive to operate by comparison with its more recent competitors. It was a pleasure to see one again.

Houghton Bay
Houghton Bay in a Southerly

Back along the coast to Houghton Bay where the water seemed to be coming in even more solidly. It’s a coast I love to visit.

That’s enough for today.


Architecture Berhampore Island Bay Landscapes Maritime Weather Wellington

July 16, 2015 … Wellington wandering

Lunch is often the trigger for a visit to town, and subsequent wandering.

The nicely restored facade of “not the Central Police Station”

So it was yesterday. Before I got to the excellent Leuven Restaurant (consistently good mussels and Belgian beer a specialty), I wandered the side streets between Lambton Quay and Featherston St. Behind Midland Park, there is the Vodafone tower block, completed in 1998. Few Wellingtonians give a thought to the buildings on either side of the tower. In earlier times,  they were the Wellington Central Police Station. As far as I know, there is no residual police presence there, but the facades on Waring-Taylor and Johnston Streets still proclaim the buildings’ former role.

Downwind of the Carter Fountain

After lunch I headed South, and around Oriental Bay. There was a stiff Northerly and the Carter Fountain was playing. It used to be the case that when the wind was strong enough for the spray to reach the shore, the fountain would shut off. Residents and car owners were not keen on additional salt spray attacking their paint work. Perhaps the device has been removed or was simply broke, Either way there were drifting curtains of salt spray across Oriental Parade, and I chose to get downwind, though the wind direction kept changing through a wide arc. Happily the Olympus and its lens are reasonably weather sealed.

City and yachts

From approximately the same spot, but out of the spray, there was a good view back to the city. The colours and textures of the city are always appealing, and at this time a small fleet of yachts belonging to a sailing school were being towed into position, though the fourth little duckling was having trouble hoisting its sails.

Near the end of life

Wellington’s Southern suburbs remain a foreign land to me, especially those not on the coast. Southgate, for example is bordered by Berhampore to the North, Island Bay to the West, and Houghton Bay to the East. I didn’t know there was such a place until yesterday, though the existence of buses going there should have raised the possibility. It’s clearly one of thee older suburbs, judging by the age and decrepitude of some of the auxiliary buildings on street frontages.

Something different tomorrow


Cook Strait Island Bay Landscapes Maritime mountains South Coast Waves Weather Wellington

June 29, 2015 … waves and wind

The stillness ended.

Heavy green against solid rock

Sunshine continued. The day seemed too nice to waste, so Mary and I went to Palmer Head at the harbour entrance, and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the lee of a large flax bush. As we ate our sandwiches, the waves  rolled in solid and green against the rock, throwing spray high in the air. The strong Northerly instantly hurled the spray away to the South.

Palmer Head
White foam and red rocks

Off the point, the jagged rocks and the thundering white surf looked like a place you wouldn’t want to be. There were people snorkelling a  little further round in the shelter of the outer rocks, but they were still being shunted back and forth by the surging tide.

From this distance the white paint on the Aratere looks almost as clean as the snow on the mountain. (It isn’t).

Around to the South West, the ferry Aratere was  coming into the picture with the snow-capped peak of Tapuae-o-Uenuku. That mountain is over 100 km away so I was impressed by the performance of the Olympus in this kind of image.

The Aratere hidden in a flying curtain of spray

After lunch, we drove around to the rocky area just beyond Lyall Bay and I liked the contrast between the Aratere’s white hull and the green waves and red rocks. As I took this shot, the wind whipped the top off the nearest wave to create an interesting effect.

Across the strait from Island Bay

My last image in today’s post is a slow exposure with a Neutral Density filter. It turned the tumbling waves into a meringue coating.

The wind is still with us today.

Architecture Art Cook Strait Evans Bay Island Bay Maritime

May 5, 2015 … did I learn anything?

Unless I learn something, attending a convention is an expensive indulgence.

Tapu Te Ranga
Tapu Te Ranga Island, the breakwater that protects the fishing fleet at Island bay

For me, there were two kinds of learning from the recent photographic convention in Tauranga. Obviously, workshops that set out to explore new techniques are designed to teach specific content. The material laid out this way at Tauranga was so vast in its scope it will take me months to come to grips with the parts that were relevant to me. The other kind of learning was at least as valuable. This was the series of light-bulb moments as I saw how other photographers achieved such great results. The danger in the latter style of learning is becoming a pale copy of the original. Repeating the pictures made by the experts is not what I want to do. What would be fair, is to ask whether their techniques could be used in my environment so that I can make better pictures of what I see.  One of the speakers at Tauranga was Guy Edwardes, a British landscape and nature photographer. I loved his use of the long lens for landscape work. Of course I need to also adopt his habit of getting up early (or staying up late) for better light.

Houses at Island Bay. The one on the right is not, and never has been, a lighthouse. It is hired out as a romantic get-away. The one to the left has a big clinker boat as the front part of a balcony. Given the exposure to the ocean, it might have been wise to leave it intact in the event of a Tsunami

Processing was another area of interest. I have consistently argued that post-processing manipulation is a legitimate part of image making. I met Christian Fletcher, a founding member of the amazing and very successful ND5 group from Australia. Christian is undaunted by boring skies and will happily add in a cloudscape from a different setting entirely to create an exciting composite. Amusingly, he was taken to task by our favourite local meteorologist who pointed out that the clouds pasted above a mountain are incapable of forming at that altitude.  For my part, my post-processing skills are improving, but thus far I tend to adjust sharpness, colour, contrast, and perhaps remove an intrusive object. I have yet to add in any extraneous objects. For now,, at least, that’s a step too far for me.

Sculpture at the Evans Bay Marina

Back in Evans Bay, I stopped near the Coast Guard base an found my eye drawn to the “Urban Forest” sculpture by Leon van den Eijkel and Allan Brown. This is one of several wind-powered kinetic sculptures in Kilbirnie and the coloured boxes spin  in the wind.

Hoping to improve daily.

Adventure adversity Art harbour Island Bay Sport Weather Wellington

March 6, 2015 … around the edge of the land

One of my cameras was in the shop for a sensor clean yesterday.

Homeward bound

So while I was waiting, I did some coastal roaming, beginning near Lyall Bay where I saw a white sail progressing steadily behind the jagged offshore rocks.  Given that  this yacht has a self-furling jib, I am intrigued as to why she is travelling under main sail only.

Casual seating at a cafe/bar by Frank Kitts Lagoon

I collected the newly cleaned camera and wandered the waterfront. It was a very pleasant afternoon, and several establishments make a thing of throwing bean bags or other soft furnishing around so that the young and flexible can sprawl and enjoy their drinks in the sun.

The statue of Kupe now cast in bronze after years of neglect

Just behind the Star Boating Club is the Statue of the Maori explorer, Kupe standing on the prow of his canoe while making landfall in Aotearoa. The statue was made by William Tretheway for the Centennial exhibition in Kilbirnie in 1939/40.  It was located for many years in the atrium of the Wellington Railway Station and was removed in 1997. The statue was recast in Bronze in 1999 and placed in its present location in 2000.

Who can make the biggest splash?

In the Frank Kitts Lagoon, groups of young people were practicing for dragon boat racing which is hotly contested at this time of year. A group of boys who were filling in time while they waited for the bus, were swimming from the wharf and were making stupendous splashes as each tried to make a bigger show than the predecessor.

It’s as if he found the plug hole in the harbour

I caught one of them seeming to make a hole in the harbour.

That’s all today.

Island Bay Kilbirnie Machinery Wellington

November 2, 2014 … bus barns to cricket bats

Yesterday was a follow-the-nose day.

Airport bus
An orange bus is going to or from the airport. These big Scanias are getting old, but are comfortable to ride in.

My nose took me through Kilbirnie where my eye was caught by the big bold blocks of colour at the bus barns. Wellington’s buses operate under contract to the Greater Wellington Council and the buses are, in some sense, colour coded. The airport flyers are bright orange, Wellington City buses are black and gold, and the Hutt Valley has a disgusting purple and orange scheme reminiscent of Barney the Dinosaur. Newlands and Mana operate in a fluorescent green colour.  Some of the orange buses were parked outside the depot so that’s where I started.

Wellington buses
Sleeping Wellington buses in the dark of the old tram barns

The barns themselves, once home to Wellington’s trams are large dark spaces and for me the main attraction is that they contain large collections of brightly coloured buses and I am sure there are pictures to be had. Not having permission to enter,  I stood at the door and got the next shot by leaning the camera on the door post for steadiness, and making sure a bus returning to the depot didn’t sneak up on me. If I have it right, these are some of the new Alexander Dennis Enviro 200 buses.

Island Bay
Fishing boats, a generation apart

Of course, Kilbirnie is close to the South Coast so I followed the road to Island Bay and paused to catch these two fishing boats tugging at their moorings.

Cricket at Adelaide Rd

From there, I went up the Parade into Berhampore and Adelaide Road. At the top  of the hill, I stopped to watch some club cricket in action. If memory serves, the batsman swung and missed but the ball missed the wicket.

That was the day.

Cook Strait Island Bay Maritime South Coast Waves Weather Wellington

August 16, 2014 … I’ll huff, and I’ll puff …

Wild and woolly weather kept me inside for the morning.

JPO Volans is assisted to her berth by the two new tugs

Then I heard on the radio that interisland ferries were cancelled due to swells of up to six metres in the Cook Strait. I was into the car and off. As I reached Wellington, one ship was leaving port and another was preparing to berth. I know there are many larger ships, but the JPO Volans is a big lump of steel to be moving about and I was impressed.

High Discovery sets sail, apparently uphill, to Timaru

At Palmer Head, the outgoing ship was beginning to feel the weight of those big ocean rollers. The High Discovery is a chemical tanker and she was bound for Timaru. I noticed that she was flying the red and white pennant that signifies she had a pilot on board, yet there was no pilot launch to take him off. I speculate that it was judged safer to let him travel to Timaru and fly home from there.

Island bay
Rough weather at Island bay

Around the coast at Island Bay, the local fishing fleet is afforded shelter from the South by Taputeranga Island. Nevertheless there was some very turbulent water throwing those boats around.

Star of the Sea is rescued after being blown ashore

Just how turbulent it had been was demonstrated by the sturdy trawler Star of the Sea which had broken its moorings and been washed up on the beach. A large crane was busily lifting it from its place to put it on a large flat-bed truck after which it was driven off for inspection and repair.

Wind wand
Lashed down after being hit by lightning

With domestic obligations to attend to, I went through Evans Bay on the way home, and there I  saw the tattered remnants of the Zephyrometer being lashed down to avoid further risk after it had been struck by lightning the previous day. It will be interested to see who, if anyone, funds the restoration of this well liked art work.

That’s my day.


Cook Strait Island Bay Maritime South Coast Waves Weather Wellington

June 13, 2014 … wind and water

Chilly breezes and dampness persist.

From Breaker Bay
Across the harbour mouth to the Eastern Hills and the wet weather

From Breaker Bay, the view across the harbour entrance was interesting. I have always liked the shades of grey and receding planes that come when rain drifts in over the hills. This rain seemed to be coming my way so I had mixed feelings.

Palmer Head
Surging seas at Palmer Head

At Palmer head, the waves coming in from the South East were surging backwards and forwards through the rocks, so I decided to give it the slow treatment. That is Pencarrow light in the distance.

FV Steve Mayree rolls into port at Island Bay

In Island Bay, the fishing vessel Steve Mayree came cruising into view, rolling heavily in a beam sea. Just one lone sea-gull was keeping her company, so I assume there was no recently processed catch on board.

Wind turbine at Brooklyn


I went home via Happy Valley Road and diverted to the wind turbine at Brooklyn. The day was so grey that I got nothing noteworthy up there, but gave the spinning blades a shot.

That’s all folks.