Adventure Architecture Birds Clive Family harbour Hawkes Bay Kelburn Landscapes Light Lower Hutt Napier night Pekapeka Tararuas Trees Wellington

January 10, 2018 … Happy New Year

Thank you for staying with me. Some of you have been Internet friends since about 1994, and I value your continued company on this ever-changing journey. My presence on the Internet, and then on the Web, has evolved over the years, from its initial purpose of providing home news to disconnected kiwis. It has been through several stages since then and is now a vehicle for the photographic expression of my love for this region, this country, and wherever else I find myself.

If you have been with me for a while, you will know that I am somewhat insecure when it comes to the evaluation of my own skills.  This is not false modesty. I know that I make some really nice shots now and then, but I also produce a regrettable number of mediocrities. My journey is about changing the proportions of each. I want more really nice shots.

My challenge each day, is to be a better photographer than I was yesterday. For the sake of clarity, I regard photography as the making of images using whatever tools help me to illustrate the possibility I saw when I picked up the camera. I am an unashamed user of Lightroom and Photoshop to bring my vision to life in print or on the screen. So, 2018, bring it on. Here are some of my first efforts for the year.

When you see that descending line of trees you know you are almost at Featherston

When our family came to Wellington in 1980, the trip across the hill to the Wairarapa was much more challenging than it is now. The old “greasy spoon” cafe and the awful rest-rooms at the summit are long one. The road is now well sealed, and there are safety barriers on all the nasty corners. Only the landscape is unchanged. On the last sharp corner before the road crosses the bridge to head into Featherston, there is an iconic stand of trees that I have long wanted to photograph. However, there is no safe place to stand, and you would need to be on the outside of the Armco barrier at risk of falling into the valley below. On this occasion, Mary was driving, so I would the camera strap around my wrist, adjusted the swivelling rear screen and held the camera out of the window firing as we drove.  It’s not the image I envisaged or aspire to, but it’s a start.

It’s 2018 already but the Christmas decorations are still up. The inner harbour from Kelburn

A few days later I was wandering the quiet city and found myself in Kelburn where the university campus was closed and quiet. I drove to where I used to park when I was a staff member there, and looked out over the moody city. As you can see the pohutukawa was making its seasonal presence felt.

Gun emplacement.
1942 Gun emplacement on Brooklyn hill intended to defend the city from Japanese air attacks which never eventuated.

From there I drove up to the wind turbine at Brooklyn and thence down the hill again, pausing at the Polhill Reserve to have a look at the old anti-aircraft gun emplacements. The 109 men who were stationed there at any one time in all weathers from 1942 until the end of the war would probably not comprehend the desire to be there at all, and even less the desire to waste so much paint on the pointless graffiti. And yes, the despite reserving the right to process my images, the sea to the South  really was that blue on the day.

Kingfisher having a bad hair day at Pauatahanui

On some of the grey days, cabin fever was prevented by some wandering in the direction of the Pauatahanui wildlife reserve. I was in the Forest and Bird hide with not much happening when I realised that the large rock a few metres away had changed shape. It has been a long while since I was this close to a kingfisher, even one as scruffy as this. Nice to see you again, little fellow.

Water lilies
A glimpse of a secret garden with water lilies at Pauatahanui

I crossed the road from there to see what was happening in the fresh water ponds. The answer was that there was nothing, not even water there. Where the ponds are normally, found there were  moon-craters, cracked and dry. And, in the words of Farley Mowat, “no birds sang”. Trudging back to the car, I caught a glimpse  between the slats of the boundary fence of somebody’s “secret garden” (Wow – two literary allusions in one paragraph).
And then it rained.

Didn’t it rain, children?
Talk ’bout rain, oh, my Lord
Didn’t it, didn’t it, didn’t it, oh, my Lord?
Didn’t it rain?*

Though I didn’t go back to the dry ponds, they would surely have been filled, at least temporarily.

From our front door towards Seaview in heavy rain at night

Though not exactly forty days and forty nights, it rained quite heavily, and I decided to see if I could catch the experience in a night shot from our front door looking down towards the Seaview oil terminal

This is a small section of the competitors at the Clive river. Apart from the rattle of the seats sliding and the oars splashing, it was an eerily silent armada

In the weekend just ended, Mary and I went up to Clive, just South of Napier. Some of Mary’s family were having a get together at Te Awanga. It was a joyous occasion with much laughter, good food and great company.  Before we went out exploring on the Sunday morning, I strolled the 100 metres or so from our rented accommodation to the banks of the Clive River where there was a rowing regatta under way. The river was still, though somewhat clogged with weed. Down at the river mouth, heavy swells after the recent storm could be seen crashing on the bar, but I loved the steady procession of rowers moving steadily down the river to the start line. Though the racing shells would be wildly impractical in that situation, their purposeful passage looked like a latter-day Dunkirk.

Tern and gull
The local bully waiting to steal the little kid’s school lunch

My brother-in-law, Gerard later took us to a place along the beach where the was a  significant nesting site of shore-birds. There were white-fronted terns, pied stilts, banded dotterels and New Zealand dotterels. The dotterels are very hard to see on the rocky shore but the terns and stilts were more visible. A recent storm had disrupted the season and many eggs were washed away, according to a birder I met. There were juveniles aplenty, squawking loudly and demanding ever more fish. I felt for the term parents who would dash in at high speed from the sea with a fresh fish and attempt to get the youngster to swallow it before the marauding red-billed gulls could snatch it mid-transfer.

Old house
I have done this before but the rate of decay is accelerating

Homeward bound the next day, I had to pause just South of Hastings to record the latest stage of the slow and inevitable decay of an old house. I have shot this house many times and perhaps even shown it in this blog. Last time I was there, there was a blackberry thicket at the rear. It has been cleared, and perhaps that has allowed the house to lean gently inwards towards the earth.

Wellington Harbour in brooding weather

Yesterday was a moody sort of day in the Capital and I went up the hill to the entrance to the Horokiwi quarry and from there caught the wide view of the Eastern side of the harbour, The island to the left is Matiu/Somes and the hill to the right is the Miramar peninsula.

road and rail
Tenuous link

From the same spot, looking ninety degrees to the right, the winding path that carries road and rail between Wellington and the Hutt Valley shows just how vulnerable that vital link would be in the event of an earthquake like the Kaikoura one last year.

  • “Didn’t it rain” is a Negro Spiritual, according to Wikipedia, that long predates Mahalia Jackson’s version


Academic Architecture Camera club History Kelburn Landscapes Light Military Paekakariki Railway Weather Wellington

October 5, 2016 … the sun comes back again

There was a dinner in town for my friend, PhD supervisor and former colleague, Emeritus Professor Pak Yoong to mark the occasion of his retirement. Several of us who were successfully navigated by him to our doctorates gathered to honour his dedication to our success. It was a delightful occasion.

The Hutt Valley as seen from the Cable Car terminus at Kelburn

As always, I arrived early, so to fill in time went up to Kelburn and made some landscape shots from the top of the cable car. This image is looking up the harbour to the Hutt Valley. My home is just around the corner of the hill on the left.

They serve excellent coffee and make some fine hamburgers, I am told

On Saturday, for the fourth year in a row, I was the leader of the Wellington Worldwide Photowalk. Each year, up to 50 photographic walkers in any one location gather and walk for somewhere between one and two hours around a route planned by the leader, making images and enjoying each other’s company. We usually conclude our efforts in a hostelry and share the successes and failures of the walk. This year, the numbers were down with just 18 registered, but those of us ho walked, despite grey and damp weather had a good time anyway. One of my shots, taken at the starting point on Abel Smith St, was of a bus that has been converted to a coffee shop.

Tables and chairs, usually more congenial when the sun is out

The customer seating inside the fence is just as quirky as the bus.

War memorial … one of my walkers gives it scale

From there, we walked along to the national war memorial at Pukeahu Park on Buckle St. I had timed this walk to be close to sunset, knowing that this was the first weekend of Daylight Saving Time, and anticipating warm sunshine and interesting shadows. Sadly, the strongest colour came from the red stone of the Australian contribution to the memorial. It had rained before we started and again, heavily after we finished, so I suppose we should count ourselves lucky.

Seaview Marina on a grey day

The greyness continued for a few more days , and I decided to try the new adapter I had acquired to allow me to use my ND filters on my wide angle lens. As you can see, I wasn’t kidding about the grey.

US Marines memorial at Paekakarariki

A visit was made to Queen Elizabeth II Park, on the Kapiti coast, in the hope of finding dabchick chicks. I found dabchicks and a few ducklings but no chicks.I did get a slightly different view of the memorial to the United States Marines, in honour of the 15,000 or so young men who camped and trained here before setting out to fight and in many cases die,  in  the famous battles of the Pacific War. This particular memorial is n the form of profiles representing the little huts that typified the camps.

Commuter train at Paekakariki

A train bound for Waikanae held up the exit from the park. The track curves, here, so be assured I was taking no foolish risks.  Look closely at the waves in the tracks. I saw a similar perspective in a shot of a high speed train in Germany recently and was struck by the absolute precision of their tracks. A fast train would go airborne  on this kind of engineering.

adversity Architecture Art Kelburn Lower Hutt

April 26, 2015 … “at the going down of the sun, and in the morning” *

Yesterday was ANZAC Day.

The cenotaph in Lower Hutt

It was the centenary of the disastrous invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli. Troops from the UK, France Australia, New Zealand, India and Canada attempted to secure a sea route to their ally, Russia by gaining control of the Dardanelles. There are many opinions that suggest this calamitous venture was the trigger point from which both Australia and New Zealand began to think of themselves as having an identity separate from that of their mother country, England.

There are those who characterize this centennial commemoration as a “glorification of war”. I vigorously reject and repudiate that label. It is not a glorification to mourn the lost, to remember their suffering and celebrate their courage. It is not a glorification to remember and honour those on all sides who died or were injured doing what they believed to be right for their country.

Dawn is not my natural habitat, but it seemed proper to be at the dawn observances. In an ordinary year, about a thousand might turn out at the Lower Hutt Cenotaph. This time, I estimate about 5,000. I read that there were over 40,000 at the new national memorial at Pukeahu Park in Wellington.

Honour guard
Honour guard on reversed arms

The honor guard around the cenotaph was provided by youngsters of the cadet forces who marched smartly though the crowd to take their places at each corner and to stand motionless in the traditional position with downcast eyes and resting on reversed arms.

Last post
The flag descends to half mast as the solo trumpet plays the last post

The ceremony took the well-worn format of ANZAC services throughout Australasia, and at the appropriate time, as the Last Post was sounded, and the flag lowered to half mast, the crowd was completely still.

“As we that are left grow old”*

In the darkness of the chilly morning, I took my hand-held pictures at very slow speed without flash. This picture seems to capture some of the essence of te occasion, and has had positive feedback in the “impressionist” group. Some will just see a blurred picture.  I see an ever diminishing body of ordinary men and women, courageous heroes all.

Some of the 866

In the afternoon, I visited the Salamanca Lawn in Kelburn where there is a field of remembrance containing one white cross for each of the 866 soldiers from the Wellington region who died in WWI.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.*

* For the fallen by Lawrence Binyon

Academic Architecture flowers Kelburn Weather Wellington

October 19, 2014 … in the dead centre of town

Late afternoon sun is often useful.

Past their best, but the tulips are still worth looking at

Again, I followed my nose, and for some reason it decided to lead me on a roundabout path to Victoria University’s Kelburn Campus and the Mount St cemetery. On the way, it took me past the Botanic gardens. The tulips must have peaked at least a week ago and were now mostly “blown”, but there were still some vivid blocks of colour.

The Hub
Where has the old Quad gone? The replacement has upholstered seating and you could it there in shirtsleeves in mid winter.

I passed through the village at Kelburn, and came down Kelburn Parade and paused to revisit old haunts. There was a time when I knew the campus intimately, but just three years after my official retirement, it is now an alien landscape. At Kelburn, especially, the barren wind-swept ash-tray that was “the Quad” has been replaced by a superb new student centre called “the Hub”. And now all of Victoria’s campuses are smoke-free. For any alumni reading this, the building to the left is Rankine-Brown (the library) and on the right, Easterfield. I had my back to the Old Kirk building as I took the shot.

At the top of Mount St Cemetery

Behind Rankine-Brown, where the footpath passes down between the Student Union and the old Mount St Cemetery, there is a new rest area with seats overlooking the city, and in front of it, some of the historically important monuments in the cemetery have had a splendid facelift.

The building through the trees on the right is the Student Union. At the top of the hill, the library. Apparently some still use books. However, there are many computer terminals in there now.

Wandering down through the cemetery, things are much as they always were, with many neglected tombstones in dire need of restoration. Nevertheless, I suspect that, as always, there are all kinds of activities in this consecrated area that are not usually compatible with a cemetery.  I guess any of the permanent occupants will be winking and looking the other way.

That’s all for now.

Architecture Aro Valley Kelburn Wellington

November 16, 2013 … taking the broad view

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Aro Street
These are amongst the oldest houses in Wellington

The cliché is no less true for photographers. I mounted my wide-angle lens yesterday and went roaming in the lower end of the Aro Valley. The wide -angle was used all afternoon.  The Aro Valley is quaint, sometimes a bit run down, but is slowly becoming “gentrified”. Whether or not the wide-angle view does it justice is for you to say.

Epuni St
The newcomer is not too out of place

In nearby Epuni Street, a modern, somewhat quirky new building is completely different to all of its aged neighbours, yet somehow, is not out of place.

Easterfield building, Victoria University of Wellington
My old office is concealed by that awning

Next, I went up the absurd winding road that is Devon Street. This narrow goat track not only allows two-way traffic, but also permits parking. Despite signs warning that it is unsuitable for long vehicles, the occasional bus driver decides to give it a try, only to end up jammed in the steepest tightest corner. I have seen a crane called in to lift a stranded bus round the curve.  At the top of the hill I found myself in familiar territory, at the Kelburn campus of Victoria University of Wellington. The Easterfield building was my workplace for about three years before our school moved downtown to the Pipitea Campus. Since then, the old Quad has been demolished to make way for the splendid new “hub”. The ground floor of the Easterfield building now contains “Vic Books”, a shiny cafe/bookshop that replaces the old bookshop in the student union building.  A Sushi shop is on the uphill side where there used to be a gate between Easterfield and the McLaurin lecture theatres.

"The Hub" Victoria University
If you went to Vic, this is where the Quad used to be … the brick building through the windows is “Old Kirk” and the library is off to the right, Easterfield to the left.

Inside, the place is eerily empty … just a few staff, and post-grad students as it is now in the post-exam period with the summer trimester about to start. Those who remember the bleak and windswept Siberian wasteland that used to be the Quad will hear their jaws drop at the luxury that is now the centre of student life on campus.

Kelburn Parade outsire the Easterfield building
Interesting cloud formation

Across the road, are the old houses which house a number of small departments and teaching spaces. For a while I had a rather grand office in the grey building visible immediately in front of the bus. The bus driver was very suspicious of my photography activities and got out own his point-and-shoot camera so that he knew who had taken his photo. I am guessing he thought I might be a company spy.

Behind the high-rise buildings on the Terrace
The pink colour in the centre is that netting they use to shroud workers on scaffolding

From there it’s all downhill, and a steep hill at that. Bolton street was always a challenge to walk up which was why I rarely did it. It offers a nice view of the back of the CBD as the motorway into the city passes behind the Terrace. I liked the clouds.

Hikoikoi reserve
The clouds again

My last stop of the day was at Hikoikoi reserve. This is a panoramic stitch of five images still with the wide angle in portrait orientation. The boatsheds are quite a little village. The one thing missing is our favourite heron, George.

It’s a bleak day today so who knows what will emerge.