July 17, 2020 … everything changes

I seem to have let things slip for a few weeks. Ah well, the solution is to pick them up again.

In Avalon Park

Stillness speaks louder than the strongest gale. It demands my attention. The first thing I do every morning when I pull back the curtains is check whether the fronds on the ponga tree are waving or still. If they are still, life speeds up and after shower and breakfast, I head out. If they are waving I spend time at the keyboard. This still moment occurred at the end of the day and I was driving through Naenae. The duck pond in Fraser park was free of ripples and I was able to get low enough to separate the tree from the background.

Naenae Fog

On several mornings recently, we have experienced river fog drifting slowly down the valley. It doesn’t always follow the river exactly and takes a shortcut through Naenae. The various heating equipment at Hutt Hospital contributed to scene and showed the generally Southbound movement,

Someone left the plug out

There was a mist in Evans Bay. The ex-naval whaler owned by the Sea Scouts was in need of a good baling out. but was still afloat, and separated from the other nearby boats by the fog.

On the road to Shelly Bay

It was an unusually thick fog, so I went around Shelly Bay road to see what opportunities might arise. I was setting up my tripod for a shot across the bay when two cyclists emerged out of the mist behind me and were disappearing away to the North. I swung the camera and seized the moment.

In Shelly Bay

Back to the view across the harbour and the old jetties at the former Air Force flying boat base. I got the shot I wanted and within thirty minutes the fog had lifted and the view across Evans Bay was back to normal

What a mighty mountain

Mary and I chose to spend four nights away recently. We looked at the various AirBnB opportunities and settled on Opunake on the Taranaki coast. It’s about half an hour North of Hawera and 50 minutes South of New Plymouth. I had driven through it before but had spent no time there. Just getting there fulfils the first rule of landscape photography: first go somewhere where there is a good landscape.

Sunset in Opunake

The weather was variable while we were in Taranaki but we had a few memorable sunsets. Though there was a chill Southerly breeze, the sky was clear apart from some haze on the horizon. This shot was made in Middleton Bay, just North of Opunake beach.

North Island Tomtit

A nice thing about Opunake is the number of interesting places that are with less than an hour’s drive. One such is Dawson Falls at the edge of the tree line high on the South Eastern side of Taranaki. The day we went up there was complicated with low cloud, and though I made some shots of the snow and glimpses of the summit, the mountain was not displayed to best advantage. I was happy however, to see this delightful little North Island tomtit (Petroica macrocephala). It was happy to see me too since my passing by stirred up insects for it to catch.

Carved life-sized hawk

While we were in Taranaki, we visited our friend Wayne Herbert. I posted an image of his tui last edition. This is one of an American hawk . What a gift this man has. I swear I can see life in the eye of this wooden carving.

Waxeye in the red-hot pokers

One of my favourite places near New Plymouth is Lake Mangamahoe. We stopped in there on our way back to Opunake. It was a grey overcast day, but colour was provided by the extensive growth of red hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria) along the lake’s edge. And then there were the lovely waxeyes browsing among the flowers, presumably for insects.

Live steam

Steam Inc, at Paekakariki was having an open weekend recently and I happened to be driving past when I spotted the plumes of steam as the locomotives were being fired up for the event the next day. There were two locomotives out in the sunshine. One was Ja1271 and the other was Ab608 “Passchendaele”. Both were hissing gently and occasionally blowing steam.

The dog walker

On Petone Beach late this week, I saw a dog-walker with nine or ten “clients” which he had walked oolong the stormwater outlet. Several of his dogs were off the leash and he seemed to be calling them to heel with varying degrees of success.

That will suffice this time. Stay safe and well everyone. I look forward to catching up in two weeks or so.

September 29, 2019 …some local colour

Since I last wrote, there have been a lot of days that were, at best grim and uninviting as far as photography goes. It’s officially Spring, and that has brought grey skies and bitter winds. Of course there have been exceptions and I have made some images that I quite like. Let’s have a look.

At the back of the boat sheds

The Hutt River estuary is a place I have photographed on many occasions, usually looking at either the birds or the boats on the water. On this occasion I was sitting in my car at the back of the boat sheds waiting for Mary to meet me at the end of her six or seven kilometre walk down the river bank. I spotted a puddle on the gravel road and started thinking about the recent trend towards low-level wide-angle reflection shots. It seems that almost any pool of still water bigger than a dinner plate will work for this technique. Putting that idea together with the bold paint on the sheds it seemed worth the experiment. It seems that, no matter how banal the subject, the addition of its reflection improves the image.

Kereru

The kereru, or NZ Native wood pigeon is a regular subject of mine. They are reportedly fewer in number around Wellington this season. Nobody seems to have passed the word to the ones that visit our little kowhai bushes and this one was about 3 metres from our front door. Whereas the Tui is a nectar feeder that looks for the liquid in the flowers, the kereru is the avian equivalent of a motorised hedge trimmer. It chops young shoots and flowers indiscriminately. Their iridescent plumage is a delight to my eye so I forgive their greedy habits..

Tulip season

Wellington’s Botanic Gardens puts on a splendid display of tulips each year at about this time. Since they use the same beds each time, it gets harder and harder to find a different way to capture their splendour. Using the “less is more” principle, I aimed at the glow of some side-lit blooms. The contrast with the distant hedge worked nicely. I thought.

Nemo me impune lacessit

I was driving Eastward from Owhiro Bay towards the airport when I spotted a man on the roadside with a long lens shooting at something on the beach. I paused and was surprised and delighted to see a young leopard seal had hauled itself out of the water. I am told that this is an immature male, but even so, I too used a long lens so as not to come too close to an animal with such fearsome reputation for aggression. It was obviously there for a rest, and apart from yawning a lot, it did little while I was there.

Sakura season

On SH2 at the foot of the Remutaka hill, there is a cafe and function centre called Aston Norwood Gardens. It has a delightful formal garden that is worth a visit in most seasons of the year, but especially when the cherry blossoms are on display. The main catch is that you sometimes have to wait for other visitors to the garden to move out of the way before you get a clear picture. Of course cherry blossoms and reflections make nice images but always on the edge of cliche.

At the Supreme Court

While I have a strong preference for nature, I also love the way that the colours and textures in our cities catch my eye. In this case, I used the “low-wide” technique in the reflecting pools at the front of the Supreme Court building. This picture was made in the weekend so this end of Lambton Quay was untypically quiet. I was particularly attracted to the patchwork quilt effect of the two light-coloured buildings.

Singing competitively

In Sladden Park, Lower Hutt, there is a lovely grove of mature kowhai trees near the Hospice Garden of Remembrance. It is a favourite haunt of many tui when the kowhai is in flower. I suspect that there is something of a competitive courtship ritual taking place as the birds whistle and honk melodically in the hope of impressing a mate.

Weather warning

I was driving somewhat aimlessly though Oriental bay not seeing anything until those lenticular clouds registered on my brain. I am often drawn to patterns in subtle shades of grey and those well defined layers just demanded attention.

Oppressive

At the Western end of the Pauatahanui Inlet, the water was pleasantly still, though the cloud on the far side suggested that change was on its way. It certainly was, since there was a heavy, but brief downpour soon afterwards.

Banded dotterel

Sometimes I drive down the Wainuiomata coast road in the hope of seeing something worthy of shooting. The forest park, the seascape, or sometimes, the beautiful dotterels which nest on the shingle beach. It can be an uncomfortable place, with bitter winds blasting the sand at you. Sometimes, I get all the way to the coast and find nothing that makes me want to press the shutter button. On this visit, I was greeted by a lovely dotterel pulling the old diversion trick … “follow me, follow me, nothing to see over there”. Ideally I want to get down at the bird’s eye level, but I have to confess that sometimes getting up afterwards is a challenge.

Clear all the way across

Often when I am on the coast at Wainuiomata, the salt haze prevents a clear view of the mountains in the South. On this trip, there was startling clarity and the mountains stood clean and proud. But what caught my eye most was the spray ripped from the wave crests. It gives a sense of how bleak the conditions were on the beach. I must remember to keep a warm jacket in the car. It’s no fun on that beach if the clothing is too light.

Hogwarts or Neuschwanstein?

On the way home, I paused at the Seaview Marina and noticed a stack of the old cast-iron fence posts saved from the city wharves. I have no idea what fate awaits them, but they seemed worth a shot.

That will do for now. I wonder what the weeks ahead hold.

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.

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.

 

February 24, 2019 …. if you haven’t grown up by now, you don’t have to

This somewhat belated edition is slightly longer than normal because, well, there was an airshow. If you have been reading my ramblings for any length of time, you know that I love a good airshow.  But first, let’s get some random images out of the way. Truth to tell, they are not all that random. They follow the trajectory of my wandering, but the subject matter is fairly random.

Architecture

Architectural quirkiness in Eastbourne

Sometimes my search for artistic form gets a bit desperate. I grit my teeth and clench my fists, hold my breath and strain to see something attractive hidden in the ordinariness around me. It rarely works. Now and then I am rewarded by an image which may not be great, but which pleases me. This architectural detail is on the main road into Eastbourne. I am not sure how practical the house is for its owners but I liked the shapes and proportions of the towers.

Stream

The stream above the ford on the Waiohine Gorge Road

When the members of the family were here from Brisbane recently, we went up the Waiohine Gorge road just North of Greytown in the Wairarapa. As we were coming back, we crossed a ford and from the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a tree-shaded steam  which ran across the road and down into the Waiohine River below. Holiday traffic on the dusty road made it impractical to stop. A week or so ago, I went back there on a quiet week-day morning, to try again. The ford was dry and I thought I had missed the opportunity. Happily the stream was still there and the residual flow goes under the road. You might wonder why the reflected leaves seem blurred. The answer is that there was a strong wind overhead and the highest parts of the canopy were thrashing around.

Bridge

ANZAC Memorial Bridge – Kaiparoro

On the same day after some fruitless wandering in the South Wairarapa,  I was on my way home  via SH2 and had just passed through Ekatahuna when I arrived at the ANZAC Bridge at Kaiparoro. In all the years I have been passing this, I have never stopped to look. The bridge was built in 1921 to cross the previously unbridged Makakahi River, and to serve as a memorial for the six men from the district whose lives were lost in the first world war. I made this picture from beneath the much larger bridge that now carries the busy SH2 traffic over the stream. The old bridge is no longer connected to any roads and its sole remaining purpose is as a memorial.

Cicada

Discarded shell of cicada nymph

Mary likes to be in the garden. I like to look at gardens but rarely participate, except when Mary finds something. This discarded shell of a cicada nymph seemed worth a look. The image is a stacked composite of about seven images to ensure every part is in focus.

Harbour

Wellington Harbour Entrance

At the top of Mt Crawford on the Miramar peninsula sits the deserted but still  grimly locked Mt Crawford Prison. Looking down from its Eastern wall, there is a lovely view of the harbour entrance. In the foreground is Miramar. Seatoun is behind that, and across the water you can see the upper and lower lights at Pencarrow. If you have sharp eyes you can see the Baring Head light to the left of the upper Pencarrow light. Baring Head is the only one of the three that is still operational. If you use your imagination and squint really hard, the Antarctic ice shelf is just 3,200 km over the horizon.

Night

Looking down on Lower Hutt

Earlier this week, there was a super moon, and I tried to catch it rising over the Eastern hills. Sadly heavy cloud obscured its rising and I had to be satisfied with a night shot of the valley below. The darkened tower block in the centre is Hutt Hospital on High St.

Khandallah

It’s always good to find a new viewing platform

I found a new view window down onto the port that provides a more broadside view of the vessels berthed there. On this occasion I caught the Ovation of the Seas and the US Coast Guard icebreaker, Polar Star. Apparently this is the only operational icebreaker left in US Cost Guard service, and she is the first coast guard vessel to visit New Zealand since the suspension of the ANZUS treaty in 1984. Welcome back.

Sunset

It had been a miserable windy overcast day and then this happened

Sometimes I see a sunset only because there is a rosy tint on the Eastern hills. On this night the colour was so intense that I mounted a grab and dash mission. Click for a better view of this image which I caught from the slopes of Maungaraki.

The following images are from the Wings Over Wairarapa airshow held at Masterton this weekend, so if it’s not your thing, skip to the end.

LAV III

A heavier than air machine at the Air show

No matter how fast it goes down the runway, this General Dynamics LAV-III will never take off. Belonging to the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles regiment, it was part of the NZ Defence Forces contribution to the show. Apparently it just fits inside a C-130

Agricola

A beautifully restore piece of history

This ugly duckling is the world’s last surviving Auster Agricola. The prototype of this aerial topdresser was flown in 1955 but no more than ten were ever built. It was good at its job, but the Auster company were not good at selling it to the world. Pity.

PC-12

Horsepower … it would need some serious power to spin that five-bladed propeller

Much more glamorous than the Auster is the Pilatus PC-12 seen here on display at the show. If you click to enlarge, you will see a honey bee sitting on the apex of the spinner, I didn’t see it when I made the image, and was about to tidy up what I thought was a photographic flaw.

Yak 3

Full Noise – a Yak-3

As I have written elsewhere, the airshow was a disappointment to me, with a very limited selection of serious warbirds on display or in action apart from the superb WWI machines belonging to The Vintage Aviation Limited (TVAL). There were lots of Yak-52 trainers and this excellent Yak-3. It has made its presence felt at the Air Races in Reno, racing under the name “Full Noise”. But missing were any real Spitfires, Mustangs, Corsairs or Kittyhawks.

PBY

PBY-5a Catalina rumbles off the runway

The other piece of real hardware on display was this lovely PBY-5a painted in the WWII colours of XX-T of the RNZAF’s number 6 squadron. An aviator and dear friend wrote of them that they took off at 90 mph, cruised at 90 mph and landed at 90 mph.

And now we come to the bit about growing up. After all these years, I got bored at an airshow, and left long before the end. The entry fee was triple what I expected to pay and the aircraft on display were far less varied than in previous years. They would need to up their game by a very long way to get me back to the Wairarapa show. If my Saturday Night Investment Plan (SNIP) ever pays off, I might consider a trip to Oshkosh, but I fear my days at airshows could be in the past.

 

January 10, 2019 … into the new year

Somehow, the festive season is far behind us already. We are several weeks beyond the summer solstice and there is, as yet, little sign of a sustained summer. There have been days here and there that have offered photographic opportunity, and I have tried as best I could to use them.

Kaiarahi

Kaiarahi straightens up on the course across the harbour to the ferry terminal. I love the light on the water

It would be obvious to any one who has followed this page for even a few episodes that I have a strong affinity for still water. The thing I check first when I pull back the curtains most days, is the extent to which the nearby bush is moving. My favourite days are those when the leaves are perfectly still. Then I head to the places from where I can see the reflections. On this occasion I went up a steep Narrow street at the foot of Ngauranga Gorge just as the ferry Kaiarahi was turning towards its berth. As you can see from the wake, it makes a very tight turn. To some extent, the presence of the ferry was serendipitous. I had gone to my vantage point to capture the contrast between the hazy receding planes of the Eastern Hills and the bright glitter on the harbour

I have noticed that when I make landscape images, I have a strong preference for the landscape formats, usually either 16:9 or as in this case, 2:1. Is it a good choice do you think?

Fishing

Recreational fishing has never been kind to me. Perhaps I lack the patience required.

From the same vantage point on the same day, I spotted this little “tinnie” engaged in recreational fishing at the foot of the Ngauranga Gorge. Again, it was the almost oily stillness of the harbour and the pleasant morning light that persuaded me that there was a picture here.

As you can see, I have used the full native 4:3 aspect ratio of my Olympus camera and I think it suits the subject.

sunset

Sunset drama from home

A few days later, the weather was just ugly and I was not motivated to make an image. That is, until the very end of the day when the setting sun lit up the clouds in the East and highlighted the band of clouds along the Eastern hills. I grabbed the camera and took eight vertical images which were then stitched to a single panorama. While I have no illusions that it is a great image, I liked the drama of the sky.

Motukaraka

Motukaraka Point in the rain

At Pauatahanui Inlet in drizzly conditions I thought there was no image to be had, but made this picture of trees at the Western tip of Motukaraka Point.  Again, I have adapted the aspect ratio to suit what I regard as the essence of the image.  The rain-blurred background contrasts nicely with the sharpness of the water in the foreground and the trees that were the subject of the image.

Stilts

As I said elsewhere, only a centipede needs this many stilts. I do like the arrange,ment

In the wetlands near Pauatahanui village, there was a flock of pied stilts. They were mostly snoozing in the still conditions, many of them in the one-legged stance so typical of wading shore-birds. But what really caught my eye, apart from the smart black and white plumage, was the lovely horizontal line of the birds. To my mind, it demanded the narrow aspect ratio.

Lowry Bay

Lowry Bay in the morning

Yesterday started out magnificently, but the forecast suggested it would not last, so I set out early. In Lowry Bay, the view across the harbour to the Miramar Peninsula was delightful, and I decided that the warm tones of the wooden fence that protects people waiting at the bus stop from the splashing of the waves on rough weather days added to the sunny feel of the day. The streaks of cloud hint at the change to come.

Hikoikoi

Hikoikoi viewpoint

While the weather was still on my side, I visited the Hikoikoi reserve in the Hutt River estuary. I have made a great many images down there, and struggled to find a way of seeing it differently.When I attended a photographic convention in Tauranga a few years ago, I recall the celebrated landscape photographer, Guy Edwardes advocating the use of long lenses in making landscape images. Though it seems counter-intuitive, I find that the long lens often lets me see a familiar scene in a different way. I had some discussion with photographic friends as to where to crop this image, and some suggested I should lose the pink door on the left. I disagreed think it balances the light colours on the right edge.

 

Solace

Quizzical inspection

The cruise-liner thing eludes me completely, though perhaps the Caledonian Sky pictured here, might suit me better than most since I would only be forced to mingle with 119 other passengers instead of the 4,179 on the Ovation of the Seas. Anyway, I thought that Max Patte’s iron sculpture “Solace in the Wind” was looking quizzically  at one of the few cruise ships small enough to berth down-town.  I love the red oxidation on the statue.

That’s another week gone. Thanks to those who kindly offered feedback last week.

 

 

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

 

May 16, 2018 … for the simple pleasure of it

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

Stairs

Stairs and shadows at Seaview

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

Jervois Quay

Golden moment in the traffic

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

Evans Bay

Evans Bay in a moment of stillness

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

Kaukau

Panorama from the Kaukau lookout

 

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

Brothers

Across the cold blue water of the Cook Strait

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

Upper Hutt

Swirling mists in Upper Hutt

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

Matiu/Somes

Matiu/Somes Island

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

Dogs

Just having fun

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

February 2, 2018 … all good things come to an end, eventually

January has been a month of mixed fortunes. Weather-wise, from my photographic point of view, it was great, with sun, little wind and lots of warmth. That has now been replaced by a severe gale suddenly lashing central New Zealand. And I could have done without the catastrophic engine failure I experienced during a trip to the Wairarapa last week.

Reflection

I often wonder at the wisdom of glass-curtain architecture in such a seismically threatened city as Wellington. I like the appearance though.

The week began hot and fine. I spent time wandering the waterfront, trying to look behind the obvious, to find the image-worthy subjects. On the waterfront near the TSB arena I saw a reflection in the tower block on the other side of Jervois Quay, and liked its contrast with the Norfolk pine nearby.

Traffic

Evening rush on Jervois Quay …stop, go, stop, go …

Later that day, in the afternoon, I was crossing the bridge from the waterfront as the evening rush hour began. My camera has an interesting feature intended to build high-resolution composite images by taking eight images in rapid succession, each with the sensor moved in very small steps to left or right, up or down and then combining them to a single 40 megapixel file. It is intended for still subjects, but I wondered what it would make of the traffic below. As you can see the road, the building and the trees are all shown as they should be. The rendering of the moving vehicles is interesting and to my mind, as I hoped, catches the sense of the slow-moving step by step progress towards home.

Otahoua

The transmission tower atop Otahoua Hill to the East of Masterton is a visible landmark for miles around.

Then came my day of madness. Despite a forecast temperature of 33ºC, I crossed the hill into the Wairarapa and just a little to the East of the town is the Te Ore Ore – Bideford Rd. You can guess the names of the two localities it connects.  Otahoua hill overlooking a large expanse of somewhat dry-looking grain caught my attention.

Panorama

Somewhere between Ihuraua and Alfredton, there was birdsong and the hum of bees and the thermometer was nudging 33ºC

The road from there, through to Dannevirke, though picturesque, is long, winding and narrow, and in places quite rough. My car chose that remote spot to start sending me distress messages via the temperature gauge. I stopped for a while to set up this North-facing panorama of the wild and lonely countryside in the area. Click on the image to get a better sense of the emptiness of the area. The road I was following runs along the edge of that pine plantation and winds on to Dannevirke perhaps 50 km further to the North West.  Very little traffic on the road though I did have to wait until a convoy of motorcyclists thundered past. Then I resumed a cautious slow drive to Dannevirke where I sought assistance. I did eventually get home, but perhaps should have stayed. It is either a cracked cylinder head, or a leaking head gasket. Either way, the engine in the car is wrecked and the cheapest repair option was a replacement used engine.

Blue

Beyond that blue horizon there is absolutely nothing until you reach the Antarctic ice

The next day, back in Wellington, using a courtesy car provided by my dealer’s service department, I went to explore yet another day of magical warmth and stillness. An old man got in his dinghy and rowed out from Petone beach to tend his fishing nets. That’s Matiu/Somes Island to the right and in the haze on the left is that drilling platform looking for a fresh-water aquifer below the sea bed.  Next to that is its attendant tug, Tuhura.

heat

Haze so early in the day suggests a hot day ahead

Yet another day dawned hot and hazy and this view from my bedroom window promised at least one more day of summer. After that, all bets were off. A tropical storm brought wind at 130 km/h and rain, lots of rain. The delicate people amongst us cheered as they temperature dropped from consistent 30ºC to nearer 20ºC. It seems so long since we had a real summer that I would have liked it to continue a while. Of course, farmers and gardeners were delighted. According to media reports this was Wellington’s hottest January in 150 years of temperature records.  I have loved it.

 

January 24, 2018 … summer takes various forms

This has to be the warmest Wellington summer since we came here in 1980. I do not remember temperatures exceeding 31ºC, ever. We have had a lot of blue sky days and some grey ones, but it has remained warm and humid on most days, even when it rained. More of the same is forecast for the week ahead.

colour

A splash of colour on a grey day

On one of the grey days I went looking for images that used the grey-ness and then, at the Taranaki St Wharf, saw this splash of colour that just stood out. I am not sure of the purpose of the building but my memory suggests that it housed the controls for the now removed loading ramp when the trans-Tasman Ro-Ro service used to berth here. The Union Steam Ship Company brought ships such as  Marama, Maheno, Union Rotorua, Union Rotoiti, Hawea and Wanaka to load and unload here on the coastal and Australian runs. Back then, I worked for Philips, the Dutch multinational and my office window was on the top floor of the hexagonal building just below the “M” of the central Datacom sign.

not monochrome

No colour at all here, and no, it is not a monochrome image

As I said, I was looking for greys, and the view from Wellington towards the Hutt Valley in the North certainly met that need. Despite the appearance, the rain didn’t amount to much.

Mist

Last light at Lowry Bay and the sea mist lingers on

That same evening, there was a stillness on the earth and though there was greyness everywhere, the last rays of the sun picked out the redness in the rocks at the North end of Lowry Bay.

Ptilotus

As in ocean swimming, the P is silent in Ptilotus exultatus. The bee wasn’t.

Mary and I were guests for lunch at the lovely Waikanae home of some friends of very long standing. They are garden people, and there is always something to see. This lovely flower is Ptilotus exultatus “Joey”, an Australian perennial known over there as the pink mulla mulla. The flower spikes are about 10 cm long , so that’s a good-sized bumble bee (Bombus terrestris).

Orderrrrr . Arms! Cooper at the Anti-Aircraft battery site.

Grandson Cooper is a history buff with special interest in matters military. Though he lives in a fantasy world much of the time, he takes somethings very seriously. I took him up Brooklyn Hill to the WWII gun emplacements at Polhill reserve. He was deeply offended and outraged that the graffitists had dishonoured the soldiers who had served there by defacing the installation. Despite the Nerf gun and the helmet, he is a gentle soul and I think he is a flower child at heart.

e-bikes

e-bikes in the red

On the waterfront for lunch with former colleagues yesterday, my eye was drawn to a line-up of rental e-bikes parked against a re-purposed shipping container.

See you next week.