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June 12, 2022 … back to normal

With the road trip behind me, my challenge now is to keep the photographic flame alive. That can be hard while living an everyday life in suburbia. Many times before, I have referred to seeing familiar things in a different way. Some of my photographic friends have the gift of “finding a different place” to stand when making pictures of things that I see every day. What I need to do in my search for something worth photographing is to pause, and to not make the picture until I have considered other ways of looking at it. This might be to go round the other side. It might be to include (or exclude) another element. Perhaps it is looking at the subject through a different lens. The wide angle offers a different picture to that made by the telephoto. Anyway, for now at least, we are at home on the Western Hills of Lower Hutt and Winter has officially begun.

Before I totally forget the road trip, many thanks to all the nice readers who sent kind words and affirmation. Your messages were greatly appreciated.

Fizz

A crranberry flavoured tablet made a spectacular fizz. I tried to catch it in my lightbox. That went OK, but I wondered whether a dark box might give a better image. The illusion of a reflection is createrd by the simple trick of standing the glass on the base of an identical glass inverted.

Receding planes

One trick for seeing a view differently is to make a part of the scene substitute for the whole. Looking from Oriental Parade up the harbour, Wellingtonians are familiar with the view of the hills to the North. I have tried to present that view differently. The dark mass in the foreground is Matiu/Somes Island. Behind that are three folds in the Eastern hills of the Hutt Valley and I suspect the highest visible hill through the haze is Mt Climie behind Upper Hutt. A popular track with runners runs 6km from Tunnel gully to the summit. Masochism at its finest.

Depth charge?

Big swells on the South coast tend to attract the surfing community to Lyall Bay. It also attracts photographers. I am not sure why. Though the surfers may be different, it’s essentially the same picture each time. The only thing that rescues such an image from being the same as last time is the extent to which the light conditions or the waves are different. In this case I think the explosive burst of a big swell on the breakwater at the end of the airport runway makes a difference.

Royal spoonbills

Recently a flock of Royal spoonbills has taken to spending time on the Pauatahanui wetlands. It is often the case that, even when the rest of the inlet has a bit of a chop on the surface, the wetlands are perfectly still. These birds are still not quite the equal of the white heron, but they run a close second.

Morning glory

On Ivey Bay, there is often a variety of shore birds. In this case, a pied shag is proclaiming dominance over the bay. Across the inlet, the hills to the North of Grays Rd tower above the foreshore. I mainly liked the light.

Ivey Bay anchorage

That same morning, the water was perfect and one of the classic older wooden boats in the bay served as a focal point for my image making. I have no idea which boat it was, but as with previous captures, I have a preference for the simple old-fashioned working boats.

Swells in Owhiro Bay

We have been blessed with a relatively mild winter thus far. No deep cold, no sign yet of snow on the Tararuas. The only real symptom of winter has been a few heavy swells from the South. I like to try to catch these big waves, and hope to convey the weight of water behind each one. I am fascinated by their slow ponderous advance. I know conditions will be interesting when the gap between each wave is about ten seconds.

Lodden Lily

In the grounds of St James Church, Lower Hutt, shared by the public library except on Sundays, there is a lot of history and a great deal of horticulture, mostly carried out at the expense of the Lower Hutt City Council. I spotted these little beauties and thought they were some kind of spring flower that got confused. These Loddon lilies, however, are a winter flower so they were perfectly on schedule and it was only me that was confused.

Abandoned

Unilever has been part of Petone’s scenery scenery since 1919. The big factory building with its constantly steaming exhaust stacks came much later, sometime mid-century. At its peak, about 600 people worked there. Automation in the latter years apparently reduced the on-site numbers to about 30. The distinctive glass office block was built in the 1980s. In 2014, pursuant to global restructuring, Unilever transferred its New Zealand operations to Australia and the Petone factory fell silent. Some of the lesser buildings at the Eastern end of the 5 hectare property seem to have been leased or sold to small businesses. The office block remains dark and reflects the equally still factory block.

Wet feet

A long-proposed cross-harbour pipeline will improve resilience of Wellington’s water supply. The present sole pipeline runs alongside the main highway and crosses known seismic fault lines in several places. Construction began on the new line this year and is expected to be complete in 2025. A barge with some heavy machinery has been in Lowry Bay for several months now and has established some piles. I saw these two intrepid workers being lowered on a work platform to inspect one of the piles. I got the impression that they were controlling the crane themselves. If so, they were not afraid to get their feet wet.

So many still days lately

I shouldn’t tempt fate with a caption like that. We have endured some vile weather in recent days. No surprise then, that when conditions are good, I seize the day. This image is from the walkway beside the marina below Pt Howard. You can see traces of the morning mist dissipating over the Western Hills.

May I urge you to click on any image that appeals to you to see a larger version.

I don’t know why I didn’t discover it earlier, but WordPress has a feature that allows its readers to sign up to receive each new edition of a blog by email. Simply enter your email address once in the space below. Once only and not if you are already getting it by email.

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Adventure Animals Bees Birds Cape Palliser flowers Lakes Landscapes Lowry Bay Machinery Pauatahanui Wairarapa

March 1, 2022 … diversion from the serious stuff

An old joke asks “what am I doing in this hand basket, and where am I going?” Recent world and local events seem to reflect this theme. I lack the kind of spirit that might cause me to be personally involved, other than expressing my opinion. (Putin is a war criminal and the local anti-mandate protest movement is based on culpable disinformation.) And so I divert myself by seeking the beauty around me. Mostly, I find it in small scale things. For sure, New Zealand has a lot of beauty on a grand scale, but this is not the time to be travelling and among crowds of people. In recent times, the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi has appealed to me. Crudely summarised, it seeks beauty in imperfection. Imperfection is a specialty of mine ūüôā

Word of Mouth

Out in the Pauatahanui inlet there is a resident flock of royal spoonbills. They are wabi-sabi personified. While its cousin the white heron is undeniably beautiful, the spoonie wears a clown costume. The grotesque bill is efficient at dredging the mud for food, but makes it hard for me to take them seriously. Watching a pair squabbling is akin to seeing two people engaged in a duel using salad servers.

Black Swans

Near the yacht club at Foxton Beach, Mary and I were enjoying a picnic lunch on the stop bank when a flight of black swans came over low and slow. I grabbed my camera and lined them up but even so, they were past me when I finally got them in the viewfinder and in focus. If you thought the black swans were all black, then this shows otherwise.

Bumble bee with sweet pea

There was a clump of sweet peas beside the lookout platform at Foxton Beach. It was being visited by a number of bumble bees. To my surprise, they were not all of the common black and yellow bumble bee variety (Bombus terrestris). There were several others and various expert groups have suggested that the strangers were the large garden bumble bee (Bombus ruderatus). This is narrower, and is more black and white than my old familiar friend.

Wairarapa Moana

It is a rare visit to Featherston that I don’t divert down Murphy’s Line to the Lake Domain Reserve. I am often disappointed. On this occasion, the lake was perfect, and reflected the silvery blue clouds beautifully. The rusting steel piles of the old Hansell’s jetty make a delightful focal point for the photographer. Yes, I have made similar shots before, but I take joy in beauty no matter how often I encounter it.

Chicory

The lovely blue chicory flower seems to spread along the roadside grasses of the back country roads in the South Wairarapa. How does it get distributed? I assume that somehow the slipstream of passing vehicles is involved in the spreading of the seeds.

Lowry Bay in the mist

Misty weather is always interesting to me, and I always imagine a more romantic picture than the one I capture on the day. One day I shall get the picture that I envisaged when I pressed the shutter.

Waves of bark

Wabi-sabi means different things to different people. For some, it involves simplicity and beauty, akin to minimalism. Other interpretations include age and decay, and the deliberate inclusion of imperfection. I thought I saw elements of it in this sheet of fallen bark that Mary brought home for me.

Reading

There was a time when I went to the city library every two weeks and would take home a bag of eight or ten adventure novels. If I finished them all before the fortnight was up, I would refresh my stash ahead of time. Now I find I lack the necessary attention span to deal with books at that rate. Instead I load books into the Kindle app on my iPad/iPhones and read my preferred styles of adventure as and when the mood takes me. I can divert to YouTube if I wish, and go back to Kindle when I am ready to resume.

Newtown barber

As I walked the streets of Newtown, I passed the open door of a traditional men’s barber shop. I think the barbers are of middle Eastern origins, judging by the posters with Arabic script on the walls. Whatever, the shop was immaculate and attractively presented. I walked on by and then thought, if I don’t ask, how can he say yes? So I went back, scanned the QR code at the door and went in. I asked permission to shoot from the door. Both he and his client consented and here we are.

Old style greengrocer

Newton is a place of magical diversity. As well as the middle Eastern barbers, there are specialist shops and restaurants from many different countries. In the few shops nearest me in this image we have a Mexican restaurant, Mr Bun (a Chinese-owned bakery and coffee shop, a Halal butcher, a (Japanese) sushi shop, and the ever colourful Jimmy’s Fruitmart. Jimmy’s is an old school greengrocer that, as well as the fruit and vegetables with which I am familiar, sells many interesting items that are welcomed by the people of the varied ethnicities that make Newtown so special.

The graveyard

I always suggest that Ngawi, on the South Wairarapa coast is where the bulldozers of the world come to die. Despite their decrepitude, almost all of the bulldozers on this beach are hitched by a very long drawbar to a large steel trailer, crudely welded out of girder stock and on large rubber tyres. These trailers are backed down the steep shingle beach into the sea to launch and retrieve the owner’s fishing vessel. No matter how rusty and run-down these tractors, they all seem to fire up on demand and trundle down to the sea. When it finally dies, it is replaced soon enough by another of similar condition.

The iconic OLB

The most common truck of my childhood years was the Bedford OLB. I have an affection for them, though now they are either beautifully restored by enthusiasts, or else quietly rotting in rural situations. In their prime, they looked just how I thought a truck should look. This old girl is near the bulldozers in Ngawi and is slowly being absorbed by the trees growing up around and through it.

New Zealand Fur Seal pup

If you drove the 120 or so km from Lower Hutt to Ngawi, then it would not be sensible to not drive the extra 5km to visit the New Zealand fur seals nursery at Cape Palliser. There is a sheltered pool among the vicious rocks where the new season’s pups frolic and splash. They are a joy to watch if you can get close to them. The limiting factor is the protective mothers. Mostly they snooze in the lee of the rocks, but if you come between them and the sea, or worse, between them and their pup, expect trouble. A large boulder with halitosis and big teeth suddenly turns into a raging matriarch, and you had better run. This wee pup is probably a few weeks old and is curious about the guy with the camera.

Mother and child

This pup scuttled to its mother’s side when I got too close (sorry, pup!) Mother was a bit irritated to have her siesta disturbed, but make no mistake she was aware of my presence and swift action might have followed had I got closer.

Thanks for visiting. I always appreciate any constructive feedback.

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Adventure Animals Birds Cook Strait Landscapes Light Lowry Bay night Otaki sunrise Sunset Waves Weather

June 18, 2017 – making up for lost time

Oh my goodness. How did I let 19 days pass without posting? To be fair, I have been busy with photography, both personal and club-related.  I had never intended to be so slack.

Lowry sunset
Sunset in the Harbour as seen from Lowry Bay

It has been an extraordinary month weather-wise. A friend from long ago suggested that my posts on Facebook misrepresented the number of calm days we get in Wellington. I have lots of images that attest to the many windy days we have, but recently there has been a great deal of stillness, and when there is stillness, I try to get there.

Getting low
Getting low in Lowry Bay at the end of a calm day

A recent trend in my seascapes has been very low angle, low light and panorama style. I am sure that this too, shall pass.

Night pano
Night panorama from Pt Howard looking SouthWest towards Matiu/Somes Island and the city beyond.

However, while it is in full flight, I am tending to indulge it, even in the dark. The image above is my first attempt at a night-time panorama. This one is a stitch of eight images. It was bitterly cold and my fingers were clumsy with the chill.

Kereru
Kereru in the kowhai

A change of direction(briefly) was brought about by the arrival of a New Zealand wood pigeon to nibble on the tender shoots of our miniature kowhai plant which is currently in bloom. This is a big heavy bird, almost the size of a chicken, so it sits well down inside the shrub to harvest its leaves.

Straitsman
Straitsman succeeds where the others failed and arrives at Wellington despite heavy swells

We had some winds and subsequently some good-sized swells. The Interisland line cancelled its ferry sailings because it was expected that the wave height would exceed safety limits. I went to the South Coast and was surprised that the Bluebridge line decided to take the gamble, and there was the Straitsman inbound from Picton.

Sunrise
Sunrise from our front lawn

On Thursday, the calmness resumed and the day started in glorious colour. Ignoring the warnings of folklore, I set out to visit the Southern Wairarapa district.

Grey
Shades of grey near Pirinoa

There were still some good swells at Lake Ferry, but I decided to go further Eastward, pausing on the way to capture these silhouetted trees between Lake Ferry and Pirinoa.

Seals
New Zealand Fur Seals basking in the sun at Cape Palliser

At Cape Palliser the seal colony had more seals than I have ever seen there before. Mothers and pups were scattered everywhere, and most of the paths were impassable without risk of having one of them rear up with bared fangs and hiss of fishy breath.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking back Westward from the colony, I rather liked the receding series of headlands becoming increasingly hazy in the airborne sea=spray. The nearest of these slopes, the one with the little spike at the top, is Nga-Ra-o-Kupe, or Kupe’s Sail. It is a large triangular sheet of sandstone that, according to Maori legend, is the sail of the great explorer, Kupe.

Boielle Flat
Rapids on the Waiotauru river at Boielle Flat

The next day was also beautiful, or at least it was in Wellington. I decided to go to Otaki Forks. This is inside Tararua Forest Park which is itself inside the foothills of the Tararua range, inland from Otaki township. The road is scenic, and increasingly narrow and winding. There are two fords to cross and after a major slip last year, the road is somewhat precarious in places. Nevertheless, it leads to a place of great beauty and if you are adventurous, experienced and well prepared, is the entrance to many superb hikes across the ranges to the Wairarapa on the other side. Many foolhardy people have died attempting it without the required skills or with inappropriate equipment. I stayed firmly on the ground at Boielle Flat which is the entry for several of the well known hikes. Sadly, the weather had clouded over to the North of Waikanae, but it was still worth the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

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adversity Arachnids Day's Bay Day's Bay harbour Landscapes Light Lowry Bay Plant life Seasons Trees Weather

May 31, 2017 – still but chill

Winter is almost upon us. So far it has been relatively mild, but Wellington can be deceptive in that regard. Though the thermometer may register as much as six or seven degrees, winter in the area can produce a sense of wet misery that seems much colder.

Maple
Japanese Maple – last colour of the season

The last colours of autumn linger with us. A few more days or even a windy day will see the last of the colour on our Japanese maple fall to the ground.

Web
tiny jeweller in the centre of its universe

Despite my whining, we have had a good string of still days. On such a cool damp day, the best jewellery show in town is staged by the tiniest of crafts-people. This dew-covered web is about the size of a small plate. I think the spider at the centre is a garden orbweb, but would welcome expert advice if I am wrong.

Spider
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If you are an arachnophobe, look away for a moment while I get closer. This specimen is about 5mm in size.

Lowry Bay
Lowry Bay

Continuing with the theme of calmness, I have been making a lot of images at nearly water level, and you can see just how still the harbour has been. This one is on the beach at Lowry Bay.

Day's Bay
Day’s Bay wharf

A few kilometres further South, the Days Bay wharf caught my eye as the sun headed inexorably towards night.

Loma
Loma brings her catch home

On my way home from there I paused at Pt Howard as the fishing vessel Loma returned to its berth after what the following flock of gulls obviously  regard as a successful trip.

 

 

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adversity Architecture Evans Bay harbour Landscapes Light Lowry Bay Wellington

August 6, 2015 … in sombre mood

I know there can be¬†exceptions, but hospitals generally don’t cheer me up.

Boatshed
“Havana” boatshed, Evans Bay

After visiting my friend, my mood was definitely aligned with the somewhat sad grey day outside. I wandered aimlessly, hoping for something inspirational.  In Evans Bay, there is a boatshed, the colours of which have earned it a place in many images by many photographers. Its owners have just about completed a re-paint, with the addition of an advertisement for their business. There was a brief patch of calm water to reflect the clash of colours so I tried it.

Seaweed
Neptune’s Necklace … normally well under water

In the afternoon, I wandered around Lowry Bay as the light was fading. It was a very low tide so I went out onto the rocks at the Northern end of the bay, treading on the copious beds of Neptune’s Necklace seaweed.

End of the day
“… rage, rage against the dying of the light”*

A little more to the West, the day was fading, and this really caught the mood of the day for me.

That’s all for now

  • “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas