Adventure Animals Architecture Birds Landscapes Light Lower Hutt Maungaraki Naenae Reflections sunrise Weather Wellington

August 9, 2017 … a thing of shreds and patches*

There is little or no coherence to the images I have been catching recently, except that in each case, I have been trying to see. I want to look behind the obvious.

The as yet un-named building at 20 Customhouse Quay

My first image this time was taken on Customhouse Quay where a new building is nearing completion. It stands where the BP Tower once stood until it was deemed incapable of economical repair after recent earthquakes.  The new building is a steel structure with glass curtain cladding. It presents a bold face to the world though I had to work hard to get a full frontal image of it. I shall try again once it is complete.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Ohariu Valley.

In the depths of the Ohariu Valley, there is a one of those delightful little colonial churches built in Wellington’s earliest days. The Holy Trinity Anglican church was built in 1870 and is the oldest Anglican church still in active use in the region.

A new day begins in the Hutt Valley

I have often said that I am not a morning person, but there have been some interesting mornings recently. Perhaps it is the quality of the light sneaking through the curtains that wakes me. On one day last week, I opened the curtains and then literally ran for my camera, knowing that this would be a fleeting opportunity. Crepuscular rays are always interesting to me, but on this occasion they were aligned perfectly with the angles of the hills across the valley at Naenae. Within minutes of the shot, the light was gone.

Fog (1)
Morning fog fills the valley as seen from my bedroom window

A day or so later, another strange morning  occurred. A fairly heavy mist was filling the Hutt Valley and drifting out into the harbour, while Wellington City was in clear bright sunshine.

Fog (2)
Valley fog drifting towards the harbour mouth

I got in my car and went around the hills to Anthony and Sarah’s house in Maungaraki. They have a stunning view across the harbour to the city. However, the mist was already thinning as the sun rose higher in the sky.

A banded dotterel in the shingle at Wainuiomata beach

It had been a little while since I last went to the coast at Wainuiomata and I knew that it was coming up to the time when dotterels nest. At first sight there was nothing there, but the thing with dotterels is that you don’t tend to see them until they move. I sat and waited and after a while they began to move about. As tiny as they are, they need to come close to allow a good shot, so I lay face down on the shingle and waited, and in due course, was rewarded.

Harbingers of Spring

On the way back from the coast, I saw some early spring lambs walking on wobbly legs in the late afternoon sun. Truly a gilt-edged investment for the farmer.

“Architextural” photography

On Monday I spent some time in the city again, looking as always to see things differently. From the parking deck of Pastoral House where I used to work, I looked across Lambton Quay and saw reflected in the tower block opposite, the two adjacent buildings. I was thinking of coining a new word to describe this  -“architextural”photography.

Definitely Spring

Finally in this edition, to reinforce the notion that Spring is imminent, I set up to photograph what I hope to be the first of many daffodils. Time now for me to seek “a dreamy lullaby”*

* A Wand’ring Minstrel by W.S Gilbert

Cook Strait Family Landscapes mountains Naenae Waves Weather Wellington

June 14, 2015 … solemnity to sunset

In company with our younger daughter Helen and son-in-law Vasely, Mary and I had a morning coffee at the Dowse Gallery in Lower Hutt.

Art or playground? I have no idea

The cafe (Reka cafe) is a pleasant and almost always busy place, with fresh food and good coffee. In fine weather, such as it was yesterday morning kids play outside in the open area, and it seems a place for families to gather. There is a concrete moulding in the square and I am never sure if it is intended as art or playground equipment. Yesterday, I intended to portray it as art.

A peaceful corner of Taita cemetery.

From there we went together to the cemetery at Taita to pay our respects to Mary’s mother who died exactly a year previously. Cemeteries are rarely joyous places, but I have to say that I have been to few that are more peaceful than the one at Taita. It spreads over a very large area and has sections that accommodate various burial preferences. The mausoleum style just doesn’t seem to be part of the New Zealand psyche. I like its proximity to the bush on the Eastern hills of the valley.

Steel cladding on an office block. I love the rust texture


In the afternoon, I wandered. I began in upper Tory Street where a building clad in heavy sheet steel caught my attention.  I guess in the event of a serious earthquake this building will not release its contents onto the street outside, though the occupants may well get shaken up.

Tapuae-o-Uenuku almost 110 km from my viewing point on the South Coast

I took many more around the city, but my last shot of the day was from Owhiro bay looking across the Cook Strait to mighty Tapuae-o-Uenuku at 2885 metres (almost 9,500 feet) above sea level. The time is coming when seasonal snow will adorn the mountain in its distant blue-white winter coat, but for now there is plenty of rock still visible.

Something different tomorrow



Architecture Art Naenae Weather Wellington

December 22, 2014 … slow start and better ending

Days have been ending differently.

Pedestrian subway from Naenae shops to railway station and beyond


Grey mornings transform slowly into bright sunny afternoons. It’s better than staying grey, I suppose. Our day began with a visit form nephew Daniel who we met at Naenae station. I was impressed by the cleanliness of the tunnel from the shopping centre to the railway station, though I wondered if the cross-section of the tunnel was diminished as each successive set of graffiti is painted over.

Karl Maughan’s imposing Hydrangeas.


After a visit to the grave of Mary’s parents and his grandparents, we enjoyed a good cup of coffee and morning tea at the Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt. One of the paintings on display was an impressive nine-metre long painting by Karl Maughan, of hydrangeas in the Wellington Botanical Gardens.

St Pauls'
Old St Paul’s, a symphony of polished wood, stained glass and brass.


In the afternoon, I went into the city to see what I could find. I paused at Old St Paul’s. This splendid church was conceived by its architect as a Gothic cathedral made in stone, but was executed in native timber. Though  it is now a historic place rather than an active church, it is still a place of great reverence and is the repository for battle honours from the Royal Navy and the United States Marine Corps.

Wind-kinetic sculpture on Lambton Quay


From there I wandered along parts of Lambton Quay where I got a different take on the same sculpture I photographed a few days ago. I know it is fashionable to sneer at modern architecture, but I rejoice in  the various textures in the background.

Boulcott St
Antrim House, Boulcott Street


I went up Plimmer’s Steps and then down Boulcott Street where I paused to photograph Antrim House, now home to an art school, I believe.

Dappled light


My final shot of the day is on lower Willis Street where the lovely old National Mutual Life Insurance company building was shimmering in the light reflecting from the glass wall in the building across the road. A friend said he had been counselled not to shoot in dappled light, but in this instance, the dappling is the very subject of the image.

That’s all today.



Landscapes Lower Hutt Machinery Maritime Naenae Wellington

November 13, 2014 … random views from the valley

Wandering the valley yesterday was not very productive.

Cruise liner
Celebrity Solstice berthed at Aotea Quay

From the lookout at the top pf the Wainuiomata hill, the cruise liner Celebrity Solstice stood out like a great white whale. There are bigger ships, but she is certainly one of or largest regular summer visitors.

Oil and chemical storage, Seaview

From the same vantage point I got a different view of the tank farm at the Seaview oil terminal.

Seaview from Fairfield

My wandering took me up Summit Road in Fairfield at the Southern end of Naenae  and from there a different view of the same tanks.

… among the crosses, row on row.

Coming back through the Lower Hutt CBD, I was shocked at the destruction of two giant phoenix palms from outside the War Memorial Library. The trees had gone, and a gang of workers was grinding out the root system with a giant spinning saw.  Near the scene of the carnage, these rather temporary crosses were the remnant of the previous days Remembrance Day observances.

Something different tomorrow



adversity Art Landscapes Light Naenae night

February 14, 2014 … windmills by moonlight

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

Hutt Valley landscape
From beside the Pt Howard water reservoir

What I am doing wrong is obvious to me, but I keep doing it, hoping the outcome will be different this time. Yesterday afternoon, late, I tried for some panoramic shots from Pt Howard, looking across the valley. It was a landscape but I am not excited.

Wind sculpture
The little white dots above and to the right of the front disc are not dirt … they are stars

Later in the evening I had to attend a committee meeting in Silverstream and chose to come back through Naenae. I had my tripod with me and decided to see what I could make of the wind-sculpture. You may recall that I have used it before, in bright sun with lots of colour. It may surprise some that, even in the dark when there is no one around to see, the windmills keep spinning. I am not sure which inert gas is used in the nearby street light, but it bleached all the colour from the windmills. Interesting effect, though.

Hutt River in the moonlight
Looking North towards the Taita Gorge

Then as I was crossing the Kennedy-Good Bridge, the glint of moonlight on the Hutt River caught my eye. Parking near the adjacent Belmont School, I walked back to the middle of the bridge and set up for a long thirty-second exposure. The moon was described on my app as “96% waxing gibbous”. There was a bit of a halo around the moon, but it certainly gave some light to the landscape.

From the Kennedy-Good Bridge
The glow in the South is Wellington City. The lights on the hill to the right are in Kelson. The red and white streaks are a passing ambulance

Looking behind me to the South and towards Wellington city, I saw another moonlit landscape, albeit softer than the one to the North. Unfortunately there is no safe place to stand on the Southern side of the bridge, so I had to shoot across the traffic lane. I almost got to the full 30 seconds when an ambulance came past and its red and white lights painted  faint trails across the sky. I liked it so used it anyway.

That’s all for today.

Lower Hutt Naenae Railway Seasons Trees

April 10, 2013 … the cold breath of Autumn

Excuses, excuses!

Somehow, I spend far too much time finding reasons why my day has not been as photographically productive as it might have been. Of course I don’t live in isolation. I am happily married, I have children and grandchildren, I am a member of a club, and have obligations to others. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, photography has to be fitted in where it can.

Meandering around the valley yesterday, trying to avoid being typecast as a bird-obsessed one-trick pony, I found myself in the area between Naenae and Fairfield. It sits in the shade of the Eastern hills, with the Waiwhetu stream running through it. In its lower reaches, this pretty little stream gains an evil reputation as one of the most polluted waterways in the country, thanks mainly to careless waste disposal by light industry. Up here, however, though there is litter, the stream is a pretty asset to the landscape. Every so often it floods and causes trouble for riverside home owners, but yesterday at least, it was fine. The weather was dull, but the scene was worth recording.

Waiwhetu Stream in the fairfield area
The ducks in this stream are obviously accustomed to being fed. Unlike most other birds I encounter, they come towards you.

Lest there be any doubt that summer is in the past, some of the curbside trees were in spectacular autumn colour.

Autumn colour
Suburban tree … soon to become a leaf-sweeping problem

And to rub it in, the bleak Southerly breeze that had kept the temperature low all day was shimmering the leaves. (Can I use “shimmering as a transitive verb?)

Shimmering leaves
The picture is in focus, the leaves are fluttering madly

Completing my circuit of the Eastern side of the lower valley, I crossed the bridge over the railway line at White’s Line East, and noticed a nice set of receding planes in the Western Hills. By the time I found somewhere to park in Woburn, and walked back the bridge, the effect had gone. An airhorn blast alerted me to the passage of the evening rail commuter service Masterton. I like rail travel, but did not envy these people another hour of commute time before getting to their destination. And the “anorak” in me wondered why such a trivial load needed two heavy locomotives to haul it.

Evening commute with an hour to go
Passing under the Whites Line Bridge

Enough. With fewer obligations today I hope to resume a more focused programme (pun intended).

Birds Landscapes Light Naenae Porirua

April 8, 2013 … life amidst the gloom

Alright, I get the message.

There’s no such thing as an endless summer in Wellington. Yesterday was a mean-spirited reminder of the season to come.  A little more sunshine is forecast, in the week ahead, but increasingly there are ugly phrases like “scattered showers” or “rain developing” or “cold Southerlies”.

When I opened the curtains yesterday, the clouds and mist over the Naenae and Taita areas of the valley looked interesting.  To get clear of the glass, I opened the window (and immediately regretted it), then took this first shot.

Heavy weather in the Hutt Valley
Dark clouds in the morning, though not much rain fell

I was eating breakfast when Mary alerted me to a fire across the valley in Naenae. Since there has been a total fire ban in recent weeks due to the drought conditions and water shortage, this was definitely unusual, so I poked my long lens in that direction. It seems that two very young children staying with their grandmother were playing with matches. No one was injured, but the house was severely damaged.

A house fire in Naenae
The industrial complex in the foreground was once the Philips factory where I worked for many years.

Later in the day I went looking for other opportunities and came to the two little lagoons just to the East of SH1 near the Gear Homestead and Aotea College in Porirua.  It was quite late in the day, and due to the switch back to New Zealand Standard Time the previous night, I had underestimated how quickly the light would go. These lagoons are lined with flaxes and reeds, and were a lovely deep green in their colour.  Pukekos (swamp hens) and ducks were the main birdlife around.

Ducks on still water
I am not sure if these lagoons are connected to the harbour across the motorway, or if they are fresh water. They are very dark and green, either way.

On the other hand the pond itself presented an attractive picture, despite the constant rush of heavy traffic on the other side.

Reflections in the lagoon
Despite the fading light, I liked the reflected colours

See you next time.

adversity Birds creativity Naenae

October 1, 2012 … that’s the best I can do … yeah right*

In the photographic wilderness again.

Yesterday, so much was happening that the brief hour in which I went out shooting was insufficient. I didn’t find what I was looking for. The places where I thought there would be views didn’t offer any. The sky was grey, and lighting flat. The bright spot in the day was a visit from family members, and that was a joy.

So the only image on offer today is a Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae). Not so long ago they were in decline.  Recently they have become ubiquitous. Not quite at the level of sparrows, gulls or pigeons, they are nevertheless commonplace around Wellington.

This one was seen at the top of Summit Road on the Eastern side of the valley near the entrance to Naenae. It and several of its companions were cavorting above some flowering fruit trees. I was unable to catch them in the air, they were just to quick for me.  Happily this one settled on a place that at least gave me an image.

TuiAnd that’s all for today.

*Billboards containing ridiculous assertions followed by “yeah right” have been the advertising channel for Tui Breweries.

Landscapes Light Naenae sunrise Weather

June 18, 2012 … mine eyes have seen the glory*

Oh how I need more (photographic) days like yesterday.

Not that everything worked as I hoped, but on balance, I felt I came out well ahead. The day began (as most do) with the dawn.  The deep blue of night admitted a glimmer of red and gold from the East, sufficient to silhouette the few small clouds drifting towards the South.  A waning crescent moon  was assisted by Venus and Jupiter, both glittering brightly. And in that first faint light of day, a milky white ribbon of river mist was drifting down the far side of the valley. I took a couple of hand-held shots, including this one.

Morning stars at dawn

If you click to enlarge, you will see Venus in the clear sky near the centre of the image, and  Jupiter peering shyly through the cloud two-thirds of the way between Venus and the moon.  You will also see that river mist coming down the Eastern side of the valley.

But it was very cold with the window open, so I shut it and went back to bed to see how the day might unfold.

After breakfast, I noticed that the mist had snaked its way around the hills and gullies behind Naenae, and was creeping in amongst the trees on the hills. With the aid of nothing more than a long lens, a tripod, and some judicious cropping, I made this image. Morning mist behind Naenae

It would be false modesty to say I am not pleased with it. I showed it to my Facebook friends yesterday, and was a bit overwhelmed by the number of my photographic heroes and friends who said kind things about it.

Later in the morning, well after the recommended “best time” with low light,  Mary and I went to Scorching bay on the Miramar peninsula, and she took herself off for a walk along the foreshore while  I attempted to get shots of sea birds. To be blunt, there were not a lot around which surprised me a bit. This area was once home to a thriving tern colony. They seem to have moved on.

I took a few shots of shags, and ships, but they came in the category of “not everything working out as I hoped”.  To hope for success at every image, however,  would be greedy.  Instead, I am throwing in another image from the morning mist sequence.

Morning mist above Taita

This one is of the hills above Taita, a little further North than the other image. As usual you need to enlarge to see the detail. The hills in the background are the Northern slopes of Mt Climie at the back of Upper Hutt, and you will see a dusting of snow up there. I did say it had been cold.

But, on balance,  it was a good day.

*Battle Hymn of the Republic, by Julia Ward Howe