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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.


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.


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.

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May 24, 2017 … turbulent times

Fewer images this week, pursuant to a brief stay in hospital for some small remedial surgery and the subsequent recovery time. All seems well (thanks for asking). When I finally did get out and about again, I spent my time looking at weather on the Southern coast.

The weight of that water is just amazing. Pencarrow upper light in the background

There was a strong Southerly which raised the sells in the Cook Strait to somewhere well above six metres and shut down the ferries for a few days. By the time I was mobile again, the worst had passed, but there was still significant wave action.

Wild horses on the Wainuiomata coast

The next day the sun was shining and in a typical example of Wellington’s suck/blow climate, there was now a strong Northerly.  I took the long and winding road through Wainuiomata to the South Coast where the residual swell was being blown back out to sea.  For some reason, as I look at the right hand side of this image, I am hearing  Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” in my head.

Evening light in the Wainuiomata valley

On the way home from the coast (it was late afternoon), I got lucky with the light in the valley beside the Wainuiomata stream.  Beams of light over the edge of the hills to the West picked out a cluster of trees in a way that I just had to stop and photograph.

Normal service is expected to resume next week.

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December 4, 2015 … I like not this news*

… bring me some other news!*

Going back for more

I read in the Dominion Post this morning, that Wellington’s summer, far from the sunny promises of a month or two ago, will be characterized by wind and drizzle. It has been thus throughout Spring, and I had hoped for a significant improvement. Yesterday was typical with some heavy rain in the morning, fading to drizzle in the afternoon, and wind persisting throughout the day. Bah! Our house guests moved on so I went out through Wainuiomata to the South Coast. No great inspiration was found, but I reached the beach as the coastal tanker Torea was passing by on its way back to Whangarei on its way to the refinery for another load.

Wainuiomata River from the bridge at Holmdale

On the way back through Wainuiomata, the Wainuiomata River at Holmdale was worth a look. Wellington Harbour is on the other side of the hills in the background.

Silent evermore – the factory reflected in the administration building

In Petone, I noticed that the old Unilever factory was still and quiet, no steam emitting from its stacks. As I understand it, the factory is now permanently closed, and it will be interesting to see what becomes of the site. I saw a reflection in a window, and inspired by a similar shot by my friend and fellow club member, Helen Westerbeke, tried to catch the essence of the place.

Someone turned on the Christmas decorations early


Applying the 180 degree rule, I was rewarded with an early flowering pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa)

The greyness continues


*Brian Blessed as King Richard IV in Blackadder Series 1

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September 23, 2015 … play Misty for me*

When a photographer meets a barrier, the only option is to photograph the barrier.

Rain and road
On the Wainuiomata Coast road

Rain, wind and mist have been the constant feature of recent days. Yesterday was particularly misty and though I don’t want a constant diet of it, I like misty scenes. Perhaps the Wainuiomata Coast road might offer some chances of catching the mist.

Kereru and the willow

As I drove down towards the forest park, I spotted a native wood pigeon or kereru. This week is the annual census for kereru with people asked to report all sightings to a special website. I stopped to watch this heavyweight systematically mowing a very small willow sapling. If you look closely you can see the fine water droplets on its plumage. There were more of them inside the forest park.

This ford is dry on about 362 days of the year.

Then I came to another barrier. There is a ford where the road to the carpark crosses the Catchpool Stream. Normally  the stream passes through a culvert under the road, but there has been so much rain recently that the stream had swollen beyond the capacity of the culvert and was running about 30 cm above the concrete ford. A big Toyota Landcruiser from the police search and rescue unit had just crossed it. I contemplated the idea for a millisecond or two,  but the signs said do not attempt to cross when the water is over the road. My car is simply too light to withstand that volume of water so again, I had to photograph the barrier. On several previous occasions I have posted images taken from the middle of the ford, of the upstream reflections in the normally placid stream.

Motherly patience

Retracing my tracks brought me past this world-weary ewe with her twin lambs.

Gorse and trees

A little further up the road, there was another misty landscape, with bright gorse in the foreground. I like the delicacy of the receding landscape provided by the mist, but I have had my fill of it for now, so please don’t play Misty for a while.

That’s all for today.


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September 2, 2015 … Spring is late again

Those gales were still rattling my windows this morning.

Camellia in the rain

No sign of the much-anticipated warm and gentle introduction to summer yet. However, going out in ridiculous grey wet conditions has started some serious thought processes about this whole “photo-a-day” thing. When first I heard of it, it was intended as a one-off year-long exercise in which it was a big deal to challenge yourself to make at least one image every day. In three more months I shall have been doing it for five years. In some senses I am pleased with what I have achieved. I believe my photography has improved, mainly by way of practice. I don’t discard sufficient images so my catalogue contains over 53,000 shots since January 1, 2011. The major downside is that deadline-driven desperation leads to far too many mediocre shots. Images for the sake of images don’t always have something to say.  Accordingly, I have decided that, once I have completed the five years on 31 December, the photo-a-day compulsion will cease. Prolific photography will continue, but just not every day.  As I suggested at the outset, this was all triggered by my efforts yesterday.

Magnolia in the rain

Moore’s Valley is a pretty place on the South Western edge of Wainuiomata. In rain such as yesterday’s, the beauty is dimmed, and my images were made from inside my car through an open window.

Flowers of an unknown shrub

When I got home, I found a piece of a shrub I had picked while on the Camborne Walkway a few days ago, so it was probably past its best. Nevertheless I mounted the macro lens and did some more focus-stacking. These flowers are tiny, somewhere in the region of 3 to 5 mm long.

That is enough for now.

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July 15, 2015 … down to the coast

It couldn’t last, of course.

Kereru eating the tree on which it sits

Greyness has returned. Nevertheless, the South coast beckoned from Wainuiomata. At the Catchpool Valley entrance to the Rimutaka Forest Park, native wood pigeons (kereru) were present in large numbers. Indeed they seem to be present in large numbers throughout the Hutt Valley, but the tree Lucerne near the car park is a magnet for these magnificent lumbering birds.  Because they like the soft young shoots, they always seem to end up perched on branches that are far to slim to support their weight.

A tumbling, bouncing, bleating flock of sheep on the road

At the coast, a mob of several hundred newly shorn sheep was being herded with the aid of four or five very well-trained dogs by two shepherds in their utility trucks. The flat light was not right for the classic rim-lit sheep shot, but I did my best without getting in the way of operations.

The dogs hurry them along and they stay well away from humans if possible

It was clear that they were being herded several kilometres up the road, so now I was trapped behind them. The shepherd’s helpful advice when asked  for his advice on passing the sheep was that it would have been better if I had gone before they came. Compelling logic. In the end, I engaged drive and let the car idle at walking pace, progressing slowly through the clattering flock.

Wainuiomata stream

Eventually the road head was clear, and halfway back to Wainuiomata, the river gleaming like pewter called to me.

Something else tomorrow.

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June 19, 2015 … biting wind and flying sand

Wild weather is the order of the day.

Thrashing grass and biting sand at Wainuiomata South Coast

It was yesterday too. That seemed like a reason to see what was happening on the South Coast at the mouth of the Wainuiomata River. There was not another soul in sight, and few if any birds about. The waves were making a bit of a splash against a very mean offshore wind. My next mistake was to go down onto the beach. The force with which the car door slammed shut should have alerted me. It was fine until I got past the grassed part of the dunes into the open sand. The sand on the beach here is coarse dark grey grit, more like ground up stone than the usual silica. When it comes at you powered by a wind gusting to 100 km/h, you know all about it.

Sitting on the sand in the shelter of a rock, I tried to catch the mean lonely nature of this coast in this weather

My new camera purports to be dust and moisture proof, but I doubt it would withstand sandblasting. I wrapped it inside my jacket until I could sit in the lee of a large rock.

From another vantage point behind a different rock, I could see the windblown sand shimmering across the surface.

This was not a nice place to be yesterday so I didn’t linger too long.

Catchpool Stream

Back up the road, I paused at the Catchpool Stream and snatched this shot from the road bridge and then went home to raise my glass to the Duke of Wellington.

And that’s all for the day.

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May 8, 2015 … moist mist and sharp points

This has the makings of a long winter, and in theory we are still in Autumn.

In moist conditions, farmers often bring the sheep together in densely stopped paddocks to minimise the risk of facial eczema.

Nevertheless, there is something to be seen each day, provided I manage my time somewhat better than I have recently. Mary is still working while I am very happily retired. It seems only fair that I pick up some portion of domestic duties, but as a lifelong procrastinator, this sometimes gets me into trouble. Yesterday I needed to be at home for the grandchildren to come from school. This left me with a bit of a scramble, and it was perhaps too ambitious to fit in a trip down the Wainuiomata Coast Road before I had to be back. But that’s what I did.

Violet Ace
Violet Ace makes her way to Wellington. That’s the South Island in the distance

Despite the vicious wind of the preceding days the South Coast was comparatively calm, and the only thing of immediate interest was the big vehicle carrying vessel Violet Ace passing briefly into Wellington before moving on to Lyttelton.

Catchpool Valley
Catchpool Valley

A quick side trip into the Catchpool Valley offered a view of the mist over the hills.  Despite the wind having dropped away, things were still grey and damp.

Reflections on a rock in the Catchpool stream

At the ford, I looked upstream and despite the high water level, the stream was prettily calm. I have taken this before in different circumstances.

Prickly pest

A jab in the ankle might cause alarm in some countries but with no snakes and relatively few harmful spiders, the reaction is irritation rather than panic. It was just a thistle, but the water droplets and the spikes seemed worth a closer look.

See you tomorrow.

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April 1, 2015 … down the road to the coast

Today, we are in transit.

Harrowing in the Wainuiomata valley

For this reason, this edition is posted a little ahead of schedule so that precious family time is not cluttered with a belated scramble to produce a late post. With all this in mind, and with packing not yet complete, I took the Wainuiomata coast road yesterday. We have had some rain recently but as you can see from the dust behind the harrow, the ground has little moisture in it.

Reflecting rock

In the Rimutaka Forest Park, there was a nice rock reflecting in the Catchpool stream.

Toetoe waving

Just before the river reaches the coast, there is a gully where the toetoe plumes wave in the fierce winds that channel in from the sea or out from the North. Either way the toetoe get thrashed.


Having found nothing of immediate interest on the coast I was just starting the return journey when this parapenter came whistling overhead and disappeared behind Baring Head.

My next post will be from Melbourne

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March 1, 2015 … a slow day

Where did my muse go?

Eucalyptus trees swaying in the breeze

The Wainuiomata coast road seemed a good place to look, and my first image is in the eucalypt plantation beside the Wainuiomata Golf Course.

Arson pure and simple

Down the road to towards the coast and a burned-out car beside the road was the obvious source of a large patch of burned scrubland. The absence of wheels makes it clear that this was no accident. I imagine the car was stolen.

Coastal panorama

At the coast, the colours on the sea were stunning so I tried for a very wide panorama.

That’s all today.