July 1, 2019 … celebrating the stillness

This edition appears earlier than I intended because I am scheduled for a surgical procedure on Wednesday. Nothing unusual for a man of my age, nor is it particularly sinister, but it will apparently slow me down for a few weeks. Some might ask how much slower can I go ūüôā

Since the last edition, there have been more still days than not. Yes, in Wellington! In fact every one of the images in this edition was made in conditions of flat calm. I love this, but I need to avoid slipping into a wind-dependent rut.

In fact, having been asked for a photograph of a particular topic, I did a quick skim-browse through about 100,000 images in my back catalogue. The way in which my photographic style has changed over the last decade was very noticeable. I also decided that I have a lot of very diverse images that I really like, and that would benefit from current post-processing techniques. That’s something that I might start on during my recovery period. I seem to have narrowed my range of subjects in recent times.

Pukekos
A cluster of Pukeko

My youngest son Anthony and his wife Sarah had been cycling on the Hutt River trail and drew to my attention, a park and lake that none of us previously knew. Just to the West of SH2 where the River road rejoins Fergusson Drive in Upper Hutt, is beautiful Te Haukaretu Park.

It is probably little known because it is at least 500 metres in either direction from the nearest vehicle access. The small lake is a delight and is enriched by the presence of many ducks, geese, pigeons and pukeko. The pukeko is an iridescent blue swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus) which seems to fly only as a last resort. There were a dozen or so at the lake when Mary and I visited. Look at the massive size of their feet. Perfect for walking on the weed that covers many swamps.

Trees in the lake
Some of the trees in and around Te Haukaretu Park

I am unsure what the trees are, that sit in the lake, but their wide bases reminded me of the visit Mary and I made to the Louisiana bayous back in 2012 Neither alligators nor Spanish moss here, but I had that fragmentary reminder of a very pleasant memory, with no noisy airboats or garrulous tour guides to spoil the peace.

Little blacks
Little black shags

On some calm days, I am prompted to revisit old familiar haunts. In this case I went around Port Road in Seaview where there is a substantial dead tree that has drifted downstream until it wedged in the Waiwhetu stream. It is a much used resting place for shags of all kinds. On this day, two little black shags (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) in breeding plumage were whispering sweet nothings to each other. The green and gold reflections from the toetoe grass on the far bank helped to transform an ordinary scene into something special.

White-faced heron
White-faced heron browsing at Pauatahanui

Though I hope for the local re-appearance of the kotuku, the white heron, its smaller cousin matuku, the white-faced heron shares the same elegant form. They are numerous in the Pauatahanui Inlet. They move with grace through the shallows. One step after another, they stir the mud with the free foot and spear anything that is dislodged or is foolish enough to move. If they are provoked into flight, their slow deliberate departure is pure poetry to watch.

Unknown boat
A work boat at Paremata

Ivey Bay seems not to be a familiar name to many people. Wellingtonians drive through it often without registering its name. It is that little corner of the Pauatahanui inlet where SH58 meets SH1 at the road and rail bridges. It has some colourful boat sheds and character-filled work boats that have long since been adapted as pleasure boats. I haven’t found a name for this boat (above), but it is my current favourite for its honest workman-like simplicity.

Ivey Bay (1)
The boat sheds at Ivey Bay

Though it is less picturesque in rough weather, Ivey bay is just gorgeous when the conditions are right. It combines a beautiful natural environment with a quirky human settlement and some interesting old boats. The mudflats that appear when the tide is low do not spoil it.

Ivey Bay (2)
Some people are lucky enough to live here

The Eastern end of Ivey Bay has a Kindergarten on the beach and a number of rather nice houses along its steep banks with some of the best views in the region. Certainly their sunsets must be spectacular.

Whitby
Whitby reflections

I don’t often venture into abstraction, but the reflections of Whitby on the inlet just begged to be used. When Mary and I moved back to Wellington in 1980, Whitby was much more sparsely populated. Now it is a densely packed area of relatively upmarket dwellings. Whereas it is not an area in which I would choose to live, the houses offer some interesting patterns on the water.

Foggy lake
Lake Wairarapa in the fog

And then came the foggy day. Somehow that rarely carries to the Western side of the Haywards hill so I stayed on SH2 through Upper Hutt and over the Remutaka hill to Featherston. In the Wairarapa, the fog was a bit selective. It came down the Tauherenikau River and followed the Western side of the Lake leaving the East bathed in sunlight. I wanted the fog so I began my exploration at the Lake Reserve near Featherston. There, the only things visible from the shore were the sad rusty piles that are the sole reminder of the Wairarapa Yacht Club’s long defunct Hansell’s Jetty.

Old jetty
The jetty’s sad remains

I have made other images of the derelict jetty in other conditions, but different light makes different pictures. I have a weakness for delicate blues and greys and this one really seemed to fit. Apart from a few black swans in the hazy distance there was nothing to see beyond the end of the piles.

Trees
The old 180¬į trick

Whenever I think I have exhausted the possibilities in one direction, I need to remember to look behind me. There is often something to see in the other direction. On this occasion the trees across Barton’s Lagoon offered a ghostly appearance which I liked.

Karapoti
Karapoti in the frost

Just a little to the East of Upper Hutt on the Akatarawa road is the Karapoti forest. It is much loved by cyclists for its mountain bike trails, and disliked by the ambulance crews for the same reason. Considering how close it is to Upper Hutt City, Karapoti is a really wild and rugged area. It even seems to have its own climate.

As I drove towards the park where the trail begins it was nearing mid-dayand there was still thick frost in the shaded areas. Across a farm paddock, there was smoke rising from a small building and the unmistakable smell of frying bacon The occupant certainly knew how to ward off the cold. Luckily, Mary had made a delicious lunch to help me on my wandering. she’s a keeper.

All going well I should publish another edition in two or three weeks. See you then.

June 26, 2018 … and still it goes

With a very few exceptions, in the last week or so, we have been experiencing Wellington’s version of winter. That translates as heavy overcast, strong wind, interspersed with rain or occasionally hail. We rarely get snow, but some of our worst days are chilling to the bone. And then there are the exceptions. So let’s see what happened since the last post.

terns

White fronted terns on parade, with a gull seconded to learn from them

You know it’s a rough day when you see the terns taking shelter. It was very unusual to see them lined up on the handrail of Petone Wharf with one red-billed gull intruding.

dog

The dog was having great fun ignoring all orders to hand over the stick

A day or so later, the wind died away, though the overcast persisted. Nevertheless, the day was sufficiently benign that people were out walking their dogs on Oriental Bay beach.

Hawea

HMNZS Hawea leaving port

While I was at Oriental Bay, a different shade of grey made its way into my field of view. The Inshore patrol vessel, HMNZS Hawea was visiting the city. Despite its ferocious military appearance, this is a typically New Zealand version of the military as the ship is unarmed except for hand-held weapons. It has neither missiles nor a main gun.

Stilt

Pied stilt juvenile at Pauatahanui

Then we had one of the exceptions, so Pauatahanui called me. A juvenile pied stilt is seen here stalking slowly around the pond looking for food.

Pauatahanui

A lovely morning on Pauatahanui Inlet

From a little further around the inlet, the reflections were very nice and Mt Rangituhi and Colonial Knob appear above and below Paremata.

Naenae

Winter fires in Naenae

The next day began well enough, but very cold with a deep frost making the roads icy. Across the valley, home fires added to the river mist drifting Southward from Naenae.

Hokio

Hokio Beach

A day later, Mary and I took a packed lunch and went up to the Foxton Beach area in search of birds or pleasant scenes. Unsuccessful up there, we arrived at Hokio Beach just South of Levin where the water was perfectly still. I turned to pick up my camera and the wind came in from the West destroying the perfection I had just glimpsed. We ate our lunch in the shelter of the sand dunes and went searching for some fragment to recover from the day. A small fishing boat being recovered was the best I could manage.

fungi

Tiny fungi – type unknown

Then the wind came back in earnest. I suggested to Mary that we visit Trelissick Park which follows the Kaiwharawhara  stream as it flows down the sheltered Ngaio Gorge. I was delighted to spy these tiny fungi, each smaller than the nail of my little finger. Note the two aphids on the rear-most fungus.

VUW

School of business – Wellington … I used to have an office on the fifth floor

Yesterday I was in the city to collect a replacement iPad, so while I was waiting, walked around Thorndon from a different direction. Here is Victoria’s Business School where I worked until 2012. They have added more office and teaching space in that addition to the left since I took my leave.

Rush

“Rush” hour at Ngauranga

Having collected the new iPad (that’s how Apple deal with defective batteries) I set out on the return home, and for the first time in a long while found myself entangled in the evening rush hour. Since my Apple repair people were in Thorndon, I followed the Hutt Road and rejoined SH2 at Ngauranga where everything ground to a halt. The moon was rising at about the same rate as the drivers’ blood pressure, but things cleared up and I got home to spend the next several hours restoring my iPad from the iCloud backup.

Kaitaki

Kaitaki on her way to Picton

This morning was threatening dire weather and from Houghton Bay I saw the ferry Kaitaki on its way to Picton crossing the Wairau Valley where there was snow on what I think is Mt Richmond.

Kaikouras

Inland and Seaward Kaikoura ranges with a good dusting of snow … as seen from Wellington

Is Winter here yet? The coating of snow on the Kaikoura Ranges would tend to support that idea. We are past the Winter Solstice and should be headed in the direction of longer warmer days, Spring and Summer, but I suspect we have t

September 27, 2016 … the spice of life

My photographic week continued to be shaped by the weather. Soft grey chilly drizzle was the main feature. Nevertheless, as long as the wind is absent, I can usually find a point of view worth recording.

Tanker

The Stena Provence was the most colourful object in a grey landscape

From Lowry Bay, the tanker Stena Provence was the most visible object. That lifeboat scares me. When everyone is aboard, and strapped into their seats,  the coxswain releases the trigger and it shoots down the ramp at that ridiculous angle and plunges into the sea. I have seen a video of such a lifeboat pitch-poling end over end, so the chances of injury seem high.

George

“George” showing off his breeding plumage

The same day I carried on round to Hikoikoi where I thought I might try a wide-angle shot from just above the water … about duck’s eye level. I had made such an image when I noticed a splash of white. George was back, strolling up and down the deck of a boat house next to his favourite boat. This time he was in full glorious mating plumage, and must surely be due to fly South to Waitangiroto near Okarito where it all happens for white herons.

Elbows

The only way to compete with other photographers on a landscape outing is with the elbows

In the weekend, I attended the Central Regional Convention of the Photographic Society of New Zealand. This was based at Whitireia, a  polytechnic institute in Porirua. Most of the speakers were interesting and I chose the four-wheel drive field trip. A hazard of field trips at conventions is all the other photographers getting in your way.

Sounds

Cloudscape over the Marlborough sounds as seen from Colonial Knob

Our convoy of eleven off-road vehicles bounced and scrambled their way up to the top of Colonial Knob, taking great care to pause and give way to the many walkers and a few cyclists we met on the very steep road.  There was a steely grey sky with dramatic clouds reflecting on the unusually still waters of the Cook Strait. If you click to enlarge the picture, you will see the Brothers Islands just this side of Arapawa Island, and to the right of that, Cape Jackson on the other side of Queen Charlotte Sound.

Strait

Ohariu Valley to Cook Strait and the South Island

Taking a different angle, I loved the light on the water and on the rolling hills at the Northern end of the Ohariu Valley.

Dancer

Yes, I took this, and no, it’s not my usual style. A large part of its attraction is in the grace of the dancer

On the Sunday morning of the convention, there were a number of workshops, some of which were more interesting than others. None was directly aligned with my photographic preferences, but one that I decided to try was conducted by a very highly regarded photographer from the Wairarapa, Esther Bunning. Esther was teaching a particular whimsical approach, and had brought along four attractive young women from a local dance school. This was well outside my comfort zone, but I gave it a shot. As I wrote elsewhere, grabbing an electric fence is a learning experience, but not one that most of us repeat.

May 31, 2016 … after the longest gap in my blogging history

Life has been a mixture of ordinary routine, and intense busy-ness. This does not excuse the long lapse in my blogging, and I shall try to rein that in.

Lake Wairarapa

Lake Wairarapa as the incoming weather from the South turns it grey.

My first image this time, was made in the South Wairarapa the weekend before last. It was a fine day in Wellington and Mary and I decided to explore a little of the Ocean Beach road. If you follow it (on foot or by bicycle), you come round the South Coast to Wainuiomata. We were less ambitious and planned a picnic near DOC’s Corner Creek camp site. Sadly the weather turned to custard, and by the time we were halfway down the Western shoreline of Lake Wairarapa, blue skies had yielded to unremitting grey. For the time being, there was no wind and I liked the gentle shades of approaching winter.

Makara

Makara in a stiff Nor-Wester

In the week that followed, I went to Makara where a strong Nor-Wester was tumbling the surf onto the growling pebbly beach. It was bleak and cold, and I was the only person there.

Beehive

The Beehive at Sunset

The same day, I had been invited to drinks at the university to mark the departure of one of my erstwhile colleagues. At the conclusion of the event, as the day was fading into night, I noticed that the ensign on the flagpole of the Beehive (our parliamentary office complex) was floodlit. This is new.

Belmont

Mist wreaths the foothills of the Tararuas as seen from the suburb of Belmont

Yesterday, the morning sky was blue, but there was a lot of low-level mist drifting about. I set out in search of places that might give a good view. The sun was my enemy in this enterprise as it was causing the mist to burn off quickly.

Taita

Taita Gorge in the morning

In the  shade of the Taita Gorge, it lingered a little longer but that was the last of my attempted mist shots.

Heron

Heron in the stillness

As I turned for home, I realized that the morning had transformed into a beautiful still Wellington day. A hasty diversion over Haywards Hill took me to Motukaraka point on the Pauatahanui inlet where I enjoyed watching a white-faced heron picking its elegant way through the shallows finding crabs. As you can see it scarcely disturbed the water.

Inlet

“A typical Wellington day at last”

Because the day had become so picturesque, and because my scales tell me I desperately need the exercise, I went along the Camborne Walkway beside the inlet towards Paremata. Fluffy clouds reflected beautifully in the perfect waters of the inlet.

Boatsheds

The boat sheds at Paremata

The boatsheds at Paremata are often photographed, and this is not the first time for me either. I love the random use of paint such that two adjacent walls are rarely the same colour. I hope not to leave it so long until the next edition.

 

 

 

April 11, 2016 … filling in time

Reading is dangerous. It fills your head with strange ideas. Likewise, listening to people whose photography you admire is disruptive. I am becoming accustomed to not feeling guilty if a day or three go by with no images made. On the other hand, I am much harder on myself if I tolerate mediocrity in the images I decide to keep. By this time last year, I had almost 5,000 images. This year to date, I have 1,061, and that is a massive drop. I am trying harder to see images that are worth taking, and to walk away if there is nothing there.

birds

Admittedly a surplus of black swans, but I also see Caspian terns, royal spoonbills, pied stilts, masked lapwings, shags, ducks and gulls

I still love photographing birds, but lack the patience of some of my birding friends who will lie on the belly in mud and shells for hours trying to sneak up on rare birds in their nest. For my part, I tend to arrive at a location, and shoot what I can see, from where I can see it. Naturally that process is a lottery. When I arrived at Pauatahanui on Saturday, I thought I had won the big one. I have never seen so many waterfowl there before.

stilts

Hasty dispersal – they were having a stilted conversation anyway.

A significant gathering of pied stilts at the pond looked like a group of men dressed for a white-tie dinner and they seemed to spend a lot of time admiring their own reflections. A passing jogger on the walkway caused them to scatter.

Strait

Many a homesick South Islander has stood on this beach and gazed across to the hills of the Marlborough Sounds

The next day Mary wanted to do the new 10 km walkway that runs along the steep escarpment from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay. It is advertised as a four-hour walk across some steep and narrow tracks with 490 steps and a couple of wire swing bridges. The brochure says “not for those who suffer vertigo or fear heights”. I drove Mary to the beginning of the track and agreed to be close to the other end three hours later, so I was free to wander. I began under a sullen sky at Paekakariki Beach, looking across the calm Strait to the South Island.

Kapiti

Kapiti Island looking dark and moody in the distance

From the same spot, with a 90 degree swing to the right, there was a nice view of Kapiti Island. That little spot on the water near the Northern (right) end of the island is a man on a stand-up paddle board.

Kate and friend

Long term residents at their moorings in Ivey Bay. The white spots are bubbles emerging from crab holes as the unusually high tide flows quietly across the sand

From there, hoping to find a post office open at Porirua, I went South. On the way I paused at Paremata where an extraordinarily high tide put the idea in my head that I should get the camera as close to water level as possible for a different view of an often seen subject.

Kayak

A splash of red is always welcome

The camera was sitting on a miniature tripod with its feet in the water, and I was operating it remotely through my mobile phone. At that moment I spotted a man in a bright red kayak paddling across my field of view. In the few seconds I had, all I could control was the focus so I tapped the screen to focus on him and took the shot and he was gone.

IMG_8942-Edit

I got to Porirua where the post office was shut. A shag which my birding friends agree to be an immature pied shag was sitting on a stick  in the harbour reflecting on life on a calm day.

And then it was time to head back towards Pukerua bay where I thought to browse through the splendid Archway Books for an hour or so. I just pulled up and heard my name called as she walked up the hill having completed the “four-hour traverse” in 2:45:00. Crazy woman. I never even got into the bookshop. But, having just celebrated our 46th anniversary, I remain fiercely proud of her.

February 23, 2016 … and now it has gone

Time slips through the fingers. Before I know it, it’s nine days since my last blog. I must set myself an automated reminder to ensure regular action. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that the decision to abandon the daily commitment was the right one.¬† Before I go on, I should warn those of a timid disposition that my last two images today are of the creepy crawly variety.

Whitireia Park

Climbing through the slippery wet grass looking for a good vantage point. Most of these people checked the weather before they left home. I didn’t.

Last week, the taller of the remaining transmission masts at Whitireia Park in Titahi bay was demolished. A friend who works for the company doing the job alerted me to this opportunity, so in the early hours of Tuesday morning, I set out to record the event. We had a week of wonderful summer weather, and the forecast was for more of the same. Dressed, therefore, in shorts and a tee-shirt I was shocked to arrive in Titahi Bay in drizzle and a chilly gusting wind. The park had been closed to the public, except for a hillside  area reserved for spectators which had been roughly mowed to provide easier access through the long dry summer grass.  Of course, it was now wet and slippery.

Mast

Until its demolition, this was the second highest structure in New Zealand. The demolition was effected by explosive cutting of the Southern guy wires.

Having found a suitable position, I wrapped myself and my cameras in the cold nylon groundsheet which was the only thing I had in the car to protect myself from the weather.  Then I sat and waited.  The low cloud swirled around the mast and there was no sigh of activity. It was a somewhat miserable two hours.

Falling

Composite falling shot.

My vision for the event was to capture a sequence of shots as the mast fell. I had practiced and decided that the camera would get enough shots at the slow setting of five frames per second, to cover the entire arc of its fall, before the camera’s buffer filled. I was wrong. Obviously I had not practiced enough.¬† My grand vision was, alas, only partially met and then the camera¬† stopped to think for a while. If I had waited until I saw movement, instead of starting from the explosion that severed the guy wires, I might have got the complete arc. Or if I had selected a slightly lower resolution.¬† This is a composite of 28 images. I am told that the tip of the mast was doing 350 km/h when it hit the ground in a shower of dirt and a formless tangle of rusted steel.

Wellington

Across Wellington to Victoria University on the hill – from the old quarry

During the days that followed, I found a new lookout spot in an old quarry at the top of Ellice Street near the Western entrance of the Mt Victoria tunnel. I really thought I had found most of the good vantage points in the preceding five years, yet new ones keep emerging.

Dessert

Mandarin Bavaroise at Cobar restaurant. I enjoyed every wicked calorie.

For the last few days we have had the parents of our Brisbane daughter-in-law as house guests, so we took them to one of our favourite restaurants on Sunday. Cobar in Day’s bay is a rarity that has both a superb view and wonderful food. Usually, you have to choose between view and food quality. I could have done yet another sunset from our table, but chose instead to capture the delightful Mandarin Bavaroise dessert. Recommended.

WARNING: Creepy Crawlies ahead. Avert your eyes now if you are squeamish.

 

Spider

Vagrant spider

Mary encountered a large spider under the steps into her place of work. I think it is a vagrant spider (Uliodon albopunctatus).

Weta

Wellington tree weta – a gentle creature despite appearances

My next guest is a fine male specimen of the Wellington tree weta (Hemideina crassidens). They are nightmarish creatures to look at, and can inflict a nip with those big mandibles, but are generally shy and gentle creatures. Or so I’m told.

See you soon.

 

December 26, 2015 … a day to treasure

Christmas Day in Wellington, 2015 was one to treasure.

Pavlova

Mary’s pavlova before the addition of cream

It was fine, warm, and clear. We had family gathered, and held those who couldn’t make it in our hearts. All six grandchildren were with us for brunch , as were two of our five children and three daughters in law. Food was eaten, gifts exchanged, fun was had and all was right with the world. In the evening, we were a smaller group for dinner, though we enjoyed the company of a friend. Mary produced an excellent pavlova with fresh Wairarapa berries and cream for those who needed it.

skylark

For the skylark, Christmas is just another day

During the day, after a pleasant siesta, I judged that I was superfluous to requirements and took myself off for some photographs. At Whitireia Park, there are usually skylarks hidden in the long grasses that cover its hills.

Titahi Bay

From Titahi Bay beach looking across the strait to the South Island

Heading homeward, I stopped briefly at Titahi Bay and the scene there was just idyllic, people in the water, on the beach, having picnics, having fun as you would when Christmas comes at midsummer.

Sand castle

A bigger than usual sand castle

Of course a family trip to the beach is a great opportunity for sand castles.

Christmas Day was great.

November 9, 2015 … limping along

According to my calculations, I have 51 more editions of the daily blog to go.

Tree

A tree with some Halloween character

On some days, I wonder if I shall make it. I have no intention of not making it, but on the drab days I am less than happy with the outcome. Nothing of great interest appeared before me in what I regarded as a particularly drab day. My first image is from a vacant industrial lot at the North end of Plimmerton.  It just struck me as a character tree.

Landscape

Farmland over the fence from suburbia

At the top of Camborne, on the north side of Grays Rd, there is an expansive view across the remaining pastoral land in the area. This is an eight-image panoramic stitch, and you can see SH1 snaking up the hill towards the Whenua  Tapu cemetery on the left.

Shed

This shed has spent a year on death row

Then at Judgeford, on the way home, there was the old farm shed that I asked permission to photograph last Christmas. The owner was going to knock it down the next day, but it stands there still.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

October 1, 2015

Wasn’t it Christmas just last week?

Skylark

Skylark (Alauda arvensis) was looking for food but then realised it was being watched so the crest goes up

October already seems impossible. However, yesterday saw September go out with a burst of fine spring weather. I decided to go to Whitireia Park because it was the kind of day that could see lots of skylark activity. I did find skylarks but mostly hopping along on the ground. They are shy birds that erect their crest when they are alarmed.

Whitireia

Transmission tower, Whitireia

Near the entrance to the park there is a nice view to the North East across rolling parkland and the old transmission mast which is, I believe, the third highest structure in the country.

Fishing

I lack the balance or the fearlessness to do this

In the afternoon, I meandered around Seaview and the Eastern Bays. This fisherman on the outer edge of the breakwater at the mouth of the Hutt River has much better balance than I.

Shags

Little Black shags

In Lowry Bay, there were a number of Little Black shags preparing to roost on the rocks. The sea was calm enough for me to get down low.

Enough for now.

August 17, 2015 … persistence or stupidity

The single purposeful theme is still the goal.

Pauatahanui

The wetland and wildlife reserve at Pauatahanui

Pauatahanui was the chosen locality yesterday, but the weather was unkind and the birds uncooperative. I decided to try a shot that might express the overall character of the area, Across the salt water grasses are the ponds where so many of my favourite birds browse, On the left, the drab green structure is the bird hide.

yachts

Yacht race

I abandoned Pauatahanui and tried Plimmerton instead. Nothing much happening at first sight, but I liked those clouds behind the yachts.

Mana

Mana Island from Plimmerton

The yachts then drew my eye to Mana Island and again the clouds added to the scene, as did the striations in the rocks on the foreshore at Plimmerton.

Ivey Bay

Ivey Bay, near Paremata

From there I went home via the Paremata-Haywards Road (SH58). Gleaming reflections in Ivey Bay seemed interesting. As an exercise in single themed purposeful photography it was a failure, but that’s how the cookie crumbled yesterday.

More tomorrow.