Architecture Birds Butterflies Cook Strait flowers Landscapes Light Maritime mountains Paremata Porirua Rivers Sunset

July 17, 2022 …

One of my favourite mentors, Alastair Benn this week asked his subscribers what makes a good photograph/photographer. Any of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that this is a sure way to trigger all my anxieties and self doubt. He also asked whether we thought it was feasible to judge your own work.

Solely in relation to my own work, I regard a good photograph as one that I like, that I am pleased to have made and one to which my first reaction is not how much better it could have been “if only I had done something else.” In my view, although I love to get affirming opinions from others, the vital component is that I like it myself. I take it for granted that the image is made competently. After that it is a matter of what I saw and how I extracted that seeing from all that was in front of me.

So here follows the usual collection of images made since the last edition of this blog. I like some of them. Others not so much.

Cape Halswell Light in the mist

Winter mist on the harbour and all is blank beyond Pt Halswell. The Hutt Valley is probably still out there, though there is no evidence of it.

Little Black Shag hanging the laundry out to dry

I like the little black shags. Their plumage is beautifully patterned but not coloured. This one was hanging the wings out to dry in whatever thin substitute for sunshine was available.

Misty on the Wainuiomata Coast Road

Misty conditions appeal to me, though the resulting images rarely match the vision I had when I made them. This was on the road South to the Wainuiomata coast. Silhouettes against the mist always appeal to me.

A constrained view from Wright’s Hill

Now and then I get the urge to go up Wright’s Hill at the Western end of Karori. The problem with geographic lookouts such as Wrights Hill, is that they are constraining. Every time I go up there, I end up in the same place looking at the same view. Only the light, time of day and the weather change. I need to get more inventive.

Evans Bay looking inland

Unlike Wright’s Hill, Evans Bay offers myriad different vantage points. Some face East, some West. Some look into bays, others look out. I liked this view because it is an angle not often seen.

White cabbage butterfly

As far as I can tell, this caterpillar is going from left to right. I will further venture that this is probably a white cabbage butterfly seen here hanging under a parsley plant. Two aspects caught my eye. A droplet of water on the caterpillar’s back was interesting because I have no idea where it came from. The other thing that drew my attention was its pointy little feet.

Sunset over the Hutt Valley

A seemingly perfect day seemed to promise a spectacular sunset. Sadly, it didn’t happen. Instead, a wall cloud developed to the West and we had a fairly ordinary sunset. The only consolation were the glittering reflections in the Hutt River and the Waiwhetu Stream.

On Ivey Bay (again)

Ivey Bay is a frequent haunt of mine. Among other things, I like it because of the character of the boats moored there. As I have observed before, these are not plastic “gin palaces”, but rather, honest working boats, probably built by the original owner.


Looking from the top of the Wainuiomata Hill across the Cook Strait, there is usually a splendid view of the Kaikoura mountains. Tapuae-o-Uenuku is always magnificent, especially considering that summit is 130 km away.

Tākina – the Convention centre

Here is the new kid on the block. This is Tākina. It is the almost finished Wellington Convention Centre. I quite like it, though birders are not pleased with so much glass that could injure the birds.

Aquilla coming home

Aquilla is one of the local fishing trawlers seen here returning from the Cook Strait with a swarm of sea birds hovering hopefully in her wake.

Porirua Harbour

Porirua Harbour has its moments. I especially like it when there is no wind, and that is much more often than you might think. This is a multi-image panoramic stitch made between two trees near the Whitireia Polytchnic.


Mary had a birthday recently and the family turned up and provided morning tea at a local cafe. Jack (15) arrived with a bunch of tulips for the occasion. Flowers for the win!

And that’s another edition in the can, though I had a repeat of that sudden loss of editing. I might have to see if there is something more reliable than WordPress.

Adventure Bayou Birds Lakes Landscapes Light Maritime Paremata Reflections Rivers Trees Wairarapa

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 🙂

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.

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 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.

The old 180° 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 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.

Architecture Birds Kapiti Coast Landscapes Light Maritime night Paremata Paremata Reflections Sunset Upper Hutt Waves Weather Wellington

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 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.

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.

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 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 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.

“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.

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.




Cook Strait Mana Island Maritime Paremata Plimmerton Weather

August 17, 2015 … persistence or stupidity

The single purposeful theme is still the goal.

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.

Yacht race

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

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.

Adventure flowers Paremata Railway

August 14, 2015 … here and there

I am still locked into happenstance.

One of the Korean-built electric commuter trains accelerates out of Porirua heading North

I keep telling myself that I need to do purposeful planned photo shoots, but somehow, driving around and looking for things is still my norm. Probably this is a consequence of my commitment to a photograph every day. Thinking ahead to tomorrow, and designing a shoot ahead of time requires more skill, and perhaps more resources than I have. For now, at least, serendipity rules. My first shot is taken in Porirua City by the stream between the shops and the railway line.

Asbestos-free locomotive at Paremata

A little further North at Paremata, another train crossed my path. This time it was a long freight train hauled by a pair of the big double-ended DL class locomotives. These were built in China, and despite explicit contractual specifications to the contrary, when they were delivered, it was discovered that the locomotive cabs and engine hoods contained asbestos. The contract was enforced and technicians from China were sent to New Zealand to remedy the fault. As you can see from the green stickers on the cab and on the side rails below the hood, this one has had the asbestos removed. New Zealand crews would not handle the locomotives until the changes were made.

This cluster of flowers is about 30 cm in height and each flower is perhaps 2 cm in diameter

My neighbour has a huge succulent growing in a tub beside the house. It is taller than I am and it is a very heavy plant. Despite the near flat calm, the long conical flower stems were waving in the breeze. I wanted to do focus stacking  but because the plant was moving between shots, I first had to align the four images before I could blend them.

Backlit succulent leaves

I had a look at the leaves, and this is a single shot. When I took the shot I had no idea that the little hairs on the edge of the leaves were backlit, but it produced a strange effect. Click to enlarge and you will see it.

That’s all for now,

adversity Birds Paremata Pauatahanui Weather

June 26, 2015 … still there is stillness

Stillness persists.

Kingfisher emergent

Against my expectations, yesterday remained still, so I went to Pauatahanui. To my great joy there were half a dozen kingfishers in the big tree, diving repeatedly for crabs in the calm water. Sadly, I had left the big Canon at home, and despite my earlier discoveries, I tried to capture them with the Olympus. Aaaagh! The results were ugly. Nevertheless here is one image which is at least pointing in the right direction.

Boat sheds
Boat sheds at Paremata

Fortunately the conditions at Paremata were such that the Olympus could redeem itself with some nice sharp landscape pictures.

Boats at Paremata

There are only so many shots I can show of a favourite place, but the light was a lovely honey colour and combined with the water conditions I couldn’t pass it up.

That’s all.

Adventure Landscapes Light Lower Hutt Maritime night Paremata Pauatahanui Reflections Weather

May 29, 2015 … a stunning day from start to finish

My day started at 3am since I had to deliver Mary to the Airport two hours before check-in.

This apparently, is how the day begins.

It was still pitch black when I left the airport soon after 5 am, but street light reflections suggested that the sea was flat calm. I drove home and made myself an uncharacteristic bacon and egg breakfast instead of my customary muesli and milk. I reasoned that since the day had started out of the ordinary, I might as well continue. After breakfast I spent some time editing the previous day’s images until I noticed a hint of light outside. I got excited by the colour of the clear sky starting to appear behind the dark silhouette of the Eastern Hills. This really needed a panorama treatment so this is a twelve-shot stitch. Please click to enlarge. I think it’s worth it.

River fog flowing down the valley to the sea

My editing occupied me for a while until I looked again, and now there was a river fog creeping down the valley through the Taita Gorge and over to the Easter side of the Hutt Valley.

Paremata boat sheds

I had other things to attend to and for some reason the middle of the day turned grey and chill. This prompted me to have a siesta after lunch. By the time that was completed to my satisfaction, the day had resumed the calm clarity with which it had started. I tried the harbour and though it was flat, I saw nothing that really moved me there, so I went out to Pauatahanui, and there the conditions were near perfect. At the Paremata beach, I liked the view across to the boat sheds.

Kate at anchor

One of the boats moored nearby is Kate. I may have photographed her before. She really appeals to me as good honest simple work boat. Her owner has just repainted her and she was looking very smart.

Red orange sunset

By now the sun was almost gone so I attempted to capture the colour in the sky and water.


With the light almost gone and the temperature dropping, it was time to go home and get dinner. As I neared Pauatahanui, I liked what I glimpsed in the rear-view mirror so pulled into one of the very few lay-bys on that side of the inlet and took one last shot to bring my photographic day to a close.

Time for domesticity now, so more tomorrow.

adversity Landscapes Maritime Paremata Rivers Weather

January 23, 2015 … neither fish nor fowl

It was an odd day photographically.

Boat sheds at Paremata looking under the road bridges

True to the title, neither fish nor fowl were photographed. There was sunshine, but though it was calm at home, when I got to Paremata the wind was lively to say the least. The reflections I sought were nowhere to be seen. From the walkway near the Mana Marina, there is a view back under the road bridge to the boats moored at the famous boatsheds. I liked the framing offered by the bridge.

Porirua City expands up the hill at the Aotea subdivision

The seawall that separates the Marina from the rest of the harbour is walkable, if somewhat rough on the ankles. It offers some interesting viewpoints from which to see Porirua city and the one that got my attention was the view of the Aotea subdivision to the East of SH1 and just South of the historic Gear homestead. At first sight I thought I was looking at a parched landscape, but that’s bare clay as the developer does the earthworks for the next stage of the development.

Porirua City Centre as seen from Paremata

To the South from the same point, is Porirua City centre with Tawa and Linden up the valley behind it on the way to Johnsonville. The hills to the right are near Colonial Knob.

The weir at Silverstream

Dissatisfied, I went back to the Hutt Valley and with the dinner hour approaching was wondering what I could do to provide a better selection of images for the day. One of my desperation fallbacks is the weir on the Hutt River at Silverstream. Flow is very low in the river at present, so the downstream rocks were more exposed than usual, as was the undercutting below the weir itself. That lower ledge was not visible on previous visits.

Low flow on the Hutt River

I climbed onto a dry patch  and took the view along the weir and as you can see, the flow was more of a thin sheet of water sliding down the concrete than the heavy brown torrent I have captured previously. The weed on the river bed is more visible than I have seen before.

As I said, the day was “neither fish nor fowl”


Architecture Camera club Lower Hutt night Paremata

August 13, 2014 … ruins, ancient and modern

Occasionally I lock myself in.

Ruins of fortifications at Paremata (1847)

Last night, I locked myself out, but that’s a different story. I meant that my biases and preferences keep taking me back to the same places. An upcoming trip to Brisbane may alter that. I usually head for the water or look for birds. I did both yesterday with mediocre results, so I went a little further than usual to the Ngati Toa domain at Paremata. There I saw the remains of a fort built in 1847 by the British army who were expecting reprisals from the Ngati Toa people as a result of dubious land purchases and some brutal treatment by the British.  I am reminded how young this country is when I realise that this is one of the oldest surviving structures in the region.

Building this with mortar mixed with sea shells must have been a laborious business.

Apparently the rocks were brought across from the other side of the harbour, and shells from the local beach were used as a source of lime mortar, and this was apparently a mistake., though these remains are getting up to 170 years old.

A lighting store on Knights Road

In the evening it was a Camera club night. Having locked myself and our equipment out of the storage cupboard at the end of the session, I loaded it all in my car and set off towards home. On the way I past a lighting shop and liked the window display which is much less impressive by day.

Looking Eastwards on Margaret St towards the Westfield Queensgate mall

This prompted me to detour though the almost totally deserted streets of Lower Hutt. Since it was not yet 10 pm, the emptiness tends to conform the Hutt region as a dormitory suburb. There were patrons in a couple of the pubs, but things were very quiet.

High St
High St, Lower Hutt looking South from Margaret St. You could fire the proverbial shotgun and not hit anybody.

Looking South down High Street towards the Ewen Bridge (the blue light in the centre is one of the street lights on the bridge), I noticed again some signs indicating empty shops for sale. Malls tend to kill ordinary shopping precincts.

That’s all for today.

Landscapes Light Maritime Paremata Reflections Sunset Weather

July 11, 2014 … a better way to end the day

And the pendulum swings.

As the tide begins to come in, these boys hope it will bring fish with it

While I was unhappy with the images I showed yesterday, it would be downright picky to complain about the images I made in the evening out at Paremata. This is not to say that they couldn’t be improved. There are always better ways to make images, but for the moment I am pleased. Still dark water, late afternoon winter sun, colourful boats and buildings all came together to let me make pictures that are on the upswing of that wretched pendulum. (Click to enlarge each image as usual)  began on the beach just inside the inlet at the Paremata bridge. The tide was low but coming in. A bunch of local kids were fishing. But that wasn’t the shot that brought me there.

Ivey Bay
Paremata boatsheds in Ivey Bay.

Across the channel, the boatsheds were gleaming in the late light, and the bright paint was reflecting beautifully in the unruffled water.

Paint choices enhance the spectacle. I have never seen most of these boats leave their moorings.

Swing a little further round presented a different set of colours and a different set of reflections .

Ivey Bay. The little blue and white boat is the Kate, often photographed for her simple lines

To the East, boats at anchor were scarcely moving at all, despite the incoming tide. They lent themselves to a long exposure. Satisfied, I packed up camera and tripod and began to drive home.

Westward across still water

I had just got round the corner onto Paremata Road past the boat sheds when the view caught my eye from another angle. I went down onto the beach at Ivey Bay and looked Westward. The moored boats were catching the light and the ones anchored in the inlet were beginning to swing with the in-rushing tide.  The sun was getting close to the horizon and I suspected I was about to see a colour change.

Spectacular sunset – a fleeting moment

The combination of setting sun, coloured clouds and still water gave me a lovely opportunity which I seized with gratitude.

And that feels much better.