Cars Machinery Plant life Reflections Rivers Taita Whiteman's Valley

April 22, 2015 … red gold and green

The new camera (“Ollie”) is slowly becoming familiar.

Hutt River above the weir

That means that preferred settings come more easily to hand. I still have moments, however, where I have to stop and explore the various menu options and find how to achieve what I want. My first shot from yesterday was just behind the weir on the Hutt River at the Taita Gorge. I read a few days ago that there are two kinds of landscape image. Those that were taken using a tripod, and those that should have been. This is one of the latter.

Red gold and green leaves

My wandering took me through Silverstream and up Blue Mountains Rd through Pinehaven. There I found a stand of deciduous trees in their full Autumn splendour. They look different in kind to the beech trees behind Arrowtown, and they are much smaller in the area covered, so I had to line up carefully to get the trees, and nothing but the trees.

Bedford RL being swallowed by the trees

Over the hill into Whiteman’s Valley and I renewed my acquaintance with an old ex-army Bedford RL truck. I have photographed it before, but I am certain that it is slowly going back to the earth from whence it came. More and more foliage is becoming entangled in the chassis and emerging from the observer’s ring in the cab  roof. Rust is eroding the edges of the sheet metal work and the possibility of a restoration seems to recede each time I see it.

Land Rover suffering a similar fate

Quite close to the Bedford is an old Land Rover. It too is being overtaken by the surrounding weeds and shrubs, though it doesn’t look as far gone as the Bedford.

That will do for now.

adversity creativity Sunset Taita Weather

November 20, 2014 … I yam what I yam*

Some of my fellow photographers read my blog.

Christ Church
Christ Church, Taita. The blurred leaves of the trees should convey the blustery wind that was blowing


They tell me I agonise too much, and that I travel too far, often with too little outcome. I appreciate their interest and advice very much, but it seems to me that self-critical introspection is a part of who I am and indeed, part of the purpose of my photography and of this blog. And in case anyone has forgotten, the WYSIWYG part of the title, which long predates the current blog, is an acronym for “What You See Is What You Get”. That brings me to yesterday’s images  which began at the historic Christ Church in Taita. I was wandering around the grounds of the oldest church in Wellington, and unusually I had abandoned the zoom and was using the “nifty fifty”, a  50 mm f1.4 prime lens. I am not sure I understand why so many people go on about the virtue of shooting with such a lens. I will seize all the advantages technology can give me.

Looking though the cemetery as a train passes by on its way to Taita station


The cemetery at the back of the church is adjacent to the railway line, and separates the church from the road that it once faced. There are some old markers in the graveyard, but I guess those whose remains are buried there are no longer interested in the passing of the trains.

Huge cloud bank at the end of the day


In the evening, Mary and I were sitting down to dinner, and I had my back to the valley. Mary suggested I really had to look at the spectacular cloud formation over the Tararuas, so dinner was put on pause while I snatched the shot.

Tha’s enough for now

*Popeye “I Yam What I Yam” (1933) see

Birds Hutt River Landscapes Light Rivers sunrise Taita

November 9, 2014 … before dawn until quite late

Slowly, slowly, life will come back to normal.

Mist on the river near Silverstream

The photographic convention is behind us, and though it was hugely enjoyable, it disrupted the normal flow of life. Yesterday’s programme started at some ridiculously early hour, on the Hutt River in the Taita Gorge. Since I was staying at home rather than on-site, I had to drive there even earlier.As I crossed the bridge at Silverstream, there was some mist swirling on the river and on the paddocks near St Patrick’s College.  Of course, I stopped to seize the moment. Just as well, when the convention participants emerged half an hour later, the mist had gone.

A changed landscape below the weir after recent heavy rains

Nevertheless, at the convention, I learned some things about seeing, and though I was at first inclined to move on, I paused to revisit the weir. I was astonished at the amount of scouring that seems to have occurred downstream from the weir since my last visit.

Pied shags and Little Black shags at Pauatahanui

In the afternoon, I helped guide a group through the Pauatahanui reserve, and as the participants scattered on the various pathways, I went to the Southern hide and saw a cluster of shags against the glittering water.

Sitting on the eggs

In the hide near Grays Rd, we learned that there was a pied stilt sitting on a clutch of eggs in the little scrape that passes for a nest. The day ended with food, drink and entertainment and that is all I have to say about that.

More tomorrow after which normal service should resume.

Landscapes Light Lower Hutt Rivers Taita Weather

July 24, 2014 … fast water, bright rainbow

Winter is proving to be a challenge this year.

Hutt River at the Taita weir after a few days of rain

Our winters are very benign by some standards. Snow is rare, and in most of Wellington, five or six degrees of frost is as cold as it gets, and even that is unusual. Rain and wind are the sources of our winter misery, and they can get quite severe. Yesterday was at the tail end of a few ugly days and the Hutt River seemed to be very full. It was not in full flood, but very high and very fast. I believe its normal flow rate at Taita at this time of year is around 23 cumecs (cubic metres per second) and yesterday it was running at over 100 cumecs … that’s four times more water than usual.  The water has been running so fast that it has scoured out the access ramp to the riverbed downstream, and I couldn’t get to the place from which I have previously shot images of the weir. It was underwater anyway.

Slow shot of the weir
The weir from slightly upstream – a 30 second exposure.

Perhaps from a little upstream I might have a different view while still catching a bit of the drama of fast water. I made shots that were “straight” and also did a few long (30 second) exposures with the aid of the neutral density filters. I preferred the low shots. All the while, it was necessary to hold an umbrella over the camera to protect it from the steady drizzle. Few high-end DSLRs are truly weather-proof, and too much moisture can result in catastrophic damage. My insurers paid NZD$1,300 to repair the camera that suffered from an excess of airborne mist at Niagara Falls in 2012.

Rainbow fragment
Rainbow fragment in the direction of the Hutt river estuary

At home later, having given up on getting other images, night was approaching and I was closing the upstairs curtains to keep the house warm against the increasing chill. I saw a brilliant rainbow fragment on the Hutt River. To heck with the cold, I flung open the window and leaned out to try to capture the moment.

Most of the rainbow … caught with the wrong lens

The scene was changing rapidly as clouds moved and light-shafts opened and closes. Suddenly it was no long a fragment but a full rainbow. I leaned out as far as I dared with no strap on the camera, and zoomed out to 24mm and couldn’t fit the whole thing in. My wide angle lens was downstairs and I knew with certainty that if I ran downstairs to get it, the rainbow would be gone by the time I was ready to shoot. I grabbed the shot and the rainbow disappeared.

That’s all for now.

Light Rivers Taita

April 13, 2014 … rushing water and horse droppings

I have lived in the Hutt Valley for thirty-four years.

Weir, Hutt River
The weir on the Hutt River at Taita Gorge. That’s the 4:39pm train that has just left Manor Park and is crossing the bridge at Silverstream on its way to Upper Hutt

Until yesterday, if anyone had said to me that there is a full width weir across the Hutt river, I would have quoted Col. Sherman T Potter and cried “horse puckey”. Well yesterday, I saw it with my own eyes, and even walked on it. A good friend told me to go and see it. Despite the sullen grey overcast and intermittent rain, I went out to capture my photo for the day. Normally I seek a bit more diversity in the day’s photography, but I make no apology for being captivated by the rushing water. Please click to enlarge to see the detail in these images.

Flowing water
Getting a neutral density filter to behave is quite tricky and they often throw in colour casts, and unwanted shadows or lens flare. If you buy one, get a good one/

Below the weir, there are many interesting boulders placed to prevent the structure being undercut. There is some resultant white water, and the local kayak community get excited about it in flood conditions when the river flow is high enough. Yesterday’s flow was quite modest, but as you can see I used my variable density filter to get a very slow exposure. This shows the water flow, and if your tripod is solid enough, keeps the fixed objects sharp.

Flowing water (2)
If I came across this image on the net, I would tend to doubt any connection to the Hutt River. However, I was there and saw it with my own eyes.


The river stones are real ankle-breakers and given my recent history and somewhat strained relationship with my insurers, I manoeuvred very carefully from one viewpoint to another. I should add that there has been very little manipulation of these shots. I removed a few sticks that a friend was worried might be interpreted as dust, and adjusted the exposure and colour balance, but otherwise they are as taken.

Flowing water (3)
I love the way a few steps to left or right can give a different view


Though I had deliberately lowered the light levels with my filter, a certain level of light is still necessary, and it was getting fairly chilly with the wind blowing from the South up the river, so after this shot, I called it a day. You know the old cliché that “once you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail“. I shall have to take care not to overdo the filter-assisted slow shots.

That’s all for today


adversity Children Sport Taita

July 02, 2012 … shades of “The Mighty Ducks”

Our team seem consistently outplayed.

They are, for the most part, new to netball, and when they get on the courts, they seem to be an average half a head shorter than their opposition. Further more, the opposing teams seem more worldly-wise, more aggressive, and to be fair, more skilled, than our team.

On the other hand, no team on the courts has a more relentlessly optimistic and encouraging coach (my youngest son). Even after the most abject drubbing, he is encouraging and full of praise for the team’s effort.  The kids seem to enjoy the games, if not the score-line.

All they lack is that killer instinct, and the willingness to contest physically. It also seems that the parents (and grandparents) who support our team are less assertive, and less vocal in their cheering from the side-lines, than those of the other teams.

Future-ferns netballNetball is, supposedly, a non-contact sport. On the other hand, if you stand back politely and let the opposition snatch the ball, defeat is inevitable.  For some reason I am put in mind of the film “The Mighty Ducks”

Despite all the losses (they have yet to record a win) I am very proud of them all, especially my granddaughter (wearing the GA bib) and my son the coach.

Keep trying, team!