We have had strong winds alternating with low cloud, mist and rain. Normally I would suggest that these are incompatible, but that’s what we have had. Low cloud is not necessarily bad and wreaths around the hills off interesting opportunities. In the hope that the conditions at Pauatahanui would be special, I went over the hill. Alas, it was merely grey over there with ruffled water. I cam back and paused at the top of the Haywards Hill for a view of the clear-felling logging operation that has been taking place there. As you v=can see there is little left standing.
From there I went North and saw a misty landscape near the Moonshine bridge.
At Upper Hutt, I carried on to the Plateau road and from there into the Mangaroa Valley which was also buried in the mist. On days like this there is a silence in the valley and a sense of being isolated from the rest of the world.
Like Peter Pan, I need to get my shadow sewn back on.
My days seem weirdly full, due in part to time spent minding the gallery during our photographic exhibition. By our standards the visitor numbers are good, but there are periods of inactivity so yesterday afternoon, I went outside when the gallery was deserted and tried to capture the bluebells in the gallery garden. I was just lining up when another group of visitors arrived.
In the evening I had a committee meeting, so drove to Trentham. Along River Road, past the Silverstream Bridge there was a view of a stack of lenticular cloud forming over the Mt Climie area.
When the meeting ended, I went briefly to Petone Beach where, to my surprise the carpark at the Eastern end of the beach was full of camper vans and mobile homes. I am not sure if they were a group or just a random bunch of freedom camper avoiding the fees in the established parks. Despite the mist and the wind, I set up for a night shot along the beach. The odd thought crossed my mind that this shot would have been utterly impossible in my old Pentax with a roll of Kodachrome.
I hope for better today though I have another gallery-minding session.
An old joke, I know, but the parallel is there. When I go out armed with a particular lens, I tend to make my shooting match the capability of the lens. As it happens this particular lens is very versatile, capable of excellent portraiture as well as the extreme close-up which is its real purpose. On this occasion, I had it set for very close shooting, and went back to the are of Pinehaven where I visited a few days ago, this time with a tripod.
I have no real narrative to accompany individual images because I have no expertise in the micro-foliage of the forest floor.
Each time a moved a metre to the left or right there was something new to see. From a distance it all looked like a soft green baize, but as you get closer the intricacy and the complexity of each plant became visible.
Even the moss on top of an old fence post presents itself differently in extreme close-up.
From the Hutt Valley, the view up the hills towards home was variable, coming and going as the rain drifted by.
After the funeral service in the afternoon, I paused to look at the mud-stained Hutt River, a metre or two higher than normal.
In the evening, it was camera club where I was delighted to get an honours award for one of my images in the latest round of the club’s internal competition. On the way home I diverted to Seaview and tried to capture the sense of the Oil terminal with its gleaming trucks and a fleet of tankers ready to deliver petrol to the lower part of the island.
Sun is pouring in my window so I had better go and do something new today.
I could claim that today’s single theme was a planned outcome.
It wasn’t. That’s just how it turned out. Through the morning curtains, a rosy gleam told me something interesting was happening. Overhead, there was heavy black overcast. Away to the North, beyond Upper Hutt, there was a gap between the still dark valley floor and the cloud above. In this distant window, I could see radiant morning light and a magnificent layering of the hills. A long lens got me past the darkness to the area of interest.
Later in the morning, the colour had gone, but the layering continued. The number of places where you can get an unobstructed view of the Tararuas are few, though I suppose these could be increased by getting higher, perhaps on the Eastern hills.
On the Western bank of the Hutt River, near Silverstream, there is a rocky outcrop that provides a good upstream view of the river. I used the ND filter to still the river. The very long exposure also gave an interesting texture to the clouds.
The river itself was gleaming in the hazy sunlight and it too got the long exposure treatment. I love the pewter look in this shot.
It was a damp day to begin with but got steadily better.
In the morning, Mary went for a walk from Silverstream bridge to Totara Park bridge, walking up the Eastern side of the Hutt River trail. I dropped her at point A and collected her from point B, but somehow failed dismally to find a useful picture in the intervening hour. The best I could manage was the stony riverbed, washed clean after last weeks torrential rain. I did notice, however that there was coal smoke and steam emerging from the vicinity of the Silver Stream Railway (somehow, they have registered their name as three words, though the suburb is generally known as Silverstream.
Live steam is a magnet for me, so towards the end of the day, I went to Silverstream and bought my ticket, and talked very nicely to the duty stationmaster in order to be allowed to cross the tracks and walk up to a good vantage point. The locomotive on duty and in steam yesterday was the tiny little tank locomotive, L509 built by Avonside Engine Company at Bristol, UK, in 1877. Yes, this delightful little engine is 138 years old.
She was hauling a train of three passenger cars, one of which was filled with a child’s birthday party. I am sure that most of the kids were absolutely baffled by the parents’ expressions of delight and amazement. From their perspective, I am sure they thought they were on a particularly smelly bus, but the cakes and ice cream made up for it. The train goes up to the end of the line, and the locomotive is switched to the other end of the train and comes back in reverse. I lay down on the track to get the low level view having first assured myself several times that the points were properly set to swing the train onto the line to the right of the picture.
After it had passed, I wandered back through the engine shed. The translucent roofing panels provided a lovely diffuse light in the shed. Pure magic for a lifelong train spotter.
Despite the blustery Southerly and sullen cloud overhead, I tried for some birds at Plimmerton. This Pied oystercatcher was really the only thing I saw apart from common red-billed gulls. Stunning colour in the beak.
On the way back to Lower Hutt, I swung by the Silverstream bridge where the light had some possibilities. I crossed back to the Western side of the river and enjoyed this view upstream. Note the black-backed gulls gathered in the rapids a little way off.
There were still odd shafts of light and this dog daisy was picked out. I played with the zoom as I was exposing the shot.
Heading back to the car I was startled by the sudden and unprovoked mass take-off of all the black-backed gulls heading over towards the Silverstream landfill.
It is brief because yesterday I took very few images. It was the last day of the convention, and like the rest of the days, we had organized fine weather. Well, we are taking the credit for everything we can, but as far as I can tell, this was a very successful convention and barring a few minor glitches with the venue, people were going away happy. We were fortunate to have an experienced and hardworking person in charge of the committee (she knows who she is). I got a bit distracted attending sessions, so I was not the hardest working person on the team. Nevertheless, I felt at the end, as if I had ridden a hundred kilometres with these people who I saw in the morning as I drove in.
While we enjoyed our lunch in the open air, someone drew some fungi to my attention . I have no idea what they were, but as the person conduction the nature photography session wisely told us, they can’t run very fast.
On the way home, I diverted by way of Heretaunga Trentham Memorial Park. In the middle of the park is Barton’s bush, a lovely dense patch of native trees. The only downside to me was that all the paths were fenced off so that you couldn’t enter the bush itself. It’s just not the New Zealand way to put fences around public bush, and is as alien here as a “keep off the grass” sign. Ugh!
Despite my dislike for the fences, there is some healthy bush and it was otherwise a pleasure to wander through.
On the Western side of the bush, there is the stop bank which separates the affluent housing nearby from the river when it shows sign of flooding. The open land on either side of the bank is well used for all kinds of recreation as makes a pleasant landscape in its own right.
My last shot in this, the 999th edition of this blog, is of a bird that baffled me. Eventually I received advice that it is simply a blackbird with leucism, or a lack of pigmentation. Well I thought it was interesting
As the old joke has it, if you don’t like our climate, wait twenty minutes.
It began well enough, though I would have preferred that the wind was not ruffling the water like that. There were a large number of pied stilts at the inlet in the morning, but for most of my purposes, the tide was wrong and the wind was wrong.
I had lunch with a former colleague in Upper Hutt, then went over the hill to Mangaroa. A little way up the valley a flash of red caught my eye, and there were a pair of Eastern Rosellas (Platycercus eximius). They were flying free but judging by the fence on which they perched and the man-made birdhouses, I am guessing that someone is feeding them so they are not going far.
I moved up the valley further to the plateau behind Maymorn, and then the climate changed. It happened suddenly, and drastically. A thunderous hailstorm made life distinctly unpleasant, and rendered photography much more difficult. I waited until the hail gave way to mere rain, then set out towards home. I went down beside the Hutt River just South of the Moonshine bridge in the hope of getting some atmospheric shots. The rain was coming in with some force from the South, so I did my best to shoot from inside the car. I had a storm jacket for the camera, but not one for myself, so I was reluctant to get out.
In a few places I could angle the car so that I could briefly lower the passenger side window and get the shot without too much rain getting on the lens.
So ends another day.
* “The day that the rains came down” a song by Gilbert Becaud, made famous by Jane Morgan