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June 12, 2022 … back to normal

With the road trip behind me, my challenge now is to keep the photographic flame alive. That can be hard while living an everyday life in suburbia. Many times before, I have referred to seeing familiar things in a different way. Some of my photographic friends have the gift of “finding a different place” to stand when making pictures of things that I see every day. What I need to do in my search for something worth photographing is to pause, and to not make the picture until I have considered other ways of looking at it. This might be to go round the other side. It might be to include (or exclude) another element. Perhaps it is looking at the subject through a different lens. The wide angle offers a different picture to that made by the telephoto. Anyway, for now at least, we are at home on the Western Hills of Lower Hutt and Winter has officially begun.

Before I totally forget the road trip, many thanks to all the nice readers who sent kind words and affirmation. Your messages were greatly appreciated.


A crranberry flavoured tablet made a spectacular fizz. I tried to catch it in my lightbox. That went OK, but I wondered whether a dark box might give a better image. The illusion of a reflection is createrd by the simple trick of standing the glass on the base of an identical glass inverted.

Receding planes

One trick for seeing a view differently is to make a part of the scene substitute for the whole. Looking from Oriental Parade up the harbour, Wellingtonians are familiar with the view of the hills to the North. I have tried to present that view differently. The dark mass in the foreground is Matiu/Somes Island. Behind that are three folds in the Eastern hills of the Hutt Valley and I suspect the highest visible hill through the haze is Mt Climie behind Upper Hutt. A popular track with runners runs 6km from Tunnel gully to the summit. Masochism at its finest.

Depth charge?

Big swells on the South coast tend to attract the surfing community to Lyall Bay. It also attracts photographers. I am not sure why. Though the surfers may be different, it’s essentially the same picture each time. The only thing that rescues such an image from being the same as last time is the extent to which the light conditions or the waves are different. In this case I think the explosive burst of a big swell on the breakwater at the end of the airport runway makes a difference.

Royal spoonbills

Recently a flock of Royal spoonbills has taken to spending time on the Pauatahanui wetlands. It is often the case that, even when the rest of the inlet has a bit of a chop on the surface, the wetlands are perfectly still. These birds are still not quite the equal of the white heron, but they run a close second.

Morning glory

On Ivey Bay, there is often a variety of shore birds. In this case, a pied shag is proclaiming dominance over the bay. Across the inlet, the hills to the North of Grays Rd tower above the foreshore. I mainly liked the light.

Ivey Bay anchorage

That same morning, the water was perfect and one of the classic older wooden boats in the bay served as a focal point for my image making. I have no idea which boat it was, but as with previous captures, I have a preference for the simple old-fashioned working boats.

Swells in Owhiro Bay

We have been blessed with a relatively mild winter thus far. No deep cold, no sign yet of snow on the Tararuas. The only real symptom of winter has been a few heavy swells from the South. I like to try to catch these big waves, and hope to convey the weight of water behind each one. I am fascinated by their slow ponderous advance. I know conditions will be interesting when the gap between each wave is about ten seconds.

Lodden Lily

In the grounds of St James Church, Lower Hutt, shared by the public library except on Sundays, there is a lot of history and a great deal of horticulture, mostly carried out at the expense of the Lower Hutt City Council. I spotted these little beauties and thought they were some kind of spring flower that got confused. These Loddon lilies, however, are a winter flower so they were perfectly on schedule and it was only me that was confused.


Unilever has been part of Petone’s scenery scenery since 1919. The big factory building with its constantly steaming exhaust stacks came much later, sometime mid-century. At its peak, about 600 people worked there. Automation in the latter years apparently reduced the on-site numbers to about 30. The distinctive glass office block was built in the 1980s. In 2014, pursuant to global restructuring, Unilever transferred its New Zealand operations to Australia and the Petone factory fell silent. Some of the lesser buildings at the Eastern end of the 5 hectare property seem to have been leased or sold to small businesses. The office block remains dark and reflects the equally still factory block.

Wet feet

A long-proposed cross-harbour pipeline will improve resilience of Wellington’s water supply. The present sole pipeline runs alongside the main highway and crosses known seismic fault lines in several places. Construction began on the new line this year and is expected to be complete in 2025. A barge with some heavy machinery has been in Lowry Bay for several months now and has established some piles. I saw these two intrepid workers being lowered on a work platform to inspect one of the piles. I got the impression that they were controlling the crane themselves. If so, they were not afraid to get their feet wet.

So many still days lately

I shouldn’t tempt fate with a caption like that. We have endured some vile weather in recent days. No surprise then, that when conditions are good, I seize the day. This image is from the walkway beside the marina below Pt Howard. You can see traces of the morning mist dissipating over the Western Hills.

May I urge you to click on any image that appeals to you to see a larger version.

I don’t know why I didn’t discover it earlier, but WordPress has a feature that allows its readers to sign up to receive each new edition of a blog by email. Simply enter your email address once in the space below. Once only and not if you are already getting it by email.

Animals Birds flowers Landscapes Mangaroa Valley mountains The Plateau Whiteman's Valley

September 12, 2015 … in a quiet valley

Business issues took me to the upper valley yesterday.

I wonder what prompts the gambolling … is it joie de vivre, and if so what causes them to lose it? Or perhaps something is biting them in sensitive areas.

Rather than going straight home, I went first to the Plateau a little to the North of Upper Hutt. Though some images were made there, nothing really ignited the creative flame for me, so I went round the back road to the Mangaroa Valley and from there South into Whiteman’s Valley. Both of these valleys are home to a mixture of small farms and so-called “lifestyle blocks”. Since they are not on the road to anywhere they are quiet places with lots of greenery and steep wooded hills to East and West. Here in the Southern hemisphere, spring is well and truly with us in everything but weather.  Bouncing lambs and lots of flowering trees tell us it is so.

Lapwings against the Tararuas

To the North end of the Valley, the great South Wall of the Tararua ranges dominates. Some late snow chills the view and makes the peaks more impressive than their benign summer face. I am not absolutely certain but I think the passing birds are masked lapwings (formerly spur-winged plovers) .

Old Man's Beard
Seed heads on the Old Man’s Beard

As I drove across a creek in the valley, I was a bit shocked to see an infestation of “Old Man’s Beard” (Clematis vitalba) choking up the less aggressive foliage.  In the 1980s, famed botanist David Bellamy was the front man for a nation-wide campaign with the catch-phrase “Old man’s Beard must go”. Clearly the message has been forgotten, and though this member of the clematis family is beautiful when in flower, it is an invasive pest plant. In this picture the seeds look a lot like cotton balls.


It is part of the picturesque charm of these valleys that generations of farmers have planted daffodil bulbs along the roadside and occasionally in random patches on the farm. At this time of year, their golden trumpets nod and bow in a lively dance as the spring breezes blow.

More tomorrow, I hope.


adversity Mangaroa Valley Rivers The Plateau Weather

July 11, 20i5 … what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger*

There was supposed to be snow.

Eucalypts near Tunnel Gully

North of Upper Hutt there is an area called the Plateau, and it can usually be relied upon to be a few degrees colder than other parts of the Hutt Valley, especially in Winter conditions such as we have had for the last few days. Sadly, though I drove into the reserve to the Tunnel Gully area, there was no snow except up near the summit of Mt Climie. I was left trying to eke a photograph  from the contrast between the eucalypts and the drifting Southerly drizzle.

Mangaroa River
The Mangaroa River flowing faster than usual

On Plateau Rd, the sound of the Mangaroa Road was audible inside the car so a brief stop was made to see what was possible with that. It was well above its normal flow.

Mt Climie from the Mangaroa Valley

A detour through the Mangaroa Valley gave me a distant view of the residual snow on the tops beyond the pleasant pastoral scenery down on the flat. Frustration all round, but I suppose that trying to present the ordinary in the best way possible is a challenge.

That’s all for now.

* Friedrich Nietzsche

Birds Family Food The Plateau Weather

January 5, 2015 … the rivers run still*

A family picnic is usually fun, especially on a good day.

There is a majesty to big trees, even if they are foreign trees


Yesterday was a very good day, so with son Anthony, Daughter-in-Law Sarah, and their two children Maggie and Cooper, Mary and I went to the Tunnel Gully area North of Upper Hutt. This time we didn’t worry about going through the tunnel, but set up base in the area of Eucalyptus trees near the tunnel entrance.  I am not sure how old they are, but they are stately trees.

Maggie and Cooper help their father to erect the pup tent


Though we were there for a few hours, a pup-tent always adds to the fun for the kids, so Anthony showed them how to set it up. I was very impressed by his teaching skills as he got them to figure things out.

Wood pigeon watching the cricket


We shared an excellent lunch and the younger generation were joined by Mary in a game of cricket. Well, someone had to take the photographs, didn’t they? To my great surprise, a kereru (wood pigeon settled in the tree no more than a dozen metres form the game taking place below. There was no shortage of food as it was a very well-fed specimen, though he may have been reaching the same conclusions about me.

A daisy a day*


When the youngsters had gone, Mary and I went for a walk through the bush, enjoying the cool places, and the sudden bursts of rata or pohutukawa, and a small trickling waterfall. The track emerged a few hundred metres from where we started, and as we walked up the dusty road, I experimented with the built in panorama function of the new camera by making a wide shot of the dog daisies along the road edge.

It was a good day.

* A Daisy a Day by Jud Strunk



Birds Mangaroa Valley Railway The Plateau Trees Whiteman's Valley

December 29, 2014 … bush at the edge of the city

We seem to have developed a new tradition.

Rata in bloom on the Plateau near Upper Hutt


Mary makes a picnic lunch and then I drive us to a surprise location. Yesterday’s trip was a bit constrained by fears of holiday congestion on the main roads. I went over the hill to Whiteman’s Valley, up through the Mangaroa Valley and up Plateau Rd to Tunnel Gully. Tall bush at the foot of the road up to Mt Climie was spectacularly lush. Several magnificent Rata were in bloom, a burst of dusky red against a sea of green.

Emerging from the Mangaroa tunnel on the downhill side


Our destination was chosen because, despite the number of time I had been up to the Plateau area, I had never seen the Mangaroa tunnel. We followed a well-formed path from the picnic area into the bush and within a minute or two were at the mouth of the old railway tunnel. Though we could see the other end quite clearly, the 221 metre tunnel is long enough that it is very dark inside. The tiny light on my key ring is designed to illuminate keyholes and was quite useless against the unrelenting blackness. A young woman running behind us with her two dogs told as she passed that the biggest hazard in the tunnel were the horse droppings. We emerged blinking at the other end.

Dense stand of mature pines


Birdsong was all around us and I could hear tui, bellbird, fantail, blackbird and grey warblers at least. Unfortunately the bush was so dense that the birds were able to be heard, but rarely seen. The trail led relentlessly downhill towards Maymorn, and I always think that downhill tracks have to be repaid if you want to get back to where you left the car. The path passes through a dense stand of pines and Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” came to mind.

A random bush shot on the ridge


At Maymorn station, we turned back and instead of passing through the tunnel chose the track up over the very ridge that the tunnel is designed to avoid. The quality of the bush os outstanding and we count ourselves fortunate to have such easy access to such a treasure.

That’s all for today