February 5, 2014 … early start, late finish

Hammering on the door while I was still drowsily in my bed began the bizarre day.

Concrete delivery

Considering the size of his truck the driver had a delicate touch

I answered the door in my pyjamas and it was the tradesmen from next door letting me know that they had a load of concrete arriving and if I wanted to get my car out, now would be a good time. I moved it, and sure enough it was a large load of six cubic metres in a mixer truck that seemed too big for our driveway. These guys have been doing it for years , though and he reversed up and squeezed through the neighbours gate as if he were on rails.

Offloading concrete

Unlike the thin cracked slab that went before, this will outlast the bunkers of the Maginot line

Within minutes, the delivery chute was extended and the heavy slurp of wet concrete splashing around the heavy reinforcing steel marked the beginning of the very solid footings to a new retaining wall.

St John's Church, Trentham

The congregation take pride in their history and buildings

From there, the day slipped away and concluded with a  camera club committee meeting. On the way home from that, the old Anglican church at Trentham caught my eye. It’s a lovingly maintained building surrounded by an historic graveyard, and I had to try to capture the night view.

Cemetery

The trees were thrashing about in the wind

From around the corner there was another view of the memorials, and the wind lashing the trees added another interesting dimension

And that’s was the end of the day.

February 3, 2014 … out for a spin

Variety was yesterday’s flavour.

American Cars

This is perhaps 20% of the cars on show spread around the public spaces of the racecourse

I began at the Trentham racecourse where there was a show of American muscle cars. I expected polished cars and lots of chrome. That was there in abundance, but I felt out of place amongst the car community. They definitely march to a different drummer. I am not cut out to be a “petrol-head” though I admire the workmanship in the cars.

Cadillac Coupe de Ville, 1956

Beautifully presented

A beautifully restored 1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville was the first vehicle to catch my eye.

If not twins then close relatives

Sorry I was taking little notice of individual cars

Then there were a pair of mid-fifties beauties which I noticed more for the colour contrast between them.

Holden Monaro - in chrome

Magnificent

Technically the next one didn’t belong, as the Holden Monaro is Australian, not American. The all chrome finish was absolutely immaculate, and despite being an obvious magnet for fingerprints, it was pristine.

C847 with the throttle open

If only he had put the light on

Having decided to move on, I was driving down the Eastern Hutt Road near Silverstream when I spotted the column of black smoke mingled with white steam that could signify just one thing, a working steam locomotive. Sure enough it was open day at the Silverstream, and C847 was operating a regular trip up and back the 1.5 km length of the museum’s track. With permission, I crossed the rails and walked up the track to a spot where I knew there would be a good view of the locomotive blasting its way out of the station. The one disappointment for me was that the locomotive driver forgot to switch his headlight on.

Enjoying the concert in the sun

The music was very loud

From there I went to Te Whiti Park in Lower Hutt where the festival Te Ra o Raukura was being held. This annual festival is focused on health, art, education and music with a  special emphasis on Maori. Typically it attracts up to 20,000 people and if the weather cooperates as it did this year, people sit in the sun and listen to live music acts, and enjoy the many craft and food stalls as well as the amusements.

Spinning

I find myself looking for a paper bag

This year was the biggest the festival has ever been and it was run over two days. The rides were bigger and brighter than ever, and I was drawn to the “Hurricane”.  This takes people around the centre pole in cars that rise and fall as the ride rotates. Given my tendency to travel sickness I wouldn’t dream of buying a ride. I took multiple shots and then used a Photoshop function to sandwich several of them together to produce a composite. Well I like it.

And that’s the day.

 

November 19, 2013 … white ribbon special

Being surrounded by scary looking people with shaggy beards, dark glasses, helmets, heavy boots and black leathers with “gang patches” can be intimidating.

Leaving the Orongomai Marae

Taken though the less than sparkling rear window of a police patrol car, this shot doesn’t convey the sound of so many big bikes

Not these guys. Though they had all the trappings of gang culture, and huge noisy motorbikes, they were mostly people of deep religious conviction on a mission.  They were participating in a “white ribbon day” observance to share their belief that violence against women is wrong. The ride had come down the length of the North Island from Whangarei to Upper Hutt. They were visiting schools (by pre-arrangement) and would arrive en-masse with much thundering of engines.

Arriving at Upper Hutt Primary School

The police facilitated all intersections and access points

 

The format of the event was a “rolling haka” … at each school, the pupils would welcome the riders with a haka. The riders would speak about their abhorrence of violence against women, and invite the children to join them in promising not to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence to women. They would conclude each visit with a return haka and then depart with more thundering.

A fierce haka at Upper Hutt Primary

Varying degrees of cultural competence on display here

The police were heavily involved as part of their own support for the anti-violence message. They ensured the smooth flow of the procession through the morning traffic. As one of the two photographers involved, I got to ride in a patrol car as we each leap-frogged the other to get to the next venue to record the proceedings.

Kids making the promise with the bikers

“I promise not to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women”

Sports commentators, especially English ones whose rugby team has just been beaten by the All Blacks, tend to dislike the performance of a haka, probably because they regard it as a sporting ritual designed to confer mystique on the team and to intimidate the opposition. It’s true that sports teams use it that way.

Hutt International Boys' School

A rousing haka from Hutt International Boys School  to welcome the visitors

In the Maori culture, a haka is about giving and receiving respect. There would be few New Zealand schools where the pupils did not know at least one haka (and there are many of them, so please don’t buy into the notion of “the haka”)

Haka in response

As visitors, the bikers always did their haka in return

The kids were fascinated by the bikers and their huge rumbling machines, and after the ceremonies mingled happily with them.

Technology in use at Silverstream

iPads  everywhere in schools now

An aspect of the school visits that fascinated me was the nearly universal habit of using the classroom iPads to record proceedings.

making the promise

Another group joins the bikers in promising to abstain from violence

There was a great turnout at each of the four schools visited in the upper valley,  and the kids seemed appreciative of their visitors.

Leaving Silverstream

Ear-shattering noise

Though I am not in the same spiritual place as these bikers, I was very happy to be a part of their journey yesterday. Who, after all, can be opposed to campaigns to eliminate violence?

And that’s it for today.

October 23, 2013 … wandering in the wet

Apologies. I wrote this on time, saved it in draft and then forgot to post it, so it’s a day late. The photos were taken on schedule, though. 

In wet weather, I went looking for images yesterday.

My wandering took me to Silverstream over Blue Mountains Rd to Whitemans’ Valley. Soft grey drizzle isn’t a total loss, and the wind had abated.

There are thousands of old and decaying buildings on farms around New Zealand. My guess is that it would cost more to remove them than any benefit gained. On the other hand, there must be many acres of otherwise useful land cluttered by the remains of old buildings. But how much less interesting would our landscape be, devoid of these charming references to our past? 

At the end of its days

This old farm shed serves no useful purpose any more

This old shed has finally succumbed to the ravages of time.  I have no idea if it fell or was pushed. As I was tidying the image up, I was tempted to remove that white blob in front of the shed. The closer I look, the more I think it is some kind of domestic rabbit – a large white rabbit with erect black ears.

Looking down on the prison

A regrettable necessity

Coming back over the hill I paused to look up the valley. Down below the Rimutaka Prison occupies a regrettably large part of the landscape, while the large green expanse in the mid ground is the Trentham racecourse.

Pretty Pinehaven

This little valley is isolated from the main transport corridors

Further down Blue Mountains Road, there was a view-window in the pines that looks out over the suburb of Pinehaven. It’s pretty to look at, but too much shade in winter, and too much fire-risk in summer for my taste.

Homebound commuters

It’s a long haul from Wellington to Masterton, but less stressful than driving over the hill

 

Following the road behind the defence area at Trentham, I came onto Ward Street at Wallaceville, just as the evening train to Masterton was approaching. The glint of its headlights on the damp rails caught my eye.

That’s the day.

July 1, 2013 … mixed emotions

Bright morning, no wind, and a trip to the inlet was imperative.

Eventually, I must break this linkage. As much as I love the birds, I need to be more versatile. However, that is what was on the menu yesterday.

Even as I turned onto Gray’s Road, I could see that the conditions were wonderful. The stilts in the ponds were wading quietly in the astonishing green reflections of the hills behind Whitby.

Pied stilts in the pond at Grays Rd

That green reflection really caught me

As usual, there were kingfishers, and as usual there were several members of the “Kookaburra Club” (the kookaburra is a member of the kingfisher family, the halcyonidae) with long lens and varying aids to camouflage.

Kingfisher at high speed

They are beautiful birds

 

When it comes to birds, there are real birders, birders who like to take the odd picture of a bird, and photographers who don’t mid if their subject is a bird.

A fellow in a kayak was clearly a real birder. He was sneaking up on the birds armed with nothing but binoculars.

Kayaker at Pauatahanui

A real birder

I made two trips to the inlet yesterday, mainly because I left a piece of equipment behind, and a fellow photographer kindly retrieved it for me. On my way home from her place, the light was so perfect, I had to go back.

Kingfisher emerges from crab dive

Missile launch

Even more of my co-conspirators were there and even more kingfishers. With the high tide they were perched in the big tree by the water’s edge and were diving to retrieve crabs. It was fascinating to watch them re-emerge like Polaris missiles, but always with the crab.

While I was in the upper valley, I dropped in on the model fliers at Trentham to see what my old buddies were up to. Outrageously, for men of their age, they were having fun. This little electric-powered moulded-foam scale model of a North American T-28 Trojan was being expertly flown by a young man who was teaching his father to fly. He took the controls to land well clear of the Rimutaka Prison in the background, where the inmates were not having nearly as much fun.

Model aircraft landing near the prison

Corrections department staff are always a little paranoid that models should not cross the prison boundary in case they are part of some conspiracy to deliver contraband

Another interesting device was this quadcopter, complete with GPS and on-board camera. It’s owner flew it up to about 50 feet and left it hovering there. It was rock solid in its position and very stable despite a steady breeze. He then shut his transmitter down and stood back. The device went into fail-safe mode, and navigated its way to a spot directly above its initial launch point, and then reduced power slowly for a perfect gentle landing back where it started. Amazing. Expensive.

Quadcopter landing autonomously

Not sure about the pilot, but the model had fun

I would have to choose between modelling and photography, and right now photography wins, hands down.