July 23, 2017 … there and back again

Since I last wrote, Mary and I spent eleven days in Queensland with our eldest son and his lovely family. In so doing we missed most of the wildest and coldest storm Wellington has had in four or five years.

Fishing

Fishing at Tinchi Tamba Wetlands Reserve

The very first evening in Brisbane was just the opposite of hat was starting to happen already back in Wellington. It was a warm evening  with a delightful rosy sunset starting to happen on the North Pine river at Tinchi Tamba wetlands.

Kangaroos

Wild Kangaroos at Tinchi Tamba

On the way in, Mary and I had spotted the mob of feral kangaroo and I really should have taken the shot then before the sun disappeared.  I am told this is a mature female with its immature offspring.

Glass House Mountains

Glass House Mountain sunset

Rowena and David had arranged for us all to spend three days on the Sunshine Coast at Noosa. On the way there, we visited the stunning Mary Cairncross reserve. If you are in the area North of Brisbane and like nature this is not to be missed. Regrettably we arrived rather late in the day, so it was very dark inside the rainforest area. Happily, there was a lovely view out over the Glass House Mountains, before we carried on to Noosa.

Noosaville

Lagoon at Noosaville

As luck would have it, it rained on our first day at Noosa, but it didn’t prevent a nice sunset glow on the lagoon behind our accommodation.

Wattlebird

Brush Wattlebird at Noosa

On our last day there,  we went out on Noosa Sound on a rented boat, and during a brief walk ashore at the Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve, I managed a shot of this handsome Brush Wattlebird.

Orbweb

Golden Orbweb Spider

Not to everyone’s taste, but equally handsome to my eye was this Golden Orbweb spider … apparently a small one at about the size of the palm of my hand.

Pelicans

There’s always one who can’t keep the rhythm – Pelicans

The youngsters went back to school and parents back to work, so Mary and I spent some time exploring the delights of the Brisbane River on the excellent Rivercat ferries.  It was a  delight to see the formation of Pelicans flying over us against a clear blue sky.

Water Dragon

Water Dragon – Gardens Point

Back in the city, in the magnificent gardens at Gardens Point, we encountered a water dragon. In summer there are dozens of them, but since this was midwinter and the temperature a mere 22 deg C, they were harder to find.

Brisbane

Goodbye to Brisbane til next time … not bad for an iPhone shot

All to soon it was time to return to reality. Having stowed my camera in the overhead locker, I resorted to my iPhone to capture a departing shot of this lovely city.

Storm

Into the storm over the Marlborough Sounds

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Posted in Adventure, Animals, Arachnids, Birds, Brisbane, Landscapes, Waves, Weather, Wellington | 2 Comments

July 2, 2017 “So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing”*

Somewhere on our bookshelf is a book of meditative quotes and poems called “In the stillness is the dancing”**. I always found that book helpful. In the last several months, Wellington has been blessed with a lot of stillness, mixed with fewer windy days than we normally expect. I love every minute of it, and as someone else said, the stillness allows my soul to dance.

Harbour

Stillness on the water

My stillness cliché is always water. And so it was on this day. People strolled along the waterfront by Frank Kitts Park, and the rowing fraternity were taking every advantage of the morning’s stillness.

reflections

Abstract reflections

In the inner basin, by Queens Wharf, there were reflections worth remembering. Someone suggested that they were Dali-esque.

Anemones

Anemones in Lower Hutt

Driving through Lower Hutt CBD, I spotted a bed of what I first mistook to be poppies, but which I now think are Anemone coronaria. It was a delightful splash of mid-winter colour.

Pauatahanui

Ration Point, Pauatahanui

And then the stillness persisted, so I spent a delightful sun-bless morning at Pauatahanui Inlet. As well as the lovely landscape there was a good-sized flock of pied oystercatchers basking on the sandbank.

Kaitaki

Kaitaki – waiting for its load of cars and passengers

And then it was back across the Cook Strait, to share with my youngest son, the celebration of his 40th birthday in Hanmer Springs.

Leaving

Leaving the Harbour

The crossing was serene, and the sea was blissfully flat all the way across. The shot above was taken in the harbour entrance looking back past the leading light and Ward Island towards the misty Hutt Valley. There was a some brief  lumpiness near the Karori Rip, but otherwise nothing to disturb even the most queasy of sailors.

Lake Rotoiti

Lake Rotoiti

Earthquake damaged State Highway 1 from Picton to Kaikoura is unlikely to be restored before Christmas, so it’s a long long haul to Hanmer Springs via Murchison and Maruia Springs, especially since we had three kids with us. A brief pause at St Arnaud allowed us to enjoy yet more stillness on Lake Rotoiti.

Panorama

Panorama from Hanmer Springs

We enjoyed our time in Hanmer Springs, apart from having to drive all the way to Christchurch to find a replacement tyre for Anthony’s car which had hit a rock the previous night. I trudged up the track on Conical Hill at the back of Hanmer Springs hoping for a spectacular sunset panorama. The light was disappointing to I settled for this panorama to the Organ Range in the SouthWest.

Maruia Falls

Maruia Falls

After two nights, it was time for Mary and I to leave the youngsters and head home. We set out at 8am. There was fog on the road from the Lewis Pass towards Murchison and I hoped for some dramatic photographic possibilities if it were still there at the Maruia Falls. Alas, no mist at the falls, but they are attractive in their own right.

Gowanbridge

Buller River at Gowanbridge

From there we paused for coffee in Murchison and then travelled back towards Picton. I had to stop at Gowanbridge where SH6 and SH63 intersect to catch the scene where the road crosses the Buller River. At this point, the river is serene. A little further West it becomes a fierce tumbling torrent.

Lake

Lake Rotoiti again

Our last stop before Picton was back at Lake Rotoiti. It was a chilly wait in grey overcast at Picton followed by a night crossing to bring us home by 10:30pm, a long day on the road.

*T.S.Eliot
**Mark Link, SJ

Posted in Adventure, Cook Strait, Lakes, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, mountains, night, Sunset, Weather, Wellington | 1 Comment

June 18, 2017 – making up for lost time

Oh my goodness. How did I let 19 days pass without posting? To be fair, I have been busy with photography, both personal and club-related.  I had never intended to be so slack.

Lowry sunset

Sunset in the Harbour as seen from Lowry Bay

It has been an extraordinary month weather-wise. A friend from long ago suggested that my posts on Facebook misrepresented the number of calm days we get in Wellington. I have lots of images that attest to the many windy days we have, but recently there has been a great deal of stillness, and when there is stillness, I try to get there.

Getting low

Getting low in Lowry Bay at the end of a calm day

A recent trend in my seascapes has been very low angle, low light and panorama style. I am sure that this too, shall pass.

Night pano

Night panorama from Pt Howard looking SouthWest towards Matiu/Somes Island and the city beyond.

However, while it is in full flight, I am tending to indulge it, even in the dark. The image above is my first attempt at a night-time panorama. This one is a stitch of eight images. It was bitterly cold and my fingers were clumsy with the chill.

Kereru

Kereru in the kowhai

A change of direction(briefly) was brought about by the arrival of a New Zealand wood pigeon to nibble on the tender shoots of our miniature kowhai plant which is currently in bloom. This is a big heavy bird, almost the size of a chicken, so it sits well down inside the shrub to harvest its leaves.

Straitsman

Straitsman succeeds where the others failed and arrives at Wellington despite heavy swells

We had some winds and subsequently some good-sized swells. The Interisland line cancelled its ferry sailings because it was expected that the wave height would exceed safety limits. I went to the South Coast and was surprised that the Bluebridge line decided to take the gamble, and there was the Straitsman inbound from Picton.

Sunrise

Sunrise from our front lawn

On Thursday, the calmness resumed and the day started in glorious colour. Ignoring the warnings of folklore, I set out to visit the Southern Wairarapa district.

Grey

Shades of grey near Pirinoa

There were still some good swells at Lake Ferry, but I decided to go further Eastward, pausing on the way to capture these silhouetted trees between Lake Ferry and Pirinoa.

Seals

New Zealand Fur Seals basking in the sun at Cape Palliser

At Cape Palliser the seal colony had more seals than I have ever seen there before. Mothers and pups were scattered everywhere, and most of the paths were impassable without risk of having one of them rear up with bared fangs and hiss of fishy breath.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking back Westward from the colony, I rather liked the receding series of headlands becoming increasingly hazy in the airborne sea=spray. The nearest of these slopes, the one with the little spike at the top, is Nga-Ra-o-Kupe, or Kupe’s Sail. It is a large triangular sheet of sandstone that, according to Maori legend, is the sail of the great explorer, Kupe.

Boielle Flat

Rapids on the Waiotauru river at Boielle Flat

The next day was also beautiful, or at least it was in Wellington. I decided to go to Otaki Forks. This is inside Tararua Forest Park which is itself inside the foothills of the Tararua range, inland from Otaki township. The road is scenic, and increasingly narrow and winding. There are two fords to cross and after a major slip last year, the road is somewhat precarious in places. Nevertheless, it leads to a place of great beauty and if you are adventurous, experienced and well prepared, is the entrance to many superb hikes across the ranges to the Wairarapa on the other side. Many foolhardy people have died attempting it without the required skills or with inappropriate equipment. I stayed firmly on the ground at Boielle Flat which is the entry for several of the well known hikes. Sadly, the weather had clouded over to the North of Waikanae, but it was still worth the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Adventure, Animals, Birds, Cook Strait, Landscapes, Light, Lowry Bay, night, Otaki, sunrise, Sunset, Waves, Weather | 3 Comments

May 31, 2017 – still but chill

Winter is almost upon us. So far it has been relatively mild, but Wellington can be deceptive in that regard. Though the thermometer may register as much as six or seven degrees, winter in the area can produce a sense of wet misery that seems much colder.

Maple

Japanese Maple – last colour of the season

The last colours of autumn linger with us. A few more days or even a windy day will see the last of the colour on our Japanese maple fall to the ground.

Web

tiny jeweller in the centre of its universe

Despite my whining, we have had a good string of still days. On such a cool damp day, the best jewellery show in town is staged by the tiniest of crafts-people. This dew-covered web is about the size of a small plate. I think the spider at the centre is a garden orbweb, but would welcome expert advice if I am wrong.

Spider

Webmaster

If you are an arachnophobe, look away for a moment while I get closer. This specimen is about 5mm in size.

Lowry Bay

Lowry Bay

Continuing with the theme of calmness, I have been making a lot of images at nearly water level, and you can see just how still the harbour has been. This one is on the beach at Lowry Bay.

Day's Bay

Day’s Bay wharf

A few kilometres further South, the Days Bay wharf caught my eye as the sun headed inexorably towards night.

Loma

Loma brings her catch home

On my way home from there I paused at Pt Howard as the fishing vessel Loma returned to its berth after what the following flock of gulls obviously  regard as a successful trip.

 

 

Posted in adversity, Arachnids, Day's Bay, Day's Bay, harbour, Landscapes, Light, Lowry Bay, Plant life, Seasons, Trees, Weather | Leave a comment

May 24, 2017 … turbulent times

Fewer images this week, pursuant to a brief stay in hospital for some small remedial surgery and the subsequent recovery time. All seems well (thanks for asking). When I finally did get out and about again, I spent my time looking at weather on the Southern coast.

Waves

The weight of that water is just amazing. Pencarrow upper light in the background

There was a strong Southerly which raised the sells in the Cook Strait to somewhere well above six metres and shut down the ferries for a few days. By the time I was mobile again, the worst had passed, but there was still significant wave action.

Spray

Wild horses on the Wainuiomata coast

The next day the sun was shining and in a typical example of Wellington’s suck/blow climate, there was now a strong Northerly.  I took the long and winding road through Wainuiomata to the South Coast where the residual swell was being blown back out to sea.  For some reason, as I look at the right hand side of this image, I am hearing  Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” in my head.

Trees

Evening light in the Wainuiomata valley

On the way home from the coast (it was late afternoon), I got lucky with the light in the valley beside the Wainuiomata stream.  Beams of light over the edge of the hills to the West picked out a cluster of trees in a way that I just had to stop and photograph.

Normal service is expected to resume next week.

Posted in adversity, Cook Strait, Landscapes, Light, Maritime, South Coast, Wainuiomata, Waves, Weather, Wellington | 7 Comments

May 17, 2017 … random acts of seeing

As some of you know, landscapes are my most common form of photography. A well known photographic tutor has said “first you have to be somewhere”. To be honest, I am not entirely sure he is right, at least not in the sense he intended. Of course it helps to be somewhere that is visually spectacular, but sometimes you just have to see things in your everyday location.

Sunrise

Purest gold peering under the edge of a heavy cloud

For example, when a new day impinges on my brain, I pull back the curtain to see what’s happening outside. Most days I see nothing out of the ordinary. Every so often, I am forced to scramble for my camera.

Pauatahanui

Pauatahanui at Ration Point

My other photographic enthusiasm is birds. I have a number of birding friends and they do better than I because they have patience to sit and wait. They are willing to get wet and muddy and to crawl through beds of shells or reeds or flax. I tend to arrive and see what is convenient and then move on, grabbing a landscape if the gift of sight is upon me. The other day, I was at Pauatahanui and saw a sandbank where there were royal spoonbills, a white-faced heron, pied stilts, pied oystercatchers, masked lapwings, black swans, geese and ducks. To get a real birder’s image I would have had to crawl through the mudflats unseen to get close enough. I weighed my chances and settled for the landscape (an eight image panoramic stitch) .

Horokiwi

Horokiwi stream

Sometimes I go to the mouth of the Horokiwi stream at the Western end of Petone beach, in the hope of seeing terns or other common residents. However, it is a popular dog-exercise area and the two exercises are incompatible. I would love to throw bricks at the owners who throw sticks for their dogs to retrieve, aiming deliberately to land them among the resting birds.

Valley

Up the valley from Evans Bay

Yesterday I wandered the Southern coast, and on the way looked back up the harbour to the Hutt Valley. From Evans Bay, I liked the layered landscape and the hovering mist arising from a melting frost.

Climbers

Fearless climbers vanquish the monster

At Lyall Bay, there was a giant tree trunk washed ashore from who knows where. Though I was waiting patiently for them to finish, I was delighted to see a young father playing on the trunk with his three or four year-old son.

Driftwood

“You shall not pass!” – driftwood at Lyall Bay

I did eventually get to be alone with the tree and approached it from several angles and I rather liked this view in which it appears to be trying vainly to hold the waves in check.

Pier

Cold and dark at Petone

That evening, after dropping our grandchildren at Scouts, I went down to Petone beach. It was a beautiful still evening though the light Southerly breeze was a bone-chiller. Since the water was flat, I persisted. A thirty-second exposure reveals itself in the painted clouds, but it worked.

Pier (2)

Petone pier is still closed since the earthquake last year

From the other side of the pier there was a different image (think of it as a pier review). Again the long exposure was interesting and I debated whether to remove the light trail from an Airbus 320 coming out of the airport. I chose to keep it.

That’s all for now. I hope to get better at this seeing business, whether or not I am actually somewhere at the time.

Posted in Adventure, Birds, Evans Bay, harbour, Horokiwi, Landscapes, Light, night, Petone, sunrise | 2 Comments

May 9, 2017 … back home

After the scenic splendour of the last month, coming home and back to earth is a  bit of a come-down.

Chaffers

Just one little wave

Of course I still love Wellington (as do Deutsche Bank’s customers, apparently ) and of course, if there is stillness, and the harbour is on show, then I am there. Last Thursday was such a time. Mary was out collecting for charity (Motor neurone disease) at a basketball game. I mounted my camera low, at the bottom of the centre column on my tripod, and went to the water’s edge in the corner of Chaffer’s Marina. I tried a really long exposure, but preferred this which was quick enough to catch the only wave I saw.

CBD

Wellington City at night

Night had not yet fallen completely, and I was there in what photographers call “the blue hour” after the sun is below the horizon. From Clyde Quay, the glittering lights of the CBD sat like jewels along the base of Te Ahumairangi (formerly know as Tinakori Hill), and it was all reflected in the stillness of the inner harbour.

MFC

Coloured lighting on the Michael Fowler Centre

From the end of Clyde Quay, there was a  view of the Michael Fowler Centre, lit up presumably in preparation for an upcoming carnival of some sort. Silhouetted against the MFC is the old steam tug, Hikitia, and along the top edge, above the crane’s jib, are the lights of Victoria University’s library, the Rankine-Brown building.

Hikitia

The steel-grey balls are part of the ornamental lighting along the public parts of the Wellington waterfront

A few days later, I found myself once more near the Hikitia on Taranaki St Wharf. Getting down low is a pain in the knees, these days. That’s where that trick with the bottom of the tripod comes in handy if I need a  different viewpoint.

Airstream

Streamlined but stationary

Finally this week, my attention was taken by reflections in a coffee stall. It was closed at the time, but this one is regularly on the wharf, based in an Airstream caravan. The brick building is the former home of the head office the State Coal company before it was relocated and is now the home of Circa Theatre.

 

 

Posted in Architecture, Art, harbour, Landscapes, Light, Machinery, Maritime, Reflections, Sunset, Wellington | Leave a comment