Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Matter of Balance

Many of you - if indeed there is anyone ever viewing this - will have been wondering just what I'm on when writing these blogs! The wording and images seem to be all over the place each time I upload something new.
And indeed they are, but I can't ever seem to control this. Early in the New Year a friend has promised to help me. Whatever I write in the Admin page bears little resemblance to the final product.
Very frustrating! And it does my head in, but I must keep my cool. Thus it becomes a question of balance.
And speaking of balance, check out this image. I spotted this scene as I looked out the back window of the campervan last week down at Aoraki Mt Cook. Not a bad sight to behold during 'happy hour' eh. For the record the mountain is called Nun's Veil.
This may be the last blog for 2011. What a year it has been! There have been highlights but frequently they are hard to discern with all the carnage and downsides throughout the year.
For those of you that are on our emailing list, there is an annual epistle coming. It is hatching as we speak!!
Happy Christmas to you all.

Getting Sorted

The gaps in the city get bigger and more numerous as the demolitions continue unabated.
"I seem to have temporarily misplaced my sense of humour" is a new initiative by local artist Wayne Youle - a public artwork presented by the Christchurch City Council and Gap Filler in the suburb of Sydenham, our neighbouring suburb.
There are some great 'gap fillers' appearing in the now vacant lots - artworks, chess sets, open air movies, mobile cafes, etc.
This shadow board reminds that that most of our friends laugh at me when they inspect my workshop and see my organisation out there - everything has its place. Alas not recently - the earthquakes and subsequent events have taken their toll on my increasingly alzheimic brain. But now the artwork depicted here has inspired into action. I hear a sigh from a dear soul mate!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Time out - Aoraki Mt Cook

The Ranunculus lyallii at Mt Cook are only in flower for a very short period of time at the end of November and beginning of December each year. And so I took the campervan down for a week in the hope of perfect conditions both for photography and a climb up to Sefton Biv, a small hut tucked under Mt Sefton and Footstool above the Hermitage.
Alas the weather did not oblige for two days which left the flowers in the Hooker Valley decidedly bedraggled. By the third day the weather lifted and I was off - and up for 4 hours to Sefton Biv.

Sefton Biv and the view beyond.

View from Sefton Biv door!! Not bad eh, and well worth the effort.

Aoraki Mt Cook

Ranunculus lyallii and Aoraki Mt Cook.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What's in a Name?

What do these names have in common?
Victor Borge, Moody blues, Tequila sunrise, Lavaglut, Western Sun?
Why, they are all roses I photographed in the Botanical Gardens last Friday of course.
Back in the days when I used to compete in photographic competitions a judge waxed eloquent on my brilliant rose image, then proceeded to reject it because he considered the title completely inappropriate to the subject. The title was "Tequila Sunrise', the name of the rose I photographed!

Hard Day at the Office

We finally got away into the hills - the 31st annual event - delayed by events beyond our control last February!
We had beautiful sun, gale force winds, torrential rain, flooded rivers - and everything in between.
Quintessential inland Canterbury high country.
Good friends, good food, good whisky!
Five excellent days away from 'teagate' (you need to be a Kiwi to get that), earthquakes, mobiles, etc.

Fun way to descend.

Sunset over South Ashburton River.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Small Beginnings

Several weeks ago, Cashel Mall reopened with 'pop up shops'. Virtually all of the shops in the mall were demolished during or after the quakes. Now, they are replaced by temporary shipping containers converted cleverly into shops.
Ans so, the inner city's heart begins to beat again, albiet very quietly and in a tiny way - but it beats.
We wandered through on a Sunday morning - the silence was palpable - everybody was either whispering or chatting quietly.
We were impressed - and moved. In my wildest dreams I never imagined I would shed a tear as I walked back into Ballantynes. Sad boy!

Part of the south side of Cashel Mall with Ballantynes in the background.

Duelling jibs!! Two of the cranes being used in the deconstruction of the Grand Chancellor Hotel.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bob Dylan

"The Times, They Are a Changing"

- so wrote Bob Dylan all those years ago. He remains amongst my favourite singers.

It certainly has been a rather 'topsy-turvy' few weeks. Do not fear, I'm not going to bore you with the details! But there is a bright side in there somewhere. I can feel it.

In amongst this shite, I am craving some peace and quiet. I was thus reminded of this jetty I photographed for the umpteenth time a few weeks ago. The jetty at Lake Mahinapua. It was a dull evening, the day was almost over, and I popped my x10 ND filter on. The exposure was of the order of 30-60 seconds. There was no-one else around. Pure bliss! That is, apart from the black swan who would not go away and kept swimming into my image. Fortunately, she (it had to be a she) kept moving and so wasn't recorded. Lucky me.

And to finish off now, my apologies to all my followers - there must now be almost 10 of you judging by the comments re my lack of blogging activity. Mea culpa, mea culpa..............

In 11 days I am off into my beloved mountains for 5 days. Following that adventure, there's bound to be something of interest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


It wasn't pretty in the end but we did it - just!
The All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup on Sunday night.
And so now the country has something positive to celebrate this year.
The accompanying image was captured in the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) of Oman ~2 years ago. I immediately recognised the ribs of our national emblem, the silver fern, in the sand pattern and figured that one day I would find a use for it.
Well, that day has come.
Here is New Zealand's national emblem depicted in the sands of Arabia, celebrating our victory as world champions!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Good Day at the Office

I finally decided to put two entries in to the annual Darfield Art Exhibition at the beginning of October. So out I went with my friend Trish and delivered them on Wednesday 5th.
On the Friday afternoon I received a call from the organisers....
"Are you coming to the opening of the exhibition tonight?"
"No" I replied, "I have something else on".
"Are you sure you don't want to change your mind and come. We like to have all award winners there to receive their awards" they said.
"Are you trying to tell me something" I muttered.
"Yes, you have won a merit award John"
I was so gobsmacked at this news, I forgot to ask what the award was for and which of my two entries had received this merit award.
Not too bad for a photographer in amongst all the other artists - and a total of ~380 entries too.
Chris and I didn't get to view the exhibition until the next Thursday on our way home from the West Coast. A proud moment!!
On Monday17th after the exhibition closed, we went out to collect our exhibits.
"I'm sorry John, you have nothing to pick up. Both your entries have ben sold"
So, not a bad day at the office.
And yes, it was the New Brighton Pier image that won the merit award.
Both images have stories to tell, but that has been explained in previous blogs so you will have to hunt back.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Blimey, it has been a good few weeks since I pecked away on my blog. It doesn't take much to take your eye off the ball - and before you know it, three weeks have passed. A few folk have commented on my silence, so my fan base must remain above zero - yay!!
To set the ball rolling again, here is the final triptych that I mentioned I was working on a month or more ago.
Been busy with the Darfield exhibition, picture framing, winter ills, and a trip to the West coast - so will report on a some of these over the next few blogs - inshallah!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


What a great day it is today - weather-wise at least. Close friends are not so good but they continue to be resilient. The weekly walking group was down to three today but we managed!!
Daughter #2 and grandson arrive from Melbourne for a week next week. Can't wait to see them again. This reminded me of a lovely overnight trip I did with our granddaughter last year - just over a year ago before the troubles started! A journey in the campervan out to Kaitoreti Spit at the southern end of Banks Peninsula. We've done it before and she loves it. But how much longer do I have as she is not far off being a teenager and the appeal of a country journey with grandpa is not likely to be so appealing.
We detoured on the way home to measure the length of the Governor's Bay jetty, a task I was given in my boy scout days a million years ago. And here it is - that day was a beauty too. About the same time one of my photographic groups taught me how to use the sketch mode of Photoshop so the first image I tried it out on was this very image.

Monday, September 5, 2011


4th September.
First anniversary of the day the earth shook violently. What a year it has been since!!
Transport - a project with two other photographers for PPNZ - the intention being for each of us to produce a triptych.
How about a few hours at Ferrymead?? Great idea, great weather, great company. Haven't been there for years and years. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Will go back mid week to view the many static displays.
The old steam train reminded me of days gone by many moons ago. In fact my big brother, Barry, reminded me of this when he presented me with his recently produced autobiography "One Foot After Another - memoirs of a good life".
When I was a kid, we used live on the Main South Road at Hornby opposite the Hornby railway station. I used to go over to the station almost daily at ~6.45pm to watch the 'Boat Train', more recently called 'The Southerner' as it thundered through with a full head of steam and smoke en route to Lyttelton to meet up with the overnight ferry to Wellington. At the beginning of those daily adventures, my Mum asked my big brother to take me over to the station, presumably to get me out from under her feet (although I can't for one minute imagine me being nothing other than the perfect child - yeah, right!!). He sat me up on his shoulders on the overhead bridge as 300 tons of smoking iron thundered underneath - but not before the driver yanked hard on his steam whistle to greet the wee chap perched on his big brother's shoulders atop the bridge. For reasons I still don't fully understand, my big brother did not seem to appreciate the wet warm feeling he suddenly felt down his back as that driver pierced the evening glow.
I still love you big brother. Forgive me!! The daily adventures continued for years. Innocent days!! Oh, and I'm really sorry I smashed your birds egg collection a few years earlier.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Itchy Feet

Spring is coming!
Earlier in the year "The Lads" had to postpone their 31st annual trip into the hills due to the earthquake. The earth is slowly but surely settling down and it's time to start thinking of the hills again. Permission has been granted.
The annual trip will be in November, heading into the Rangitata and Arrowsmiths region. One of our nightly refuges is attached here - a place of inevitable merriment at the end of the day!
At the beginning of December I will head off to Mt Cook in the campervan. The Ranunculus lyallii (Mt Cook lily) should be in full bloom up the Hooker Valley - and Sefton biv, Mueller hut, and Mt Wakefield all beckon me enthusiastically.
I'm counting down the days already.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Moving...........moving on!!

Several weeks ago, Chris and I drove over to the West Coast to the LTWS in Hokitika. A great long weekend and a good break from the events in Christchurch.
Movement - these 4 images illustrate it - water, clouds, time.... - but that is not the movement I have in mind this week.
The earth continues to move (we have had enough), the snow falls and moves off the roof, demolishing our spouting, to land in a heap on our front doorstep (what have we done to deserve this?), last Tuesday Chris's Mum is moved with urgency into a full dementia care unit ( a sad day for a wonderful lady), and today she moves on in that inevitable shuffle towards the grave by having a significant TIA ( a further sad moment in the movement of life).
Ho hum!! She was sleeping peacefully when we left her tonight. Sleep deep Eileen. You deserve it.

The movement in the image is the water escaping Lake Kaniere via the outlet.

Dorothy Falls on the Lake Kaniere Road

Sunrise at the Totara River lagoon near Ross, Westland.

Looking north from Greymouth up the West coast towards Punakaiki on a moody evening.

Monday, August 22, 2011

TPE and the Seventh Wave

What is TPE I hear you ask?

The Photographer's Ephemeris.

And what is Ephemeris?

The Oxford Dictionary describes Ephemera as '..things of only short lived use'.

Google TPE and download the software (free) - it's great.

To cut a long story short, it comes up with google maps, click on the the spot you are interested in, then go to the date, and wham - it tells you sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset - times and direction. Great.
So what? Well, according to TPE, last Saturday morning the sun was predicted to rise at 0717 dead off the end of the New Brighton Pier.

And indeed it did - bang on! Three of us were down there in the chilly pre-dawn with our woollies and gumboots on snapping away to our hearts content. Here are a few of my results from the exercise.

And what about that seventh wave?

They always say every seventh wave is a bigger one. Right towards the end of the shoot we were caught out - didn't see it coming at all. Good thing I was holding onto the tripod. Wet up to the crutch and gumboots full of water. Bugger! Got the images though.

It was time for a hearty breakfast - but are there any cafes open over the east (and munted) side of town at 0800 on a Saturday morning? No. But we did find a great wee truckers cafe in Woolston with super cheap prices and a huge mug of coffee too.

All in all, a great morning - and excellent company too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Best Laid Plans..............

"Hi Katie, my diary tells me you are staying tomorrow night, en route to LA.
Seen the weather forecast? Got a Plan B in mind?"
"Yes Little Brother, I'm coming tomorrow. The weather is great here (Waikawa Bay) - no problem. Gonna drive the wee Mazda down"
"You might want to think about that plan Katie. Call first thing in the morning before you leave"
"Hey Johnny, doesn't sound too good this morning eh. Might have to get Hans to drive me down in the 4WD"
"Katie, SH1 is now closed between Kaikoura and Waipara, so driving is now out of the question"
"But Little Brother, it is still beautiful weather here - what's the problem?"
"Mmmm, thought about Plan C yet?"
(An hour later) "Have booked on the train Johnny - it's running again for the first time today. Arrives at 1835. Can you pick me up and take me direct to the airport. I'll stay there the night rather than risk it at sparrowfart in the morning"
"Ok, no problem Katie"
And so she arrived at 1842, only 7 minutes late - and that was due to the Tranz Alpine train being late. So straight to the airport we drove - carefully in the blizzard conditions.
(This morning - early) "Oh Johnny the airport is closed and my plane can't get in. They have rebooked me for tomorrow morning but I have to be there by 0400. I think I'd rather stay here just in case something comes up"
"OK Katie, hang in there"
And so she does - the waiting continues. It is likely to be a long night. There is more snow predicted for tonight. Hopefully she will begin her journey to LA and not need a Plan D!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Distractions - again!

Three weeks to the day it falls again - this white stuff! Only this time it is deeper and more widespread - right up to Auckland. And the weather forecast predicts more to come for a few days.

Chris is home from school - I could get used to this! Roll on retirement for both of us. But we will fill up the time just as quickly as I did a few years ago!

Exhibitions and talks loom on the horizon so it is perfect weather to sit snug in the study and peck away here in preparations for them, and not feel guilty and want to be outside doing things!

When I feel the need for change, I head out to the workshop to continue the framing, but not before dressing up pretty much as we did up in the High Arctic not so long ago.

In theory spring is only a few weeks away - yeah right!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stairway to Heaven

I couldn't leave the last post this morning about Lyttelton without an image of the stairs - which of course was what we all went there for the first place!
Heaven - is there such a place? Nirvana perhaps? Or just being a good person whilst we are here with our feet planted firmly on terra firma (in so much as the earthquakes will let us). Whatever - the road - or stairway, on our quest for whatever we want - is never easy as this image depicts.
Hang on tight and tread carefully and purposefully.

Darth Vader in Port?

Amazing what you see when you get your ageing body into some funny positions!!
A week or so ago, I accompanied the Cofishots girls through the tunnel to Lyttelton. The aim of the morning was 'Stairs' which we did, but Lyttelton has so much more to offer - it is my favourite place to spend a few hours with my gear. "Let's go to the haul-out area" they cried. Not being a boatie, I'd never been there - and it was here I met up with Darth Vader. It may not have been Darth Vader - I'm not into science fiction, so it could have been a relative! The others too found some awesome well composed subjects on the various hulls up on their boat frames.
I will be back here to discover more. Lyttelton always beckons, and it is not far away to go with little warning......... and there's a few good cafes enroute!
There never seems to be sufficient time!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ginger Art

Those close to me know of my love for good coffee and anything ginger!
And so it is that quite regularly Chris and I head for Little River ~50kms away on Banks Peninsula, to see the latest art exhibition at the Little River Gallery, where, by chance, their cafe has ginger slice to die for - and their coffee is not too bad either. The gallery shop is a magnet to Chris and also Arna, our granddaughter.
The trip home invariably requires a detour to Birdling's Flat to observe the waves and savour the sea air and sense of isolation before returning to our rumbly city.
And then there is ginger chicken!!
And ginger in the porridge!!

Roll on the next school holidays - and exhibition.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Bevy of Bedfords

Ah, I'm slowly catching up - but to what? Will blame the school holidays, but that is no excuse.
Some of you will know I have a passion for photographing old vehicles, especially old trucks. The more rust, lichen and weathering the better. If you know of any tucked away, please do let me know.
I went out to Leeston two weeks ago with two photographer friends and we spent a few hours lost in the world of yesteryear. Of the 163 images captured that afternoon, this was almost the last of the day just before sunset. So much scope - I will be back there!!
My passion for things old knows no bounds - old vehicles, old gravestones, old buildings, old people. Good grief, what does this say about me I wonder. Careful, I may be able to hear you!!

More anon.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Time - or lack of it - and Family

Why does life flash by so fast I ask? Why, it was only a few moments ago I was at the pier I say. The calendar tells me otherwise - that was two weeks ago!! Since that night I have captured ~500 images and what do I have to show for it? Nothing!!
- Old trucks (yet another passion) at Leeston
- Little River (ginger crunch and coffee)
- LTWS at Hokitika (exceeded my expectations)
- Lyttelton (Cofishot girls today).
Images galore but none attended to. Oh the joys of the digital age!!

So where do I start??
Family of course. The rest will come later - inshallah.
Big brother Barry banged on the door yesterday and presented me with his autobiography "One Foot After Another - a memoir of an active life". Catherine, his long suffering wife, and two grandchildren appeared too. A great catch up -wish they lived here in ChCh with us - fat chance of that after all the shite this city has been exposed to of late!!
Snow!! Heaps of it - for this fair city anyway. We arrived home from the West coast on Monday - 1.9 degrees the max!! Just managed to negotiate the campervan into its park. An igloo had been built in the reserve earlier in the day - who knows who built it - but they did a superb job. A 'must see' for my great nieces (think I've got that right), so here they are in their element, exploring the unknown - just like their Grandad in his autobiography.
Hope I don't come out too badly in the book. I did break his birds eggs and pee down his back once. But he is a loveable rogue!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Full Moon - yeah right!!

Last Friday evening was full moon. The TPE website (The Photographer's Ephemeris - look it up - it's brilliant) told me the moon was to rise at 1713 approximately 30 degrees to the right of the New Brighton Pier. The weather had been pretty good all day so of course it should have been a great night for full moon photography as it rose out of the sea with the pier as a foreground. Yeah right!! As so often happens, as I drove towards the beach, the clouds scudded over - more and more. What moon??
I texted daughter Rachael and granddaughter Arna who live at South Brighton and told them where I was. Within minutes I had company - but still no moon. We experimented and before long the pier lights came on. Now I have to say at this point that the favourite colour for both Rachael and Arna is purple, so we played more with colours. Now when you are doing long exposures and the pier colours are changing constantly, it is not easy to get the colours you want. Persistence paid off and we did manage a few reasonable images.
But I'm not totally happy and will go back and try harder - and also ensure all the settings on my camera are as they should be - and I'll remember to bring my headlamp!
The moon appeared as I getting into the vehicle to go home!
Thanks for the company guys. A great, if not cold, start to Arna's school holidays.

Guest Blogger

My granddaughter, Arna, is staying with us during the holidays. I set her the task of choosing three of her favourite images, taken on her new wee Samsung camera which she got for Christmas. From the three, she chose this one - sunrise at Bagara near Bundaberg, Queensland. She took this during her holiday there last April. She is an enthusiastic photographer with good potential and keen to learn more. Maybe we will see more of her images here in the future - if she doesn't set up her own blog in the meantime!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset

I love heralding the new day and savouring the last of each day. Capturing these glorious moments is not quite so easy. Is there such a thing as a perfect sunrise/sunset image? Somehow I doubt it, but I continue in the forlorn hope that it might be me who finally does capture that elusive image - and in the meantime I will continue to enjoy each day's beginning and end.
In my stock of 60,000+ images I have hundreds of sunrises and sunsets but they all fall far short of perfection - whatever that is! No photographic judge/commentator is going to determine the answer to that question, no matter how good they are - or think they are!

My friend Mark from Oman, sent me a link to a British photographer a few days ago. His website made reference to a quote by Galen Rowell, an American photographer and mountaineer whom I'd looked up to for years - my long distance 'mentor'. I'd read all his books - own many of them - and followed his many expeditions with huge interest. Chris and I made plans to make the pilgrimage to his gallery in Bishop, California after my return from the Arctic in 2002. To our horror, 6 days before, Galen and his wife Barbara were killed in an aeroplane crash as they landed at Bishop after a successful photographic expedition in Alaska. We continued on our pilgrimage and I would highly recommend his gallery 'Mountain Light' in bishop.

Galen's quote is .............
"You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on this planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn't waste either."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Of Movement and Movement!

Just over a week ago I mentioned I was playing with movement again on a local subject.
Well that subject was Rapaura - Shag Rock, out at Redcliffs. Shag Rock, an important landmark to local Maori, is now unfortunately a shadow of its former self. The rock stood at the mouth of the Avon/Heathcote estuary (see blog 12 May 2011) and was an icon to Christchurch residents since the inception of the city ~1850.
On 4 September 2010 in the first earthquake it was given a severe shaking with many rocks falling off it. On 22 February 2011 the major quake completely demolished it and it now looks like a broken tooth. A sad end to a grand landmark. I drove out there before dawn ~10 days ago to endeavour to replicate the image shown in the 12 May blog - more on that later as time allows. In the meantime I was keen to play with my newly acquired x10 ND filter. Here is the result - my attempt to mimic the moment at 1251 on 22 February 2011 when the earth shook violently.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Evening Catch

Yesterday I spoke of reflections and reflecting.
I continued to reflect as I beavered away in the workshop, wishing I was out there, camera in hand, capturing a few good images. I really do need to re-prioritise and make the effort to get out and about. I have made some diary notes (for those who know my love affair with my diary, don't laugh!) for future dates in the not too distant future. Watch this space!
In the meantime and reflecting on, I recalled the moment this image was captured. Alone on the remote Kakapotahi beach on the West Coast of the South Island, I had packed up my camera bag and tripod after a beautiful sunset sequence, and was walking back to my 4WD in the remains of dusk, tripod over shoulder without a care in the world, when out the corner of my eye I spotted this scene in a puddle on the track. What is it I hear you cry? Maybe it is just a heap of untidy driftwood in a muddy pool. In fact that is all it is. But what I saw was a fish and the colour was the sky reflected in the muddy pool, the driftwood - all four pieces of it - also being reflected. Hence the title "Evening Catch". Study it closely. The exposure was ~25 seconds.
And still I continue to reflect.................