Saturday, October 25, 2014

Central City

I 'stole' this image off Facebook this morning. Mea culpa!! (Thanks to Becker Fraser Photography).
Whilst there are still many buildings to be deconstructed (PC word for demolition), the new city is starting to take shape. Very slowly, but progress is progress. Every few weeks I wander into the CBD to check it out. Maybe I will see the end result - I plan to grow old so just maybe!!

Christchurch Central Business District

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Our elder daughter, Rachael, used to be a rower - a very good rower.
In fact she was an Under 19 national champion and a few years later an Under 23 national champion.
Soon after life got in the way for her - career - overseas experience in the form of OE to London and work at Harley Street - travel, marriage, family..........
Sadly the oars have gathered dust and she has not been back in a boat for 22 years.
Until now.
A few weeks ago she was asked to help her work team who had entered a team into the Corporate Rowing Challenge. Today was the big day and we were there on the bank screaming our support as we did all those years ago.
She was back in the boat again and the team did well. It wasn't the prettiest rowing we've seen but they held it together as a team.
Now the Corporate Challenge is over, she is keen to continue - and plans to row Masters for the Union Club.
Well done Rach - you brought tears to my eyes today!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A City Awakening

Last weekend I participated in the Southern Regional Convention of the Photographic Society of NZ.
One aspect of the weekend was a field trip. There were four options - I chose the city tour with David Wethey who used to be the Chief Photographer for The Press, our local city newspaper. I figured he would be a good tutor - sound ideas, good tuition, and an eye for the city! I wasn't disappointed.
Sadly the morning passed all too quickly but it was fun for the 3.5 hours we wandered about. Much of it I'd photographed previously, but it was beneficial to see the city through the eyes of an excellent photo journalist.

It was also heartening to see the city slowly but surely coming to life again with new building projects abounding. I read in The Press a few days ago that the Central business District (which was >80% destroyed/demolished) was over 30% completed in the rebuild. I think that figure is way too optimistic!

So here are a few images of a small area of Christchurch as it was on Saturday 4th October 2014.

So many cranes!
Deconstruction 'Art'
Antarctic in The Square
Street Art
The Tram is operating again
New Regent Street - alive again
Ballerina Rebuild
Corner of Gloucester St and Cambridge Terrace
Deloittes new building
Deloittes - detail

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Home Alone

I have several of these places.
And sometimes I just close my eyes...........

Monday, September 22, 2014

Aurora Activity

I recently downloaded a new app warning me of aurora activity. I set it to southern hemisphere, activity level 9, and waited. Unfortunately most of the alerts came during daylight hours - not much help for viewing or photographing. I had previously photographed the Aurora Borealis in the high arctic 12 years ago. An amazing phenomenon but difficult to capture in the low temperature. And back then, I did not have the advantage of digital and being able to view my results immediately. Film was the norm then and I had to wait nine months before I was able to see what I had captured.

Aurora Borealis
Last Friday night the skies were clear and alerts indicated a good chance of significant activity. Off I went into the darkness with tripod and camera bag - togged up in boots, down jacket and woolly hat. As I frequently do, I am drawn to my favourite location on the Port Hills - up near Coopers Knob, the highest point along the summit road.
Whilst the wind in the city was calm, up on the tops it was blowing a gale and bitterly cold - I shudder to think what the wind chill was. The car temperature gauge indicated 3 degrees.
The Aurora Australis was nowhere to be seen - what activity there had been, had dropped to levels of 5-6 if my app was to be believed.
Not to waste the moment completely, I'd be wanting to photograph the stars and milky way for some time - a recent image taken by Chris's old friend in the outback of Australia spurred me into action.
Keeping the tripod still in the gale force wind was a challenge, but I played for half an hour before the cold eventually won out, and I trudged back to the vehicle and drove home to thaw out.

Looking due south - spot the Southern Cross
Looking due north - city lights affecting the view

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Perigee Moon

I missed last month's perigee moon. This month the moon is not much further away. So where to photograph the full moon on Tuesday 9th September? Moon rising at 1828, twenty minutes after sunset, so still sufficient available light to capture the surroundings. TPE told me the moon would rise just north of the peninsula so I figured Godley Head would be the place to go.
I was expecting to have company out there with other photographers in action, but there I was - alone and happy, but cold in the brisk easterly wind. A WW2 bunker was soon found for shelter.

Godley Head and northern Banks Peninsula
I soon discovered I wasn't totally alone. Sheep and lambs were keen to hunker down out of the wind for the night, and I was preventing two pairs of swifts returning to their nests inside the bunker.

Full moon rising on target
After a superb cloudless day in Christchurch, the sea mist started to roll in but eventually the moon rose above it.

And so rose a perigee moon, a mere 358,621 kilometres away.


If you live in Christchurch, it's good for the nerves to get out of the city regularly.
And so every few months, we head off with our good friends Graeme and Sue and do just that!
Arthurs Pass, Akaroa, Tekapo, Hanmer are  examples of previous escapes.
This time it was to be up to the Clarence Valley north of Kaikoura - and from Friday afternoon to Monday, a well deserved long weekend.

Woodbank Cottage
Woodbank Cottage - an older circa 1930s farm cottage, hidden up the valley - perfectly appointed.
A few minutes walk from the Clarence River, heaps of farm tracks to wander over - something for everyone. A great log fire, four bedrooms, heaps of magazines, and if you are desperate, TV. And best of all - silence - apart from the morning and evening songs from the bellbirds, tui, thrushes and blackbirds!
This is a place we will definitely come back to. A family time beckons.

Farmland by Cottage
Clarence Valley and Inland Kaikoura Range
Which way?
On the way home, we visited the waterfall near Ohau Point to see if there were any baby seals in residence. This is now a tourist attraction with most vehicles now stopping off for the 4-5 minute walk in to the falls. There were five youngsters frolicking about in the pool. These guys find their way up the stream from the beach at least half a kilometre away.

Seal pups at Ohau Stream

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekly Walk

The week would not be the same without our regular Wednesday morning walk.
Five of us - sometimes six - is now reduced to four. Plus of course Graeme's Huntaway, Hemi.
The venues are many and varied - flat and hill, beach and walkways, town and country.
They start at 0900, Jim calls the shots for morning tea - he's English so its usually bang on 1000.
Sometimes the smell of coffee defeats us.
We're usually done and dusted by noon.

Sumner Beach
Plans are made, the world gets sorted, stories told, heaps of laughs..............................

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sharplin Falls

Last Monday I had to go down and speak to the Timaru Photographic Society. The original plan was to leave home at 4pm, drive down and grab a quick meal, present the talk, and then drive back home late that evening. However, I invited my friend Martin at the last minute. We chose to take the inland route and stay the night in Geraldine.
A good move - firstly, it was far more relaxing, and second, we missed the mayhem at Ashburton Monday morning with the WINZ staff.
After coffee at my favourite cafe in Darfield, we headed towards Staveley (Topp Twins country) and the Staveley store for lunch. Alas, closed on Mondays! Despite the best of intentions, I had never visited the Sharplin Falls there, so off we hiked on a great track - ~40 minutes each way.
Mission accomplished - finally.

Sharplin Falls
Sharplin Falls
The Mayfield pub is also closed Mondays!!
The remainder of the journey and the talk went very well. On the way home, we were gobsmacked at the irrigation plans and preparations for dairying on the Canterbury Plains. Fences and shelter belts being removed producing huge paddocks - I shudder to think of the amount of money being invested.
I am not convinced.
A case of 'watch this space'! 
What happens if/when the milk prices drop?
How long before Christchurch is forced to chlorinate its water supply?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Random Image

Painting with Light - Dunedin
A photo taken in the Octagon in Dunedin ten months ago. Chris and I had taken our granddaughter, Arna, on a road trip. Here we were painting with light - a combination of street lights and car lights. Great fun!

Monday, August 25, 2014


Lincoln has great memories for me. I mean the New Zealand Lincoln, ~20kms southwest of Christchurch.
My Dad used to work with a great man called Jack Rogers. His eldest son was Alan, a few months younger than me. Alan and I first met when we were ~3 years old!! They moved from the family farm at Irwell to Lincoln when I was ~7-8 years old from memory. We became great mates - and still are today. Many a weekend I would ride my bike out to Lincoln to stay for the weekend or longer during the holidays. It used to take be a few hours on my single geared old bike - or so it seemed.
When I left High School I wanted to become a National Park ranger, but my Mum felt I should go to university. I had it all sussed but it wasn't to be. Then I decided to do VSA for a year, but that was thwarted by my school Principal who threatened to not award me Higher School Certificate (showing my age now) if I left school early (had to leave on VSA a few weeks before school ended). So what to do? My big brother had just graduated in veterinary science, my big sister was a nurse - so I decided to do my medical intermediate with a view to do either medicine or veterinary work. Professor Crowther called me in to his office at Canterbury University and recommended, in light of my interest in veterinary science, that I do my intermediate year at Lincoln College (now Lincoln University). My big brother even lent me his brand new grey VW beetle to drive out to Lincoln to register (I'd only got my driving licence a week or so before). My days at Lincoln College were not particularly remarkable - but I did succeed at winter tournament in the College football (soccer) team, billiards team, and drinking team!!

The current administration building
I've always loved the town of Lincoln - Chris loves it too. It is a place we have considered moving to for a number of years. However, since the earthquakes a few years ago, there has been a mass exodus out of the city, both north and south. Lincoln is now a scene of huge development with many new subdivisions being built - literally 1000's of new homes. What is this doing to this lovely little town in the country? This does bother me.

However, undaunted, we drove out there last Sunday for a walk and explored the town and university for a few hours. Chris had never stepped forth on the university grounds so we walked along to check it out. To my amazement much of what I remembered was still there - Ivey Hall, Hudson Hall, the portable rooms where lectures were held. The fields were now Halls of Residence.

Ivey Hall
Hudson Hall
Walking back into the town we found the 'Famous Grouse', the local pub. Unfortunately the old pub was damaged beyond repair in the first quake and has now been rebuilt. The old walls could have told a few stories!! By coincidence Famous Grouse is my preferred whisky blend when I can't afford a good single malt.

The new Famous Grouse, Lincoln
Down by the Liffey Gallery is a great little gallery on the edge of town (or at least it was the edge). It is in the old Coronation Hall by the Liffey Stream - Alan and his brothers called it the Doughy - I have no recollection why.
The jury is still out re Lincoln and our future. Who knows!!

Friday, August 22, 2014


I have just completed my biennial stint tutoring composition at the Christchurch Photographic Society - PowerPoint presentation, field trip and follow up critique session.
Today I was catching up with some reading at lunchtime - including a recent f11 e'magazine that I subscribe to. In there was an interview with Andris Apse, arguably one of the world's foremost landscape photographers - and certainly New Zealand's outstanding landscape photographer. He is a photographer I've followed for years, read most of his books, and loved his images - knowing the effort he has made to produce each image.

Andris Apse image
Andris Apse image
In the f11 interview, there were two questions that caught my eye, and I thought I would would share them - and Andris's responses...

f11. What would your advice be to aspiring photographers?
AA. The harshest critic of your work should be yourself. We all produce images that in the heat of the moment we think are fantastic. To maintain a high standard, re-appraise your images - time and time again. Do not release them until you are sure. Do not keep or show anything other than your absolute best work. Every now and then I come across some of my images that should have been buried in a deep hole rather than shared. These are guiding principles:

  • work at developing your own style
  • don't get hung up on the rules of composition
  • seek simplicity and pre-visualisation
  • think before you take that photograph
  • isolate that mood and simplify your composition

f11. Any favourite quotes that serve you well?
AA. Three spring immediately to mind:

'Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera'
 - Yousuf Karsh

'Consulting the rules of composition before taking a photograph is like consulting the laws of gravity before going for a walk'
 - Edward Weston

'Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away'
 - Antoine de saint Exupery

A great set of responses. Composition is important - very important, but rules are made to be broken at times. Andris's advice is so relevant - and mirrors much of what I preach in teaching composition.

And I do love good quotes - I have a collection of them. I particularly like the third.

Thank you Andris Apse - I am a follower of yours. One day, maybe we will meet.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Brighton Pier - yet again

I can't seem to help myself!
Twice a year - April and August - the sun rises exactly off the end of the pier as the sun moves south in spring, and north in autumn. With the help of TPE (explained previously) I know which day it is.
Then all that is needed is good weather, a suitable tide, and some enthusiasm.
I've done it all before - many times. But I keep being drawn back to this pier because it offers so much. Look back over my blogs - surprised??
It is not just the photography that attracts me. What a superb place to herald another beautiful day - especially during the week when the beach is largely free of walkers, runners, dog walkers, etc.
It is a freeing hour or so - from the first hint of dawn to the sun breaking over the horizon.
Good for the soul.

New Brighton Pier at dawn
Another perfect day in paradise?
Irresistible Beauty
......and whilst waiting for that magical moment when the great orb graces us with its glory, I look about - inevitably towards the peninsula................

Banks Peninsula and Pegasus Bay
Some days, it really is good to be alive!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


....... or what's in a name!!
Heaps. I've had to put up with the flak all of my life - but that is another story that won't reach this blog. It's shite!!
Two weeks ago, as is the norm, I pick up my granddaughter, Arna, from school on a Friday afternoon and we 'hang out' together for a few hours - this invariably involves a cafe, a mall, a walk, or even photography - although not all each Friday! I enjoy her company. At 5pm I usually return her to Rachael's work at Southern Cross.
On this particular Friday, we were in the control room at Rach's work, and she (Rach) was whinging about being middle aged.
"You're hardly middle aged Rach - I'm still middle aged", I snorted.
Quick as a flash, Arna pipes up with "You're not middle aged Grandpa, you're ELDERLY!!"
The control room gasped, followed by silence. Arna received the steely slit-eyed glare from Grandpa!! Gained brownie points were haemorrhaging.

And so I came home with my bottom lip out and complained to Chris, only to be told Arna was correct. "Bollocks" I replied, and so ensued a robust debate regarding age!
"You are elderly" she said.
"I might be old, but not elderly" I exploded..........
"No, you're elderly now and old later" she laughed.
In a huff, I staggered off to the Macbook, whisky in hand (besides, this was serious),  to google the definition of 'elderly'.
To my horror, the official World Health Organisation definition of elderly is thus:
"...... most developed world countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as definition of 'elderly' or older person".
So, bugger it, I'm two years into 'elderly'!
So, what is 'Middle Age"?
Collins dictionary defines it as "...considered to occur approximately between the ages of 40 and 60".
The Oxford English dictionary is a little kinder defining it as "...between ~45 and 60".
Which of course begs the question as to what you are considered to be between the ages of 60 and 65!! Think about that now.
Old Age is defined in Wikipedia as "...the later part of life; the period of life after youth and middle age......usually with reference to deterioration".

In the 4th century BC, Plato divided the human lifespan into six phases, the last two constituting 'Old Age' (the ages of 62 - 79) and 'Advanced Age' (80+). The last phase, he noted, "is one that, fortunately, few people attain". Fortunately!!

So there you go. By definition I am beyond youth and middle age - I am elderly.
But I don't feel it - I'm far too busy to be elderly. Besides I have two elderly grandchildren to keep me youthful.
I phoned my big brother, Barry and his wife, Cathy to congratulate them on their 50th wedding anniversary (note: not Golden - that sounds too old!). At 77, he'd already been out for a run before coming home to cook breakfast.
It's all about perception after all. I'm off for a coffee and get on with my busy day.
You started something Rach and Arna!!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Unsung Heroes again..............

In my blog about a week ago, I spoke of several unsung heroes - including Frank Wild and Frank Worsley.
Well, there is a third Frank - Frank Hurley. And yes, he too was a member of Shackleton's epic expedition. Hurley was an Australian photographer - the photographer on the expedition. Being a photographer, it behoves me to speak of famous photographers. My friend Mark frequently calls me Frank (just as I refer to him as Boss, the affectionate name given to Shackleton by his expedition members) - I've never been quite sure whether he is referring to Frank Hurley the photographer, or Frank Worsley the kiwi navigator - I suspect both!
On the ship Endurance, Frank Hurley had a darkroom and developed his films regularly, a task he performed diligently until not long before the ship disappeared below the ice. With survival being the paramount issue, when it became inevitable that the ship would not survive the crushing, Shackleton ordered Hurley to keep only 120 of his negatives and leave the rest on the ship. What a terrible task that would have been. The two of them smashed the remainder of the glass slides because Shackleton suspected that Hurley would endanger his life and possibly others by sneaking back later to retrieve them!
Hurley's iconic image of the Endurance
Endurance in the pack ice
Endurance's last moments
Winter at Shackleton's hut
This image obviously taken during a polar storm is one of my favourites. It reminds me of wintering over in the High Arctic 12 years ago when Mark and I were reduced to crawling during a ferocious storm, which, from memory, lasted six days.

Hurley had to leave his large (and heavy) plate camera on the ship. He was left with a simple Kodak camera and only three rolls of film. This would have amounted to ~40 images at the most, and Hurley had no idea how long these three rolls would have to last. The above image was one of them - the quality was clearly inferior to his plate camera images.
The rest you will know. They survived after what I consider to be the most incredible survival story of all time. They were eventually rescued from Elephant Island and returned to England - and into the middle of a World War. Hurley immediately signed on and entered the fray in Europe as a photographer.

Hurley in action - WW1
And then there was Herbert Ponting.
Ponting was the photographer on Scott's expedition - the ill-fated but successful South Pole attempt.

Ice Grotto and Terra Nova - a famous Ponting image
About nine months ago I was helping out at Artworks here in town where I used to work as a picture framer. On arrival this particular morning, Alan said to me "You like framing photographs. There's an old ice photo that needs rematting and framing".
On finding the work my eyes popped open wide - "Do you know what this is Alan?"
Alan had no idea, just thinking it was an old photograph.
"This image is significant - look at the signature" I blurted. "This could be valuable".

The image ready for reframing
The signature - H. G. Ponting
Both the image and the signature were original and in pretty good condition - and certainly deserved the best possible framing with conservation materials. I certainly enjoyed the challenge of completing the task.

A year or so before the earthquakes there was a superb exhibition at the McDougall Art Gallery - the Queen's collection of both Frank Hurley's and Herbert Ponting's Antarctic Expedition images.
What I would give to have just one on my wall!!

Two more heroes.