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.