Monday, June 30, 2008

Lazy wind

Some shots from Breaker Bay at the height of the storm yesterday. Taken by Molly and me.

The images are much less dramatic than the real life was unfortunately. I would have taken more, particularly of the giant waves rolling into Houghton Bay, but feared for my cameras safety in the salt spray laden air, plus the wind made it very difficult to stand safely and aim. Thus discretion proved the better part of valour on this occasion.
The rocks above are about 200m offshore and getting slammed by 3-4m ish swells if you want some perspective. Not the worst I have seen, but intimidating enough I think.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Green is good

Listening to: A mostly New Zealand compilation I made for Lauren before she went home. Of course I kept a copy.......I'll be making another one soon to go with Molly, and re-editing the one that Kelly missed taking home. Time flies.

Not NZ per se, but PJ Harvey's 'you said something' is on it, and it just may be one of my favourite songs of ever. Shapeshifter's 'One' as well.

At home late on a Saturday. Time once was when the very idea of that was something akin to sacrilegious. Priorities change though, and sometimes its nice just to have dinner, watch a couple of episodes of 'Outrageous Fortune' with the other half, have a quiet beer and potter.

Green is good. Out and about on the waterfront last night, doing some pointing and shooting (Molly pointed and I shot).
Correct me if I am wrong, and it happens fairly often, but I think this is the first time anyone has commissioned me in a pre-planned way for a photo expedition. Well admittedly the commissioner is camera short at the moment, but is convinced I would do a better job than she could anyway. Since I am attracted to both water and pretty lights, it was a sortie I had been thinking about for a while.
Power crisis or not, I really love how the waterfront has been illuminated in recent times. I got some cool pics last night, but they are already promised to another audience, and I don't want to spoil the fun.
Good fun handling the new tripod though. Even if I haven't got the gist of setting it up level yet.

I don't know when I started taking this whole photography thing seriously, but I guess I am now. I have been serious airshow shooting since the 1991 season, when I was entrusted with Dad's pentax SLR and a 200mm zoom lens.

Trying to take interesting pictures of things that weren't winged is harder to pin down. I got my first camera at the end of 1987, basically a pinhole unit that used reel film canisters, and took astonishingly bad pictures. Prior to an overseas trip I was equipped with a proper 35mm autofocus job, cheap, simple and almost indestructible (still have it, still functional). It went to a lot of parties, functions events, but wasn't very good at photographing things that were more than 10 feet away.

I carried the pentax around for a while in the 90's, always loaded to catch anything interesting, with varying degrees of success. I would borrow Dad's cameras as required when more sophistication was required, and after his much more modern Minolta died at my wedding, I bought it off him, repaired it, and it became my weapon of choice. My wedding incidentally was somekind vortex for cameras. Two suffered complete failures, and one a major malfunction.

I have always felt compelled to record and remember things, in case I don't pass that way again. If I annoyed you by taking your photo at a party I apologise. If I see something cool I want to save it, in case I don't see it again. In that sense I think it is an expression of not wanting to take things for granted.

Now I am at the point where I walk around and see pictures everywhere, framing things in my mind, which I am told is something photographers do. I don't want to shoot everything though, because then you run the risk of your photographs becoming your memories. They should be aids to memory, not replacements.

Where am I going with this? I now record 'Photography' as an interest and hobby on my CV, when I never used to. I had a semi knowledgeable conversation about lenses and mounts with a passerby last night. I think I am a passable airshow photographer, if the comments by professionals who have seen my work is anything to go by. People say unprompted nice things about my other pictures, and have been known to hand me their cameras, and ask me for advice, or shoot for them, so I must be doing something right.

The thing is, I really don't know what I am doing, and never really have. I don't know anything really about appropriate f-stops and exposures, have never studied composition. I just see things I like and then try to make them work as a flat image. A lot of luck is involved, and more than a little bit of right place/right time. I ruthlessly exploit the automatic modes built into the camera, and experiment when I have to. As far as available methods and equipment goes, I am floating on the surface of a very deep ocean with this pastime.

I'm totally making it up as I go along. But it seems to be working out okay.

Oh and thankyou to anyone who has said anything nice about my photos. I may play down your praise, but I do appreciate it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Root Beer baptism

Listening to: A variety of General Electric era Shihad singles and B-sides

Courtesy of a an international flavoured mid winter xmas lunch at work the other day, I got to try Root Beer for the first time. Having heard about it for so long in various elements of popular culture, I was excited to finally get to savour some. Imagine my surprise then, when upon opening the can, all I could smell was this stuff:

I found it a bit baffling.

Verdict around the table was that it must be an acquired taste (this including the opinion of a couple of Scots who drink Iron Bru and eat haggis). Sadly I couldn't acquire it. I really wanted to.

Smell aside, the taste wasn't bad, although getting to the taste involved clamping the nose shut, which tends to reduce the convenience of the process.

Never mind. You root beer drinkers probably have the same issues about this:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Castle on a cloud

We are enshrouded in cloud on our hill tonight.......

I like how that makes the routinely familiar at once unfamiliar and more interesting.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Listening to: Prodigy-Their Law

Before I get into this post, I'll reveal the locations of the roadtrippin.

In order of appearance:
Pauatahanui wetlands, Grays Road at Pauatahanui, Archway Books Pukerua Bay, the chocolate factory at Raumati, Coastlands mall at Paraparaumu, the 'you have been watching' board at RNZAF Ohakea, the Centennial Memorial halfway between Ohakea and Palmy, The Square in Palmerston North, wind turbines at Ashurst, the Manawatu Gorge, the Harvard slide at Paihiatua, the Tui Brewery building in Maingatanoka, the kiwi in Eketahuna, and the war memorial in Featherston.

Notkate wins as she was the only person to identify more than one successfully. Honourable mention to Lauren for getting one right even though she doesn't even live in this country, and to Andrew, even though the location he named actually had a visible nameplate in the picture. No-one else gets a mention as no-one else bothered to enter.

Prize is yet to be decided, but may be chocolaty.


In the meantime, on Thursday night the northerly caused some static cloud to form out west, as air got bounced up to high altitude by hitting land like the sonds or the lower North Island and condensed. Although it was constantly being blown away, it was also constantly being replenished from below, hence cloud stayed in the same place for a while.

With the moon above the cloud, only the edge of it was illuminated. The effect was quite striking:
City lights illuminated the lower level cloud.
As the moon set, it revealed itself from its cloudy cloak. I tried to get pictures of both the moon and the cloudbow, but the difference in luminosity was just too big and I couldn't make it work.
Still a handy exercise for my new tripod. Pictures like this would be impossible without it. Not perfect yet, I need to learn more about playing with apetures and other technical stuff, but motivating nonetheless.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Went for a bit of a drive yesterday to clear some cobwebs, and decided to take a picture of everywhere I stopped.

Person who identifies the most locations gets a prize......

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Can we fix it?

Listening to: A brand spanking new comp CD I just made. 13 made in the current series so far, which started with the 6 I made to soundtrack my 30th birthday party.

Problem: A recent southerly gale has resulted in a broken spreader on your favourite sun umbrella (which incidentally was a christmas present from your other half). Never mind what it was doing out and open during the gale, this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. There might be other sunny days that would require the services of a competent and functional umbrella. It must be fixed.
Solution: Shove as much PVA as you can in the break, then screw a length of treated/weatherproof pine across the weakened area. The new spar transfers the load around the break without losing rigidity. And lo the umbrella is returned to full functionality. Cost about $5 for the wood and screws, and about 10 minutes work.
It's not pretty, but it works.
Time will tell if it keeps working, but it works now. And the umbrella will be put away next time a storm looms.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Kite and Zoo Action special!

The view from my lounge on Monday afternoon.

The thermometer on my back porch is reading 5 degrees right now. Winter is settling in for the winter....

And I seem to have lost my pocketknife. If anyone finds it, please let me know.

Right, then as promised, some random kite and animal photos:

Twin otters (Asian rather than DeHavilland).

About 5 ducks worth of Pelican. I tried to get a shot of them together to fully show the duck dwarfing effect created by the bulky pelican, but couldn't manage it.

Chimp minding its own business. On a very tall pole.
The muscular nature of chimps impresses the hell out of me at times.
Tui in Wilton
Housecat, also in Wilton
Trying really hard to post more than once a week, but finding the time is tough......