Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best of 2011 #2

Although it's over-exposed, I loved this shot. 
It's a larger-than-lifesize carving of a Māori warrior beside a walkway around the pit rim 
of the open-cast goldmine in the small town of Waihi, New Zealand.

(posted for Thematic Photographic)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thematic Photographic: Favourite shots

Carmi over at Written Inc has once again suggested that we finish off the year 
with some of the pictures we've liked most of the ones we've taken in 2011, 
whether we've already posted them or not.

Here's my first pick; I took it only a week ago, on a walk on the Tunnel Loop track 
through the Karangahake Gorge. 
I like it because of the textures and the shapes:

I'm looking forward to seeing other people's choices :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Festive Season!

All the very best for the holidays to my blogosphere friends! 
(We're a day ahead of y'all, so I'm getting in early...)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Strangers in a strange land

This is a post for Thematic Photographic 176, "Strangers among us". Carmi asked us to take "a photo of a stranger, any stranger" and post it to our blogs. 
For most of these choices, I'm the stranger!

In April, for my first morning in Rome, I had booked a guided tour to see the Vatican, St Peter's Basilica, etc. - a good way of avoiding the loooong lines of people queueing to get in, sometimes for hours. This is the group of strangers I was about to spend the day with, pictured as we waited for the guide to sort something out.

When I downloaded this shot taken in the timeless streets of Pompei, I was amused 
to see a man busy talking on his cellphone:

If you've been to Pompei you will remember the large open sheds where there are lots of artefacts stacked roof-high, and a number of glass cases with twisted bodies, human and animal, 'mummified' by the ash:

In Palermo I enjoyed seeing this young monk having his visit to the Cathedral recorded - an elderly lady, his mother I'd guess, was taking the photo:

These two ladies, residents of Parma, were too busy crossing the square outside the Duomo to cast a glance at strange photographers:

"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
~ Tennessee Williams 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Hitch

Whether you admired him or despised him, thought about his ideas or dismissed them, it was hard to ignore the brilliance and the clarity of his writing.

As a poetry lover (and learner), I admire the comments he made in this 2005 article about the value and importance of poetry. It includes these lines:

My own acquaintance and relationship with poetry is bound up with acquisition, memorization, and recital. That is: I realized when I was quite young that I could learn poems "by heart," as the saying goes. This may have something to do with early experience in compulsory religious and scriptural studies. It was no hardship for me to commit hymns and verses of the Bible (though not so many psalms, oddly enough) to memory.

...I think that there is something of the gold standard about the echo and recall of poetry in the conscious mind.


Poetry, to put it another way, is also a good training in the ironic.

Rest in Peace.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beach dreams

Those friendly blogosphere people who drop by here now and then know that they will often see water pictures on my blog. I especially love the sea, in all its moods - rough and wild in an autumn storm, clear and calm on a winter's morning, noisy and full of purpose at high tides, leaving its shelldrift debris strewn across the sand.

 "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."
~Vincent Van Gogh 

In the long, narrow islands which make up New Zealand, there is nowhere far from the sea. I live ten minutes' drive from the east coast, where I can look out across the Pacific Ocean and imagine that I can see Chile; it takes me 2 hours or so to drive westwards to the other coast, the wild west coast of the Tasman Sea, where the shores are rugged, the sands are black, and the surf is always pumping.

Taranaki, October 2011

My very best thing to do is to walk on the beach. I love to watch the water and the offshore islands, volcanic giants slumbering hunch-shouldered in sea mists or sparkling sunlight. If there are others around, so be it - but I keep away from the Surf Club end in the summer; the fewer people around the better! 

What is it that so draws me about the ocean? There are some things I can put into words: it seems endless, even though it's not; it appears benign, although it often isn't. I like the whole in-and-out, up-and-down, ebb-and-flow thing, which in a transient and hectic world seems calming, soothing, a certainty. 
So, I get tetchy if I don't get my beach fix; at a pinch I'll make do with a lake or a river, but the air, the waves, the smells on the seashore all add up to what to me is a very fundamental and important part of my life.

My beach, mid-winter

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The One

In response to this week's Thematic Photographic theme, here is my photo of The Hanging Rock, in the state of Victoria in Australia. If you've ever read the novel or seen the movie "Picnic at Hanging Rock", you will know all about this sinister place:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gardens of New Plymouth

In the October holidays I visited the small city of New Plymouth, on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island. 

This area is known for its beautiful gardens, and the climate lends itself particularly to rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, and other temperate beauties. Because of its closeness to a dormant volcano, Mt Taranaki, the winters are cold and there is more than enough rain  - as I was about to find out!  
I'm no great expert or fantastic gardener, but I was determined to see at least the three main public gardens; I'd never before been in the area at the peak of the 
rhododendron season.
It rained for most of the week, but I was intrepid!
Tupare is close to the residential area of the city; it was begun in 1932 and covers 3.6 hectares (9 acres) of hillside and river banks. The original house sits down in a valley, and the walking tracks follow the contours of the hillside

Wisteria grows along the top of an arbour near the house
...I hadn't been there long before it began to rain heavily

So I took a couple more rhodo shots, then scuttled back up the hill to the carpark. 
I got very wet....

This is also the garden where I found those luminous echiums:

 The next morning I set off for Hollard Garden, 4.5 hectares (11 acres) on farming land. This was begun in 1927 by Bernie and Rose Hollard - he was a keen and knowledgeable plantsman, best known for his hybrid Rh. Kaponga.
It was sunny when I first arrived, but not for long...

There were many lovely examples of Bernie's pride and joy, his creation Rhododendron Kaponga, a beautiful clear red
I loved this creamy-yellow one:
But again the rain came down, so heavily that I was forced to retreat once again. 

A few days later I had more luck at Pukeiti, the largest of them all; 360 hectares (890 acres) of regenerating rainforest, with 20 hectares of hybrid and species rhodos, along with many unusual shrubs and trees from all over the world. It was established in 1951, and is an internationally recognised garden and plant collection. The weather was overcast but only slightly damp, and I enjoyed wandering the garden for several hours. 
Here are some of the shots I took:


The garden is the poor man's apothecary.  
~German Proverb

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thematic Photographic 174: Seeing Red

Summer's here !

This rose was out on the 1st of December, marking the first day of summer in New Zealand.

See other reds here

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Another flash or two...

I had to have a second go at this theme.
I've been searching through my travel albums for some more flashes of colour:

At a rice farm in Tuscany

Pink meerkats in Portofino

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

In a vineyard near Parma

Detail of a window in the Duomo, Milan

A taxi in Palermo, Sicily

Jiading, China

I didn't dare go near my Turkish albums - otherwise this post might go on forever! 
For more flashes of colour, go here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A flash of colour...

For this week's Thematic Photographic I found some of the shots from my October holiday week in the small North Island city of New Plymouth, one of my favourite places. 
Most of the week it rained - heavily. One day I saw an old church building beside the petrol station, with a "Craft Shop" sign. Inside it was so bright and colourful that it warmed and cheered me straight away:

Downtown in the city, there is this rather bizarre clock tower. Weird, but I like it:

The area is renowned for its many beautiful gardens, some of which are open to the public. 
At Tupare Garden were these gorgeous echiums:

And at Hollard Gardens I loved this bright rhododendron against the green lawns and shrubs:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No entry

You shall not enter, the way is blocked:
farm gate, Cape Egmont, Taranaki, October 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The theme this week is an understandable choice for Carmi at Written Inc. I've been feeling rather muted myself, as I mark the 3rd anniversary of the death of someone I loved greatly. It doesn't get any easier.

For this motif I have picked some peaceful, quiet shots - they fit my idea of 'muted'.

Late afternoon, winter, school playing fields

Lighthouse, Cape Egmont, New Zealand

Winter morning, Whangaroa

Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Evening light, Lake Rotorua


"Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare, and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit"
~ Anton Chekhov