Category Archives: photography

Bay Watch

On the South Island coast I’m on the alert for local fauna.  My first sighting is a sea lion flinging an octopus about in Blueskin Bay.  That dark shape in the water is the sea lion’s head, octopus dangling from mouth.  (If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can make it out.)

Next morning I see the sea lion again.  This time breakfast is flounder (so I’m told).

…down the hatch it goes…

On the Otago coastline between Oamaru and Dunedin is an outcrop of rocks called Shag Point.  There, all year round, you can see a colony of New Zealand fur seals.  On this day it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale.  I can’t step out of the car without getting soaked so I take these photos from my car window.

At the turn off to Shag Point is a cottage.  Wow!  What an outlook.  Location Location!!

The next day we return to Shag Point as the rain has stopped.  I take a five minute walk from the car park and look down over the cliff.  Can you make out the seals on the rocks?  (It can be hard to tell a seal from a rock.)

This must be the nursery.

…and this is surely Father.  “Wake Up Father“.

After a few days in Otago we find ourselves back in Canterbury.  We stay in this heavenly homestead near Little River (not far from Christchurch).  The house was built in 1900.  We feel we are in a Katherine Mansfield short story.

I am always drawn back to Birdlings Flat, a beach entirely made up of stones.  A group of South Island pied oystercatchers make their way along the beach.

A black-backed gull ruffles his feathers.

Red-billed gulls rest and think about what to do next.  (My aim is to photograph without disturbing the birds, which I succeed in doing.)

The surf continuously pounds this southern-facing coastline.  I lie in the stones and watch the white-fronted terns as they preen themselves…

…call to one another…

…fly in…

…and fly out.

In the lagoon behind the beach a solitary white heron sounds an alarm.  Is it me he is worried about?  There is quite a body of water between us.

But still he flies away.  (Perhaps he always meant to fly away and it is nothing to do with me.  I hope so.)

Driving over the hills of Banks Peninsula we encounter a flock of sheep.  The farmer looks like Jed Clampett.

The view from the top of the hill is outstanding.  That must be Akaroa on the far side.

I suggest to Matthew he might like to check out some Barry’s Bay cheese.  While he is sampling the famous cheeses I hop across the road to photograph the birds.

A paradise shelduck forages during low tide.

On a small island in the bay birds not of a feather stick together.

Toi toi.

A pukeko takes me and my camera in her stride.

…and the next day we fly back to Australia.

 

 

A box of birds

“A box of birds” means happiness.

One morning two weeks ago my sister-in-law Clare, Matthew and I sit outside at Blueskin Nurseries Café in Waitati.  Clare suggests taking us to Orokonui Ecosanctuary just up the hill as we all love birds.  The sparrows watching us think this is a good idea.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary is an ecological island wildlife reserve developed by the Otago Natural History Trust in the Orokonui Valley, 20 km north of Dunedin.  The 307 ha nature reserve was surrounded by a predator fence in 2007.  The forest is being restored to its former glory by keeping pests out, revegetating and bringing back species that were locally extinct. 

The first birds we see are takahe.  These flightless birds were for a long time thought to be extinct.  What a joy to see a species of bird for the first time ever.  Here is the chick!

The following three photos show one of the parents feeding this chick.  Look how they use their legs, scooping up grass.

New Zealand forests are too often eerily quiet as populations of songbirds have been decimated by introduced predators over the decades.  But the forest at Orokonui is an absolute symphony of song.  No words of mine can describe what it is like to hear this orchestra of birdsong.   Here are some of the musicians.   First – the tui whose loud song is interspersed with clicks and rattles…

The melodious bellbird or korimako…who is belting out a tune while I photograph.

I have written a post about a New Zealand parrot called the kea, but here is a parrot I had never seen before called the kaka.  These gregarious birds are extremely entertaining to watch as they get up to their various antics.  I want to capture the red under-carriage during flight but they are too fast for me.

The brave little robin likes to come very close to us because she is after the insects we disturb as we walk along.

A bird who evades my camera most of the time because he is so quick is the fantail.  This bird flits and teases as he pursues flying insects.  Only when he ever-so-briefly perches do I have any hope of a photo.

How I love the tomtit – a tiny bird with enormous presence.

Even when we can’t see any birds at any particular moment, we can always listen to their music.

…and enjoy the scenery…

When our excursion is over we descend back down the hill to Waitati.

A pony walks over to be patted.

A spoonbill flies across Blueskin Bay.

The day is a box of birds.

Happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

It doesn’t matter what the weather turns on in New Zealand.   Blue sky and sunshine can be delightful but clouds add drama to a landscape.  My first post of photos from a two week trip in March celebrates the beauty of autumnal weather in Aotearoa – The land of the long white cloud.

High on the Port Hills overlooking Christchurch with Matthew – husband and travel companion.

From Christchurch we travel to Waitati, near Dunedin.  Here is Blueskin Bay.

Blueskin Bay patterns – land, water and sky.

Matthew and our sister-in-law, Clare, walk ahead of me.  Huge tides mean that later, all this expanse of sand will be covered with water.

Residents of Blueskin Bay in a haze of morning mist and sea spray.

The weather closes in as we explore the Otago coast.

A southerly cold-front blasts the South Island and temperatures plummet.

Next day, on the trip from coast to mountains, I take this photo out of the car window as we drive in the rain.

Pine Cottage, our accommodation at Lake Pukaki (near Mt Cook). Matthew would like it to be known that it is 4 degrees C.

Sheep, snow and clouds on the high country sheep station where we stay.

The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo.

Matthew in his soul place; Mackenzie Country.  The clouds part a little for Aoraki Mount Cook.

Matthew on the braided river-bed where icy water flows from glacial melt of Tasman Glacier.

The milky-coloured water contains ‘flour’ – particles of rock ground down by glacial action.  Above, the clouds seem to be a boiling mass.

A rainbow over the Rakaia River at Coleridge.

Just us at Lake Coleridge.

Into the eye of the sun, Lake Coleridge.

“That’s a bright flag”, says Matthew as he drives. Simultaneously I am photographing the scene from the passenger seat.

“A drive to the end of somewhere”, is Matthew’s description of our wanderings.

Mountains framed by clouds – revealing, concealing.

A cloud’s attraction to a mountain…one so ethereal, the other so solid.  Opposites attract.

“Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air / and feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way…”  Joni Mitchell

The weather wasn’t totally inclement.  There was sun – and there were birds (OH! THE BIRDS!!).  So more photographic essays will follow shortly.

Flames and Rainbows

It is mid-winter in Perth.   Close to my house the flame trees are flowering.

On our way home from coffee Matthew and I stop to reflect on the lorikeet action going on in the trees.

Our delight in watching the Rainbow Lorikeets is such that I have to go home to get my camera and return for some photographs.  Upside down, right way up – any way is a good way to eat.

“And these trees are delicious!”

You could walk right past your local trees and not notice…

…but it is good to stop and observe small miracles in our very midst.

Dedicated with love to my brother, Max Podstolski.  His joy of birds ever since I can remember was inspirational – and contagious!

22 November 1952 – 20 July 2017

Sumptuous Paris

I take photos to make drawings from.  But not always.  These ten photos don’t require reinterpretation as drawings.  They are happy just to remain photos – celebrating a city with more than its share of visual romance; sumptuous Paris.

La Conciergerie with reflections on the Seine pre-dawn.

Jardin des Tuileries

The view from the steps of Basilique du Sacre-Coeur in the late afternoon.

Ravens being fed at Parc des Buttes Chaumont on a benign autumn Saturday.

The joys of coffee and pastries from a shop such as this! (My daughter, Alicia and her friend, Marissa.)

Melt-in-the-mouth cakes within, elegant architecture without – appreciated simultaneously.

Stunning floral display at Jardin du Luxembourg.

From inside one of the art galleries at Centre Georges Pompidou, looking across from Notre Dame to Pantheon.

A view of Les Halles (St Eustache on the right) from Centre Georges Pompidou.

Construction and constructing…

 

 

My Blue Whale Neighbours

Who knew that Blue Whales hang out off the coast of Perth during our summers, a few nautical miles from where I am sitting typing at home right now?  Not me, until last week when I happened across Whale Watch Western Australia on the internet.  Not one to muck about, I booked myself a place on the  7 hour excursion which went out yesterday.  Here is some of what I saw…

At 8 a.m sharp we glided out of Sardine Wharf at Fremantle. The water close to shore was like a millpond.

“This way”, signalled a cormorant as we left the inner harbour behind.

Our destination was an area known as Perth Canyon.  This is a submarine canyon located off the coast of Perth approximately 22 km west of Rottnest Island.  It has an average depth of 1.5 km (5000 ft) and is 15 km across, making it larger than the Grand Canyon.  As it is a nutrient-rich eco hot spot, it is a perfect feeding ground for mega fauna including the Pygmy Blue Whale.  This cetacean is a subspecies of the Antarctic or True Blue Whale.  ‘Pygmy’ is a misleading name as this whale is not much smaller than the Antarctic Blue Whale – measuring around 70 to 80 ft long.

A Fleshy Footed Shearwater.

Another view of the shearwater.

Photographs of Blue Whales don’t do them justice.  This is a case of “you really had to be there” as only from the boat can you fathom how majestic and ENORMOUS these mammals are.  The crew of Whale Watch Western Australia love their subjects and were extremely respectful towards them.  They gently maneuvered the boat so that the whales were comfortable in our presence.

A mother and calf were close to us. When a third whale appeared, she nudged her young one into position next to the boat to keep the other whale at bay.

Summer being essentially over, soon our whales will head off to Indonesian waters to spend winter there.

An elegant fluke sequence as the whale dives…

A shearwater lands on the water to enjoy some  dispersing whale poo. (That is the orange-colour floury substance you can see in the water.) Whale poo is nutrient-rich and fertilises the ocean.

Delicious.

What a delight to see albatrosses!  After much checking of “The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds” and the internet,  I can safely say that this is a Yellow-nosed Albatross (Indian ocean form).  A medium-sized albatross such as this is known as a mollymawk.

What an exceptional day yesterday was.  To think that all this is happening so close to where I live.  I also saw dolphins, petrels and Australasian gannets but I didn’t get any good photos of them.  (They were too fast!)  Yesterday was a bit like going through the wardrobe in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and finding myself in Narnia; pure magic.

My neighbours are Blue Whales  – who knew?!?

https://www.whalewatchwesternaustralia.com/

 

In Town Tonight

“In Town Tonight”
A new drawing in my “Paris Revisited” series.
195 x 245 mm. April 2017

“In Town Tonight” is an example of a small arrangement which I found within a larger composition.

Occasionally a photo will be just perfect the way it is but most of my compositions are the result of cropping and then editing out bits I don’t want.  In this case I was drawing from a very small part of my original photo.

The source photograph for “In Town Tonight” taken on 27th October 2016 on rue Saint Denis.

My husband, Matthew, particularly likes “In Town Tonight”.  He associates with the suited figure.  In my mind this could be a Parisian version of a Japanese ‘salaryman’ – a little disheveled after a few drinks – gingerly making his way to the station.  (Possibly my soft-focus is how he is seeing the world at this time.)