Category Archives: photography

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.


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?!?


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.)


Turn! Turn! Tern!

I find myself unexpectedly in Busselton (Western Australia) this weekend.  At the end of (very hot) Saturday, I walk out on the town’s famous jetty to see what the birds are doing.


Busselton on the coast of Western Australia

As the sun sets, the beautiful light is caught in the feathers of the circling terns.



I am sure this one is studying me as I pan his movements with my camera…


…then continues on his way over my head.


“To everything, turn, tern, turn,/ there is a season, turn, tern, turn,/ And a time to every purpose under heaven…”




As I turn to leave, I look up and there on the light pole is a tern observing the scene – and close by (but also far away) is the moon.


I think I will head back.  The sun has set now but the terns continue their flights and aerial strikes in the ever-dimming light.


“Good night.”



Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

Matthew and I met some delightful winged New Zealanders during our recent South Island trip.  Some of them were natives while others were immigrants.  Here are a few of those encounters; some composed with time to spare, others nabbed on the go – all photographed with love and respect.

09.02.17:  We begin on the east coast of the South Island…

09.02.17 : A southern black-backed gull and his shadow add to the horizontals on Birdlings Flat beach.

A southern black-backed gull and his shadow add to the horizontals on Birdlings Flat beach.

On the stones at Birdlings Flat is a young white-fronted tern.

On the stones a juvenile white-fronted tern and I regard one another.

12.02.17:  Further south at Waitati near Dunedin…

At Waitati a tui leaps out of a bush. Tui have been called "Parson Birds" because of their white 'clerical' feathers at their throats.

A tui leaps out of a bush. Tui are also known as parson birds because of the white ‘clerical’ feathers at their throats.

14.02.17:  Makarora is a forest-and-mountain place deep within the South Island, towards the west coast…

14.02.17: Fantails are tiny birds and extremely fast. Most certainly this one had a sense of humour. She led me on a merry chase as she danced all around me, making it almost impossible to capture her image.

Fantails are tiny birds and extremely fast. This wee bird leads me on a merry chase, dancing all around me, making it almost impossible to capture an image.

She looks me straight in the eye for a split second - and then she is off again, darting all around me.

A look straight in the eye for a split second – and then – off again, flitting in every direction.

Another tiny little forest bird is the South Island tomtit...there one second, gone the next.

Another tiny forest bird is the South Island tomtit…there one second, gone the next.

A New Zealand bellbird feeds from a flowering flax bush. This bird has such a beautiful song.

A sweet-voiced New Zealand bellbird feeds from a flowering flax bush.

One of the more colourful native birds is the wood pigeon. I see this bird rather like Sylvester sees Tweetie in "Looney Tunes"- like a live pot-roast.

One of the more colourful native birds is the wood pigeon…a perfect accompaniment to any tree blooming with fruit or berries.

New Zealand birds are often hard to see. They are shy and well camoflagued.

Some New Zealand birds are hard to see, being shy and well camouflaged.  I nearly miss this bellbird – who I think is a fledgling.

Where's Waxeye? Another great example of camouflage at work.

“Where’s Waxeye?”  Another great example of camouflage.  Sometimes I think I am alone, only to turn and see that I am being watched by a small pair of eyes.

Tui are the most excellent singers in the bird world. They pick up the sounds they hear and incorporate them into their complicated repertoire. I stood still and listened to this tui for several minutes.

Tui are most excellent singers.  They pick up the sounds they hear (such as telephone rings or machinery noises) and incorporate them into their complicated repertoire. I stand quietly and listen to this tui – in awe – for several minutes.

Tui are mesmerizing.

Tui are striking to look at as well as listen to.  They rush through the trees chasing one another at terrific speed.  It looks as if they are having a good time.

You might need to study this photo for a moment. Can you see it? A wood pigeon has a whole plum in its beak. It swallows the whole thing in one gulp! Incredible.

A wood pigeon has a whole plum in his beak. And then he swallows it in one gulp…just like that.

15.02.17:  We go through Haast Pass to Bruce Bay on the exposed west coast …

A something

A pipit on the shore where river meets sea at Bruce Bay.  All along this walk are blackberry bushes (blackberries on photo’s left).  I eat blackberries as I wander along.

15.02.17: I'm also crazy about Southern black-backed gulls. They are large gulls, rather like small albatross; very elegant. Here is the second 'flying gull with shadow' photo of this set, only this time over a frothy sea.

Southern black-backed gulls are elegant large seagulls, rather like mini albatross.

Water-splash! These waves were pounding in like fists, but the gull is perfectly at home.

Water-splash! These waves are pounding in like fists, but the gull is perfectly at home.  (And what is a bit of splashing water to a gull anyway?)

16.02.17:  At sublime Lake Matheson near Fox Glacier…

16.02.17: A pukeko is a New Zealand swamp hen. When I was a child I used to look out for them when we went on car trips.

A pukeko is a New Zealand swamp hen.   The colouring is attention-grabbing, the very opposite of camouflage.

Matt and I noticed that the pukeko used its feet in the gathering of food.

We notice that the pukeko uses its feet like tools – in the gathering and consuming of food.

The chaffinch is an introduced bird, brought over from Europe in the 1860s.

The chaffinch is an introduced bird, brought over from Europe in the 1860s.

THE END – but not the end.  Back home in Fremantle, Western Australia – and the birds are great here as well…

A couple of crested terns down at the port, photographed a few hours ago.

A couple of crested terns down at the port, photographed just a few hours ago.

“Thank you, Birds!”

Afterword:  Wherever in the world you are reading this from, next time you step out of the house or apartment listen to your local bird sounds.  We all take them for granted.  Because I’ve been working on this post for a couple of days, I am suddenly aware of the bird tweets, cheeps, trills, warbles, chatter, squawks, cries, honks, quacks, shrieks, hoots and melodious song around my home.  You can’t imagine a world without birds.  So tune your ears to their frequency…and be thankful.