Category Archives: photography

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.)

 

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.

dsc_4745a

Busselton on the coast of Western Australia

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

dsc_4747a

dsc_4761a

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

dsc_4793a

…then continues on his way over my head.

dsc_4794a

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

dsc_4610a

YES!!!

dsc_4826a

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.

dsc_4876a

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.

dsc_4889a

“Good night.”

dsc_4887a

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Country, Big Heart

a sign at Lake Matheson on the west coast of New Zealand.

A quote at Lake Matheson, South Westland.

Matthew and I have just returned from 12 days in the South Island of New Zealand.   Though we have traveled globally over the years, our country of birth never fails to inspire us.  I invite you to partake in some South Island landscapes.

Birdlings Flat is a wildly atmospheric beach near Christchurch. Here people fossick for semi-precious stones. A couple of white-fronted terns fly overhead.

Birdlings Flat is a bleak yet atmospheric beach on Banks Peninsula, near Christchurch. Here people fossick for semi-precious stones. A couple of white-fronted terns dart overhead.

Succulents thrive at Birdlings Flat.

Succulents luxuriate in the arid conditions of Birdlings Flat.

Wherever you are in the world, you may have heard about the fires this week on the Port Hills of Christchurch. Here is an evening view of the Port Hills which I took only 24 hours before the fires began.

A sunset view of the Port Hills of Christchurch taken from Tai Tapu.

Inland Canterbury is known as high country. This is Matthew's soul country. Near Lake Heron Station.

Inland Canterbury, west of Christchurch, is high country.   Near Lake Heron Station.

Up near Erewhon Station on the Rangitata river bed.

Matthew, in the distance, walks on a shingle river bed.   Rangitata river at Erewhon Station.

It was a long way across the shingle until we finally got to the Rangitata river. (On braided rivers, most of the river flows under the stones.)

One has to walk a long way across shingle until one comes to actual flowing river. (On braided rivers, most of the river flows under the stones.)

Finally, the flowing river, which we sat beside with flasks of coffee and home-made cake.

Finally, the flowing river, where we picnic on coffee from flasks and home-baked cake.

Patterns made by a river and patterns made by clouds.

Patterns made by a river and patterns made by clouds.

The hill beyond this stream is called Mt Summer, but you may well have seen it as the location for Edoras in "Lord of the Rings".

The hill beyond this stream is called Mt Sunday, but you may well have seen it on film as Edoras in “Lord of the Rings”.

A return to the coast. This is Blueskin Bay; an estuary 25 kms north of Dunedin.

A return to the coast.  Blueskin Bay; an estuary 25 kms north of Dunedin.

Coastal birds on the other side of the inlet at Blueskin Bay.

Coastal birds on the other side of the inlet at Blueskin Bay, Otago.

Later that day at Lake Hawea, a nearly-sunset rainbow formed.

Later that day at Lake Hawea, a nearly-sunset rainbow forms against a mountain backdrop.

View from the road at Lake Hawea. Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon were being filmed close by for "A Wrinkle in Time". No, I didn't see them - but I knew they were about.

View from the passenger seat of the car as Matt speeds along beside Lake Hawea.  (Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon are being filmed in this area for “A Wrinkle in Time”.  They have been spotted, some say, at Wanaka.)

We stayed at Lake Hawea Station, a farm which has been in the same family since 1912.

We stay at Lake Hawea Station, a farm which has been in the same family since 1912.  I endure the strong wind to check out their sheep-with-view.

Just over a hill from Lake Hawea is Lake Wanaka.

Just over a hill from Lake Hawea is Lake Wanaka.

Over on the west coast of New Zealand is another thoroughly wild beach named Bruce bay. Actually the whole west coast coastline is untamed. Waves are extraordinarily powerful and the winds howl.

On the West Coast is another thoroughly wild beach named Bruce Bay.  Waves are extraordinarily powerful and the winds howl.  Acres of driftwood cover the sands.  Above the shoreline is majestic Rimu rainforest.

In the path of the force 10 westerly gale is a friendly coffee cart which makes terrific coffee and sells - ICE CREAMS.

In the path of the force 10 westerly gale is a friendly coffee cart which makes terrific coffee and sells – ICE CREAM!

North from Bruce Bay is the Franz Josef glacier and Lake Matheson. The lake is famous for its reflections of the Southern Alps. We came along slightly too late in the morning for the lake to be still like a mirror.

North from Bruce Bay is the Franz Josef Glacier and Lake Matheson. The lake is famous for its reflections of the Southern Alps. We arrive slightly too late in the morning for the lake to be still like a mirror.  Even with a slight ripple, the scene is awe-inspiring.

At Lake Matheson there are a few quotes on plaques.  One reads, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her” – William Wordsworth.  Another reads, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more” – John Burroughs.   Albert Einstein is also quoted, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”.  (Later, I faithfully copy these quotes into my art journal.)

A view of the ever-retreating (due to global warming) Franz Josef glacier.

A view of iconic Franz Josef Glacier.

We returned to the east coast via Arthurs Pass. What an astounding feat in engineering is the Otira viaduct! Can you imagine building a viaduct in such a precarious and actively seismic environment?!

We cross the Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass. What an astounding feat of engineering the Otira viaduct is!  Every time we drive on this seemingly floating road, we stop at the viewing platform to admire the audacity of its existence.

Matt and I stopped at Otira to pay homage to a view which I had once painted. Happily for us, a coal train appeared.

Matt and I stop at Otira to pay homage to a view which I once painted. Happily for us, a coal train appears.

And here is that old painting…

"Track and Field" - an oil painting from 2002.

“Track and Field” – an oil painting from 2002.

On our two week journey we also met and photographed many birds and animals.  They will be the subject of my next post.

 

 

 

 

Rain Birds

"It's raining!"

“It’s raining in January!” a rufous night heron exclaims.

What an unusual event!  Steady rain in Fremantle in January.  And what is more, it is forecast again for tomorrow.   What do the seabirds think of this?  I will head down to the river to see.

Pondering the situation...

Pondering the situation…

"Yes I can"

“Yes I can”

Nonchalance

On the other side of the great leap

A good spot to contemplate rain (and food sources)

A good spot to contemplate rain (and food sources) at East Fremantle

Further up the river a pelican meditates.

Further up the river a pelican meditates.

Close up and personal with a juvenile rufous (otherwise known as 'nankeen') night heron.

Up close and personal with a juvenile rufous (otherwise known as ‘nankeen’) night heron.

Pied cormorant observes me.

A pied cormorant poses elegantly for me.

"Which is my best side, do you think?"

“Which is my best side, do you think?”

Sadly in the world of seabirds, fishing line is a curse. If only I could have cut this tangled line off the poor little leg.

Sadly in the world of seabirds, fishing line is a curse. If only I could have cut this tangled line off the poor little leg.

I had a beautiful morning down at the port.  For a while I forgot about the human world and relished the bird world; blessings bestowed by birds.

And now its time to fly...

And now it’s time to fly…