We returned to Bethells with some Trinidadians last weekend to show them the raw beauty of Auckland’s west coast. The tide was out and the wet surface of the sand gleamed like a mirror, perfect for reflections. As a surfer left the pounding waves and I caught him as he passed the distinctive headland of the beach. The result is the fastest amount of views I have ever had on Flickr so I thought I’d post it here. I converted the image to black and white using Silver Efex Pro2 and upped the contrast by a fairly extreme amount creating what is almost a silhouette.
I’ve entered these three photographs into the above mentioned Auckland exhibition showing at the Mairangi Arts Centre on the North Shore from May 2nd to 11th. Although I have had work in an exhibition before, this is my first attempt at printing and mounting specifically for an exhibition where I hope not only to receive an award — well you never know —but to actually sell something. The brief is architecture from Auckland’s downtown area, the Viaduct and Britomart. My entries were all shot in the Wynyard Quarter, downtown Auckland’s newest development built for the opening of Rugby World Cup 2011. In each case I used a 50mm lens, my favourite walkabout lens. The image of the seagulls and the “Lightbox” staircase were both “grab shots”, while the Viaduct Events Centre photo was one of many images I rattled off during a brief burst of sunshine on a wet, stormy day. The seagulls are flying off a sculpture called the “Wind Tree” by Michio Ihara. “The Lightbox” is a shipping container converted into a staircase. I decided to convert the photos into black and white as I think they have more impact, and I used a red filter on the two photos with sky to accentuate the drama of the moment.
A belated seasons greetings and best wishes for the New Year to all who stumble across this blog or to those who actually follow it. This is New Zealand’s Christmas tree, the pohutukawa. It bursts into brilliant red flowers around Christmas. You’ll find these wonderful, old, gnarled trees along the coastline of the upper North Island, sometimes hanging precariously to seaside cliffs. They are my favourite New Zealand tree. This young tree was shot at Christmas at Taipa Bay in the far north of New Zealand, with my family wondering onto the beach. Hope your year turns out to be as colourful as this tree!
Rain, gusts, gales, squalls: we’ve had the lot these last few weeks. In the South Island they’ve had to deal with the snow. Here in Auckland it’s been cold, too, but with monotonous wind and rain instead. Try hanging out the washing in these conditions and see how far it gets you. There’s not a lot to like about Auckland’s wet, windy winters. At least snow looks nice. But, in between the downpours, it’s worth getting out to places like Muriwai, home to the famous gannet colony and an enormously long beach upon which all sorts of foolhardy souls can be found doing their thing. On this day it was the sand, or is it kite, surfers? Either way it looks like great fun and those guys really move when the wind gets up. I could barely keep my balance for this photo and several times was nearly blown off the dunes.
I chose this today because it reminds me of when I once felt warm. It was taken with my wife’s Fuji X10 in Mahurangi Regional Park near Auckland last summer. Mahurangi is one of 26 Regional Parks owned and (very well) cared for by Auckland Council. The parks, which cover an area of more than 40,000 hectares, are one of the very best things about living in the Auckland Region as they are situated in areas of outstanding natural beauty and are free for all. Mahurangi is one of our favourites, as not only is it extremely beautiful, but it offers an excellent network of walking tracks which take in some wonderful views. And this is true of most of our Regional Parks. The tree in the photo is a pohutukawa and it’s festooned with huge bromeliads. I like this shot as the cloud patterns give the landscape a dramatic finish. And it reminds me of summer!
Yesterday was not warm. You could safely say that winter has arrived in New Zealand, but they breed them tough down here. I’ve always been amazed at Kiwis’ uncanny knack of underdressing for the conditions. The cold either doesn’t bother them or they just bear it without the grimace. This group arrived on Mairangi Beach for a kayaking exercise. I would have expected them to dress in wetsuits at the very least, given the conditions. But no, the girls are as tough as the boys in Aotearoa. They went for a quick warm-up jog along the beach, then into the icy water with their kayaks they went. One of the girls overturned, but carried on regardless. You have to admire it.
It’s the first day of winter in New Zealand today, so I’ve posted this. The day this photo was taken was a rather special and magical one for our family. My wife being from Trinidad and Tobago, and my three girls having been largely brought up there — one of them was born there —the opportunities of coming into contact with snow had been few and far between and limited to our time spent in England. Even then, we lived on the south coast, not known for its snowdrifts. During a winter holiday in the South Island, on the road to Queenstown, we suddenly and unexpectedly hit snow falling heavily. I, who have seen plenty of the stuff before, had never seen it fall so heavily. It went on for a few hours transforming the countryside into this fantasyland the kids and Roslyn had only ever seen on Christmas cards or in the movies. It was like a scene from Narnia. Before too long we came across a road block, the police not letting anyone drive on towards Queenstown without snow chains. Our rental car had them in the boot/trunk, but putting them on I found impossible and we had to go back to the town of Cromwell to get a garage to do it for me. Once that was done we carried on our way, transfixed by the amazing snowy landscape and falling flakes. We came upon a field, with a small herd of horses loose and running around, prancing about as though they were as excited by the snow as we were. We pulled over, climbed through a deep ditch and hung on to the fence watching them playing. This was my favourite of the many pictures I rattled off. The two horses seem so content in the drifting snow, and the picture is nicely balanced by the wintry trees. I used a 70-22mm zoom with a shutter speed of 1/80th second to bring out the blurring motion of the falling snow. Although the horses were dark brown, I preferred the black and white treatment as that is how I remember the almost monochrome scene.
This is a spring photograph because, as much as I like autumn, I know I have to get through winter first. So I thought I would share the feeling of longing I have for that season of renewal. Besides, I know you guys in the Northern Hemisphere will be experiencing now what we down here at the bottom of the world are merely anticipating. When I lived in Trinidad we had no spring, so when we came to New Zealand one of the things I enjoyed most were the changing seasons as it reminded me of my English roots that I realised I had missed. In England, the arrival of spring was marked by daffodils, tulips, woods filled with carpets of bluebells and orchards of apple blossom. Here in New Zealand, you know spring has sprung from the fields of prancing and skipping lambs, the lustre of brightest green in the leaves of our trees, and the exuberance of singing birds. But if you go to the beach in spring , like the one above in Whiritoa on the Coromandel Peninsula near Auckland, you will find the dunes alive with a wondrous carpet of blooms. For this photograph I got up at dawn and waited for the sun to peep over the horizon. When it did, the flowers seemed to wake up and switch on like light bulbs, opening their petals wide to catch the ascending sun before it disappeared behind the clouds.