Wednesday, 31 May 2006

The Wisdom

Yeah so what did you do yesterday? Me, I got some teeth pulled. Two to be precise. The ones above as it happens. Apparently the dental surgeon had some fun removing them. I don't feel as bad as I was expecting, just tired - and annoyed that I can't eat real food. I'm doing a good impersonation of Robert Smith though, all puffy checks and all - minus the makeup though.

Sunday, 28 May 2006

The Obvious

I tend to avoid photos like this cos they're just so obvious. Some people make a career out of it, or at least shoot a lot of them. Not me though. I try to be a little more original. No, honestly, I do try. This, too, is from one of my recent explorations of Otaki.

Saturday, 27 May 2006

The Winners

And while we're at it, here's another. This one is the winners circle or box or something. I'm guessing cos I've never actually set foot on a racecourse while a race is on. In fact I've never actually set foot on a racecourse with a horse on. So the reality is that I have no idea what I'm talking about. But there's nothing new in that is there?!

Friday, 26 May 2006

The Hurt

Another wee shot from Otaki Racecourse.

Thursday, 25 May 2006

The Prince

Yesterday a very good friend of mine buried her cousin Matt. Not the happiest of occasions, but a lovely ceremony by all accounts (well the one account I got).

After deciding I really needed to head out and start photographing properly again, Bex suggested I photograph a rugby field. As luck would have it, I've got one just across the road and I've often thought about photographing there, but for some reason it's always hardest to get up the energy to photograph those things closest to home.

So a little after 10pm last night I wandered across the road to stand around in the cold and dark for a couple of hours. I was rather excited to see that someone had thought of me and set up a nice bit of lighting. I never did work out if they were renovating (read ripping the place up), partying, or a combination of the two.

Anyhow these shots of Prince of Wales Park, Mount Cook, Wellington, are my little tribute to Matt.

PS - for those interested in the technical aspects of this stuff, the exposures are intentionally darker than I'd normally do (ie shorter, but still verging on the hour mark), and I have to admit they are a little darker than I'd hoped but that's what you get with imprecise science. Also that nice Victorian soft-focus romantic pictorialist thing is due to condensation on the lens. It works quite nicely actually.

Monday, 22 May 2006

The Riders

A couple of weeks back a friend and I went for a cruise up the coast. We stopped in at the Otaki Racecourse just because it was there - and so were we. These two freaky blokes can be found on the grounds. They're such wonderful pieces of tack. Some would say kiwiana. But not me. I actually found them curiously scary. Like they'd came to life when it's a full moon and wander around doing nasty things to people, before resuming their day job position as weird garden features at the racecourse.

Friday, 19 May 2006

The Craig

See I too can take beautiful scenic photographs a la Craig Potton when the urge takes me. This wee shot was taken at Okarito, a beautiful, quiet hideaway in Westland. I believe it is home to photographer Andris Aspe and writer Keri Hulme. And a very few other people.

I arrived late afternoon expecting (hoping) to find an empty campground. Instead it was 2/3 full, including a bunch of people on a bus/bike tour - I think they spend most of the time in the bus and do little rides after arriving at location. By nightfall the place was as full as it could get. Not bad for a place with a minimum of facilities.

The next morning I woke up early - as you tend to when tenting it - climbed the hill overlooking the lagoon, then did both glaciers, a quick stop at Lake Matheson, and on to Hokitika and the inaugural Wet West Film Festival. Not bad for a days work. I felt like Michael Palin - just not so old ... or English ... or witty.

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

The Tsunami

While we are - or at least I am - still on the West Coast, here's a shot I just had to get. Wandering around the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, I was rather taken by all the big obvious danger signs. For some reason DoC seems to feel that 1) glaciers are dangerous, and 2) people are stupid. Frankly I think they're right on both counts, although admittedly I have yet to experience the danger of a glacier.

Anyway, I think this sign is saying that glaciers cause tsunami so if you live near the coast you should always be on alert. Or something. Regardless it looks pretty cool.

Oh and by the way that's Fox Glacier in the background.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

The Horror

The closest town to Cave Creek is Punakaiki. It's a one hit wonder town. But it's a huge hit - kinda like Europe's The Final Countdown. You know the pancake rocks, the blowholes etc. The tourists! The coachloads! The campervans! The parking problems! Etc.

It had been a while since I was last there - as I said yesterday, 1987 from memory. But I wasn't prepared for the theme park Punakaiki had become. It's a piece of Wild West Coast TM, but it's been somewhat removed from nature for the ease and safety of all those who come by every year. For many of whom it is the only stop they make on the West Coast. (Isn't a feeling of superiority grand?!)

The above shot is of the nicely sealed path one is guided along in order to look at the spectacular pancake rocks, blowholes etc. I remember it when it was dodgy dirt track with rickety fences.

Below is the grand entrance to the reserve. Nice.

Nice how I also waited about 10 minutes while people and traffic disappeared. Naturally I ignored the horrible mess of shops, cafes, people, cars, buses, campervans, motorbikes etc directly behind me.

Oh and look. Just in case you were after a shot of the pancake rocks, the blowholes etc. Here's a blowhole. And people. And nicely sealed path and sturdy fences.

PS: there's an irony here with my lambasting the user friendliness of the Punakaiki resort, as it may well be due in part to the fallout of the incident at Cave Creek, which resulted in DoC having to improve the safety of all its facilities regardless of visitor numbers etc.

Monday, 15 May 2006

The Memorial

While we're on this death trip - and while I'm busy cataloguing my work - I thought I'd share this with you.

I spent the first couple of weeks of this year down south, cruising around, impressing small town people with my big city ways etc. It was the first time I'd been to the West Coast since 1987 (from memory), and being summer, it rained every day.

One place I wanted to go, if it was possible, was Cave Creek - a place etched in the mind of many people, even though most haven't been there. It was a very moving experience.

Cave Creek itself is a stunning location. Just beautiful. Lush, green, peaceful. The drive up the river valley to the start of the walk is also gorgeous. Most of the walk is easy uphill strolling through scrubby bush, and just as you're getting sick of that the track drops down into lush bush and to the creek itself.

Knowing the history of the site, you can't help but notice the large slip and get hit by the realisation of what it means. The above image was taken at the front edge of the slip - a small, subtle, but beautiful memorial to those who died.

What got to me most was the realisation of what those who survived, and particularly those who went for help, went through. It's not an easy place to get to, especially if you're in a hurry to get out, or needing to get numerous emergency vehicles and personnel in.

It is a sad place (of course the downpour that started just as I got there helped to make it more evocative). A place whose beauty hides the events of April 28, 1995. There is no great memorial, which is how I think it should be. To my mind it's enough for people to go there, pay their respects, and give thanks.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

The Sadness

Coming Up For Air
Grant McLennan

I know that I can get sentimental my friend
But I just listened to those songs you sent
Really loved the one about those LA freaks
Did it take a day to write or was it weeks

Will you pull me up
Drop a rope down the hole
Coming up for air
Playing that jazz called rock and roll

I have just found out - a week after the fact - that one of my favourite singer/songwriter/musicians has died. Grant McLennan was a founding member of Australia's magnificant Go-Betweens, and he was only 48.

There is a certain shock to finding out that a 'friend' has died, especially when it is completely unexpected. The feelings I am now having are similar to those I felt when I heard Paul Hester had died. And again when I heard about Elliott Smith's death. I'm kind of speechless, but wanting to share this news.

Grant McLennan was a man I only knew, and loved, through songs - some of the most beautiful songs in pop music - and yet I still feel and immense sense of loss. There's a sadness here. A sadness for his family and friends. And a sadness in knowing that we will never hear new music from this man.

The tributes flow in. From
The Times. From the New York Times. From the NME. From The Go-Betweens website. The Sydney Morning Herald. And again. Billboard. The Australian. And again. The San Jose Mercury News. And a SMH report on yesterday's funeral service.

This is my tribute. The closest I got to him was when I saw The Go-Betweens play at the Forum in London in 1997. It was during one of their brief reunions, before they reunited fully. It was a fantastic show, a greatest hits affair, with the odd solo song thrown in. Their's was one of the few CDs I bought in the 3 years I was away.

Thanks Grant.
You will be missed.
But while you were around there truly was magic in here.

PS: the above image is borrowed from here (with permission) - thanks.

All Her Songs
Grant McLennan

I see you walking
You make me catch my breath
Cos you won't deal with all the stuff that's left
A golden river
And unending stream
The sad procession burns off like steam

How's a girl going to sing all her songs
When the world's gone wild?

File under: Music

Friday, 12 May 2006

The Dilemma

Ever had one of those moments when you're thinking "but I wanna ... but I don't know whether I should"? This was one of those moments. The signs said 4WD only. I have a 4WD, albeit a car with road tyres. But regardless of that, when I get to a stretch of water that's so enticing to just zoom through it's hard to resist. Even when there's a nice warning sign. And you can't tell how deep the water is.

So I park up, get out, start taking my shoes and socks off and the woman over the other side says it's just past ankle depth. I look at her curiously and go "oh well in that case I'll drive". So I do, not entirely trusting her, but she was so close to right it didn't matter - until I got to the other side and noticed that, strangely for a beach, it was sand and sand that got covered at high tide. Fortunately I found more solid sand and parked up once again.

The crossing was really a ford, kinda solid under the water - wood from memory, a bit bouncy, but better than sinking in sand. Needless to say I didn't go 'dead slow' on the way back. Ya can't. Not when you can do water play and make lots of spray.

It was a lovely spot. I don't think I've been back. But I will one day.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

The Pool

So there I was a couple of weeks back mucking around doing not a lot, and none of what I should have been - you know the usual muddling around I do. And I get a call from a photographer friend who (and I'm sure he'll agree) can piss about with the best of them. But today he had plans. He needed to take some shots. And he needed an assistant. And a model. And, dare I say it, good company for the drive to location (and back). Naturally he thought of me, knowing that I could do all that if in the mood. Needless to say I was, cos doing something sure beats doing nothing. And even though we were 'working' I knew he wouldn't mind if I took a camera along for the ride, just in case something caught my eye. And sure enough something did ...

This is the story of the images I made that day. Thanks Paul for the trip. Thanks James for the film.

This was the location. An abandoned public swimming pool. At least it had been abandoned as far as being a public swimming pool went, but it was still frequented by locals (and the odd out of town photographer).

Still outside the fence, but even I could see it wasn't going to make for a great swim, which was a shame cos it was almost swimming weather (when the sun was shining), not that I'm much of a swimmer - even on good days.

We beat the high class security system (i.e. we walked through the gate) and against all odds made it onto the premises.

I braved the depths of the pool and got closer. You know that old Robert Capa adage "if your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough." It wasn't. I did.

(Just as an aside Capa is also quoted as
saying "It's not enough to have talent, you also have to be Hungarian." which is quite good - and funny to boot.)

Oh look. That's from the other side of the pool. Oh and another old chair. There were a lot of them around. Anyone would think people were congregating there ... at night, drinking piss, smoking up a storm, dancing naked under the full moon etc.

Of course I had to have a bit of an explore while Paul muddled about. To be fair I think he was actually just taking shots where he didn't need me to do my Paris Milan Roma model thang.

Anyone for tennis? It'd be interesting to find the history of this place. It was obviously a recreation centre, what with the swimming pool, tennis courts, and sports fields. And equally obviously it's not really up to it anymore. Yet the net's still there. There's no fencing around the outside (despite the fence posts), yet the net's still there!

If you look hard you may pick out the rugby post (on the left) and the soccer post (on the right).

And here we are back at the pool. I think this was the utility shed. Now it's just a nice grungy fashion shoot location. If you knew how to find the place. And I ain't telling you. Not that I'm sworn to secrecy. It's just not my place to tell.
Oh and back in the pool again. Not literally, but back inside the fence. About to get back in the pool. For more of my Paris Milan Roma model thang.

And again. A bit later in the day. Sun going down. Hmmm. That warm late afternoon light. I'll let you in on a little known fact. That mix of yellow light and blue sky is about my favourite light in the world - not that I photograph it very often. If you're ever in Wellington on a sunny autumn day, look over at Mt. Victoria late afternoon and you'll see glorious light like this.

And the last shot of the day - for me at least. I was out of film. It's probably my favourite shot of the day too, due to the lighting, the composition, and the dark exposure. Also Paul got a shot of me taking this, and I used the same exposure settings he did, so that's kinda cool. Paul however wasn't out of film so we kept going - until he was doing 15sec exposures at f2.8, and I was having issues staying still that long (it got cold really fast after the sun disappeared, okay?!)

So there we go. One photographer (okay there were two of us but only one took these photos). One location. One camera (okay there were two of them - in fact more cos I had my Agfa Isolette III as well, and Paul had his F5 I think, and probably his ELX too). One roll of film (okay Paul shot about 7, but this is all about ME, okay?!! It's my blog so it's all about ME, ME, ME!!!).

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

The Rape

At least that's what I think it is - not that I'm much of a horticulturalist or anything. Anyway it's in the Manawatu (or at least I was when I took this photo) and I liked the yellow, and the sky, and the fence post.

Now that I've got my new scanner thanks to Sean at WPS, and that I've run out of already scanned shots to show off, I'm now spending my days scanning old films. Yay for technology.

Sunday, 7 May 2006

The Pouwhenua

Another of my favourite spots in town, and again a place most people don't know about. It's not as beautiful as this place. It's just a gorse covered field - with a couple of nearby horses. It's completely exposed to the wind - all of it!! which can be an awful lot. But there's something magical about this pouwhenua. I think back in the day there was a pa around here, and the site looks south over Cook Strait, east over the valley to Whanganui-a-Tara, west over the valley and the South Karori Hills, and north along the ridgeline to Tinakori. Not a bad place to stop if you want to watch out for attacking hoards of savage natives (as my colonial forebears no doubt thought of the Maori).

Saturday, 6 May 2006

The Sign

One New Years I spent a couple of days with my friends David and Rachael at the bach they had rented over the hill from here. I'd never been to Tora before so was keen to check out a new part of the country. Naturally I've since been back on a number of occasions. David and I spent a lot of our time wandering around with our cameras - though there was less wandering with David's gear cos his 8x10 camera and its associated bags are somewhat heavy. This shot was taken on one of those strolls. Beyond the peak in the road a couple of kilometres is the place we stayed at. It's a gorgeous spot with nothing to do - the perfect place for doing um ... nothing.

Friday, 5 May 2006

The Power

Is it wrong to just post an image cos you really like it (the colour man, the Colour!!) and not say anything about it? I have that power.

Thursday, 4 May 2006

The Twins

Hey look ma, I've lost my focus knob again. If you drive carefully and keep an eye or two open you too can find these trees in the Coromandel. They're called the 'Twin Kauris' cos they're um ... kauri trees and there's um ... two of them - we're real inventive with our names down here in New Zild. I took this a couple of years ago when I popped up to see my mate Nic who was based in Waikawau Bay chasing something I forget now - kiwis or tuis or ducks or maybe just chasing people away. The Coromandel's a nice place eh.

Monday, 1 May 2006

The Night

Here's a shot from one of my favourite spots in Wellington. It's very close to the city, yet most people don't know about it, so it tends to be quiet and peaceful. Though in the middle of the bush on a moonless night got to me and I couldn't stay there for too long (there are reasons that I won't go into here). After wimping out of that shot, I came out and took this one of the entrance which really is rather beautiful, what with the tungsten lights and all. I was even inspired enough to write a couple of poems waiting for the thing to expose. It will probably mean nothing to yous guys, but it means a lot to me - it's that bloody nostalgia again ain't it!!

Beauty and Wonder and Place Gone Past

Whitby even
Made by the night
Though the day shouldn't complain