May 2018 in new Perfect Evenings calendar

Quiet night at Kurow, North Otago

Another sample from my 2018 New Zealand calendar, this one is for May 2018. The holiday park at Kurow was decidedly off-season on the cold autumn night that we stayed there. A bitter, blustery wind was blowing but I coated up and left our snug cabin with tripod and gear, determined to make use of the wan moonlight in such an interesting setting – and was then pleasantly surprised to find that down by the river was quite sheltered. From the several hours I  spent on the terraces, covering many angles on the deserted camp, this pic has emerged as a favourite. A second, quite different scene from this frigid outing also features in my upcoming Perfect Evenings photo book.

Monday 2nd October is the last day for my extra special prices on this 2018 calendar, post-free for NZ & Australia. There are still about 20 left – so why not purchase and enjoy?!

 

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White pointers at night, Appleby

White pointers at night, Appleby, Nelson. 7.33pm, 4 September 2017

The difficulty with low angles in night photography is mainly in composition – craning the body to see whatever’s visible in the viewfinder, after steadying the tripod, set as low as it can go. In long grass there’s also a lot of levelling and lining-up. Also necessary after plenty of rain is something to keep your bended knee dry, although in this case the matted grass itself did good service. Using flash to highlight close objects is unpredictable but I was fairly sure the stalks would overexpose – the desired effect. Mixed lighting is not difficult by moonlight, as long as your extra lighting is not too bright, or is only brief. Rating just 2 watts, moonlight is easily swamped by street or house lights.  

30 secs at f8; 28mm and ISO 2000

 

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Puffy whites over Rabbit Island

Puffy whites above Rabbit Island, 7.23pm 4 September 2017

Puffy whites, AKA cumulus clouds, beloved by  photographers, decorate otherwise blank skies and keep them interesting – even night skies, which are much lighter by moonlight and less populated by stars. The unusual thing about the scene above, taken well after dark, was the narrow “window of opportunity” for it. The cloud cover was low and pervasive, and the heavens opened up for only a few minutes the entire time I was out. Peak moments!

The location is actually landward of Rabbit Island (the bridge is visible here) but north of the stopbank and only marginally above sea level. Puddles from recent rain add to the texture of the land; the lights of Mapua brighten distant cloud. There are so many hard-to-repeat factors affecting any sense of achievement on my moonlight forays, but as long as it’s not raining or blowing something can usually be made of any new location. What never applies, though – unless it’s on my very doorstep – is “Oh I’ll get it next time”. Things are never quite the same, next visit.

8 secs at f5.6; 28mm and ISO 2000

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Classic compositions #1

0413 Moonlit foreshore, Collingwood, 10.22pm, 4 March 2015

Like some national flag, this somewhat humdrum scene has its quadrants, as well as enough eye-catching detail to make a composition. I can’t say it’s a favourite but it has been promoted up the ranks for selection by an enthusiastic supporter – so it must have something. What? Both colour highlights and silhouette are in there, along with natural texture and the blue wash of a calm Golden Bay (not always, of course – these rocks are foreshore defences). Above all, though, it has middle lines to divide – and unite – the composition. Both horizon and tree are in that “Avoid!” place, dead centre. Taking the place of the “third party” in composition terms are far-off lights, clouds and stars. Spending time at this quiet, far corner of the settlement made for an enchanted evening, despite no awesome photos resulting.

Re-framed to 16×10 for emphasis; 28mm, ISO 2000  30 seconds at f8

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Te Henui ti kouka, 1 & 2

2791. Te Henui ti kouka

2791 & 2794. Te Henui ti kouka in flower, by moonlight. 25 October 2015

Usually I try to avoid subtlety, but these two images a short interval apart demonstrate the use of flash. In the scene above – the steep flank of an old pa above the Te Henui in New Plymouth – the flash has a fill-in function but also highlights the central tree trunk. The image below gives away my vantage point, one of the two new (2013) footbridges on the walkway. Here the flash illuminates the railings but is not strong enough to highlight the background. It’s a startling shot but I prefer the straight one above. A perfect spring evening, it was quite still in the sheltered valley, with the rising moon waxing at 90%. This was our most enchanting pause on the walkway, one open to the moonlight and enhanced by the heady scent of the cabbage trees.

DSC_2794.16x10

28mm; ISO 500 & 1000. 30 seconds @ f5.6; @ f8.

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Whakawhitiwhiti Pa, at night

2711. Whakawhitiwhiti Pa
2711. Whakawhitiwhiti Pa, at night. 9.05pm, 28 September 2015

A futile gesture in the top fosse of this stronghold, conspicuous in New Plymouth’s western suburbs. The pa is high but I was sober – indeed the chill sou’wester was sobering, so a hip flask would’ve been welcome. The pa’s history is not accessible online and as it is barely mentioned in the standard works on Taranaki history, it was likely long abandoned by 1828, when the first Europeans arrived at the Sugar Loaves. Its preservation was only assured in 1989; today the pa overlooks suburbs at every turn – but the views are great. It is an impressive sight for visitors, although actually little visited.

28mm; ISO 500. 30 seconds at f5.6

 

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Rivulet of time: Dreams of a small figure

1116 Rivulets of time: Dreams of a young girl

1116 Rivulet of time: Dreams of a small figure.

This uncommon scene is a reprise on my earlier visit, also in May (2009), with the Holy Virgin. Although we’d had some rain before this secular occasion, my obliging figurine held her position well on the edge of the abyss, and so my only task was to administer the correct amount of torchlight. The location is just below the old weir at the Brook Street reservoir, Nelson. A waxing moon had cleared the manuka above, but moonlight here is lost in strong LED torchlight (the moonlight was not lost on my hi-vis vest, however, and my daughter quickly found me once the nearby comfort of the car had palled). LED lighting is quite cool, like daylight, so I’ve added some warmth in post-processing – the photo equivalent of a teaspoon of tumeric in the dinner pan.

28mm; ISO 500. f11 for 30 secs. 8.39 pm, 1 May 2015

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Beach Rd twins, Collingwood

0440 Beach Road, Collingwood

0440 Burnett Range from Collingwood

A cool southerly breezed down the Aorere valley as dark descended on the chief settlement of western Golden Bay. Heading out on Beach Road, away from the village, soon demonstrated the power of microclimate, as around the corner, in the lee of the hill forming a backdrop to the township, there was utter calm. The two photos were taken about 100 metres apart, but with telephoto (135mm) and wide angle (28mm) lenses. Above, 30 seconds; below, 15 seconds – almost too slow to hold the cloud formation. Not surprisingly, clouds move faster on telephoto images than on wide angle ones.

0430 Beach Rd, Collingwood

 0430 Beach Rd, Collingwood

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Yana by the Aorere, Golden Bay

0362 Aorere rivermouth, Golden Bay

0362 Yana by the Aorere, Golden Bay. 8.40pm, 4 March 2015

On a lovely late summer evening I took a break from the moonrise to ask Yana to pose as the highlight for this composition. Flash gives a solid block of colour, as expected. The river mouth is intentionally underexposed, while the fisherman is included to add some depth. My initial jpeg from the RAW file was disappointing and not at all faithful to the limpid tones of the original, so adjustments were made in post-processing. This scene was only a short walk from our accommodation at the Collingwood campground. The township is based on a sandspit but is more famous for its flammability.

28mm, ISO 500. 3 secs at f11

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Bold sentry, Paritutu evening

3409 Odd conjunction, Paritutu

3409 Bold sentry, Paritutu, New Plymouth. 11.34pm, 21 July 2013

I admit to some anxiety parading a mannequin in a public place late at night, being too old for the art student look, so I was relieved to have this popular venue to myself for the duration. The torso was a gift from my daughter, intended as offset to a female mannequin she admired in one of my old photos. The pot plant is 100% artificial too. Moonlight and port lighting (background) are supplemented with torchlight on my two props. The steps lead to a brutalist viewing platform below Paritutu, the steep volcanic remnant which dominates the local coastline. A cloudlet wandered over, to complete the composition. Not recommended for biscuit tins.

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 sec at f16

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Winter roadside, moonlit mono

DSC_8301

8301 Winter roadside, moonlit mono. 10.32pm, 13 July 2014

I find myself more drawn to formalist compositions as I grow older. They are by no means easy to do, especially after dark. This one surprised me on a pleasant roadside. Intrigued by its depth, I used the last of my battery to highlight the foreground. In post-pro I have discarded the original colour elements, then chosen a brown and black duotone from a long list of possible combos. Digital duotone is “an imaging process that computes the highlights and middle tones in a black and white image, then allows the user to choose any color ink as the second color” (Wikipedia). In print, duotone (or tritone) is the best way to present half tone (B&W) fine art, and also historical photos.

28mm, 500 ISO. 15 seconds at f8. Flash

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Nelson gothic, by street light

Nelson gothic

8715 Nelson gothic, by street light

Photographer William Tyree’s pile, on Whitby Rd – but hardly Gothic. In uploading this I suddenly realised that a spectral figure was needed at the gate! How easily I could have stepped into the shot myself, halfway through the exposure, yet the thought never occurred to me. Now I see as obvious the need for a third punch for the composition, especially something in blue – such as I was wearing at the time. Doh.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard

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Signs and sacrifices

7790. Signs and symbols

7790. Signs and sacrifices

A pause in readings from the Little Book of Sacrifices. A simple lateral flick-trick found online has brought out some unexpected imagery, while a slight re-framing avoids complete symmetry. A warm duotone was selected after conversion from the colour original. The hand-colouring is hardly brilliant, but this looks to be a hard-wearing image with many possibilities for future embroidery. The rosary was Claire’s suggestion, although her own tastes appear to be more literary than gothic. (Would authors of such fiction, however, please communicate).

N.B. No small animals were harmed in the making of this image.

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Reading the Little Book of Calm

7780. Readings from the Little Book of Calm

7780. Reading the Little Book of Calm

Or something like it. Claire is distracted with readings from a good book. Light ent., relief and engagement shine through as the drizzle descends. Low angle with tripod; wide angle lens predictably highlights her fine hands; her hair is emphasised by post-pro desaturation and selective re-saturation.

An important ingredient of memorable portraits is the capture of micro-emotion, those inner feelings which flicker on the silver screen of our faces. These are surely basic to our primate biology. Even if as here the occasion is fictitious, we immediately recognise the human reality of expression. In this curious blend of fiction and fact we see the genetic relationship of the portrait with the novel. (This observation can’t be original, but at least the occasion was.)

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297. Up 233 moonlit steps

233 steps by the moon
Up 233 moonlit steps, Back Beach, Taranaki. 10.07 pm, 27 March 2013

To Barney’s pulpit rock I climb / Where the sea aisles burn cold / In fires of no return / And maned breakers praise / The death hour of the sun.

James K. Baxter, In fires of no return

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f11

 

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292. Half moon with cricket song

Half moon with cricket song
Half moon with cricket song, New Plymouth. 9.20 pm, 22 March 2013

 Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky /            Like a patient etherised upon a table  –  T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

28mm; ISO 2000. 5 seconds at f5.6. Flash

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289. Moonlit mudra

Moonlit mudra, Golden Bay
Moonlit mudra, Golden Bay. 10.54 pm, 7 February 2009

 Let us live most happily, possessing nothing; let us feed on joy, like the radiant gods.  –  The Buddha

24mm; ISO 200. 60 seconds at f2

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287. Rising moon on Razorback

Rising moon on Razorback
Rising moon on Razorback, Taranaki. 9.14 pm, 27 February 2013

 All of us must indulge in a few small follies if we are to make reality bearable.  – Marcel Proust

28mm; ISO 2500. 30 seconds at f11. Flash

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284. Moonlit minutes at Morere

Ten minutes of Morere moonlight
Moonlit minutes at Morere, East Coast. 10.31 – 10.41 pm, 25 January 2013

 Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.  –  Dalai Lama

28mm; ISO 2000. 629.4 secs (10.5 minutes) at f11

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271. Moonrise, Wrantage Street

Moonrise, Wrantage Street. 8.58 pm, 30 October 2012

 Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it … Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives.  –  Joshua Foer

28mm; ISO 2000. 1/2 sec at f5.6. Sodium vapour light balance

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268. Mother ship obviously poised

The mother ship is obviously poised. 9.20 pm, 26 October 2012

For the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will, and with equal joy they would lift a Lazarus in his rags to Abraham’s bosom, or be a chariot of fire to carry an Elijah home.  –  John Newton

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f13

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254. Life was Beauty

Life was Beauty. 12.49 am, 26 August 2012

   I slept, and dreamed that life was Beauty; I woke, and found that life was Duty.  –  Ellen Sturgis Hooper

50mm; ISO 2500. 30 seconds at f16. Flash

 

 

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251. Moonlight in May, Cheviot

Moonlight in May, Cheviot, North Canterbury. 9.03 – 9.06 pm, 2 May 2012

There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness, but there is the discovery of joy.  –  Joyce Grenfell

28mm; ISO 2000. 192 seconds (over 3 mins) at f11

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246. Desolation Row, Waiuku country

Desolation Row, Waiuku country. 9.18 pm, 28 July 2012

And the only sound that’s left / After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up / On Desolation Row.  –  Bob Dylan

28mm; ISO 2000. 68 seconds at f8

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243. Winter in Waiuku country

Winter in Waiuku country, South Auckland. 11.51 pm, 28 July 2012

Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinite photographic possibilities.Michael Kenna

 28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f5.6

 

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240. Ratana church, winter twilight

Ratana church, winter twilight. 5.42 pm, 4 July 2012

The illiteracy of the future will be ignorance not of reading or writing, but of photography. –      László Moholy-Nagy (Weimar photographer, 1926)

Oh for a rising moon behind! But there was heavy overcast – and anyway, the moon was yet to rise. By the way, a big moon rising after dark is past full and on the wane – not many people seem to know that.

This is the founding church at Ratana Pa, near Wanganui. Photography is not allowed within the gates, but as they are quite a feature in themselves I was content to take this from outside them. It was that time of evening when flash balances well with a longer exposure.

28mm, ISO 2000. 2 seconds at f16. Flash

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237. Night view over Westhaven Inlet

Night view over Westhaven Inlet. 9.50 pm, 3 June 2012

 I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day. 

–  Vincent van Gogh

28mm; ISO 2000. 66 seconds at f10

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236. Return after dark from Turtle Cove

Return after dark from Turtle Cove, Golden Bay. 8.18 pm, 2 June 2012

 At their best, photographs as symbols not only serve to help illuminate some of the darkness of the unknown, they also serve to lessen the fears that too often accompany the journeys from the known to the unknown.Wynn Bullock

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f11

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231. Daylight is too easy

Daylight is too easy. 8.06 pm, 2 June 2012

Daylight is too easy. What I want is difficult – the atmosphere of lamps and moonlight.     – Edgar Degas

28mm; ISO 2500. 30 seconds at f11

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228. Evening view from Westhaven Retreat

Evening view from Westhaven Retreat, Golden Bay. 8.53 pm, 1 June 2012

I’ve had a lot of trouble in my life – most of which never happened.  –  Mark Twain

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f13. Flash

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227. Waxing moon, Westhaven

Waxing moon, Westhaven Inlet, Golden Bay. 6.48 pm, 1 June 2012

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it. 

 Marcus Aurelius

28mm; ISO 2000. 15 seconds at f8. Flash

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224. Autumn evening, Cheviot

Autumn evening, Cheviot. 8.32 pm, 2 May 2012

The moon could not keep shining if it had to pay attention to all the dogs barking at it.  –  Anon

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f11. Flash

 

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222. Foothills from Fox Glacier

Foothills from Fox Glacier. 8.32 pm, 28 April 2012

As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be, you can’t see how it is.   – Ram Dass

28mm; ISO 2000. 94 seconds at f8. Light balance 3030 deg K.

 

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221. Target practice, Arrowtown

Target practice, Arrowtown. 7.32 pm, 28 April 2012

         Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.  –  Arthur Schopenhauer

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f8

 

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220. Night portal at Kurow

Night portal at Kurow, North Otago. 10.41 pm, 30 April 2012

It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.  –  Lewis Carroll

28mm; ISO 2000. 10 seconds at f2.8. Incandescent light balance

 

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219. Cheviot after dark

Cheviot after dark, North Canterbury. 8.05 pm, 2 May 2012

Change is the very essence of life.  –  Anatole France

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f11. Light balance 2500 deg K

 

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217. Just keep going

Just keep going, Fox Glacier. 10.37pm, 24 April 2012

 Just keep going. No feeling is final.  –  Rainer Maria Rilke

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 secs at f4. Light balance 3030 deg K

 

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216. Seeking love at Kurow

Seeking love at Kurow. 10.26 pm, 30 April 2012

 Seeking love keeps you from the awareness that you already are it.  –  Byron Katie

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 secs at f5.6. Mercury vapour light balance.

 

 

 

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215. Sinking moon, Arrowtown

Sinking moon, Arrowtown, Central Otago. 7.04 pm, 28 April 2012

If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.  –  Dr Suess

 28mm, ISO 2000. 15 secs at f8. Col balance 2500 deg K.

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212. Let it go, let it out

Let it go, let it out. 10.27 pm, 3 April 2012

Let it go, let it out / let it all unravel; Let it free and it can be/ a path on which to travel.  – Leunig

28mm; ISO 2000. 30 secs at f8. Incandescent light balance

 

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