North Head Dune, Westhaven

North Head Dune, Westhaven. Late March, 1986.

This wide angle view is on the ocean side of Westhaven Inlet and features a dune flank backed by a steep line of limestone, which forms the rugged spine of North Head. It’s a memorable scene from an Easter foray to the far side of Golden Bay in 1986, not long after my purchase of an Asahi Pentax 6×7 SLR (a big bruiser). Exposing for sand is the same as for sky – no HDR in those days! Added saturation came by way of a polarising filter, virtually the only way to do it then. The 6×7 format has been scaled down here to the 35mm ratio (2:3). This simple composition would have been enhanced by a small figure either side of the horizon cloud but, alas, I was out on my own at this beautiful (but isolated) location.

Kaihoka monochrome

Kaihoka monochrome, Golden Bay, Nelson. Noon, 7 March 2009

Winter turns to spring (in the southern hemisphere, that is) and my thoughts turn to summer, when I will re-visit this favourite place with friends – but not with the 6×7 Pentax SLR that I used here. Of course the roll film in the big camera did not have a digital stamp on it, but the lightweight LX3 Lumix I had along did. The two types of camera could hardly be more contrasting, but I have not used either for some years – nor I have been back to this memorable scene since.

The view looks northeast over half-buried nikau palms to the southern buttresses of the impressive limestone escarpment known as Luna. The steep dune (foreground), former wetland drained by a meandering stream and distant talus slope below Luna (with tiny sheep) sum up Kaihoka’s great range of landscape. My forays into monochrome are only occasional but I enjoy the medium, whose success depends so much on texture. I feel sure this image – freshly processed after ten years “in the can” – meets that requirement.

Tic tac toe: Your move

Sundown beefs, Kaihoka

Tic tac toe: your move. Golden Bay, 7 January 2012, 9.33pm

When they get bored with pasture, cattle can freely roam these dunes at Kaihoka, but it looked like these ones were pondering their next move in a game of tic tac toe. Taken after sundown, my flash has caught their eyes and added form to blackness. This effect is different from the red-eye syndrome of old party snaps, but I know not why. The half hour after sunset is an excellent time to mix light sources, while unusual adjacencies also add interest. The colour temperature was boosted for this series, to offset the cool twilight.

85mm, ISO 2000. 1/3s at f8. 10,000 deg K