Wet evening, Whangarei Harbour

2727 Rainy evening, Whangarei Harbour

2727 Wet evening, Whangarei Harbour. 5.24pm, 25 May 2013

On a sodden summer’s day here in Taranaki I’ve been looking through my yearly folders for fitting material. This high-tide scene from Mcleod’s Bay, on the northern shores of Whangarei Harbour, takes in the blue of twilight and the clean, bright highlights of torchlight. I was aiming for some depth with the tree-studded islet offshore, but was surprised by the keen colour contrast. Umbrella photography has its payoffs, but also its price – a good torch tumbled out of my grasp, down the slope and (one part thereof) into the sea below.

85mm, ISO 100. 4 secs at f16. Tungsten light balance

295. City limits, Hurdon twilight

City limits, Hurdon twilight
City limits, Hurdon twilight, New Plymouth. 8.03 pm, 28 March 2013

  Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.  –  Napoleon Bonaparte

50mm; ISO 2500. 30 seconds at f22. Flash; sodium vapour light balance

294. Illumination, Ngamotu Rd

Illumination, Ngamotu Rd
Illumination, Ngamotu Rd, New Plymouth. 9.51 pm, 25 March 2013

 You should listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head.  –  Marge Simpson

50mm; ISO 2000. 2 seconds at f5.6. Sodium vapour light balance


293. Blue of larkspur, Spotswood

Blue moment in Spotswood
Blue of larkspur, Spotswood, New Plymouth. 9.08pm, 25 March 2013

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand / In blue of larkspur,                            blue of Mary’s colour / Sovegna vos  –  T.S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday IV

85mm; ISO 2000. 4 seconds at f9. Sodium vapour light balance


291. There are no eyes here

There are no eyes here
There are no eyes here, New Plymouth. 8.21 pm, 14 March 2013

There are no eyes here / In this valley of dying stars / In this hollow valley /                This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms  –  T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

85mm; ISO 500. 30 seconds at f16. Incandescent light balance



288. Whither Michael Smither?

Michael Smither country
Whither Michael Smither? Waiwhakaiho River at Alfred Rd. 10.56 pm, 27 February 2013

 In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.  –  Alfred Stieglitz

85mm; ISO 2000. 25 seconds at f8. Incandescent

283. Cosmos, Morere twilight

Cosmos, Morere twilight
Cosmos, Morere twilight. 8.59 pm, 25 January 2013

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.  –  Lewis B. Smedes

85mm; ISO 500. 15 seconds at f16. Incandescent light balance

277. Summer evening, Waiuku

Summer evening, Waiuku country
Summer evening, Waiuku country. 9.51 – 9.53 pm, 16 December 2012

Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy – Milton Erickson

50mm; ISO 2000. 80 seconds at f11. Incandescent light balance





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

270. Among mysteries

Among mysteries, New Plymouth. 9.09 pm, 31 October, 2012

Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.  –  Theodore Roethke

50mm; ISO 2000. 15 seconds at f9. Incandescent light balance; flash


267. Beam before landing

Beam before landing, Taranaki.  9 pm, 26 October 2012

Miracles occur, / If you dare to call those spasmodic / Tricks of radiance miracles. / The wait’s begun again, / The long wait for the angel, / For that rare, random descent.
Sylvia Plath

50mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f9. Incandescent light balance

258. Twilight temple, Hamilton

Twilight temple, Hamilton. 6.20 pm, 31 August 2012

 This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. Your philosophy is simple kindness.
Dalai Lama XIV

50mm; ISO 2000. 1/13th second at f11

252. Peekaboo moon, Taranaki

Peekaboo moon, Taranaki. 1.05 am, 26 August 2012

Artists are born kneeling; they fight to stand. Critics, by nature of the judgement seat, are born sitting.  –  Hortense Calisher (US novelist) [adapted]

50mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f16. Sodium vapour light balance

239. From our balcony, after midnight

From our balcony, after midnight. 12.04 am, 6 May 2012

[Only the camera can express] the full majesty of the moment. –  Paul Leopold Rosenfeld

Looking down on the tops of the persimmon. You can only do this on a very still night, as the slightest breeze blurs the detail. However, to get a really creative blur, you need a gusty evening – nothing in-between is very satisfying. An aperture of f16 is the smallest on my telephoto lens; at close range the depth of field is minimal even at this setting. The light is a mixture of moonlight and ambient city light. The cool tones of the background roof show mainly moonlight (it is leeward of city light), while the warmer leafage shows it was more exposed to the street lighting.

85mm, ISO 2000. 108 seconds at f16. Sodium vapor lamp light balance

238. Persimmon by moonlight

Persimmon by moonlight, Nelson. 1.14 am, 6 May 2012

I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.  –  Paul Simon (The Only Living Boy in New York)

Still lifes by moonlight are formidable propositions because of the problems in seeing what you have, particularly with close framing and the shallow depth of field of a mild telephoto. This scene was by our front door in Nelson. The background light is mainly moonlight, with some city fill. Persimmon trees loose their leaves with surprising speed – one windy night soon after did the trick! But now we are back in the North Island, in New Plymouth.

85mm; ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f3.2



233. High tide, no moon, Waimea Inlet

High tide, no moon, Waimea Inlet, Nelson.  7.10 –  7.17 pm, 15 June 2012
Photographing at night can be fascinating because we lose some of the control over what happens in front of the camera.  –  Michael Kenna

 28mm, ISO 2000. 464 seconds (7 min 44 sec) at f13. Sodium vapour light balance




226. Many ways to be free

Many ways to be free. 6.18 pm, 17 May 2012

There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do. – Anaïs Nin

50mm; ISO 2000. 15 seconds at f8. Incandescent light balance


223. Each of us is born

Masonic lodge, Arrowtown. 6.51 pm, 28 April 2012

Each of us is born into an already existent conversation.  –  Martin Heidegger

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f16. Light balance 2500 deg K.



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.


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


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


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


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.

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


211. Ebbtide evening, Marahau

Ebbtide evening, Marahau. 10.16 pm, 2 April 2012

Wise sayings often fall on barren ground but a kind word is never thrown away.  –  Arthur Helps

28mm; ISO 2000. 6.6 secs at f10. Incandescent light balance; flash

208. On the way to Breaker Bay

On the way to Breaker Bay, Kaiteriteri. 8.37 pm, 4 April 2012

Live courageously, and produce.  –  Vincent van Gogh

 28mm, ISO 2000. 3 secs at f8. Sodium vapour light balance

207. The truth more plausible, from Kaiteriteri

The truth more plausible, from Kaiteriteri. 9.06 pm, 4 April 2012

To make the truth more plausible, it is absolutely necessary to mix a bit of falsehood with it.  –  Dostoevsky

Staying three nights this week at Marahau, gateway to Abel Tasman National Park (Nelson), we had lovely evenings “to behold the waxing moon”. At Kaka Pa Point we discovered an easy path down to a sandy cove, Breaker Bay, above which a street light shines.

My attempt to reduce the overwhelming orange of the lamp was not successful, but produced this unusual image, featuring distant Adele Island (Motuarero-nui). Efforts to incorporate more colour in my night photography was aided by the golden sand here, plus the intensified blues from the light balance.

85mm, ISO 1250. 30 seconds at f16. Sodium vapour light balance

199. Arriving at Wellington, evening ferry

Arriving at Wellington, evening ferry. 10.08 pm, 6 March 2012.

 Life is a badly edited film.  –  Fernando Trueba

This was taken without using a tripod or cable release – just holding the camera open on B, on a guard rail on the Cook Strait ferry, has done the trick. The cloud is lit by moonlight, the lower part of the image must be the motorway the boat is running parallel to. We are close to docking. The undulations of the vessel, hardly perceptible onboard, show up in the apparent movement of the city lights. Steep hills are suggested by the absence of lights in some areas.

85mm, ISO 2000. 10 secs at f11. Incandescent light balance.

192. Tomorrow will be the same

Tomorrow will be the same. 6.17pm, 6 August 2009

Tomorrow will be the same, but not as this is.  –  Colin McCahon

“60mm”, ISO 125. 1 second at f2.8. Tungsten light balance


185. End of the road, Golden Bay

End of the road, Golden Bay. 10.51pm, 6 January 2012

 When in doubt, just take the next small step.  –  Regina Brett, at 90

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 secs at f10. Incandescent light balance


173. Night riot in green

Night riot in green. 12.39 am, 11 November 2011

I confess that the head gardener has long asked for a moonlight photo of these louts, here at home. On the wrong side of a trellis, the artichokes are shaded from the full moon until after midnight; they’re also exposed to the sickly orange of streetlights.

To fix the first problem I togged up after midnight, for the second I lowered the light balance further; on the D700 sodium is covered under a fluorescent option. Better still would have been my wife screening the plant with her person – but no, she was warmly tucked up in bed.

50mm, ISO 2000. 68 seconds at f8. Neutral picture control

161. Kiwi Gothic, Inglewood, with crescent moon

Kiwi Gothic, Inglewood, with crescent moon. 8.09 pm, 30 September 2011

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone. –  Anon

Any “ordinary” photo of floodlit buildings will be lifted by background twilight, an obliging moon and the selection of an artificial light balance. Lady Godiva obliging on a white horse in front of the dark tree would’ve helped too, but unfortunately she was already booked for the Rugby World Cup.

If a tripod is not available, go to wide angle, increase the ISO and steady yourself for a slow hand-held using the self-timer. Take several and chances are you’ll get something adequate even at 1/10th – depending somewhat on how wide you go.

28mm; ISO 2500. 1/50th at f2.8. Sodium vapour light balance


158. Night blossom in Gothic

Night blossom in Gothic. 8.24pm, 30 September 2011

Correction does much, but encouragement does more. –  J. von Goethe

Driving back after sunset from an amble around Stratford, Taranaki, I was pleased to see this dramatic church in Inglewood, the next country town. The magnificent kowhai tree in front was laden with blossom, while a branch hung down above the main floodlight.

Not only could I photograph it hand-held – a rare event in night photography – but I belatedly found the Nikon D7oo even provided for sodium vapour lighting, tucked away under the Fluorescent heading. This corrected the lighting colour, giving a very good approximation of the intense yellow the kowhai is remarkable for.

28mm; ISO 2000. 1/80th at f5.6. Sodium vapour light balance

155. Three lights at Paritutu

Three lights at Paritutu, New Plymouth. 9.36pm, 10 September 2011

I have memory, which is the idiot’s talent. –  Francisco Umbral

The three lights are moonlight (at sea), nearby industrial lighting and flash for the foreground. This shot has a cool feel because the incandescent (tungsten) setting was used to cool the light on the slopes of Paritutu. The flash is just the one on the camera, and testing the exposure is also simple – flash it and see. Then add your moonlight shutter.

This was my last effort for the evening because a fire engine turned up, red lights flashing, looking for a fire. I wonder, was it my flash gun or some random fireworks from the summit that brought it out?

28mm, ISO 2000. 30 seconds at f10

148. Sweet fruit

Sweet fruit. 5.57 pm, 4 August 2011

Patience is a bitter plant, but it has sweet fruit. –  Chinese proverb

The new crescent waxes and each evening is higher in the sky. Through a wide angle the early moon is barely visible; waxing a night or two later it is more conspicuous. Being higher in the sky it is harder to frame in the landscape – except on hillsides, and here I’m crouched low on a grassy slope. The tripod was optional at this point, but sharp results are more certain and for me working more slowly leads to greater concentration.

28mm, ISO 2000. 1/60th at f11. Incandescent light balance


147. Hawkes Bay from Awatoto, by moonlight

Hawkes Bay from Awatoto, by moonlight. 11.16 pm, 22 September 2010

Good sense travels on well worn paths; genius never. –  Cesar Lombroso

The skies were clear but the wind was howling as I set up on the cycleway, across the way from the fertiliser works near Napier. Any shot that I failed to shelter from the windgusts was useless, so I hovered as close to the tripod as I could. An elevated viewpoint, even if  available, was out of the question on this evening. The sense of night is amplified with the choice of tungsten light balance. The cloud formations were truly fleeting.

85mm, ISO 500. 30 seconds at f8

145. Surf and moonlit clouds, Taranaki

Surf and moonlit clouds, Taranaki. 6.48 pm, 15 July 2011

Never confuse activity with action. –  F. Scott Fitzgerald

28mm, ISO 2000. 2.5 seconds at f2.8. Incandescent light balance, flash

143. War graves by moonlight

War graves by moonlight, New Plymouth. 9.19 - 9.21 pm, 15 July 2011

Never in his life could an idiot do such foolish things as are sometimes done by nations governed by hundreds of talented people. –  Benito Perez Galdos

28mm, ISO 2000. 2 minutes at f16. Incandescent light balance.