This image was made as I toasted crumpets for breakfast on Saturday morning. We like real butter on crumpets, not margarine. Margarine is easier to spread but it doesn’t taste as good IMO. Butter from the fridge is too hard for spreading so I cut a slice off a 500gm pack. (I remember buying butter in 4oz "sticks" in the US.) The butter went into the microwave for some gentle softening, but I left it several seconds too long and a round puddle developed where the butter melted. The slice was cut from the end of the pack and the lines and texture are the imprints left by the foil backed wrap. The only editing was the square crop and a slight adjustment to the saturation. Seeing an interesting image in a mundane packet of butter may seem odd, but I suspect my friend in the US and I have been seeing these things for years. We now reach for a camera and record it! Is it truely our eyes we are training, or is it growing the habit of having a camera handy? Slowing down to make time to see things doesn’t seem to be a normal MO for either of us but I love how this project has made me more appreciative of the small, everyday details.
This morning I had my usual two coffees. I noticed my husband's freshly washed blue jeans folded on the table and thought the blue might make a good background to the coffee cup. It worked but I thought the blue looked a bit bland. That was solved by a portion of an image from last night's visit to Festa, smoke from one of the installations, lit with a blue light. I altered the opacity of the layer and masked it back from the cup. Again, a favourite blue/gold combination working well, with receding and advancing colours. The cloud like pattern looks like sky, but it is simply smoke overlaying blue jeans! It could also be some sort of geothermal pool with steam coming from the water - maybe???
As I watched a Youtube video this morning, and as it was quite long, I became distracted at one point by the sun coming in the east window of the living room. It was picking out a glass coaster on the marble top of the coffee table and reflecting the new leaves on the cherry tree outside the window. I paused the video and reached for the camera to try to capture the refections in the heart shape etched into the glass coaster, but it was impossible to get the camera to see what my eye was seeing. I gave up and finished watching the video, but the coaster played on my mind while I watched. I rearranged three coasters to catch the light and used a torch to add some extra light into the side of the stack. My intention was to convert it to B&W, but as I liked the colour version much more, when edited the image I decided not to convert it. I have added some saturation in NIK and applied a square crop, then added a levels layer to increase the colours. I like the translucency of the glass making the colours change as the glass layers altered the opacity of the stack.
B&W was stymied this morning! A change is as good as a holiday, so they say.
I decided to follow through with a project I’ve had in mind for some time, to photograph crumpled bed sheets each morning, for a month, for a portfolio. The idea came to me first in a hotel room a few years ago, then when we were in Waikanae on the way to the Jaguar rally last Easter (“Rested”, Week 9 of Project 52). And then a photography friend who lives in the North Island did a similar thing, but she printed hers on tiny glass slides. Glass slides in a portfolio would be too risky, and I didn’t want to copy her idea of putting them onto glass, although I loved the contrast of a warm, comfortable, soft bed, with the fragility of her glass slides. I’ve put mine together as a grid, and am happy with the printed result, five across and six down. This image is a composite of the last three days, after messing about with layer blending and opacity.
I made this image a few days ago. It was just a sudden thing. I had thought I’d make an image of my husband’s 29 babies - his tomato plants, grown from seed saved from last year. This year he planted 29 seeds and 29 came up. Last year he thought he planted 30, and 89 came up. We thought there would be an abundance of tomatoes, but they didn’t do that well. He planted the seeds in seed raising mix and then potted them on into little peat pots which are supposed to break down in the soil. The idea is to plant the seedling, pot and all, and the pot breaks down. The pots didn’t break down so the roots were sadly compromised. We gave quite a few away, and said nothing when people told us their tomatoes hadn’t done very well! The thought was there. This year we’ll do it differently. The seedings will not be planted in the pots, so the roots should develop properly. What a long story, and nothing to do with this week’s image, because the tiny plants didn’t photograph well enough. Sorry, back to the point.....
When I came back inside the sun was on exactly the right place in the late afternoon to catch the spiral binding on a notebook I had left open on the back of the couch in the living room. We photographers all know how quickly the sun moves so it was a mad dash for the camera and macro again (I’m making a habit of this) before the sun moved away and the book wouldn’t have been at the right height anymore. I made a few exposures, but this one seemed to me to have the most interesting composition. After a few exposures I realised the white balance was set to something weird and the white pages had rendered an unattractive smoky yellow, hence the decision to lose the colour.
On Sunday we went on a Jaguar Car Club “run”, to the Bealey Hotel, for lunch. The weather was rubbish, but the drive was nice, and the company was good. After lunch we three decided to drive on, to Hokitika. In New Zealand you can drive from one side of the country to the other, and back, in a day. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but we were quite late getting home. The weather didn’t improve as we drove further west. However, a silk purse had to be made from the sow’s ear - I was determined to make an image, of something. I was actually quite pleased with the finished result, but I didn’t have a long lens, it was raining and I didn’t want walk across the beach and bring sand back into the car (no gumboots) so the image needed quite a lot of post processing to get it to this stage. There was a sign somewhere on the Hokitika beach made of drift wood which is made of driftwood and spelt out the letters of HOKITIKA. Recently there was a big storm and the sign wasn’t there. The track out to the beach was closed, with a warning sign that it was an area of erosion, so we didn’t go far. We watched some hardy folk white baiting in the river in the rain, and talked to one who had caught a cupful, but he was sure it wasn’t “enough for a feed”. In years gone by coasters used to fertilise their gardens with whitebait, not today though. This dancer was performing on the tide line of the beach. I wondered who made her, and also the boat (maybe a boat) to her right. She made the drive worthwhile for me.
What fun. It has been lovely today, to have time to spend on this week’s image.
I finally recalled the inDesign technique I wanted, after forgetting how to do it when I made the shell image last year. Finding the right chapter in the ebook was the hardest part. I do think ebooks are great, but somehow holding a real book in your hand and flicking the pages until you find what you want is probably quicker and less frustrating.
My husband made a smoothie each for breakfast this morning and as we finished them I noticed the patterns the bubbles left on the glasses. It was a dash for the camera and macro lens before the bubbles slid to the bottom of the glasses. He made them with yoghurt, trim milk, a banana and some frozen berries. They were delicious. They keep us going until lunchtime and, while the sugar police would recommend control because of the fruit, we really enjoy them. I placed the empty glasses on a window sill and photographed them, from all sides over about 5 minutes, with back light against a clear blue sky, which is where the blue patches come from. A couple had to be discarded because the colour was out of whack with the rest and they stood out. It would have been easier, and maybe more effective to pick a single image and just send one, but there is nothing like a challenge, so I turned it into a learning opportunity and used inDesign again. Making this sort of image is much easier, (once the right instructions are to hand) I find, when placing the images into inDesign than it is in Photoshop. The individual images snap to a grid more easily, and somehow the grid remembers the spacings and replicates them between the placed images. I find it much harder to get the images in place, with consistent gaps, in Photoshop.
I've known for a long time that we see images through our own life experiences. This was illustrated to me recently, by my cousin, who is a nurse. She thought it was a photo of someone's unfortunate skin disease. My background with food, and hers as a nurse ........................okay!
This morning this scene greeted us as we climbed the stairs for breakfast. The fog had rolled in overnight. I had made a few images after dark last evening, thinking that they might be interesting, and even tried to capture the planes landing at the airport, but I didn’t think the images were up to much, and certainly not good enough to share. Anyway, I scrapped them all once I made this image this morning at 6.46. It was so different from the usual scene. The sun rise made the sky glow, yet the timing meant that the fog still had a blue tint, because the sun hadn’t quite reached the fog. Within about 30 minutes the fog had started to burn off, leaving lines of trees in the far distance beyond the airport first, then buildings in the city and suburbs and finally the streets and gardens. Stunning to watch. A few days ago I found a slow exposure single image of fog moving, taken with an ND Filter on the internet. It was very beautiful, with the fog rolling and looking like waves. Odd coincidence that just a few days later this happened, right under our noses.
The group of cranes on the left are at the hospital, where a new building is going up. The cranes to the immediate left of the two buildings are the Justice and Emergency Services precinct, then the Forsyth Barr building on the corner of Colombo Street and Armagh Street, just north of the Square. I don’t know what the one with the spike is. The cranes on the right are at the Polytech, I think (recently rebranded as Ara Institute). The steam in the distance is the chip mill at Ashley. Christchurch is the crane capital of New Zealand right now. Hand held, ISO 400, f6.3 at 1/125, not that I would normally bother sharing the numbers, but it was just one of those moments!
I found these three seed heads in Perth, when walking to Bunnings. The grass was littered with them and it made for a careful walk. I picked up quite a few and discarded those which were damaged by feet and lawn mowers. I photographed them on a light cream coloured kitchen bench, deliberately overexposing to render the bench as featureless as possible. There is still a slight texture, but I think it is acceptable. The lighting is simply the morning sun, which was variable on the day and I needed to pause between shots to get the bright light I wanted, because I liked the shadows, especially those of the stems. I have no idea what the trees are. The seed heads walnut size. I finally decided to take my DSLR to Perth, after changing my mind several times, right up until we packed the bags! I think all photographers do that. Somehow I don’t feel properly dressed without that camera!
The third primary colour in this series, but this time not looking upwards. On Wednesday we went to a movie, Absolutely Fabulous. It was a good lighthearted romp, with Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders, along with a huge lineup of celebrities playing walk on parts. We enjoyed it.
After the movie was over and we were leaving the theatre I noticed a hand forged security grill above a door way at the end of an alley leading off the cinema foyer. I said to my companions, “Look at that, who says security grills have to be ugly?” I also noticed, on the other side of the street, this red facade. I made a couple of photos of the wall through the grill, as we were slightly elevated, but they didn’t work for me. We walked down the alley way and I liked the combination of red and black on the building better from the door way of the alley rather than seeing it though the grill. I played around a bit with the saturation, and straightened it, but other than that it is straight out of the camera. Along the street a little way there was a bicycle standing up against a wall outside a bank. In the basket on the front of the cycle sat a galah, munching on a stalk of eucalyptus leaves! It was chained to the basket around its foot, but it seemed to be quite happy. I should walk more with a camera! It was quite a sight.
Contrary to the spirit of our project I made this image and “Blue" from last week on the same day. Going out with my camera has not been a top priority while we are in Perth but I decided to take it one day and the two images are the results.
This image was made at the Maylands Station, about 6 minutes walk from where we were staying. The trains run every 15 minutes into Perth, and on to Fremantle. It is a fantastic system The yellow railing was what caught my eye. I tried it in B&W too, but preferred the colour version. I made another image from the top looking down, but it didn’t have the same appeal..
We are visiting my brother in Perth. Yesterday, in the sun, we visited Subiaco. Near the Subiaco Station there is a piece of sculpture which caught my eye. It is probably about 6 metres high. There are letters on the top of some of the stalks, but I couldn't make sense of them. The stalks are laid out on a grid pattern, and are too tightly mounted for me to squeeze between them to get a shot from inside, so I stretched out my arm and held my camera as level as I could. I made several shots, but the converging verticals of this one was my favourite. The stalks are highly polished stainless steel. I know taking images of someone else art is strictly speaking a no-no, but the blue sky and upward reaching stalks reflected how I was feeling, so I went ahead and did it anyway. I hope the maker of the sculpture is happy for providing inspiration.
The first week in Akaroa was glorious, with cold but sunny days. Inside, it was toasty, but it certainly wasn’t tropical outside. Then the really, really cold weather forecasts started. Snow down to low levels across the South Island and to sea level in places. We got the lot, rain, hail, snow, some sun, then more rain, hail and snow. The snow didn’t settle around our house, but it was very pretty on the hills. I wanted to make a photo of the weather, but it wasn’t easy. Not wanting to get too wet and cold, I slid the door open, closed it behind me and sheltered under the eaves to make this. Hail was next but the hail made the table look like roading gravel, and I liked the patterns of the ripples on the table better than gravel! The screen on the back of my camera didn’t show the streaks of rain, that was a bonus. My visual diary has another entry. The image has a gloomy feel to it, but the holiday didn’t. Time, place, memory. We came home the day we planned to, but left it until the afternoon, because we wanted to drive safely over the hilltop, conceding that there may be ice up there. It started snowing about half way up the hill on the Akaroa side, and became heavier as we approached the summit. There was no ice. By the time we got down into Little River the sun was out - just a typical Canterbury day - if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes, as it is bound to change. As usual I’ve tinkered with a few sliders to reduce the saturation, more closely rendering the feeling on the day. I titled it “Umbrella” to as an sort of ironic nod to the hole in the table and the rain. Overall it was a lovely relaxing two week break.
Near Akaroa there is a tiny Maori settlement, with a few houses, a few boat sheds, a large, modern meeting hall and this tiny church. Built in 1876, it was used for services until 1963, when the call for services dropped due to the decline in local families. It is now used for baptisms, weddings and funerals. It is tiny inside too, but has a beautifully carved font and a pedal organ, and pews which wouldn’t seat more than about 3 people each. The carving on the porch is lovely with an inlay of paua shell to highlight some parts. A woven mat on the floor and a couple of pictures hanging on the walls complete the minimal decoration inside, but the views from the windows on the harbour side are stunning, no more decor is required. There are 5 hooks on each side of the door, waiting to hold coats and hats. Helen Clark, when she was our
Prime Minister, refused to go to Waitangi on Waitangi Day some years ago, because she had been insulted by protesters at a previous Waitangi Day. She chose to go to Onuku instead. She attracted a lot of criticism, but was steadfast in her resolve, saying that the office of Prime Minister should be respected in this country and she felt if she attended at Waitangi again it may not be. The feeling inside the church is very peaceful, as it should be. I felt a calmness there, which was lovely. Photographing the interior was difficult because of the high contrast from the window and no flash to balance the light, so I chose this image of the exterior instead.
When my sister and her partner stayed with us recently from Melbourne, she was wearing a pair of lovely colourful socks. I love bright socks and have quite a few pairs. I asked her about them and she told me that her partner's mother knitted them for her, because "it is cold in New Zealand”. I have never knitted socks. On a visit to my aunt I asked her if she had ever done so. She recalled being taught to knit them by her aunt when she came to stay. My aunt was a about 11, so it was a long time ago. She is nearly 90 now. The first sock went well, but the aunt returned to her home before the second one was finished. My aunt and Grandma tried to figure out how to finish it, and managed, but the socks were different. When the aunt came back she was not happy and my aunt had to unpick the second one and redo it! I can knit, but have never attempted socks, so decided that I’d give it a go. How hard could it be? The wool I bought had a sock pattern printed, in the tiniest, palest printing, on the back of the label. I started, and when I got to the part when you turn the heel nothing made sense. I bought another pattern, full sized and with black printing, which made sense to me, pulled the first one apart and started again. Socks are not the easiest thing to make I’ve discovered, and now that I’ve made the first pair I’ll probably leave it at that. We used to have a saying in my restaurant days. “Life is too short to stuff a mushroom”. Same goes for knitting socks. Amazingly, my sister sent me a photo a couple of days ago, showing her feet in yet another pair of hand knitted socks, made by her partner’s mother. Purple this time. I’d rather make photos. Some people would rather knit socks. I get that.
Yesterday a group of 12 friends got together for the evening. The idea was to record the rugby (Crusaders vs Hurricanes) share a takeaway meal, Chinese or Thai, then watch the game, with dessert at half time followed by the second half. I was on dessert, and decided to make one of my favourites, with thanks to my lovely friend Tina for the recipe, Brown Sugar Meringues. They have a LOT of sugar, so I don’t make them often, and I like to add fruit of some kind, to counterbalance the sweetness.
I had a bag of free flow berries in the freezer, but wanted to jazz them up a bit, so added in some slices of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, some cardamon pods, pepper corns and star anise (no more sugar, the sugar police needed calming now) and simmered everything for a while to let the flavours infuse. Whipped cream with natural yogurt folded through to serve, the reviews were excellent!
The Hurricanes won. They were the better team on the night.
The new surf lifesaving club in Sumner replaces the old one which was lost in the earthquakes. The club operated from shipping containers while their new building was constructed. David Hill, of Wilson and Hill Architects, lives in Sumner. He is a keen surfer, so he understood what a surf club needed. The new building is a wonderful example of the way a community can rally round after a disaster and pull off something which will last well into the future.
I love the way the roofline looks like waves. Although this image is from the north and shows only some of the side facing the sea the actual building is quite big. Today, when I was there, the tide was well out and the building looked a long way from the water, tucked up into the sand hills. You can walk right round it and get the feel of it from all sides. The deck outside will be fantastic in the summer.
We had a lovely day today. My husband suggested a quick drive to Akaroa to do a couple of things, and asked my Mum if she’d like to come for the ride and some lunch. She was keen!
We had lunch first then went to the waterfront where I managed only 2 photos before the wharf was overrun with kids and tourists, yes, even in winter. Mum sat in the sun and enjoyed the view. It was a short trip, but on a nice warmish winter’s day, 18C, we all enjoyed it. I think Akaroa is paradise, but don't tell anyone or they'll all want to go there!
I enjoyed having coffee with a friend this week, and it was a nice opportunity for a walk with our cameras. We left the cafe and wandered along the river to the new terraces. The river bank opposite what was "The Strip" has been landscaped, with steps right down to the water. (How can the council allow that when it insists (rightly IMO) on fences around swimming pools?) We met a group of men who were feeding eels meat on the end of a stick. They feed the eels quite often. Now the eels are so tame they swim up when the men tap on the edge of the steps! They told us the construction workers further up the river do it too, and there can be 10 or 12 eels waiting. One man said he always uses a stick now, because he was bitten by an eel once and it hurt! I love it when these nice encounters happen while out with a camera. You never know who you will meet or what you'll learn - tame eels, with blue eyes.
The Deloitte building is on the corner of Gloucester Street and Montreal Street, on an odd wedge shaped corner. I like the shape, but better then that I really like the aqua coloured glass facade. I don’t know if the glass moves but it looks like sails, and gives a lovely effect with the changing light. I’ve only shown a little area, but the building has a wavy frontage and from the diagonally opposite corner it looks really interesting. It was one of the first commercial buildings completed during the rebuild, post earthquake, and seems to be popular with photographers.
I like having a plan when I make images, but I also like being open. We went to Akaroa yesterday. I took my camera, but nothing delighted me, mainly because of the grey day. It was cold, and the sky was low and rain threatened for most of the day. We saw odd patches of blue, but nothing to be excited about. On the way home, sitting in the passenger seat, I was looking at the trees around Little River and on into Tai Tapu. Still nothing, but the germ of an idea began to percolate. I asked my lovely long suffering husband to slow down as we got closer to home because I had thought about winter trees, with a few leaves left. On the banks of the Heathcote River a few leaves are still hanging on, these ones to a weeping silver birch. I wanted back lighting to blow out the distracting sky, but that meant the trees on the opposite side of the river were in the frame too. After a short walk along the river I found this branch, low enough to photograph and with a clean sky. At last, an image, nothing pre visualised, just being open to possibilities.
I like the out of focus branch back left because it gives the image some depth. It might be a little distracting, but I think it balances the top by making it slightly wider. Another 16x9 crop.
Do the trees mind losing their leaves? Do they know, in autumn, that they are going to get another set in spring?
Each week I'll publish a new image as part of a joint Project 52, with my friend in the USA. We both make an image every week, and send them to each other. We are now in the 2nd year of this project. We find it challenging, stimulating and fun. Life should be fun.