31 January 2011

Swallow flying

Few attempts at photographing a subject have as low a success rate as trying to photograph a swallow in flight. If I were still paying for film I wouldn't even think of trying. Actually, I haven't tried particularly hard because I don't have the patience — this was one of a mere handful I attempted the other day just before stepping back inside the house. In some photos I missed the little bird completely, and this was the best of a series of failures. The original's little more than a silhouette (I'd neglected to deliberately overexpose), but with some heavy processing I managed to rescue some colour and detail.

I don't claim this is a good photo, but I like it, at least in part because it reminds me of an illustration rather than a photograph. But why should that appeal to me?

[27 January 2011, Canon 20D, 300 mm f4 L IS with EF 1.4x teleconverter, ISO 400, 1/1600 at f5.6] 

All content © 2011 Pete McGregor

29 January 2011

Alarmed fake horse

Just over a year ago we stayed at Wanaka and explored the area on day trips. One day with the weather ominous we visited Cromwell, where this horse seemed disturbed by what might be happening out of sight on the cart to which it was harnessed.

[14 January 2010, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 L at 24 mm , ISO 200, 1/500s at f8]

[My Internet connection has been down since Wednesday evening, hence the delay in posting.]

All content © 2011 Pete McGregor

25 January 2011

Ti kouka (cabbage tree)

See a tī kōuka (New Zealand cabbage tree, Cordyline australis) and you're in Aotearoa — even if you're overseas in someone's garden. They're tough, resilient and each has its own character (I'm tempted to say personality) — some lean and spindly, some multi-trunked, others massive with many heads, some surviving on old dead stumps. This one, here in the late light of dusk, lives about a hundred metres down the road from Te Awaoteatua stream.

[5 November 2010, Canon 20D, 10–22 mm f4 at 21 mm , ISO 200, 1/20s at f8]

All content © 2011 Pete McGregor

22 January 2011

Huntaway pups

The two huntaway pups grow rapidly, learn how to interact with other dogs and humans, take longer to wear themselves out. The shaggy coats of these two — Sue on the left, Jack on the right — identify them as beardies (their ancestry will at some stage have included a contribution from a bearded collie). I'm sure they'd make great companions for any dog person, but instead they're to be working dogs, mustering over the valley's steep hills. (No, they're not mine.)

[14 January 2011, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 L at 75 mm , ISO 200, 1/13s at f8. The photo — only a snapshot, really — wasn't great, so I've processed it heavily.]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

20 January 2011

Summer evening, southern Ruahine

Some great light here in the valley lately, particularly in the evenings. But we've had no substantial rain for a very long time and feed has begun to run short; Federated Farmers has asked for the region to be declared in drought.

[11 January 2011, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 L at 105 mm , ISO 200, 1/125s at f8]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

18 January 2011

Dawn on the Upper Makaroro track

Dawn at the top of the track down to Upper Makaroro hut. Fulfilling the promise of the previous evening.

[4 January 2011, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 L at 40 mm , ISO 400, 1/15s at f16]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

15 January 2011

Upper Makaroro track

We watched the sunset from the top of the track leading from Parks Peak to Upper Makaroro hut. The sky darkened; the clouds began to take on colour; evening crept into the valley below.

[3 January 2011, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 L at 60 mm , ISO 200, 1/10s at f16]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

13 January 2011

Sunset over the Ruahine from Parks Peak

We watched the sunset from the top of the track to Upper Makaroro hut. One savours calm evenings in the Ruahine — they're rare. We certainly savoured this. This looks south down Parks Peak ridge, with the Makaroro valley on the right.

Robb has a moving account of our trip on his blog, with photos that evoke well the spirit of the trip. Go and check it out.

[3 January 2011, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 L at 24 mm , ISO 400, 1/13s at f16]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

11 January 2011

Tea — one of the great joys of life

I'm slowly learning about good tea, a process I expect will never end. Late last year this book arrived in the mail: a completely unexpected and highly thoughtful gift from Jo at Ya-Ya's House of Excellent Teas in Christchurch (the source not only of my excellent teas, but excellent advice on brewing them). The book will soon continue its travels, and although I'll miss it, I'll enjoy the knowledge someone else will get to appreciate it — and maybe appreciate tea a little (or a lot) more.  

I've noticed something curious about my tea-drinking, though. While I love good tea, brewed carefully and enjoyed with proper attention, I still enjoy a mug of gumboot tea — a strong brew of supermarket stuff with a drop of milk. I never drink it alone, but with friends (probably the essential factor) I enjoy it: I don't drink it out of politeness. A good tea bag will even suffice*, although I've maintained for years now that tea bags are inventions of the devil, along with cellphones and other abominations.

Maybe that says something about tea — that it can transcend its own adversity and even when abused can still offer something to the drinker?

*Budget bags dropped into milk and soaked briefly in tepid water are an entirely different matter — and I don't exaggerate: this kind of evil can still be encountered here, often from cafés that pride themselves on the quality of their coffee.

[Update, 14 January 2011: Thanks to AJB for alerting me to Christopher Hitchens' highly entertaining, delightfully crotchety and often wrong essay on How To Make a Decent Cup of Tea. He speaks, of course, about the particular style of tea known here in Aotearoa as "gumboot" and elsewhere by other names including "sergeant major's tea" (thanks, Avus).]

[11 January 2011, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 L at 82 mm , ISO 400, 1/13s at f11]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

09 January 2011

Beech forest, upper Makaroro track

On the second day we descended the steep track from Parks Peak to the Upper Makaroro hut. Hard on the legs, but it's over and done with quickly, and on a day like this the headwaters of the Makaroro are a beautiful place to relax. Shortly before reaching the river I stopped and looked out over the valley, the little orange hut below, the sunlight through the beech forest. We had the place to ourselves.

[4 January 2011, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 at 58 mm , ISO 400, 1/160s at f16]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

07 January 2011

Makaroro headwaters, Ruahine range

Back yesterday from four magnificent days in the Ruahine with John (L) and Robb (R). The walk down the river from Upper Makaroro hut included several deep wades (arm-pit deep on one occasion) but on a day like this a good soaking seemed more a plus than a discomfort.

More photos on the way.

[5 January 2011, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 at 105 mm , ISO 200, 1/50s at f16]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor

02 January 2011

The south coast of Wellington on the eastern side of the harbour faces some of the worst weather in the world — the storms of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. Sometimes the southerlies that blow in from there seem intent on making that point, but on a fine day the coast's a beautiful place to be, whether you're fishing, bouldering (that's Baring Head in the far distance) or just sitting or ambling and thinking. Or maybe not  thinking.

[29 December 2010, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4, ISO 200, 1/200s at f16]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor