Quad bikes long ago replaced horses on most New Zealand farms, but horses still hang on in some parts. At Flounder Bay they still get a spot of work, between long periods of quiet grazing and insistent investigating of explorers from the campground.
[12 February 2010, Canon 20D, 100 mm f2.8, ISO 200, 1/40 at f8]
The Rapti river marks a boundary of Chitwan National Park in Nepal's lowlands. In the early morning, dugout canoes drift slowly downstream from Sauraha to a point where their occupants can walk back along a trail through the park itself. With luck, one might even encounter a rhino.
My canoe was less crowded — a guide, the boatman and me. Lucky again.
[22 March 2007, Canon 20D, 300 mm f4 L IS, ISO 200, 1/2000 at f5.6]
At Liwonde National Park in southern Malawi we heard something screaming. When we traced it we found this. Neither animal seemed prepared to give in, and I never learned the outcome. How the snake (I was told it was a variegated bush snake) would manage to swallow the frog, I have no idea, but if it did manage it, it's probably still digesting it, almost four years later (just kidding, but you'll get the idea).
Later I heard another frog screaming nearby. Must have been a bad day for frogs.
[1 June 2007, Canon 20D, 300 mm f4 L , ISO 400, 1/100 at f5.0]
As the sun rose, the dense mist began to dissolve over Kakum National Park in Ghana. Monkeys crashed about in the foliage below the ropeway where Toni, Ana and I peered out over and through the canopy, and a hornbill flew past, silhouetted. One doesn't forget moments like these.
[22 April 2007, Canon 20D, 24–105 mm f4 L at 45 mm, ISO 400, 1/25 at f8]
My usual bike ride takes me to the top of No. 2 Line, one of the dead end side roads leading (almost) to the edge of the Ruahine Forest Park. A steep climb in places, but the view's worth it, and coming down's fun.
[8 May 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 14 mm, ISO 400, 1/640 at f8]
Despite its proximity, the Tararua Range remains largely outside my direct experience. I guess the Ruahine's just too appealing: it's closer, less populated and has better weather (which says more about the notorious Tararua weather than the Ruahine's weather).This is the view from the edge of my terrace in the Pohangina valley.
[29 April 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 108 mm, ISO 400, 1/250 at f6.3]
I took the camera on my ride up No. 2 Line late this afternoon, and stopped partway down. Already the sun had lowered far enough for its light to begin to warm up (visually — the irony's that as the light gets warmer, the temperature gets cooler) and the shadows to stretch and accentuate the corrugations along the dirt road and the contours of the hills. The flowering fronds of toetoe (roughly, "toy-toy") stretched skywards above me as if appealing to something for salvation. But the appeal will probably be in vain — the introduced pampas grasses are hybridising with the toetoe and because they're so closely related, biological control of pampas grasses is unlikely to be safe enough to attempt. Conventional methods of control are impractical; the eventual outcome seems inevitable. Already, toetoe, so characteristic of much of Aotearoa, has begun the gradual slide into the autumn of its existence.
[The reference when you mouseover the photograph is to Larkin's An Arundel Tomb]
[8 May 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 40 mm, ISO 400, 1/800 at f8]
As I drove home yesterday evening, the sky grew more and more beautiful — not the garish, spectacular, saturated colours of the "postcard" sunset, but a restrained, refined sky; the kind of sky that hints at age and the unknown. Eventually, about five kilometres from home, I had to stop and try to photograph it.
The Whanahuia range on the left, the Ngamoko on the right; both part of the Ruahine complex.
[4 May 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 45 mm, ISO 200, 1/43 at f7.1]
I've often wondered about the true meaning of "home". I suspect there isn't one, although there may be many. The closest I've come so far might be that home is where you can die without wishing you were somewhere else.
[29 April 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 24 mm, ISO 800, 1/6 at f8. Plenty of post-processing in Lightroom and Photoshop.]