30 August 2012

The new Archaeopteryx

Walking along a rough and broken concrete footpath beside the lake at Bariloche, I glanced down. At my feet, a foot. What had happened here — what had befallen the bird? What series of coincidences had left this limb precisely here, framed in this way? I couldn't help thinking of Archaeopteryx, perhaps the most famous of all fossils.

I walked on, still wondering. In the following days, ash from the volcano swept over the town, leaving a fine, powdery film over everything, perhaps even over the foot on the footpath. In another time, the foot might have turned to a fossil; this time, this relic would vanish into oblivion. But perhaps, for who knows how long, this photograph will remain as another kind of record, a statement of questions more than answers, an incitement to wonder. A new kind of fossil.

[7 November 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14– 45 mm at 45 mm, ISO 200, 1/160 at f8]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

28 August 2012

Cerro Torre before sunrise

I got to the lake when the first light from the clouds had just begun to stretch through to touch the snowfields and rock walls. The headwall of Cerro Torre was obscured by cloud, but I didn't mind. This mountain was one of the things I'd most wanted to see in Patagonia.

The colours kept changing, moment by moment, until, not long after this photograph,the land looked like this.

[11 November 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 29 mm, ISO 100, 3.2s at f11]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

26 August 2012

River at Campamento Italiano, Torres del Paine

At Campamento Italiano on the Torres del Paine circuit, the river splits then rejoins at the swing bridge. I spent some time there, mostly in the morning before anyone else had risen, and was rewarded with a close look at a pair of torrent ducks.

The red-flowering shrub is known locally as notro, the Chilean firebush (Embothrium coccineum), and was a common and striking element of the flora while I was in the PN Torres del Paine.

[20 November 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 14 mm, ISO 100, 1/3 at f16]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

24 August 2012

View from the Mirador del Valle Frances, Torres del Paine

I'd not long arrived at Campamento Italiano when I heard someone call my name. A tired Scott stood there, enormous pack on his back, after the better part of a week walking the circuit in the opposite direction to me. The next day we left our gear and walked up to Campamento Britanico, then to the Mirador. Cloud slid around the huge cirque, hiding and revealing wild mountains; occasional flurries of snow swept over. Fine weather has its charms, but for sheer spectacle in the mountains, this is to be preferred.

[21 November 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 14 mm, ISO 100, 1/200 at f16]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

22 August 2012

Oroua River and beech leaf

A few days before the start of this year, a friend and I did an overnight trip to Iron Gate hut in the Ruahine Range. We struck it lucky — we had the hut to ourselves, the weather treated us kindly, and we watched a pair of whio in the river in the evening. Over the summer I returned to the Ruahine several times, but during this winter I've had to be content with regular walks up the No. 1 Line Track because of the constraints of work and weather. I've consoled myself with the thought that I'll be in good shape when I can finally resume the longer tramps, but now much of that good work's been undone by a vicious bout of 'flu. I'm pretty much over it now, but I'll be taking it easy for a little while yet.

[PS: I've updated last week's lighthouse photograph]

[28 December 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 35 mm, ISO 100, 1/15 at f16]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

18 August 2012

Austral negrito at Puerto Natales

This little austral negrito (Lessonia rufa) hopped around the shore at Puerto Natales on an overcast day. He never seemed to pause long enough for me to press the shutter button, and kept his distance as well. Consequently, this heavily cropped photograph is the best I'm ever likely to manage of these lovely little birds. They belong to a group having what seems like an utterly inappropriate name: the Tyrant Flycatchers. On the other hand, I guess if you're a fly, ...

[5 December 2011, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 300 mm, ISO 200, 1/800 at f5.6]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

15 August 2012

Cook Strait lighthouse

I crossed Cook Strait from the South Island to Wellington yesterday, and drove back to the valley today. Partway across the Strait, I wandered out onto the observation deck to look for seabirds, but the ocean seemed strangely devoid of life. No albatrosses, no shearwaters, not even a gull. The sight of this lighthouse leaning against a faint row of Jacob's Ladders partly compensated, though.

Maritime NZ tells me this is the now-decommissioned Karori Rock Beacon. Engineer Jim Foye says, "Karori Rock was decommissioned in 1996 and replaced with a light call Tongue Point on the mainland, the main reason was to enable the site to be safely accessed. Karori Rock was left in place and still acts as a visual mark."

The beacon is the subject of a 1918 paper (Holmes, R. W. (1918). The Karori Rock beacon, Cook Strait, New Zealand. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 206(1918), 331–337. doi:10.1680/imotp.1918.15868). Work on the beacon was completed in October 1915.

The lean in my photograph is an illusion: the tower itself is vertical but slopes on the landward side to increase stability.

[14 August 2012, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 300 mm, ISO 100, 1/640 at f8]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor

05 August 2012

Fog at dawn, Pohangina valley

The weather didn't treat us well here in the valley during late autumn and early winter. But sometimes we'd get fog in the morning, and the old macrocarpas and broken pines would rise up out of it like creatures from myth, and later the sun would burn off the mist and the day would turn brilliant and almost warm.

[9 May 2012, Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 100 mm, ISO 200, 1/13 at f8. Grain added.]

All content © 2012 Pete McGregor