#SundayStills – Spring has sprung

Nothing says Spring to me as much as the daffodils and blossoms bursting forth and shining bright all around me.

Except maybe the territorial Tui who tumble and savour their way through the kowhai trees, sipping nectar from the yellow flowers.

Territorial Tui tumbling through the trees, 
One flies in and the other flees,
Sipping on the nectar,
Flying near and far.

It is such a delight 
To see them take flight
Soon they will build a nest 
To prove which bird is the best.


https://secondwindleisure.com/photography/sunday-stills-photo-challenge/

Sunday Stills – Going Back in time

Going back in time, I found this intriguing photo  amongst my travel memories, It was an interesting way to tell the time, at least in the afternoon.

“In the centre of the Old Town Square in Prague, there is  a line on the cobblestones. At the start of the line, which is called Prague Meridian until 1918 stood a huge Marian Column. The shadow from the column fell on the meridian and locals could check the time. The Latin inscription on the Prague meridian says: «Meridianus quo olim tempus pragense dirigebatur», which means “In the afternoon you can see the exact time in Prague.”

Going back into family history brings memories alive again. Delving through the old photos and memorabilia of earlier times reminds us of how life must have been then back then.  Learning about our history also teaches us how to look forward. The baby in the middle photo is the great grandfather of my granddaughter is holding a photo of the grand uncle who is also pictured in the photo on the wall.

This week Aotearoa/New Zealand has been celebrating Te Wiki o Te Red Maori/Maori Language Week. I thought it timely to share this whakatauki/proverb which is also about going back so you can move forward in strength. 

Titiro whakamuri

Kokiri whakamua


Look back and reflect

so you can move forward

Sunday Stills. Just 1 sunrise and several sunsets

Oh yes – do I have  plenty of sunsets and maybe a sunrise?


I’m not so great at getting up early enough to capture sunrises.  We cruised into Gothenburg harbour in the early morning just as the sun had risen enough to hide behind the clouds. Does that count as a sunrise?

Later that week, we saw glorious  sunsets over the Southern archipelago.

The West Coast is a great place to watch the sunset.

Sunsets are such peaceful time of the day to enjoy some solitude.

And then there are the fabulous sunsets I see out my window or through the trees.

This winter month I am just looking for a few hours of sunshine each day – just a few hours and perhaps a lovely sunset.

Sunday Stills – Around the world looking for PINK

Pink is still a challenge as I shared many pink pictures earlier in April so I have had to keep looking through my  travel archives.


This wasn’t such a chore as it gave me an opportunity to enjoy another glimpse into our travels – from what feels like the distant past.  Sigh!

Borrowed artworks featuring pink were few and far between but Banksy can be relied on to add interest and intrigue.

Bing Bong is pink – Inside and out.

Still, I feel grateful that we were able to enjoy our travels  before tripping around the world got complicated. Until we can travel overseas again, I will just enjoy this beautiful pink light on the mountains.

Thanks for the memories.

Astrophotography is such a celestial challenge.

All eyes were raised to the dark skies when the lunar eclipse was imminent. There was to be a super blood moon.

“A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow.This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned with Earth between the other two, which can only happen at a full moon. The eclipsed moon appeared as a faint red disk in the sky due to a small amount of light being refracted through the earth’s atmosphere; this appearance gives a lunar eclipse its nickname of a Blood Moon.” 

Weather forecasts scrutinised.  ✅

Potential locations scoped.✅

Astrophotography techniques researched.✅

SD cards cleared and ready ✅

Camera batteries charged……   ✅

It was nearly time for the big event – the night of the lunar eclipse had arrived.

BUT THEN….  in swirled the fog and cloud cover.  Down plummeted the temperature. Desperation set in and I was so frustrated – why did I choose to stay at Twizel instead of Tekapo?

Deciding that if I didn’t at least try, I wouldn’t see anything at all, so no matter the gloomy forecast, out I went under the foggy and cloudy skies.


I wore many layers of merino jumpers and scarves, thermal tights, a good wind jacket and fingerless gloves.  I even had my hot water bottle wrapped in lambswool at the ready in the car. And my thermal mug filled with turmeric latte.


Arriving at my location, I was not surprised at all to find that no-one else was there – apparently they were all at Lake Tekapo instead.  Sigh!

Undaunted, I set up the tripod and  took a few trial pictures.  Hmmm that cloud cover was a  bit tricky but at least I could see the beautiful moon intermittently ithrough the clouds.  It was still early as yet so there was still a chance it would clear so crossing my cold fingers, I set up the intervalometer and waited.  This was to be my first attempt at capturing a lunar eclipse. As per normal, I had decided on a capturing multiple exposures of each stage of the eclipse – a tad ambitious in hindsight. 

So here are my embarassingly pathetic images. But at least I tried….!

I did manage a few photos of the penumbral and the umbral shadows stage but very foggy so focusing through the clouds was a major issue.  Then the first camera battery died (of the cold).  Changing the battery meant taking the camera off the tripod first so that ruined the continuity of focus and composition. I waited a while and tried again. 


Several images later, the moon had almost reached totality – and you guessed it – the second camera battery also died (of the cold).   Me too, I grumbled to myself. By this time the clouds had almost covered the skies and the temperature had dropped to Minus 4 degrees. I drove back to camp through the ever-increasing fog and drank a comforting glass of red wine (which looked redder thats the Blood Moon).

Bloody Moon

And the very next day:  Social media were filled with images of the penumbral shadows, umbral shadows, partial and totality eclipse. I was very envious. 

But wait – there is another almost total lunar eclipse coming up 19 November 2021…. watch this celestial space!


Sunday stills – Weathering the millennia of wind and waves

Wind and waves have worked their magic and stacked layers of limestone pancakes upon which to feast our eyes. 

One of my favourite geological formations to visit is the Pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki, West Coast NZ. I never get tired of viewing the impressive results of wind, wave and seaspray on the limestone formations of Dolomite Point.


The Pancake Rocks and blowholes

Each ‘pancake’ consists of a layer of limestone layer made up of tiny shell fragments, separated from the next pancake by a thin layer of siltstone. Thousands of years of rain, wind and sea spray have etched the softer siltstone into nearly-horizontal grooves, and rounded the edges of the limestone layers, which together look like giant layers of pancakes.

Dolomite Point has a maze of underground passages and large open caverns which face the sea. When there’s a big swell, and the ocean surges into these caverns, water is forced into the passages. Looking for an escape route it follows the passages to the surface. As high tide approaches huge geysers of spray burst skywards. When there’s a big sea running the blowholes are spectacular.

On this day the tide was high and huge waves were rolling in. Luck was on my side. 

I made many images to try to capture that big geyser of spray. Many moments were spent patiently watching and waiting with my camera at the ready in hopeful expectation that the next surge will bring forth that loud whoosh as the waves rise up through the underground passages and burst high above the pancake rock formations. 


Delighting in seeing the power of both the wind and the salt spray trickling back down through the pancake layers. It is fascinating indeed to see the weathering of the rocks still in action as it has been for thousands of years, creating the astounding formations we see today. 


I first saw these spectacular limestone pancakes more than fifty years ago. Then we revisited them with our young children many times and yes, this was way before the area was upgraded with safety fences and sealed pathways. We allowed our kids to explore those tracks between the layered rocks. Whatever was I thinking? 


Looking down into the Devils cauldron ( as it was known then) it is quite mesmerizing watching the force of the waves. Not the place to fall into. Those crumbling cliffs are quite slippery with the constant sea spray. And yet, it is indeed captivating to watch the swirling wave action.  I was too preoccupied watching where my feet were stepping to take a photo of the devils cauldron this day.

Back home I finally got time to do some editing, here are the results of my weathering topic for the Sunday Stills ‘weather’ week. – It could also be for last week’s ‘water’ theme I guess for which I missed the deadline.

We finished off these few days by parking over at Fox River freedom parking site where the local “Rusty Cup’ coffee cart served us real  pancakes with layers of bacon and banana with lashings of maple syrup for breakfast.  Almost breakfast in bed – lol.  On a side note, I caught up with my work colleague from a few years back – together we had ‘weathered’ many rough and tough work days so it was lovely to catch up and share memories as we ate the pancakes and drank the strong coffee.

All that was left to say is “Pass the maple syrup please!”

SundayStills 2021 – my favourite #Landscapes from around the world

Croatia landscapes:

Such happy travel memories of our Croatian trip.Plitvice lakes and Krka waterfalls – so many water-scapes and waterfalls.  Walking alongside, walking across, around and above the waterfalls was a magical experience.  Water, water everywhere.  

“Plitviče Lakes National Park is a 295-sq.-km forest reserve in central Croatia. It’s known for a chain of 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. Walkways and hiking trails wind around and across the water.

And when we got to Krka we could swim close to the waterfalls. How lucky were we to have this experience when we visited in 2018. 

2020 was the final year in which visitors to Krka National Park were able to swim in Skradinski Buk, the largest and most-popular water asset situated there. From January 2021, the practice of swimming in this section of the park has been banned.

“Krka National Park is situated along the Krka River in southern Croatia. It’s known for a series of 7 waterfalls.  Skradinski buk is one of the most attractive parts of the park. It is a massive, clear, natural pool with high waterfalls at one end and cascades at the other. It is the lowest of the three sets of waterfalls formed along the Krka river.  In an area 400 m in length and 100 m in width there are 17 waterfalls and the total difference in height between the first and the last falls is 47.7 m. 

Swedish landscapes

Where my Swedish family live in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Sweet memories of our most recent overseas trip in 2018 – who knows when we will return?

NZ landscapes
A little closer to home – these images of the South Island of New Zealand are special to me as a ‘mainlander’. Taken over several road trips around the South Island in differing seasons, each has been a particular highlight.

Aoraki, Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo- the magical mountains and lakes of the Mackenzie region. 
Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its height, as of 2014, is listed as 3,724 metres (12,218 feet). It lies in the Southern alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island.”

Hurunui Hinterland – we explored the Hurunui River from the source at Lake Sumner, a remote high country lake through the hinterland and Canterbury Plains to the Culverden basin and thence to the coastline of the Pacific. 

“The Hurunui River is one of the most diverse braided rivers in Canterbury. It has two main branches, each with distinctive attributes originating east of the Main Divide in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Some 150km long, the total catchment area of the river is 2671 km2.”

My last image has to be an especially favourite landscape though – it is the point of light at the end of the beach where I live.  No matter how far I’ve travelled,  there is no landscape like the one I live in – at home.

And that is the point of this post.

The Point of light – Ohingaroa Bay

SundayStills – Fog and Clouds of Aotearoa – the Land of the Long White Cloud

I love clouds. I once tried a project of photographing clouds every day for a month. I was a little concerned there might be some cloudless days but I was  in luck – or maybe I just chose a cloudy month.  Or is it because I live in New Zealand/Aotearoa – the land of the long white cloud?

It is so intriguing gazing at atmospheric skies. Clouds are a never-ending source of fascination.

Here is a selection of foggy sunrises , misty clouds with fringes of sunlight and a couple of lucky rainbows just because. Did I mention I love rainbows too?

SundayStills – Color Challenge: Glacier Blue

Yay – A chance to reminisce about glaciers I have visited.


1990:

My first glacier visit was during a work trip to the West Coast of New Zealand.  Back then we could actually walk to the face of the Franz Joseph Glacier. My colleague and I had travelled on the Sunday so we could spend some time exploring before starting work on the Monday. That was such great experience and one never to be repeated since it became too hazardous to get up close and personal to the glacial wall due to the high rate of retreat- and a couple of unfortunate injury  incidents due to falling ice.

2017:

On a South Island road trip, we stopped off at a viewpoint to marvel at Fox Glacier. Viewing made easier by following a short gravel road to a handy carpark.  Fortuitously, there was no cloud cover and we got this spectacular view.

Fox Glacier – 2017

2020:

What an adventure we had on our trip to Tasman Glacier.  

“The Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier in New Zealand and a must-see natural wonder in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.  The short walk to the Tasman Glacier view point is approximately 40 minutes’ return. The view from the overlook takes in spectacular scenes of Aoraki Mount Cook and the Southern Alps, as well as the lower Tasman Glacier, vast terminal lake and its mighty icebergs.

Climbing up Tasman Glacier view track to view the Glacier was a bit of a challenge for me.  The sign clearly said a 15 minute walk but it took me a much longer than that. Luckily I had my hiking stick with me to support my knees. ‘ Up with the good and down with the bad’ is what they had suggested after my knee replacement surgery a few years back so I decided this was the way to ascend those steps. My operated knee is now my good one as the right knee is also deteriorating so up I went one step at a time. No wonder it took me awhile.

Everyone who was heading back down told me “it is not too much further and worth it for the view” – this as I was  struggling up the 550+ rock steps.

They were right – it was worth it.

Three trips to the glaciers in 30 years. Maybe next time I will do a helicopter flight instead?

SundayStills Nightlights – memories

NEW ZEALAND

A trip down memory lane for me. My journey into night photography started a few years back. After a few attempts at shooting the moon, I finally managed one I was pleased with.  

Super Moon

I experimented with fountain lights after late night work meetings

Seymour Square, Blenheim,

Then I did a night photography workshop in Picton, NZ. That was a lot of fun and I learned how to cope with bright street lights – and capture the stars.

Picton Harbour – Coathangar bridge

Lockdown 2020 arrived and so did light painting fun.

Light painting in blue hour

My most exciting nights under the stars were when I captured my first Aurora Australis the night my grandson was born in 2019, and then the Milky Way under the dark skies at Twizel, Mackenzie in 2020 (after lockdown when we could travel again)

TRAVEL IN EUROPE

My travelling night photos are a little more iconic – such lovely memories of some wonderful travels. 

2013 

A childhood dream came true when we visited Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen at night

A magical evening at Le Louvre in Paris as the sun set through the pyramid. I went wandering all alone with my camera after a few glasses of wine so it is a wonder this is in focus.

Paris Le Louvre Pyramid

2018

Out to a family dinner at the Gotha Towers in Gothenburg, Sweden  when I spied these ‘swimmers in the sky’ overlooking he Liseberg Amusement Park.

Swimmers in the sky, Gothenburg, Sweden

On our first night in Croatia we explored the Monument to the Sun in Zadar.  It was difficult to photograph as there were so many people taking selfies although that is part of the fun  of travel- people-watching. A very impressive sight to behold by day or by night.

Monument to the Sun, Zadar, Croatia

The Greeting to the Sun  is a monument in Zadar, Croatia dedicated to the Sun. It consists of three hundred, multi-layered glass plates placed on the same level as the stone-paved waterfront. It consists of a 22-meter diameter circle, with photovoltaic solar modules underneath. Lighting elements installed in a circle turn on at night, and produce a light show.  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_to_the_Sun

I hope you enjoyed my trips down memory lane as much as I did – sigh – not sure when I will get to travel overseas again though my next goal is to capture a nebula – and learn to photo stack!

Thanks for the opportunity to share my night lights.