Lens-Artists Challenge #211: Still looking for my photographic groove?

I have tried so many photographic grooves – portrait, long exposures, flash photography, macro,  still life, wildlife and pet life, sports, forced perspectives, landscapes and night skies.

I first got into the groove of photography when I was ten and bought my first camera- a Brownie Starlet. The only film choice was black and white photographs at that time. (Yes I am that old)

Once the film roll was finished, I had to endure a long wait before I could see the developed and printed pictures. This was even more difficult as I had to wait till my next week’s pocket money was in my pocket too. My pocket money was spent on developing and printing those first humble attempts.

Back then, my photographic groove was family, friends, pets, and ponies. I guess it could be called portraiture.

Chunkette in her stable
My first favourite racehorse – and a friend

Much later, when there was an option to take colour photos, I still preferred using black and white.  Especially after I learned to develop and print my own films. All that dodging and burning in the darkroom was a steep and fun learning curve. I was highly commended in a conservation competition prize for a black and white print of two of my sons collecting plastic rubbish off the beach. 

In my first job. my photographic groove became hand-colouring black and white aerial photos.  They were mainly rural landscapes, and I became fascinated with the braided rivers, acres of farmland and forest-filled gullies of rural New Zealand. I loved the colours and patterns of ripening crops divided by the fence lines.  I intricately painted in the white sheep dotted against a background of green pastures and undulating hills.

Example of a Hand coloured aerial photo

I was so excited when I got my first SLR. It was a Pentax P30N film camera.  I had a 70-210 zoom lens bought especially to capture whale images.  There I was out off the Kaikoura coastline on a whale tour with my 2 cameras;  a Pentax P30N SLR, and a video camera.  And just as the iconic whale tail arose from the waves, another tourist stood up in front of me with his point and shoot camera, and photobombed my shot.   

The sad tale of a photobombed whale tail

I decided that street photography might just be my next photographic groove instead. At least I would be intending to capture tourists in my images!

Travel photography often consists of stereotypical, iconic images but I tried to capture these but add a twist in editing. Travelling in different countries can sometime be time-limiting and waiting for the good light can be challenging. So it is tempting to snap that capture regardless of the light – something I am exceedingly guilty of. And whilst statues at the very least stand or sit still, they just don’t normally smile for the camera.

Long exposure photography came next in the long list of my photographic grooves. And that  meant painting with light at night. So I just make my own light. After all, photography is just writing with light, isn’t it?

I got into the groove of flash photography to capture special effects.

Landscapes became my groove.  Landscapes, sunsets and anywhere else where there is great light, I am there with my camera. 

Night sky photography – Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights , and the Milky Way!  At last I have a wide lens so the night sky is no longer a limit!  I have found my photographic groove – (at least for now)

Galaxy of stars

But wait…. are these grooves or techniques?  

Actually, I think my photographic groove is to try many and varied techniques as they all build my  knowledge, hone my skills,  and extend my creative interests.

I may not have a specific niche but neither am I in a rut. 

It’s just my photographic groove.

WQW – 5 Senses: Tasting the memories

Aaah the taste of Bluff Oysters – the new season started 1 March, and at last my blog posts will restart this month. 

I have been MIA for most of February due to our extended summer road trip through areas with limited wifi reception.  I have focused – pardon the pun – on using my camera extensively rather than blogging. 

“Pull up a chair


Come join us.

Life is so endlessly DELICIOUS.”

Ruth Reichl

This quote is meant to be about food but let’s take it a step further. I have been tasting the delights of travelling around the stunning South Island, especially Central Otago, Fiordland and Southland. I’ve been chasing rivers and waterfalls, mountains and fiords, and the elusive Lady Aurora herself. The Aurora Australis remained elusive but the waterfalls were amazing.

Central Otago: 

Parked over alongside Lake Dunstan in Cromwell, the weather was stunning with very hot summer days  and  balmy evenings. Just right for enjoying happy hour, (G&T, beer, crackers and cheese)  with our neighbours in the campground. after a leisurely stroll along the lake. 

We also parked up beside the mighty Clutha River at Millers Flat, otherwise known as the ‘fruitlands’  where we tasted the famous Roxburgh apricots and had a tasty dinner at the old tavern across the historic bridge built in 1897.

I was thrilled to find an old hand painted aerial photo on the wall. My first job was using photo oils to hand paint photos just like these. A meaningful memory for me and a great overview of the Clutha River at Millers Flat.


We spent a few days relaxing in Manapouri before heading to Te Anau, to catch up with friends, and attempt to capture an image of Aurora Australis -I found just a bit of airglow at Manapouri.

We decided to take the coach tour to the Milford Sound, where we boarded the Milford Haven to cruise  through the Milford Sound towards the Tasman Sea. Although we had been there before, Milford Sound never ceases to amaze me within its spectacular mountains and magical waterfalls. 

If you never been inside a waterfall, this is the place to do just that. I got soaked, my camera got soaked – and it was magical. The water tasted pure and delicious on my tongue (surprisingly – my camera survived another wet adventure).

Entering the Tasman Sea


Bluff is the southern- most harbour at the bottom of the South Island.   Bluff is also world famous for these delicious Bluff Oysters. 

Some say that Bluff oysters are the finest in the world. They are grown slowly in the cold clean waters of the Foveaux Strait. In season, (March till about August) they are dredged by Bluffs oyster fleet. Oystering first began commercially at Stewart Island in the 1860s.”

Bluff Oysters

Many years ago the North island company I worked for had a social club which organized a  weekly shipment of fresh Bluff Oysters to be flown in. I had a regular order for 5 dozen bluff oysters which arrived each Friday of the season.  All weekend we would eat oysters. We ate raw oysters, battered oysters, oysters wrapped in bacon   (Angels on horseback), and oysters baked in a creamy white sauce. The taste was divine every which way they were prepared. Another meaningful memory!

And in my world I did find the pearls. 

The Bluff Hill Lookout offered spectacular views across Fouveaux Strait  to Stewart Island/Rakiura, our next destination. 

We had decided on a day trip rather than struggle to find  expensive and scarce accommodation.  The weather was perfect for the one hour catamaran crossing of Foveaux Strait, notorious for its usually wild weather.  

We  scheduled an island bus tour in the morning and a boat ride with guided bush walk on  Ulva Island, a wildlife sanctuary, in the afternoon. These kept us busy. No time for tasting any food at  all but we drank in the peaceful scenery and spectacular sights. We heard the bird calls as we trod carefully and quietly along the forest track. We touched the texture of the trees and leaves.

It was a truly a tasty feast for all my senses. 


This is also my contribution for Sunday Stills https://secondwindleisure.com/2022/03/06/sunday-stills-making-meaningful-memories/

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.

2:Life in colour -2021 Part 2 – Yellows to make me mellow

Mellow Yellows found during my travels – 

The yellow umbrella to guide the walking tour in Prague – guide will help you stay mellow whilst sightseeing – well maybe not lost anyway.

The children’s playground at the departure lounge in Gothenburg so the travelling kids can burn off some energy before the long haul flight.

Back in NZ  – and the yellow sunlit hills framed by the foliage welcomed us home. 

Now it is time to explore our own backyard. Our old camping haunts -the golden sands of Totaranui in the Abel Tasman National Park.

SundayStills Nightlights – memories


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)


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


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


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.

Travel is indeed a life changer

On a freezing, windy, raining Wellington day over 60 years ago the TSS Captain Cook departed with the last batch of troops to fight in the Malayan Emergency. My family was on that ship.

We departed Wellington Harbour on Guy Fawkes Day, 5th November 1959 amidst a backdrop of fireworks displays and streamers. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was to be the final  voyage of TSS Captain Cook. The troopship TSS Captain Cook started as the RMS Letitia, then renamed the Empire Brent by the Australian Ministry of Transport and finally became the TSS Captain Cook when it was bought by the NZ  government. 

“On the 2nd August 1957, official authority was granted to raise and train the first “Regular” Infantry Battalion in New Zealand history. Under the command of Lt-Col W. R. K. Morrison DSO, the 1st New Zealand Regiment would be New Zealand’s land force commitment to the British Commonwealth Far East Reserve, The 1st Battalion, The New Zealand Regiment was deployed to Malaya from October 1957 as part the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Group. Between 1958 and 1964 the NZ Regiment would rotate 3 Battalions through Malaya. “
This deployment was unique in New Zealand military history, as it would be the first time that families would accompany a New Zealand overseas military deployment to an overseas location. 

Fortunately I didn’t know too much about jungle warfare or political wrangling so I just had an amazing experience living in a different culture, surrounded by the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Burmese populations.  There were also Australian and British families who became my school friends at the British Commonweatlth school I attended for that first year. 

Travelling has opened my eyes to an appreciation of the many and varied cultures that make up this world. Although the travel bug may have bitten me at that tender age, it would be many more years before I travelled overseas again – and that was to be a much different experience.