Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Archive for March, 2010

North Head

At the entrance to Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour all shipping must pass North Head, an extinct volcanic cone with historical importance to Maori and European settlers alike.

Rangitoto Channel from North Head

Before European settlers arrived this prominent headland (with 360 degree views of every navigable channel leading to the harbour) was occupied by generations of Maori who had a settlement at the base of the hill, but did not appear to have constructed a fortified Pa on the site.  Later, after European settlement in the nineteenth century, fortifications were built on the headland as part of a network of similar fortifications on other high points to guard against the perceived threat of a Russian invasion.  These fortifications were further enhanced prior to and during the Second World War, the legacy of which is a maze of tunnels and deserted gun sites spread around the headland.  North Head is now a public reserve administered by the Department of Conservation.

The images here show a sample of the views one gets when exploring the paths and tunnels in the reserve.

Auckland City from North Head

Armstrong Disappearing Gun - North Head

Rotation Control - Disappearing Gun - North Head

Auckland City from Tunnel Entrance - North Head

Auckland City from Tunnel Entrance - North Head

Trees Upstairs - North Head

Trees Upstairs - North Head


Treasure Hunter

From time to time, especially after a hot weekend when people crowd the beach, it’s not uncommon to see someone sweeping the sands for lost treasure.  For some unknown reason these treasure hunters appear to fall into a certain age group, perhaps because they now have the time for this modern form of beach combing.  Equipped with their “mine detectors”, they wander methodically up and down listening for that fateful “ping”.  Out comes the spade for a little foraging, inspection, discard or storage in the pouch on the belt.  Then it is on with waving the magic wand and the next telltale signal.

Today was such a day.

Sony Alpha DSLR -A200, 1/640 sec, F8, ISO 100, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 200mm

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Early Morning Dip

On many mornings throughout the year, at around about dawn, there is a group of swimmers who come to Takapuna Beach on Auckland’s North Shore to swim.  In their form-fitting wetsuits and rubber bathing caps they take to the water like a pack of seals to swim the approximately one kilometre length of the beach and back again.

One morning in early March there was a wonderful golden sunrise which silhouetted this group entering the water at the southern end of the beach.  Rangitoto Island is outlined in the background; the sunrise reflected in the wet sand.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A200, 1/60 sec, F22, ISO 400, Sigma DC 18-200 mm lens ay 75 mm

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Auckland Panorama

This image was taken from Stanley Point on Auckland’s North Shore while the Queen Mary 2 was in town.  Usually cruise ships and passenger liners berth at the grey cruise ship terminal to the right of the brick clock tower of the Ferry Building.  However, the QM2 was too big! She was berthed at the container terminal out of picture to the left.  The panorama is dominated by Auckland’s Sky Tower and the Vero Building (with the halo – colloquially known as the “toilet seat”).

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/250 sec, F16, ISO 200, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 40mm

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The Queen Came to Town

Last week, on a glorious late summer’s day, the Queen came to town – “Queen Mary 2” that is.  Because I knew she was coming into port early in the morning I was up at 5.30 am to watch her sail slowly down the Rangitoto Channel and around North Head into the City of Sails, Auckland.

Queen Mary 2 is a large ship.  She stands out from the crowd, but because of her size she is unable to berth at the normal cruise terminal and was consigned instead to the Bledisloe Container Terminal.  This meant that the citizens of Auckland could not get an up-close view unless they were aboard a passing boat in the harbour.

Having made a fruitless trip to the city to get some photographs we returned to the North Shore to capture the views from Devonport and Stanley Bay on the opposite side of the harbour. Such is the spectacle that this became a simple task.

As she left port at 8.30 pm people lined vantage points at beaches and headlands to watch her sail into the dusk.

Sony Alpha DSLR – A200, 1/250 sec, F16, ISO 200, Sigma DC 18-200mm lens at 75mm

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Mincher Gardens

Some 25 km north from centre of Auckland City in rural Coatesville lies Mincher Gardens, endorsed as a Garden of National Significance by the NZ Gardens Trust.

The gardens are a continuing “work in progress” since 1995 for the owners Angela and Bruce Spooner and can be visited by appointment throughout the year.

The long driveway leads visitors past the Georgian-style family home to a car park behind the Gardener’s Cottage where they are welcomed by the hosts.  The scale of the development is immediately apparent and it is easy to see that this is a project that has been lovingly created and gladly shared.

Here are some images from our visit last weekend.