Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Archive for January, 2013

A Splash of White in a Sea of Green

In January 2010 I posted this image of the Korokoro Falls.  These falls are reached via a 30 minute side trip on Day 2 of the “Great New Zealand Walk” around Lake Waikaremoana in the Te Urewera National Park.

Korokoro Falls, Te Urewera National Park, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

The image was taken in January 2009 during the week-long visit mentioned in my last post.  During a very wet previous visit in 2007 a large volume of water was cascading over these falls but I was concerned that my camera would get drenched so never took any photographs.  The state of the falls in 2009 was more benign, as can be seen from the above image.

Although only 22 metres tall, the falls are still impressive.  They are set deep in native bush that is characteristic of many of New Zealand’s national parks.  This image and the ones that follow were taken mid afternoon.

Korokoro Falls, Te Urewera National Park, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Korokoro Falls, Te Urewera National Park, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Korokoro Falls, Te Urewera National Park, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013


Morning Mist

Lake Waikaremoana is located in Te Urewera National Park in the North Island of New Zealand, 60 kilometres northwest of Wairoa and 80 kilometres southwest of Gisborne. Although these distances don’t seem great, you need to understand that the whole of the East Cape region of the North Island is very lightly populated and both Gisborne and Wairoa themselves are some distance from the main population centres of the North Island.  To visit Lake Waikaremoana and Te Urewea National Park requires a determined effort and a journey over twisting unsealed dusty roads.

Morning Mist, Lake Wakaremoana, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

So it was that in January 2009 a group of friends gathered at the shore of  the ‘sea of rippling waters’ for a week to walk parts of one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”.  Each morning we were greeted by this view from the windows of our chalets as the sun rose in the east and crept over the hills between the lake and the Pacific Ocean.

This wasn’t our first visit to Lake Waikaremoana.  Each previous visit was memorable in part for the dusty winding road to get there, memories stretching back to childhood holidays with family.  The road never seems to improve with time, and on occasions still gets washed out by heavy rain.  Our most recent previous visit was to undertake the four day Great Walk around the lake, with overnight stays in hiking huts provided by the New Zealand Department of Conservation.  That trip was memorable for another of Lake Waikaremoana’s claims to fame, rain and mist.  Indeed, the local Tuhoi Maori who live in small settlements around and near the lake are known as “the people of the mist”.  On that occasion the rain started the moment we set foot on the track and ended just as we exited the track four days later!

I’m pleased to report that during our January 2009 visit we had beautiful weather every day and managed to see the views from high points around the lake that we missed on our previous visit.

Here are two further images taken on our first night at the lake as the sun was setting.

Lake Waikaremoana, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Lake Waikaremoana, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Street Markets

Whenever I visit a new country I try to find where the street markets are.  There are so many interesting people there – ordinary people going about their normal daily business.  So it was in Istanbul.  While the tourists thronged the Istiklal Caddesi along with the young and glamorous, we found the street markets away from the main drag.

Fruit and vegetable stalls and sellers are among my favorite subjects; colorful characters selling colorful produce.

Pride, Istanbul Street Market, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013


Presenting, Vegetable Vendor, Istanbul Street Market, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013


Waiting, Istanbul Street Market, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013


Meanwhile, back in Istiklal Caddesi we found this chestnut seller with his cart getting ready for a busy evening.

Chestnut Seller, Istanbul Street Market, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Chestnut Seller

A Word A Week Photo Challenge: Round

All images for this post are from Turkey and represent art through history in various forms, but all in the round.

Blue Plate, Capadoccia, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Isnik Pattern Plate

Cappadocia in Eastern Turkey is steeped in history and tradition.  One of these traditions is pottery and ceramics.   Tiles and plates decorated with the patterns of Isnik and other areas are made here for the flocks of tourists that pass through the region. These are the patterns favoured by the Ottoman emperors of old. Here at Firca Ceramik in Avenos a current day artisan decorates an ancient Hittite pattern ceramic jug in an underground studio.

Vase Painter, Capadoccia, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

For me the best image for “round” comes from the Chora Church in Istanbul. The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora is considered to be one of the most beautiful surviving examples of a Byzantine church. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque and, finally, it became a museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with fine mosaics and frescoes. One of the best of these is in the  painted dome of the parecclesion (side chapel) of the church.

Chora Dome-1

The Virgin and child, painted dome of the parecclesion of Chora Church

It is a truly wonderful fresco.  The Chora Church is worth going out of your way to visit if every you have the good fortune to visit the wonderful city of Istanbul.


We had read and had been told also that Turkey was a secular country, but the predominant religion was Islam.  As such we expected and experienced a degree of conservatism in dress and behaviours during our two week visit in 2006.  Yet despite this underlying conservatism, we encountered a number of things that surprised us.  Imagine if you can our reaction to seeing this poster mounted prominently on a pole in one of Istanbul’s busiest shopping streets, Istiklal Cadesi.

Cinema Poster, Istanbul, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Istanbul is described as the crossroads between the east and the west.  It is an amalgam of modern and old.   For every young woman in the streets wearing up-to-date western fashion, there is probably an equal number wearing traditional conservative Islamic dress.  The modern women are not provocative in their dress, but are as stylish as you would see in Paris or London.  This poster therefore seemed to be an aberration and completely out there. Just one block away from this very fashionable street most of the women had their heads covered with scarves and their arms and legs covered  in the usual Islamic fashion.


I am presently reading “The Genius of Photography” by Gerry Badger, the book of the 2007 BBC TV series of the same name.  In the prelude to Chapter 2 the following photograph, which was taken in 1912 by French photographer Eugene Atget, reminded me of one I took in Istanbul, Turkey in 2006.

Eugene Atget - Corsets, Boulevard de Strasbourg 1912

Boulevard de Strasbourg, Corsets, Paris 1912 – Eugene Atget (1857-1927)

Atget built up a large portfolio of documentary photographs of Paris during a period of great change.  The importance of his collection was only recognised much later.  I doubt that my single image taken in a back street in Istanbul will carry the same gravitas in years to come!

Corsets, Istanbul, Turkey, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Istiklal Cadesi, Corsets, Istanbul 2006 – Chris Gregory (19xx-Stll Here)

Corsets, Istanbul, Turkey, copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Istiklal Cadesi, Corsets, Istanbul 2006 – Chris Gregory (Original colour version)

Colour on a Drab Day

I was overcast when I woke this morning.  Although its summer here, one of the westerly fronts that regularly arrives from the Tasman Sea during summer is making a visit today.  After the wonderful sunny weather we have had for the past few weeks, today feels drab and grey.  It reminds me of the day in 2008 when we visited Fengdu on the Yangtze River in China, but without the air pollution which gives the grey sky a yellow hue to match the muddy river.  At least in “Ghost City” there was colour to be found but, to give today its due, the sun is at least trying to break through.

Yangtze Cruise Ships, Fengdu, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Temple at Fengdu, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Red & Green, Fengdu, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Blue & Red, Fengdu, China, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Kiwi Summer

I read in the newspaper and see on the TV news that winter in the Northern Hemisphere is rather cold this year.  I know that cold.  So, to cheer you up, here is a reminder of what summer looks like here in the down-under!

Kiwi Summer 1, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Kiwi Summer 2, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Kiwi Summer 3, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

All of these images were taken on Takapuna Beach, in Auckland, near where I live. Click on images for a larger view.


Co-existence, Kaikoura, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

“I read the news today, Oh Boy!”  The words of the Beatles 1967 “A Day in the Life” song from the group’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  album came to mind as yet more bad news emerged from Syria.  Although I have never been there I know Syria to be a country rich in history and world heritage sites.  Our eldest son backpacked through that country with his wife-to-be a few years ago, before the present troubles .  While staying with us over the Christmas break they expressed their sadness that the places they visited have been destroyed and the people they met have been cast into desperation by a man and his need to retain power at all costs.

Why can’t people learn to co-exist?  This may be a kind of Utopian dream for all of humanity, but by and large most of the people, most of the time seem to achieve a version of peaceful co-existence.  It may be that the saying “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” just has to play out in some places.

The image above was taken on a miserable rainy day on the Kaikoura coast of New Zealand’s South Island, and is the nearest I can find among my photographs to demonstrate co-existence – in this instance, among species.


Listening, Kaikoura, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Listening is something many of us are not good at.  We say we are listening but our minds are somewhere else. The words go in but are filtered or not heard. Little wonder then that relationships become strained.  Not listening is not being engaged.  So many things are missed.  Nuances are left unrecognised.  Noticing those nuances can mean the difference between understanding, or not. Its like seeing but not comprehending.

The above image is about listening.  The Watch Captain is listening for the sounds emitted by whales so that he can take his passengers to where these wondrous creatures of the sea can be seen.  His passengers are relying on him.  He needs to be able to filter out the sounds that don’t matter to discern those that do.

Image taken off Kaikoura on the north eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Clouds

Kaikoura Sun, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

This is my first post relating to “Word of the Week”.  Clouds fascinate me.  If I see notable cloud formations I try to capture them in my images. This image was taken while on a whale watching trip on the Kaikoura coast of New Zealand’s South Island.  Although it was about 10.00 am it felt more like 8.00 am because of the lowish overhead cloud with the sun struggling to get through.  This created a more somber mood as the sun was reflected on the gentle swell.

Weekly Photo Challenge – My 2012 in Pictures

Driftwood, Lake Ferry, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

All washed up

Many of the joys of life come from exploration, its one of those things that keeps you alive and interested. Whether it is exploration of new places near or far from home, new ideas, new hobbies, new techniques in pursuit of improvement or perfection, or whatever it is that satisfies your curiosity, finding interesting things keeps you moving forward.

The image above, taken in February at Lake Ferry in the Wairarapa District near New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, prompted these thoughts.  How would I feel if I reached a point in life when I felt all washed up.  Here the remnants of a once thriving tree are left stranded in a stony shore, bleached grey by the sun and apparently useless to anyone. Yet that is what happens to many people in our societies – left abandoned and all washed up.  What ever happened to their desire for exploration, or were they never given a real chance to start with?

As we move into 2013 let’s keep our drive to explore alive, and maybe even help someone who has lost their sense of direction to explore new ways to become alive again.

Weekly Photo Challenge – My 2012 in Pictures

Cape Palliser, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Cape Palliser Lighthouse

For me, this image sums up my 2012 and points to a beacon of light for 2013.  Last year was quite a challenge for my wife Valerie and me – not the year that we had envisaged in January.  A straight forward looking year turned into one of unplanned trips and a crippling accident which entailed several long periods away from home.

The above image was taken at Cape Palliser near the entrance to Wellington Harbour. We visited this remote cape as a side trip before journeying to a family wedding. When I look at the stairs they represent the long haul through the year where out-of-town family child minding trips dominated the early part, followed by Valerie’s recovery from a skiing accident in the latter part.  The lighthouse at the top represents the beacon showing a clear passage for the year to come.

In between all of this we fitted a whale watching trip to Kaikoura on the north eastern coast of the South Island of New Zealand, a holiday on Queensland’s Gold Coast, and a lovely couple of days skiing before the accident.

We are grateful that our wide circle of friends have given us encouragement and support throughout the period since August, for which we feel blessed indeed.  Such is Val’s recovery that we are already planning our travels for this year and are excited by the prospects of what is to come.

The stairs also represent my journey with photography and blogging.  It has been a year of learning and experimentation.  Each new discovery leads me towards the next summit.  My blog received its 10,000th visit just before New Year’s Eve, which was one of my goals for the year.  I don’t do this for the numbers but, being a retired numbers person, I am interested to watch how the visits increase and where they come from.  This blog gives me an outlet for my photography and a reason to keep on finding new material and to improve my craft.  I am grateful for those who take the time to visit and explore my blog, and especially for the growing number of followers.  In return I follow the blogs of others and get great enjoyment from reading what they post and how they see the world.

Thank you for your support.  Best wishes for 2013, and may you succeed in all you do and have a happy and healthy year.