Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Black & White


Early in March I went with a group of friends on a five day fishing trip to Great Barrier Island, New Zealand’s fourth largest island which stands at the entrance to Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.  The Hauraki Gulf is famous as a sailing paradise and is dotted with small islands and sheltered anchorages. It was the sixth time I have joined the crew for the Great Barrier trip on a friend’s 12 metre long power cat launch.  Great Barrier Island has a number of sheltered anchorages on its western coastline, the most sheltered of which is Port Fitzroy.

Each year we try to round the northern end of the island to spend at least one night at Arid Island (Rakino) on the ocean side.  To reach Rakino one has to round Aguilles Island and Needles Point. I always enjoy this part of the voyage because of the rugged and spectacular coastline.  The images below were taken on the return journed from Rakino (Arid Island).

Aguilles Island and Needles Point, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Aguilles Island and Needles Point

The eastern side of Great Barrier Island is battered by whatever the Pacific Ocean throws at it.  On most of our trips we are unable to round the Needles because it is too rough, so the weather has to be right for long enough to make a safe return journey.

Needles Point, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Needles Point, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

I am trying out the NIK software suite from Google at present, and especially NIK Silver Effects Pro for black and white conversions.  I thought the rock structures at Needles Point would make an ideal test subject, hence the monochrome images above and below.

You can see that the Needles are not a place where you would want to be in bad weather. The pinnacles of rock sticking out of the water can do a lot of damage and need a wide berth.

Needles Point, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Needles, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Needles Point, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

As for the primary purpose of the trip, fishing, it was a mixed bag.  For most of the time we had to return the catch to the sea because the fish were under-size.  We managed to get enough to eat each night, and sometimes for lunch as well.  Our luck changed on the last night where over the period of an hour we kept more than we returned, with enough for a small amount to take home as well.  On our way back to Auckland we stopped off the shore of another Hauraki Gulf island for an hour and had the best fishing of the trip, ensuring that the wives of the crew members received a reward for being left at home.

One of the rewards of being on the sea comes in the evening when the sun sinks in the west.  The image below was taken in the bay at Port Abercrombie as we were returning to Port Fitzroy for the night.  It makes a great way to finish a good day of fishing.

Sunset, Port Abercrombie, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Sunset, Port Abercrombie, Great Barrier Island


Threatening Clouds

Pisa Range at Sundown, Tarris, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Pisa Range at Sundown

A westerly front had been building all day and storm clouds had been building over the mountains.  The ominous nature of the weather to come was reflected in the clouds as the sun settled in the west.  Skiers hoped that the threatened weather change would come to nothing, and so it was as the next day brought only periods of thin high cloud over the southern ski fields and only moderate winds.

Husband Parking

Husband Parking, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Husband Parking

Just the space for husbands bored with shopping and sightseeing! Reload Bar & Brasserie, Martinborough, New Zealand.

Still Abandoned in Venice Street

Abandoned in Venice Street, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Abandoned in Venice Street

Here is a monochrome variation of the post Abandoned in Venice Street. I have been playing with the techniques of producing B&W images for a while and have added Perfect Effects 7 to my kitset of tools. Some images develop a whole different life when given the monochrome treatment. The original colour image is shown below for you to judge for yourself.

Abandoned in Venice Street, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Abandoned in Venice Street – Original

Big Surf

Surf at Porpoise Bay, Catlins, Southland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Surf at Porpoise Bay

One of the features of any coastal area that is exposed to the prevailing weather is surf.  The Catlins Coast catches all of the weather systems that come from the south, and south here means the Antarctic and South Pole.  It was an overcast and windy day when we visited Porpoise Bay and nearby Curio Bay, and the wind had a decidedly polar feel to it.  The waves were large and unwelcoming, fascinating and alluring at the same time.

Porpoise Bay

Rocks at Porpoise Bay, Catlins, Southland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Rocks at Porpoise Bay

The tiny settlement of Curio Bay in the Catlins region of Southland on New Zealand’s South Island hugs the long white sandy beach of Porpoise Bay, while Curio Bay proper is around the headland at the southern end of the beach. Near the camping ground at Curio Bay is a reef at the foot of the cliff of the headland, which is where this image was taken.  The sandy beach is to the left of the image. A pod of endangered Hector’s Dolphins live here and they can often be seen from the beach, hence the name.

Nugget Point Light

Nugget Point Light, Catlins, Southland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2010

One of the most popular places to visit in the Catlins region between Dunedin and Invercargill in New Zealand’s South Island is Nugget Point. A walk to the lighthouse which was constructed here in 1870  from rock quarried nearby yields spectacular views of the rugged coast that caused a number of shipwrecks in this country’s early settler days.  In 1989, along with all other lighthouses around the New Zealand coast, it was automated.

Aramoana Revisited

Aramoana Road Sign, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012


Ask any Kiwi (New Zealander) of a certain age about Aramoana and a veil of sadness will descend across their faces as they remember the tragic day in 1990 when a lone gunman shot dead 13 local people, then himself at this small fishing and holiday settlement.  Memory of the tragedy will forever be part of the history of this place on a lovely sandy spit at the entrance to the Otago Harbour.

Aramoana is the home of some 26o permanent residents and is 27  km from the centre of the City of Dunedin, past Port Chalmers on the northern side of the harbour.  At weekends and holiday times Dunedin people escape from the city to the quiet of the seaside where they can relax, fish, or walk on the sandy beaches, or on the 1,200 m sand control Mole opposite Taiaroa Head at the harbour entrance.  It was here that I traveled one morning for a few hours of respite when my wife was receiving treatment for a serious fracture in Dunedin Hospital before her transfer to Auckland.

This post has more than the usual number of images as I wanted to give a feeling for what Aramoana is about.  Click on the images for a larger view. This post replaces one that was accidentally deleted earlier today.

Aramoana Beach, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Aramoana Beach

Aramoana Lifestyle, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Aramoana Lifestyle

Caravan, Aramoana, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Forlorn and Almost Forgotten

High and Dry, Fishing Boat, Aramoana, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

High and Dry

Aramoana Mole, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Aramoana Mole

Old Wooden Structure, Aramoana, Mole, Otago Harbour, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Old Wooden Structure, Aramoana, Mole, Otago Harbour, New Zealand

3455 – Vanishing Point

3455 - Vanishing Point, Dunedin Railway Station, Otago, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

A view taken from the railway over-bridge that featured in one of my posts yesterday.  All lines lead to a vanishing point at the foot of the distant hills.  Like the large 3455 stenciled  on the deck of the nearby freight wagon, the vanishing lines reflect how the use of rail has changed since the days of steam when the Victorian era railway station was built. Along-side the platform are Taieri Gorge Railway carriages wailing for the next excursion group to arrive.

Capturing the Moment

There is little more that I can add about this image.  It was captured from a lookout at Curumbin Beach on Queensland’s Gold Coast.  It was a rather opportunistic shot, but it captured the moment.

Capturing the Moment, Curumbin Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Capturing the Moment

Southport Spit

At the entrance to the Broadwater at the Soutport Spit in Queensland there is a pair of breakwaters that create the Gold Coast Seaway to the Pacific Ocean. The southernmost breakwater is  popular for both walkers and recreational fishers.  Nearby, some 500 metres to the south is the Gold Coast Sand Pumping Jetty which is part of the Seaway and is used to pump away any accumulations of sand that could hamper the use of the boating channel.  This also is a popular walking and fishing destination.

These black and white images form part of my ongoing experimentation with black and white processing.

Fishing, Breakwater, Gold Coast Seaway, Southport Spit, Queensland, Australia, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Fishing from the Breakwater at entrance to Gold Coast Seaway

Gold Coast Sand Pumping Jetty, Southport Spit, Queensland, Australia, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Gold Coast Sand Pumping Jetty at Southport Spit

Lady Jocelyn, Gold Coast Seaway, Southport Spit, Queensland, Australia, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

“Lady Jocelyn” leaving the Broadwater through the Gold Coast Seaway at Southport Spit

After the Storm

The northern part of New Zealand has just been battered by a north-easterly storm that brought heavy rain, high winds and cold temperatures. Some Auckland suburbs and parts of the CBD were flooded and several roofs were blown off. The end came very quickly. As soon as the sun appeared, so did the surfers.  The choppiness of the sea subsides in short time and for the next few hours perfect surfing waves form.  Its school holiday time so the news spread quickly to get to Takapuna Beach to ride the waves.

Surf, Takapuna Beach, North Shore, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012


Surf, Takapuna Beach, North Shore, Auckland, New Zealand, B&W, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Surf, Takapuna Beach, North Shore, Auckland, New Zealand, B&W, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012


Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia

I like to take a brisk walk each morning, whether at home or on holiday.  One recent morning while holidaying on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia I passed this lifeguard tower at Surfers Paradise Beach and noticed an elderly couple toweling down after an early morning swim.  The thought of these people swimming on an unpatrolled beach known for its tidal rips and powerful surf surprised me at first, but their seeming comfort with the surroundings gave the appearance that they may have done this many times before.  The radiating shadows cast by the early morning sun helped to put the scene into context.

Bar Coded

When walking on Te Whero Island that connects the Auckland CBD to the Wynyard Quarter you become part of the urban artwork that is a giant bar code.

Wynyard Quarter, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Te Whero Island

This image was taken into the late afternoon western sun which cast long shadows across the painted barcode  pattern.  Straight ahead is the lifting bridge known as the Wynyard Crossing, with the new Viaduct Event Centre on the right. I prefer this black and white rendition to the colour version as it highlights the tonal contrasts better.

Between the Piles

Between the Piles, Dinghy and Yachts in Matiatia Bay, Waiheke Island, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2011

Between the Piles - Matiatia Bay, Waiheke Island

Walking in bays where there are boats at anchor is a favourite pastime.  I like to watch what is going on. Sooner or later, even on boats that seem to be unattended, signs of life appear as crew members come from below decks where they have been working or resting and take in the surroundings. Here a seagull takes advantage of the top of an unattended pole to rest and preen itself.  Occasionally a new boat enters the bay looking for anchorage, or another already at anchor readies itself for a new passage.

This image was taken while on a coastal walk between the ferry wharf at Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island and the main town of Oneroa.  Just out of frame on the left there was a yacht standing on cradle and tied to the piles while maintenance was being performed.

Stand to Attention

Dinghy Stack, Matiatia Wharf, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2011

"Stand to Attention!" - Dinghies at Matiatia Wharf, Waiheke Island

Beside the ferry wharf at Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is this stack of dinghies waiting for their next outing.  It is as though someone had ordered them all to “Stand to attention!”.

This is another of my images from my experimenting with black and white.  I felt that the tonal qualities from the early morning light made this image ideal for a monochrome treatment.

Coastal Track

Coastal track, Waiheke Island, Cable Bay, Dinghy, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2011

Dinghy beside coastal track, Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Waiheke Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is a short 40 minute ferry ride from the CBD of Auckland City.  The island is a favorite residential suburb for those who want a more relaxed lifestyle, and a popular day-trip or short holiday destination for Aucklanders and tourists alike.

Amongst the wide range of activities available on the island is walking on the clifftop tracks that weave in and out of the many bays.  One of these is a walk that starts at the ferry wharf at Matiatia Bay and ends at the small township of Oneroa.  The bus ride takes less than 10 minutes, but the walk requires 2-3 hours.

This little bay is at the point where the telegraphic cable to the island comes ashore.  Beside the cable markers is a sculpture of a dog on a trolley, and this dinghy pulled up on the shore.  The images have been converted to black and white to add atmosphere to the scene.

Trolley Dog, Cable Bay, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2011

Trolley Dog, Waiheke Island, New Zealand


Devonport is a small seaside suburb a short ferry ride across the harbour from the the main Auckland CBD.  It has managed to retain its quaint early colonial character because a fiercely loyal group of local inhabitants who have fought for years to prevent development that is out of sync with the local environment.

A major feature of the Devonport waterfront is the ferry wharf.  It has undergone several redevelopments over the years, including the most recent (1990s) and probably most controversial.  It is about to undergo another major refurbishment in 2012.

Several weeks ago I had a short walk along the Devonport shoreline and captured these images.

Devonport Wharf, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2011

Towards Auckland CBD from under the Devonport Wharf

Devonport Wharf, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2011

Cross bracing under the Devonport Wharf

Sea Wall, Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2011

Sea Wall, Devonport

Black Swans over Pisa Range

Black swans over Pisa Range, Central Otago, New Zealand

V Formation

Black Swans over the Pisa Range near Cromwell in Central Otago, South Island of New Zealand. This image was taken during a non-skiing day on a recent holiday to Wanaka. As we were eating lunch beside one of the arms of Lake Dunstan a flight of black swans took off from the lake’s edge and climbed to altitude, forming the classic “V” formation. I think this black & white rendition does best justice to the image. If you look carefully you will see some swans silhouetted in the snowline.

Family Tree

I don’t know whether it is age or curiosity, but lately I have again become engaged in trying to trace my family origins.  One of the fascinating aspects of this is Norwegian ancestry on both sides of my family.  Through work carried out by a second cousin the Norwegian connection has been traced on my father’s side, but tracing my maternal grandfather has been very problematical.

My paternal grandmother Hanna (Annie) Anderson (photographed in 1924) who had a Norwegian father

In the course of trawling through family records I have discovered photographs taken through the years of various generations dating back to the late nineteenth century.  Its a fascinating record of a social history that forms part of the fabric of who I am today.

I have only one photograph of my maternal grandfather Gustav Jacob Dahlin who was born in Norway in 1881.

My maternal grandfather Gustav Jacob Dahlin with my grandmother Maud Rebecca Dahlin (1953)

Family record of his life before he arrived in New Zealand in about 1909 is sketchy, and has been gleaned from recollections of conversations that my late mother had with him when she was a child.  Story has it that he was born in or near Arendal (Bygland is another possible birthplace) in Norway and was sent to a naval school at Dartmouth in Devon in the UK at the age of 13 years.  This may have been the Royal Naval College Osbourne, but this is conjecture on my part. At the age of 21 years he supposedly deserted the navy at Zanzibar after an altercation with a senior officer when he took exception to an injustice being dealt out to a fellow seaman. He is said then to have travelled in North, East and South Africa working in or around the mines, before travelling to New Zealand at the age of 27 or 28 years. He was naturalised as a new Zealand citizen in 1910.

My problem has been tracing him back to Norway.  This may be because he possibly changed his name to escape detection by the Royal Navy. His marriage and death certificates both show his father as being John Dahlin of Norway and his mother being Jean(ie) Dahlin (Munro[e]). He had a sister Christine (maybe Kristina) and an older brother who drowned as a child. For many years my parents had a fire screen that had as its centrepiece an oil painting by my grandfather of a Norwegian lake scene, with a white wooden house on the shore surrounded by fir trees, and a moose at the water’s edge.

Al my research to date on the name Dahlin in Norway has drawn a blank, as have my searches on the names Gustav, Jacob, John (Jon, Johan) and Christine (Kristina).  Does anyone have any suggestions as to where I should look next?

Light Balls

Along the waterfront precinct near the National Museum of New Zealand – Te Papa – is a line of grey metal spheres.  They follow the course of the boardwalk from the Wharfside Cafe to the footbridge across the entrance to the lagoon by The Boatshed and the Star Boating Club, then continue around the lagoon on the other side of the bridge.  There are 33 of these spherical “balls” – called light balls – which were created to represent the bollards that used to line the edge of the wharf area, and also to provide lighting features at night. These images were taken in February during a short visit to Wellington.

Grey light balls Wellington waterfront New Zealand

"Light Balls" - Wellington Waterfront near Te Papa, New Zealand's National Museum

Zig Zag of Light Balls on Wellington Waterfront, New Zealand

"Zig Zag" - Light balls on Wellington Waterfront, New Zealand

Stormy Morning

After weeks of warm, and latterly, humid weather the usual pre-Christmas storms arrived yesterday.  It had been so dry for the past two months that the whole of the North Island north of Auckland was declared a drought area.  During the past 36 hours we have had periods of heavy rain and the atmosphere has become even more sticky with humidity.

Yesterday morning I set out to try to capture the mood of this change in weather.  Just as I walked onto the beach the rain started again so I managed to capture just a few images. Storm water run-off had scoured the sand at the ends of the streets that slope down to the beach. The wind was blowing in from the north carrying ever bigger rain drops as the minutes ticked by.  Those few walkers who had ventured out were hunched over as they quickly moved past.

This morning the mood is much the same, except that the wind has dropped and the tide is further out.

Stormy Morning - Takapuna Beach - Auckland, New Zealand

Whangarei Heads, Northland, New Zealand

If one follows the road east from the Town Basin in New Zealand’s northern-most city of Whangarei the journey will take you past the remnants of a volcanic cone, beautiful beaches and rural pastureland and end at an ocean beach at the northern head of the Whangarei Harbour.

The volcanic landscape includes Mt Manaia, Mt Lion and Bream Head which are the scattered remnants of a large, 50 kilometer diameter volcano that erupted with force 20 million years ago during. Its jagged outline is similar to that of other volcanic outcrops in Northland that erupted at about the same time.

These images were taken late afternoon on a glorious spring day last weekend.

Reflecting on Turkey

In 2006 my wife and I took a tour in Turkey, visiting numerous sites as far west as Gallipoli in the Dardanelles, south to Antalya, east to Cappadocia and back to Istanbul via Ankara and Bursa.  I have been looking back through photographs taken during that trip and present below an interpretation with the benefit of hindsight and how I felt both then and now.

Turkey is a fascinating country to visit, being on the edge of both Asia and Europe.  It has an ancient history dating back to “the cradle of civilisation” through to modern attempts be become part of the European Union.  While it is by constitution a sectarian state, Islam is the predominant religion.  Turkey also has a significant Christian history as well as evidenced at  places like Ephesus and Cappadocia.  The country has been invaded from all directions, and has itself been the invader, and was the leader of a significant empire prior to World War I.

What I found most fascinating was the people, as is evidenced in the images below.


We happened on this man as we were wandering the narrow streets of Uchisar in Cappadocia.  He had the kind of lived-in face that was captivating and begged you to want to find out more.  But time and language did not allow for this.

Uchisar - Take my Picture!

This girl was an opportunist.  She had positioned and tethered her donkey along the path that visitors to Uchisar normally pass through and demanded money from anyone who stopped to take her photograph.  The donkey didn’t care whether you took its picture, or not!

Balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey

A highlight for many visitors to Cappadocia is to get up early in the morning to take a balloon ride over the fairy chimneys for which the area is famous, at sunrise. Part of the experience is hearing the roar of the burners as the hot air in the balloon is recharged so that it can regain altitude.

Hand crafted saddle bags - Cappadocia, Turkey

The weaving of rugs and kilims is a major industry in Cappadocia and many visitors succumb to taking home a souvenir.  Other woven products are also available, and these saddle bags seen on a motor cycle in Uchisar caught the attention.

Family Shopping - Spice Market, Istanbul

A visit to the Spice Market is a “must do” on the list of most visitors to Istanbul.  In the alleys behind the covered market vendors sell an amazing collection of cooking and other wares.  Here you will find the ordinary people of Istanbul going about the business of their everyday lives.  These alleys are alive with people and seem far removed from the normal glossed-up tourist haunts.

Little Prince - Istanbul, Turkey

This young fellow was found on the steps leading into the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque in Istanbul.  Having reached the age for circumcision, he was dressed for the celebration and visiting the mosque before the deed was performed.

Water Boy - Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Boys will be boys!  On our first visit to the Topkapi Palace there was water in this pool and the little fountain was playing.  The next day the pool had been drained and the fountain turned off.  This was a case of capturing the moment.