Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

North Shore

Evening Sky

Evening Light, Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

There are some evenings when you just have to go for a walk. The day on which this image was taken had improved markedly after a late summer storm so we decided to take a walk around the rocks and along the base of the cliffs at the end of Takapuna Beach, near where we live.  An added incentive was the expected departure of a cruise ship from Auckland which carried some friends as passengers.  We hoped to watch the ship sail out through the channel that lies between the beach and nearby Rangitoto Island.  Fortunately the tide was well out that day, because after waiting until well after the expected departure (the ship didn’t sail because of engineering problems) we had to make our way back to the beach in far distance before the tide would force us ti climb over the rocks. As we turned to head home we were presented with this view to the Takapuna township and beach, and the evening sky reflected in the wet sand.

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Evening Glow

Evening Glow, Takapuna Beach, Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

At the risk of presenting yet another image of Rangitoto Island at sunset I post the above image taken this evening from Takapuna Beach, which is where I live. You could say that there is almost a spiritual connection that attracts me onto the beach every time I witness another sunrise or sunset.  No two are the same.  The tide may be in, or out as it was this evening. There may be clouds that catch the setting sun, or none as it was this evening.

I particularly like the lines in this image, as well as the colors. There are tire marks that traverse diagonally from left to right, as well as rivulets travelling diagonally in the other direction.  The scene is infused with shades of gold, blue and green which are reflected in the wet sand.  I captured exactly what I wanted, and that makes me happy.  I welcome you to enjoy the scene for yourself.  Click on the image for a larger view.


Green Balloon

Green Balloon, Takapuna Christmas Market 2009, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

A few years ago, 2009 to be precise, a Christmas market was held in the main street of our local town.  There were street stalls outside the main street businesses, as well as craft stalls, and a bouncy castle for the kids.  Throughout the day a number of groups entertained visitors to the market, including a Tai Chi group from a neighboring suburb.  It was during the Tai Chi demonstration that this wee girl caught my attention – totally absorbed with her green balloon while the demonstration carried on behind her back.  As you can tell from the surfing Santa on the pole in the background, Takapuna is a seaside township.


Cloudy Dawn

Living near a coast with views to the north and east (I’m talking about the southern hemisphere here) you are presented with a range of moods in the sky and on the water that is driven by the weather.  The sea can be angry, or placid. The sky can be clear, or cloudy.  Visibility can reach to the horizon, or be no more than fifty meters.  All of this presents an infinite menu of photographic opportunities.

Cloudy Dawn, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

This image was taken in early May last year from Takapuna Beach on Auckland’s North Shore.  It is looking slightly east of north just before 9.00 am.  An overnight storm is clearing and the sun is struggling to break through the clouds, while blue sky begins to show itself overhead.

On the coast and in the mountains are two of my favorite places at sunrise and sunset.  These are the times when clouds are lit at their most interesting best.  Because both places are fully exposed to all that weather systems can throw at them, they are also exciting (and sometimes scary) places to be in a storm.


After the Storm

After the Storm, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

The storm has come and gone, but there is more rain forecast for the weekend.  Not as severe as last time, but bringing more welcome wetness.

Northerly storm systems pound the reef at the western end of Takapuna Beach and uproot kelp seaweed from the rocks. Waves then distribute the kelp along the 1,200 metre beach where it lies for up to two weeks until the local authority brings it’s machinery out to gather the seaweed up and take it away for composting.  Local hobby gardeners also gather seaweed to add to their compost heaps, or dig it into their gardens to lie over winter in preparation for the spring growing season.


Here Comes the Rain Again …

Stormy Morning, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Here comes the rain again

Falling on my head like a memory

Falling on my head like a new emotion

I want to walk in the open wind …

This 1984 Eurythmics song by written by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart came to mind this morning as the rain finally arrived.  It’s now 9.10 pm and a storm is raging outside bringing much needed rain after 4 months of dry weather.  The experts tell us that this one weather event will not be enough to relieve the drought – we apparently need at least 100 mm of rain before they will even think about telling us that the drought is over.

I love stormy weather, as long as it doesn’t go on for days on end.  On the coast you experience the full force of whatever is thrown at you.  We have had some pretty fierce storms over the years, but never anything that has caused us any notable property damage.  At high tide in a storm the waves come  right up to our boundary and occasionally wash slightly up the bank and under the trees at the bottom of our sloping property, but never any further.  We don’t get the full force of the ocean swells because our part of the coast is protected by out-lying islands.  However, it can get pretty wild at times.

Because of the long spell of hot, dry weather we’ve had since December we can put up with the stormy tantrums for a few days to allow the ground to soak up the moisture and the vegetation to replenish itself.

This image was taken at 11.00 am this morning.


Another Autumn Sunrise

This morning, fully clothed this time, I ventured onto the beach to capture another autumn sunrise.  It was different this time, not so red, but more dappled grays and blues.

We are lucky here to face the east and have a view out across the Rangitoto Channel to the island from which the channel takes its name.  During the day Rangitoto continually changes its mood as the sun  moves from east to west.  On some evenings the setting sun lights clouds over the island with red and orange light.  In storms it presents a very moody face.

This morning we were presented with a pre-storm view.  There is rain predicted for two day’s time.  On such occasions the atmosphere often clears and New Zealand’s fourth largest island, Great Barrier, shows clearly on the horizon.  That happened in the late afternoon yesterday.  Already the sky is overcast.  Let’s hope that the rain comes as predicted.  We really need it after the long hot summer.

I was going to show only two images from this morning, but I have decided to show five instead.  I have been wanting to take photographs from the eastern end of the beach in the morning for some time.  Here are the results.

Takapuna Autumn Sunrise, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Takapuna Autumn Sunrise, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Takapuna Autumn Sunrise, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Takapuna Autumn Sunrise, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Takapuna Autumn Sunrise, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013


Autumn Sunrise

When I woke this morning and looked out the window I knew right away I had to capture the moment. So, still in pajamas, I grabbed my camera and walked down to the beach to record the sun rising behind Rangitoto Island and the early morning crowd out getting their exercise.  A man passed nearby walking his Dog. “Good morning”, I said.  “Good morning”  he replied, no doubt wondering why I was still wearing my PJs on the beach.  It didn’t worry me.  I got my pictures and was feeling very happy.

Autumn Sunrise, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Going …

Autumn Sunrise, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

… and coming


Fly Me to the Moon …

Parapenting, Kennedy Park, Castor Bay, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

… Let me swing among those stars

Let me see what spring is like

On Jupiter and Mars

In other words …

These words from the 1954  Bart Howard song made famous by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and many others came to mind when I watched this parapenter seem to soar towards the moon at Kennedy Park on Auckland’s North Shore last week.

I first saw another parapenter riding the thermal air currents off the cliffs with Rangitoto Island, the major landmark at the entry to Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, in the background.  Minutes later he joined the moon flyer to circle and swoop above the cliffs.

Parapenting, Kennedy Park, Castor Bay, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012


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.


Jetman

A new phenomenon hit Auckland last week.  It was so unusual that it featured on the evening TV news as a feature product at the “Big Boys’ Toys” expo held at the Auckland Showgrounds.

Apparently this device is known as a “Flyboard” and is powered by a jetski. According to the product’s website “The Flyboard is a water jet powered machine which allows propulsion underwater and in the air. The position of two nozzles under your feet ensure 90% of the propulsion and allow for movement controlled by tilting one’s feet. The nozzles on the hands are used to ensure stabilization, just as ski poles would.”

These images were captured from Takapuna Beach yesterday afternoon.  It seems that buyers need deep pockets as the Flyboard is priced from NZ$13995.00 (plus the required jetski, of course)!

Click on each image for a larger view.


Grey Dawn

Rangitoto Grey Dawn, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2009

Rangitoto Grey Dawn

Rangitoto Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf can be seen from many parts of the city. This volcanic cone guards the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour and all shipping entering the harbour passes through the channel seen in this view.  The mood of the island changes throughout the day and with the weather.  This image was taken just before 8.00 am on an early spring morning in 2009. The clouds reflect the changeable weather we have in Auckland at that time of the year.


Nurturing Young Talent

One of the great things about the international Rotary movement is a goal of nurturing young talented people and helping them develop and grow.

Rotary Club of Milford, Auckland, New Zealand, Musical Showcase Poster 2012

For the past six years the Rotary Club of Milford on Auckland’s North Shore has organised a Musical Showcase at Westlake Boys High School that allows young North Shore musicians, who have won secondary schools competitions, to demonstrate their prowess in a public performance and hone their skills before year-end examinations.  The Sunday afternoon concert is always well patronised and any profits made are distributed to the music departments of the participating schools.

If any readers live on the North Shore of Auckland, or know someone who does, I would recommend that you attend the concert to support the young players and their schools, and have a thoroughly entertaining afternoon as well.

 


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


Early Morning Run

Takapuna Beach, Rangitoto Island, Sunrise, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Early Morning Run – Sunrise over Rangitoto Island from Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

I was on the beach at 6.30 am yesterday morning just to catch the sunrise.  It looked promising when I first looked out of the window so I took my camera and tripod onto the beach and waited.  This is just one of 40 images I took as the sun crept towards and then broke over the horizon.


Morning Run

Takapuna Beach, Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

Morning Run

Caught this quickly the other morning just as the sun was trying to break through the clouds over Rangitoto Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Many people are on Takapuna Beach in the morning, fitting in some exercise to set them up for the rest of the day.


Shore to Shore

On only one day in each year is there so much movement of people on Takapuna Beach, and that’s the day of the annual Shore to Shore Schools Fun Run.

Shore to Shore, Takapuna, Fun Run, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012

On that day people of all ages join together to support their local schools in a 5 km fun run from Takapuna Grammar School to the Milford Reserve on Auckland’s North Shore.  From toddlers pushed in prams to grandparents, they move en mass to raise money for sports equipment for their schools.

These images were taken at about 9.30 am, about 1 km into the run.  The official start at Takapuna Grammar was 9.00 am.

Shore to Shore, Takapuna, Fun Run, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2012


Devonport

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


Rangitoto in Shades of Mauve and Orange

I have just reviewed the viewing statistics of my Flickr page and was surprised (and somewhat delighted) to find the most viewed image was this one taken early one morning about two years ago.

Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2011

Rangitoto in Shades of Mauve and Orange

Rangitoto Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is a significant part of the view from my house.

According to Wikipedia “Rangitoto was formed by a series of eruptions between 550 and 600 years ago. The eruptions occurred in two episodes, 10-50 yrs apart, and are thought to have lasted for several years during the later shield forming episode The first episode erupted most of the volcanic ash that mantles Motutapu Island next door, and also produced the lower, northern, scoria cone. The second episode built most of Rangitoto erupting all the lava flows and main scoria cone at the apex.”

The island is reasonably symmetrical in shape and can be seen from many parts of Auckland.  All shipping that enters the Waitemata Harbour passes through the channel between the island and the Takapuna/Devonport peninsular.

Depending on the weather and time of day Rangitoto reflects various moods, as this image demonstrates.


Takapuna Evening

I looked out of the window several evenings ago as the sun was lowering in the sky and knew I had to get down to the beach.  The tide was out, a small surf was breaking, and the light was turning to a light gold.  Because it has been so wet in Auckland this winter the land is saturated and the ground water seeps onto the beach and glistens in the evening light.  People on the beach were taking advantage of the fine spell of weather, getting in their evening walks before dinner.

These four images attempt to capture the mood of the evening.

Evening light on Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

Takapuna Evening - Man & Dog

Surface water reflecting surf and sky, Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

Takapuna Evening - Surf & Beach

Riding the last wave before dinner - Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

Takapuna Evening - Standup Paddler

Evening sky & cliffs reflected in the wet sand as Lady in Red walks on Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand

Takapuna Evening - Lady in Red


Easter Sunrise – A Sign of New Hope

Every year for the past 30 years there has been a dawn or sunrise Easter service on Takapuna Beach to mark the hope for the world that the Easter story brings.  Each year the people who gather hope to experience a beautiful sunrise, but that doesn’t always happen.  This morning however, didn’t disappoint.  It is said that a red sky in the morning is a shepherd’s warning.  For those who live by the sea it usually heralds an approaching storm, or at least a period of rain – but not always.

This morning the sun rose over Rangitoto Island spot on time at 6.53 am and painted the clouds in various shades of red, purple and orange before fading into pale yellows and grays as it rose higher in the sky. The reflection on the Easter story given at the service was about new hope, peace and justice, perseverance against all odds, and seeing things differently.  The evolving sunrise showed a sign for all to see.

Easter Sunrise 2011 Takapuna Beach - Auckland, New Zealand

Rays of Hope - Easter Sunrise 2011 Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand


Full Moon

This image was taken from Takapuna Beach on 19 March, the day before (for New Zealand) the Moon was at perigee, its closest distance to the Earth for the lunar month and for 2011, 356578 km.  It was just as well that it was taken then because the sky was clouded over on 20 March.  There was a great sunset on both of the nights in question.  I was fishing in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour at sunset on 20 March but didn’t have a camera with me to capture the crimson clouds in western sky as the sun sank below the horizon.

Perigee Moon - Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand


Sweet Heritage

An icon of Auckland’s industrial heritage is located on the north shore of the Waitemata Harbour at Birkenhead. Established in 1884, the New Zealand Sugar Company’s “Chelsea” sugar works has long been a notable Auckland landmark with its distinctive colonial architecture.

When I was a child our family used to travel by launch from the steps near Auckland’s Ferry Building to Herald Island in the upper reaches of the Waitemata Harbour to visit my grandparents.  The launch would stop at all of the small wharves and landings along the northern side of the harbour.  Soon after leaving the Birkenhead Wharf the launch would motor past the “Chelsea Sugar Works” where usually there was  a “sugar boat” from Australia tied up to discharge its cargo.  This was always a fascination to a young boy from the new suburbs of South Auckland.

Today the sugar works lie in a beautiful park that was once part of the refinery complex.  Over the years the Victorian refinery has been added to and modernised, but the essence of the original architecture is still evident.

Tower - Chelsea Surgar Refinery, Birkenhead, Auckland

Tank - Chelsea Surgar Refinery, Birkenhead, Auckland

Chelsea Sugar Refinery - Established 1884


Long Bay Coastal Walkway – Auckland, New Zealand

A favourite for many Aucklanders, Long Bay Regional Park attracts well over one million visitors a year. The park takes its name from the great stretch of beach that stretches between cliffs at both the northern and southern ends. The large park has plenty of trees, including coastal Pohutukawa, that provide shade for the many groups and individuals that visit for a day out at the beach.  At the northern end of the beach a pathway leads up to the clifftop and winds past farmland along the cliff’s edge to the Okura Inlet.  The return trip can be made  along a rocky foreshore at low tide, but can be quite slippery for the unwary.

Long Bay Beach from Coastal Walkway

Long Bay Coastal Walkway

Grass Silhouette - Long Bay Coastal Walkway

View to Rangitoto Island - Long Bay Coastal Walkway

Pohututaka in Silhouette and Okura Inlet - Long Bay Coastal Walkway

Into the Western Sun - Okura Inlet, Long Bay Coastal Walkway

Looking North - Okura Inlet, Long Bay Coastal Walkway

Return Journey - Long Bay Coastal Walkway

Journey's End - Long Bay Beach, Long Bay Regional Park